I love stories like this because the demonstrate the momentous changes that have been introduced by technology which has democratized publishing and not just opened the gates to everyone, but flat torn the gates down:
John Locke, 60, who publishes and promotes his own work, enjoys sales figures close to such literary luminaries as Stieg Larsson, James Patterson and Michael Connelly.
But unlike these heavyweights of the writing world, he has achieved it without the help of an agent or publicist – and with virtually no marketing budget.
Instead the DIY novelist has relied on word of mouth and a growing army of fans of his crime and western novellas that he has built up online thanks to a website and twitter account.
His remarkable achievement is being hailed as a milestone of the internet age and the beginning of a revolution in the way that books are sold.
His achievement is doubly impressive because of the way he accomplished this:
He saw that many successful authors were charging almost $10 (£6) for a book and decided that he would undercut them – selling his own efforts for 99 cents (60 pence).
"I’ve been in commission sales all my life, and when I learned Kindle and the other e-book platforms offered a royalty of 35 per cent on books priced at 99 cents, I couldn’t believe it," he said.
"To most people, 35 cents doesn’t sound like much. To me, it seemed like a license to print money.
"With the most famous authors in the world charging $9.95 for e-books, I saw an opportunity to compete, and so I put them in the position of having to prove their books were 10 times better than mine.
"Figuring that was a battle I could win, I decided right then and there to become the bestselling author in the world, a buck at a time."
Or, he figured that the opportunity of self-publishing allowed him the freedom to decide how much to charge and take advantage of the royalty being paid a lower price. Obviously you have to have something worth selling, but he’s figured out that formula as well – what most of us would consider “pulp fiction” with mass appeal:
His books – which centre around characters such as Donovan Creed, a former CIA assassin "with a weakness for easy women" and Emmett Love, a former gunslinger – are unlikely to trouble the Booker Prize judges.
But nevertheless they are immensely popular among the new e-Book fraternity, selling a copy every seven seconds and making him only the eighth author in history to sell a million copies on Amazon’s Kindle – a milestone he passed this week.
Phenomenal. Kudos to Locke … John Locke, that is. Great name.
The gate no longer exists and that has to make publishers as nervous as the news media is anymore. Anyone can publish just about anything and, unlike before, the market gets to decide what is or isn’t worth the money and reward – directly – those who manage to give it what it wants.
What’s not to like (our own Martin McPhillips may be able to give us a little insight into this phenomenon – and it will give him a chance to plug his book)?
I’m not sure how many times we or our politicians have to hear this, but to this point, it hasn’t made the impression it should:
Much of the public focus is on the nation’s public debt, which is $14.3 trillion. But that doesn’t include money guaranteed for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which comes to close to $50 trillion, according to government figures.
The government also is on the hook for other debts such as the programs related to the bailout of the financial system following the crisis of 2008 and 2009, government figures show.
Taken together, Gross puts the total at "nearly $100 trillion," that while perhaps a bit on the high side, places the country in a highly unenviable fiscal position that he said won’t find a solution overnight.
Bill Gross runs Pimco, a based in Newport Beach, Calif., manages more than $1.2 trillion in assets and runs the largest bond fund in the world. Gross went on to say:
"To think that we can reduce that within the space of a year or two is not a realistic assumption," Gross said in a live interview. "That’s much more than Greece, that’s much more than almost any other developed country. We’ve got a problem and we have to get after it quickly."
"We’ve always wondered who will buy Treasuries" after the Federal Reserve purchases the last of its $600 billion to end the second leg of its quantitative easing program later this month, Gross said. "It’s certainly not Pimco and it’s probably not the bond funds of the world."
Now whether you realize it or not, that’s a good share of the bond market saying, "yeah, you know, not interested". That’s scary. And with China recently unloading some of its US debt notes, it’s not a happy picture for the US, fiscally. As Gross points out, in overall financial condition, we’re worse off than the basket case of Europe – Greece.
We have been getting these warning for literally decades. We’ve done absolutely nothing substantial to mitigate them. In fact, we added more to the pile (Medicare D and ObamaCare). We’re going to crash. It is time for a huge reality check, gut check or whatever you want to call it. But like the shopping addicted, we have got to cut up the credit cards, cut spending to the bone, get government out of areas it has no business and take as much power of the purse away from the Fed as we can.
This is beyond absurd. And the time to address it is now (if it’s not already too late).
A year or so ago I wrote an post asking “Are we needlessly scaring ourselves to death”? My feeling was that we do indeed needlessly scare ourselves to death by not putting threats into perspective. Used in the post were statistics about terrorist attacks via airlines and the likelihood of actually being a victim of terrorism in such a situation. As you might imagine, given the number of passengers, flights and miles traveled, the risk per se is statistically miniscule. But that doesn’t keep the population at large from being “scared” of the threat or condoning limits on liberty to hopefully prevent even that tiny percent of successful attacks.
That brings me to a larger point. The evolution of “scaremongering”. Frank Furedi hits on the issue I’ve observed over the years since technology and the internet have given communication a rocket boost that we apparently haven’t quite adapted too. Scaremongering has become a competitive growth industry:
[T]he massive growth of fearmongering campaigns and crusades over the past quarter of a century has been unprecedented. Fear-fuelled grandstanding becomes most extravagant in relation to the very big catastrophic hazards that apparently threaten the survival of the planet itself. The list of potential planetary disasters is growing all the time. International terrorism, climate change, influenza-type pandemic, the AIDS epidemic, overpopulation, obesity, disastrous technological accidents – these are only some of the many mega-hazards that are said to confront humanity today.
Scaremongering also has a powerful impact in the arena of individual health. Health scares targeting women and children in particular have become a flourishing enterprise in recent years. Health scares are often linked to anxieties about food or the alleged side effects of drugs, pollution and new technologies. Personal security is another important area for fearmongering. Anxieties about crime, immigration and anti-social behaviour are regularly promoted by law-and-order groups. The environment, of course, is now treated as a potentially huge problem in it own right. Anything that has an impact on nature is said to store up big disasters for the future.
With so much to fear, it’s not surprising that there is now an intense level of competition to grab the attention of the public. Scaremongering has become a highly competitive enterprise; contemporary public debate often takes the form of countering one hysterical plea with another.
He’s right. And the result is a confused public and a debate that spirals out of control with little of substance being offered in the way of constructive dialog and argument. It is instead replaced by competing attempts to scare the public to one side or the other. We see it everyday in the so-called political debate. In many cases as debate about any issue is reduced to scaremongering. And while many of us may understand that, there are even more that don’t.
Complex issues are reduced to tag lines and sound bites. “Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan will kill old people”. Bumper-sticker scaremongering which opponents to such a plan consider successful if it goes viral and becomes the conventional wisdom. And those who throw things out like that know, for the most part, that the average American isn’t going to take the time or make the effort to research the plan and attempt to understand it. He who gets the first meme to go viral out there wins, even if it is blatant nonsense.
And the Democrats or left aren’t the only side which does that (although I’m of the opinion that it is something the left does more than the right based on my observations). Looking at many of the social con arguments on the right examples can be found that point to the fact that they’re not at all averse to a little scaremongering to advance their agendas.
The result, however, is ironic. In an era in which unprecedented information on just about any subject or issue are available to just about everyone, we find narratives and memes created by scaremongering to still be accepted at face value by majorities of people. And that sort of success – scaremongering – breeds imitation. If it works for side A, side B certainly isn’t going to eschew it.
Consequently, as Furedi points out, scaremongering has become highly a competitive enterprise of claim and counter-claim.
The problem, of course, is the fact that there are things we should be very concerned about, but we have difficulty breaking them out of the clutter of issues being fearmongered. We also have a tendency to dismiss legitimate claims out of hand, if they sound like fearmongering, because so many of the hyped up issues turn out to be so much nonsense.
Information and perspective are two very important tools in the war against scaremongering. In my estimation, the battle against the scaremongering alarmists of AGW is a case study in how such scaremongering should be countered.
But there are so many things these days, as Furedi points out, that are being given that treatment that it is not only exasperating but somewhat depressing. We can’t make rational decision based in irrational and over-hyped issues, but we do it all the time. Look at what Germany just did with its nuclear power based on the experience of a island nation hit by a tsunami. That’s likely to happen there, right? Pure fear expertly exploited.
Fearmongering is something which has to be guarded against and fought. One of the best ways to do so is obviously through offering facts and perspective instead of a counter claim based in fear. Unfortunately, for the most part, it seems the sides prefer fear to facts, and that does us all a huge disservice and can be potentially – and I say this advisedly so as not to be branded a “fearmonger” – catastrophic if the wrong policies are implemented as a result.
Richard Cohen wrote a nasty little piece the other day in which he essentially declared American exceptionalism a myth. There is no such thing, according to Mr. Cohen. We’re all really a bunch of dummies living in a dysfunctional society, because, you know, we were mean to the American Indians once upon a time and we had slaves, or something. Oh, and too much religion.
Michael Moore, on the other hand, finds us to be just a bunch of hypocrites and blathers on about how killing Osama (even though Moore is obviously pleased he’s dead) was a forfeiture of our principles (something Ron Paul apparently agrees with Moore about).
"The Nazis killed tens of MILLIONS. They got a trial. Why? Because we’re not like them. We’re Americans. We roll different."
As I’ll explain later, Moore hasn’t a clue of what he’s talking about – nor does Cohen.
Interestingly, Moore makes this point when talking about the killing:
I know a number of Navy SEALs. In fact (and this is something I don’t like to talk about publicly, for all the obvious reasons), I hire only ex-SEALs and ex-Special Forces guys to handle my own security (I’ll let you pause a moment to appreciate that irony). These SEALs are trained to follow orders. I don’t know what their orders were that night in Abbottabad, but it certainly looks like a job (and this is backed up in a piece in the Atlantic) where they were told to not bring bin Laden back alive. The SEALs are pros at what they do and they instantly took out every adult male (every potential threat) within a few minutes – but they also took care to not harm a single one of the nine children who were present. Pretty amazing. This wasn’t some Rambo-style operation where they just went in guns blazing, spraying bullets. They acted swiftly and with expert precision. I’m telling you, these guys are so smart and so lethal, they could take you out with a piece of dental floss. (And in fact, one of my ex-SEAL guys showed me how to do that one night. Whoa.)
The raid, despite Moore’s blathering and Cohen’s nonsense actually points out why Americans are exceptional. Here’s what CBS News had to say about the details of the raid:
The SEALs first saw bin Laden when he came out on the third floor landing. They fired, but missed. He retreated to his bedroom, and the first SEAL through the door grabbed bin Laden’s daughters and pulled them aside.
When the second SEAL entered, bin Laden’s wife rushed forward at him — or perhaps was pushed by bin Laden. The SEAL shoved her aside and shot bin Laden in the chest. A third seal shot him in the head.
Read that very carefully. Very slowly.
“The first SEAL through the door” did what?
Risked his life to protect the daughters of a mass murderer we’re at war with plotting to kill even more Americans in the future.
And the second SEAL? He didn’t spray and pray, he shoved aside a woman, saving her life, and went precisely after the target.
I don’t dispute Moore’s point about what the SEALs were told to do. I concluded that immediately (and I talk about that on our latest podcast). Had they been told to capture him, he’d right now be cooling his heels in an “undisclosed location” and not enjoying his vacation at all.
Moore thinks we let our principles down when we killed him. I can only say that comes from a very warped idea of what our principles are. Justice isn’t a process – it is a result.
Moore puts this out there as an example of what we should have done:
Hideki Tojo killed my uncle and millions of Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos and a hundred thousand other Americans. He was the head of Japan, the Emperor’s henchman, the man who was the architect of Pearl Harbor. When the American soldiers went to arrest him, he tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest. The soldiers immediately worked on stopping his bleeding and rushed him to an army hospital where he was saved by our army doctors. He then had his day in court. It was a powerful exercise for the world to see. And on December 23, 1948, after he was found guilty, we hanged him.
When he was captured, did anyone say “justice has been served?” Nope, that happened when, after his show trial (anyone – was Tojo going to be exonerated or left to live?) -actually, a military tribunal -, he was hanged.
Then and only then was the the term “justice has been served” used. Moore concludes:
A killer of millions was forced to stand trial. A killer of 4,000 (counting the African embassies and USS Cole bombings) got double-tapped in his pajamas. Assuming it was possible to take him alive, I think his victims, the future, and the restoration of the American Way deserved better. That’s all I’m saying.
The resulting justice was the same – both died. However, here is the key point: One after a show trial and AFTER a war had ended (same with Nuremberg), the other at the hands of his enemies DURING a war which he started and was still fighting. If you can’t figure out the difference in those situations, then you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer. That’s the part Moore and his ilk always forget.
As for American exceptionalism – well you saw a small example of it in the raid demonstrated by that first SEAL in the room. Our armed forces demonstrate that exceptionalism daily as they fight the Taliban and terrorists. It comes from the culture in which they were raised.
I’m reminded of the story Oliver North likes to tell about the young Navy Corpsman in the battle of Baghdad:
By God, if that’s not "exceptionalism" I don’t know what the hell is.
I’ve been an adamant myth buster all my life when it comes to the history of race and racism in our country trying, for years, to clarify which party it was that was on the side of racism and oppression. If one just takes the time to research it, it is there for all to find. Instead, we ended up with a myth.
It appalls me that for years the myth of the right’s racism has gained such purchase in “conventional wisdom” and particularly among American blacks. The belief that it was the Republicans who were against civil rights legislation and were the roadblock to full equality for our black citizens, when in fact it was the Democrats, seems almost accepted as fact now. But I lived and grew up in the South during that time. I know better.
The good news is this video helps to begin the process of dispelling the myth. Pay close attention because it gives you the ground truth of the matter – something, unfortunately, that is very rare these days when it comes to this subject:
It’s there for all to see if they will. While the parody is clever as it can be, one huge and salient fact is missing and thus makes it all a giant FAIL!
Obi-Wan Kenobi, the mastermind of some of the most devastating attacks on the Galactic Empire and the most hunted man in the galaxy, was killed in a firefight with Imperial forces near Alderaan, Darth Vader announced on Sunday.
Hint: At what were Obi-Wan’s “most devastating attacks” aimed? And OBL’s?
More false moral equivalency.
Aside: I thought Dick Cheney was Darth Vader? My how times change, no?
Why is it that schools, the supposed bastions of education and purported citadels of tolerance and intelligence are so blasted uneducated, stupid and intolerant?
Latest example? A teenager in Seattle, doing community service work, does a project to hand out to younger children in class. The results? Just fascinating in a bizarre and idiotic sort of way:
"At the end of the week I had an idea to fill little plastic eggs with treats and jelly beans and other candy, but I was kind of unsure how the teacher would feel about that," Jessica said.
She was concerned how the teacher might react to the eggs after of a meeting earlier in the week where she learned about "their abstract behavior rules."
"I went to the teacher to get her approval and she wanted to ask the administration to see if it was okay," Jessica explained. "She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat ‘spring spheres.’ I couldn’t call them Easter eggs."
Rather than question the decision, Jessica opted to "roll with it." But the third graders had other ideas.
"When I took them out of the bag, the teacher said, ‘Oh look, spring spheres’ and all the kids were like ‘Wow, Easter eggs.’ So they knew," Jessica said.
Never mind that a “sphere” is perfectly round, not an ovoid shape. It has to do with the unbelievable nonsense that allowing something that has been a traditional American practice and celebration since the founding of the country has to be made secular because A) it will somehow be construed as the school establishing religion or B) it will offend someone or C) all of the above.
It doesn’t establish anything in terms of religion and if it offends someone, tough. The argument could be made that celebrations of Spring favor Wiccans or Druids or something. And how about those who are offended when teachers make up stupid and obviously incorrect descriptions for Easter eggs like “spring spheres”?
The systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups who have relatively little social power in the United States (Blacks, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asians), by the members of the agent racial group who have relatively more social power (Whites). The subordination is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms and values, and the institutional structures and practices of society.
Notice the only group listed who can possibly be racist according to their definition.
And it gets even better.
Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers.
Got that? “Future time orientation”, i.e. planning ahead, is racist. Apparently only whites do it. And individualism? Racist. And the school district also made it clear they had no desire "to hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as [a] . . . colorblind mentality."
Calling MLK Jr., because as I remember him, a colorblind society was his fondest hope.
The Supreme Court of the United States literally mocked the district’s racial nonsense in a ruling it issued.
Interestingly, the justices highlighted the bizarre claims about race made by the Seattle schools, which cast doubt on whether allowing schools to use race will promote racial harmony rather than racial balkanization.
For example, the Chief Justice’s opinion points out that “Seattle’s web site formerly described ‘emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology’ as a form of ‘cultural racism,’ and currently states that the district has no intention ‘to hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as [a] . . . colorblind mentality.”
Justice Thomas pointed to those claims, and other bizarre claims on Seattle’s web site, in rejecting the dissent’s argument that “local school boards should be entrusted to make decisions on the basis of race.”
Now they’re into “Spring Spheres”.
Wouldn’t you just love for your child to have to grow up attending school in a district that makes race (and now religion) as toxic as that?
So enlightened. /sarc
David Brooks has a column today in which he talks about how people in the US see themselves in relationship with how other people in the world view themselves. As you might expect, Americans have a tendency to be a bit taken with themselves. For instance:
We’re an overconfident species. Ninety-four percent of college professors believe they have above-average teaching skills. A survey of high school students found that 70 percent of them have above-average leadership skills and only 2 percent are below average.
Note where the two examples originate.
Americans are similarly endowed with self-esteem. When pollsters ask people around the world to rate themselves on a variety of traits, they find that people in Serbia, Chile, Israel and the United States generally supply the most positive views of themselves. People in South Korea, Switzerland, Japan, Taiwan and Morocco are on the humble side of the rankings.
Not the key word (“self-esteem”).
Yet even from this high base, there is some evidence to suggest that Americans have taken self-approval up a notch over the past few decades. Start with the anecdotal evidence. It would have been unthinkable for a baseball player to celebrate himself in the batter’s box after a home-run swing. Now it’s not unusual. A few decades ago, pop singers didn’t compose anthems to their own prowess; now those songs dominate the charts.
American students no longer perform particularly well in global math tests. But Americans are among the world leaders when it comes to thinking that we are really good at math.
We’ve talked about this before. The “my precious” syndrome – where every little munchkin under the sun is told everything he or she does is special and wonderful and that they are just a unique special person who just can’t do anything wrong. This has spawned sports games with no score, baseball leagues where everyone gets a trophy, and everyone is as talented, smart, able and unique as anyone else.
Except that’s not true at all. And most of us know that. Much of it is fostered upon children in the schools where we see them go overboard to ensure that every student feels his or her work is extraordinary even when most of it is, at best, adequate. We’ve come to believe that it is more important to shelter most kids from the reality of their mediocrity than to challenge them to overcome it.
And that has a tendency to shape behavior and attitudes like those reflected above.
The institution of education isn’t the only entity to contribute to this syndrome, obviously many parents are on board too. And they buy into the premise that it is okay to hide reality from kids because, well, they’re kids and it hurts them to realize they aren’t super-stars.
The two results of that are overindulged children who do have talent feeling the need and having the permission (given how they’ve been encouraged in their short lives) to act out as the baseball player does in the batter’s box.
The other result is when the less talented kid’s brittle self-esteem meets reality and shatters like a window pane hit by a rock. They’re not emotionally prepared for that reality because it’s been hidden from them and when it finally is sprung upon them, the results can be devastating. The “my precious” syndrome fosters emotional immaturity that unfortunately retards the development of kids who’ve been raised as such.
However, even the talented who act out as the baseball player does will eventually meet with a dose of reality. The next time he steps into the batter’s box he can count on being hit somewhere other than in the bat. If he is smart he will learn quickly not to do something like that. He may be “my precious” among his intimate circle but outside of it he’s a show off deserving of a lesson. And he usually gets it.
In short, there’s abundant evidence to suggest that we have shifted a bit from a culture that emphasized self-effacement — I’m no better than anybody else, but nobody is better than me — to a culture that emphasizes self-expansion.
Writers like Twenge point out that young people are bathed in messages telling them how special they are. Often these messages are untethered to evidence of actual merit. Over the past few decades, for example, the number of hours college students spend studying has steadily declined. Meanwhile, the average G.P.A. has steadily risen.
Exactly right. However, that doesn’t mean or lead to this:
Most pervasively, I wonder if there is a link between a possible magnification of self and a declining saliency of the virtues associated with citizenship.
Citizenship, after all, is built on an awareness that we are not all that special but are, instead, enmeshed in a common enterprise. Our lives are given meaning by the service we supply to the nation. I wonder if Americans are unwilling to support the sacrifices that will be required to avert fiscal catastrophe in part because they are less conscious of themselves as components of a national project.
Perhaps the enlargement of the self has also attenuated the links between the generations. Every generation has an incentive to push costs of current spending onto future generations. But no generation has done it as freely as this one. Maybe people in the past had a visceral sense of themselves as a small piece of a larger chain across the centuries. As a result, it felt viscerally wrong to privilege the current generation over the future ones, in a way it no longer does.
It’s possible, in other words, that some of the current political problems are influenced by fundamental shifts in culture, involving things as fundamental as how we appraise ourselves. Addressing them would require a more comprehensive shift in values.
Did you understand all of that and how he’s trying to tie the “my precious” syndrome with the fiscal mess we’re in today? Do you agree that there is an unwillingness to support the sacrifices necessary to avert fiscal catastrophe tied to the self-esteem mess? Is this “enlargement of self” the reason we’ve gotten into the position we’re in and are likely to stay there? Have we undergone a fundamental shift in values?
Well, if we have, much of it comes from those 94% of college professors who think they have above average teaching skills – and all the answers.
OK, I’m being a bit sarcastic. Obviously I don’t buy into the belief that says we must praise every mediocre thing little Johnny does as “special” and “wonderful.” I also don’t believe that problem has fundamentally changed American culture or how American’s view citizenship. Michael Barone wrote a book called “Hard America, Soft America” in which he details pretty successfully how we manage to reorient victims of the “my precious” syndrome. The few that slip through the cracks, unfortunately, are usually talented in some way or the other. And because they’re talented, they’re indulged to a far greater degree than others (take our current president for example). At some point we all meet with “hard America”, i.e. reality – no matter how special someone has been told they are or how talented they think they are, there are limits to how far that will take you.
The bratty baseball player learns not to celebrate in the batters box when he gets tired of getting cracked ribs after every time he does. Hard America. The stud athlete who was an indulged college star finds he’s just an average player, for the most part, when he steps onto the NFL field for the first time. Hard America. The kid who was told he was tough finds out what it is to become a member of the team in basic training and AIT, or washes out to his eternal shame. Hard America. The child who was told how smart he is and how everything he does is wonderful fails his college entrance tests because his effort falls short of the unforgiving and unmovable mark. Hard America.
We have a culture that handles that part fine. And has for years. Our literature is full of stories of the pampered and indulged child who finally meets up with the real world and learns how it works and what he has to do to be a part of it. I don’t think that has changed significantly. But I don’t see that as a reason for what is going on today politically.
While there may be a cultural reason for what is happening, I think it is more along the line of our culture not knowing how to handle politics or politicians who have indulged themselves (in your name and, supposedly “for you”) with your money. And there’s a reason for that. Until the ‘70s or so, we didn’t have to worry about it. For the most part, our political culture matched our national culture.
But then something happened. Not to the overall American culture, regardless of what Brooks tries to paint in the beginning of his article, but with the political culture. A dramatic shift in both focus, priority and power took place. The focus changed from a government focused mostly on protecting us and our rights to one that believed it was the purpose of government to engineer our lives and grant us “rights” and indulge them. We went from equal opportunity for all to social justice. And to do that the government needed power and money. Because that change of focus was very gradual and sounded benign, we mostly ignored it and went on with our lives.
The fiscal crisis changed all that. All of a sudden people who hadn’t given government a second thought for most of their lives were forced to take a look at what these successive generations of politicians had done over the intervening decades.
And, for the most part we realized that’s not the government we want. But we haven’t really figured out how to change that. So this isn’t so much a denial of the need to sacrifice by the citizenry as it is anger about being in the position we’re in because we made the mistake of trusting those in power to do the right thing and they didn’t. It is also discovering, for a good portion of the population, just what a mess we’re in.
It’s also frustration.
What we haven’t figured out yet in Hard America is how to teach the the lesson that needs to be learned by our politicians and government(s). Yeah, we can fire politicians and replace them, but that doesn’t seem to solve the problem. Crack the ribs of the bratty ball player and he either learns the lesson or he suffers it again. At some point though, he’ll modify his behavior.
Whose ribs do we crack to modify the behavior of our political system? How do we cause enough pain to force behavioral change? It is that answer our citizenry seems to be searching for. Witness the three past wave elections.
Brooks, I think, interprets that search for a solution to modifying governmental behavior as a refusal to make sacrifices. It is instead an electorate that has just been awakened to a huge problem and is casting around for a compromise solution. That’s why you get mixed messages in polls. They say overwhelmingly that spending must be cut, programs must be eliminated, etc. But then you hear, but they don’t want to give up this or that.
That’s simply the process of deciding what government should actually be, something most of the citizenry hasn’t worried about for decades. Suddenly, their worried.
So no, Mr. Brooks, this isn’t a result of the inflated view of ourselves some of us have, or the result of the “my precious” syndrome, it’s an awakening. And it is an awakening that has just begun, is disorganized and is still finding its legs. Hopefully it is one which will snatch us back from the abyss to which our so-called leaders have led us. Hopefully we’ll figure out a way to crack the ribs of the system enough to modify its behavior and put it back on the right track.
Because I think we’ve all realized that if we don’t, it won’t matter how much or how little we think of ourselves once we fall off that cliff our politicians have put us on, that just won’t matter very much.
Sometimes as you wander through the vast reaches of the internet, you find something that makes you laugh out loud while at the same time creating an intense desire to own it:
Brilliant. And dead right.
UPDATE: It can be ordered here. (Thanks tkc)
As everyone knows, the “new civility” has been getting quite a workout since the Wisconsin thing has blown up. Anyone who has kept up with it and read blogs covering it (like Althouse), know this hasn’t been an episode of peace, love and decorum. It has been one of threats, violence and attempts at intimidation – not to mention a fairly unseemly tantrum.
So, I have to wonder what happened to all the civility talk after the Giffords shooting? Especially on the left. It’s been rather quiet over there since Wisconsin has erupted. And make no mistake about it, the threats, violence and attempts at intimidation, not to mention the frequent invocations of Goodwin’s law, aren’t figments of the imagination – they’re documented fairly thoroughly for anyone who wants to find them (unlike the MSM).
As the sort of cherry on top of the “new civility” sundae, here’s this email that was sent to every GOP senator (save the one who voted against the bill) by someone who is, and I dare you to tell me otherwise when you read it, deranged and apparently plans to visit violence on each and every one of them:
Sent: Wed 3/9/2011 9:18 PM
To: Sen.Kapanke; Sen.Darling; Sen.Cowles; Sen.Ellis; Sen.Fitzgerald; Sen.Galloway; Sen.Grothman; Sen.Harsdorf; Sen.Hopper; Sen.Kedzie; Sen.Lasee; Sen.Lazich; Sen.Leibham; Sen.Moulton; Sen.Olsen
Subject: Atten: Death threat!!!! Bomb!!!!
Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your familes
will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks. Please explain
to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families then it
will save the rights of 300,000 people and also be able to close the deficit
that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell. Read below for
more information on possible scenarios in which you will die.
WE want to make this perfectly clear. Because of your actions today and in
the past couple of weeks I and the group of people that are working with me
have decided that we’ve had enough. We feel that you and the people that
support the dictator have to die. We have tried many other ways of dealing
with your corruption but you have taken things too far and we will not stand
for it any longer. So, this is how it’s going to happen: I as well as many
others know where you and your family live, it’s a matter of public records.
We have all planned to assult you by arriving at your house and putting a
nice little bullet in your head. However, we decided that we wouldn’t leave
it there. We also have decided that this may not be enough to send the
message to you since you are so "high" on Koch and have decided that you are
now going to single handedly make this a dictatorship instead of a
demorcratic process. So we have also built several bombs that we have placed
in various locations around the areas in which we know that you frequent.
This includes, your house, your car, the state capitol, and well I won’t
tell you all of them because that’s just no fun. Since we know that you are
not smart enough to figure out why this is happening to you we have decided
to make it perfectly clear to you. If you and your goonies feel that it’s
necessary to strip the rights of 300,000 people and ruin their lives, making
them unable to feed, clothe, and provide the necessities to their families
and themselves then We Will "get rid of" (in which I mean kill) you. Please
understand that this does not include the heroic Rep. Senator that risked
everything to go aganist what you and your goonies wanted him to do. We feel
that it’s worth our lives to do this, because we would be saving the lives
of 300,000 people. Please make your peace with God as soon as possible and
say goodbye to your loved ones we will not wait any longer. YOU WILL DIE!!!!
I can only guess, by the sentence structure, single dense paragraph and spelling, that the person is product of public schooling, which explains why they’re so upset about those 300,000 people. Some of those are Mr. or Ms. X’s teachers.
Apparently the person also signed the email indicating they may have had the opportunity to have each of those teachers for more than one year.
Regardless, this is not something I remember showing up at offices of politicians when the Tea Party was supposedly so “violent” and “uncivil”. Maybe I missed it and someone will enlighten me.
And, of course, the new way of venting (“civilly” of course) and shouting out threats, Twitter, hasn’t been silent either.
I’m also wondering if the SPLC will designate the government unions of Wisconsin official leftist “hate groups”? My guess is the SPLC will somehow find a way to claim they’re part of a militia movement or something. Everyone knows militias are the ultimate evil – and right-wing fascists. More likely, the SPLC will ignore it.
There is one consolation though – we won’t have to listen to any condescending, patronizing and smarmy lectures about “civility” anymore from the left.