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Half-baked Science: From Keys to Mann Helping Women Get What They Want

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Can Liberals Handle Adversity?

by Christopher Chantrill
April 03, 2012 at 12:00 am


LIBERALS JUST had a bad week watching the Supreme Court munching on ObamaCare and spitting out the pits. They thought it was rather bad manners.

It seems that each week this year raises the stakes, making 2012 will go down as a year which will live—either in infamy or glory, depending on who wins and whose side you are on. Instead of the usual political fudge, events are demanding the American people make a choice, not an echo.

President Obama is running a campaign that sharpens the differences, drawing bright lines: on sex with the contraception question, on race with the Trayvon Martin question, and on health care with the ObamaCare decision. Presumably he thinks that’s how to get 51 percent of the vote.

Unless he is wrong.

For years, liberals thought they owned the sexual revolution, owned the race question, owned health care, owned the Supreme Court. Suppose they are wrong? Suppose that President Obama brings out every last liberal to vote on November 6, but nobody else?

How could he make a mistake like that? Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind, has researched the liberal mind. According to Peter Suderman in Reason, he writes that:

Liberals just aren’t as good as conservatives and libertarians at understanding how their opponents think. Haidt helped conduct research that asked respondents to fill out questionnaires about political narratives—first responding based on their own beliefs, but then responding as if trying to mimic the beliefs of their political opponents. “The results,” he writes in the May issue of Reason, “were clear and consistent.” Moderates and conservatives were the most able to think like their liberal political opponents. “Liberals,” he reports, “were the least accurate, especially those who describe themselves as ‘very liberal.’”

You can see that Haidt is right when you read Neera Tanden from the Center for American Progress complaining to The New York Times that Democrats are going to be really upset if Obamacare is overturned. “The idea that we would have gone through Bush v. Gore, Citizens UnitedNew Yorker editor William Shawn kept saying in The Princess Bride.

Liberals are still mad about the hanging chads? You betcha! I met a “very liberal” woman in March who is clearly still enraged about the “selection” of President Bush. She didn’t seem to recall that the recount only took place in Democratic counties, that Bush never lost a recount, and that the mainstream media’s own personal recount still made Bush the winner. Not to mention that the mainstream media called the state before the polls had closed. You have to live in a very liberal bubble indeed to hang onto the liberal narrative on the 2000 election eleven years later.

Then there’s President Obama. After last week, you’d have wonder about his “dissing” of the United States Supreme Court on its Citizens United decision at the 2010 State of the Union Speech. Why would he want to make enemies on the Supreme Court.?

Let’s get back to the ObamaCare train-wreck. Forget about liberal outrage; let’s remember the real issue. My friend Stephen reminded me on Sunday how people really think about health care. The average American is not worried about the 30 million uninsured or the 45 million (or the 45,000 that have actually signed up for ObamaCare’s pre-existing condition coverage). She (and it is usually a she) worries about whether she can afford health care in the future. She worries about her chronic health care issues and wonders if she will be able to afford care after ObamaCare starts in earnest.

We all know that Mitt Romney has taken some knocks about being out of touch. Maybe he is, although given his years of local leadership in the Mormon church you’d think he’d have learned a thing or two about ordinary folks. But what about liberals? It turns out that the science is in on that. We now have peer-reviewed research that shows that liberals, intelligent as they are, can’t put themselves in the place of the “other.”

But what can liberals do to mend the damage? I think they should be assigned to read Little Lord Fauntleroy. You’ll remember that Fauntleroy is the story of a plucky all-American lad growing up in 19th century New York City. Heavily influenced by his Republican corner grocer, Mr. Hobbs, in the importance of freedom, fireworks, political parades, and the Fourth of July, this fatherless boy turns out to be the heir to the Earl of Dorincourt back in Britain. And does he teach those stuffy Britishers a lesson!

The trouble with our liberal friends is that very few have ever sat on a barrel listening to the commonplace wisdom of a Republican small businessman. And it shows.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity

Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


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James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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