Culture War On A Shoe String

Yesterday one of Instapundit’s readers sent in a bleg asking how one could fight the culture war if one weren’t capable of buying a tv station or two.  Glenn asked for ideas and of course I sent in something, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought there was a need for a whole post on it.  Because while buying TV stations might be useful, it is also in a way fighting the last war.  Oh, I don’t oppose it.  To some extent it is needed.  But only to some extent.

When it comes to a central point of diffusion of information, a central, coordinated message, and techniques to marginalize and shut up anyone who dissents, we’ve already lost.  They’ve been crawling through the institutions for generations, and we’ve been working, and feeding our families and cooking and cleaning and keeping the world spinning.  They’ve been trained to think everything is political.  We’ve been working under the assumption that you don’t talk politics or religion in polite company.  It’s not a fair fight, and they have a huge advantage.

It wouldn’t hurt to nibble into that advantage with two or three well-placed mass media efforts, but don’t delude yourself.  Nibbling is all you will manage, and besides, I don’t know about you but I just went through all my pockets for change, and I don’t think anyone will sell me a tv station for $50.  (How glorious it would be, though.  The REAL sci fi channel.  Now with more real.)

So what can you do?  Supposing you didn’t come up with much more change than I did?  Should you sit down and die?

Oh, please!  Look, these cult-of-personality socialist regimens never last anyway.  Seventy years or so, in the long sweep of history is the time of a good sneeze.  They don’t last because they’re parasitic and can’t keep themselves going.  Someone has to make the stuff to be stolen.  Given a vast war machine, you can keep going for a while – but not forever.  And the indoctrination only works until the real world smacks you in the face.  Sooner or later, the peeling paint on the façade becomes really obvious.  Yes, you can brain wash people – it never lasts forever.

The Soviet Union,  at the height of its power, felt threatened by people with typewriters because they could copy/distribute stuff more efficiently, and couldn’t be controlled.  Faxes made them p*ss themselves in fear.

Our current wanna bes are nowhere near the control the Soviet Union had.  And we have the internet.  Look upon our might, yeh central planners and despair!

So – here’s how to fight a culture war on a shoe string, a culture war in which you – yes, you – too can make a contribution.


Remove the mote in your own eye.

Before you get all huffy on me, let me tell you that there is one there.  You’re seeing reality through the lens of a media and entertainment which has been designed for years by the people who were crawling through the institutions.  So…  To begin with…

1        – Inform yourself.  What I mean by this is that you should study history and science and anything else you can get your hands on to figure out what the reality REALLY is of the things that you think you know the truth on.  This can be done, yes, by reading history books (and others) published in the late nineteenth century.  But be prepared for the fact that these too had their bias.  I’m not going to tell you that the left is right when it says Western culture is uniquely bad.  They’re wrong.  Western culture is human.  But if you believe everything those nineteenth century (and before) texts say you’ll buy into a lot of stuff about eugenics and the uniqueness of the mighty bestriding superior western civilization.  Don’t.  Just don’t.  Keep in mind that our forefathers were human, just was we are.  Even the founders – great intellects, men of vision – were just human and had their failings.  Which doesn’t mean we should throw the baby out with the bath water.  But you must be informed and well informed before you can fight the disinformation.

2-      Look to what is being taught to your kids.  Yes, I do realize that a lot of you can’t and don’t have the resources to bring the kids home to homeschool.  We did it for a year, it cost us eleven thousand dollars, and then we sent him back to the public school because we don’t have eleven thousand dollars wiggle room in our budget.  And I don’t have four hours wiggle room per day.  Now, my kid might have been uniquely demanding due to the circumstances, but I have homeschooling friends and I know how hard it is.

So… Do what you can.  Look through their books.  Did you know that the history books being used in schools are created on the basis of Howard Zinn’s ridiculous, inaccurate and Oikophobic A People’s History Of The United States?  They are.  And his arguments aren’t very hard to puncture, either.  Inform yourself and inform your kids.

DO NOT trust them to come out all right through the schools, they won’t.  It’s got MUCH worse since what you remember.  (Even religious schools, these days are teaching some form of liberation theology.)  If you don’t guide them, the best you can hope for is that they will eventually open their eyes.  But there will be a rough time first.  Most of all, though, give your kids books.  Make sure they can read – I mean really read.  Yes, I know the schools will tell you they teach phonics.  They don’t.  If your kid is trying to guess at a word, that’s not phonics.  (My kids got so used to the bellow of “Sound it out.  No whole word cr*p” that they’d start trying to “guess” and cringe.)

Make sure your kids read well enough to read for pleasure.  This is a level above “reading well enough to pass exams and do well in school.”  For boys and girls who act like boys, comics help bridge the gap when they need complex plots but are not yet reading well enough for them.  I highly recommend the OLDER Disney comics.  Yes, there is some social stuff there, but it’s negligible, and not coherently presented.  Best of all, they’re cheap if you find them used – and you usually do – in the dollar bin of the comic bookstores.  Best of all, if you are an sf-nal family, it will introduce the kids to concepts such as Atlantis and Easter Island and such.

3        – Both of these endeavors will change your perception and you’ll find yourself huffing at sitcoms you used to enjoy.   This is good.  Most of the politics are snuck into stuff like that (hence the directive that came down for more plots about healthcare in sitcoms and episodic dramas) and if you’re not aware of them they’ll insidiously color the way you see the world.  It’s brilliant to sneak them into entertainment because if you complain, you’re a sour puss.  But at this point they’re not even subtle, and you’ll start seeing them if you look: cardboard “conservative” characters who are anything but and who can’t defend their positions.  “Dangerous” tea partiers.  Liberating yourself through having indiscriminate sex and stuff.  The government as a fount of goodness.  It’s all there.  And it’s there on purpose.

4        – Mini-galt without tears.  For those of the mass entertainment you still enjoy (and there are some where I swear the creators are channeling beliefs they don’t even understand) buy used, borrow from the library, and in general starve the beast.  Yes, Hollywood is willing to sacrifice (SOME) profit to ideals, but when it really pinches, they’ll drop principle so fast it will make your head spin.

5        – Do try not to be a cartoon conservative.  I am religious, and I have religious friends.  HOWEVER I try to make my arguments from reasonable povs.  If all you do is scream “repent” people who don’t believe as you do will tune you out.  Worse, people who don’t believe as you do will think that the portrayal of conservatives in the media is accurate.

There is a reason for the “render onto Caesar.”  There is a reason, too, why G-d fought the Israelites tooth and nail on their nifty idea of having kings.  Religion is a fine thing, (if it’s a religion that enjoins you to be good to your fellow man at least) and you shouldn’t be ashamed of being religious.  You should also hold yourself to the higher standards of what you believe.

But when religion becomes public power, you get religion corrupted by all-too-human considerations and power for lust and wealth.  BE a good person.  Live your ideals.  But don’t try to legislate your ideas of “holy” unless you can justify them rationally.  (And there are some positions you CAN justify rationally.  I’m not getting into the debates you can’t win, but you know very well what they are.) You’ll never get even half the people to agree with you.  For reference see Europe and the wars of religion.


So, now you’ve informed yourself.  What do you do with it?  All of this is very passive and turned inward.  How do you change the culture from there?

1-      Write.  Write informed history articles/non fiction books; write blog posts; write fiction; write entertainment.  Do it cheerfully.  Be a happy warrior.  You might think that there is no room in the blogsphere for yet another blog, and the first few days with your hits at less than a hundred will make you want to give it up.  Don’t.

Meditate on a pebble thrown into a massive lake.  The ripples go out.  Trust me on this.  One more voice always helps.

If you can consider doing humor and snark.  Heinlein said something like “We laugh because it hurts too much to cry.”  Take that to heart.  The left is very, very funny.  And at least the soft left (most of them) are in only because “all the smart people believe this.”  This is the result of the long crawl, and the way to fight it is to point out how abysmally idiotic a philosophy that judges you as though everyone in a group were the same is.  How it’s stupid that “this time we’ll do it right” after that philosophy has left 100 million dead around the globe.  And how abysmally dumb it is to think you can create a paradise with fallible humans.

And the best way to do that is often to point and laugh.  Channel your inner middle-schooler.

2-      If you are thus able, create games.  Create comics and art too.  Show that we are cool and informed and FUN  Don’t get preachy, just write from the point of what you believe.  The rest will flow.

Do you-tube videos.  Write a song.  Make hilarious recipe-videos with conservative commentary.  Do a talk show for you-tube with your best buddies.


But Sarah, you say, I couldn’t draw or make a game, or even write a daily/weekly blog anymore than I could fly.  What is wrong with you?  It might be easier for me to get a billion and buy a TV station.

1-      Okay.  Maybe so.  But look to the talents you do have.  CAN you create technical stuff?  We need better software that allows us to create professional-looking games and comics – and books.  Think of the ebook.  Think of all the apps people write.  All of them bypass the gatekeepers and make a mockery of the left’s long-crawl through the institutions.

If you build a better game engine, they will come.  Better animation engines so even total putzes like me can make short animated movies won’t hurt either.  Look at the success of Simon’s cat.  It can be done.

2        – Teach others to do what you know how to do: whether it’s historical research or ebook formatting, or writing a game engine, or writing a game, or writing a novel.  Infect as many people who are interested as possible with your knowledge.  Remember, if everyone in the USSR had had a fax, the regime would have fallen so fast it would have left a(n even bigger) dent on the pavement.  Our goal is to get a metaphorical fax into every hand.

The crawl through the institutions suits the personality and aims of the left.  They are disciplined, submit to a centralized purpose declared by someone else, and obey their leaders.  If we try to fight them at their game, we will lose.  The individualists always (somehow) fail to organize.

My stuff above is just suggestions.  I want you to start thinking along the lines of what YOU – yes you – can do.  And then go out there, and create glorious chaos.  Be everywhere and be funny, witty, prepared and fascinating.

You’re all we have.  And we have them surrounded.



164 thoughts on “Culture War On A Shoe String

  1. Yes. What you said.

    I’d like to add a few comments:

    1. Teach your kids to argue. To be nice and agreeable, but disagree when needed. I started at about two with really obvious falsehoods (“you’re a cat”). When they were four, they were already arguing with people in authority and sometimes winning.

    2. If you’re around kids or teenagers, watch what media they are using. Adults are mostly stuck in their positions and won’t change, it is the teenagers and young adults we need to win. My kids don’t watch sitcoms. They mostly watch youtube videos of people playing video games or video game music videos.

    3. Use primary sources and teach others to do it. With elementary school age kids, teach WWII using cartoons (

    4. If you can’t create cultural artifacts, propagate them. Don’t insert the same thing into every online conversation and bore people. But when it is relevant, link to stuff like at 1:40, or .

    5. Don’t appear desperate. Do have fun. Remember, they fought for three generations to take control of the central information institutes. The Internet depreciated their investment of time and effort in less than one. The technology is on our side.

  2. Funny thing, I have really been noticing lately. You speak of the cardboard conservatives screaming repent. I am agnostic and content with that choice because it is my belief, arrived at logically. However, looking at my inner circle they are believers to a soul. And none of them push it hard, most of the time. One or two it peeps through. I find that really odd because as an agnostic My inner circle doesn’t need to be people of faith, it doesn’t apply. Then I look at the “Agnostics” and “Atheists” I see in everyday life and here on FB. They tell me how horrible Christians are and all I have seen of this is the occasional nutcase telling me I am going to hell. I often find myself defending people of faith because the public mindset is that they are intrinsically evil.
    Again I find that I am very liberal on many subjects but I keep winding up on the conservative side of the debates. Mostly I think because I value reason and hate arguments form authority or feelings, which seems to be the liberal fallback these days

    1. I’m Agnostic as well, but I will tell anyone who asks that I am generally in agreement with Judeo-Christian ethics, because in my analysis, these work out to the same as those which make the most sense as survival traits (though the complex relations of personal vs tribal vs racial survival can get murky at times).

      I also find myself defending people of faith because of the ridiculous notions that people keep trying to pass off as the “offenses” of the religious, when they are talking about outliers, when talking about people, like the Westboro Baptist crowd, or else insane misinterpretations of scripture.

      1. Westboro is not a religion. It is a money-making through lawsuits scam.

        What I meant is the parts of the religion you can defend are obvious: right to individual dignity, say. It is a Christian concept, but you can easily defend it as creating the best possible of societies. It’s simply rational.

        But screaming we need to repent does nothing. I’ve often thought the people who do that on threads are paid trolls for the other side.

        1. And if you are a church goer, read the Bible and learn what Jesus really said. If you’re in a Bible study or Sunday School, point out the parables where Jesus uses free market principles to make His point. (The book of Matthew has some good ones!) I’m an constantly disappointed how many good “Christian” church-goers haven’t got a clue. (The Book of Judges is one of my favorites too–and a real shock to other church members when I brought it up at Bible study.)

        2. Westboro is not a religion. It is a money-making through lawsuits scam.

          How would they expect to make money through being sued? I’m having a hard time working this one out.

          Myself, I always thought the Westboro people, by deliberately trying to p*ss off as many people as possible, were angling for martyrdom.

          1. No! THEY SUE people. For instance, they came to my kids’ urban school, not because it’s particularly notorious (It has a gay-straight alliance, like most schools do these days.) but because it is downtown — couldn’t be blocked off — and it’s part of the largest school district in CO. They stood in the kids’ paths into the school, screaming. The idea was one of the kids would lose his mind and push or hit one of them: voila, lawsuit material.

            I thought everyone KNEW this. That is what they do. The patriarch of the tribe is a lawyer (and used to be a dem operative) and they put themselves in situations where people might take a swing at them (hence soldiers funerals!) so they can sue organizations/people, etc. for cash.

            It’s a lawsuit, money-making scam.

            1. yes–they do the suing. They tried to sue an organization in Nevada because the organization protected a soldier’s funeral– It was thrown out of OUR courts as frivolous.

                1. I don’t know– I do know that you can use behaviors of corporations in your stories as long as you don’t use their real name– you can even use a proximate name w/o a problem sometimes. As for Westboro– not sure– they are vicious like a badger–

                    1. Shakespeare’s Marc Anthony gave a very good demonstration of the technique for this with his eulogy for Caesar. Describe the behaviour but state explicitly that it does NOT resemble Westboro Baptists, for they are honorable men, all, all honorable men.

                    1. You can do that too. One erstwhile fundamentalist recounts the time he was in court and his lawyer got up to say, “My client prays the courts. . . ”

                      That was before he realized that “to pray” means “to ask.”

                      You can pray your lawyer to let you off the fee, but you’ll probably still end up paying him.

                2. They’ll find a way to sue, even though as public individuals they would have a harder time of it. One of the other grad students in my US religion class wanted to do a paper on them, a history of the group. The prof said it would be great material, but they’d be on campus protesting and filing suits before the student could get his first prospectus turned in. He picked a different topic.

                  1. That’s one of the advantages of lawfare (especially when the perpetrator is himself a lawyer and doesn’t have to pay one) – ordinary people have fewer resources to contend with it. Cf Righthaven copyright trolls

                    1. Yep. Ran afoul of one of those years ago. He declared, in public, to a reporter, that suing people was his hobby. He lives a few blocks from a federal court house and could walk there to file his suits; the defendants would have to hire a local (New York City) lawyer and fly there…

          2. They get people pissed.

            Someone takes a swing, or crosses another invisible legal line.

            The family of lawyers springs into action.

            1. The kid’s schools sent out materials explaining this before their “protest.” It’s the only thing that unifies their LOONY views and what they choose to protest.

              1. I think they’re also useful to the left. They play the role of the “Christianist fanatic” that the left likes to campaign against.

                That they are OF THE LEFT never seems to be discussed….

        3. I must admit that, while people on the right are generally more stable than those on the left, I don’t understand why no one has lost it and started shooting at them, given the circumstances involved in their protests.

          1. Because you can’t be sure of getting ALL of them, especially the ring-leader. If we could, there wouldn’t be a one of them alive today. I am a Christian. I’ve turned the other cheek. In the case of Worstburrow badness “Church”, eradication is essential for future progress. ALL the Baptist Conventions have tried to force them to quit using their name.

            1. This is where your Barrett Rifle really shines. The survivors can’t sue you if they don’t know who you are.

              And no, this is only hypothetical, I wouldn’t DREAM of sniping the Westboro baptists. Please don’t sue me if someone happens to do it. 🙂

              1. While Barrett’s are awesomely cool, I have never been impressed with their accuracy. Out to 1500 yards there are a lot better choices for a mankiller, as a vehiclekiller though, the .50 is hard to beat.

        4. Except that our foes will not accept it as the best of all possible societies. They prefer the worship of Priapus, and any culture that does not make that central is evil in their eyes. Witness that we know how to stop epidemics of incurable STDs. We did it for syphilis. It is at their insistence that we do not do it for AIDS.

          1. They did put our best Vasculitis researcher (from us) to AIDS research, which is why they have the cocktail of meds that work now. But– there is less research on diseases like Vasculitis because of it. We get the leftover research from Rheumatic Arthritis. So no I don’t agree with you– AIDS is a priority for them.

            1. Cyn, have you heard how Cuba got rid of AIDS? They quarantined everybody who had the AIDS bug. We know how AIDS is spread. The Liberals don’t want Laws preventing people with the AIDS bug from having sex with those who don’t have the AIDS bug. Talk about nuttiness.

              1. No, Paul. They got rid of it by pretending they had. I hear their AIDS situation is critical, they just pretend it’s not there. Because they jail anyone who admits to being the passive partner in gay sex, no one comes forward to report. I’m sure they jail anyone who shoots up too — and by the way their OFFICIAL hospitals are as bad as our Detroit shoot-up houses.

                NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER trust reports coming from a totalitarian regime. This will serve you well in the future.

                1. “Tuesday, January 17, 1995 – Youths In Cuba Self-Inject Aids Virus — Filmmaker Says They Did It As Act Of Political Protest
                  By Frank Baker
                  PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Desperate to bring attention to a government that wouldn’t even let them listen to rock music, a band of young Cubans plunged needles filled with the AIDS virus into their bodies during the 1980s.
                  Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.
                  Most libertarians think legislating behavior among consenting adults is both futile for the alleged ends and full of unintended consequences.

                  1. It causes things to go underground, which makes it harder to deal with. It’s what we’re facing with the “War on Drugs.” I’m against drug use because — unlike most libertarians — I find things that tamper with the mind are mostly bad, and I particularly oppose it among the uninformed youth. But when the power of the state is against it, and they know they’re going to get propaganda about drugs from first grade on, it’s hard to warn them of the real cognitive impairments, etc. Easier to have it be legal and have a frank discussion about it. (Of course, my fear is that it will become “state endorsed” — it might. It’s a way to keep restive, unemployed youth quiet. Used in the Orient for centuries. — To an extent that’s what happened to abortion, which means that serious studies on the issues with it face a barrage of opposition and most women are not informed of the risks they’re facing. Heck, I mentioned risks of cancer heightened by abortion in a blog and was accused of “reading pro life propaganda.” Actually I know about the risks of cancer because my personal form of infertility involves miscarriages before three months of gestation. Your body doesn’t really tell these apart from induced abortions. So every time I had another one, I got the lecture on “You know, you should be sterilized now because each of these heightens your danger of cancer to eleventy.” But saying that in the case of forced terminations of pregnancy is somehow “pro life propaganda” — because abortion is government approved/endorsed. And we won’t go into why, either. We just won’t. Their understanding of population mechanics and wealth is… the same as their understanding of econimics.)

                    1. So a sufficiently Machiavellian government could use drugs to mitigate the effects of technological unemployment? Hey, at least it is a solution, even if not a nice one. The drugs can also reduce fertility among the chronically useless.

                2. NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER trust reports coming from a totalitarian regime. This will serve you well in the future.

                  You can always trust reports coming from totalitarian regimes — the same way you can trust the native from the tribe where everyone always lies.

            2. It isn’t that they like AIDS, they don’t. It is that they consider “the right to orgasm” to be as fundamental as we consider the rights to speech, religion, and arms.

              1. When did this “right to orgasm” start? I don’t remember it being a taught subject (raised eyebrow) when I was a teenager in the 70s.

                  1. One of the reasons my parents took us out of school is because when I reached thirteen, the next year was mandatory sex ed. It wasn’t even a subject before that year. So I guess I missed it. Thankfully.

            3. Yes, but it’s below the worship of Priapus. Everything that can be done without interfering with that worship must be done, because AIDS preys on his worshipers, but the worship comes first.

  3. Tyranny in China and in India lasted for 3,000 years. That is the normal condition of mankind. Only in Judaism and Christianity has there been anything different. I’m afraid that one cannot hope that it will simply pass. The 70 Years’ War was won – by Thatcher, John Paul the Great, and Ronald Reagan. That victory was not inevitable. And Clinton and Obama undid that victory, and Russia again falls into darkness – though possibly more free presently than we presently are.

    Religion is not a matter of personal spiritual gymnastics or comfort. It is about the First Things, the initial starting points for thought and for life. It is not something which can be kept private – unless you don’t really believe it. What you -really- believe is going to be what guides how you live, how you choose, and how you think politically.

    I think the Westboro Baptist ‘church’ a family headed by a former Democrat actifvist, is more likely a stalking horse than an actual Christian organization.

    1. No one said anything about personal gymnastics. what I said is that you’re not going to convince anyone who doesn’t believe as you do by pointing at a book and saying “The book says.” That’s cartoon-religious and it will only send people screaming away.

      BY ALL MEANS let religion inform your personal ethical behavior. By all means point to the dignity of the individual conferred by Judeo-Christianity and how much better it made the world.

      On the other hand, do not start on India and China. If you apply granularity, China went through periods of near as much freedom as we have. India is a land of invaders and invasions. It does have something to do with religion, but it has far more to do with culture, conditions and national traumas.

      1. For example: locally the Christian community ran an ad every Saturday, about a full column at the beginning of the classifieds, asserting a point and defending it with Bible quotations. I don’t believe they ever glommed onto the logical fallacy inherent in their methodology.

        If arguing for the existence of Jesus, DO NOT cite the Bible; cite contemporaneous Roman and Judaic documentation, such as Flavius Josephus — then move into the arguments based on Biblical verse. Using external documentation to confirm Biblical claims establishes a much stronger base for your case.

        Further, use contemporary experience to support ethical lessons of the Bible, such as the psychological studies that demonstrated genuine happiness derives from helping others.

        G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis were masters of these techniques; go thou and study them.

        1. I’ve always been impressed with Lewis’ logical support of not only Christian principles (which several of our resident skeptics have demonstrated) but Christian doctrine, which I had not considered possible. He proceeded from an argument for the existence of a creator down to the necessity for the atonement of Jesus Christ. I need to go reread it sometime soon, and see whether I still find it convincing; it was in one of the early chapters of Mere Christianity, I remember that.

          1. I forget the name of the British astronomer who, although a life-long atheist, repented late in life upon realizing that Genesis describes the Big Bang in very appropriate terms.

            Try this argument, from

            Humans “Exceptional” As “Justifying Animal”
            By Wesley J. Smith
            January 4, 2013 12:27 A.M.
            An interesting blog entry over at Psychology Today focuses on the crucial issue of human exceptionalism (and also, this less crucial blog). The author, Gregg Henriques, Ph.D., agrees with me that, “We are unique beings that warrant special moral value,” and much to my delight, justifies the belief from an explicitly “secular humanist”perspective. From, “On Human Exceptionalism:”

            The system I have developed for unifying psychology argues strongly that humans are a unique kind of animal. However, in contrast to many traditional positions that differentiate animals from humans (e.g., Descartes’ substance dualism), the unified theory claims animals are mental and most are conscious (see here for a recent declaration on animal consciousness by some well-known neuroscientists). Humans are unique in that they have a self-consciousness system on top of the conscious system shared with other animals.


            Human cognition advanced to allow for human language (an open symbolic syntactical system of information processing that is, despite some claims to the contrary, a fundamentally different kind of communication/information processing system). Although language was a great advantage, a problem emerged because human language affords a window into the mind. This is the problem of social justification—for the first time in evolutionary history, our ancestors were asked about and thus had to justify (give reasons for) their behavior. I have explained elsewhere why the problem of justification gave rise to the human self-consciousness system and the human culture.

            We are the justifying animal. And that opens up a whole new, qualitative dimension of existence. It is not that other animals don’t have minds. That is an obviously misguided claim. Instead, it is better to think of it in terms of humans having two minds, whereas other animals only have one. Thus, the answer to HE is not that humans are exceptional because they are conscious and feel—other animals are conscious and feel. But humans are exceptional in that they have the capacity for self-conscious justification, which in turn is the engine that builds human cultures and knowledge systems about truth, goodness and evil. In short, HE is ultimately justified by the fact that humans alone can justify.

            Brilliant! And not a soul in sight.

            Emphasize: “for the first time in evolutionary history, our ancestors were asked about and thus had to justify (give reasons for) their behavior.”

            Translation: we ate the apple.

        2. Depends on whom they are trying to convince.

          When arguing with fundamentalists who pop up on Catholic discussion groups, I stick to the Bible because they (claim to) rely on nothing else. (The ones who vanish like an exorcised demon when you quote scripture at them are somewhat funny, though tiresome after the first few; the ones who participate in a long discussion thread in which they are the only ones to not quote scripture and then start to hold forth on Catholics’ not using Scripture are contemptible.)

  4. Just maybe the culture war is too big a target – like flock shooting instead of bird shooting? Maybe prioritize? Obviously I have my own pick for the leading canary in out coal mine but other warnings are equally valid. Learn from the example of Mr. du Toit as well as the Appleseed movement in general. Maybe blogging about the best kitchen appliances is a revolutionary act for more than preppers and mini-Galt.

  5. The ChiComs had X corps surrounded. It didn’t do them much good, mostly because they didn’t have any air cover.

    Most of my family are liberals, including my entire immediate family. They get their information from outlets like CNN and MSNBC and consider any other source untrustworthy. When I point out that journalists are people who know essentially nothing about any given topic they just get mad and end the conversation.

    We need big guns. We need the GOP to stop letting the DNC propaganda arm moderate their primaries. There are plenty of conservative media outlets, and letting them take center stage during the primary process would give them valuable exposure and legitimacy. Could you imagine Bill Whittle moderating a debate between Ryan, Rubio, and Perry? We also need to get the Comission on Presidential Debates to get moderators based on ratings. One for the highest rated cable news channel, one for the highest rated broadcast news channel, and one for the highest circulation newspaper. Yes, it still leaves 2/3 of the debates in hostile hands, but if they provided too strong of a contrast with FOX it would undermine their efforts.

    1. “Could you imagine Bill Whittle moderating a debate between Ryan, Rubio, and Perry?”

      Yes. Yes! YES!!!

    2. We’ve got big guns. That approach isn’t working.

      Then there’s your case. For lack of a better way to put it, you’re attacking the most strongly defended point in your family’s beliefs. Purely IMHO, wrong way to go about it.

      First thing you should be doing, again, purely IMHO, is weakening those defenses. Rather than argue “this is right, that is wrong”, simply undermine the credibility of their chosen sources. If it’s on CNN, and it’s gospel…alternate footage that demonstrates that CNN just lied. MSNBC? Even easier. Take a story, make a parody – change a few words – to something that’s one of their hot buttons. “Hey, here’s the footage, and here’s where they lied. Why do they have to make stuff up? How can you support them when they blatantly lie?”

      But… if you tell someone something, they’ll never accept it. They’ll defend their beliefs _harder_. THEY have to say it. That’s the only way they’ll own it. Come from that direction.

      1. We don’t have big guns. We have what we think are big guns, but they’re knee mortars compared to the 18″ rifles of CNN, ABC, TIME, etc. FOX has been effectively neutralized by being making an equivalence between it and MSNBC and having the latter go bat-guano liberal. I’m talking about outlets where the issues of the day are seriously discussed and conservative arguments are aired and refined. We have those outlets, if anything we have too many of them. The problem is that normal people don’t know the exist. PJ media says in their advertising info they get 1.87 million unique page views in a month. FOX got more than that during last Thursday’s prime time. CNN and MSNBC combined weren’t that far behind. I think if regular people saw these outlets they’d keep coming back, if only for the novel perspective, but there’s a severe bootstrapping problem.

        As for my family, my efforts there are constrained by family history, the fact that I enjoy arguing, and my basic personality as an arrogant bastard.

  6. The Left’s narrative is very simple and appealing to many since it promises Heaven on Earth.

    The Conservative/Libertarian narrative is generally much more thoughtful, much more nuanced, much more debatable, requires much more effort to understand, and as a result is less appealing on the surface, especially since it inherently eliminates the possibility of utopia.

    If it were possible to craft a very appealing, non-religious, Conservative/Libertarian narrative, that would go a long ways towards reversing the long slide of Conservatism. Deirdre McClosky in Bourgeois Dignity has a good narrative, but it needs to be boiled down to something more concise and powerful.

  7. Great suggestions; especially reading older books on science and tech. First of all they can be had free and secondly reading how wireless technology, light bulbs and scientific testing was done humbles you. Modern is not better simply because genius is a human not a social quality. To understand that is to have less faith in so-called consensus Left politics. We are more modern by accident of birth not because of something we ourselves have accomplished.

    I would suggest forming libertarian cells through websites like Meetup. Meet personally and apply talents and learning there. You may live in a gun control state but they can not stop you on educating yourself about firearms. How about learning to distill?? Yes it is illegal to do it but it is not illegal to learn about and judge its actual safety. Is the banning of home distillery just a revenue grab by the gov’t. or does it have merit?

    In fact I would call them questioning cells. Rather than form a group to push what we think are the right political idea how about simply gathering to ask if current government policy is correct and then to learn how it works. Obamacare advocates will be in crisis if conservatives teach each other its rules, how to work the system and become the chief beneficiaries.

    If they want bigger government, bigger government they shall have but the low information voter is at a distinct disadvantage to the highly motivated high knowledge citizen. Let the Marxist know you have done the grunt work, identified him, his means of support and will tax him!! Let the Cloward Piven types know you have taken their advice, bought into the welfare system,,,,are overwhelming the state and that their state supported university sinecures must come to an end. The money needs to go elsewhere. Such as to well…..ourselves.

    Get enriched, get strong and when the end comes reform the society. You won’t be able to if you simply go Galt, get more impoverished and find yourself weak when the time comes to fix things.

    1. “If it were possible to craft a very appealing, non-religious, Conservative/Libertarian narrative, that would go a long ways towards reversing the long slide of Conservatism.”

      How about an explanation of why perfection is impossible?

      Utopia — perfection — is impossible in reality because perfection violates causality.

      How? Because perfection requires you to be prepared for PRECISELY what happens in the future and ONLY what happens. For example, if there’s a drought, you’ve set aside enough — and ONLY enough — food to make up the short fall. If you put aside too much, you’re paying an opportunity cost and so falling short of perfection. If you put aside too little, people are going hungry and again you’re falling short of perfection.

      The only way you can be PRECISELY prepared for what will happen is known before hand PRECISELY what will happen. That means you’ll be acting before the cause of the action — a violation of causality.

      (I came to this via electrical engineering and a class on signal filters. The only way a filter can be “perfect” is if the filter begins to react BEFORE the signal arrives. That’s a violation of causality. Extend that to other problems and it, IMHO, is clear why perfection is impossible.)

  8. Sarah, a few points.
    1. It doesn’t take $50 million to buy a TV station. If someone seriously wants to get into the media game, it can be done for a helluva lot less than that. Start small, and go from there.
    2. Conservatives need to know how to sell their points. And I mean ‘classic sales techniques’. The engineering mindset of “If we just show them the data/facts” predominates – and y’know what? That doesn’t work.
    People decide with their emotions. They gather facts to justify the decision they’ve emotionally come to. Facts are useful, don’t get me wrong, but if you’re fighting the factual battle, and not the emotional battle, you’ve already lost.
    3. Tools will get you so far. It’s ultimately what you do with them. Half-assed tools, used creatively and effectively, will get you further than the best tools, sitting on the workshelf.

    1. Well said, though point one is largely extraneous thanks to things like YouTube. I think point two is really the message behind both Glenn and Sarah’s comments on the culture war: get into the fun! Make an association in people’s minds between your philosophy and positive, pleasurable outcomes. The classic example for me is the tavern/university from Christopher Stasheff’s Escape Velocity: sure, the bartender talks philosophy, history, and economics, but he’s also handing a thirsty man a good beer.

    2. I agree. The one message we MUST get across is that people that make money may be greedy, but their greed creates jobs. Punishing them for their so-called greed, and the jobs they create, is disastrous, especially if it results in fewer jobs being available. Sometimes, too, what some see as ‘greed’ is actually the desire to live a better life, and the willingness to take the risk to satisfy that desire. People don’t get “rich” by accident: it takes hard work, willingness to sacrifice, and a desire to do better.

      The United States has always had a rather relaxed, laissez-fair attitude about job creation. That has changed in the last 20-30 years, and today it’s all but impossible to satisfy all the legal requirements to open most new businesses. That means fewer jobs at the entry-level, less training through apprenticeships, and skyrocketing costs in most maintenance fields.

      These are the messages we have to get across: that small businesses are the lifeblood of this nation, that they’re not there for greed, but the desire for self-improvement, and that they’re being hurt by over-regulation, over-taxation, and a nanny-state government that’s killing not only them but the jobs and FUTURE they provide for so many others. Suggestions are welcome. I’ll post one here: someone (other than me – I don’t do short stories well) write a short story showing a young man/woman doing everything in their power to prepare themselves for the future. When they start looking for a job, all they find are closed shops, shops that have reduced their staff and not hiring, and big businesses that don’t really want them unless they’re clones of their current employees, and already know the job they’re supposed to do. Show the desperation, the despondency. Also include WHY shops have closed, why others aren’t hiring, and why big businesses are so closed to untested new employees. Yes, it’s a bit of dystopia, but it’s also what the world will look like for 2014/2015 graduates of both college and high school.

  9. (forgive me for the massive length of this post)

    I think the primary problem with waging a culture war from a conservative or libertarian position is that conservatives and libertarians have lives. We’re individualists, it’s not likely that any of us will give the vast majority of our lives and attention in service of some political cause. Most of the conservatives I know have jobs or run businesses, have families and hobbies. If someone tried to sell them on the prospect of spending miserable years undercover to infiltrate a hostile institution and subvert it from within by mercilessly undermining and making a mockery of its values, they would tell them to take a hike. (and the institutions we would have to infiltrate *would* be hostile, and how do you undermine a grasping for cultural/mental dominance and power to which any other principle or coherence is sacrificed? What contradiction would you be rubbing in their faces that they would even care about? No this wouldn’t even work. The left obviously isn’t bothered by internal self-contradictions, and they think anything is just peachy in service to the Cause)

    The left may have been able to pull off a long march through the institutions, but I’m doubtful about the nature of the effort involving vast conspiracies or central direction. Oh, sure, there were some conspiracies. There were actual communist front groups promoting their viewpoints, there was actual involvement from the Soviets at one time. But the leftists would have been leftist anyway – It seems to me that the leftists do what they do because they see the world in terms of their ideological struggle. They are crusaders for their cause, which they wholeheartedly believe in. Mr. Leftist (and I’m thinking of the ‘high-left’ here, not the moochers scrounging for free stuff) isn’t just Tim the teacher, he is one of the Heirs of the Enlightenment, forcing back the darkness and savagery of the mundane world, part of the vanguard of a better culture where the experts are in charge (better people, more enlightened people, people that agree with them 😛 ) and all human ills can be solved by directing anything they survey in service of their plans. They don’t need orders from Moscow to behave as they do – it’s part of how they think of themselves. Their image of themselves as good people, as the heroes of their own internal story, is because they are participants in this epic struggle to win the world for the side of the angels, and drag mankind out of the dark ages (as they see it).

    It is a religious mindset – the classical, crusading, all-consuming convert the world or die type of religion. It doesn’t need a head of church, just enough people that believe the same stuff and know that through their allegiance, they are *better* than the unbelievers.

    Ironically, conservatives aren’t religious in that way. Their purpose in life isn’t “if only I were in charge, I could do X”. Their life’s work isn’t to bring about some glorious revolution that transforms the world. It isn’t to convert everyone to the One True Way. Their purpose in life is to acheive some measure of wealth and independence, to achieve stability and security for their families, to raise their children to be successful and capable people. So they aren’t going to sign on to spending the rest of their life in Service to the Cause. Even when conservatives go to war, they do so in answer to what they percieve as a threat to their lives and families – for a little while, with the expectation that eventually they can go home and get back to their lives. To the idealists, the war for the Cause *is* their life. That’s why the left calls those of us unresponsive to their glorious Cause “selfish” – using that definition, we are.

    * * *

    So yes, I believe the institutions are pretty much a lost cause. Who could you find from our side, where our side are people who aren’t some sort of fanatic for a Cause, who would be willing to actually do what is needed to infiltrate and take them back?

    Some sort of end run *is* required if we are to have a voice. And I think the computer revolution has given us a lot of hope in that regard. But I also wouldn’t want conservatives to turn their cultural artifacts into weapons in some ideological war – not directly or primarily anyway. By all means, speak your mind, create art from your own understanding of the world, and don’t apologize for it. If the relative sparseness of a conservative voice all these years has actually been a culture of intolerant gatekeepers in the instututions, then I look forward to the results of a digital end-run.

    But a right-wing version of the left wing “message-literature” would be just about as annoying to me. I don’t read fiction so people can saw on my heartstrings while trying to tell me what to think about the world, even if I am more inclined to agree with them. I read fiction for fun, for characters that I can like, for interesting ideas and settings.

    1. But a right-wing version of the left wing “message-literature” would be just about as annoying to me. I don’t read fiction so people can saw on my heartstrings while trying to tell me what to think about the world, even if I am more inclined to agree with them. I read fiction for fun, for characters that I can like, for interesting ideas and settings.

      But we have it already.

      CS Lewis for the obvious, and JRR Tolkien for the less.

      How good are they?

      Does anyone else remember, after the movies came out, the maiden-aunt-encountering-a-dead-mouse response from folks who realized that they’d been exposed to– gasp!– CHRISTIAN THEMES?!?!?

      1. Tolkien’s books were the first ones I read for fun. I have rather fond memories of his work. But his wasn’t what I was talking about when I spoke of message literature.

        He created a world, and characters within that world, and told us their story in terms of that world. Certainly, the way his world behaved, the nature of good and evil in his story were informed by the way he thought of our own. But Middle Earth wasn’t a cardboard stage-prop for a ham-handed morality play, even if the story told in LOTR was an epic good-evil struggle.

        (Actually, to the foot-soldiers for the Cause, whether the Cause in question is world socialism or some sort of religious crusade, they think of the real world *itself* as a cardboard stage prop in their morality play. Of no consequence in and of itself except as a backdrop for their all-consuming narrative. Nothing having any intrinsic value except in terms of the role it plays in their narrative/struggle. Perhaps the nature of their literature is no accident.)

        As for CS Lewis – it has been a while. I do recall him being somewhat less than subtle in places with his allegory, and to the extent he did that, it did somewhat grate. (I do remember being somewhat annoyed, for example, about the children being granted nigh unquestioned reign over Narnia, for no particular reason that would make internal sense, a world they were practically complete strangers to, in one of the later books.) (It’s not exactly that the themes were Christian, it’s sort of what I was alluding to above.)

        But Lewis also was a fun writer at times. His more “anvilicious” moments were forgivable.

        Tolkien > CS Lewis, in terms of my enjoyment of their work, and I wouldn’t condemn either. YMMV though.

        1. *laughs* Tolkien’s world wasn’t just formed by what he thought of this one, he noticed that his philosophy was forming it and then deliberately applied his philosophy to the building!

          Just evidence that writing for a message doesn’t HAVE to be horrible….

  10. It is not illegal to distill your own booze. It is illegal to distill booze for sale without getting all of the appropriate tax stamps.

    So, teach yourself to distill if you like – just reserve the products for family and friends… And, since the raw spirits are really too rough to consume, they need to be aged in wooden barrels – this takes about 8 years, and eats up real estate, time, and money, especially to acquire wooden barrels in today’s world.

    Just like with the NFA’s restrictions on automatic weaponry, the real problem in these legacies from the Depression / Prohibition is the degree or arbitrary discretion allowed to local politicians and bureaucrats. While I’m largely in favor of having authority derogated to the lowest possibly level for maximum responsibility to the public, I am also a fan of having legal recourse – standards of conduct – to protect folks from arbitrary and discriminatory abuse of the powers of office…

    1. No it is illegal. Beer and wine are legal spirits are not. This is from the website.

      General Alcohol FAQs

      G1: Can I produce beer, wine or spirits for my personal or family use without paying Federal excise tax and filing Federal paperwork?


      Production. (this is actually a hyperlink which explains what can be produced without need for paying taxes)

      Removal of beer.


      Wine for personal or family use.


      You cannot produce spirits for beverage purposes without paying taxes and without prior approval of paperwork to operate a distilled spirits plant. [See 26 U.S.C. 5601 & 5602 for some of the criminal penalties.] There are numerous requirements that must be met that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal or beverage use. Some of these requirements are paying excise tax, filing an extensive application, filing a bond, providing adequate equipment to measure spirits, providing suitable tanks and pipelines, providing a separate building (other than a dwelling) and maintaining detailed records, and filing reports. All of these requirements are listed in 27 CFR Part 19.

      Spirits may be produced for non-beverage purposes for fuel use only without payment of tax, but you also must file an application, receive TTB’s approval, and follow requirements, such as construction, use, records and reports.

      Technically even the production of apple jack (cider placed in the freezer to separate out the alcohol is illegal as well)

      1. Yes, I have a friend that makes wine, a few years before I met him, his roommate and him decided to make some whiskey. Their house got raided and they got in trouble (just a slap on the wrist since it was obvious they were only distilling for personal use). On the other hand, over the years I have known quite a few people who make ‘shine, it is commonly known that they do, and have never been in trouble. It is one of those laws that is more honored in the breach.

        1. Yes…..very true…..but this is why I want people to actively learn about this. The outcome of a misunderstood action could be dire if the gov’t decides it wishes to enforce. All you need is a Mike Bloomberg type deciding the little people need a good lesson and your friends go to jail and have a felony to report every time they look for a job after they get out.

  11. There is a real opening for any conservative who is gifted in art or poetry because, although leftists dominate these areas (in our schools, anyway), their efforts have no popular appeal. Who pays any attention to contemporary art? No one with any sense. Ditto for poetry.

    1. Here’s the problem with poetry– Everyone thinks they can write it and very few people can– 😉 Plus there is no real market for poetry. I quit writing poetry for publishing when I realized that I would starve if I tried to depend on it. So I am in fiction instead–

      1. He is right that there is a… starving for real art and literature. Which means those of us who can do it need to roll up sleeves.

        Of course, I’m up for a few minutes, having been floored on my BEHIND by a cold… gah.

        1. Well– I have two chapbooks out (Sonnet Playground & A Flicker of Hope: Poems written by a Wegener’s Granulomatosis Survivor). Here is a taste of my poetry:

          The Goldfinch Promise

          Be watchful
          of the shaky tree
          with thorny branch
          and fingers.

          It catches you
          in twig-like nests
          and eats your flesh
          for dinner.

          The cheeping finch
          will guide you through
          the ever-tangling brush,

          And bring you
          safely to your home
          before the creeping dusk.

      2. “Everyone thinks they can write it ”

        *Raises hand* I know I can’t! When the muse really grabs me by the neck I can turn out passable comedic lyrics, but they’re not really the same thing as poetry. I would sooner die than see anything I had written set next to, say, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock* or even The Naming of Cats.

        * The poem is meandering and self-indulgent but good gravy I love the way he uses language.

        1. I can only write poetry in Portuguese, which is now a passing language for me (my brain is shedding it, which is weird.)

          I wonder if it is like with singing. My son realized I can sing on pitch if I learned the song before the massive infection that gave me mid-range hearing loss.

          I learned ENGLISH after the hearing loss, and while I can make it serve in rhythms for prose, I lack the finer-tuned ear needed for poetry both rhythm and inflection (and this is part of my accent. All my inflections are wrong. I know that.)

          So I’m a recovering poet. It’s been ten years, two months, fifty two days and three hours since my last sonnet, but I still take it a day at a time. Even a couplet would be too much.

          1. Oh well– I like to play with sonnets– either shorten the lines or write sonnets w/o rhymes– I really like playing with slant rhymes actually.

            I find too that some of my inflections do not match other people because I learned to speak in Canada at around two years old. Then we went to California– plus I was in the military so my accent is a mishmash of Canadian and American English. 😉

          2. I can write doggrel. I once did a poem series for the folks at an airport where I used to work. They were amused. And I can butcher song lyrics. “Hark I hear the harps Eternal” becomes “Hark I hear the cat approaching,” or worse.

  12. “But don’t try to legislate your ideas of “holy” unless you can justify them rationally. ”

    And what is your opinion of Martin Luther King, Jr., based on his speeches, as evaluated by this standard?

    1. It was fifty years ago and most of the movement — at least the core of it — was in churches. You can’t do that these days. The churches have already claimed what they can claim, on top of which many of the churches (including to an extent my own) are objectively on the other side. You’re not going to get religious people to see government-run health as the moral danger it is (reducing people to utilitarian objects vis a vis society/state) when their pastor is telling them it’s “compassion.” And on a non-religious blog coming in and insisting that what we need to do is cleave to someone’s religious standards will only put people off. At best it kills discussion. At worst it makes it change into a “you disagree with me on point x, heretic!”

      1. Whether it can be done nowadays is a prudential judgment on which reasonable people can differ. If people are agreeing with their pastors, it’s a line of attack that may very well be effective for them.

  13. Sarah –

    If I had to describe my own process of dealing with this stuff, your steps fit very well with how I’ve had to do it in practice. My wife is unabashedly “cool guy” for elections (Bush over kerry, Obama uber alles), and with her being tied to the film biz, I get to deal with a LOT of liberals. No, I’m not a kook, but I damn well am going to have my facts straight if I do open my mouth – not that some won’t start screaming at you for holding the wrong opinions, damn the facts. This means in practice I end up being the reasonable one in contra-conservative conversations overheard by liberal friends and acquaintances because I won’t allow sound-bite histrionics a la many fox opinion commentators. (The latter gets me an atta-boy until I start tearing MSNBC a new one for simply making shit up or stating that what you see on the screen – say, a black guy with a gun – is an example of WHITE anger… or CNN for careful omission by editing of difficult questions when reporting on, say, the middle east.)

    On “because if you complain, you’re a sour puss” – God yes. Even “not wanting to watch that show because every character in it is an unlikable amoral SOB” or “I have no interest in watching a show where the whole point is that the humans are the REAL monsters” gets that. I HAVE had some luck eviscerating “no good guys” as a “good thing”.

    And speaking of not-too-subtle propaganda –

    Anyone seen “seal team six” on Netflix/whatever, a semi-documentary/dramatization of the raid (NOT kathryn Bigelo’s zer dark thirty).

    Overall, not horrible, though the constant cutting to “one on one” interviews with the actors gets annoying, and the quality of the action sequences isn’t up to that of real seals (act of valor).

    Fraking annoying to the point of distraction though:

    One, taking excerpts of Romney and McCain speeches about the overall strategy in Afghanistan/Iraq re: we’re not going to make it all about a one-man hunt, and excerpting those so that it sounds like they weren’t interested in hunting down Bin Laden. There’s a later “in story” throwaway line about “we could’ve had him in Tora Bora” to fill out the republican Trifecta.

    Two – Excerpting the picture of the President and the staff watching the raid footage, the one where he looks lonely, small, and lost in the corner and NOT dominating the room, to focus on him.

    Three – and the most annoying. Constant voice-overs with President Obama’s commentary about how making the wrong choice could have nasty, nasty repurcussions while shoing shots of him contemplatively sitting, walking, etc. (alone). Yes, I get having the audio, and even the video, of the announcement speech at the end. THAT belongs in the story. But after enough times IN DIALOGUE where the characters mention and discuss the nasty possibilities and the first half of the film revolves around “is it really in there”, it’s redundant, repetitive, and completely unecessary, except to give the president screen time in a film about finding Bin Laden, and training for/executing the raid. Combine that with “one” above and it’s even more obvious.

    And it’s all so passive-agressive. If you bitch about it you’re a grouch and a hater. Yet, when you look at it under the microscope of “what did they do that they didn’t have to do to tell the story of the hunt and the raid” – it stands out like a sore thumb.

    1. sorry – not “contra” conservative, but “intra” – like my dad and brother and I talking, overheard by others.

    2. One way to counter these forced narratives is to quietly point out the contradictions inherent in their viewpoints. For example, “taking down bin Laden” as our proper goal could engender a quip about how “taking down Capone” brought an end to organized crime.

      Similarly, an argument for gun registration should be met with a response of the sort: Great idea — you go tell the Crips and the Bloods to register their weapons.

  14. Both of these endeavors will change your perception and you’ll find yourself huffing at sitcoms you used to enjoy.

    It’s a lot like taking the red pill, in fact. (Anyone remember The Matrix?) Once you learn the truth and start seeing the manipulation behind the scenes, there’s no going back to the comfortable, ignorant life you used to live. On the other hand, knowing the truth empowers you in a way that you could never have known in your blue-pill days.

    I highly recommend the red pill.

    1. *sad*

      I’d kind of like to just be able to enjoy stuff without noticing the guys dressed in black moving props around.

      “Can’t you just enjoy it?” they say….

      1. And yes, I know they mean “can’t you shut up unless you’re agreeing with me?”

        Still. It’d be nice to fit in for a bit.

        1. They count on that, and sometimes they manage it, particularly with “conservatives” — I’m really more libertarian, and it irks me to say “conservative” shouldn’t that mean I want to conserve the status quo? — who are countercultural and who “by group” “should” belong in the dem plantation. As foreign born, female, in the arts, I often feel like I’m swimming against the current and people tend to hate on me MORE because of perceiving that I SHOULD be “left”.

          Fortunately I’m really a stubborn cuss.

          1. “conservative”? Heh. I have the same problem. How about “liberal”? I’m used to thinking of people like Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and Jefferson as liberals. These modern guys? Not even remotely. As an occasional programmer, I’m somewhat flexible with my labels. I care about what people mean, not the words they use to label their concepts. Even so, hearing socialists called “liberal”, libertarians called “conservative”, and all other manner of linguistic juggling, it does make for a bit of overhead in decoding what people are talking about.

            Myself, I’m probably a libertarian, not a “conservative” (depending on what you mean by that 😛 ).

        2. I got away from that long ago. One of the things I’ve found is that by not obviously fitting in with any particular in-crowd, I’m according a certain amount of respect – at least among those with whom I’d rather associate – even if it’s only of the, “I’m not sure I want to pick up that thing: it might be sharp or hot or turn me into goo.”

          That said, it would be nice to fit in once in a while. I’ve taken to locating writers (and suchlike) who espouse ideas I like, and then uncreepily stalking them. Following them around cons, joining their online communities, forcing remuneration upon them in exchange for the sweat of their brows, complimenting their efforts, and offering my services as a sherpa and general dogsbody, all the while demonstrating my unbearable charm and unutterable wit. Thus far it’s proven to be rather rewarding. I’ve made several lifelong friends out of it, and I’m working to produce a community in which I feel at home because I worked to create it. Lots of fun, too.

            1. Oh. Them. They don’t know what to do with me. I don’t fit into their neat little boxes. I mean, pastor’s kid, philosophy major, SF writer, wears kilts, rides a motorcycle, USN veteran, supports his sailor wife with cooking and cleaning duties while she deploys, calls pagans, atheists, militant agnostics friend, drinks fine single malts. Where does he fit? It doesn’t make sense! Cannot compute! *Headsplosion*

                1. Given my gender (unabashedly male, and increasingly traditional), skin color (I am a person of pallor), and my religious leanings (well-known, straight-laced Christian denomination), I am generally assumed to be conservative. It’s amusing, when I actually let my views be known, to see people’s reaction to finding that I’m just to the ‘left’ of Murray Rothbard. Conservatives think I’m nuts, the vile progs think I’m the devil, and the left-of-center drones think I’m trying to murder Santa Claus. When I start to relate the road of idiocies I traveled before I reached where I am (including flirtations with Communism and some ugly brands of mysticism) they start to look very, very confused indeed.

                  1. The simple fact that you’ve survived a personal journey is practically incomprehensible to a significant chunk of society. “But who told you how to do it? What are your certifications? What Tried-and-True Path to Righteousness did you follow, striding on the shoulder of giants?” If I pass on nothing else to my children when they decide to show up, I want them to learn a certain amount of skepticism, and to think for themselves.

                    1. You and me, both. My wife tolerates my legs, but only because she’s married to me.

                  1. I should also mention that with adequate socks and a decent pair of boots, kilts are very pleasant even in the depths of a Colorado winter. I wear them whenever I’m visiting my parents-in-law in Montrose.

                    1. What do you do about the wind? I’ve never seen a sporran heavy enough to counter the winds that come down the canyons here in winter. Maybe with a great kilt, rather than the smaller, more common ones, but they’re much less convenient and seem unsuited to most modern wear.

                    2. I’ve got one of the Tactical Duty Kilts, and I’m not terribly impressed with it. I think I’m not shaped quite right for it. I mostly wear Utilikilts, which – while expensive – stand up well to modern life. I’ve hiked in Hawaii, Colorado and Washington in them. As to wind, it depends on the wind. Updrafts can be … surprising, but part of the design is a “modesty” closure where toggles or snaps hold the kilt closed. I have several in cotton, which are fine for normal wear, one in denim, which is a bit heavier, and then my traditional wool kilt. Never had a problem with wind, except in the D.C. area in January. I blame the Atlantic for that, though. The humidity was less than pleasant, especially with my blood thinned from years of tropical island exile. Colorado winters, however, are a non-issue. Even below freezing, there’s not enough humidity in the air to make it more than noticeably uncomfortable.

                  2. My fundamental concern is men’s right to bear arms, not bare legs. Baring legs is an aesthetic choice, to be decided on a case-by-case basis and subject to external endorsement (for example: knees are meh on male or female, but ankles vary greatly.) Bearing arms is universal subject to revocation for gross irresponsibility.

                  3. I prefer chins and chests. I like a man with a clean shaven face and a hairy chest. I’d prefer tunic and hose to a kilt. I think that a kilt is too drafty, open to insects and obscures the butt. Most of all it lacks pockets!

                    1. My hubby has had a clean-shaven face when I met him. When he left the Navy, he started his first beard. It took a few months before I became used to the beard. I like it when he has a close-shaven beard, but in the winter he ends up with the anti-Claus beard. I like it now. On the other hand, he doesn’t tell me how to wear my hair and when I decided to cut my long hair when it became too heavy, he didn’t say anything about it. So I like my men hairy all over–

                      Plus most of the men in my area wear beards. It is the clean-shaven ones you need to be wary of–

                1. Kilts are an anatomically correct garment for those of us of the male persuasion. Fashionable and functional, they allow for the demonstration of indisputable virility, and – in American society, at least – demonstrate that the wearer is one to choose his own destiny, who grabs life with both hands and wrings from it what he wants, refusing to bow to the dictates of those who demand he be hairless and sexless. Also: convenient, in many usages of the term…

                    1. When a close male family member got his first kilt, the sales lady also gave him several replies and come-backs, as well as answers to rude questions. For example: Q. “What is worn under a kilt?” A: “Nothing, madame. It all functions perfectly.”

                  1. Hear, hear! The kilt is a wonderful garment, and I miss wearing one. Once I have the money I will probably resume its use (good kilts don’t come cheap, and I can’t abide the lousy ones) and once I can manage self-employment I shall use it almost exclusively.

                1. I see I should update my screen (hadn’t been updated since early this morning) before I comment, there seems to be an entire conversation on kilts and wind, now.

          1. Along with Groucho Marx I fundamentally distrust any society which accepts me and thus have no interest in “Fitting In.”

  15. I heartily endorse everything you say, except I recommend getting kids out of public school as soon as possible. Happily, we got ours out before my son’s illiteracy was incurable.

    One of the best things I did with my kids was to read one of their little papers from school and call bullsh*t on it. It was one of those idiot greenie propaganda fliers from school. It said that the US wastes N gallons of water per year b/c folks don’t shut off the water. So, I took my kids to the bathroom to measured the water one used to brush one’s teeth. Then we did the math and showed the propaganda flier to be a blatant lie.

    Modeling skepticism and backing it with experimental refutation of suspicious claims by scientific method and mathematical analysis equips the tykes a lot better than an anti-Captain Planet cartoon.

    I always figured I was training the next generation of wolves to go thru the sheep being programmed around them. My kids knew there was no Santa Claus and they are poised to exploit the magical thinking of those who vote for him.

  16. As Breitbart demonstrated, these thugs can be Alinskyed all day long and well into the night. Make them live up to their demands for tolerance, hold them to the denunciations of “otherizing” groups, make them confront the inherent contradictions of their arguments. It’s Easy and Fun! Play it with your friends!

  17. You people familiar with the fan made movie “Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning”? A Star Trek parody, and not exactly my cup of tea, but it does look surprisingly good, and it was done on a shoestring budget and almost completely by amateurs. Took seven years to finish, but they did it, and it seems to have gotten some of the people involved launched into some sort of movie careers. And it’s not exactly the only fan movie around. They put it out as a free download, but as far as I know it also netted them fairly respectable money because it became well known enough that they could, after that, also start selling it through the traditional channels.

    So when will somebody get together a crew to do something similar but with Human Wave type of stories? We may not be able to take over Hollywood, or buy a TV station, but it might be possible to get more alternatives out there.

    And I definitely agree with the sentiment ‘no preaching’. Stealth should work better. Fun stories, likable heroes, and hide the messages. Enjoyable stories can be a good way to implant ideas, but for lots of people that works best when those ideas, or messages, are close to unnoticeable on the surface level. Especially if we are talking about ideas which may be in conflict with the status quo, and trying to sell those ideas to people who have never much questioned it.

    1. I don’t necessarily endorse it, because Glenn Beck drives me nuts half the time I hear him, but he did much the same when he started GBTV. He couldn’t do his show the way he wanted on Fox, so he started an internet subscription TV show. Last I heard he had garnered enough subscribers to branch out into cable or satellite (I don’t remember which).

        1. “the legacy of who the network goes to is important to us and we are sensitive to networks not aligned with our point of view,”

          ROFL, I’ll bet Beck makes them sensitive. 🙂

          1. Touchingly honest of him, no? They don’t care about energy development world-wide, they care about it in the first world– the oil countries would also prefer that the US and other such countries not pump their own oil.

  18. (And I, too, must apologize for going on longer than I meant to when I started.)

    There’s a point here that I’ve been trying to get my head wrapped around well enough to express it. Bill Whittle came close with a video that was out over the holidays. There are two versions of the talk — one a two-parter with a conservative book club or something out there in the Valley in California, and the other a more-polished speech at David Horowitz’s annual do.

    The core point, I guess, militates against any urge to fight the left with their own tactics on their ground — e.g., in a so-called “culture war.” It is that the model the left is operating within is outdated. It is, essentially, a 19th Century model, half feudal, half industrial. The feudal half was already obsoleted by the individualistic, liberty-oriented agrarian social model of the Founders. The industrial model was obsolete almost before Karl Marx used it as a stalking horse for his delusions. But the world suffered with it through the first half of the 20th Century, through two world wars, fought in part between differing strains of the industrial model.

    What’s coming is something completely different, and, yes, the Python allusion is deliberate. It will look insane from the industrial viewpoint, which will, in turn, look insane to the eyes of the future in a post-industrial, post-government world, where everybody is a cottage industrialist, and central planning is seen as quaint and antiquated as the medieval church and guild model looks today.

    People, this development WILL happen. It is inevitable in a way that Marxism could never be, because it is, as is the free market, the natural configuration into which human commerce will relax in the absence of overwhelming external force. And the overwhelming part is important. Because not even the War on Drugs is overwhelming enough to shut down the black market in illegal intoxicants.

    Take the Internet as the object lesson and model. It is atomic in that the individual components are as small as they can get and operate with near-total autonomy, according to mutually- and freely-agreed-upon protocols. It resists meddling of non-participating third parties — indeed, confounds their efforts. It operates with near-total efficiency DESPITE attempts at central control and BECAUSE OF its atomic and anarchic nature.

    Some may find this ideal of unfettered liberty to be frightening. However, with it comes the rational understanding that it can only work so long as all members respect the individual autonomy of all other members and that the sole power of a “state”-analog entity should be to support that mutual respect and to punish those who seek to vitiate it for ANY reason.

    And THIS is, I believe, the ideal that all, from atheist to Jesus freak, from Hamiltonian to Spoonerite, from Heinleiner to Randite, should strive for. I believe that a calm, gentle exposition of not only the values and facts, but also the aspirations — the emotional content the left so dearly loves — will prove resistless to the left’s increasingly shrill, increasingly harsh, increasingly and tendentiously mendacious program of persuasion and public policy prescriptions. THAT will, as did the Soviet Union, collapse under the weight of its own contradictions, fallacies, and cognitive dissonance.

    Oh, and BTW: Human wave FTW.


    1. I regret to say that the infestation of trolls and spammer ensures that the Net operates with considerably less than near-total efficiency. Third parties who merely want to wreck can do a lot of damage in the net.

      there’s a reason why conservatives are not anarchists. The Net demonstrates one facet of the problem.

      1. On this — I used to get horrible troll infestations particularly when I got an instalink. Then I did two things 1) I announced that once I’d determined someone is a troll I’d only let the most incoherent of them through “for the lulz” 2) I started banning the ips of those who started out reasonable and then turned trollish.

        I can do this, because this blog is my personal property, and I see no reason to let trolls bother my guests.


        Five IPs banned. I rarely get a troll even with an installanche, though I sometimes get a couple of “it’s hard to tell.”

        You figure it. Five IPs… For pay? Centralized. I’d say likely.

        1. The surest sign of bad news for the left is an uptick in trolling. Now, that may be an observation bias, but given the near unanimity in their talking points…

      2. Trolls are (mostly) individuals. That they can get through is a feature, not a bug. Of course, they need to be slapped down with extreme prejudice, but their presence is a sign of the health of the system. When they stop coming around — or when they’re all government stooges — then start worrying.

        Spammers are actually, to my mind, a symptom of the collectivist disease, also known as the “Tragedy of the Commons.” What everyone owns, no one owns. The incentives are much the same as they are for a water source held in common. And the central planning agency won’t permit the owners of the pipes to arrange incentives (read: pricing signals) to appropriate relationships between coasts and benefits.

        There is a difference between liberty and anarchy. That some conservatives are incapable at times of perceiving it is one reason why libertarians come in for so much flak.

        ::Gentle, affectionate tweak:: Kim du Toit in 3… 2…


        1. They stop coming around because they render forums unusable and so drive off the audience they crave. But that’s unusable for everyone, not just them.

          Not to mention that you don’t seem to realize that the price tag does not mean there’s a real difference between them and the spammers. Who do, after all, know that other people own things. That’s exactly what they prey on.

    2. Mark,
      I’ve been contemplating a post like this. Maybe I’ll do it for my guest post for your blog — as soon as I stop coming down with end-on-end illnesses. And THAT must stop. I can’t be having with this.

      1. Good. Perhaps you can be more coherent than I. Whenever you can get it together, it will be — of course — most welcome.


  19. I have always taught my children not so much to argue facts as to assert them into an argument and then step back. Do it with questioning smile as though you think the answer may come from a different direction than than either emotional side.
    Or to answer a direct leading question such as “Don’t you think or wouldn’t you say” with the statement, “I don’t play that game”.
    It confounds those buggers.

  20. Quite some time ago I read a series of articles online addressing the fundamental power of asserting the right to question (too long ago to find any of the articles now.) Watch any TV interview and count the number of times a question is asked deriving from a fundamentally undemonstrated premise — it is especially frequent during the current discussions subsequent to the Newtown shootings, but it happens with pretty much all political topics. The interrogator assumes a perspective and challenges the “guest” from that position.

    Consider that a great part of Newt Gingrich’s debate success during the GOP primaries stemmed from his repeated challenging the premises of questions asked.

    Consider the response likely if a conservative politician responded to a “don’t you think …” question by saying “your question makes no sense, it stems from a conclusion that hasn’t been proven.”

    Consider how often in online discussions you reflexively explain a position when your interests might be better served by challenging the question’s premises.

    There was a good reason Socrates was forced to drink the hemlock. Learn from his tactics; our opponents are woefully incapable of defending their positions because they are only schooled in challenging others’ positions. Put the bastiches on the defensive, follow Patton’s admonition and attack, attack, attack.

    1. Consider how often in online discussions you reflexively explain a position when your interests might be better served by challenging the question’s premises.

      Oh, I hate when I realize I have done that. I’m trying to train myself to analyze the question or argument first, before I start explaining back, but it’s hard.

      1. I know what you mean – advice easier to give than to follow. We are socially conditioned by the school systems to answer the question asked. Students who respond by saying “That’s a stupid question and here’s why” typically become well acquainted with the school’s principal, vice-principals and counselling apparatchiks.

  21. I am trying to keep a small Tea Party group together in South Texas. I email them daily with links so of course I sent this link and also the whole post in its entirety. I received one reply, it was from my daughter a librarian. I asked her to send you the reply but she is a working woman and busy so I am doing the sending for her. Here is her reply:
    I’ve been thinking about this since first reading it, which was before you sent it…

    I have always tried to keep a balanced approach to the children’s nonfiction books we get. By that I mean I skim the content, and if it’s total feel good, man bad! lie about the environment or climate I don’t put it in the system. Most are pretty balanced, and do present both sides. It’s not much, but it’s something. There is a real bad trend right now, has been for the past 8-10 years – Young Adult fiction its just horribly depressing, life sucks, why fight it. It gets pushed by the library associations, but I haven’t yet run into a librarian that really likes it. We get them, because they get put on reading lists, but not any more than we can help. I do try to get uplifting, fun fiction for kids and teenagers. I really hate the ‘young adult’ stuff, it’s an illusion created to push an agenda.

    Anyway, this morning as I was leaving Mike turned on the tv (big surprise, right?) to a sports station, I don’t know which one. And it was an interview with a football player (don’t know who), that was retiring and he just kept praising God for his health, his career, his family, everything. And they (the interviewer and the newscaster) were hanging on to his every word, but injecting questions about his career, and records. Which was fine, they were listening and being respectful, but doing their job. I was thinking as I halfway listened that it was funny, they had no problem with him giving God the glory, but Tim Tebow gets vilified for the same thing. I guess because he’s young and not an older person? Anyway I know that there used to be a Fellowship of Christian Athletes when I was in school, so I asked Mike if they still did that…he didn’t know, but was pretty sure they probably did – but I’m a little skeptical about it. So that would be a good venue for teaching and influence that might have potential. And maybe it is still around, but out in the flyover states – maybe it needs to hit the inner cities and burbs. 🙂 It would be nice to find out that it’s still alive and well.

    1. I follow the web comic “Unshelved” (aka life in the weird end of the stacks). Every Friday they do a book review section, usually six or seven titles. Every week there seems to be at least one YA book about “coming out,” dystopias, abuse, sexual abuse, or a comic/manga with graphic violence. I realize that the selection reflects that cartoonists’ personal tastes, but man, that’s not a great book selection for trying to encourage anyone, teenagers or adults.

      1. my kids seemed to get assigned stuff with lesbian black pagans with disabilities a lot. I’m not saying such characters should be banned, but then when all the character does is “be abused” throughout the book, no one wants to read that.

        1. There is nothing wrong with a book having a ‘lesbian black pagan with disabilities’ character. But the majority of books? Come on people, how many disabled lesbian black pagans do you meet every day?

          1. exactly. Well, sometimes it was a lesbian disabled Native American with disabilities, so…

            My main issue is ACTUALLY the fact that these characters were… Bambi in Bambi meets Godzilla. made me want to hurt someone.

  22. Food for thought – a quote from elsewhere, overheard on the radio:

    “How do you argue with people to whom math is an opinion? “

  23. Very nice post.

    I’d like to suggest that the premise of “what do we do” is often ill-placed. Often, it seems that people questioning what to do want some authority figure to tell them “here’s the master plan for winning the Culture War.” That has not and will not work.

    We need a decentralized approach with an experimental attitude. This, I think, is what Andrew Breitbart was working with. In essence, when someone scores a political victory (left or right), break down what happened and see if it can be modeled in your own backyard, where you go about your business. Continue the successful models; drop the unsuccessful ones. Rinse and repeat.

    This is essentially what the Left is constantly doing. There is an army of different groups battling for the Left, ready with a message for any issue. When an issue comes up, they let the ones with the strongest fit narrative-wise do battle with the narrative from the right, usually represented by the GOP. This way, the GOP defends the non-Liberal position, saddled by whatever baggage, etc. it may have, and the Left opts for the strongest attack, regardless of who it is. (Ever notice that when Radical Islam is the issue, the Feminists are not around? That is not a bug; it’s a feature.) If they win, they take note and attempt to replicate. If not, they tinker to fix the problem or adopt another line of attack.

    Although conservatives espouse decentralized approaches for economic issues (well, usually), when it comes to the Culture War, they often ignore their idealogical leanings toward decentralized structures and look for a centralized, top-down answer. We need to stop looking for The Answer and start being a little more pragmatic and experimental. We need to go small and build to big. And then continue to go small to seed the future.

    This won’t sit well with a lot of people because it involves micro-strategy instead of global strategy. But, realistically, talking to people about gun control (or whatever) and working to find the best ways to convince them (which, realistically, is probably different from what convinced you) is how get it done.

    If we’re not interested in finding out what would cause other people to gravitate toward our position and working to do that, then we are waisting our time and effort anyway. Just my opinion; and it’s worth exactly what you paid for it.

  24. Couple weeks ago, my husband and I was watching a show on National Geographics, I think, or one of the science channels. The premise was what if a neutron star was headed our way and we have 30 years before the solar system is destroyed. So, a search for a new home is identified, and then a world-wide effort is launched to build spaceships that would take “the best of humanity” to be resettled at the new home.

    Now, of course, there’s no one entity working on building one spaceships – of course it will be a multi-governmental effort, and of course, there will be private industry efforts, bankrolled by the rich.

    Guess which spaceship gets finished? Yes, the one bankrolled by the rich. And guess what happens to THAT shuttle to the spaceship? Well . . . ignition fails . . . desperate calls for evacuation, followed by a spectacular explosion. I guess someone has a grudge against rich people and found an opportunity to scratch that itch.

    And . . . food on the spaceship. It is explained that food would be vegetarian by necessity since having animals would take up too much limited resources. No mention of whether frozen embryos would be taken on the government-built spaceship for when it arrives at New Earth. Now, that is a not-so-subtle promotion of vegetarianism.

    Here’s the link to the show:

    I guess my point is that the left are very, very good at slipping in stuff like this. We need to step up to the game.

    1. We watched a show on the future of evolution… Let’s say I could guess it all, each step from “what if you hate humans, then mamals then…” the end where intelligent squids inherit the Earth was entirely predictable.

      1. Intelligent squids … that’s why I have rocket launchers buried in the backyard. Just in case Darwin knew something.

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