Finding His Country In The Jaws Of A Values Crisis, It’s Richard Dreyfuss To The Rescue! or, “This Was No Boating Accident!” [UPDATED]

Several episodes in the news this week had me pondering a post about whether the hysteria of “the resistance” has caused a critical mass of Democrats and progressives to lose their grip on basic ethical values, like decency, tolerance, respect, proportion, democracy and citizenship competence. These were all ethics alarms, perhaps especially for liberal Americans with integrity, warnings that their side of the ideological divide is not merely spinning off its axis, but spinning into insanity.

Ethics Alarm #1, and the worst by far, was this astounding scenario out of Newton Massachusetts.

Newton District Court Judge Mary Beth Heffernan freed a previously deported Uber driver accused of three charges of rape on minimal  bail even after a prosecutor insisted that federal immigration agents were drafting a detainer and asked for higher bond to hold him. Tapes of this week’s hearing revealed the judge cutting  arguments short, and before a defense attorney could even counter the prosecution’s $100,000 bail and GPS-monitoring demand, declalred, “Twenty-five hundred dollars cash.” She then set a follow-on court date  and asked, “Is he going to make the bail today?”

On the tape, someone in the courtroom is heard calling out, “Yes.” Heffernan then asked a court employee, “Can you take bail downstairs? Sometimes they won’t, they make them go back out to the House of Correction at 4 o’clock.” The defendant, Luis Baez, promptly disappeared, which was the evident goal of the judge. She was more concerned with allowing an illegal, already once deported immigrant avoid ICE arrest than  protecting the citizens of Massachusetts.

Baez was accused of raping a drunken Boston College student who had hailed his Uber car. Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Raquel Frisardi told the judge that Baez took the young woman to a parking lot and other sites, and raped her three times.. He then dropped his victim  at Boston College, where she reported she had been raped. Baez was introduced to the judge as “somebody known to the Boston police gang unit as having previous involvement in the Mozart Street Gang, someone who had been previously prosecuted and in fact previously deported.”

She didn’t care about any of that. Judge Heffernan, a judicial appointment of Obama pal, former Governor Deval Patrick, was a former public safety secretary in his administration who had resigned in the midst of a scandal. True to her party’s obsession, she was determined to help Baez avoid immigration enforcement.

Ethics Alarm #2 illustrates how warped some even previously warped hyper-partisans have become in their hatred of the President.

Talking on  MSNBC with Chris Hayes about the dangerous situation with North Korea, Hayes, a card-carrying Trump-basher if there ever was one, made the rather obvious statement that he’s “genuinely rooting for” Trump to “handle the North Korea situation well.” Good for Chris Hayes: he’s an American, and partisan hate hasn’t completely eaten his brain. Not Moore though.

“I don’t know if I agree with that,” Moore responded. Moore went on to explain that it is more important to him that Trump fail and thus lose power than for the United States to successfully defuse the rogue nuclear nation and its threat to the world.  “It’s like rooting for a 6-year-old who suddenly swiped dad’s car and figured out how to take it down the road,” the fool stated. “I’m not rooting for the 6-year-old to get on the highway and drive that car. I want the 6-year-old off the highway.”

This accurately expresses the message being broadcast by much of the anti-Trump forces, including the Democratic Party, since the election. They are willing to facilitate almost any damage —in Moore’s case, nuclear destruction—to the nation, its institutions, its stability and the public if it will somehow undo the election, and get Donald Trump “off the highway.” Moore is obviously an extreme case, but when you find yourself in the same camp as someone who thinks like he does, the ethics alarms should be deafening.

Ethics Alarm #3 came in the context of climate change, along with open borders the most intensely and irrationally held tenet of current progressive cant.

The New York Times, no longer able to pass off David Brooks as a conservative and needing some cover in its op-ed pages for its extreme leftward bias, recruited former Wall Street Journal writer Bret Stephens ,who offered a column this week arguing that the climate change issue was too important to discourage debate.

He wrote in part,

Isn’t this one instance, at least, where 100 percent of the truth resides on one side of the argument? Well, not entirely. As Andrew Revkin wrote last year about his storied career as an environmental reporter at The Times, “I saw a widening gap between what scientists had been learning about global warming and what advocates were claiming as they pushed ever harder to pass climate legislation.” The science was generally scrupulous. The boosters who claimed its authority weren’t.

Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows that, while the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities. That’s especially true of the sophisticated but fallible models and simulations by which scientists attempt to peer into the climate future. To say this isn’t to deny science. It’s to acknowledge it honestly… Claiming total certainty about the science traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong. Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions. Censoriously asserting one’s moral superiority and treating skeptics as imbeciles and deplorables wins few converts.

None of this is to deny climate change or the possible severity of its consequences. But ordinary citizens also have a right to be skeptical of an overweening scientism. They know — as all environmentalists should — that history is littered with the human wreckage of scientific errors married to political power.

I admit, this almost perfectly encapsulates my position on the climate change issue, but nobody who is thoughtful and fair can call Stephens’ point invalid or sinister. Thus the reaction to the article shows how many on the Left are no longer capable of being thoughtful or fair. Stevens was surprised. “After 20 months of being harangued by bullying Trump supporters, I’m reminded that the nasty left is no different. Perhaps worse,” Stephens tweeted the day his column ran.

“Go eat dog dicks,” wrote one classy Twitter user.

“When is the Times going to get rid of you?” tweeted another

“You’re a shithead. a crybaby lil fuckin weenie. a massive twat too,” tweeted Libby Watson, a staff writer at Gizmodo.

“I’m gonna lose my mind.The ideas ppl like @BretStephensNYT espouse are violently hateful & should not be given a platform by @NYTimes” wrote Eve Peyser, politics writer at Vice.

That’s it. That’s exactly what college students, Howard Dean and so many others on the Left now believe. If speech doesn’t toe the progressive line, then it should be censored, and even punished. Over at the Althouse blog, a well-named reader calling himself “A Reasonable Man” commented on Althouse’s rueful post about the Stephens op-ed. He wrote,

There are multiple issues here that seem to be confused in the minds of some.

1. Whether or not the earth is warming.
– Only conspiracy theorists doubt this.

2. Whether or not human activity contributes to this warming.
– Open for argument, but the data favors this possibility.

3. The ability of the models to make reliable predictions.
– All reasonable people should doubt this.

4. What  we should do about the possibility that human activity drives global warming.
– Not a scientific question but a political one.

Bingo. And the op-ed is fully consistent with all four. What can be said about those who find Stephen’s moderate call for open dialogue worthy of  threats and abuse? They are not reasonable. They do not respect intellectual freedom or open political discourse. They are proto-totalitarians.

UPDATE: This incredible Slate piece shows how deranged and immune to reason the left’s news media has become. Really, Slate? Really?

These three ethics alarms, and a lot more, should be greatly concerning to the adults and the sane, not just on the Left, but in the nation as a whole. An unhinged and ethically crippled progressive establishment is in nobody’s interest, and is in fact dangerous.

As I was cogitating on this, I learned that one prominent Hollywood liberal, Richard Dreyfuss, had peered into the remains of what was once a healthy American political tradition, and like his character Matt Hooper assessing the cause of Chrissie Watkin’s mangling in “Jaws,” proclaims that this was no boating accident.

Talking on Fox News with Tucker Carlson about the assault on free speech and expression on college campuses, another related ethics alarm, and the deepening hostility to basic American values as they are articulated in the Constitution, Dreyfuss said in part,

I have withdrawn from partisan politics. I am a constitutionalist who believes that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights must be central and the parties must be peripheral….Civics has not been taught in the American public school system since 1970. And that means everyone in Congress never studied the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as you and I might have.  And that is a critical flaw, because it’s why we were admired and respected for so long. It gives us our national identity, it tells the world who we are and why we are who we are, and without a frame that gives us values that stand behind the Bill of Rghts, we’re just floating in the air and our sectors of society are not connected.

What’s really important is that the assumptions of the Left and the Right are all skewed wrong. We have to find areas of agreement and areas that we share. And we do share the notion that education accomplishes certain things. One, it turns students into citizens. And, two, it teaches students how to run the country before it’s their turn to run the country. And, three, it teaches the values of this nation.

People come from all over the world or are born into this nation without the values that we have here. That’s why they came here, to get them. And what are they? Opportunity, rise by merit, mobility, and freedom. That’s what we sell. And if you don’t want that, you’ve chosen the wrong place. And you don’t get a pass by being born here, you have to earn it. Even the Ten Commandments are not known at birth. You must learn them. And we must learn our values and if we don’t, we are fatally, fatally wounding ourselves. We will not have any way to really combat the ideas behind ISIS because we won’t know our own. And we have to.

Dreyfuss was appearing on Fox News to plug his project, The Dreyfuss Civics Initiative, and its website where visitors are asked to sign the preamble to the United States Constitution to show their support. The Dreyfuss Civics Initiative is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that “aims to revive the teaching of civics in American public education to empower future generations with the critical-thinking skills they need to fulfill the vast potential of American citizenship.” The actor has the right idea. If you endorse and understand the Constitution, Judge Heffernan, you understand the rule of law, and the role of the judiciary in enforcing the laws made by Congress, not foiling them. If you endorse and understand the Constitution, Michael Moore, you understand how elections work, which part of the government runs foreign policy, and that Presidents can’t be “removed from the road” just because their policies are unpopular. If you endorse and understand the Constitution, climate change fanatics,  you understand that free and open debate must be encouraged and dissenting views tolerated, no matter how certain you are that you and your allies have the only true insight into complex policy issues.

Most of the worst excesses of the American political system, not just since the election but long before, arise out of the public’s increasing ignorance about our values and our system, and this has been exploited by both political parties and the news media. The result is frighteningly weakened democratic institutions, rotting values and an untrustworthy political class. This was no boating accident, nor an accident at all. Our core values are under attack by those who don’t accept them, and only education and a proactive, pro-Constitution, engaged and committed public can save them for future generations.

62 Comments

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62 responses to “Finding His Country In The Jaws Of A Values Crisis, It’s Richard Dreyfuss To The Rescue! or, “This Was No Boating Accident!” [UPDATED]

  1. Kudos to Dreyfuss for having the stones to say that out loud.

    Stevens, a “lukewarmer,” too for going on the record as respecting the most basic aspect of scientific inquiry: skepticism.

  2. Chris

    All I can say is that all three of these stories have my ethics alarms ringing, and that’s not necessarily something I’m sure would be the case were I not regularly reading this blog.

    • Thanks, Chris. I was actually thinking about you as I laid it out. Originally I was going to have a separate post for all three, but I saw how easily that could be seen as cherry-picking to attack progressives, and more fodder to pigeon-hole EA as a partisan blog, which I worry about all the time, Then Dreyfuss came along, a principled progressive, with integrity. Like you.

  3. dragin_dragon

    Unfortunately, our educational system has, for quite some time, been in the hands of people who not only do not espouse those values, but actively oppose them. This has been going on since the late ’50’s, early ’60’s and has been promoted by people on the far Left who are running the Democratic Party. I don’t foresee any significant change in the immediate future, nor am I optimistic about long-term future change. Mister Dreyfuss is almost certainly well-intentioned, but I suspect his efforts will have little or no impact on an already-corrupted system in the hands of liberal activists.

  4. Aleksei

    Kind of ironic how the left is the banner holder for stopping “rape culture”, and yet, this illegal immigrant Uber driver is an​ unmistaken proponent of rape culture, by actually committing rape. Yet that is secondary to his illegal immigration status for this, probably politically left, judge. This episode is so callous and egregious, I cannot fathom how this judge had the audacity to let a rapist free. And the bad thing is, the victim can’t sue the town for letting him go and not handing him to the feds, because there is no specific threat to a specific person, that he could victimize, like the 2015 case of the woman shot by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco. If these local governments can’t be held accountable for their unethical behavior, we will keep seeing this kind of nonsense. Even when people die, no one will be to blame, because everyone had good intentions. I wonder if this judge will have a hard time falling asleep, knowing that young women could get raped because of her.
    It makes me think that perhaps the left doesn’t really care for women. I say this sarcastically, because I think there is some evidence to support this theory. For example, kid glove treatment of prominent left politicians, who are known to be bad regarding women, i.e. Bill Clinton, JFK, RFK, etc.

    Jack, can you make a correction:
    “4. What should we should do about the possibility that human activity drives global warming.”
    Take the 2nd “should” out.
    Thanks.

    • Thank you–typo alerts always welcome…though that wasn’t MY typo, for once.

    • Regarding rape, all we have are allegations. The rape could have happened as alleged, or the accusation could be some sort of scam to extort money from Uber. At this point, we do not know.

      But I fail to see why an illegal alien deserves bail any more than a deserter does. Like deserters, they are already at large for committing a crime.

      What this judge did was equivalent to a judge releasing a deserter, even one arrested by civil authorities for raping a young girl, in order to keep the military police from apprehending the deserter.

  5. John Billingsley

    In Newton a Judge helps illegal immigrants evade the law. According to the Baltimore Sun, “The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office has instructed prosecutors to think twice before charging illegal immigrants with minor, non-violent crimes in response to stepped up immigration enforcement by the Trump administration.” I guess it saves time if you just don’t bother to take them to court in the first place. Don’t Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow’s instructions and Judge Hefferman’s actions violate ethical guidelines for people who are sworn to uphold the law?

  6. Here is a Change petition.

    https://www.change.org/p/tell-the-new-york-times-do-not-promote-climate-denial-by-hiring-bret-stephens

    Science says that climate change is happening, human activity is causing it, and its adverse impacts will only increase unless we act to curb the emissions of fossil fuels. Over 97% of peer-reviewed climate-science studies have reaffirmed this truth. Climate change threatens our agricultural system, our water supply, our coastal cities, our public health, and our national security. It threatens the lives of the current generation of young children. The New York Times itself has acknowledged that climate change is “the most important story in the world.”

    The hire of Mr. Stephens compromises The New York Times especially because the fossil fuel industry and its media echo chamber are spreading the lie that science continues to debate whether climate change is real, whether humans are causing it, and whether it has adverse impacts on America and the globe. The New York Times has now entered that echo chamber. The Times now legitimates the lie that human-caused climate change is a political opinion to be debated, when in reality human-caused climate change is a truth already discovered by scientific inquiry.

    Clearly, the author of this petition did not even read the actual article. In no way is Stephens a denier.

    • And the 97% figure is made up.

        • Glad you asked! From Jeff Reynolds:

          The statistic doesn’t exist. One guy named John Cook once published a paper analyzing the available research on climate and determined that 97% of the papers he analyzed said that “the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gasses are the main cause.” Right off the bat, it’s obvious that the premise never even says that the Earth’s warming is “dangerous,” despite the Tweet From On High By The Lightbringer™. Furthermore, if you examine the papers analyzed by the author of the study, there’s no way of knowing how exhaustive his research was, or if he left any papers out that disagreed with his premise. Alex Epstein gave a ton of detail about this in a column at Forbes.

          Several of the scientists whose work was included in the 97% study protested that their work was mischaracterized as an endorsement when no such opinion was intended.

          And anyway, since when is science done by consensus? The scientific method requires a theory to fit the results of the available observations, not the other way around. This is the real false argument — it’s an appeal to authority, NOT an actual argument validated by the scientific method.

          • I wonder why so many people are ignorant of what the scientific method entails.

          • Chris

            Jack, Jeff Reynolds of the Heartland Institute is wrong. The 97% statistic has been reproduced numerous times:

            http://www.politifact.com/virginia/statements/2016/apr/04/don-beyer/don-beyer-says-97-percent-scientists-believe-human/

            • What? That’s a classic Politifact spin job: if a statistic is “mostly true,” that means it’s a bullshit statistic. How can they print what they printed and conclude that?

              “The studies Beyer and others cite do not reflect the scientific community at large. They are surveys that focus on the conclusions of climatologists, earth scientists and meteorologists. The studies found that overwhelming majorities of these experts – sometimes, but not always as high as 97 percent – say humans are contributing to global warming.” Beyer said 97 percent of the scientific community. Polifact says in its conclusion that this is false, and that the stats and surveys range from 82% t0 91% to 97% and are all cherry picked–“climate change researchers who actively published their results,’ for example.

              97% is a made up stat, just like the 77% gender gap stat. Politifact showed this, and then denied it.

              Which is why I usually don’t use Politfact.

              • Factcheck.org, which I do use, concluded its analysis, which conceded that finding a % veia surveys is inherently flawed, saying,

                “There is, in fact, a fairly large consensus — as high as 97 percent based upon multiple studies of varying size, composition and method — that human emissions have been the primary driving force behind observed changes to the climate.”

                But “as high as 97%” doesn’t make 97% a real statistic.

              • Chris

                Jack, this was the Reynolds claim I was responding to:

                The statistic doesn’t exist. One guy named John Cook once published a paper analyzing the available research on climate and determined that 97% of the papers he analyzed said that “the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gasses are the main cause.”

                But as the Politifact link shows, it’s more than just “one guy” who has found this result. Multiple surveys have reproduced his results.

                Isn’t “97% of climatologists, earth scientists and meteorologists” better for the AGW case than “97% of the scientific community?” In the former stat you have people who are trained experts in this exact field, whereas certainly the “scientific community” includes lots of people not trained in climate science. I don’t see how you can argue that AGW proponents use the latter instead of the former in order to mislead; that doesn’t make any sense. “Scientific community” is shorthand; it wouldn’t even occur to me that they’re not talking about climate scientists, since that’s the area under discussion.

                “97% is a made up stat”

                No, I just showed you that it isn’t. It’s a stat you disagree with, and maybe you have a point that the methodology behind each of the surveys was flawed. But it comes from real surveys. That isn’t “made up.”

                • I appreciate the expansion of the source, but the 97% figure IS made up, as it refers to many sources, rounded off numbers, manipulated surveys, subjected judgments, etc., and is the highest approximate number in a range, when the lowest one would be just as accurate. It gives the illusion of exactitude where there is none—that’s the essence of a fake stat, like “50% of marriages end in divorce.”

                  • Chris

                    It strikes me as bizarre to describe a statistic as “made up” in the same sentence where you chronicle multiple sources of that statistic. The statistic doesn’t come from thin air. The fact that it’s the highest end of a range makes it imprecise, not “made up.” And again, it could be wrong, and based on bad methodology. But “made up” implies that it was fabricated from thin air, and that’s just not true.

                    • Ugh. The statement that 97% of scientists agree is made up! There is no way to verify such a figure, and stating it as fact is a misrepresentation. You can’t represent a subjective estimate based on different surveys using different criteria as a had figure. I have no problem with “as much as” 97%. Similarly, a single figure is either real or it isn’t—if it is no completely true, then it is untrue.

                    • Chris

                      I try and make an effort to say “as much as 97%.”

                      I think our disagreement here is the same as our disagreement over the term “fake news.”

            • Another “97 %” Urban Legend lurks out there, the roundly criticized 2009 Zimmerman/Doran two question online “quiz.”

              10,256 ‘scientists’ were solicited, fewer than 1/3 (3146) responded; those respondents were further whittled down to a paltry 79 (Q-1) and 77 (Q-2).

              The questions:

              Q1: “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?” (76 of 79 [96.20253%] answered “risen”)

              Q2: “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” (75 of 77 [97.40259 %] answered “yes”)

              No record of why the 3 (Q-1) or 2 (Q-2) dissented, or would that be “denied?”

              This being an “opt-in online poll,” there couldn’t possibly be any “self-selection bias,” could there?

  7. crella

    Civics and government not being taught for decades would explain a lot…there was so much hysteria on social media about the Trump administration rolling back women’s rights to the 50’s, overturning Roe vs Wade ‘the first chance he gets’, and cries for women to stock up on birth control because Trump would make it illegal. I was writing post after post explaining as best I could how the different government branches work, the system of checks and balances…I used information that I learned here (thank you) on how cases are brought before the Supreme Court, to explain that a new administration can’t just go through past SC decisions and overturn them willy-nilly. I loved civics class and a lot of the basics stuck with me, and I’ve learned a great deal here as well, and could not understand a lot of the panic I was seeing. The fact that civics isn’t taught these days in part explains the utter panic of those in their early 20’s, the wild ideas they had regarding Trump and Pence setting out to destroy women’s lives. I applaud Dreyfuss’ initiative. That takes guts! I think it’s a great idea.

    • I wonder where this notion of making birth control illegal comes from. I mean, there are many, many more people who want to ban guns than ban birth control.

      • crella

        Pence’s stand on abortion, I would think. He is being portrayed as wanting to take all reproductive decisions away from women.

        • Because Vice-Presidents have so much power, and because banning birth control would be so, so easy. I hear Pence also wants to fly to Venus using his ears.

          • crella

            I know…crazy isn’t it? I couldn’t believe what I was reading .

            • dragin_dragon

              Keep in mind that for the last eight years we have had a King, who imbued his followers with rather odd ‘magical thinking’. Syria would never use chemical weapons because he drew a red line. If he gave a speech, all the problems he addressed in that speech were suddenly no longer problems. I could go on, but the point is that Obama’s acolytes, for that is what they were and are, firmly believe, in no small part because of ignorance, that THAT is what the President does, acts like a King and despot. And that he has all sorts of ‘magical’ powers to make things like he wants them to be. If Trump and Pence cannot do these things, then their Hero couldn’t either.

          • crella

            Micheal, I became curious and started looking around this morning. My first exposure to all this was on Facebook on the morning after the election,when I saw several women freaking out. I began to worry about the mental stability of two of them, due to the deep dejection and fear in their posts, so I started to post about the limits of power, as I said above. At that point I didn’t think to look to see where the ideas came from.

            It turns out that there were several articles in October and November 2016 probably designed as scare tactics to sway people away from voting for Trump, with titles like “Women are Preparing for Trump and Pence’s Inevitable Assault on Reproductive Rights” claiming that Trump would ban IUD’s ” as anti-abortion activists believe that IUD’s cause abortion”. A few claimed that Pence’s definition of ‘personhood’, if made official, could lead to banning of most birth control options.

            “For many women in America, the election of Donald Trump feels first and foremost like an attack on their bodies.
            As early as the night of Nov. 8, they started encouraging each other to make an appointment to get an intrauterine device (IUD), a long-acting and reversible birth control method that could outlast a Trump presidency.”

            Things like this were posted on Slate (XX Factor), the Huffington Post, and Planned Parenthood’s site, among others. A lot of people bought into it…

  8. Bret Stephens’s point is proven by the fact that those who agree that global warming is happening disagree on whether it means California will become drier or wetter.

    https://phys.org/news/2016-09-warmer-wetter-climate-impair-california.html

  9. Huh, we were still taught government and civics into the early 80’s, maybe as my area ran years late in education and pop fads. I suspect civics were too boring and ‘pointless’ to students and parents as they would not have believed it could get this bad. Moderation and consideration were ‘of course,’ not the exception.

    I learned the ‘Chicken Little’ aspect long ago, and nothing in the hysteria has changed my mind. The hysterics are frightening.

    Will the civics site be moving to the recommended list over on the left?

  10. Most of the worst excesses of the American political system, not just since the election but long before, arise out of the public’s increasing ignorance about our values and our system, and this has been exploited by both political parties and the news media. The result is frighteningly weakened democratic institutions, rotting values and an untrustworthy political class. This was no boating accident, nor an accident at all. Our core values are under attack by those who don’t accept them, and only education and a proactive, pro-Constitution, engaged and committed public can save them for future generations.

    I have a slightly different perspective on this statement, or perhaps it is best to say I would place emphasis in a different aspect of the assertion.

    Though American may have ‘increasing ignorance about our values and our system’, it seems to me that there is a crisis that has to do with what those values are and should be. Related to this issue is an issue and question that is hard to talk about and get clear about but which, in my view, pervades social and political debate. It is the fact that a large percentage of people have lost faith in those who hold power and weild power, in government specifically, but also in industry. In fact within that union of government and industry.

    What is the principle cause of this loss of faith? It seems to me that it has to do with the general perception that it is monied interests — elite interests, oligarchic interests, corporate interests — do not necessarily have any good reason to respect or uphold civic virtues or Constitutional values. I would also say that there is a general assumption, and that means that many people underdtand inside themselves and as a platform of understanding, thought or felt, that the civic structures have been undermined, by-passed or subverted.

    Therefor, what has ‘weakened democratic institutions’, ‘rotted values’, and produced an ‘untrustworthy political class’ is that civic government and a governmental system where people have say and control, does not in fact really exist, though it is said to exist. Certainly it exists in some forms, maybe at lower levels, or has some level of influence, but the larger perception is that it is not people who control their fate, but vast and ‘unaccountable concentrations of power’ that subvert civic processes.

    To speak that truth should not be the domain of the political Left, and yet it has become the domain of the political left. The political Right, it seems to me, cannot bring itself to articulate a critical platform.

    It seems to me that the ‘civic values’ and Constitutional values that are the core values of Americanism, have been assaulted not by ignorance of those civic values, but by decades of violation of those principles by those unprincipled and subverting interests — paragovernmental? — which have undermined the integrity of the national project. I would suppose that this shift was consolidated in the postwar (2) era as the ‘project’ of the US shifted to one of a neo-imperial power.

    Recently and on the Chomsky-bashing thread the typical rehearsal of a stance of absolute undermining of the possibility of having and articulating a critical position vis-a-vis aspects of Americanism and American adventurism (et cetera) took the form it always takes: the establishment of a binary system that allows, effectively one Opinion as an outcome. That Opinion is basically that no critical view is allowed because (blah blah blah) America is the greatest nation that has appeared on the planet. It is, from my perspective, almost that simple. So, we know that the Left allows a critical perspective, but the Right only seems to allow a critical perspective of those who have a critical perspective!

    But to be authentically constitutional, and to discover the worst excesses of the non-constitutional subversion of that constitutional system, to enumerate and explain how that happened, cannot be only a conversation or a concern of the political Left but must become a theme of the Conservative Right.

    It seems to me that the conversation, of the Conservative Right, should be: How has it come about that the Republic — in the sense of a functional, regional, local and non-internationalized and non-interventionist and non-neo-imperial Nation — has been subverted and stands on the verge of crisis and danger?

    If it is true that ‘civics classes’ and civic education could restore the Republic, it will be because thoughtful and fearless people will raise very uncomfortable questions and force their discussion.

  11. Wayne

    Michael Moore’s statement is truly astonishing and appalling. I think that he says things like this to get more theater tickets sold for his awful incredibly biased “documentaries”. Thank God for actors like Dreyfess who actually believe that having knowledge about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is essential for young people to understand how their freedoms and rights are protected.

    • dragin_dragon

      The problem, buddy, is that he is a voice in the wilderness. I will pretty much guarantee that his initiative, while well intentioned, will not produce the results needed for this nation to return to sanity…and he will be ROUNDLY condemned by his Holly wood liberal cohorts (which he used to be one of).

  12. Mrs. Q

    An interesting book to address this topic is Gary Allen’s None Dare Call It Conspiracy.

  13. Chris

    Having finally read the Bret Stephens article, my problem with it is not that he is engaging in climate denial–he isn’t–it’s that he’s refusing to take a stance at all, and making vague claims about uncertainty in the science coupled with too much certainty among scientists while giving zero examples of either. It’s a vague, almost meaningless piece, and it’s hard to tell from just reading that that this writer has won a Pulitzer. I’m sure he’s written better editorials than this one. Of course, none of these critiques justify the hysterical reaction from those harassing him, but I do think there is reason to critique the article as a bad piece.

  14. I’m a little late to the party, but wanted to note that “Whether or not the earth is warming” isn’t as cut and dry as a lot of folks think either because it depends entirely on the scale we’re trying to use.

    Is the world warming since 1910? Of course.

    Is it warming since 1910 B.C. or 10,000 BC or 4 million BC? Maybe not. In fact, measured on those larger scales, it’s quite cold right now. After all, we are still at the tail end of an ice age.

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