Y Kunsurvuhtivs R Aginst Branes

If Americans were educated in Classical Logic and Fallacies, they would automatically laugh at any assertion that one = all or that some = many (or most). (Still, ask American Muslims how prevalent that thinking is in actual practice.)

They like to be in America..

That is the entire extent of my commentary on the astonishingly vile Occupy Wall Street coverage that’s being foisted off on a seemingly-hypnotized mass lost somewhere in Middle America and Fox News. Apply the logical observation above and there’s nothing left to comment on.

No: this is commentary ON a disturbing portion OF that commentary that NEEDS addressing.

It’s all of a piece, of course, as the Red Blogs clump together in cyber-gangs far more deadly and less terpsichorean than the Sharks and Jets: “When you’re a Jet, you’re a jet all the way …”* And the rest blithely free-lance through the oddly constrained consensus of Our National Dialogue.

[* West Side Story: The Jet Song (Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim)
(Sung by Riff and others)

(Riff) When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way
From your first cigarette to your last dyin’ day!
When you’re a Jet, when the spit hits the fan
You’ve got brothers around, you’re a family man!
You’re never alone, you’re never disconnected, you’re home with your own
When company’s expected, you’re well-protected!
Then you are set with a capital J
Which you’ll never forget till they cart you away
When you’re a Jet you stay a Jet …

For the past several daze [sic] Herman Cain’s endless peregrinations, perorations and rationalizations have dominated the national dialogue. Barely a notice of “Seven Billion Human Beings” on Memeorandum. And yet, in ten years, who will give a damn about the scandal du jour and the feeding frenzy of the sharks?

(Sometimes I am not convinced that we homo sapiens are a serious Species or that if the Human Race were a great child, born, grown, aged, we would currently occupy those years known as  “junior high school.” Maybe it’s all that Neandertal blood still coursing through our arteries. )

And, tempting though it might be to deconstruct the resurrected assertion (from 1990) “This is a high-tech lynching!” here is a more important story that seems to have gotten lost in the great Tempest of the Teapot, via The Poynter Institute: [emphasis added]

James O’Keefe takes aim at Clay Shirky, Jay Rosen

by Steve Myers
Published Oct. 27, 2011 12:57 pm
Updated Oct. 28, 2011 8:50 am

Project Veritas
In the second installment of his “To Catch a Journalist” series, James O’Keefe has produced a surreptitiously recorded, heavily edited video starring NYU professors Clay Shirky and Jay Rosen. In the video Shirky likens NPR’s program sponsorships to advertising and discusses news coverage of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, Occupy Wall Street and Michele Bachmann.O’Keefe claims the video shows Shirky and Rosen discussing “the New York Times’ strategy to support Occupy Wall Street, Obama’s 2008 election and their place within the ‘chardonnay swilling’ so-called media elite.” O’Keefe calls Shirky a New York Times consultant, but Eileen Murphy, vice president of corporate communications for The New York Times, says that’s not true.


If you’re familiar with O’Keefe’s work and Shirky’s expansive talks, you know you can’t rely on a collage of 30-second clips to get the true meaning of Shirky’s comments. (O’Keefe says in the video that the full transcript is on his site, but if it’s there I can’t find it; I asked him on Twitter where it is.) … Rosen tweeted that he’d respond to the video later Thursday…*

[* Read the entire piece; it’s short.]

And Professor Rosen DID, in fact respond. Which we’ll get to in a moment.

Who is attacking? Andrew Breitbart, who promotes and backs James O’Keefe. (Snapping fingers in unison …)

When you’re a Jet …

What is being attacked? That’s a little tougher. SOME of it is an attempt to attack the New York Times. But underlying and o’erspreading it all is an attempt to attack the edumakashun of journalism. To undermine the credibility of “media elites” by phonying up a “scandal,” like that little stunt with the NPR exec back when the GOP Kongress was screaming for their heads.

That was after they screamed for the heads of Planned Parenthood (or maybe before, I can’t keep track) but DEFINITELY before they started screaming about Solyndra and the need to reaffirm the vital motto of the United States of America, adopted in 1956, as an “anti-commie” measure, “In God We Trust.” Thus supplanting our original motto (which could use some reaffirmation and re-cognition) E Pluribus Unum, or “Out of Many, One,” which came out of the Classical scholarship of the Sacred Founding Fathers.

Which brings us to Rush Limbaugh (November 1, 2011)†:

“Can you tell me where do you go to apply for a job with a Classical Studies degree?”  “Well, anybody who’s interested in studying classically, I would think would be interested in my services because I’m going to be an expert.”  At that point somebody at the university ought to say, “Babe, you are wasting your time in a nothing major.  We are stealing your money.  You’re gonna be qualified for jack excrement when you get outta here.”  But they don’t.  Now, this is part of the trick, this is the ruse, and it’s actually clever.  Snerdley’s in there laughing uncontrollably.  I know I’m a naturally funny guy, but follow me on this.

So here you have Miss Brain-dead freshly out of college with her Classical Studies degree who thinks that she wants to go classically study and that people also want to study classics studiously and classically, and she’s going to be very hirable, very marketable and so forth.  Gets out in the real world and finds her only chance is Occupy Wall Street and to write a note for a TV camera about how worthless her degree is.  Well, that’s what she does here.  Her job prospects, zero.  Yeah, they are, and they have been since you declared that major, and somebody shoulda told you that from the moment you declared the major in Classical Studies.

Tell me, any of you at random listening all across the fruited plain, what the hell is Classical Studies?  What classics are studied?  Or, is it learning how to study in a classical way?  Or is it learning how to study in a classy as opposed to unclassy way?  And what about unClassical Studies?  Why does nobody care about the unclassics?  What are the classics?  And how are the classics studied?  Oh, cause you’re gonna become an expert in Dickens?  You’re assuming it’s literature.  See, you’re assuming we’re talking classical literature here.  What if it’s classical women’s studies?  What if it’s classical feminism?  Who the hell knows what it is?  One thing I do know is that she, the brain-dead student, doesn’t know what it is, after she’s got a major in it.  Because all she knows to do with it is go down to Occupy Wall Street and complain and write a note for the cameras.

As I say, this is deviously clever.  Socialists, liberals work under cover for decades taking over higher education, and then they dilute it and they make higher education anything but higher. …

That last sentence quite nicely lets slip the thesis statement.

Somehow, edumakashun is liberal, and if you get a degree, get it in something technical. I’m oversimplifying, of course, but, given the habitat, there is nothing discordant in that.

It is a profoundly anti-intellectual strain, the first naked statement of the “dumb it down” strain of “Conservatism” (which is, if you think about it, exceedingly radical, in wanting lots of social change as soon as possible) in demonizing “Liberalism” (which is, conversely, extremely “conservative” in continually protecting the status quo ante of the  current social order).

It is not at all dissimilar to the attack that O’Keefe/Breitbart are making on Professor Rosen, the NYU School of Journalism, and, if the “hail Mary” works, the New York Times.

It is also profoundly disturbing.  As noted in “The Cruelest Month,” [12 FEB 2007]:

How did we get to be PROUD of being dumbasses? And how did we elevate that dumbass class into the “role model” arena? I realize that there’s always been a battle going on between the intellectuals and the masses. But I promise you, that high school pre-Ritalin-pisser weren’t no intellectual when he corrected “American Pie’s” dumbass enunciation of February.

There is no virtue in being ignorant; still less in being willfully ignorant.

From “Breitbart’s Schadenfreudian Slip”

“Smart” and “dumb” are different matters: each of us have their gifts. But ignorance is a different matter. Ignorance is the facility though which scientists can be sneered at about climate change data, because … they’re EXPERTS! They’re EGGHEADS! What do SMART people know, anyhow? Hah!

(etc. etc.)

If you’d have told me thirty years ago that anyone except the usual crackpots from Orange County, California would hold such a thing up as a virtue, I’d never have believed you. If you’d have told me that a significant proportion of the population, if not the majority, believe in the creation myth of Genesis to the exclusion of a century of evolutionary science, I’d have directed you to the nearest psychiatric hospital.

The one salient characteristic of American political discourse that is conspicuous by its absence is the one we ought to most pride ourselves in: rational analysis.

The sleep of reason breeds monsters – Goya

When Rush sloughs off Herman Cain’s troubles as “no worse than Teddy Kennedy, Bill Clinton or John Edwards,” the absurd proposition is accepted without so much as a gulp.

Excuse me? You were the one who never let up on said scandals, characterized them in the blackest (metaphorical) terms and proclaimed that said scandals proved the accused manifestly unfit to govern. So, if it’s wrong for them, it’s not wrong for Herman Cain? (I’m speaking in generalities, since that was the nature of the proposition.)

This is the classic “heads I win, tails you lose” gambling proposition, and it is a testament to the dumbing down of America that so many SERIOUSLY accept this childish fallacy as a “refutation” in formulation after formulation. “Well JOHNNY did it, too!” never has, in the history of mammaries, been accepted by any mother anywhere as a valid excuse for breaking the cookie jar, even though, universally, every child that has been discovered from that deed has attempted to use it.

Gee, Officer Krupke!

Perhaps they were practicing for later life, like kittens, practicing for a life of predation.

Limbaugh’s attack on Classical studies veers into the ridiculous:

But this woman — or this person — who wrote the note complaining about zero job opportunity, does not appear to be representative of somebody who’s seven months away from a degree in Classical Studies. Classical Studies. Try this. Did a lot of research during the break. Karl Marx was a classical studies scholar. Karl Marx, philosopher, political thinker, studied Latin and Greek — as did Churchill, I found out.

Marx received a Ph.D. for a dissertation on ancient Greek philosophy entitled The Difference between the Democratean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature. Now, you’ll note nobody hired Marx, so what he had to do was figure out a way to destroy humanity on his own — and he was able to do it, but nobody hired him. His classical background is reflected in his philosophies. Indeed the term “proletariat,” he coined from the Latin word referring to the lowest class of citizen. So Karl Marx was a classical scholar, ancient philosophy and literature. Here’s what the University of Pennsylvania says about their department: “Welcome to the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

“For over two centuries Penn has offered a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs representing all aspects of the broad field of Classical Studies, from languages and literature to history, archaeology and cultural studies. The Department encourages interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to teaching and research and maintains productive ties with a variety of programs, including Religious Studies, English, Comparative Literature, Medieval Studies, Philosophy, Linguistics, Italian Studies, [Pasta], History of Art, and the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.” Now, I don’t know about you, does not make me want to sign up for a major in this.

Wow. Just Wow. Or, in the dying words of Steve Jobs: Oh Wow. Oh Wow. Oh Wow.

The entire Western Canon is, according to El Rushbo, worthless.

He has distilled the anti-intellectual yawp down to its crystalline, molecular form: Veni vidi video: I came, I saw, I watched it on TV.

That certainly explains why “In God We Trust” had to be substituted for “Out of Many, One” — which, when you think about it, sounds like socialism. Like that “Commonwealth,” notion as in “The Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” or “The Commonwealth of Kentucky” (whose junior Senator has not the slightest clue as to what that means).

We do not teach  formal logic to high school students (Piaget suggested that we become formal operational, i.e. able to handle formal and abstract logic, about age 11 or 12). Which, in a technological society is insane, idiotic and imbecilic. We expect students to pick it up by osmosis, with sophomore geometry, where you are supposed to prove propositions — a notion in the Classical Canon that goes back to the Pythagorean School of ancient Greece. We do not teach the philosophy of science to science majors.

Socrates (l.) and Aristotle (detail) from
“The School of Athens” by Raphael, circa olden times 

But, since the time of Plato’s Academy and the Aristotelian School of Athens (Aristotle was Alexander the Great’s tutor, recall) we have had a common canon in classical education — which is the system that produced the Founding Fathers, please note. If you’re going to “conserve” anything, Conservatives, conserve the classical traditions of rhetoric and debate, of logic and civility, and the later additions of parliamentary procedure.

What we have in the O’Keefe example is barbarism slyly exploiting the civility of civilization for barbaric ends. What we have in Limbaugh is the straight up yawp OF the barbarian, the Goth, the Visigoth, the Vandal: smash it! Books bad! Burn them! The books that Jefferson and Adams, Washington and Madison, Hamilton, Bartlett, Franklin and all the rest treasured and based their understanding of politics and the world on?

Smash! Hulk smash!

(I remember buying this issue)

Jay Rosen concludes this reading of the Decline of the West:

“Lucas” had taped us, surreptitiously. Then he asked to meet with me. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was part of the sting. He said he wanted to become a political journalist: did I have any advice? I gave him several career paths he could follow. He asked me if being a politics major and a journalism minor would be a handicap. I said no. Then he let me in on something.

He said he had a tape of a Tea Party gathering in which some ugly and extreme (the implication was racist) things were said. He said it was gruesome stuff. He wanted to know how he could get it to the media. To the New York Times. I said the New York Times wouldn’t be interested in something like that, and that he might try to contact Max Blumenthal of the Nation. He asked if I had any other advice for him. I said find a niche and start a blog. I gave him the examples of Ezra Klein, Dave Weigel and Nate Silver to show him that it was possible. I was trying to inspire him! “Lucas” thanked me and left. He had a strange smile on his face. #

I now realize he was scamming me and almost certainly taping me. The intended story line, worked out in advance, was lefty journalism professor jumps at the chance to assist with the discrediting of the Tea Party by passing along sensational footage to his buddies at the Times. ”Lucas” was there to get me to say the words that, when diced and spliced, would sound like that. But it didn’t work. I told him the Times wouldn’t be interested. So no portion of that tape appears in O’Keefe’s video….

See the video on YouTube

Read his entire piece. And consider what an ultimately senseless long-term policy dumbing down the public becomes.

And how angry. Consider what they did to Elizabeth Warren today in Massachusetts. You can’t ask for rationality when no one actually knows how to be RATIONAL. Illogic has led to more mobs than logic ever did.

When you’re a Jet you stay a Jet …

By continually pushing these reductionist and destructive forms of political theater, we follow the example of the renowned frontiersman William J. Fetterman.

Consider the outrageous absurdity of the “flat tax” argument:

Simpler is better.

Simpler tax code is better tax code.

Therefore simple flat tax is better.

Let me argue by analogy. OK.?

Simpler criminal code is better criminal code.

All Misdemeanors = 5 years in prison.

All Felonies = Death penalty.

Simpler: yes! Fairer?

I am reminded of Captain Brevet-Lieutenant Colonel William J. Fetterman, for whom a street I lived on was named, a Wyoming historical figure, I eventually found, to my horror, who was not a hero, but an idiot instead:

After the [Civil] war, he chose to remain in the Regular Army and was assigned as a captain in the Second Battalion of the 18th Infantry Regiment. In November 1866, the regiment was stationed at Fort Phil Kearny, tasked with protecting immigrants traveling to the gold fields of Montana Territory along the Bozeman Trail. Fetterman allegedly boasted that with 80 soldiers, he could “ride through the Sioux Nation.”

On December 21, 1866, a large band of Cheyenne and Sioux – which included Crazy Horse – under the leadership of Red Cloud attacked a wood train near the fort. Despite his unfamiliarity with frontier conditions and the methods of Indian fighting, Fetterman took command of a composite reaction force consisting of the former battalion quartermaster, Captain Frederick Brown, 2nd Lt. George Grummond, 49 enlisted troops of the 18th Infantry, 27 men of the 2nd Cavalry, and 2 civilian scouts, ironically totaling 80 men. Ignoring his orders not to venture beyond Lodge Trail Ridge (out of sight and support distance from the fort), Fetterman pursued a small band of Sioux and was lured into an ambush. He found himself facing approximately 2,000 Indians. Within 20 minutes, Fetterman and his command had been wiped out.

The Fetterman Massacre, as the encounter became known, was second in notoriety only to Custer‘s disastrous defeat in 1876. … Fetterman’s grave is in the National Cemetery at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument*.

[* irony not noted by Wikipedia]

Pretending to know about something he didn’t know anything about. Not listening to those who do. (Fetterman was warned repeatedly that he was being lured into a trap by more seasoned Fort Phil Kearny veterans.) Ignoring orders that were based on a very practical Real World issue.

There’s a better, shorter version of
the Fetterman fight tale HERE. 

That’s the primrose path that willful ignorance and arrogance leads one down.

I wonder if old Bill Fetterman was a Shark or a Jet?


UPDATE A case in point has appeared from the internetosphere of tubes:

Rick Perry Speech Quotes Fake Occupy Wall Street Protester [VIDEO]
By Maggie Astor | November 2, 2011 12:37 PM EDT
International Business Times 

It’s been a tough few days for Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas. A giddy speech he made in New Hampshire on Friday led commentators to question his sobriety, and now, the blogosphere is abuzz with the news that he used a fake quote to mock Occupy Wall Street protesters.

“I don’t know if it can be proved up or not. The young man’s name was Jeremy and he was 38 years old,” Perry told voters in Concord, N.H. “He said, ‘We got here at 9 o’clock, and those people’ — this was in Toronto; I think Bay Street is their comparable [Wall Street] — he said, ‘Those bankers that we came to insult, they’d already been at work for two hours when we got here at 9 o’clock, and when we get ready to leave, you know, they’re still in there working. I guess greed just makes you work hard.'”

That is more or less what “Jeremy” said in a Globe and Mail article written by Mark Schatzker …

Except that what was quoted went viral in the conservative blogosphere, even though, as Schatzker noted this afternoon on NPR, a two second Google Search would have revealed it to be a humor column, a Saturday satirical piece written for TORONTO, Canada.

This did not stop the rightiesphere from going berserk, and then, later, somewhat sheepishly retracting their prior “Jeremy” based rants, with some reservations:

Some of those bloggers posted updates once they realized they’d been had. But they made sure to emphasize, as “Power Line” blogger John Hinderaker did, that “the point remains valid” — even after the evidence given for it was gone.  (ibid.)

The video on YouTube


Longish footnote: I had turned on Rush that morning to see what the reaction to the whole Herman Cain thing was, and fortuitously stumbled on a cornucopia of controversy. Because it’s tough to get .mp3 copies, I streamed the show via Anchorage, Alaska, Denver, Colorado, and Medford, Oregon, who all run a later (taped) version of the three-hour daily show.

What was astonishing to me (other than what I can only characterize as a Reverse-Reverend-Wright, a new rhetorical wrestling move that Rush — by all rights — deserves the credit for. Were this figure skating, we’d just call it a Reverse Spinning Quadruple Limbaugh, and everyone would agree that it was the right and proper  thing to call the move) , what astonished me was that Rush was STILL defending his “magic Negro” comments of a few years back.

He brought nothing new to the old controversy, and I realized that I had already shown exactly how he had written the controversial song “Barack the Magic Negro” with the actual .mp3s in question back in the imaginatively-entitled “Rush Limbaugh wrote ‘Magic Negro’ Parody” [29 DEC 2008]. And refuted, rationally, the fundamental arguments that Limbaugh made in his weird crypt-racist manner to prove that everybody else is a crypto-racist and neener-neener poo-pooh.


A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.

Bookmark and Share

About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.