Are liberals begging for it?

The rules of engagement governing the Tower of Babel that passes for political discourse nowadays trace their intellectual roots to World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., although some of the original sophistication has been stripped away. Designed to minimize brainwork, they encourage competing ideologues to smash folding chairs over one another's heads. The dramatis personae usually include a hero and a villain. The guy wearing the striped shirt is the referee. He's lying on the mat pretending to be unconscious so that he won't be able to notice any of the flagrant fouls. He is, of course, in on the fix.

In the world of politics, the ref works for the mainstream media, and is untrammeled by dress codes or outmoded notions of neutrality. The job requires looking in the other direction when the liberal hero engages in a little righteous eye—gouging or groin—kicking to give the conservative villain what's coming to him.

At this juncture, it is customary to emit a ritualistic belch in the direction of moral equivalence, the non—thinking person's misconception of fairness: both Right and Left are equally guilty of rhetorical sins, yadda, yadda. Only, it grows more apparent every day that the two sides are not equally guilty.

Positing something as a premise and then altering it slightly to form the conclusion, the part of the argument that should follow from what has been previously stated, is far more than an occasional tactic for liberals. It is a way of life. Formal logic provides a label for this fallacy: Begging the question. The acerbic and pessimistic German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote in his essay, "The Art of Controversy:"

'It would be a very good thing if every trick could receive some short and obviously appropriate name, so that when a man used this or that particular trick, he could at once be reproached for it.'

Well, it would be a good thing for partisans of reason, a dying breed, but a bad thing for pols whose upward mobility depends on sleight of mouth.

Here, we must pause to mark the necessary, and usually blurred, distinction between liberals and leftists. If Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton are liberal Democrats, what are America—hating socialists such as Ted Rall and Michael Moore? Problems arise when Rall sneeringly describes himself as 'just another liberal Democrat,' and Chardonnay—and—brie Democrats like gossip columnist Liz Smith make blithe references to the 'liberal activist Bella Abzug.' Radicals relish the obfuscation and more sober liberals show little interest in taxonomic exactness. The careful observer will note that liberals make, ah, liberal use of question begging; leftists are partial to the Big Lie.

Think back to last summer's Democratic Convention. Kerry had morphed into Sergeant Fury, tirelessly recounting the battlefield exploits that showcased his nonpareil valor, the handful of Swiftees who didn't regard him as a phony—his very own Howlin' Commandos—— in tow. Edwards was making remarkably bellicose noises, stressing the need to destroy the terrorists (not all of them—just the ones who could document their participation in the 9—11 attacks).  And there, away from the cheering, wandering about in search of a talking head, was Janeane Garofalo, an aggrieved look on her angry little Red Guard face. For a representative of the Kim Jong Il wing of the party, all of that saluting and flag waving was a bit much. Sean Hannity chivalrously restrained himself from asking:  Janeane, all this talk about crushing terrorism—are you completely appalled or are you confident they're lying?

Some libertarian activists in Brooklyn, New York stumbled on the answer as they handed out campaign literature for their candidate, Michael Badnarik, who was demonstrating his commitment to freedom by calling for an immediate withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq. The response they got most often was that Kerry would bring the troops home. When the libertarians protested that Kerry was insisting that he would do nothing of the sort, they were assured that he didn't mean a word of it; he was simply trying to gull the rubes in the red states. Has any candidate for the nation's highest office ever relied so heavily on the ability of his supporters to determine that he wasn't telling the truth? Really—— without force—feeding the moral implications to the reader——how pathetic is that?

Outright deception, however, is not the same as question begging. When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who happened to be the majority of the men who served with Kerry, accused him of contriving to insert his version of events into the official records, Democrats responded with their characteristic blizzard of slander. The Swift Boat veterans were liars, the proof being that the official account mirrored Kerry's. But, if the official account was actually produced by Kerry, then his defenders are arguing that Kerry must be right because he agrees with himself. The debate can't get off the ground until both sides are willing to discuss the same issue, namely, who wrote the account that became Holy Writ? Who reviewed the material?

On the subject of force—feeding, the bizarre and repellent spectacle of Terri Schiavo starving to death, day by excruciating day (Okay, she didn't starve; she succumbed to dehydration. How do you think she would have done if they hydrated her, but continued to refuse to feed her?), polarized the country along the usual fault lines. Howard Dean, who owed his selection as DNC Chairman to his capacity for mindless rage, lived up to his admirers' expectations by roaring that Tom DeLay doesn't get to decide who lives or dies. Most conservatives already suspected as much, but they also understood something more important, that deciding who does get to make the ultimate decision is the crux of the whole issue. In the absence of written evidence, how does a court determine what anyone's wishes are?

Michael Schiavo's over—the—top cruelty toward his in—laws suggests that he is a particularly nasty piece of work. Few humans are capable of such sustained sadism, especially when gentler alternatives are so convenient. Let us suppose that his wife, the one he walked away from long ago, had actually expressed her desire to be starved in the event of her incapacitation — which, incidentally, compels us to ignore the sheer implausibility of a woman that young giving explicit instructions covering a range of grisly possibilities. Taking him at his word, he had made her wishes known, fulfilling whatever obligations constrained him. Now it was decent and appropriate to step aside, to allow her family to shoulder the burdens of her care. Their behavior can be criticized as irrational, reflecting denial of the awful reality, but surely erring on the side of life is a reasonable principle.

Liberals, as usual, avoided substantive debate. By chanting the mantra, the court has determined Terri Schiavo's wishes and we respect those wishes, they stole another base. It was completely beyond the powers of the court to make that determination: one person with a massive conflict of interest contended that she would have wanted to die, while members of her family disputed the authenticity of those sentiments. If the court knows the disabled woman's wishes, there is nothing to discuss. But, it doesn't; it can't.

Autopsy results will probably show that Terri Schiavo's brain was hopelessly damaged. Liberals will emerge from the smokescreen to proclaim their triumph. And, once again, logic will suffer. Many of us who were horrified at the execution of a woman who had committed no crime understood that she would never recover. We failed to understand how her cruel death diminishes George Bush, or how those who were complicit in it can derive satisfaction from  tawdry political motives.

Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, and Bill Kristol have recently been the targets of pie—throwing leftist hooligans. Given the choice of emulating either William F. Buckley or The Three Stooges, the left instinctively and invariably picks the latter. For conservatives, answering liberal sophistries with a lemon meringue in the kisser might offer more than emotional satisfaction; it might be the perfect forensic response. Conservatives, however, regard physical assault as unacceptable, totally out of place in a battle of ideas, not to mention decidedly infra dig. A hint for liberals is contained in that sentence, but they won't notice.

The rules of engagement governing the Tower of Babel that passes for political discourse nowadays trace their intellectual roots to World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., although some of the original sophistication has been stripped away. Designed to minimize brainwork, they encourage competing ideologues to smash folding chairs over one another's heads. The dramatis personae usually include a hero and a villain. The guy wearing the striped shirt is the referee. He's lying on the mat pretending to be unconscious so that he won't be able to notice any of the flagrant fouls. He is, of course, in on the fix.

In the world of politics, the ref works for the mainstream media, and is untrammeled by dress codes or outmoded notions of neutrality. The job requires looking in the other direction when the liberal hero engages in a little righteous eye—gouging or groin—kicking to give the conservative villain what's coming to him.

At this juncture, it is customary to emit a ritualistic belch in the direction of moral equivalence, the non—thinking person's misconception of fairness: both Right and Left are equally guilty of rhetorical sins, yadda, yadda. Only, it grows more apparent every day that the two sides are not equally guilty.

Positing something as a premise and then altering it slightly to form the conclusion, the part of the argument that should follow from what has been previously stated, is far more than an occasional tactic for liberals. It is a way of life. Formal logic provides a label for this fallacy: Begging the question. The acerbic and pessimistic German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote in his essay, "The Art of Controversy:"

'It would be a very good thing if every trick could receive some short and obviously appropriate name, so that when a man used this or that particular trick, he could at once be reproached for it.'

Well, it would be a good thing for partisans of reason, a dying breed, but a bad thing for pols whose upward mobility depends on sleight of mouth.

Here, we must pause to mark the necessary, and usually blurred, distinction between liberals and leftists. If Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton are liberal Democrats, what are America—hating socialists such as Ted Rall and Michael Moore? Problems arise when Rall sneeringly describes himself as 'just another liberal Democrat,' and Chardonnay—and—brie Democrats like gossip columnist Liz Smith make blithe references to the 'liberal activist Bella Abzug.' Radicals relish the obfuscation and more sober liberals show little interest in taxonomic exactness. The careful observer will note that liberals make, ah, liberal use of question begging; leftists are partial to the Big Lie.

Think back to last summer's Democratic Convention. Kerry had morphed into Sergeant Fury, tirelessly recounting the battlefield exploits that showcased his nonpareil valor, the handful of Swiftees who didn't regard him as a phony—his very own Howlin' Commandos—— in tow. Edwards was making remarkably bellicose noises, stressing the need to destroy the terrorists (not all of them—just the ones who could document their participation in the 9—11 attacks).  And there, away from the cheering, wandering about in search of a talking head, was Janeane Garofalo, an aggrieved look on her angry little Red Guard face. For a representative of the Kim Jong Il wing of the party, all of that saluting and flag waving was a bit much. Sean Hannity chivalrously restrained himself from asking:  Janeane, all this talk about crushing terrorism—are you completely appalled or are you confident they're lying?

Some libertarian activists in Brooklyn, New York stumbled on the answer as they handed out campaign literature for their candidate, Michael Badnarik, who was demonstrating his commitment to freedom by calling for an immediate withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq. The response they got most often was that Kerry would bring the troops home. When the libertarians protested that Kerry was insisting that he would do nothing of the sort, they were assured that he didn't mean a word of it; he was simply trying to gull the rubes in the red states. Has any candidate for the nation's highest office ever relied so heavily on the ability of his supporters to determine that he wasn't telling the truth? Really—— without force—feeding the moral implications to the reader——how pathetic is that?

Outright deception, however, is not the same as question begging. When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who happened to be the majority of the men who served with Kerry, accused him of contriving to insert his version of events into the official records, Democrats responded with their characteristic blizzard of slander. The Swift Boat veterans were liars, the proof being that the official account mirrored Kerry's. But, if the official account was actually produced by Kerry, then his defenders are arguing that Kerry must be right because he agrees with himself. The debate can't get off the ground until both sides are willing to discuss the same issue, namely, who wrote the account that became Holy Writ? Who reviewed the material?

On the subject of force—feeding, the bizarre and repellent spectacle of Terri Schiavo starving to death, day by excruciating day (Okay, she didn't starve; she succumbed to dehydration. How do you think she would have done if they hydrated her, but continued to refuse to feed her?), polarized the country along the usual fault lines. Howard Dean, who owed his selection as DNC Chairman to his capacity for mindless rage, lived up to his admirers' expectations by roaring that Tom DeLay doesn't get to decide who lives or dies. Most conservatives already suspected as much, but they also understood something more important, that deciding who does get to make the ultimate decision is the crux of the whole issue. In the absence of written evidence, how does a court determine what anyone's wishes are?

Michael Schiavo's over—the—top cruelty toward his in—laws suggests that he is a particularly nasty piece of work. Few humans are capable of such sustained sadism, especially when gentler alternatives are so convenient. Let us suppose that his wife, the one he walked away from long ago, had actually expressed her desire to be starved in the event of her incapacitation — which, incidentally, compels us to ignore the sheer implausibility of a woman that young giving explicit instructions covering a range of grisly possibilities. Taking him at his word, he had made her wishes known, fulfilling whatever obligations constrained him. Now it was decent and appropriate to step aside, to allow her family to shoulder the burdens of her care. Their behavior can be criticized as irrational, reflecting denial of the awful reality, but surely erring on the side of life is a reasonable principle.

Liberals, as usual, avoided substantive debate. By chanting the mantra, the court has determined Terri Schiavo's wishes and we respect those wishes, they stole another base. It was completely beyond the powers of the court to make that determination: one person with a massive conflict of interest contended that she would have wanted to die, while members of her family disputed the authenticity of those sentiments. If the court knows the disabled woman's wishes, there is nothing to discuss. But, it doesn't; it can't.

Autopsy results will probably show that Terri Schiavo's brain was hopelessly damaged. Liberals will emerge from the smokescreen to proclaim their triumph. And, once again, logic will suffer. Many of us who were horrified at the execution of a woman who had committed no crime understood that she would never recover. We failed to understand how her cruel death diminishes George Bush, or how those who were complicit in it can derive satisfaction from  tawdry political motives.

Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, and Bill Kristol have recently been the targets of pie—throwing leftist hooligans. Given the choice of emulating either William F. Buckley or The Three Stooges, the left instinctively and invariably picks the latter. For conservatives, answering liberal sophistries with a lemon meringue in the kisser might offer more than emotional satisfaction; it might be the perfect forensic response. Conservatives, however, regard physical assault as unacceptable, totally out of place in a battle of ideas, not to mention decidedly infra dig. A hint for liberals is contained in that sentence, but they won't notice.