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March 30, 2017


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There was a time in my youth that I felt the tug of conservatism but never from Goldwater, Buckley, or the Birchers. Rather, it was an earlier iteration when conservatives loved, in a quite literal way, the country itself, not merely money and power. This was the America of William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Russell Kirk, John Crowe Ransom, and Robert Penn Warren. In England, you saw an even deeper tradition in Edmund Burke, Cardinal Newman, GK Chesterton, and TS Eliot.

I got over it but the spell it cast did shape the way I think about politics. It's useless, in my view, to pretend nations and people can be abstracted from the economic forces, modern technology, and built environment that ultimately determine social reality. The vast majority of Americans are not yeoman farmers or village smithies. They're not antiquarians or skilled craftsmen. Most of us are just drones and consumers, unmoored from any tradition informing us of our place in the universe.

Donald Trump is a modernist, from his playboy lifestyle to his radical reduction of human worth to money, good looks, and fame. If you voted for Trump, chances are you like this aspect about him. You are not a conservative in any way beyond racialism and tribalism. George Will, however, made an honest effort, at least in the beginning, to keep the old continuities current in modern political life. Of course, this was an impossible task, so he had to cut and trim the old verities to fit modern times. He celebrated baseball, for instance. He wears a bow tie. He writes well, even elegantly. What seems charming to some is probably priggish to others, but he gives conservatism a bit of class it otherwise would painfully lack. He advised Ronald Reagan at the advent of that revolution in 1980, and crossed over to the dark side.

Reagan was the great turning point for conservatism. He bridged old money and new in a way that pointed the way to materialist excess for its own sake. Sun-Belt conservatism loves money and glitz more than Masterpiece Theater and Bach cantatas. It's not Downton Abbey so much as a faux-Victorian McMansion. It's reactionary without the bedrock of memory and love. If modern conservatives sometimes seem pointlessly cruel, it's for this reason. Once your primary values are pleasure and material well-being, you're less a traditionalist so much as an anxious and greedy egotist.

Imagine the moral vacuum in a human heart that celebrates gambling casinos, "winning", and, gaudy hotels. That's conservatism. Trump is its embodiment. Poor George Will sniffed his disdain but he helped pave that toll road leading away from tradition to the nouveau-riche vulgarity of today's Republican Party. Like David Brooks, he tried to hide the inescapable logic of a political tradition decaying from the inside out. If Doug Ducey is the anti-Trump, then Jan Brewer is Edith Wharton.

It's no longer about party or party philosophy.

It's about FLAG and RELIGION.

I recently deleted 100+ persons off my Facebook group because they had been warned that I've had it with their flag and religion posts.

Take a country that is getting dumber as we speak and they are ripe for the picking.

Bombed hundreds to death "over there", flag and religion makes it OK.

Crush those weaker than you, poorer than you, bully those who are different than you, flag and religion makes it OK.

P.S. Ducey isn't governor. Cathy Herrod is.

Good column Jon. Excellent backup by citing of your previous columns. Will's fluff piece on Ducey makes you wonder if this Pulitzer Prize winner is hurting for money or just getting senile and not doing his research. He got blasted badly in the comments section of his piece.I did like his past put downs of Palin and O'Rielly.

I kinda feel sorry for Ole Will as like me he is in his late seventies and while he has had some good bones it seems Will is seeking information by asking the dust.

Probably time for Will to take a reading vacation.

Arizona's schools, keeping it white. .


"Decades of research affirm the public interest in creating racially and socioeconomically diverse schools, and yet America’s schools are in many ways more segregated now than they were in the 1970s. As a nation, we need to invest in educational solutions that give more students access to integrated schools. But data suggest that private school vouchers are not an effective tool for reaching this goal. To the contrary, private school vouchers threaten to exacerbate the high levels of segregation that already exist in both public and private schools."

Are you old and bored,
read "War is Boring"

It is interesting that Goldwater came to be for gay rights--and the Republicans repudiated him for it. I believe there was a Republic story on this a few years back.

But the Republicans of today are neck-deep in hypocrisy when they try to use Christianity as a smokescreen and covering defense for their heathen ways of greed, power, aggressive capitalism, and demonizing all those that disagree with their interest in America reverting to the 1950's.

Unfortunately, the Republicans appeal to base instincts without any real effort to be altruistic, giving, or be truly Christian (as in the spirit of the REAL Jesus Christ).

We here in America, especially those on the uber-patriotic far-right, suffer from an arrogance complex born of a blind belief in our American "exceptionalism."

These militaristic flag-waving fist-shakers believe that our exceptionalism "excepts" us from behaving according to international norms, that we are somehow superior in that exceptionalism, and that this is the reason for our "triumphalism."

We all know that immigration is the result of our exceptionalism. Look up Wernher Von Braun, Enrico Fermi, Neils Bohr, and Edward Teller to understand that, had these four men NOT emigrated here, we might well be under Soviet domination. In our xenophobic patri-idiocy and patronizing willful ignorance of the rest of the world, we just open our collective butts to being "drilled."

As to our "superiority," what, pray tell, did we get out of Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq? We certainly didn't WIN these conflicts, instead settling for stalemate and geographic access to Japan and China, and oil. Oh, we DID get QUITE a few casualties of war. And, in our wanting everything cheaper, we pretty much began and continued making Japan, China, and South Korea the economic powers they are today. I wouldn't call those events evidence of our superiority. Kin Jong Un doesn't, either.

If America continues to believe that we are the straw that stirs the world's drink, we will be supplanted by China in this century, with the Indians a close second.

Dreaming is free, Deborah Harry once sang, but the consequences won't be.

Cal, you wrote: "To the contrary, private school vouchers threaten to exacerbate the high levels of segregation that already exist in both public and private schools."

Private schools, being profit-driven, are likely to exacerbate the mentally incestuous cultural, economic, and political viewpoint that believes the American forms of capitalism and xenophobic patriotism are the ultimate forms of human "well-being."

I just got this from the AZ Democratic Party: Jeff Flake recently introduced a bill that allows Internet Service Providers to track your every move online and sell that private information.

NOBODY, thinks this is a good idea except for Flake and the corporation that stand to make billions -- and yet, Flake's bill just passed Congress.

Commercial capitalist exploitation of privacy for profit at it's very best....

In case U didn't already know, Jeff is part of the Buyer Beware cult. But he is considered a liberal where I live.

Cal, Up there in Snowflake, it being as Mormon as it is, I guess he passes as liberal, if only because he consorted with Obama on Cuba. Sad that that's the definition of liberal there. I feel for you.

Part of the GOP's allure is that it is the party of the military--and it is the more aggressive of the two parties when projecting America's bullying tendencies around the world via that military power.

Bullies like Trump are always itching for a fight. But the last 5 major wars America has fought (Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and Enduring Freedom) have been, at best, 1 loss and 4 stalemates. While these wars have kept our geographic access to Asia open and kept the oil flowing from the Middle East, they've come with much national treasure expended and many thousands of lives lost and maimed.

But, then, in our aggressively fast-forward, capitalist, money-lusting culture, life is cheap when compared to the potential capital gain. And nobody personifies that more than Donald J. Trump. Get ready, America, because you're gonna pay for this president!

LoL- Ducey is a management scam hustler- right now state gummint is overrun by the overpaid con-sultancy folks, while ignoring people who actually matter (Ask Georgeanna Myer, LOL)

The bezzle is all that matters to the modern GOP- and appeasing the rubes that keep voting for them after hearing the dog whistle.

They are following what happened to the Dems after they became all about power and not about serving the people, and will now suffer the same fate.

The really principled part of the GOP just splattered healthcare all over the place, and will next vote to defund and crash Obamacare.

It is really funny to watch, as long as you don't personally suffer from it.

Now, has anyone asked the fiscal impact of Cathy Herrod's latest keep all babies alive since over 50% of all kids born are on AHCCCS from birth? Nah- JLBC wouldn't dare ask that question, and come up with a real dollar and sense cost of stupidity.

What a larf- the AzRep notices that the rich are pulling the most out of the voucher scam- will they notice that the next bunch to set up private schools will most likely be the FLDS bunch? That would be utterly hilarious.

Too many scams for me to even begin to pay attention too!

Concern Troll, The "scams" you mention (and others) are the natural outcome of a totally immoral "bait and switch" public relations propaganda mill that the Republican party employs far more ruthlessly and effectively than the Democratic party.

THAT'S why I so determinedly bring up the subject of Christianity in excoriating the spiritual bankruptcy of conservatives and Republicans. They have employed to great effect on the minds of unquestioning masses the imagery of "God and country" for at least 65 years. Starting with the fight against "Godless" communism in the McCarthy "Red Scare" of the 1950's, to the Moral Majority, Ronald Reagan's samctimony, and now with Cathy Herrod and her ilk, God and Jesus have always been a subtle weapon employed by the conservatives in their quest to equate Democrats with socialism and communism.

I'm hardly going to paint the liberals as saints, but I will to my dying day paint the conservatives as religious and moral hypocrites of the highest order because they paint God as on their side--and act NOTHING like God or Jesus Christ.

In the theatre, there's a thing called "the willing suspension of disbelief". As an audience, we know we're not at Elsinore, or in Willy Loman's living room. We know that Cockney flower girls don't burst into song. But we are willing to pretend that these things are real, at least for the length of the performance.

It seems that here in Arizona, we are also asked to pretend that some things are real.

We pretend that "trickle down" economics is viable, and not a completely disproven sick joke on the working class. And by God, with just a few more tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy everything will be wonderful!

As Rogue has noted many times, we pretend that the Federal government is somehow an awful hindrance, and not in fact the main reason modern Arizona exists. And that Barry Goldwater was a rugged individualist, a self-made man of the West, and not the pampered scion of a wealthy family.

We pretend our legislature is not a collection of dweebs and grifters, for sale to the highest bidder. And that Governor Cup or Waffle Cone's alleged business skills qualify him to hold high office.

The list goes on and on; the Corporartion Commission is looking out for the public's interests and not in the bag for APS; the problem with education is lazy teachers and administrators, and not underfunding that borders on the laughably grotesque; school vouchers will benefit every student; illegal immigrants are taking "good" jobs--and not jobs that no one else is willing to do.

At least in the theatre when the curtain comes down and the house lights come up we stop pretending.

Here in Arizona, it's make believe 24/7/365.

I need to add an addendum to my March 30 post.

It's all about FLAG and RELIGION and DISTRACTIONS !!!!!!

To paraphrase a famous writer friend of mine, "These distractions are getting on my last nerve ! "

Ruben, but the "bullying" you describe is the "heartbeat" of American capitalism that glorifies and rewards those who "overcome" by bullying and trampling "all obstacles" such as "thinkers" and those with "consciences" to "grab the brass ring" of wealth and power.

It's American "individualists" who abuse freedom to psychologically intimidate and browbeat those who don't "conform" to their "nirvana" of serving the capitalist monster. These bullies think everyone needs to be like them to be relevant by uttering, "we just want everyone to be as successful as us." They conveniently forget two words, "to compel," which are placed between "want" and "everyone."

This is the "ugly American," formerly being found behaving clueless in their superiority overseas, being visited on live-and-let-live Americans. Trump is their hero because he understand their testosterone-addled colonializing patriotism that leaves no room for dissent.

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