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CS Lewis on American Politics

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  • CS Lewis on American Politics

    While reading through the massive "Collected Letters of CS Lewis" (the guy couldn't stop writing letters!), I came across this little gem that wouldn't be at all out of place if it was written yesterday:

    TO VERA GEBBERT
    Magdalen College,
    Oxford
    28th July 1952

    Dear Mrs. Gebbert,

    ...Does anyone in America understand American politics? Certainly no one over here can make out what is happening, in spite of numerous inspired articles by so called experts; people who pretend to know all about it...assure me that a Taft victory would be a disaster and an Eisenhower one would be grand. Which, as they belong to the same party, seems odd to me; others tell me that as the Democrats are sure to get in anyhow, the Taft-Eisenhower battle was of no importance. I thought I was going to learn something from an old lady in Connecticut the other day, but at the end of eight pages so hot that they nearly burned my fingers, all I could gather was that the "Dumbocrats" as she called them, are a sort of mixture of Hitler, the Russian secret police, and the inmates of the village lunatic asylum: but no doubt this view is a little prejudiced...

    With all good wishes.
    Yours sincerely,
    CS Lewis

  • #2
    Much of the rest of the world watches US politics with a kind of horrified fascination. Politics everywhere can get crazy and stupid at times, but somehow US politics manages to be off-the-charts crazy-stupid all the time.

    Fox 'News' and the Republicans seem to have achieved an art-form of inventing new forms of insanity on a daily basis. Many members of my (non-American) family enjoy watching The Daily Show just because US politics makes for sooooo much better comedy than does the politics of any other country.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Starlight View Post
      Much of the rest of the world watches US politics with a kind of horrified fascination. Politics everywhere can get crazy and stupid at times, but somehow US politics manages to be off-the-charts crazy-stupid all the time.

      Fox 'News' and the Republicans seem to have achieved an art-form of inventing new forms of insanity on a daily basis. Many members of my (non-American) family enjoy watching The Daily Show just because US politics makes for sooooo much better comedy than does the politics of any other country.
      US politics is like a combo of freak show with Punch and Judy. It's far more watchable than most UK comedy. "Horrified fascination" is both very funny, and very true. For sheer off-the-wall craziness, US televangelism is unbeatable; most of these people belong in the bin.

      Comment


      • #4
        I see good reason to think that the current insanity in US politics is temporary, and will die out over the next 10 years or so.

        Throughout the West in the 20th century, successive generations have been increasingly highly educated and have become better at logic and reasoning. For complicated cultural reasons, in many US states (mostly the "South") the population is essentially a generation behind in this progression - ie there is an entire generation largely lacking in higher education and who don't possess a lot of the reasoning skills most of us take for granted. To a massive degree that generation has focused on religion and faith as its primary source of truth, and over time has become highly distrustful of the more-educated people in the rest of the US (and the rest of the Western world in general), who are perceived as 'liberal elites'. Over time this generation of people have become suspicious of science, reasoning, logic, education, and "so-called 'facts'" due to the frequency with which these things are used by those liberal elites to critique and undermine the values and ideas that this generation holds dear.

        The existence of this demographic within the US has been used as an extremely strong political force, both by those with idealistic motives and those with more cynical ones. The first successful attempt to gather that generation into a cohesive voting bloc was the "Moral Majority" movement. This movement successfully channeled the issue of segregation into getting this demographic voting for "religious and moral" reasons against letting the races mix. This achieved a somewhat unique precedent of having a large block of voters who began to see their votes as being about religious and moral issues, rather than mundane and complex issues of economics and legal administration that most people in the US had previously focused on when voting. The Moral Majority quickly turned its focus to the issues of abortion and homosexuality, and quickly became instrumental in the election of Reagan.

        However, from the time of Reagan and beyond, there were plenty of cynics quick to subvert this movement to their own ends - in particular the wealthy and the powerful. The charismatic Reagan was able to sell "trickle-down economics" to this generation, convincing them that even though they themselves were neither wealthy and powerful, that helping the wealthy and powerful was a just and righteous cause and was ultimately best for everyone. Thus arose among that generation in the US, a very strange alliance of fundamentalist Christianity and right-wing economics, which has left many Christians in the rest of the world scratching their heads and saying "um, wasn't Jesus all about helping the poor, and didn't he have some rather nasty things to say about the rich?" This generation now votes firmly against its own economic interests: The "red" states are among the poorest in the US, and receive much more in federal subsidies than they pay in taxes. If these people had an accurate grasp of facts and were motivated by self-interest they would be voting strongly left-wing. Instead we find them voting extremely right-wing, due to having been firmly indoctrinated into believing in "smaller government" and tax-cuts - ideologies that stem from the the billionaires who are funding the propaganda that is brainwashing them and who are manipulating the Republican party itself and who are the ones gaining from all this. As Karl Rove once infamously and cynically noted, the "reality-based" nature of the educated liberal voters can be contrasted with "faith-based" thinking of the Republican voters.

        But this is all soon going to change, because that generation is now beginning to die out. The median age of the viewers of the O'Reilly show (Fox News' most popular program) is over 72. The next generation in these areas is getting an education, and increasing internet access means information is becoming freely available everywhere anyway. A consequence of this is that the millennial generation in the US are overwhelmingly liberal / Democrat leaning, which is going to prove an absolute disaster for Republicans over the next ten years, and they are facing an equally large demographic disaster due to an increasing non-white population in the US.

        So, enjoy the show while it lasts, because the clock is now ticking. Soon the demonic forces of caring for the poor, healing the sick, housing the homeless, freeing the oppressed, and caring for the environment, will utterly destroy American 'civilization' as we now know it. The satanic specter of free public health care stretches its ghostly hands towards the once-great nation, and only guns guns and more guns can defend against it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Well, Starlight got at least one thing right: he will be lined up before a firing squad sooner or later.
          "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

          There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Starlight View Post
            Much of the rest of the world watches US politics with a kind of horrified fascination. Politics everywhere can get crazy and stupid at times, but somehow US politics manages to be off-the-charts crazy-stupid all the time.

            Fox 'News' and the Republicans seem to have achieved an art-form of inventing new forms of insanity on a daily basis. Many members of my (non-American) family enjoy watching The Daily Show just because US politics makes for sooooo much better comedy than does the politics of any other country.
            Why am I unsurprised to find that stupid liberals on some backwater archipelago get their news from a con man.
            "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

            There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Darth Executor View Post
              Why am I unsurprised to find that stupid liberals on some backwater archipelago get their news from a con man.
              PSA: It might be helpful to see why you're calling him a conman and not insulting liberals...
              "It's evolution; every time you invent something fool-proof, the world invents a better fool."
              -Unknown

              "Preach the gospel, and if necessary use words." - Most likely St.Francis


              I find that evolution is the best proof of God.
              ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              I support the :
              sigpic

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Irate Canadian View Post
                PSA: It might be helpful to see why you're calling him a conman and not insulting liberals...
                You mean other than that he's a political propagandist who hides under "it's just comedy" to avoid criticism?

                http://www.bloombergview.com/article...the-daily-show

                In mid-September, some Washington Redskins fans agreed to go on "The Daily Show" to defend the team’s name. In the course of negotiating their appearance, the fans asked whether they would be confronted by American Indians on the show. The producers said no, and then surprise! They were ambushed by irate American Indian activists.
                http://www.mediaite.com/tv/peter-sch...-show-hit-job/

                And Schiff had reason to be optimistic. A lengthy email he released on Tuesday shows that a The Daily Show producer offered repeated assurances that he would not be taken out of context. “We NEVER edit out of context,” the staffer wrote. “Meaning we never ever show responses to a question we never asked.”

                “[R]est assured,” the producer repeated. “NOTHING will be edited out of context.”

                But that is exactly what happened, Schiff said. He called the final product a “hit job.”

                “I came there with my brother and they refused to let him sit in the room with me,” he told Mediaite. “They said, ‘It’s got to be Peter in the room all by himself.’ That was a clue they didn’t want any witnesses.”

                Schiff revealed that he sat down with correspondent Samantha Bee for four hours, in which he described at length the political origins of the minimum wage and the adverse effect it has had on youth unemployment and productivity. He says that it was more than three hours into the interview when they finally prompted Schiff to offer the segment’s infamous soundbite.

                According to Schiff, Bee randomly picked the $2-per-hour wage, and asked just what kind of people would work for that minuscule sum. The financial commentator said there were two types of people who would work for that figure. His first example — a response which was edited out of the package that aired on The Daily Show — were unpaid interns. Interns like the reassuring Daily Show staffer who had revealed to Schiff their prior role before transitioning into a paying job with Comedy Central.
                Can't quote the whole article, read the rest.

                As for not insulting liberals, why shouldn't I insult stupid people who get their news from Comedy Central? Starlight and his family would still be dumber than a sack of bricks even if Leibowitz was more honest than a hooker with aids.
                "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

                There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The Daily Show has various different sections, some fact-focused with Jon Stewart, and some comedy-focused with various "correspondents" which are generally not serious segments at all. Both these articles are whining about the comedy sections of the show, so...

                  As for not insulting liberals, why shouldn't I insult stupid people who get their news from Comedy Central?
                  Various surveys in 2007 and 2012 found that watchers of The Daily Show were more informed, on average, than watchers of the standard TV news shows. Watchers of Fox News performed the worst, being significantly less informed than a control group of people who didn't watch news. (This is hardly surprising, as fact-checking organizations consistently observe Fox News lying-to and misinforming its viewers, with ~60% of things said on Fox News being rated more false than true.)

                  The Daily Show does occasionally make small factual errors - typically about once a year, and they clearly apologize for them and explain why they got it wrong. As far as pure accuracy goes they are probably the single most accurate show on TV by far. Their very popularity means that any errors at all will be immediately and clearly trumpeted by conservatives. I do not, however, rely on the Daily Show as my primary source of news - I regularly watch 5 news shows and read 3 news websites as I like to stay well-informed.
                  Last edited by Starlight; 02-12-2015, 08:03 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                    The Daily Show has various different sections, some fact-focused with Jon Stewart, and some comedy-focused with various "correspondents" which are generally not serious segments at all. Both these articles are whining about the comedy sections of the show, so...
                    clown nose on, clown nose off

                    Various surveys in 2007 and 2012 found that watchers of The Daily Show were more informed, on average, than watchers of the standard TV news shows.
                    They're also in a statistical tie with Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly audiences. Being the most informed retard doesn't make you any less of a retard.

                    Watchers of Fox News performed the worst, being significantly less informed than a control group of people who didn't watch news. (This is hardly surprising, as fact-checking organizations consistently observe Fox News lying-to and misinforming its viewers, with ~60% of things said on Fox News being rated more false than true.)
                    Not hard to rig surveys with false things generally considered true by conservatives, and politifact is a progressive propaganda outlet, they're even less credible.

                    The Daily Show does occasionally make small factual errors - typically about once a year, and they clearly apologize for them and explain why they got it wrong.
                    The Daily Show lies to people about having a rational debate so they can have an emotional pile-up and edited someone's interview to make him sound evil and stupid. "Small factual errors" is the least of their problems.
                    "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

                    There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                      Much of the rest of the world watches US politics with a kind of horrified fascination. Politics everywhere can get crazy and stupid at times, but somehow US politics manages to be off-the-charts crazy-stupid all the time.

                      Fox 'News' and the Republicans seem to have achieved an art-form of inventing new forms of insanity on a daily basis. Many members of my (non-American) family enjoy watching The Daily Show just because US politics makes for sooooo much better comedy than does the politics of any other country.
                      Yep, the Daily Show. Ran by the same guy that called Seal Team 6 a 'secret assassination squad' when Bush was in office, but praised them when Obama used them to take out Bin Laden. A hypocritical comedian is your news source. Besides, have you ever watched US Congress in session? It is as boring as watching paint dry. Now the British Parliament is far more entertaining to watch. No wonder most of the world hasn't got a clue how the US actually works. They get their news from a double speaking comedian, that has been known to lie to his guest and has been caught in hypocrisy. A perfect source of news, for you it appears.
                      "The man from the yacht thought he was the first to find England; I thought I was the first to find Europe. I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy."
                      GK Chesterton; Orthodoxy

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Darth Executor View Post
                        The Daily Show lies to people about having a rational debate so they can have an emotional pile-up and edited someone's interview to make him sound evil and stupid. "Small factual errors" is the least of their problems.
                        That is just part of The Daily Show's problems. He also has been known to lie to those he interviews and brings them on the show for dishonest purposes as an attempt to shame them. This isn't even getting into his double speak (IE calling Seal Team 6 a secret assassinations squad when Bush was in office, but praising them when Obama is in office). The fact lightbright puts uncritical trust in such a dishonest and flat out liar should tell us how serious we should take a word he says.
                        "The man from the yacht thought he was the first to find England; I thought I was the first to find Europe. I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy."
                        GK Chesterton; Orthodoxy

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                          I see good reason to think that the current insanity in US politics is temporary, and will die out over the next 10 years or so.
                          Do you ever get tried of ranting and raving and dishonestly portraying people who dare to disagree with you as uncaring monsters, who don't care about others? Well, you do get your news source for a hypocritical, lying, comedian so that should tell me how seriously I should take a word you say. Anyway, have fun being refuted.

                          Throughout the West in the 20th century, successive generations have been increasingly highly educated and have become better at logic and reasoning. For complicated cultural reasons, in many US states (mostly the "South") the population is essentially a generation behind in this progression - ie there is an entire generation largely lacking in higher education and who don't possess a lot of the reasoning skills most of us take for granted. To a massive degree that generation has focused on religion and faith as its primary source of truth, and over time has become highly distrustful of the more-educated people in the rest of the US (and the rest of the Western world in general), who are perceived as 'liberal elites'. Over time this generation of people have become suspicious of science, reasoning, logic, education, and "so-called 'facts'" due to the frequency with which these things are used by those liberal elites to critique and undermine the values and ideas that this generation holds dear.
                          Yep because anybody who disagrees with the great LightBright, is an uneducated moron that doesn't have a clue what he's talking about. I do have a college degree, so I thought I'd get that out there before you start ranting about how anybody who disagree with you must be an uneducated religious bigot. Ironic how those who cry the most about bigotry, are the biggest bigots around huh? Do you hate religion so much that you'll outright misrepresent the religious faithful and tell fibs about them? What do you end up doing when you run into educated religious people? Do you break down into a ranting lunatic, as you show yourself as being?

                          The existence of this demographic within the US has been used as an extremely strong political force, both by those with idealistic motives and those with more cynical ones. The first successful attempt to gather that generation into a cohesive voting bloc was the "Moral Majority" movement. This movement successfully channeled the issue of segregation into getting this demographic voting for "religious and moral" reasons against letting the races mix. This achieved a somewhat unique precedent of having a large block of voters who began to see their votes as being about religious and moral issues, rather than mundane and complex issues of economics and legal administration that most people in the US had previously focused on when voting. The Moral Majority quickly turned its focus to the issues of abortion and homosexuality, and quickly became instrumental in the election of Reagan.
                          Yep, another hack you're using as a source. Yep, that should tell me again how seriously I should take you. Anyway, Jimmy Carter's presidency was a total failure that had one failure after another and in general, Jimmy Carter was pretty much finished. Don't worry though, perhaps if you repeat myths long enough, it will become true! BTW what do you do with Christians that don't care much about the hypocritical attitude of the 'Religious Right' either?
                          However, from the time of Reagan and beyond, there were plenty of cynics quick to subvert this movement to their own ends - in particular the wealthy and the powerful. The charismatic Reagan was able to sell "trickle-down economics" to this generation, convincing them that even though they themselves were neither wealthy and powerful, that helping the wealthy and powerful was a just and righteous cause and was ultimately best for everyone. Thus arose among that generation in the US, a very strange alliance of fundamentalist Christianity and right-wing economics, which has left many Christians in the rest of the world scratching their heads and saying "um, wasn't Jesus all about helping the poor, and didn't he have some rather nasty things to say about the rich?" This generation now votes firmly against its own economic interests: The "red" states are among the poorest in the US, and receive much more in federal subsidies than they pay in taxes. If these people had an accurate grasp of facts and were motivated by self-interest they would be voting strongly left-wing. Instead we find them voting extremely right-wing, due to having been firmly indoctrinated into believing in "smaller government" and tax-cuts - ideologies that stem from the the billionaires who are funding the propaganda that is brainwashing them and who are manipulating the Republican party itself and who are the ones gaining from all this. As Karl Rove once infamously and cynically noted, the "reality-based" nature of the educated liberal voters can be contrasted with "faith-based" thinking of the Republican voters.
                          Salon.com, another hack source you're trying to use as a source of information. That tells me more about how seriously I should take you. I'm sorry, but can you please explain to me how Obama has helped the poor anymore than you rant about the 'religious right' as doing? I hate to burst your fantasy bubble, but Democrats love business too. You do know that some of the richest people in the US contribute to the Democrat party, right? You do know that the Democrats also receive lots of money from big companies, right? Of course you don't because you want to demonize one side of politics, while ignoring that the other side is just as bad. Please, the Democrats have sold out our country to rich business interest too and the proof of this comes from 2006-2010 when they controlled congress, but pushed though the ACA bill, regardless of what the people in office said and really did nothing to end corporate welfare and the other programs that they complain about. Please, anybody who thinks Democrats are good and honest people are just as stupid as people who think Republicans are good and honest people.

                          But this is all soon going to change, because that generation is now beginning to die out. The median age of the viewers of the O'Reilly show (Fox News' most popular program) is over 72. The next generation in these areas is getting an education, and increasing internet access means information is becoming freely available everywhere anyway. A consequence of this is that the millennial generation in the US are overwhelmingly liberal / Democrat leaning, which is going to prove an absolute disaster for Republicans over the next ten years, and they are facing an equally large demographic disaster due to an increasing non-white population in the US.
                          Yep, more hack jobs you're using as sources, but anyway... my generation is full of idiots that don't know what they are talking about. I've seen a number of them believe in legends that you complain about Republicans believing in. Besides, you seem to ignore the fact that single and young people eventually become married and old people and move to a more conservative stance of politics. Simply put, Democrat issues do seem to be rather important to the young and single, they are not nearly as important to the older and married people. You'd know this if you got balanced information from conservative, liberal, and moderate sources instead of relying just on liberal sources. Simply put, married and older people don't care about the same issues as single and young people. You do understand that, right?

                          So, enjoy the show while it lasts, because the clock is now ticking. Soon the demonic forces of caring for the poor, healing the sick, housing the homeless, freeing the oppressed, and caring for the environment, will utterly destroy American 'civilization' as we now know it. The satanic specter of free public health care stretches its ghostly hands towards the once-great nation, and only guns guns and more guns can defend against it.
                          There is that demonizing again because we all know that anybody who dares to disagree with the great LightBright, just don't care about the poor or sick.
                          Last edited by lilpixieofterror; 02-12-2015, 08:59 PM.
                          "The man from the yacht thought he was the first to find England; I thought I was the first to find Europe. I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy."
                          GK Chesterton; Orthodoxy

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Darth Executor View Post
                            Not hard to rig surveys with false things generally considered true by conservatives
                            It's certainly pretty easy to find plenty of false things that conservatives consider true.

                            politifact is a progressive propaganda outlet, they're even less credible.
                            I have the opposite complaint about politifact: They seem to go out of their way to be generous to conservatives. I've regularly seen them judge liberals by a much higher bar of truth than they use for conservatives. If a conservative says something that contains even a tiny amount of connection to reality then it regularly gets rated as 'half-true' or 'mostly-true', whereas if a liberal says something that is 99% true then it often gets rated as 'mostly-false'. I suspect they actually made a deliberate policy decision to do this: They didn't want to get accused of being overly harsh on conservatives, so they went out of their way to be 'fair' to conservatives, knowing that even with the bar tilted in their favor, conservatives would still have a disastrous showing.

                            There's plenty of other fact-checking organizations. They all observe that US conservatives get their facts wrong regularly, far far more than US liberals. There was a reason that Karl Rove described liberals as "reality-based" and Stephen Colbert joked that "reality has a well-known liberal bias". Because empirically speaking, in the US the 'liberals' tend to get their facts right and the 'conservatives' tend to get their facts wrong. This is what makes the rest of the world have such an awed and horrified fascination with US politics, because the conservatives there are just so insane.

                            The Daily Show lies to people about having a rational debate so they can have an emotional pile-up and edited someone's interview to make him sound evil and stupid. "Small factual errors" is the least of their problems.
                            So, which part of there are different segments in the show did you not understand? Your complaint is like saying that a news program is false because it had some ads in it and those ads were false.

                            You're also rather naively believing at face value one-sided unsubstantiated claims certain people are making as to what other people allegedly told them to expect. People who go on TV shows of every kind seem to regularly find it was not what they were expecting. It's probably a poor choice in general for a person to go on any show that is hostile to their position, because they're probably going to be unhappy with the outcome.

                            Originally posted by lilpixieofterror View Post
                            Ran by the same guy that called Seal Team 6 a 'secret assassination squad' when Bush was in office, but praised them when Obama used them to take out Bin Laden.
                            Er... so? A secret assassination squad seems pretty much ideal for taking out Bin Laden. That's probably about the one time in US history that a secret assassination was 100% totally justifiable.

                            Comment


                            • #15

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