Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Obama Voters

I love this Neal Boortz rant, posted shortly after healthcare reform passed. An excerpt:
People knew what they were getting themselves into. The fact is that they really didn't give a flying flip. All they cared about what that [Obama] was "cool" and had a "hot bod" and, for some, because of the color of his skin. If you asked the average Obama supporter what his position was on healthcare, I bet you dollars to doughnuts that they could not tell you.
I'm not sure how the voters "knew what they were getting themselves into" while simultaneously being unaware of Obama's positions, but whatever. Boortz also throws out the always popular:
You wanted "change" but you couldn't tell me what he wanted to "change."
I don't want to discount the possibility that he's being (somewhat) facetious here,[1] but there's a pretty strong sense that Boortz is unwilling to even entertain the idea that some people who vote Democrat do, in fact, know what they're getting into. Well, of course they do. I know a lot of them. In the latte-sipping, hybrid-driving, elitist circles I associate with, Obama's positions on healthcare reform were, and still are, a common subject of discussion among supporters and opponents alike.

If that was a surprise, then this will require a firm grasp on one's socks, lest they be knocked right off one's feet. Virtually all of the Obama supporters I know are happy that healthcare reform passed. Granted, there are probably a handful who returned to their caves shortly after Election Day and will not find out about it until sometime in the future when they're hauled in front of a death panel, but shockingly few—zero, even—reacted to the news by taking to the streets, screaming "Oh God, what have we done? This monster of our own creation will surely destroy us all!"

So, to the extent Boortz intends this to be taken seriously, one of two inferences can be drawn:
  1. He thinks Obama voters are too dumb to process information and reach rational, informed decisions.
  2. He thinks voting for Obama, in and of itself, is proof of an inability to process information and reach rational, informed decisions.
Either way, as far as Boortz is concerned, Obama voters bring nothing to the table. No worthwhile ideas, interesting perspectives, or even a basic level of political engagement. This despite the fact that it is not uncommon for Boortz to concede that Obama is right about some issue or another (typically accompanied by something condescending like "guess what? I actually agree with him!," "Holy cow! I agree with Obama on this one!," or "Well said, Mr. President. Wait! Did I just say 'Mr. President?'").

Boortz is hardly alone. Way too many opinionated people—conservative, libertarian, liberal, or miscellaneous—have no respect for the opposition. But what's the point of having an opinion if you don't challenge it on a regular basis?[2]

1. Boortz makes no secret of the fact that he enjoys offending people, and I have no complaint with that. Well, one complaint. He keeps the line between intentionally offensive content and earnest statements of opinion as blurred as possible, in an attempt to have it both ways. If someone takes offense, he ridicules the metaphorical thinness of their skin; if someone agrees with the sentiment, he's happy to have them on board. It's a lazy, dishonest tactic, and I fully intend to use it as well, should the situation arise.
2. Does that make me weak-minded and indecisive? I don't know. I don't think I am, but I suppose it's possible.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Defending the Opponent

This project is meant to raise a number of questions. Among the more obvious: Why do I feel compelled to defend supporters of political views with which I disagree? I'm sure part of it is that I'm a contrarian by nature, but here are some better reasons:

They aren't always wrong.
Call me idealistic, but I choose not to live in a reality where one of the two major political movements consists entirely of people who are insane and/or deluded. And call me cynical (or, you know, moderately observant), but I can't get behind the inverse—that the other movement consists entirely of the righteous and rational—either.

Even if they are wrong, there sure are a lot of them.
Seriously. 69.5 million people voted for Obama in 2008. If they were to all lie down end to end along the equator they would circle the Earth almost three full times,[1] though millions would surely drown.

It's a thousand times easier to change someone's mind if you respect their point of view.
Consider this exchange that just happened in my head:
Liberal: Corporations are destroying the environment and wiping out endangered species! They must be stopped!
Conservative: You fool, corporations are the backbone of our economy. Besides, nobody's going to miss some stupid fly.
Liberal: How can you say that? Tons of plant and animal species make important contributions to the planet, from playing vital roles in maintaining stable ecosystems to helping us fight and cure diseases. Every time we let a species go extinct, we hurt ourselves as well.
Conservative: Yeah, yeah, let me know when that fly cures cancer. Meanwhile, I'll be driving around in my Hummer eating Big Macs and tossing the wrappers out the window.

Now, here's a similar conversation from the part of my head that exists in some bizarro universe where people respect opposing points of view:
Liberal: Corporations are destroying the environment and wiping out endangered species! They must be stopped!
Conservative: of endangered species is certainly an important objective, but I'm not sure that government regulation is the best way to achieve it.
Liberal: That's intriguingly counter-intuitive. What do you mean?
Conservative: Well, I'm sure you'd agree that even the most well-intentioned regulations are never perfect. Since the government can't just enact a law that says "don't harm endangered species" and leave it at that, it has to create a black-and-white set of rules supposedly designed with that goal in mind. But there's hardly a scientific consensus on how best to protect endangered species, and even if there was, no two sets of circumstances are the same.
Liberal: Ok, that makes sense. But imperfect regulation is still better than no regulation at all.
Conservative: Not necessarily. There are a number of ways regulation could have a detrimental effect...

And so on. You get the point.

They identify legitimate problems that need to be addressed.
Above all else, this is what I want whoever stumbles across the blog to come away convinced of. As an illustration, take the following opinions:
-The government should provide a public option for those who cannot afford health insurance.
-Additional regulation is needed to combat fraud in the financial industry.
-Federal legislation is necessary to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation.

I think it's safe to say most conservatives would not agree with any of those statements. It's also safe to say most conservatives wouldn't go to the trouble of breaking the statements down and constructing a table, but that's just one of many ways I'm unlike most conservatives.

Problem Proposed solution
Millions of Americans do not have health insurance Government intervention
Legally- and ethically-questionable practices in the financial industry have had wide-ranging harmful effects on the economy Government intervention
Many gay people believe they are susceptible to discrimination due to their sexual orientation Government intervention

Now, place a strip of non-transparent tape on your computer screen (or use your hand—whatever), covering up the right half of the table. Just like that, the Marxist liberal nonsense has disappeared. What remains is a short list of things some unknown amount of Americans—myself very much included—find worrisome, untainted by rhetoric about how the problems should be addressed, if at all.

If nothing else, this is what liberals contribute. Since they take a more egalitarian approach to distribution of wealth, they are the first to identify whichever basic needs the lower classes can't afford. Since they feel no deep-seated allegiance to free market economics, they are the first to complain when the market shows signs of criminal activity. And since they have no ideological objection to group-based classifications, they are the first to notice that certain people are being mistreated by society for reasons beyond their control. Sure, they'll get upset about non-issues on occasion (as if conservatives don't), but only the most close-minded, spiteful conservative (I'm looking at you, Hannity) could have the audacity to insist that liberals never identify a genuine problem.

Moving on, once a problem has been asserted, the opposition has several possible responses:
1. Acknowledge the problem and agree with the proposed solution.
2. Acknowledge the problem, but argue that a different approach (and not necessarily one that involves any governmental use of force) would have more short-term effectiveness, or would be better for the long-term interests of society, or both.
3. Concede that the underlying presumptions are valid, but argue that there is not actually a problem, and therefore no action should be taken.
4. Refuse to discuss the issue altogether, instead ridiculing those who raised it.

I'm sure #1 happens from time to time, but only if the problem and proposed solution are along the lines of "men who beat up pregnant women should be removed from society and harshly punished" (oh, wait—maybe not). Of course, #2 is what I'd like to see more of. As an avid observer of popular political discourse, however, all I see are #3 and #4, playing out over and over.[2]

This is what I want to say to conservatives when they get on their soapbox to complain about the government intruding in their lives: You were told about the problem and you were given plenty of time to discuss alternate solutions, but you chose instead to deny it and ridicule those who brought it up. It is baffling to me that you would then expect lawmakers, whose jobs depend on keeping the people happy, to take your side. Lawmakers are going to take the side of the people who want them to do something, so your best chance is to convince those people that enacting a law is not in their best interests. Shockingly enough, "screw you, I don't care about your problem" doesn't seem to be all that persuasive.

1. I had to do the math myself because I couldn't find a website that does the conversions for you, but I also didn't try very hard. Is there such a site? If not, there should be.
2. To be clear, this is an issue, like most of what I intend to cover on this site, that goes both ways. But I'm sure there's a would-be liberal out there somewhere with a blog about everything liberals are doing wrong, so I'll leave it to him or her to cover the other side. That said, I do think that the nature of liberals and conservatives is such that the former is more likely to voice a complaint and the latter is more likely to dismiss it as baseless.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Black Holes and Racism

A story has been going around about the latest battle in the eternal conflict between the NAACP and consumer goods that contain the word “black.” Or something like that. I’ll let the ever-reliable Fox News explain:
A space-themed, talking Hallmark graduation card is being pulled from store shelves because of the card’s reference to a black hole.
But members of the Los Angeles NAACP say the message sounds like "black whore" in the card's audio recording. That's how they hear it, and they say it's racist,  KABC-TV in Los Angeles reported.
And here’s a sampling of the coverage on sites that don’t strive for Fox-esque [1] levels of objectivity:
First poor Pluto was booted from planet-dom for what I can only assume was size-ism. Now, it has been discovered that science itself is racist.
So, it's a graduation card about space and now the term black hole is racist.
Doesn’t this mean NASA is the most racist organization in America?
I’ve said before that conservatives are right to decry the mis- and overuse of “racist.” It is a serious accusation—or at least, it should be. With increasing frequency, the term is attached to stories like this, where there is not even a hint that anyone involved believes in the superiority of one race over another, and the existence of any sort of race-based hatred or prejudice is questionable at best. Perhaps the most dangerous consequence of this is the gradual diminishing of our ability and inclination to recognize a legitimate accusation of racism, which is now more likely to elicit the same response as the frivolous accusations—a groan and a roll of the eyes. Thus, in the interest of being taken seriously and not undermining their own cause, groups like the NAACP have to be extra-careful not to cry racism without good reason, a duty that appears to have been abrogated here.

The thing is, no one affiliated with the NAACP called the card racist.

Every article and blog post I can find draws its quotes and other details entirely from this two-minute segment on an LA-area local news broadcast (either directly or through an intermediate source, like the Fox News article). The only person who uses the R-word during the segment is KABC anchor David Ono, who was not the reporter at the NAACP meeting where this whole mess got started. It’s unclear if Ono has inside information he’s not letting us in on, but all Leon Jenkins of the NAACP says in the video is that the card is “very demeaning to African-American women.”

The headline on the Fox News article is “NAACP Urges Hallmark to Pull 'Racist' Card From Shelves.” Notice the quotation marks. Who are they quoting? KABC anchor David Ono? Their own interns? Glenn Beck? I'm sure he's said it at some point. Maybe they’re using scare quotes, like they did here and here (but not here or here).[2] But then, I could’ve sworn the whole point of scare quotes is to instill a sense of skepticism about a term that’s actually, you know, a part of the story attributable to someone other than a headline writer or local news anchor. Did Fox feel the article would not be sufficiently “fair and balanced” unless they introduced more inflammatory language? (See, that’s how you use scare quotes.)

Anyway, to me, the card is about as demeaning as it is racist, which is to say not at all, but there are some important differences between the terms. For one, an accusation of racism carries much more severity. Also, something can be demeaning without any malicious intent, or even conscious thought. A greeting card, as a non-sentient inanimate object, cannot be racist, but it can certainly be demeaning. It is more semantically defensible to call the humans who created the card racist, but it still creates the implication that, at the very least, they intentionally or knowingly designed a derogatory card. Demeaning-ness, on the other hand, refers only to the final product—the creative process (or lack thereof) that led to it is largely irrelevant.[3]

So, is the card racist? Of course not. Is it demeaning? Eh…I don’t see it, but if there is an argument to be made that anything unsavory is going on here, I can’t think of a more appropriate term to use.

Conservatives love to accuse groups like the NAACP of playing the racism card every time they’re upset about something, but the conservatives are playing solitaire on this one (couldn’t resist) in an attempt to make the NAACP look even sillier than they would've looked on their own. I mentioned above that it seems like accusations of racism are being thrown around more and more often and for increasingly less compelling reasons. Suddenly I feel the need to re-evaluate my theories on why that is.

1. Foxian? Foxtastic? How about Foxetious?
2. I’m not going to fully investigate this now (maybe when I have a few more readers), but a search of the Fox News archives brings up a ton of articles with “racist” or “racism” in the headline, sometimes in quotation marks and sometimes not. The vast majority do not use either word anywhere in the body of the article, much less within a quotation by someone upset about whatever is going on (and one such quote was anonymously attributed to a Facebook post).
3. Ok, so the NAACP members shown in the video do, in fact, seem to be accusing Hallmark of designing a demeaning card on purpose. That’s nutty, but at least they were restrained enough not to call the Hallmark people racists.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rock Bottom

Warner Todd Huston, your opinion offends me so deeply, you should be legally prohibited from expressing it.

I'm being facetious, of course. But seriously—it's vile. I'm writing about it here to establish a reference point of sorts, because surely this is as bad as conservative commentary gets.
[T]his Smith guy is definitely a class "A" creep. But he is also the perfect, logical end of left-wing, Democrat ideology. What makes this whole story all the more sad is that half the American electorate is on the side of a woman-beating, creep like Graydon Smith.
Graydon Smith, you see, had apparently made his girlfriend sign a contract giving him the right to physically abuse her. Only her midsection was off limits, on account of the developing fetus inside (and what a happy life that baby can look forward to). It's a sad, bizarre, horrible story, which makes it the perfect excuse to hurl unfounded insults at millions of people.
Employing left-wing thinking, this violent man did what every leftist says should be done. He indulged his inner desires—because his “rights” to do as he wishes are sacrosanct.
I believe in moral absolutes. Since the left does not, they have no leg to stand on to tell this guy that his contract and his girlfriend's consent to sign it is wrong.
This is all a veiled dig at something, I'm sure. If I had to guess, I'd say Huston is upset about liberals being unwilling to broadly condemn Islamic fundamentalism. I detect a hint of homophobia in there, too. Whatever. After reading the article, I don't especially care what he's upset about, so kudos, Mr. Huston, on a job well done.[1]

I'm not going to be so patronizing as to say that conservatives should disagree with this nonsense, because I'm sure I don't need to. But I'd like to see what would happen if you presented this article to a bunch of non-conservatives. I bet a substantial amount would not be so quick to dismiss it as the incoherent, hateful raving of a close-minded fool. Instead, they would dismiss it as the incoherent, hateful raving of a close-minded conservative, and that is a crucial difference. Huston's article, on the surface, features the same blind partisanship and pointless, mean-spirited stereotyping that have become generally associated with conservative discourse—and the surface is about as far as most people would get.

Blame the "liberal media" for demonizing conservatives, if you like, but this guy (Huston, that is, not the leftist misogynist with the faulty understanding of how contract law works) is hard at work demonizing conservatives on his own, and I don't hear anyone telling him to shut up.[2]

1. Also, I'm tempted to point out that freedom of contract is very much a conservative principle, but I won't. Everyone seems to be assuming that this woman was coerced into signing the contract (which is certainly more likely than any other explanation), and there was also an unborn child involved, so it's not exactly a clear-cut freedom of contract issue. That's why I'm not pointing out that, once again, freedom of contract is a conservative principle.
2. That's not entirely true, but it makes for a better closing than "if the comments on his articles are any indication, a handful of people are telling him to shut up (or at least that he's an idiot), but theirs is hardly the prevailing opinion." Also, I'm pretty sure I don't need to say this, but I will anyway. When I say "telling him to shut up," I'm not talking about any kind of infringement on his First Amendment right to post hateful nonsense on the Internet (just as the founders intended). I'm talking about literally saying "hey, you idiot, you're making us look bad, so why don't you give it a rest for a while."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Constitutional Right to Health Care

Clicking around in the Nealz Nuze archives, I came across this item from last July. Anyone who remembers the Great Health Care Debate (what ever happened with that, anyway?) surely remembers that much of the conflict centered on whether (or the extent to which) Obama's plan is constitutional. Some went even farther, insisting there is a constitutional right to health care which, I guess, the government has been ignoring for over two centuries now.

Of course, Neal Boortz and other conservatives are firmly in the unconstitutional camp. Unfortunately for them, most Democrats don't seem to care what they think, and there is no guarantee the Supreme Court will either. At least one Democrat, however, stood up and said "let's do this the right way, as the founders intended, in the spirit of rational debate and with respect for the Constitution." How did Boortz respond?
He's a fool .. a big government fool.
So, to the modern conservative, this is the sort of thing a big government fool would say:
The fundamental question: Is health care a constitutional right? I mean, do you have a right to health care in the American system of government or not? Well, we believe that people do and we're introducing a constitutional amendment just to make it real clear.
Am I crazy, or does John Conyers (D-MI) sound exceedingly reasonable here?[1] He acknowledges the constitutional uncertainty and, more importantly, does not dismiss it as something to be ignored by Democrats in Congress, whined about on Fox News, and ultimately ruled on in 2015 or so by a liberal-majority Supreme Court. Instead, he suggests we change the Constitution to resolve the issue once and for all. And here's the ultra-reasonable part—Conyers doesn't argue for changing the Constitution by, say, breaking into the National Archives with Wite-Out and a Sharpie; he wants to do it in the manner prescribed by the Constitution itself!

Conservatives should be praising this kind of thinking, not ridiculing it. Sure, oppose the amendment (which, by the way, would have no chance of passing),[2] but opposing the process itself is, dare I say, un-American.

1. Is he a reasonable politician in general? I don't know. Probably not. But that's not the point.
2. I'm not going to think too hard about this; I'll just point out that the first step is a two-thirds vote by both houses of Congress. That means 67 Senators, and we all remember how difficult it was for the Democrats just to get 60 on board.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hate Speech

Might as well get this started with a story that combines two of Neal Boortz's favorite subjects. First, immigration. Second, the liberal conspiracy to shut down right-wing talk radio "hate speech" and, I don't know, haul the perpetrators off to 1984-esque re-education centers. Here's the latest development:
In a letter to the FCC, over 30 organizations claim that syndicated radio and cable television programs make it hard for the public to separate facts from "bigotry masquerading as news." They also claim that talk radio and these news programs use hate as a profit model.
What makes the conspiracy especially devious is that hate speech, apparently, is now defined as "[a]ny utterance in opposition to progressive or liberal ideals or in support of liberty." That's comically hyperbolic, but I suppose there may be a grain of truth to it—anti-hate (speech, crimes, etc.) legislation tends to be supported almost exclusively by Democrats, and can therefore be expected to reflect liberal values.

Anyway, the letter to the FCC is something of a follow-up to a petition filed last year. Here are some of the specific complaints from that petition:
-Michael Savage claimed "America is being overrun by an invasion force from Mexico."
-Rush Limbaugh described Mexican immigrants as "a renegade, potential criminal element."
-And Boortz himself suggested that the first English phrase Hispanic immigrants should learn is "hands against the car and hood and spread 'em."
Note that all three statements, rather than being aimed directly at unauthorized aliens,[1] demonize the Latino community as a whole. But that's not how Boortz sees it:
In the case of the [National Hispanic Media Coalition] "hate speech" would be defined as any reminder that "undocumented workers" are, in fact, illegal aliens and have committed a crime coming into this country, and continue to commit crimes by staying and working here.
What? Where did that come from? It looks to me like the NHMC is opposed to generalized, negative depictions of Latino people made under the guise of a discussion on America's immigration problem. In fact, the statements by Savage, Limbaugh, and Boortz come perilously close to racism—a term that, as Boortz astutely observes, should not be thrown around lightly. There are no overt assertions that Latino people are genetically inferior to white people, but when the sentiment is that Latino people are likely to be criminals, isn't a degree of inferiority implied?

Regardless, the point made by the NHMC—with ample evidentiary support—is undeniable. Certain media entities and personalities often depict the Latino community with unfavorable and unfounded generalizations.[2] It logically follows that these depictions, to some difficult-to-quantify extent, cause negative perceptions of Latino people in society at large. To suggest, as Boortz does, that the NHMC considers any honest discussion [3] on immigration to be hate speech is asinine. It is also a dangerous distraction from the real issue (something I suspect will be a recurring theme on this site).

The real issue here—aside from immigration and race relations—is how much authority the FCC should have to enforce governmental notions of fairness or decency or whatever. I'm sure Boortz would agree with my opinion that their authority should be somewhere between minimal and none. The NHMC, we can probably assume, believes FCC authority should be a little broader.[4]

Alas, the balance between (1) maintaining a peaceful and welcoming society, and (2) respecting the guarantee of Freedom of Expression under the First Amendment is relentlessly tricky and nuanced and requires, you know, thought. Why open that can of worms when you can just redefine the issue instead? The NHMC wants the government to shut down talk radio and/or lock up anyone who thinks unauthorized aliens should be held accountable for whatever laws they've broken! Only a brain-dead liberal could support something that ridiculous!

One final thought (and the first appearance of what will likely be another recurring theme). Any conservative or libertarian would agree that one of the key elements of their belief system is personal responsibility. With that in mind, Boortz, Savage, Limbaugh, and others appear to be partially responsible for (1) the perception within the Latino community that there are negative attitudes about Latinos within the white community, and (2) the perceived need, as expressed by the NHMC, for government intervention to combat one of the perceived sources of those negative attitudes—right-wing media personalities. To the extent that Boortz addresses these points at all, he does so by dismissing them. Instead, he mischaracterizes the NHMC's position and accuses them, essentially, of inventing the problem to mask their true goal of destroying conservative talk radio.

If the government does intervene, it will not be the triumphant culmination of some nefarious liberal plot. It will be because Boortz and other conservatives insist on exercising their right to say irresponsible things and intentionally piss people off. Personal responsibility means taking it upon yourself to behave in a way that shows society you can be a mature, respectful adult without the government telling you how to do so, and holding yourself accountable for the consequences of failing to meet that standard. It does not mean acting like a jackass just because you don't think the government should be able to tell you not to.

1. That's right—I prefer "unauthorized" or "undocumented" over "illegal," but that's a discussion for another time.
2. I'm not going to make any judgment as to whether there is a basis for a claim that Latino people are more likely to commit crimes, and I'm sure there is no shortage of data that can be selectively applied in support of a whole spectrum of conclusions. My point is, people like Boortz don't exactly go out of their way to ensure that every broad generalization they make is backed by a preponderance of scholarly research.
3. To call it honest for Boortz to claim that "'undocumented workers' are, in fact, illegal aliens and have committed a crime coming into this country, and continue to commit crimes by staying and working here" requires a somewhat loose definition of honesty. For one thing, many unauthorized aliens entered the country legally and did not violate any laws until several months or years later. It's also a bit of a stretch to call immigration violations crimes, since hearings tend to more closely resemble administrative proceedings and jail time is rarely a possibility. Still, if we can all agree on anything, it should be that there is a large group of people in this country who are not in compliance with the law concerning the rights and duties of non-citizens, and there is another large group of people who are very upset about this. In his usual, unnecessarily inflammatory way, I think that is what Boortz is getting at.
4. It should be noted, however, that their latest letter calls for "non-regulatory" action, such as a study on whether hate speech in the media leads to hate crimes, with the findings to be made available to the public. On the scale of intrusive, unwanted government actions, that would fall just slightly below those beeping "walk" signs designed to help blind people cross the road.


I support smaller government, lower taxes, less spending, and more individual freedom, yet I want nothing to do with modern conservatism. Here begins an open-ended attempt to explain just how that came to be.

I'm sure I’ll eventually broaden my scope, but for now I’m going to look exclusively at one prominent pundit: Neal Boortz.

[Update (added Nov. 9, 2010): Alright, maybe I broadened my scope a little sooner than expected. Not that I won't continue having things to say about Boortz from time to time.]

Why Boortz? Several reasons:
  • I grew up in suburban Atlanta, where Boortz is on the radio roughly 27 hours a day. He was my first exposure to political views beyond those of my immediate family, and is probably the single most important reason I began calling myself a libertarian as a teenager.
  • Modern American conservatism is essentially a coalition between libertarians and religious fundamentalists (how did that happen, anyway?). I am absolutely opposed to government-imposed morality, but Boortz comes from the libertarian side of the coalition. Thus, I tend to agree with his opinions on a vast majority of issues.
  • From a practical standpoint, I like that he posts a ton of content on his website. I don’t listen to his show every day, and even if I did, it’s nice to have something written to refer back to. (Also, the comments on his “Nuze” items are a lot of fun, in a hopeless, depressing way.)
And most importantly, Boortz strikes me as an adequate representative for conservative/libertarian discourse in general. He’s not a renowned scholar, but neither are Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, or Ann Coulter. Instead, he is a powerful influence on the conservative masses. He shapes not only popular opinion, but how issues, arguments, and opposing sides are defined and characterized in the first place.

I mentioned above that I generally agree with the substance of Boortz’s views. That should allow me to focus less on the merits of his arguments and more on his rhetorical tactics, which is the point of this project. Basically, I want to examine how an ideology that I still largely subscribe to has, in actual practice, become so repelling.