Curtis Dahlgren
"Our choices": sophistry, populism, or intelligent independence (you decide)
By Curtis Dahlgren
November 20, 2009

"SNOB originally meant a 'shoemaker.' Cambridge University students of the late 18th century took it as a slang term for a 'townsman, not a member of the university,' and it seems to have been this usage which formed the basis in the 1830s for the . . general sense 'member of the lower orders' ('The nobs have lost their dirty seats — and the honest snobs have got 'em' . . . " — John Ayto ("Dictionary of Word Origins")

"WE WON," SAID THE CHICAGO GANG A YEAR AGO. "We won!" says Nancy Pelosi, even after the 2009 election. Well, the Divine Right of Kings is a thing of the past, and if you run rough-shod over the People, some of us 'nobs may have the last laugh. Thank God for the "independents."

NOW IS THE TIME, and DC is the place to register your "redress for grievances," because Senator Reid is planning to start the ramming-thru process on government-run HELLth care this weekend. Thank God for the intelligent Independents (the ones who don't just wet their finger and hold it up to see which way the wind is blowing). Today's Independents have taken the "wind" and blown it back in the face of the Sophists who think they know what's best for "the little people."


- NYC terrorist trial; Attorney General says "Don't worry about it"

- Fine print in health reform proposals worry voters [hmmmmm]

- Democrats alarmed as independents bolt party [now you're talkin' serious]

- "Russian cruise ship stuck in Antarctic ice" [how can that be?]

- Former Philip Morris smoker wins $300 million [is now a carbon-credit trader?]

- 7,000 more truckers laid off; price of crude oil rises; record cold [etc]

- "Boy on bike hit by truck; boy injured"

That last one is a real headline that I just threw in. It is emblematic of the way the MSM tries to understate all bad economic news since the Chicago gang "won" last year. I have finally figured out what that giant sucking sound was that Ross Perot talked about — it is the sound of thousands of journalists kissing up to our smoker-in-chief.

Oh, one other headline: did you hear, California is banning the Big-screen TVs. Now that'll really encourage capital investment and bring the Independents back, eh?

Like that Russian cruise-liner in the Antarctic, the Liberals go "full speed ahead." The way they figure, the tide may be going out, so the more they have to gun the engine. Well, one of the first lessons farm kids learn is that if your wheels are spinning a hole in the ground, you just shut off the engine, because you're just wasting fuel.

Speaking of that, if the Left thinks that TVs use "too much power," what do you think they're going to say about unnecessary MRIs, X-rays, and radiation treatments for elderly people who could just as well take a pain pill? Or "unnecessary" mammograms? Those use a lot of "energy" too, and the Liberals keep telling us "the honest snobs" WON.

Senator Baucus, for example, had a 64 percent approval rating in Montana before jumping on the "reform" bandwagon. His approval rating has fallen 20 points in less than a year (so he lost 31% of the supporters he once had).

During the national "dialogue" on health care, even the President's "likeability" rating has fallen from nearly two-thirds to less than one-half in this week's polls. Mathematically speaking, that means he has lost close to 20 points, or nearly 30 percent of his support. As a farm boy watching this, I'm thinking "let them keep spinning their wheels." And, "the more they attack Sarah Palin, the better." She ain't about to be Borked or Quayled.

The award for headline-of-the-week goes to a liberal's column (Susan Estrich, 11/18): "I must defend Sarah Palin." Among other things, Susan said:

"How soon they forget. Calling Gov. Palin the 'Caribou Barbie' and 'Governor Gidget' actually pushed her numbers higher among women."

Al Gore's traveling salvation show ("save the planet with snake oil") has to go head-to-head with Sarah's book tour. Al must be sorry he invented the Internet. My brother attended the 9-12 rally in Washington, and at least one-third of the people he talked to were true Independents (who may never return to voting Democrat, after this year's pathetic showing).

One headline said that the details in the fine print of the "health reform" bills "divide Americans." Again, that's an understatement. With each succeeding 2,000+ page bill, Americans are becoming more turned off! Who wants to go to jail for not buying health insurance?

Just this morning, I saw another headline that said, "Economic optimists are wrong, one expert says." Senator Reid pains me, because I have friends who are laid off, and neighbors who are truckers, and the last thing we need right now is another government program (the estimated cost of which ranges from 1 1/2 trillion to 2.5 trillion, not including interest on it).


When they say "WE WON," they mean the intestinal worms have won. The parasites are winning (government union jobs growing; private sector jobs disappearing). The elites probably see the handwriting on the wall, but they don't CARE because they think that they can always work for the government.

The Independent movement is neither "anti-intellectual" populism, nor elitist Sophistry.

- - - - - - - - - P.S. - - - - - - - -

At my age, I may tend to repeat myself, and if you don't want to be bothered with some technical stuff, you may be excused now. But this is really the dessert-of-the-day:

To review something from a recent column: 'sophisticated' originally meant "adulterated" or "corrupted." It came from a Greek noun meaning "expert" or "deviser," but which was also used commonly for a school of 5th century philosophers who came to be "despised for their specious and intellectually dishonest reasoning."


" . . (from Greek 'man of wisdom'), the name given by the Greeks about the middle of the 5th century B.C. to certain teachers of a superior grade who . . claimed to prepare their pupils, not for any particular study or profession, but for civic life [government jobs]. . . For nearly a hundred years the sophists held almost a monopoly of general or liberal education." [sound familiar?]

The sophist movement went through four phases. The first was cultural; the second was disputation, the third was rhetoric, and the fourth was political (sounds like "progressive education," plus the hippie movement from 1965 to 2005). But to continue:

"Since Socrates and the Socratics were educators, they too might be, and in general were, regarded as 'sophists'; but as they conceived truth — so far as it was attainable — rather than success in life, in the law court, in the assembly, or in debate, to be the right [goal] of intellectual effort, they were at variance with their rivals, and are commonly ranked by historians, not with the sophists . . but with the philosophers who, however unavailingly, continued to seek [truth]."

The Britannica also says:

"Then again, as the [sophist] movement, taking its rise in the philosophical agnosticism which grew out of the early physical [humanist] systems, was itself persistently sceptical, sophistry may be regarded as an interlude in the history of philosophy.

"Finally, the practice of rhetoric and [disputation], which presently became prominent in sophistical teaching, had, or at any rate seemed to have, a mischievous effect upon conduct; and the charge of seeking, whether in exposition or in debate, not truth but victory . . grew into an accusation of holding and teaching immoral and [anti-social] doctrines, and in our own day [early 1900s] has been the subject of eager controversy." -ibid (my emphasis)

SO — there's nothing "new" about the New Age politics of winning for the sake of winning, truth be damned. Some Republicans as well as many Democrats subscribe to the win, win, win — "just for the fun of it" school of politics.

"We won, so we're going to give you this 'Christmas present' of socialized medicine whether you want it or not" [or whether it will have good results or bad].

"Gewinnen" on the 'Climate Change' debate is more important than the consequences of "save the planet" legislation as well. Who cares about the intended or unintended consequences — known or unknown — as long as (they think) they are WINNIN'!

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to compare Al Gore's book sales with Sarah Palin's, as a barometer of the mood of the "unsophisticated" Americans. Gore's book, I'm sure, has lots of "footnotes," but are they trying to sell us more lies than Truth?

The photo of the earth on the cover of his book is a NASA photo that has been "doctored." The Arctic ice was air-brushed out, but the snow cover in Alaska and Canada remains. The snowpack in Greenland is half gone, but in the center of the island, not along the coast where it would melt first.

There's a "hurricane" near Florida that's rotating the wrong way, and another one on the equator, which is impossible. Half of Florida is under water, and Cuba has completely disappeared (there goes Gitmo). As Dr. Roy Spencer and Rush Limbaugh say, if Cuba were under water, so would Denver, Colorado. Haven't they ever heard of San Jaun Hill, or the mountains of Cuba where Fidel hid out? Idiots! This is almost too easy. Let's not get over-confident. CALL YOUR SENATORS (on cap-and-trade as well as Healthcare).


Life is a paradox, and it's not a matter of you-and-me-against-the-intellectuals. Actually, it's good intellectuals against BAD intellectuals (who promote "mischievous," anti-social, and counter-productive "conduct").

The question isn't "do we still believe in God?" The real question is whether God still believes in US! Thanksgiving Day this year has "got" to be a bigger deal than ever. A year from now, the way the economy is going — who knows?! Headline writers need to drop the "double-speak news-speak" and get real.

President Obama didn't have time to go to the Berlin Wall celebration, but he went to the Great Wall of China. I just wish I could have been "a fly on the wall" during the lecture he got from the Chinese on ECON 101. He probably heard more economics during his visit to China than he had heard in his whole life (which may be something to be thankful for).

I repeat myself, but General Douglas MacArthur spoke about the general condition of man. He said that "we have had our last chance" — and that the "solution" must be of the SPIRIT.

Yes, the specific problems that America faces are not an easy puzzle to solve or predict. But maybe the era of secular humanistic Sophistry will turn out to be a temporary "interlude" in the history of our country. It's up to you.

When General MacArthur said that the solution must be "of the Spirit," he wasn't talking about establishing a one-world government, nor a theocracy; he was just talking about common, ordinary citizens on their knees. As the sign said on a local church:


[Or — "It is what it is, and what it is is, it is up to you, Bubba."]

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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