Why are intellectuals, sometimes the most intelligent among us, so dumb?Posted: October 16, 2013 Filed under: Mediasphere, White House | Tags: Average Joe, Barack Obama, Charles Murray, Daily Caller, May Alix, National Park Service, United States, Washington Times, Wesley Pruden, William F. Buckley, World War II 1 Comment
The Intellectual Elite’s Doomed Romance with Barack Obama
Wesley Pruden writes: This is the question that confounds everyone; some intellectuals most of all. The late William F. Buckley Jr., a certified egghead, once said he would rather be governed by the first 50 names in the Boston telephone book than by the professors at Harvard.
Another wit observes that an intellectual is someone who so prefers theory over experience that he would sit down on a red-hot stove, twice. You can be too smart for your own good, and have the blisters on your bottom to prove it.
The intellectual romance with the clever Barack Obama continues. Having invested so much in candy and flowers, they must ignore all the evidence of being dumped.
His cultivated demeanor and carefully applied patina of synthetic sophistication, fraudulent as it may be, is what attracted the adoration of intellectuals from across the political spectrum in 2008, says Charles Murray, the social scientist and an intellectual with impressive books, studies and learned papers. He admits that he’s a dumpee.
“It’s kind of embarrassing to admit it,” he tells an interviewer for the website Daily Caller, “but I responded in part to his rhetoric because he talks just like me.”
“It’s his whole way of presentation of self … of a little self-deprecation in the argument and picking out a nuance here, which is all the ways that we overeducated people have been socialized in the same way. It’s the way we carry on discourse. Along with [seeing] what was a very engaging personality, I kind of ignored things which … a lot of working-class people glommed onto right away.”
“It’s kind of embarrassing to admit it, but I responded in part to his rhetoric because he talks just like me.”
Working-class stiffs, the people an earlier generation of political scientists called “Joe Sixpack,” having earned their blisters and calluses by heavy lifting, are too smart to take a seat on the red-hot stove even once.
Having been to some big towns and heard some big talk, they were too smart by miles to be taken in by a smooth-talking butter and egg man from Chicago.
(Stop the presses: Butter and egg man? What? I had to look this up. “Big Butter and Egg Man” is “a free spender or wealthy investor , a naive prosperous businessman”. Okay. But the source is a 1926 jazz song written by Percy Venable. Venable was a record producer at the Sunset Cafe and wrote the song for Louis Armstrong and singer May Alix. The song is often played by Dixieland bands, and is considered a jazz standard. Why Wesley Pruden chose this obscure reference, who knows. Either I’m not as culturally hip as I’d like to think I am–and this phrase is commonly known–or Wesley Pruden is intentionally screwing with us. I am inclined to believe the latter. It prompted me to visit the song on YouTube, listen here. It swings, baby, I recommend it! “Butter and egg man“? Go figure. Okay, back to Pruden‘s rant…)
“It’s not that I think he is not a patriot,” says Mr. Murray, “but remember the line, he said, ‘You didn’t build that.’ No American is going to think you can say that, no matter what your political views are, because it’s just disastrous to say that. He is clueless about this country in some profoundly disturbing ways.”
We are not the people we used to bePosted: April 12, 2013 Filed under: Mediasphere | Tags: Average Joe, Bogart, Casablanca, Homeland Security, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Maltese Falcon, United States Leave a comment
It’s my pleasure to hijack a great item by Robert Ferrigno, and reintroduce readers to his blog. The wonders of YouTube — I was fortunate to find this very scene from KING OF THE UNDERWORLD –and include it, so we can watch for ourselves.
Popular culture, which is all about eyeballs and asses in seats, is more reliable than any survey to determine who we are at this moment. A glimpse at a shard of popular culture from the past is a snapshot of who we were at that moment. Sometimes, the disparity isn’t pretty. I was flipping through the channels at 4 a.m. yesterday, putting off getting to work, when I saw a very young Humphrey Bogart on Turner Classics. Had to stop.
The movie was KING OF THE UNDERWORLD, 1939. Bogart was a bank robber, natch, smooth and deadly, his grin like a poisonous flower beaming across the decades. He and his crew drive into a small town in Anyplace, USA, stroll into the Sheriff’s office, where the man with the badge is blathering with his sidekick about maybe they should put up a speed trap of something, bring a little revenue into God’s country. Next thing you know, Bogart’s gang show their pistols, take the sheriff’s keys and free their gang buddies from the jail. As Bogart and his men stroll out the door, the sheriff pushes a secret button on the floor, starting a siren blaring in this sleepy town.
What happens next knocked me out.
As the townspeople hear the siren, they rush TOWARDS the sheriff’s office. They don’t flee. They don’t duck and cover. They don’t wait for some alphabet agency to come and handle the problem, string out the yellow crime scene tape, maybe distribute bundt cakes and counseling afterwards. No, the call goes out that there’s trouble. One of the townspeople, who is Mr. Average Joe, calls out, “Get yer guns!” and the crowd scatters to homes and storefront where they get their guns and start blasting away at Bogart and his men as they flee. Bogart gets nicked in the arm, which sets off a chain of events which, by the end of the movie, leaves the bad guys dead or on their way to prison.
It made me realize how different we are now. King of the Underworld was a B-movie when it was made, a quickie ground out in two months. No one thought it was art or social commentary or anything but 90 minutes of excitement and diversion, but there was something in that man shouting “Get yer guns!” that must have seemed natural at the time it was made. An instinctive response to evil. Collective action by free people. If it wasn’t a commonplace reaction at the time, it at least seemed like something the best of us should do.
Today a screwhead goes nuts, murders innocents and the response is let’s make it harder for people to defend themselves. Homeland Security comes out with the recommendation that when faced with an armed gunman, we should run, hide or throw something at him. Evidently that something not including .357 hollow points. The message is, “stay calm, you poor, dumb bastards, the authorities will be on their way shortly to carry away the dead and parade the victim’s families to the cameras until there’s no more political gain or TV ratings to be squeezed out of their grief.
We are not the people we used to be.
via Roberts Blog