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Customer Review

182 of 217 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, informative, and a fine step forward reviving vigorous political discourse in America!, May 1, 2012
This review is from: The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas (Hardcover)
One of the most frustrating aspects of modern political discourse is the inability to engage with Progressives / Liberals in discussions or debates using well-formed arguments and reasoning. Why is this so? Because you will quickly get a shorthand reply using hackneyed declarations and clichés that are supposed to stand in for an argument. They are supposed to be some kind of self-evident truth, and debase the standing of their opponent to even be discussing the issue. For, example, how could there possibly be anyone for religion in the public square. Everyone knows that Separation of Church and State is in the Constitution, for heaven's sake - er, something's sake. Except that it may not be as clear or as traditional as the Liberals seem to think.

Jonah Goldberg, who wrote one of my favorite political books, "Liberal Fascism": now gives us another treasure. He shows how Liberal discourse is debased by the use of these standard tropes about diversity, religion, ideology, pragmatism, social justice, the Living Constitution, and a lot more.

We get history lessons and cultural analysis on how these standard statements came into being, what they used to be about, and how they have been transformed and recycled into modern politics as a way of stultifying discourse and shutting down any possible opposition or questioning of the Liberal Agenda. The history lessons are vital because any number of thoughtful writers have pointed out how dangerous it is to live our lives based on "facts" that just aren't so. And Goldberg delivers these clarifying lessons with such style and humor that they are downright entertaining. Honestly, you will find yourself chuckling. That is if you aren't too fond of the sacred cow he just slaughtered.

For example, he demonstrates the idea that man was demoted from the center of the solar system by Galileo is a complete misreading of what the center meant to the Renaissance mind. Think bowels and you will be closer to the mark. Center as a place of prestige is of more recent origin. And this changing of values over time leads to these anachronistic deceptions about meaning in our politics.

As the author says [This book] "is about clichés that have a tyrannical hold on our minds and the clichés that serve to advance ideological agendas that would expand and enhance the state's mastery over our lives". There are so many taken to task here that I am sure you will find more than a few you have been waiting for someone to dismantle for a long time. I know I found it cathartic when Goldberg declares, "The Marxists who claimed to be ending the masses' addiction to religion then proceeded to slaughter those same masses at a rate unprecedented in the history of human life." I also loved his unmasking of Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign as being for the "middle class" when the Clinton Campaign KNEW that 90% of Americans considered themselves "middle class". "It was an appeal to classically bourgeois values masquerading as class warfare." Brilliant it was. Honest it was not. But the nation fell for it. The purpose of this book is to help us get up to speed on how this verbal slight of tongue is used on us so we can stop falling for it.

I want you to get a copy and read it a couple of times so you can talk to your liberal friends and hold them accountable for what they say. Then I want you to buy a couple more copies for your tongue-tied friends who fall for these clichés and help them to begin to see through them.

And this is a vital time to do it as the airwaves and discourse between now and November are not going to be full of light and truth. We are going to hear noise, obfuscation, and clichés in quantities like schools of ocean fish darting in unison to the demands of the directions from Campaign Headquarters. Do NOT fall for them, my friends. This is not only an important book, but it is also a fun book. Well, unless you are feeling skewered by it.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI
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Showing 1-10 of 50 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 1, 2012 7:11:33 AM PDT
Very interesting, provocative review.

In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2012 7:26:53 AM PDT
Thanks, Robin.

Posted on May 2, 2012 10:17:52 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 3, 2012 10:21:47 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 2, 2012 12:15:13 PM PDT
If you take the time to read my introduction to myself I point out that I do not buy most of the books I review. As a top reviewer I get a lot of books from publishers, most before they are released to the public. Even the ones that have an AVP must have gotten it before it was released (as the VINE people do) or they could not have read it and had a review ready to publish the moment it was released. VINE folks do not pay for their books either, but it may count as an AVP because it is a Amazon program. I do not know. However, you can rest assured that 1) I read the books that I review. 2) I write exactly what I think about them. 3) there are lots and lots and lots of books that I get asked to review that I do not review because I am either uninterested in them or do not like them.

I rarely review books I do not like because I cannot see wasting time punishing myself reading something I am not getting paid to read when I could be reading something I enjoy. And, frankly, the way Amazon works people who come to an items page are usually interested in that item. So, if I write a review of a book, say, on the joys of burnt popcorn and say bad things about the book and how useless I find burnt popcorn, I can assure you that of Amazon's millions of customers there will be many who understand, like, and want to learn more about burnt popcorn. I stay out of those fights having learned the hard way.

The only exception is that books like this on political issues draw people who hate the item. They haven't read it. Will never read it. Don't really know what it says. But they know they hate it. So they load up the list with 1 star reviews and attack people like me who like it. They vote against our reviews simply because we vote for it. One review I wrote long ago for such a book had gotten a LOT of support from people who liked the book and my review of it. But a campaign was put together to attack it. I got over 1,400 negative votes in a few days. National Review wrote and article on the campaign and my little review was mentioned. Amazon fixed a few of the votes, but not many. So, I still carry those negative votes around. Amazon also says they monitor for these organized attacks by looking for patterns. I think they do to a degree because there are fewer of them than they used to be. But we still get bombed by the type I described. People who just disagree and think their hatred will somehow hurt sales. I talked about this to a publicity person once and she said that this was a misunderstanding. They want any kind of attention they can get. OK. I get that. So, I just do my work and write my little reviews and let the chips fall where they may.

Thanks for writing, Tom. I hope this explanation helps. If you want to follow my reviews and support me, I will be grateful. If you somehow want to attack me for what I have been doing here for many years, have at it. Since I have more than 2,000 reviews and 28,000 positive votes, I doubt it will make much difference one way or the other.

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2012 10:12:59 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 3, 2012 10:15:34 AM PDT
Tom, I did not say "if you had taken the time" which would have been what you criticize me for. I was simply pointing out that I had addressed this issue previously. As for my conforming to your preferences I reply thanks but no thanks. You can do you what you want. And I will do as I wish. I don't care what you write about me or anything else. Enjoy your life.

In my opinion the AVP means very little. I think people can tell more from what I write whether or not I have read the book and if that reading resulted in anything worth saying. There are a lot of folks who have purchased items who have either not carefully read the item or if they have it has not penetrated into their brain in any meaningful way. My advice is to read what I have written and judge that. Make use of it as you will or reject it as you will.

Posted on May 3, 2012 10:36:57 AM PDT
Linda O says:
I couldn't get through a Friday without the G-file so I am looking forward to this new book. I just received (from Amazon of course) and can already see just from the introduction how I am going to burn through a few highlighters - great review, thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2012 11:00:35 AM PDT
Thank YOU, Linda. I am SURE you will enjoy the book.

Posted on May 4, 2012 3:40:25 PM PDT
C. Gould says:
Yawn. I automatically tune out anyone who uses the word "liberals" (or "Democrats") or "conservatives" (or "Republicans") to make a political point or argument. Personally, I've never met a "liberal" or a "conservative", despite having met many, many, many people in my 50 years. Everyone I've known has a mixed bag of ideas, some of the ideas "liberal", some of the ideas "conservative", but mostly neither.

Fortunately, more and more of us are eschewing the black and white thinking and nonsensical party lines of our parents and grandparents. Patience, patience, wise ones.

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 6:20:33 PM PDT
Easy to yawn when you surmise history rather than actually having studied it. Every term you mentioned comes from the Left. In fact the very terms Left and Right, while they have come to mean something different in America, came from the internal conflicts between the International and Nationalist Communist parties. The people who call themselves Progressives now called themselves that more than a century ago when they were socialists trying to find a term to sell themselves to Americans when socialist failed. Then they switched to Liberal. That wore out, too. Now they have resurrected Progressive and that is going stale again. It isn't the terms, but the policies that do them in every time. The Classical Liberal is really what our Founders were. But that had nothing to do with Socialism. Socialists co-opted the term and then called the Classical Liberals, Conservatives. And that has stuck. But it doesn't really work all that well and there are many strains.

But this book isn't about the parties per se, but about the style of political discourse. You might want to actually read the book.

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 8:15:17 PM PDT
C. Gould says:
Craig, you've got a flaming case of White Man Syndrome. See a doctor.
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