The Tyranny of Cliches


If you look around at contemporary political discourse, you might notice that, to an incredible extent, there is very little actual arguing there is. I do not mean that there is not all too much screaming, shouting, and name-calling in our politics and in the media. What I mean is that there are few logical arguments about policies developed from basic premises. There is a lot of heat and light but little real substance. Instead, what we too often hear are talking points, or statements that are platitudes repeated with very little thought as to what they actually mean, or how they apply to a given situation.

These platitudes or cliché’s if you will, are statements like, “it is better that ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be imprisoned” or, “I may not agree with what you said, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” or, “violence never solved anything”. Such statements as these are not entirely untrue, but they’re not actually true either. They are not real arguments, just words and phrase meant to take the place of real arguments.

Jonah Goldberg explores this phenomena in his second book, The Tyranny of Clichés. He begins by relating the problem of clichés as I have above. This, he asserts, is largely a problem of the Left who are incessantly accusing the Right of being ideologues while their positions are shaped by practical, nonideological considerations. In fact, the Left’s use of clichés undermines that whole idea that their belief are based solely on logic and facts and actually, many Liberals seem to be very bad at articulating just why they believe what they do.


Of course, according to Goldberg, Conservatives really are ideologues. But, he argues, so are Liberals. And, at least, Conservatives, by admitting their ideology can develop their positions logically from basic premises. Liberals, by asserting that they are non-ideological tend to divorce themselves from their theoretical roots and so lose the ability to explain just what their positions are and why they hold them.

After this introduction to the problem, Goldberg then spends twenty-four chapters analyzing these clichés and breaking down their meaning, or lack. He shows just why each cliché really doesn’t mean much of anything with the humor that regular readers of his column will appreciate.

I think that in many ways, The Tyranny of Clichés is a better book than Jonah Goldberg’s first effort, Liberal Fascism. Goldberg seems more comfortable this time around and more willing to be himself. I think that most readers will find the Tyranny of Clichés interesting and enjoyable.




Elton John Praises Bush

I think that Elton John us trying to mess with everyone’s head. First, he tells the world that he and Rush Limbaugh are actually close friends, despite their differences in politics. Now, he praises George W. Bush for his work saving Africans from HIV. As it says in The Daily Caller.

Elton John praised former President George W. Bush and “conservative American politicians” for pledging billions of dollars to “save the lives of Africans with HIV.” He also credited hip-hop artist Jay-Z with starting a “domino effect” in the African-American community to support gay marriage.

“We’ve seen George W. Bush and conservative American politicians pledge tens of billions to save the lives of Africans with HIV. Think of all the love. Think of where we’d be without it, nowhere, that’s where. We’d be nowhere at all,” John said at the International AIDS conference in Washington on Monday.

“Thanks to all this compassion, thanks to all this love, more than 8 million people are on treatment. Thanks to people who have chosen to care and to act, we can see an end to this epidemic on the horizon.”

Fool. Doesn’t he know that Bushilter is an evil man, a war criminal, worse that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin-Laden put together.

Actually, Elton John is absolutely correct. In one of the least heralded US foreign policy initiatives ever, George W. Bush spent billions of dollars helping the people of Africa. Somehow the mainstream media completely missed this story. I am glad that Elton John was willing to give credit where it is due.

Still, he had better be careful. If he keeps this up people might start thinking he is a Conservative.

Elton John made another statement that I feel a bit ambivalent about.

Elton John also said AIDS advocates need a role model.

“We haven’t had one since Magic Johnson. We need people to say it is okay to be HIV positive. Look at me. I’m leading this life. I’m okay. People treat me good. We need to move forward in that respect,” he said.

I understand what he is saying and to an extent I agree with him. Still, it is not okay to be HIV positive. AIDS is a terrible disease that causes long term suffering and eventual death. There is now a very good understanding that HIV is not spread through casual contact but that most cases are the result of actions by the victims, namely unprotected sexual intercourse and sharing of needles. HIV, then is entirely preventable and theoretically there should be only a very few new cases, at least in the developed world. Instead, the number of people with HIV continues to rise, largely because people are stupid. I think that the most compassionate thing to do about AIDS is to try to keep people from getting it. Maybe it might help if every public figure who is infected with HIV came forward and admitted to the foolish and self destructive behavior that led to their infection and urged their fans not to follow their example.

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