Building a Better American Male

NEW SLAUGHTERDuring Sen. Ted Cruz’ 21-hour fili-fake-buster against … health insurance, I fell down the rabbit hole of a(nother) conversation about what a godawful mess men are today.

Frankly, it is still tough to figure where exactly this one started. But somehow the news that Esquire magazine is launching a TV channel collided with news that Maxim magazine has lost its mojo and ran into Hanna Rosin’s year-old piece titled, “The End of Men” before ricocheting off news that Popular Science magazine (large guy readership) is axing its comment section because of witless brawling by (likely male) trolls determined to shout down liberal believers in mushy-headed ideas like … evolution and human-caused climate change. It was a tornadic tumble.

But the composite picture — with the cynical, nakedly self-serving Cruz as a kind of pop-up poster boy for everything crass and ill-mannered– was, yet again, a shaming of my God-given gender. Which isn’t like saying I want to sign up for sisterhood, (there are abundant problems there, too), but rather that The Modern American Male image, our “branding” if you prefer, is a godawful mess and could use some rehabilitation.

Among the internet chatter over “The New American Male” came the usual breadth-of-the-spectrum bromides.

Someone from one of those women’s “lifestyle” (i.e. “how to look cute enough to get a date”) websites, argued, as that sub-set always does, for more men who know how to dress in fashion, (meaning skinny jeans, madras shorts, plaid fedoras and a week’s worth of fastidiously trimmed facial stubble), are eager to share/dramatize their most painful fears and secrets just like a best girlfriend, and find few things more exciting than a table at the local celebrity chef’s new wine bar.

Simultaneously, the  flip-side, “men need to be more manly” argument was largely built around projecting casual dominance, via the selection of the proper $1000 wristwatch, $70,000 sports car, beard-grooming razor, subsequent emollients and expertise in ordering the same kind of drinks as Steve McQueen. There was some discussion of actual values. Like: Knowing what in the hell you’re talking about, being honest with yourself about what you’re really saying and accepting responsibility for both what you say and do. But it was pretty well drowned out by  “lifestyle” fixes you can buy at your more upscale boutiques.

It was pure coincidence (I think) that Ted Cruz grabbed the spotlight at this moment and, in my alleged mind at least, embodied just about every noxious, gender-debasing vice associated with the Modern American Male.

A few years ago I did a short piece on the poet Robert Bly for The Times of London. We talked in the backyard of his Kenwood neighborhood home here in Minneapolis and a lot of his masculinity-defining “Iron John” ideas came rolling back to me. (His wife and I worked on the same sod-laying crew back in the early Seventies. But that, though really damned manly, is another story.) I thought of Bly again watching clips of Ted Cruz and worked up a little list of things more American men should learn to do well, if only to rebut the potent argument that we are all a bunch of dime-deep, self-absorbed, hair-trigger, contentious buffoons.

(Disclaimer: I am fully aware that everyone who assembles a list like this is essentially just describing their idea of a better, more perfect world.)

1:  Read an actual book. The whole thing. Not just a Twitter synopsis. As much as anything, “The End of Men” is closer to fact than fiction because so many men have lost the ability to sit still long enough to digest an entire line of someone else’s thought. A half hour with Rush Limbaugh, or Chris Matthews, isn’t enough of a substitute for the 20-hour experience of testing the moral logic of a well-conceived novel. If you’re new to the game and get hives at the thought of Saul Bellow or one of the other great modern masters, try anything by Ian McEwan or “Netherland” by Joseph O’Neill. And while Vince Flynn is a step up from 350 words on the NewsMax website, I’m talking about something of a slightly higher caliber than pot boilers with hot babes and gunfire.

2: Grow a thicker hide. While Modern Male is of course encouraged to be more sensitive, and more aware of what he is feeling and how he is making others feel, “feeling” is different — more genuine and productive — than self-conscious wallowing. Comedian Louis C.K. recently got big props for a riff on Jay Leno encouraging kids and by extension everyone to actually feel the sensation of sadness. … and then get over it. I don’t know if the heavily marketed, stage-managed concept of celebrity melodrama — the “anguish” of Lamar doing Khloe wrong and her tortured descent into despair — is more pernicious than Ted Cruz claiming he’s fighting for anything other than his own greater aggrandizement, but they’re both cut from the same cloth. It’s self-pity for naked commercial purpose. A better Modern Male is self-aware enough to know when he’s been hurt. But he’s strong enough to digest the experience and get over it. Wearing “offense” like a badge of honor and engaging in a lot of inflammatory retaliation, publicizing and celebrating the offense committed against you has more in common with silly pop divas than a composed adult other men can admire. Put colloquially: “Rise above the shit”.

3: Truly know what you’re talking about. Popular Science is dumping comments because the rage and vitriol of know-nothing trolls on matters of actual science rendered the idea of an intelligent conversation futile. Don’t be one of those guys. If you don’t know how something actually works, ask a civil question before cutting straight to hyper-partisan anger. Don’t try to fake “smart”. Actual smart people immediately recognize it for what it is and will marginalize you. Do it if only because you don’t want to be the guy others ignore and don’t trust because you’re perpetually half-cocked. And again, challenge yourself. Read something of value.

4: Sports are a brief diversion from, not a replacement for actual life. Another way to say this is, “Football doesn’t really matter.” Few things make men look more stunted and adolescent than an eery emotional over-investment in a purely vicarious activity. If more of us manned-up and heeded this we wouldn’t be stuck with the tab for Zygi Wilf’s equity palace.

5: Personally fix stuff that is broken. I mean this in both the tactile and emotional sense. Screwdriver 101 is a skill set anyone can master … if they can summon the patience to learn …  and there’s a surprising amount of personal gratification that comes from restoring to working order something you or your family has owned for a long time. I’m also tempted to say, “Plus, chicks dig it”, because they do. I’ve never met a woman who didn’t appreciate a man who can fix a toilet and diagnose what’s wrong with a car. Likewise, broken relationships are things a thoughtful, composed adult should be able to least attempt to repair. Not every wound can be healed, but we all have a semblance of a conscience and there’s less corrosion if we can honestly say we tried. But … if it fails, it fails. Some things stay broken. Don’t wallow. Move on.

With that said and done, American men are back on the right track.

117 thoughts on “Building a Better American Male

  1. Dennis Lang says:

    I’ve just raced through this, and have to go but provocative and timely. I haven’t put my finger on it yet but with my current interest in baby boomers committing suicide at an alarming rate, we can ask what it is in 2013 that “defines” us. The great percentage of those suicides are men.

  2. bertram jr. says:

    DL: The death of the American dream. The futility of the do nothings now clearly outnumbering the producers.

    The Trojan Horse in the White House.

    The failure of feminism, and the royally pissed off legions of females who know they were sold a bill of goods.

    The feminization of boys (single mothers, public school curriculum, etc.).

    The cleaving to failed liberal social policies, despite the moral and financial bankruptcy that results.

    Media’s incessant depiction of masculinity as something to be mocked.

    The narcissists acusing everyone of being narcissistic.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Yup, volatile and anxious times we live in bertram jr. David Reisman writing 60 years ago said something like by the middle of the twentieth century Americans have become unable to face the possibility of defeat in ones personal life or work without being morally destroyed–or something like that.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        In ”Individualism Reconsidered and Other Essays,” he wrote: ”What is feared as failure in American society is, above all, aloneness. And aloneness is terrifying because it means there is no one, no group, no approved cause, to submit to.”

        Bertram, join the The Elks.

        1. Dennis Lang says:

          Jeez–Riesman’s been dead for over ten years! Had no idea. I still have that book on the shelf in this room where I’m aimlessly typing away at the moment. Influential in my very distant youth to what I thought were the virtues of fierce individualism at the time.

          So, what do we make of how todays youth growing up in the social media, identity-management driven, digital age will shape Americans by mid-twenty-first century, or even 2025? Or as that famous article in “The Atlantic” asked a while ago, “Is Google Making us Stupid?”

          (At the moment I think that new Jaguar F-Type represents an adequate reflection of my masculinity.)

    2. BTW bertram old man, may I just say again how much I appreciate your willingness to step up each and every time and validate the points I’ve just made. I really do consider you indispensable.

  3. PM says:

    Could you please specify that faux history books ghostwritten for celebrities [books by Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly] not qualify?

    But otherwise I am with you.

  4. I was pretty much with you until I got to #5 – personally fix stuff.

    Asserting that contemporary guys would be more respectable if they got better at traditional guy stuff strikes me as a bit like someone asserting that today’s gals would be far better gals if they got better at doing traditional gal stuff — sewing, cleaning and cooking.

    If a guy wants to learn how to fix toilets or a gal wants to learn to sew, more power to them. But those duties shouldn’t be genitalia-driven expectations. In the age of specialization, those things strike me more as optional hobbies than prerequisites to gender respectability. If you enjoy activities that are traditional for your gender, by all means do them. If you don’t, and you can afford help, then hire help.

    After studying youtubes, flooding the house and spending the entire weekend running to and fro saving big money at Mennards, I bet I could install a toilet, and maybe make my gal swoon over it. Occassionally, I go on such quixotic adventures. But it’s not usually very efficient or pleasant path, and I just don’t see how that makes me a better dude.

    So, I follow my bliss and my aptitude. Some of it is traditional guy stuff – yard work and some handy man stuff. Some of it is traditional chick stuff – cooking, grocery shopping. When deciding how to spend your time, why not go with what you like and are good at, rather than going with traditional gender expectations.

    I know you were overstating the case for entertainment effect. Still, I am always working hard to be the ideal male in your eyes. So would you please grant a waiver so I can call the plumber and my wife can call a tailor?

    1. Personally, I find the thought of a wordsmith/ideas man like yourself Joe lubing up a toilet seal beyond appalling. Some people are meant for better things, and I hereby grant an exemption.

      My Five Points (and I’ve got another half dozen … but the SRC minders get pissed when I gas on beyond 1000 words) really are just virtues/qualities I prefer in men … and at which I of course fail miserably. They are also part of the whole “Iron John” thing.

      But based entirely on highly unscientific, entirely anecdotal evidence I am often struck by how men (women, too) who take the time — and patience is a key discipline — and attempt to fix something with their own hands are also better at handling business, social and personal relationships.

      Modern America’s commercial culture is all about leapfrogging patience and buying/hiring your way to problem solving and fulfillment. What’s kind of lost in that syndrome are lessons in how systems work, and fail.

      I’ve done a few pieces recently on local CEOs and have noticed how often men (all male thus far) with some kid of engineering background have risen to executive prominence. Examples: Eric Kaler at the U and Randall Hogan at Pentair.

      Interviewing these guys gives a clear connection between time spent testing, repairing and validating individual parts of complex systems and coordinating widely varied human activities and emotions.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        This is the sort of rustic skill that inspires me. Love watching these guys work. Then, of course, there’s Dick Proeneke :

    1. bertram old man, what’s the latest on your Traditional Values-Based Trolling for Mrs. Bertram, #9?

      Can I provide introductions? Arrange a “It’s Just Lunch” meet-up at the gun range cafeteria of your choosing?

  5. I agree with you, Joe. Why do some of the traditional “guy” things that i don’t enjoy doing when I can have someone else do them…girlfriend, neighbor or handy man? It frees me up to devote more time to my business and making (hold on, this is a dirty word around here) a PROFIT. Besides, I always heard gals kind of liked guys with money. While they may like a guy who can wield a…uh, screwdriver..or jackhammer (to each his own), I think some also enjoy a Coach purse or shopping at Dolce and Gabbana as much or more. Now, a guy with a lot of money AND who can fix things (and knows how to use a gun)…now there is a triple threat.

      1. PM says:

        Hey, homeboymike, where did you hear that expression? i first heard it in South Africa, where it was very prevalent in the SADF.

        just wondering….

    1. Everyone in the service economy sings your praises, Mike. For a (substantial) fee I’ll swing by and tune up your lawn mower … or I mean your lawn service’s mowers.

      1. Thanks for the offer, Brian, but I left the house to the ex….so I don’t have a yard. I’m not into the Zen and the Art of Lawn Maintenance at this stage of my life, anyway, but if I were….I’d hire you!

    2. Re: Profit is a dirty word with SRCers

      As a sole proprietor, I have more direct “eat what you kill” profit pressure than most corporate types patting themselves on the back about about how “entrepreneurial” they are. Just because you have values that lead you to progressive taxation and social safety nets hardly means you think profit is a dirty word.

      1. But Joe, haven’t we — you and me — said over and over that we hate profit? I’m scrolling back through several hundred posts … it’s gotta be in here somewhere.

        1. Oh, liberals don’t like it when I generalize. I have never seen that here…no painting conservatives as being racist, gun-toting, uneducated rednecks who oppose all forms of social programs. That standard liberal MO is trite, tired, idiotic and lame….to say nothing of intellectually lazy and dishonest. But keep on keeping on. Some people, like Walter White, do stumble upon their calling.

          1. We only wish conservatives wouldn’t give us such ripe and ready material for branding them … racist, gun-toting … etc. I’d really … really … like to say we’re just making this stuff up.

  6. Jim Leinfelder says:

    Okay, Lambo, on the heels of Sunday night’s “Breaking Bad” denouement, I am expecting a post that ties this one and the foregoing “Breaking Bad” beard stroker together.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Hmmmm, well, both men took their educations and put them to unworthy uses, all the while knowing what they were doing was wrong, that it was never for the nobler reasons they tell themselves, but strictly to satisfy the bottomless hole in their own perverse egos. Except Walter White, as he said, was good at it.

  7. Well, Brian, most humans rarely have any moments of self realization. It is what made the entire episode last night, in my opinion. Most of us stumble through life convinced we are right and look for ways to reinforce and confirm our beliefs….you know the fancy psychology mumbo jumbo — confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance…..etc etc. Just finished a classic book on it “Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me.” I see plenty of evidence of it here, and I routinely engage in it, as well, finding articles, studies, reports etc. that support your own position while ignoring anything that confirms the other side….sides. Politicians do it (as an art form), and so do teachers, journalists, lawyers, cops, doctors, financial advisors, PR types….well, again, all of us.

  8. BTW, I’m still smarting over the end of Breaking Bad, which bums me out more than even something so traumatic as…..a government shutdown. “Baby Blue,” like “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” will always remind me of BB. The only thing that could have added to the final scenes would have been for Walt to wear his Heisenberg hat when he got out of the car….it was, after all, who he was in the end.

    1. “Watching “Felina,” I finally realized where Gilligan was going—where the transformation of Walter White was taking us. The Heisenberg that Walt spent the series “turning into”—and whom he finally became the second he told Skyler, “I did it for me”—wasn’t Scarface. He wasn’t a monster. He wasn’t the embodiment of evil.

      He was an American. He was a capitalist. He was an independent man. He was Walter White unleashed—living up to his full potential, reinventing himself, following his bliss, making his way in an Opportunity Society, living free and refusing to roll over and die. Walt still loved his family. He still tried to protect them. But the point Gilligan seemed to be making, in the end, is that America encourages and almost mandates precisely the sort of ravenous striving for individual success that Heisenberg so desperately pursued, and that while success may make one’s family wealthier and more secure—like the Whites, who wound up $9.72 million richer than they started—it can also wound and divide and destroy. For Walt, was feeling “alive” and doing what he “liked” worth the fallout and the payout? Or would he have been happier if he’d just died of cancer with his cash-strapped but still loving family at his side?”

      Andrew Romano — Daily Beast

  9. Uh, don’t think Romano knows what he’s talking about. First, Gilligan has never said any such thing….I’ve looked….it’s Romano’s own take on what he sees…or more precisely, wants to see and is a direct reflection on how he sees America. After all, that vision is congruent with the standard liberal tripe that in order to succeed you must hurt others a long the way or engage in criminal acts.

    It’s the direct opposite of what capitalism is, a force that can and has done more to raise the standard of living of masses than any other economic system, ever. I might also add that a strong moral case can be made for capitalism as well as an economic one.

    So, what we have is a corruption of a human being. Walt is the classic “good guy” who comes to feel he is wronged and starts taking ever darker turns through his self justifications.

    After all, as some psychologists have noted, it’s not the lies we all tell and engage in that sometimes leads us to ruin. It’s self justification, persuading ourselves that we are doing something for a “good reason.”

    Walt lied to others and to himself that he was doing something bad for “good reasons,” the security of his family etc. In the end, he realized he had been not only lying to everyone else, but more importantly, lying to himself. That, in my opinion, was his final redemption.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:


      He wasn’t quoting Gilligan, or even paraphrasing him, to wit:

      ” But the point Gilligan seemed to be making, in the end, is that America encourages and almost mandates precisely the sort of ravenous striving for individual success that Heisenberg so desperately pursued, and that while success may make one’s family wealthier and more secure—like the Whites, who wound up $9.72 million richer than they started—it can also wound and divide and destroy.”

      I don’t see a big contradiction here.

    2. Well then you’ll love this, Mike …

      A snippet:

      It is safe to say that as “Breaking Bad” comes to a close, Vince Gilligan’s series is the moment’s Best Show In the History of Television. Incredibly, the show isn’t even over yet, and it is already a cult classic, with all the attendant prop fetishization and tourism industries that come with such a designation. But as we approach the final episode, there’s an unanswered question: What makes the show so historically important? …

      Here’s a theory: Maybe “Breaking Bad” has ascended to the cult firmament because it so perfectly captures the specific pressures and ideologies that make America exceptional at the very moment the country is itself breaking bad.

      The most obvious way to see that is to look at how Walter White’s move into the drug trade was first prompted, in part, by his family’s fear that he would die prematurely for lack of adequate health care. It is the kind of fear most people in the industrialized world have no personal connection to — but that many American television watchers no doubt do. That’s because unlike other countries, Walter White’s country is exceptional for being a place where 45,000 deaths a year are related to a lack of comprehensive health insurance coverage. That’s about ten 9/11′s worth of death each year because of our exceptional position as the only industrialized nation without a universal public health care system (and, sadly, Obamacare will not fix that). …

      Walter, though, is far more than just a disgruntled government employee. He is the personification of the whole theory that America’s exceptional form of safety-net-free capitalism — and the desperation it breeds — truly does breed innovation and entrepreneurship. Think about it: Through his alter ego, Heisenberg, Walter’s desperation leads him to build a business from scratch that creatively destroys sclerotic monopolies and that ultimately delivers a superior product to consumers all over the world.

      Heisenberg, in other words, reminds us that America’s unique brand of capitalism delivers exceptional productivity – but not necessarily in ways that we might want. …

      … what sets him apart and makes his story so representative of this moment’s zeitgeist? The answer is his total embrace of the most pernicious aspects of the American Dream mythology.

      … Walter still chooses what he calls “the empire business” in an effort to live out the dominant mythology. More specifically, he rejects his friends’ offer of help and embarks on a flamboyant journey to live out the archetypal up-from-the-bootstraps story — the American Dream narrative on which our society bases its very definition of manhood. In the process, he also tries to live out the Aggrieved American White Guy Fantasy of thwarting his dark-skinned foreign competitors and claiming a market that he believes to be rightfully his.

      Ultimately, all of these themes converge to raise the most harrowing questions of all — the taboo questions about whether we should really cherish the desperation, the greed and the every-man-for-himself ideologies that drive Walter White and that make American the industrialized world’s exception.”

      Or, you could say, “Great fuckin’ show. Amurica! Suck it, libtards!”

  10. Haha. I prefer the last line.

    How people can read their own fantasies into such a good show is….well, good humor. I’d say these trolls are delusional, but then I try not to state the obvious.

        1. PM says:

          wouldn’t that make him a libertarian? i mean, wouldn’t a conservative be more likely to say “I did it for my family/country/church/God/country club/class”?


      1. And this episode is the exception proving the rule. the conflict-averse mainstream press actually feels it has a kind of “consensus cover” to accurately (i.e, journalistically responsibly) describe something that has been going on … really since Gingrich in ’94. hell, even the Strib dared mention by name House Republicans.

        This bit from last night with (ex-) GOP guys Bruce Bartlett and Mike Lofgren was particularly good. esp. Lofgren’s description of the tea Party crusade as a “neo-Confederacy” … .

        1. Jim Leinfelder says:

          This morning MPR’s Cathy Wurzer interviewed Rep. John Kline (R) and…that was it, just Kline, about the nature of the shutdown.

          1. To MPR Kline’s a “moderate Republican”, thereby capable of representing “both sides”.

            Have they ever held his feet to the fire over his constant fellating of the for-profit college crowd?

            I didn’t think so.

  11. bertram jr. says:

    Well, as Rush pointed out today, Obummer is dismantling the country to rebuild it as one tailored to the “lowest common denominators”….

    They walk among us, credulous followers / acolites of the liberal democrat ‘feel good’, entitlement mentality…..

  12. Oh goodness gracious, let’s stop filling our undies with liberal angst….there is a perfect remedy for getting rid of Congress…voting. The country does have the final say. I think Republicans have been shown to exercise poor judgement and there are so many other ways to address their concerns, but Mr. Obama has proven himself to be one of the worst negotiators in recent presidential history. Even W and Teddy Kennedy found common ground. It takes two to tango and Mr. Obama has been absent, petty and condescending. Let’s let voters decide.

    1. Uh Mike, the voters did decide, and your guys lost pretty badly. Or are you suggesting we stage another election every time something doesn’t go our way.

      But, just for hell of it, what exactly is Obama supposed to be negotiating?

      1. PM says:

        How to help Boehner keep his job as Speaker….I think that Obama and Cruz need to be the ones to negotiate that….

  13. OK so you won. Then quit crying about the House. He can work with them or find his agenda opposed but please stop the whining. Republicans weren’t elected to blindly follow Obama. Get over it.

    1. Is somebody “crying” or “whining”? You may be confusing outrage over constant self-induced crises and a stunning lack of understanding of how representative democracy works with … “whining”.

      But if you’re cool with it … .

    2. PM says:

      But it is not his agenda that is being opposed–it is legitimately passed laws, laws that have been found to be constitutional by the Supreme Court, no less. This is what is being opposed. And they are being opposed despite the fact that those who oppose those laws do not have the votes to repeal those laws. So they are being opposed on extra-constitutional grounds, with threats towards innocent people’s jobs and the entire economy.

      The GOP does not have to blindly follow Obama, but they need to follow the law. They can not become an extra-legal opposition.

      1. Really, then why doesn’t Mr Obama follow the law he imposed instead of deciding that some parts won’t be enforced until…. He deems it should be. Your argument doesn’t make sense.

        1. PM says:


          there is an entire field of study that looks at the changes that are made to laws after they are passed. The field is called implementation studies. You constantly make adjustments and changes to a law to ensure that it works well when it takes effect. Anfdafter it takes effect, you still make changes. Think of all the changes that are made every year to the tax laws, for instance.

    3. Jim Leinfelder says:

      “Blindly follow Obama”?

      The ACA is the law, vetted by the conservative SCOTUS, invented by The Heritage Foundation, road-tested by Mass. under then Gov. Mitt Romney, passed by Congress and affirmed by the reelection of the President who championed it.

  14. I simply think the outrage is misplaced. Misunderstanding of of how representative democracy works….who doesn’t understand that is highly debatable. Again, Mr. Obama has choices. Neither he nor you or anyone else who is “outraged” have any control over the behavior of each lawmaker. They are accountable to those who elected them.

    1. The outrage is “misplaced” you say?

      I’m not really sure what you’re trying to say. But the impression is that you really don’t give a damn about this.

      Or maybe the question is, “What do you care about”?

    2. PM says:

      Representative democracy works in that if you have the votes to either enact or repeal laws, you can then do that. The GOP does not have the votes to repeal the ACA. Yet, they are trying to nullify the ACA thru extra-legal methods–they do not have the votes to do so thru legal means.

      It is the GOP and the opponents of the ACA who do not understand how representative democracy works, They are simply trying to stop all government business, rather than trying to repeal a law, because they do not have the votes to repeal that law. So, they are threatening the entire structure of government–they are a minority threatening to destroy the entire structure of government (by refusing to fund all of government) simply because they oppose one small part of it.

      They are saying that they prefer anarchy to the ACA. That is fundamentally anti-democratic.

      1. Exactly. The GOP’s problem here is… they didn’t win enough elections

        But their untethered hostility is encouraged by the now accepted “fact” of modern conservatism that any and every Democratic administration is illegitimate.

      2. They oppose a small part of government? I wouldn’t call nearly 20 percent of the entire economy a “small part” of what will be completely under government auspices.

        Mr. Obama is picking and choosing what parts of “the law” to enforce. Gone or delayed is the employer mandate, the cap on out of pocket expenses, the income verification for subsidy recipients and about half the deadlines in the law.

        Furthermore we are talking about a law that was passed without any bipartisan votes. As columnist Charles Cooke writes, the Dems had the right to push through this legislation and the Republicans have the right to try to undo it. It’s not the way I would choose, but then….Mr. Obama seems willing to change the parts of the law he doesn’t like but doesn’t afford the same opportunity to hold discussions with Republicans about what they would like to see changed.

        Well, welcome to democracy. Separation of powers is unruly, loud and surly (yes, I worked that in there PM), inefficient, messy and explicitly designed to foster gridlock, and it seems elections usually do exactly that.

        And yes, as one recent columnist wrote, “elections do have consequences…all of them.”

        1. To paraphrase a Facebook post I saw the other day, the logic of this inane argument goes like this:

          Person #1: I want to burn down your home.

          Person #2: No, I sent through all the agreed upon legal channels to build it.

          Person #1: I want to burn down your second floor then.

          Person #2: No.

          Person #1: I want to burn your garage then.

          Person #2: No!!!

          Person #1: Why do you refuse to compromise?

          1. I always admire your patience with this stuff, Joe. With me, I’ll enable it up to a point, then my attitude is, “Free country, dude. Prattle on all you want. But don’t assume I have an obligation to listen to it.”

            1. You want me to stop posting….OK, no sweat. You want to listen to your own “echo chamber” of like minded people reinforcing each other? It’s your page. It just further demonstrates that what once was a fun place for debate and play devil’s advocate has turned into nothing more than “I have spoken and if you disagree with me your views are not legit” mentality.

              It’s your MO to dismiss something citing you’ve run out of “patience,” whatever that means. As if you had any for dissenting views in the first place The last thing I want is for everyone to agree with me…then I know we’ve got a problem. It seems it’s exactly what you want and when you don’t get it, you revert to the “what you say is not legitimate.” It’s a lazy way to debate, but then that’s not your goal here.

              I’ll leave you with this from Nietzsche:

              “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way and the only way, it does not exist.”

            2. Look Mike, this really is me being patient. It ain’t much, I’ll admit. But it’s what I’ve got. There are, what, 90-some back-and-forths on this thread alone? The question of being open to debate has been settled. But as I said months ago, you saying you’re making an informed point and it actually being informed, are two different things. You’re entirely free to continue on arguing that this shutdown is business-as-usual, what to be expected any time you have an election, and really Obama’s problem to resolve. And don’t get me going about lazy-minded misrepresentations of Obamacare as something “completely under government auspices.” (The only way you get to nonsense like that is by dialing out facts and substituting them with treadworn partisan talking points.) But that is both silly and dull. Moreover, here, as opposed to over at PowerLine or Shot in the Dark or FratersLibertas no one is going to compliment you on your deep thinking for parroting junk and encourage you on.

              What it sounds like, if you’ll pardon me, is that you really don’t give a damn about anything … nihilism … because everything is just a game to be won by whatever means you have at your disposal.

              As I said before, stay or go. I’m not forcing anyone to do anything. But if you want me to take you seriously, bring a better — a more informed — argument to the table.

          2. Yeah, Brian, I’m so doggone patient I’m in a fetal position sitting out most of these brain numbingly circular exchanges.

            That dialogue I posted above is the best summation I have seen to explain why I really have nothing left to say.

            Can liberals compromise on the Affordable Care Act? Yep. The ACA is, because of conservative demands, built on a private model, and, because of conservative demands, contains no single payer/Medicare for All, and, because of conservative demands, contains no public option to compete with private options. Liberals despise those things, but they didn’t have the votes for what they prefer so they’re holding their nose and moving on like adults until they can figure out a way to get the votes.

            Can liberals compromise on the budget number of this bill? Yep. And no one disputes that they already have. It’s the conservatives’ proposed number, and its absurdly and irresponsibly low. Liberals compromised because they didn’t have the votes for what they prefer, and now they’re moving on like adults until they can figure out a way to get the votes.

            But can liberals agree to burn down this democratically endorsed, court-approved law, when it has been shown 42 TIMES that there is not sufficient support in our representative democracy (i.e. not enough Senate votes and presidential support) to burn down the law? No, we can’t. Because that’s not just burning down the law; it’s also burning down the agreed upon way we have done representative democracy in this country for a couple centuries plus.

            There’s nothing to say in response to the constant “I want to burn down your…” counter-proposals, because the premise of the particular demand is so breathtakingly unreasonable and anti-democratic.

            And they’re is nothing to say to the “they both do this,” because it’s demonstrably false. The day liberals do this is the day you and will sing kumbaya together as we protest it. I’m not particularly prone to hyperbole, but this particular political game is new and truly dangerous. I’m sincerely worried about where this chapter leads us.

        2. PM says:


          20%? you are referring to the entire health care sector. You are saying that the GOP is opposed to the entire health care sector of the economy?

          As i pointed out earlier, when you implement a law, you always make adjustments. Some parts are delayed, some are moved up, some are changed. That is what public administration is all about–Congress passes the law, then the administration implements the law. That is what Presidents are supposed to do. It is NOT what Congress is supposed to do–that is what Separation of Powers really means–Congress legislates, and Presidents administer. That is basic government.

  15. Care? Yeah, I care, but I can’t do much about it. I said from the start that I’d rather see Obamacare go forward and fall on its face of its own accord. But if it’s really “unamerican,” then they will be voted out…..don’t bet on it.

      1. Good God, no. I prefer First State Bank of Sauk Centre, no financial mismanagement and strong balance sheet…..more than I can say for your favorite enterprise.

        1. Jim Leinfelder says:

          Speaking of Sauk Centre, its only Nobel Prize winner, who would surely find it interesting to meet a chap who chose to move TO Sauk Centre, said this in his acceptance speech in response to one of his critics who took umbrage with the award going to him:

          “I should even have supposed that so international a scholar would have believed that Scandinavia, accustomed to the works of Strindberg, Ibsen, and Pontoppidan, would not have been peculiarly shocked by a writer whose most anarchistic assertion has been that America, with all her wealth and power, has not yet produced a civilization good enough to satisfy the deepest wants of human creatures.”

          It seems that Sinclair Lewis would find that not much has changed since he gave that speech in December of 1930. Certainly one of those deepest wants would be the ability to seek treatment of disease and/or injury to secure one’s health without fear of bankruptcy.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      How very glib of Jay.

      “What is our present condition? We have just carried an election on principles fairly stated to the people. Now we are told in advance, the government shall be broken up, unless we surrender to those we have beaten, before we take the offices. In this they are either attempting to play upon us, or they are in dead earnest. Either way, if we surrender, it is the end of us, and of the government. They will repeat the experiment upon us ad libitum.”
      —Abraham Lincoln

        1. Jim Leinfelder says:

          It’s not as if that very threat has not been leveled by the same wild-eyed constituency.

      1. Oh Abe, get over yourself already. Don’t be so doom and gloom. Been hangin’ around Mary Todd too much??? 🙂 We all know, both sides do this, so quit being so selective with your facts and self-righteous.

  16. bertram jr. says:

    Well, Bri – I know the economy has just got ya whistlin’, and god knows our foreign policy is beyond brilliant. We’re strivin’ thrivin’ and connivin’!

    What’s not to be dancing a jig about?

    Buck up, my man – we’re under water, the enemy is within, and there’s a fraud as POTUS!

    Well played!

    1. bertram old man … why so sad/ Over here in my hood things are good. Bills paid. House tidied up. Folks off on vacations, some on new wheels. Who was the great man who — fresh of his latest drip solution of Jason Lewis — used to say, ‘Come over to the winning side, me’boy?”

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