Epistemic Nonsense – Count Me on Team Levin
Yesterday, our good friend Mark Levin was attacked on The Corner over at National Review Online by one of his fellow contributors there, Jim Manzi. I am not going to link to his hit piece. I found it to be beneath what I thought I knew of him and beneath The Corner. That said, Mark certainly dishes it out pretty hard on his radio show and otherwise, so I am not worried about his feelings in this instance.
What I am concerned about, however, is the extent to which those who fancy themselves conservative intellectuals – folks like Manzi, Frum, Douthat, Brooks, Sullivan and others – believe they are the second coming of Bill Buckley (hardly), but dismiss talk radio show hosts (and forums like RedState) as nothing more than blowhard hacks who pour out their own koolaid for the slobbering masses, too stupid to know the difference.
I have neither the desire and time nor the expertise to analyze in detail Manzi’s specific criticisms of Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny – most of which centered on the chapter on what Mark calls Enviro-Statism. What is striking about his burn-the-forest-down-to-find-the-tree approach is that it dismisses Mark’s book in entirety because he disagrees with some of the sourced (Mark’s book is well documented with numerous footnotes) material Mark provides in this one section in particular. And Manzi does so rather violently… accusing Mark of “epistemic closure.”
Now, I had to look that term up. Cuz I ain’t as smart as those guys who sit around in circles over at the New Republic, the New York Times, and increasingly, sadly on occasion, the National Review, and blather on endlessly about topics that would make even wonky professors’ eyes roll, much less a regular-old American like me who enjoys watching the DIY network and American Idol after getting back from the driving range and playing with my son.
Look – reasonable people can disagree about dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. And I would, prior to yesterday, have said I was glad a guy like Manzi was out there trying to sift through some of the nonsense out there on global warming to put it all in context, even if I thought him a little squishy for my taste. But, I am sorry there Jim, no matter how much research you’ve done or no matter the extent to which I might even agree with you at times, while you are sitting in your little circle with a bunch of other self-indulgent asses that no one else in the world gives a rip about putting out posts like yesterday’s nonsense, Mark is out on the front lines inspiring a generation of Americans to fight back against statism.
Mark recognizes that when you are at war, while it is important to get facts right (and I think Mark did a darned fine job sourcing his book, giving you the chance to criticize it), it is also important to inspire the troops and to do so by distilling the realities of the fight into useful information. I frankly don’t know if every statistic in Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative was correct or not. Nor do I know if every statistic or number in Reagan’s A Time For Choosing speech in 1964 was correct. I DON’T CARE. I know the facts were in the ballpark, and more importantly, the principles were timeless and correct. I have read Mark’s book, and I know a little about the topics in question – and it’s a good book, with good citations and a lot of good facts.
The entire global warming debate is one of hysteria and deserves the mocking it gets from Mark. It’s filled with lies and scare-mongering, resulting in less freedom, higher taxes, more expensive energy, a worse economy and a lower standard of living for tens or even hundreds of millions of people – for absolutely no good reason. Those who want to make nice on this topic – be it Newt Gingrich sitting on a couch with Nancy Pelosi, be it Lindsey Graham yet again saddling up with democrats to pass a misguided and disastrous cap-and-trade bill, or be it “intellectuals” trying to appear reasonable on the subject – are setting conservatives up for failure cloaked in compromise.
Come 2014, I will continue to use the stockpile of incandescent bulbs I plan to amass in the coming 4 years – and will gladly pay the electric bill so I can have the light I prefer to have. Forgive me for wanting the freedom to have a frigging light bulb of my choosing. I will continue to drive a gas-guzzling Jeep Wrangler if I have to hand-build an engine to replace it, because I freaking like to drive it. I will continue to flush my toilet however many times it takes to get the job done – and I will continue to take a long hot shower.
The facts are fairly clear – environmental nuts are sticking it to America and those who indulge their nonsense are living in their own bubble, while the rest of us focus on the simple truths of freedom, limited government and wanting Washington the hell out of our backyard. It is once again a time for choosing, and I choose to fight the statists – enviro and otherwise. And I will happily fight with Mark by my side while you, Mr. Manzi, keep talking in circles.