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Review: "The Secret Knowledge" By David Mamet


Having arrived at my own conservative outlook much earlier in my life, I found the late conversion of David Mamet as described in his new book The Secret Knowledge; On the Dismantling of American Culture something of a revelation.

Amusingly, he did too.

Mamet describes living his entire life, until eight years ago, in a leftist monoculture; he had never met a Conservative nor been exposed to a Conservative idea.

Think about that for a moment or two.

A subculture which holds "diversity" as one of its highest goals completely excludes diversity of thought and ideas. An educated man, successful as a playwrite and author, had never been exposed to diversity of thought.

If you're still with me (and I do apologize to anyone struck by debris of exploding heads), there is much more.

Our current societal (as opposed to cultural) development is burdened by the presence of "Good Ideas." These ideas are called Good not because their implementation has led to the betterment of life, but in homage to the supposed goodwill and and intellectual status of their instigators.

The Secret Knowledge Ch.3 para 14

The Left, it seems, lack a meaningful feedback loop.

Conservative reasoning asks, "What actually is the desired result of any proposed course of action; what is the likelihood of tis success; and at what cost?" (The last, importantly, including the costs of possible failure.) These are, to the social thinker, unknowable, their sum being expressed, euphemistically, as "The Law of unintended consequences."

ibid, p. 17

The Left's intellectual products are theories, or "Good Ideas," which are subjective. Wether this is a fault or a feature depends on one's point of view, but inescapably "A subjective system can never be shown to have failed." What knave would count the cost of doing "good" even if the "good" can in no way be quantified or otherwise evaluated.

These themes are consistent, alarming, and well documented in Mamet's work. It is critical, to the point of damning, of the Left and their works. It is also interesting, entertaining, and thought provoking. For a short tome (226 pages, plus bibliography and index), it is dense, yet compelling and entertaining.

I find that I am still ruminating on it, and will no doubt return to it to inspire or supplement my own writing on-line. I encourage those of all political stripes to read it, and leave you with one of Mamet's closing thoughts:

America is a Christian country. Its Constitution is the distillation of the wisdom and experience of Christian men, in a tradition whose codification is the bible.

I will not say this Christian country has been good to the Jews, for this suggests an altruism or acceptance, neither of which exist. But America has been good for the Jews, as it has been, eventually, good for every immigrant group whether fleeing oppression , seeking prosperity, or, indeed, brought here in chains. The result of a 230-year-long experiment is the triumph of Judeo-Christian values. We have created peace and plenty for more citizens over a greater period of time than that enjoyed by any other group in history.

This triumph is not due to altruism, nor to empathy, nor to compassion, but to adherence to those practicable, rational rules for successful human interaction set out in the Bible.

These rules and precepts amount, in their totality, as much to a legal philosophy as to a theology.

ibid pp. 221-222


The Secret Knowledge
On the Dismantling of American Culture

By David Mamet
Published by Sentinel
a member of the Penguin Group
Copyright 2011
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Comments (46)

A subculture which holds... (Below threshold)
jim m:

A subculture which holds "diversity" as one of its highest goals completely excludes diversity of thought and ideas.

Well yeah. Because leftists are not interested in real diversity. They are interested in s facade of diversity that masks the same old bigotry that they have held for generations. It's the same bigotry that says a black student cannot do well in school unless they are in a class room full of white kids. It's the same bigotry that says that you have to give minorities a home loan when you would disqualify a white couple with the same credit. And on and on.

Diversity is the facade they hide behind while Joe Biden remarks how surprising it is that obama is "clean and articulate" and calls conservatives racists.

Whether this is a fault ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Whether this is a fault or a feature depends on one's point of view, but inescapably "A subjective system can never be shown to have failed."

No. You miss the point. the left looks only at the intentions and never at the results. So a government program is "good" because they intend to help the poor or minorities. It doesn't matter that the program actually traps the poor in poverty and prevents them from getting the education or jobs they need to get out.

In fact because the program is deemed good based on the initial intentions any attempt to fix it to actually get the desired results is therefore "Bad" because you are altering a "good" program.

This triumph is not due ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

This triumph is not due to altruism, nor to empathy, nor to compassion, but to adherence to those practicable, rational rules for successful human interaction set out in the Bible.

And THAT is one reason why the left will never accept that sort of America. The success of America is not because people have good intentions. It is because we live by a set of practical rules. Intentions are not the issue.

The left lives by the appearances. America is not about appearances. It is about the practicality of getting things done right. The left wants a feel good nation where we fail constantly but can pat each other on the back for trying hard. We will have great self esteem as we live in poverty and ignorance.

I'll be reading this. It's ... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

I'll be reading this. It's on my short list.

jim m : "No. You miss the p... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

jim m : "No. You miss the point. the left looks only at the intentions and never at the results. So a government program is "good" because they intend to help the poor or minorities."

I don't think so anymore. The cannon-fodder left, the joe sixpack left ..well maybe they do believe that, after 40 years of leftist govt school indoctrination. But the leaders of the left, Obama and the elites of the lefties that have taken over the Dem party...they know good and g*ddam well the failure of these policies. They WANT these failures, so they can perpetually keep a majority of the masses under their control.

And there he exposes the di... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

And there he exposes the dirty secret behind liberal, 'progressive' thinking.

It's not about the results - it's NEVER about the results - it's about the intentions. If the intentions are good, how can the results be anything but? And if they aren't what was intended, then obviously there needs to be much more money spent to get the desired results.

And it's on Kindle, too. Hmmm. :)

Less Nessman @5,Ma... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves Author Profile Page:

Less Nessman @5,

Mamet makes a very good case for many on the left, and particularly those from leftist enclaves "educated" in the Liberal Arts at left leaning "institutions of higher learning" having quite effectively isolated from anything resembling the real world. It is thus entirely possible that 0bama and his ilk literally cannot, based on their experience, believe that anyone can honestly disagree with their world view. Thus it is an equal odds proposition to ascribe their behavior as being based on those prejudices of their world view or an active intent as to tearing down what "Western Civilization" has built.

As conservatives their motivation matters much less to us than the effects their chosen policies produce.


JLawson @ 6 writes:

And there he exposes the dirty secret behind liberal, 'progressive' thinking.

It's not about the results - it's NEVER about the results - it's about the intentions. If the intentions are good, how can the results be anything but? And if they aren't what was intended, then obviously there needs to be much more money spent to get the desired results.

Mamet does indeed make that very point, and at some length. The divorce of progressivism from a reckoning of costs and effects has wrecked disaster wherever such policies have been followed, and the inevitable response of progressives to such failures is to blame outside factors vice their own policies, and to advocate for yet more state control.

The fruits of the Left over the course of the 20th century have been shortage, misery, suffering, and death on scales un-matched in human history.

He was politically facile a... (Below threshold)
michael reynolds:

He was politically facile and superficial as a liberal, he's the same as a conservative. But you guy should be cautious about embracing him. This has nothing to do with you, it's a guy who is past his prime and bitter about it. He's picking a fight with other boringly superficial New York liberals in a reach for relevance.

Rodney: "As conservatives t... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Rodney: "As conservatives their motivation matters much less to us than the effects their chosen policies produce."

I used to think so. But if we don't understand the truth of their motivations, we won't defeat them. They (the Lefty leadership) WANT these failures.

Michael Reynolds,Y... (Below threshold)
MichaelC:

Michael Reynolds,

You have the distinction of an opinion held by very few. David Mamet need not reach for relevance as he attained it long ago and continues to influence others on a grand scale. I take it though that you are not of those which, I must tell you, IS irrelevant, at least to me.

Less Nessman @ 9 quotes my ... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves Author Profile Page:

Less Nessman @ 9 quotes my @ 7:

As conservatives their motivation matters much less to us than the effects their chosen policies produce.

and replies:

I used to think so. But if we don't understand the truth of their motivations, we won't defeat them. They (the Lefty leadership) WANT these failures.

Less,

Neither you nor I nor any other mortal man may know what truly resides within another man's heart. We may speculate, and even do so accurately, but it still remains speculation.

Results are objective and empirical.

The road to hell, we are informed, is paved with good intentions.

Intentions, which are based on public pronouncements which may or may not be truthful, are irrelevant in the face of outcomes. To debate the intentions is to cede the argument; forcing the debate to be a discussion of outcomes and costs is the path to victory.

He was politically facil... (Below threshold)
jim m:

He was politically facile and superficial as a liberal,

I think that is the point of his writing. He has discovered that while he believed in certain ends the leftist means that he subscribed to were just and empty facade and in some cases actually worked against the ends he believed in.

He is now standing up and declaring that he still believes the ends to be important but that he realizes that the conservative means to those ends actually produce the results he desires. This is the rare liberal that has examined his beliefs and found that progressivism is a fraud.

One does not have to embrace Mamet to endorse his epiphany. I think most of us who have read his recent work do not see the same superficial liberal but see someone who is making a clear and concise argument against the failures of modern liberalism.

jim m @ 12,Indeed.... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves Author Profile Page:

jim m @ 12,

Indeed.

If you want to throw your a... (Below threshold)
michael reynolds:

If you want to throw your arms around Mamet, it's no skin off my nose. Beware of embracing creatives.

michael reynolds,T... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves Author Profile Page:

michael reynolds,

The Republicans remain the big tent, and your heretics are welcome to join us.

"The left wants a feel g... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"The left wants a feel good nation where we fail constantly but can pat each other on the back for trying hard."

Case in point: "The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

Not for the actual result, but for the effort.

We've seen the actual result.

G.K.Chesterton predicted we... (Below threshold)
Don L :

G.K.Chesterton predicted we would soon moeve into a postChristian world where feelings would be the replacement for all things. Rational thought is a yoke around the mneck of people who seek to do battle with the left. They use and manipulate feelings and images masterfully to swaythe emotions in the voters.

Fear, greed, envy, and tickling their ears with talk of free lunch, free sex, works beyond belief - Just what rational folks refuse to recognize as they argue sound complex economic theory with the deaf andignorant masses, while Obama talks of spreading the wealth and hope and change, and you get,things like, Obama gonna pay mah mortgage" and power beyond belief.

Just find a "clean talking" black man in a suit, Photoshop a halo on him, put a couple of foam pillars to give him a faux image of magnanimity, fire up the twin TOTUS's programed by a smmoth talking guy-like the Marixts that write his books and poof! There goes America.

The right, in response, continues to practice explaining sound and complex economic theory while systematically taking down Sarah who threatens their power.

America is so over...

I went to Amazon and read s... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

I went to Amazon and read some of the reader reviews posted there. The 5-star ones echoed Rodney's opinion, but, taking a tip from regular Wizbang commenter Oregonmuse, I checked out a few of the 1-star reviews as well. Here's just one sample:

"Aside from a money-making enterprise for Mamet, this book is little more than a tedious and pretentious affirmation of simplistic right-winginess, aimed at conservatives who need reassurance. The idea of a prize-winning playwright-intellectual coming down on the side of conservatives in and of itself must seem like intellectual validation to many conservatives whose intellectualism is questionable, and Mamet consciously exploits that aspect of the book. He also gussies up the standard simplistic views of liberalism and capitalism with intellectual language, references, and tone; they remain simplistic nonetheless. And then he offers more validation to weak-kneed conservatives with his "I was a mindless liberal but now I've seen the light" tale of personal political conversion. If there were an Oprah show for insecure conservatives, Mamet would be a perfect guest."

Having read these reviews, I'll check the book out for myself soon. Thanks, Rodney, for bringing it to your readers' attention.

Umm, Bruce, you are aware t... (Below threshold)
Evil Otto:

Umm, Bruce, you are aware that most one-star reviews of ANY political book, left or right, are written by people who have never read the book, right? Reading them is a waste of time.

That review you quote shows no specifics, just vague accusations about cashing in and preaching to the choir, often a sign that the reviewer is motivated by politics and has never even cracked the book open. If there's any sign that the reviewer has read even one word of Mamet's book, I'm not seeing it there.

If you're going to read the book, then good for you. You might see how the journey from liberal to conservative happens, a journey that many of us here (including myself) have taken. Just don't expect anything you read in Amazon reviews (especially one-star reviews) to be useful.

Rod: "To debate the intenti... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Rod: "To debate the intentions is to cede the argument;.."
I guess we'll just have to disagree on that one. Maybe I'm not explaining myself well enough or perhaps it's something I can't quite put my finger on; but I think we miss something fundamental, something important when we do not recognize both the concrete results AND the intentions of the Left.

"...forcing the debate to be a discussion of outcomes and costs is the path to victory."

But a too short-lived victory. As in, one or two election cycles short. If we defeat them merely on the results of their policies, they come back the very next chance and say "ok, ok, that last program unexpectedly didn't work, but this new program we dreamed up will work. We promise! We just want to help." And a lot of gullible people say "Awww. They really care. Maybe we should give them another chance, 'cause they are looking out for the little guy."

I'm looking for a more lasting victory and to get that we have to point out the failure of the results AND prove (to the degree that it is possible to 'prove' another's intentions) the bad intentions of the left.

Like I said, Otto, I was fo... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Like I said, Otto, I was following the lead of Oregonmuse, who was applauded here (in terms of + votes) when she dissed a book I recommended using the same method.

And what is the factual basis for your assertion that negative reviewers have never read the book in question? How could you possibly know this?

Like I said, Otto, I was... (Below threshold)
Evil Otto:

Like I said, Otto, I was following the lead of Oregonmuse, who was applauded here (in terms of + votes) when she dissed a book I recommended using the same method.

Then take it up with Oregonmuse. Are we supposed to care, or even remember what the hell you're talking about?

And what is the factual basis for your assertion that negative reviewers have never read the book in question? How could you possibly know this?

Oh come on, Bruce. Whatever else you may be, you're not stupid. Use some critical thinking. USE. YOUR. BRAIN. Amazon reviewers are in no way required to prove that they've purchased the product in question, which means you often have people with agendas writing reviews. I've read a lot of reviews on Amazon. Some things to look for:

1) Does the reviewer write specifically about anything in a book? For example, he might write "I found X's stated position in chapter 4 on belief-Y utterly wrong and completely reprehensible." The more specific the review, the greater the odds that the person in question actually has read the book. Your reviewer gave no such specifics.

2) Is the reviewer more interested in attacking the person than the book? I Mamet's case, he's a liberal who's turned on his old political side... and that rarely wins you kudos on the side you've left.

3) Does the reviewer hate the political beliefs of the author? This by itself not proof, but when the reviewer spends time attacking the general belief system of the author rather than what they wrote, it's an additional clue. Your reviewer clearly holds conservatism in contempt.

Let's test this. Has this person read the book, Bruce?

"If you have $15 burning a hole in your pocket, give it to a tailor to fix your pants. Nothing in "The Secret Knowledge" is even remotely worth paying for. You can hear the exact same stuff at any time for free on conservative talk radio. Who does Mamet think he's fooling?"

I would hope that even you can tell.

How about this, from Andrew Breitbart's book? (Since I haven't read Mamet's book but have read Breitbart's, I can tell even more that this reviewer has not read it.)

"Generalizing hypocrite trying to make a profit off fearmongering. If I ever generalized the far right like Breitbart does to the far left..you know, there wouldn't be ANY smart people taking me seriously. This is why Mr. Breitbart loses a LOT of credibility with me. This guy is worse than Ann Coulter when it comes to assumptions about the left. How about a little objectivity? How about citing the positive and negatives aspects on both sides(that are actually factual)? Breitbart's book is a prime example as to why I no longer read books from a far right or far left point of view. I'm simply sick and tired of all people of a certain political slant being put in a one dimensional box. Can people just use common sense and start thinking for themselves? Breitbart just wants to denigrate the entire left for profit even though he knows that much of what he is saying is not entirely true for the most part. This overt, careless hypocrisy does not resonate well with me and I certainly will NOT be reading any more of his books in the future. Do yourself a favor and skip this abomination of a book and find one that offers a down the middle, objective point of view that can be trusted. "

Has that person read the book?

(sigh) I'm wasting my time here with you, aren't I Bruce? You're probably not going to read the book. You're just playing your usual passive-aggressive game. Oh, Oregonmuse pissed you off in another thread and now you're here to make some obscure point... and we're supposed to see the deep cleverness behind your argument.

Free hint, Bruce: we don't care.

Well, thanks for speaking f... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Well, thanks for speaking for the Wizbang commenting community, Otto. Or are you using the Royal We?

Granted there are certainly many negative reviewers on Amazon who have never read whatever book is in question. It's possible that there are some positive reviewers of whom that could be true as well. But, in my opinion, you have not demonstrated that "most" negative reviews on Amazon are written by people who haven't read the book they're reviewing.

And, "Oh, come on!" is not an argument, Otto.

While the "tells" you mention are certainly worth looking for, and you have a point with regard to the excerpt of the review you posted here, it is also possible that some reviewers simply don't feel the need to demonstrate to Otto that they have read the book. The review I excerpted, while not following the Evil Otto Standard, seems to me to be reasonably familiar with the work, and is enough for a brief review. Perhaps this reviewer didn't want to spend hours and hours dissecting the work for the Amazon audience, and simply abbreviated his criticism.

In any case, asserting that "most" negative reviews are written by people who haven't read the book is unprovable and a lazy statement. By that logic, a book that is universally panned would be unread by anyone. Is that the case? Is every negative critique of "Atlas Shrugged" or "The Grapes of Wrath" written by the willfully ignorant? Or even MOST of them?

Let me guess. People who th... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Let me guess. People who think "The Grapes of Wrath" sucks are geniuses, and those who hate "Atlas Shrugged" are commie tools who haven't bothered to crack it open.

Probably.;-)... (Below threshold)
epador:

Probably.

;-)

By the way, We note that th... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

By the way, We note that there are four "4 Star" reviews on Amazon right now on this book. Read them, Otto, and get back to Us as to whether or not THEY meet the Evil Otto Standard For Credible Book Reviews.

Bruce, I have no idea wheth... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

Bruce, I have no idea whether or not the reviewer you quoted read the book, but I will say this: the reviewer spent more time parading his/her "I hate conservatives" credentials by repeatedly painting a whole genre of people with wide sweeps of his gratuitous isult-brush than he did addressing anything even remotely specific in the book.

I also find it strangely coincidental that, quite often, negative critiques of any politically slanted manuscript will include the "did it only for the money" slur while that same person would laud a political ally's writings and not even notice that they too made money off their enterprize. Now, does that happen more with a liberal's negative reviews of conservative writers or vice versa? I'll let someone else do that research, but I have an idea judging from my own experience.

What you hoped to accomplish by interjecting with that review which lacked any semblance of serious thought is anyone's guess. It was absolute crap in my opinion.

Oyster, I was just pointing... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Oyster, I was just pointing out that, while Rodney had lavish praise for this book, there were other reviewers who weren't as impressed, that's all.

And I actually found Oregonmuse's point on that other thread valid, which is why I mentioned it. If you're going to read reviews at all, she seemed to be saying, read the negative ones, too. Sounds logical to me.

Otherwise you might find yourself paying nine bucks to endure "An American Carol."

Also, I can't help the fact that every time Evil Otto reads one of my comments, he feels the need to dissect it in bold type, using his trademark Scornful Tone, instructions written in all caps with periods between to USE. MY. BRAIN., and perfectly logical arguments like "Oh, come on," and "Let's test this...has this person read the book?".

And when he does, I feel obligated to respond to him.

Well, thanks for speakin... (Below threshold)
Evil Otto:

Well, thanks for speaking for the Wizbang commenting community, Otto. Or are you using the Royal We?

Well, let's test that. Guys, do you care about Bruce's issues with Orgeonmuse? Yes or no?

I think I'm going to win that vote Bruce. WE don't care.

But, in my opinion, you have not demonstrated that "most" negative reviews on Amazon are written by people who haven't read the book they're reviewing.

I didn't say most "negative reviews." I said most one star reviews. There's a difference, and if you're going to argue against me, argue against what I wrote. One-star means the product in questions is absolutely terrible, beyond redemption. It's not too much to ask that the reviewer demonstrate specifics as to why that book rates such a low rating.

And, "Oh, come on!" is not an argument, Otto.

No, it's an expression of frustration, aimed at you. I swear, sometimes I think you're being willfully obtuse. You understand the point, and yet you claim not to.

While the "tells" you mention are certainly worth looking for,

Except you, Bruce Henry, can't be bothered. You aren't willing to take the five milliseconds of mental energy it would take to actually judge for yourself whether or not the reviewer has read the book. It's not difficult to tell.

and you have a point with regard to the excerpt of the review you posted here, it is also possible that some reviewers simply don't feel the need to demonstrate to Otto that they have read the book.

(rolling eyes) Really, Bruce? You're going with that argument?

One of the most basic criteria for any review... any review, Bruce, is that someone at least provide a little proof that they know what the hell they're talking about regarding the subject at hand. If I'm reviewing a toaster, it's expected by the reader that I have at least plugged the damned thing in and made toast with it. Your reviewer does not do that. Most one-star reviewers of political books do not do that... err, read it, not try to make toast with it.

http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-CPT-180-Classic-4-Slice-Stainless/product-reviews/B0000A1ZN1/ref=cm_cr_dp_hist_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addOneStar

Read that, Bruce. Those are one-star reviews of a toaster. Notice something? They're almost all filled with specifics. That's fine. One-star reviews of political books? They're filled with generalities, accusations, and hate, but rarely do they have anything specific to say about the book.

The review I excerpted, while not following the Evil Otto Standard,

Also known as "actually reviewing the book." That's a pretty tough standard to meet.

seems to me

"Seems to me" is not an argument, Bruce.

to be reasonably familiar with the work, and is enough for a brief review.

What are you basing that on? What sentence in that review shows that?

Perhaps this reviewer didn't want to spend hours and hours dissecting the work for the Amazon audience, and simply abbreviated his criticism.

Or, Occam's Razor, perhaps he simply didn't read it and has an anti-conservative agenda.

In any case, asserting that "most" negative reviews are written by people who haven't read the book is unprovable and a lazy statement.

Yeah, yeah. Feel free to go to Amazon and read reviews of political books if you think I'm wrong. Read the reviews of Ann Coulter's new book. How many of those one-star-wonders read the book? I see a few... and they're overwhelmed by reviews that don't even talk about anything specific about the book. Hell, if you want to see what I'm talking about high-definition, read the reviews of "Dreams From My Father." How many of those one-stars read it, Bruce?

By that logic, a book that is universally panned would be unread by anyone.

That does not logically follow from my argument and you know it. We are talking, specifically about ONE STAR reviews on political books on Amazon.com.

If you actually bothered to look at "universally panned" books on Amazon (you clearly haven't), you'd see they do not fit the pattern. There are plenty of two and three star reviews of such a book, even a few fives scattered here and there. The reviewers who give one-star do so because they feel it is a terrible book. Political books are different... many of the reviewers rip the book because they hate either the author's politics, the author, or both.

Is that the case? Is every negative critique of "Atlas Shrugged" or "The Grapes of Wrath" written by the willfully ignorant? Or even MOST of them?

Yes. Most of them. Bruce, I've read the negative reviews of Atlas, unlike you. Most of those "reviewers" have never cracked the book. Grapes is not a political book, it's historical fiction. Very, very few of the one-star reviewers made any comment at all about any political message in the book. The vast majority of the reviews were variations on the word "boring." That's not a good review either, but it's not political.

Now, do you still want to keep going on this?

Also, I can't help the f... (Below threshold)
Evil Otto:

Also, I can't help the fact that every time Evil Otto reads one of my comments, he feels the need to dissect it in bold type, using his trademark Scornful Tone, instructions written in all caps with periods between to USE. MY. BRAIN., and perfectly logical arguments like "Oh, come on," and "Let's test this...has this person read the book?".

I'm giving you what you want, Bruce. Attention. You posted a one-star review from someone who had clearly never read the book just so you could make some bizarre point about someone who hadn't even commented in this thread. I called you on your crap. And rather than concede on it, you decided to argue that I was wrong about most one-star reviewers of political books not having read them.

Oh, and thanks for the compliment about my "trademark scornful tone." I try, I really do, but sometimes I worry that I'm not scornful enough when it comes to you leftist drones.

Let me guess. People who... (Below threshold)
Evil Otto:

Let me guess. People who think "The Grapes of Wrath" sucks are geniuses, and those who hate "Atlas Shrugged" are commie tools who haven't bothered to crack it open.

Wrong.

I do believe my irony meter... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves Author Profile Page:

I do believe my irony meter just broke due to overload.

Why, you ask?

Well, above we see the man with two first names expostulating at length as to whether critics have read the book they critique. Whereas some months ago...

Dude, I'm a reader, not a writer. Others have debunked Goldberg quite well. Read the reviews of his book on some sites other than your usual fare, Rodney.

And

While it is true that I have not read the entirety of Goldberg's book, I have read lengthy excerpts and watched with admiration (for his chutzpah) as he, and others, defended it on TV and the web. He's a real intellectual giant, Rodney.

So we have seen the man with two first names here doing the very thing he doubts his fellow leftists have done on Amazon reviews.

I, for one, have no doubts that the man with two first names will never read Mamet's book, but that he will (as seems to be his habit) criticize it at length.

Don L @ 17,Nothing... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves Author Profile Page:

Don L @ 17,

Nothing new here you realize? Kipling warned us about the likes of 0bama:

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all, By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul; But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four—
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man—
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began —
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire—

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Gods of the Copybook Headings
1919

OK, Otto. You convinced me.... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

OK, Otto. You convinced me. One star reviews of political books on Amazon are indeed likely to be written by reviewers who appear to have not bothered to read the book. You are right, and I was wrong.

However, Oregonmuse was still right to advise folks to read the negative reviews on Amazon before plunking down money to buy the book. And she DID say "one and two star reviews." I thought it was worthwhile advice, which is why I remembered it when I read Rodney's glowing review of Mamet's book here. I wasn't nursing some weird grudge against her, far from it.

And Rodney, even though you find it ironic, I stand by my opinion of Goldberg. Again, I read enough excerpts of "Liberal Fascism," and saw enough video of him and others defending it on TV, to decide I didn't wish to waste money on what seemed to be claptrap.

And I have THREE first names, actually, though what that has to do with anything escapes me.

I, for one, have no doubts ... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves Author Profile Page:

I, for one, have no doubts that the man with three (though he comments here under a mere two of them) first names will never read Mamet's book. I remain just as certain that he will (as seems to be his habit) criticize it at length.

Perhaps you might wish to l... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Perhaps you might wish to list all the books I have criticized "at length" despite not reading them, Rodney. Or even not "at length." I mean, besides Goldberg's. Since, you observe, it seems to be my habit.

Let me guess. People who... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Let me guess. People who think "The Grapes of Wrath" sucks are geniuses, and those who hate "Atlas Shrugged" are commie tools who haven't bothered to crack it open.

It is true that most books which are controversial/politically charged receive one star reviews from reactionary activists seeking to pan the book without reading it.

The funny thing about The Grapes of Wrath vs. Atlas Shrugged comparison is that many, if not most, people read The Grapes of Wrath because they were forced to, while those who have read Atlas Shrugged read it because the WANTED to. Think about it. It's true.

I do still agree that readi... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

I do still agree that reading the one-star reviews is helpful though. It is usually obvious which ones have read the book and which have not. And I like to get the mindset and criticisms noted.

If I had posted those two s... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

If I had posted those two sentences earlier in the thread, Jeff, maybe I could have avoided the tongue-lashing I got from Otto.

Not sure you're right about those two books, though. I was required to read both of them in school.

Jeff, I agree, but when the... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

Jeff, I agree, but when the "one star" reviews are heaped with slogans one reads in their political talking points emails, all bets are off.

"Oyster, I was just pointing out that, while Rodney had lavish praise for this book, there were other reviewers who weren't as impressed, that's all."

Bruce, I'm still at a loss as to what you hoped to point out other than this so-called reviewer could out do Rodney with heaps of gratuitous ad hominem and high school insults.

I'm sorry, I'm really more offended that you thought we would blindly accept that there was some comparison between Rodney's, ableit brief, positive review and the poo-flinging of some denizen of the fever swamps.

Whatever, Oyster. Be offend... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Whatever, Oyster. Be offended, then.

And Rodney, you have TWICE ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

And Rodney, you have TWICE accused me in this thread of habitually criticizing, at length, books that I haven't read. By my count, I have done that exactly once, and then not "at length."

So, where's the list? The list of books I've made a habit of criticizing without reading?

Rodney -I've notic... (Below threshold)
Jlawson:

Rodney -

I've noticed for, oh, probably 35 years now that Democrats will endlessly talk about how they're going to solve a problem, then after elections either ignore the problem or implement legistaion to cure same, then when the problem persists they either ignore it (because there's something in place to deal with the problem) or they'll go ahead and insist the problem will be solved if you simply throw more money at it and expand the scope of their legislation.

At some point, if you're paying attention, you start to wonder.

Now, the Dems have claimed moral authority for decades by virtue of their 'concern' for the poor and downtrodden - yet there's very few programs that have actually helped. Head Start shows improvement temporarily in preschoolers - but that doesn't last beyond about first or second grade. Welfare... yeah, that really had unanticipated consequences. Anyone up for a rerun of Cash for Clunkers? The auto industry hasn't had a hard kick in the nuts lately... School vouchers were working in the DC area, getting kids out of crappy schools into better ones... and then they were cancelled because it wasn't, apparently, 'fair' that some kids zoned for crappy schools had a chance to get out. Talk about trying to keep the poor and downtrodden poor and trod upon...

That's off the top of my head. And come to think of it, unanticipated consequences seem to be the primary result of liberal government programs.

I'm all for helping someone out of a jam. But we're at a point where people can subsist long-term on the help that was supposed to be temporary. The ones who want more will find a way to get out - the ones who don't... won't - and they raise children to expect what they get off the government dole.

As Mamet said...

Conservative reasoning asks, "What actually is the desired result of any proposed course of action; what is the likelihood of it's success; and at what cost?" (The last, importantly, including the costs of possible failure.) These are, to the social thinker, unknowable, their sum being expressed, euphemistically, as "The Law of unintended consequences."

I think we need, badly, to create a social thinker class that understands that money and time aren't unlimited, and that the cooperation of those who are to be helped in the achievement of the stated goals is not to be counted on, or even assumed to exist.

Jlawson,Perhaps we... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves Author Profile Page:

Jlawson,

Perhaps we should take another step back and ask just what the role of Government under our Constitution is supposed to be. If folks wish to change that role, amend away.

"Mamet describes living his... (Below threshold)
Ufotofu9:

"Mamet describes living his entire life, until eight years ago, in a leftist monoculture; he had never met a Conservative nor been exposed to a Conservative idea."

This, I suppose, is meant to be interpreted as an indictment of liberalism, but I read it as an indictment of the author himself. Let's look at that idea from a different perspective:

"Mamet describes living his entire life, until eight years ago, in a Rightest monoculture; he had never met a Liberal nor been exposed to a Liberal idea."

So looking at the opposite, would a Conservative be expected to accept this criticism of his political philosophy, or might he ask the most basic question: was he every looking for an idea that might have challenged his accepted world view? Was he that disinterested, that shallow? You may even suspect that he was never really a very good Conservative to begin with, if he was that insulated.

Ufotofu9 @ 45,In o... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves Author Profile Page:

Ufotofu9 @ 45,

In order for your premise:

...living his entire life, until eight years ago, in a Rightest monoculture; he had never met a Liberal nor been exposed to a Liberal idea.

...to be true, your sample Conservative would have had to exist totally beyond the scope and influence of popular culture and mass media. They would have had to have been educated in a system free of graduates of "education" programs. Those premises fail the giggle test.




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