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Liberal vs. Conservative - Who Cares?(67 posts)

Liberal vs. Conservative - Who Cares?Me Dot Org
Feb 27, 2003 10:57 AM
C.S. Lewis, a Christian theologian, wrote a book called "The Screwtape Letters" that you don't have to be a Christian to enjoy (I'm not).

The book is a series of letters from an important administrative official in Hell (Screwtape) to his nephew, a junior tempter on earth, filled with an avuncular advice on how to tempt a soul into hell.

Screwtape observes: "Jargon, not logic, is your best ally from keeping him from the Church. Don't try to waste time convincing him that materialism is true! Make him think that it is strong or stark or courageous - that it is the philosophy of the future. That's the sort of thing he cares about."

What does this have to do with politics? Just this: As you approach either end of the political spectrum, left or right, arguments become less about logic and more about jargon. If you can dismiss an argument by saying that it has been made by a "Bleeding-heart liberal" or a "Knee-jerk conservative", jargon, not logic, has won the day.

"Liberal" and "Conservative" have no intrinsic value of good and evil. Maybe you're conservative in your consumption of liquor and liberal in your application of sunscreen. It is not the word itself that carries value, but rather the logic behind its use in a particular situation.

For example, in this country we tend to see the upcoming war with Iraq as liberal = anti-war and conservative = pro-war. Yet in Britain Tony Blair, a liberal, is for the war and in France, Jacques Chirac, a conservative is against it. So is the war a liberal or conservative issue?

The difference between logic and jargon is the difference between a thinker and an ideologue. A thinker tries to discover the truth, and ideologue knows he has it, and has no need for thinking.

The next time you listen to talk radio, listen to the speaker. Are they trying to sway you with logic or labels? If you are an ideologue, all you have to do is condition people to accept labels instead of logic, and you have won the war. You simply hold flash cards with the appropriate labels, and people either cheer or boo and the appropriate time.

Or salivate when they hear the bell. Good boy!
I think that makes a great deal of sense.sn69
Feb 27, 2003 11:26 AM
Furthermore, I've always felt that political ideology was akin the the curved space/time theorem in that the further away from the starting point at the apex you get in either direction (towards extremism on either end), the closer the goals of both groups get.

Then again, I'm a nonsensical geekoid Navy pilot. Don't listen to me.

;-)~
You normally make more sense thanOldEdScott
Feb 27, 2003 11:34 AM
anyone else on this board, myself included. Of course, you're trained to think clearly; I'm a paid polemicist, and I'm not supposed to make sense, just points.
That's kind of you Ed,sn69
Feb 27, 2003 11:51 AM
but you have to realize that when I'm posting, I'm not exactly earning my keep on behalf of you tax payers...I'm slackin' off at work in stead. Of course, I kind of look at that as my damn-the-man/silent protest against the Navy's policy of disassociated staff tours to supposedly broaden us. Hopefully, Big Brother is listening and I can get fired and sent back to a squadron soon. Hopefully.....
Scott - we're glad your there... wherever there is...PdxMark
Feb 27, 2003 12:34 PM
Your thoughtfulness and insights are always appreciated. With guys like you on the job, we can all be proud.

As for a squadron assignment, I suppose that's OK so long as you keep up on your RBR posts.
Scott - we're glad your there... wherever there is...sn69
Feb 27, 2003 12:53 PM
Thanks again. "Here," incidentally, is New Orleans, HQ of the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve. "Here" is also where the annual foolishness of Mardi Gras is about to get into full swing. That might sound like fun, but it's not when you are trying to coordinate the required presence of four different admirals at various functions that the local Frenchie Redneck self-appointed Banana Republic aristocracy demand them at. It's kinda like herding cats.

I will, however, continue to be active on the board once I return to the real world this spring...at least I will whenever I'm not traveling abroad.

"Guys like me?" Again, thanks, but we're normal goofballs just like everyone else. Now...I think I'm gonna go ask the Chief of Staff to pull my finger. I ate cajun food for lunch.......
NOLA - OTmoneyman
Feb 27, 2003 1:24 PM
What a $hithole. I was there for four days last year, and if I ever go back it will be too soon. Stayed at a nice hotel right on Bourbon Street. I felt like I had to take a shower every time I walked out there.

I did hear some great music in Jackson Square, though. And I went to church at the St. Louis Cathedral. That was beautiful. Its a shame it has to share space with all those fortune tellers. The rest can slide off into the Mississippi and go away forever.

God bless you for serving our country in the worst station in the world.

$$
I remember when you posted asking about it.sn69
Feb 27, 2003 2:58 PM
And, fortuitously, the USGS has just determined that despite the Corps of Engineers' best efforts, LA is sinking at a significantly faster rate than ever before. Fine by me. I generally try to avoid NOLA bashing too much, mostly out of respect for the friends we've made here who love it, but frankly, I think the place is a festering dump and an anachronistic throw-back to pre-civil right America. Nowhere have I ever seen as much blatant racism, intollerance, squalor, filth, lassitude and corruption. Uhg...don't get me started.

Still, we--the Navy/Marines--are thoroughly linked to this place due to political reasons (namely that we generate almost twice as much revenue per year as the state's only other viable industry--tourism).

Ironically, NOLA has the lowest/worst recruiting statistics of any USN location. IOW, people would rather be stationed in Japan than here. Neato.
LOL!moneyman
Feb 28, 2003 7:11 AM
Our cab driver, who was Algerian, complained about the "Slave mentality" of the residents. Very enlightening.

Can you pull a plug somewhere to help it along its path?

$$
Maybe we could just cede it back to France,sn69
Feb 28, 2003 7:21 AM
but keep the rest of TJ's purchase. That'd teach those silly Frogs a lesson. We could ask for Tahiti in exchange.
Different Continuums...Me Dot Org
Feb 27, 2003 12:03 PM
I've seen political models where the traditional "left" and "right" are not polar opposites. In this model, the poles were defined by government intrusion into your life.

Communism and fascism are seen as close relatives, and on the opposite end are anarchists and libertarians.

In between the extremes are (dare I say it?) the liberal democracies, with a mixture of freedom and regulation.
You're a bit off here.czardonic
Feb 27, 2003 12:43 PM
Communism and Fascism are not close relatives. Communism believes in a centrally planned society where all goods are shared equally by the people. Fascism holds no pretense of equality or serving the common good. Fascism believes in the centralization of authority, period.

I'm speaking of the technical definitions here, not the absolutist condemnations of Cold Warriors or the false pretense of Soviet and Chinese totalitarians.

As such, Communism is also somewhere in between Fascism and Libertarianism. Depending on the the application, it could fall on either side of Liberal Democracy.
A much better description....sn69
Feb 27, 2003 1:05 PM
WOMAN:
I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.
DENNIS:
You're fooling yourself. We're living in a dictatorship: a self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes--
WOMAN:
Oh, there you go bringing class into it again.
DENNIS:
That's what it's all about. If only people would hear of--
ARTHUR:
Please! Please, good people. I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?
WOMAN:
No one lives there.
ARTHUR:
Then who is your lord?
WOMAN:
We don't have a lord.
ARTHUR:
What?
DENNIS:
I told you. We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week,...
You're a bit off here.Me Dot Org
Feb 27, 2003 1:05 PM
Hitler built the autobahns, commisioned Ferdinand Porsche to build to Volkswagon ("People's Car"). Mussolini made the trains run on time. There were tremendous public works projects undertaken in Germany under Fascism. Stalin had 5 year plans, Hitler one-upped him with four-year plans. Both ideologies tend to regard indivdual identity as being secondary to the state.
The U.S. has highways too. Are we Communists or Fascists?czardonic
Feb 27, 2003 1:18 PM
And Bush just pledged federal support for the development of an alternative fuel car. Is he the new Hitler?
Actually, a little of both...Me Dot Org
Feb 27, 2003 3:03 PM
Fascism holds no pretense of equality or serving the common good.

Thats what I was responding to. Fascism provided child care, day camps, employment opportunities through public works projects and other things for the common good.

Fascism believes in the centralization of authority, period.

I believe that describes a dictatorship, not fascism. A dictatorship is the ultimate centralization of authority without ideology.

When either Communism or Fascism becomes more totalitarian, ideology is sacrificed for the "cult of personality". The image of a man, whether it be Hitler, Mao, Kim Jung Il or Saddam Hussein, becomes more important than ideology.

Isn't interesting that the "axis of evil" is comprised of a fascist state, a communist state, and a theocracy? All three are absolutely sure they know what's best for you.
Fascism <i>is</i> synonymous with "dictatorship".czardonic
Feb 27, 2003 3:20 PM
My point is that Communism is not. Communism may have central planning in common with Facsism, but technically speaking there is nothing preventing it from having representative government in common with Liberal Democracy.

Bush also believes that he knows what't best for you and I, and the people of Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Knowing what is best for people is a condition of being an ideologue, not of any specific ideology.
Fascism <i>is</i> synonymous with "dictatorship".Me Dot Org
Feb 27, 2003 6:26 PM
Well there have certainly been a lot of dictators (Idi Amin, the Duvaliers, Noriega, etc.) that have never been accussed of being Fascist. Sometimes it's just the old hybrid "Military Junta".

And while there have been communists elected in "liberal" democracies, there have also been what we would define as fascists (i.e., the Austrian Freedom Party, France's recent brush with Le Pen)elected in liberal democracies also.

I think that life under someone like Pol Pot in Cambodia has a lot more in common with life under someone like Saddam Hussein than life in a liberal socialist democracy like Finland. Was Couscesciou a Communist or a Dictator? To a politcal prisoner, I don't think the distinction would be terribly meaningful.

My point is that absolute power corrupts absolutely, whether it be a fascist or a communist state. Marx said the state would whither away and die, but history proved him wrong. The more power is consolidated, the less ideology matters, and the more communism and fascism resemble each other. A May Day Parade in Red Square looks a lot like a Nuremberg Rally.

There's an old cold war joke about an American and a Russian Communist talking about the relative merits of their political systems. The American says "I can stand in front of the White House and proclaim "The President of the United States is a Fink!"

Not to be outdone, the Russian Communist says "Big Deal! In Russia, I can stand in the Middle of Red Square and yell "The President of the United States is a Fink!"

I'm against the proposed war. I protested in San Francisco. But I don't think I would have that same freedom to march in opposition to my government's policies if I were in North Korea, Iraq or Iran.

George Bush may be an ideologue, but I'm still free to voice my opposition to him.
Speaking of absolute power. . .czardonic
Feb 27, 2003 6:42 PM
. . .Bush has reserved the right to wage war on any country that rivals us or deviates from our view of the way the world should be. In other words, he has claimed for America, the "liberal democracy", absolute power to enforce its will everyone except American citizens. You know what happens next. . .
He gets voted out of office?!sn69
Feb 28, 2003 5:53 AM
Relax with the alarmist, dictatorial stuff. The Kennedy clan's aspriations were equally, well, ambitious in terms of successive generational dominance. ...And we're still the land of the free. So too shall we be in the out years.
That's surprisingly myopic of you.czardonic
Feb 28, 2003 10:50 AM
Sure, we are still in the land of the free. But the rest of the world doesn't get a vote, and that's who we are talking about.
That's surprisingly myopic of you.sn69
Feb 28, 2003 11:09 AM
I guess my myopia was directly related to how I interpretted your post. Specifically, I thought you were suggesting that the United States is on the verge of a dictatorial takeover by the Bush family agenda. ...Thus my response, which was, in part motivated by a recent Paul Harvey piece on Elanor Roosevelt's disdain for the Kennedy family's similar activities.

Nonetheless, yes, some of the rest of the world probably fears that. Then again, MOST of the rest of the world doesn't live in a legislative system where an executive leader can be honestly voted out of office and has term limits as well. Hell, the thought of a honest voting system (Florida's Katie-Bell "Dragon Lady" Harris notwithstanding) is beyond the comprehension of most of the rest of the world.
I think what the Czar is talking about is Empire.OldEdScott
Feb 28, 2003 11:34 AM
The Bush foreign policy is a major paradigm shift, much bigger than most people realize. It is now an Imperial policy (something we've been accused of in the past but never really been.) Bush has formalized it. We are now the AMerican Empire.
My bust for not reading through the entire thread.sn69
Feb 28, 2003 11:54 AM
I recently had an interesting discussion about this topic with several colleagues. It might surprise some of you to know that they were fairly evenly split on the issue. Essentially, the views expressed could be categorized into two broad generalizations. In one, the fear was that expansion of an overt imperialist policy (in the sense of power projection abroad to support any national goal) would entice our detractors to further their activities. Thus, the oft-quoted fear of increased terrorist action.

In the other, the view expressed a concern that asymmetric threats require a fundamental shift in our national strategic policy, including unilateral action even if it's opposed by some allies.

Both sides, however, agreed purely from the tactical standpoint that if we are going to do this, it has to be now for two reasons. One, we will literally kill our own people if we wait until summer--you cannot even imagine what a 138 degree flight deck is like in the Persian Gulf summer nor how the inside of MOPP Level 4 gear feels like with a ruck and a full ammo load out. Second, we all agreed that it's better to tackle Saddam now while the military advantage is wholely on our terms rather than potentially corrupted by further weapons development on his part. "Overwhelming force" and "disproportionate response" don't mean sh!t to the trooper who is under nuclear attack, you know.

Still, we couldn't reconcile a great many aspects of what's going on. For every plus, there seems to be a negative, for every point a counterpoint.

And then we discussed the concept of a hostile NGO that exists largely without borders and is funded covertly by our so-called allies. Yikes, the whole thing gets overwhelming really quickly but it still cannot be easily summed up by blaming it all on Junior. His pop and Clinton forged other links in this chain of events, some of which are still coming to fruition today.

Personally, I'm split on the issue as well. I can see, appraise and understand both sides. I think that a stronger, more-proactive policy towards the Palestinian/Israeli crisis is required without fail this time, and I think the national strategic concept of selective engagement needs to be re-defined in concert with containment. One need not have a state-oriented hegemonic enemy like the Soviet Union to engage in the latter. Al Quaeda is proving that quite well based on the number of operations going on in different regions to contain (and destroy) their offensive capabilities.

I'll leave you with perhaps the scariest thought of all. There's also a growing fear that we are ALREADY in WWIII. We lost the first three battles, namely the USS Cole, the African Embassies and 9-11. We're winning (for now) the battle in Afghanistan, and we're doing well comparatively in the PI. There's still more to come, however...lots more. Some DOD estimates suggest another 10 years of this at least...and that's with OR without Iraq. Ooof.
10 years I think a conservative estimate. nmOldEdScott
Feb 28, 2003 12:01 PM
Fair enough, but. . .czardonic
Feb 28, 2003 11:38 AM
now you are being surprisingly chauvanistic. So what if most of the world doesn't enjoy representative government, term limits etc? Does our disdain for their political system give us the right to impose our will on them?

Subjecting foreign countries to the whims of a government that only represents Americans is a step away from self-determination, not towards it.
Hey, I wouldn't argue that last sentence.sn69
Feb 28, 2003 12:06 PM
In fact, I was pointing out an issue only somewhat related in terms of what was on my mind. Specifically, there are aspects of our political system that, while not necessarily "right" or "the only way," are still fundamentally different that what exists in the rest of the world. I've gleaned that through actual discussions abroad with citizens of Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Turkey, Israel, China, Singapore, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Quatar, Australia and Pakistan. (Geeeeze...that sounded awfully Nickish, didn't it?)

There were a great many similar concepts that I heard from all of them, but particularly from the Middle Eastern folks. The thought of being able to rid the country of any particular legislative body was amazing to most, and the concept that anyone would elect to NOT vote when it was a free and honest right was deemed reprehensible by the lot. IOW, "you mean that people are allowed to vote freely and some choose not to?!"

Ultimately my point is that I do not think whatever damage is done will be undoable. We will eventually have another administration, and that one, in turn, will also do stupid crap. It simply "is." Maybe I'm getting a little "sardonic," but I do not think that one 4 year term of foriegn policy can undo a nation or the world (with the exception of nuclear armageddon). Hell, look at how many countries have bellied-up to Russia with nary a thought given to the horrific transgressions of the Soviet Union. Why? Money. Resources, territory, alliances...they all distill down to commerce and money. And power.

The key to what I was so ineffectually trying to say, however, is that our power base shifts on a regular basis.
That's true. Which brings up an interesting point.czardonic
Feb 28, 2003 12:16 PM
What is the effect on the stability of the world when the power base of its most dominant nation can switch poles as frequently as every 4 years?

I don't think it's good enough to simply shrug our shoulders and say that our new mania for empire is no big deal because it could disappear after the next election.
That's true. Which brings up an interesting point.sn69
Feb 28, 2003 12:23 PM
First sentence: Are your proposing that we have it another way? Given your antipathy towards the current administration, how dismayed would you be if it was an 8 year term? Likewise, how dismayed would Doug be if Clinton had 16 years in office? Honestly and not sarcastically, I'd be interested to hear alternatives.

Second: I look around and I don't see unanimous shoulder shrugging. In fact, I think I see more proactive activities to stop this than I ever did during the past administration's unreppentant policy towards seemingly random Tomahawk diplomacy or even during Reagan's various (and VERY) aggressive military actions. I see a lot going on from the left's side. And it is having an impact...right or wrong.
How about a non-reactionary foreign policy?czardonic
Feb 28, 2003 1:00 PM
Some things are more important than ideology, or maybe some ideologies are more important than political posturing. Either way, there have to be some kind of consistant, moderate foreign policy guidelines within which all presidents maneuver. No?

As an alternative, how about respect for International Law, whether or not it is on our side? (i.e. When it applies to Iraq and when it applies to Israel)

Impact? Bush has made it fairly plain that he will not be swayed by mere public opinion (American or otherwise) from his emminently moral and imminently necessary crusade on behalf of American exceptionalism. What impact are you talking about?
Nice comment, Czar:)- nmJon Billheimer
Feb 28, 2003 2:43 PM
Sorry for the delaysn69
Feb 28, 2003 3:57 PM
And again, I apologize for not being particularly clear (this f-ing Mardi Gras cat herding is driving me batty). The impact of which I was speaking was in reference to that of those people protesting against the President's apparent intended course of action. Frankly, I think the protests are having a lot of impact. His approval ratings are dropping like a rock. I'm fairly certain he's a one-term president at this point.

I think your first sentence was spot-on, by the way. It speaks volumes towards the multi-facetted nature of politics and international dynamics. As for the consistent policy, yup...I agree with that too. In fact, I think of that as a baseline about any given president should move.
Mardi Gras. . . . .[shudder]. . .czardonic
Feb 28, 2003 4:40 PM
I read a recent letter to the editor (of Harpers, I think) that accused Bush of being addicted to the accolades he recieved after 9/11, and seeking to lead the country down one treacherous path after another because he knows that when the country is truly in crisis it rallies behind its leadership. I don't agree completely because he obviously likes to be seen as following a higher calling than public opinion. However, he has certainly made no bones about using fear-inspired solidarity to further all sorts of pet policy goals. So, support for an unpopular agenda is only a tweak of the Terrorism Warning Level away.

On consistancy, I guess we'll have to agree to agree.
Terrorist Level Eggshell,sn69
Feb 28, 2003 5:03 PM
or is it Taupe or Fuscia?

I'm not privvy to what drive the DOHs (pronounced with a decidedly Homer Simpson-esque "Doh!") to set the threat levels, but I've been briefed that He, as in the executive He, has nothing to do with it in actuality. Dunno if I fully believe that or not.

What I do get to see is distrubing. The bad guys are very much that, and they are still very active. Right now you are seeing, or in actuality not seeing as long as the FBI keeps doing its job, perimeter probes...not unlike what Ed might remember. Eventually they'll find a weak spot and hit us again domestically. It will happen no matter what the policy or what degree of protective posturing we have. Hopefully, the response will be such that civilian casualties will be limited.

That sounds a bit alarming, I know. But, in my business, the enemy is the enemy. I/we do our best to think like he/the do. Hopefully the Feebs are doing the same.

As for M'Gras...perfect opportunity to run into the Bourbon Street madness and explode oneself, dontcha think? Or at least puke uncontrollably after your third hand grenade, hurricane or skylab fallout....
I think its "Bone", this week.czardonic
Feb 28, 2003 5:19 PM
I don't doubt that there are real threats out there. Always have been. The only people pretending that the imminent threat of domestic terrorism is a new development are the ones trying to cover their behinds after they pooh-poohed the outgoing Clinton administration's warnings to that effect.

But, whether the threat remains at "Bone" or is jacked up to "Slate" or even "Putty" (props to SNL), I'm not going to let the DOH terrorize me any more than I'm going to let Al Queda do it. Where are the sloganeers with their "If we do _____, the terrorists have won" when Tom Ridge is telling us to wallpaper our dens in plastic sheeting and duct tape. We may die, but 3M can be spared!
More thoughts on "isms:"sn69
Feb 27, 2003 1:13 PM
I do have a test today, that wasn't bullshit. It's on European socialism. I mean really, what's the point? I'm not European, I don't plan on being European, so who gives a crap if they're socialists? They could be fascist anarchists, it still wouldn't change the fact that I don't own a car.
You're a bit off here.Duane Gran
Feb 28, 2003 6:32 AM
I've seen the chart that "Me Dot Org" mentions. I think it is a matter of perspective. From the perspective of individual liberty, both fascism and communism (in thier historical application) have offered little personal freedom.
So lets examine the non-jargon definitions of those terms.czardonic
Feb 27, 2003 11:28 AM
"Liberal" and "conservative" may not have any intrinsic value of good and evil, but they do have distinct definitions.

Conservative:
  • Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.
    (That's only part of the definition, but lest you think I am cherry-picking, the rest is available here: http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=conservative)

    Liberal:
  • Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
  • Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
    (Again, make your own call: http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=liberal)

    Granted, one can be an ideologue of either stripe. But by definition, conservatives seem to fall under your description of someone who has no need to think because he already knows he has the truth.
  • You were doing well up to the last sentenceCaptain Morgan
    Feb 27, 2003 11:48 AM
    Both liberals AND conservatives think that they know they have the truth. Why would one argue for something, if he really didn't think it was the truth? The liberals I am in contact with (including those on this board) seem to think that they "know they have the truth" just as much as the conservatives.

    The definitions are a tad bit biased. For instance, conservatives by definition "oppose change," yet certainly military build-up, tax reform, and "supposed" shrinking of the federal government are all things that consist of changes, yet these are things the "change-minded" liberals oppose.

    Furthermore, the liberal definition "open to new ideas for progress" is interesting. Progress is in the eye of the beholder.
    Liberal bias in the dictionaries too! nmOldEdScott
    Feb 27, 2003 11:55 AM
    Like I said, liberals are just as capable of being ideologues.czardonic
    Feb 27, 2003 11:59 AM
    And there are many who are.

    Nonetheless, the "change" that conservatives endorse is usually change back to the halcyon days of. . .well, I don't quite know what because I can't think of an era we'd really want to return to. They seem awfully enamored of the Reagan era though.

    I guess it really does come down to the definition of "progress", though most people seem to cede the term "progressive" to the liberal crowd (or is that just my skewed point of view?) If conservatives are for progress, what exactly are they trying to conserve?

    So, while there are liberals and conservatives who know the truth, those liberals that admit they don't hope to find it in an unknown future, while conservatives who admit they don't search for it in the dustbin of History.
    Tthe words liberal and conservative have meaning...Me Dot Org
    Feb 27, 2003 12:12 PM
    ...but the meaning carries no intrinsic value of good and evil. There are sometimes that it is good to be liberal. There are sometimes that it is good to be conservative. We may debate about the individual instances being good or bad, but to characterize all "conservative" or "liberal" points of view as being good or bad is an intellectually lazy.
    For the most part, I agree.czardonic
    Feb 27, 2003 12:27 PM
    But "evil" itself is subjective in meaning. It is only intellectually lazy to condemn a liberal or conservative point of view if you are doing so simply because it is liberal or conservative.
    Ding ... nice post... (mouth dripping).... "It's lunch time???"PdxMark
    Feb 27, 2003 11:42 AM
    It's always good to try to step back and calm down. Thanks for some perspective.

    Though, of course, listening to talk radio (in particular) will rarely get you any logic, or even accurate facts. Fame and careers are built on the ideological rants of alot of talk radio "hosts."

    I feel that many people have quietly ceded the direction and tone of political debate to talk radio hosts and their fans. Personally, I've decided that I won't be quiet any longer. For family and friends (in real life and online) who express political views I think are unsupported by fact, reason or morality, I'll now express my views and why I disagree with them. Sometimes I am even trying to sort out my own opinion about something, like GW2, and I'll ask questions of folks from all sides. I appreciate everyone here willing to share your ideas and thoughts - even if we end up disagreeing.

    I was wrong to think that ideological ranting was harmless, though, especially on talk radio. It's not. Ideological rants eventually come to be accepted as fact, and political policies then follow. Garbage in - garbage out is no way to run a government, whether national, state, or local.

    So, I'm glad we can all talk here. We sometimes get cranky and frustrated in our discussions, and some of us might never agree. But at least listening to each other, and trying to reconcile different viewpoints with whatever facts we can get is the real benefit of these discussions.

    Free speech is a wonderful thing. Woof - where's lunch?
    real life labelsDougSloan
    Feb 27, 2003 11:55 AM
    First, don't confuse the capitalized versions of the words and the lower case versions. They are hardly even related.

    L: wants what others have
    C: wants to keep what he has

    C: believes in individual responsibility (make your own mistakes)
    L: believes in social responsibility (the group will protect you)

    C: morality in government (do what's right)
    L: pragmatism in government (do what works)

    As I get older and more experienced, I grow more skeptical that the Conservative/Libertarian ideals of individual responsibility and freedom will work. It assumes that people are somewhat intelligent, and will make responsible, intelligent decisions. That appears to be an unattainable ideal. Too many people are just plain stupid. There, I said it. Maybe they do need to be warned that their coffee it hot. Maybe they do need to be driving 55 mph on roads capable of 100. Maybe they won't teach their kids to read at home. I could do on ad nauseum, of course.

    On the other hand, do groups of stupid people (government), make any better decisions than stupid people left alone? Doesn't appear so.

    We should not think in terms of Conservative and Liberal. How about "stupid" and "wise" (or I'll settle for "reasonable"), instead?

    Doug
    Conservatives believe in personal responsibility?czardonic
    Feb 27, 2003 12:02 PM
    That'll be good for a chuckle the next time the Bush Administration blames its failings on the Clinton Administration.
    real life labelsMe Dot Org
    Feb 27, 2003 12:56 PM
    C: believes in individual responsibility (make your own mistakes)
    L: believes in social responsibility (the group will protect you)


    Here's a hypothetical situation: A chemical is used in the manufacture of a product. The company that makes the product does not store the chemical properly, and it leaks into the water table. Drinking water becomes contaminated with the chemical.

    Studies discover that the chemical is linked to cancer. The cancer rates in the affected community go up dramatically.

    The company is hit with a class-action lawsuit. The company says that it is impossible to prove, on a case-by-case basis, that an invidual's cancer was directly caused by the chemical.

    Who is at fault?

    The government, for not banning and/or adequately testing the the chemical originally?

    The company, for improperly storing the chemical?

    The individual, for not taking personal responsibility for making sure their drinking water was safe?

    Now I doubt that most conservatives would say the individual is responsible for testing and cleaning his own drinking water. I think most people, liberal or conservative, would probably support the idea that a child should be able to use a drinking fountain in a park with the reasonable expectation that the water isn't going to kill them.

    Even in an ideal world where people act responsibly, people make mistakes. They store chemicals improperly. They use chemicals they think are safe, which turn out to be dangerous. With the best intentions (Thalidomide, DDT) people can create more problems than they solve.

    It isn't always the "stupid" people who cause problems. It's amazing how many things are seen as "stupid" only in hindsight.
    Only a lawyer...53T
    Feb 27, 2003 6:16 PM
    ...would ask who is at fault in this situation. Real human beings would debate the best way to care for the injured and prevent a reoccurance. Liberals and Conservatives would both be better off without lawyers.
    Not sure the L characterizations are right...PdxMark
    Feb 27, 2003 1:00 PM
    As a liberal at the high tax end of the spectrum, I can't agree with your characterizations of the L parts of your comparison. Some L's are, I suppose, hoping that they will personally and directly benefit more than they contribute-- "wants what others have" and "believes the group will protect you." In my circles, though, we tend to be the ones paying the extra share along with the usual conservative folks.

    In think, in a sense, the Ls I know seem willing to pay more with the thought that it might help other people and society at large. (Maybe we're wrong and it won't, but that's another issue.) In my case, it's not about us getting more - it's about making things better for more people so society is better. Literally, there's nothing in it directly for me.

    Your samples point to a difficulty in discussing all this. Even characterizing L & C positions gets hard without imposing on one side, or the other, nuanced value judgments. It would be interesting for L & C folks to try to discuss their overall views and philosphies without getting trapped by policy differences, judgments, and fights.

    It could be an interesting experiment, best done over good beer or wine, with the sincere goal being to articulate and understand one's own political philosphy and hearing and understanding someone else's, all in the context of the assumed goodness of each person.

    I suspect there is lots more common ground than we are sometimes willing to admit in the battle over the fringe issues. With better understandings across the L & C divide folks might even be able to reach consensus decisions... (or maybe that's just a soft-headed liberal dream in a winner takes all world).
    you are largely right; the real issue is powerDougSloan
    Feb 27, 2003 1:03 PM
    While there are ideological distinctions, the real differences between the groups is who has the power. Everything else is just post hoc support.

    Doug
    Exactly. Doug's characterization assumesOldEdScott
    Feb 27, 2003 1:24 PM
    that liberals are poor people out to get their dirty little paws (sorry Woof) on what they haven't earned (things that, presumably, others HAVE earned, and are entitled to keep.) Which is hogwash.

    I'm as liberal as they come, almost a Red, and I'm in the tax bracket that President Bush looks with such loving approval on. (And no, I didn't inherit any of it, I EARNED it, it's MY money etc etc.)

    I think it's INSANE for me to get a pretty substantial tax cut when we're looking at deficits of $400 billion (after the war is factored in). It's just nonsensical that someone like me shouldn't pitch in -- substantially -- to help pay for the privilege of having America. It's painful to write that check, but it beats the alternative, I think.

    No, sorry, here's yet another liberal who in no way 'wants what others have.' There's plenty of us, too.
    could be the Robin Hood thing, tooDougSloan
    Feb 27, 2003 4:46 PM
    Not take from other just for yourself; you guys like to spend other people's money, too. (Although Bush is not rating high with Conservatives on that issue right now.)

    Doug
    I've always liked Errol Flynn swinging over to the tree....PdxMark
    Feb 27, 2003 5:16 PM
    and saying "welcome to Sherwood m'lady" with a tip of his little cap and a cocky grin. Besides Robin let the undercover King Richard keep SOME of his money - when Robin robbed him... A kind and generous social metaphor... :)
    Robin Hood!? I love it.czardonic
    Feb 27, 2003 6:27 PM
    Doug, are you saying that it is "liberal" to return money confiscated by the government to the people and "conservative" to count tax revenues as property of the aristocracy?

    Sounds about right to me.
    Re: Groups of Stupid PeopleJon Billheimer
    Feb 28, 2003 7:56 AM
    Doug,

    You hit on a really interesting point. Studies on group decision making show that group decisions are generally better than individual decisions. I presume that would apply to both smart groups and stupid groups, the difference in the quality of the decisions merely being relative; but the principle would remain the same. Therefore, democracy defined as the rule of the many should be superior to dictatorship. A decision by a group of morons might be better than a decision by one moron:)-
    Does Two Party System drive the Liberal/Conservative label?Continental
    Feb 27, 2003 1:26 PM
    I haven't noticed the use of "liberal" and "conservative" as labels and insults in Brazil, Argentina, and Belgium where I have traveled quite a bit. I think that in the US "liberal" really means a proponent of a polarizing Democratic agenda, and "conservative" means a proponent of a polarizing Republican agenda.
    Multi-Party Systems use the Liberal/Conservative labelsPdxMark
    Feb 27, 2003 1:29 PM
    Israel mostly comes to mind, but I'm not aware of any other vibrant multi-party democracies.
    Hippies and Hunters and the word: "Environmentalist"128
    Feb 27, 2003 1:53 PM
    I largely agree, it's about jargon or more broadly word in general. Ideologues villify a word and craft it's meaning to their desired end. (the act of crafting the illusory concept is the hype, usually based on sexy anecdote, we're not supposed to believe, as in "Death Tax"- don't believe the hype). Who can argue that reasonable care over our resources (environment)or fairly earning more money (less taxation/regulation)are villinous concepts per se? Even Ted Nugent is an environmentalist. Even hippies run businesses for profit.
    Politicians and hustlers craft the hype, attach it to a word, and peddle it for ?? votes and money? Status?.

    The Right has manipulated the word "environmentalist" into a bad word to villify the other side in an effort to gain (votes, money, position etc...) The manipulation is part of the destructive force that may get at the "who cares" part of the question: i.e unfortunately, we are sort of forced into taking sides (caring) in spite of the desire to meet in the middle because there are those who seek to gain through the aggressiv manipulation of words. But yeah, you're right: the words are rather meaningless without a context...
    Right On, MDO!!!!!Jon Billheimer
    Feb 27, 2003 3:43 PM
    Keep on reading C.S. Lewis. Your first post made more sense than any statement about politics that I've read in a long, long time. And our common-sense bellweather, Scott, offered instant validation. Most political labels dissumulate and obfuscate rather than define or clarify.
    How about balancing the federal budget?Spoke Wrench
    Feb 27, 2003 5:06 PM
    I would think that would be a conservative stance. For the last couple of decades, however, we've seen the liberal (Clinton) balance the budget and the conservatives (Raegon, Bush and Bush) run up big defecits. That doesn't make logical sense to me.

    If I were a Democrat running for president, I would define the Republicans as being the "Borrow and Spend" party in every speech I made.
    Reagan was the master....PdxMark
    Feb 27, 2003 5:26 PM
    railing against Carter as being irresponsible with a $100M deficit, and then doubling or tripling it. But GWB has taken it to new depths. Turning a $100B-$200B surplus into a $400B deficit in 2-3 years is a real accomplishment.

    But the deficits are really just an intentional multi-year cap on domestic spending. David Stockman said it explicitly. Supply side economics was a lie. The real purpose of Reagan's, and now GWB's tax cuts and deficits, is to force cuts and caps in domestic spending for years and years.

    Multi-year caps and reductions in domestic spending might be a fine policy, so let's debate and discuss it directly. Implementing domestic policies under the guise of a supply-side economic lie is what I find objectionable.
    Is it true...53T
    Feb 27, 2003 6:22 PM
    ...that economists are like accountants, but without the personality? The original poster launched a child-like discussion of why he doesn't understand American politics, and resents those that do, and someone had to drag in economics. The recent economic turmoil in the public and private sector was caused by a shift in capital investment away from technolgy investments that were employing a lot of Americans. What did Reagan, Clinton, or Bush (pick one) have to do with that? Not a damn thing.
    Aren't tax cuts that lead to deficits really ...PdxMark
    Feb 28, 2003 12:12 AM
    just gifts (welfare) to current taxpayers to be paid for by future taxpayers? GWB isn't giving back anyone's money, he's giving away the money our kids will be paying in taxes.

    I agree in part, as to turmoil in private technology sector ... I think... I'm not certain what effects any President's policies have on the overall economy, but I'm open to other people's thoughts on the subject.

    As for public sector turmoil, though, it seems that giddy tax cutting has raised deficits to historic levels, first under Reagan, and now (or soon) under GWB. According to the following link, which is based on numbers from the Congressional Budget Office as of 1/2003, one third of the current deficit is attributable to tax cuts, the rest to a slowed economy.

    http://www.cbpp.org/2-13-03bud-fact.htm

    The problem is the future, when more of GWB's tax cuts will take effect. So I'd say that public sector turmoil is directly attributable to Presidential policies, and GWB's policies are a train wreck.
    Aren't statistics wonderful?53T
    Feb 28, 2003 12:35 PM
    One big flaw. The federal budget was in surplus prior to the recent downturn. If tax cuts are 1/3 of the current deficit, then the whole surplus, plus 2/3 of the current deficit are caused by a drop in tax revenue attributable to lower corporate and personal income.

    Anyway, I favor tax cuts. I also favor services cuts, so I don't favor deficit increases or spending my kids money. What I really despise is the federal government spending my kids money. You see, since I have a job I am in the top 10% of wage earners in the country. Without ever knowing it I have become "the rich".
    "intentional multi-year cap on domestic spending"Spoke Wrench
    Feb 28, 2003 8:15 AM
    That sounds like classic Washington double speak to me. Lets see, we're overspending our income in order to force us to live within our income. The wierdest thing is that the guy who said it claims to be a conservative.

    It looks to me like it proves the original poster's thesis. The terms liberal and conservative have lost their original meaning and their only use today is to provide a label for us to incite others to rile against.
    How about balancing the federal budget?Duane Gran
    Feb 28, 2003 6:51 AM
    I've thought about this too, but I think that a president gets too much credit and blame for the state of the economy. The economy is sort of like a very large ship. You can turn the steering wheel, but it takes a while for the ship to change direction. Most of the analysis I've read about the economy says that you have to examine investments made nearly 20 years ago to understand where we are today. I'm no economist, but I'm curious if others have heard similar things.
    Agree - but.Spoke Wrench
    Feb 28, 2003 8:07 AM
    I think that presidents take way too much blame for the bad things that happened while they were in office and get way too much credit for the good things.

    HOWEVER, when it goes good they'll dislocate their shoulder patting themselves on the back. Consequently, I think that it's only fair that they take the heat for the bad stuff.