Michael Medved Drills Into the Core of Conservatism

As a libertarian who used to work at National Review and who counts conservatives among my friends and political allies, I have long searched for the unifying thread that ties together the seemingly disparate positions typically advocated by people on "the right." Why does opposition to gun control tend to go hand in hand with support for drug control (National Review's editors being an honorable exception on that score)? What does banning flag burning have in common with repealing restrictions on political ads? Why does pro-life on abortion and assisted suicide become pro-death on capital punishment? How does support for freedom of contract jibe with opposition to gay marriage? What do lower taxes have to do with prohibiting cloning? How is support for free markets reconciled with bans on migrant labor and online gambling?

Now Michael Medved, who complains that "most of the common efforts to define the fundamentals of conservative thinking fall short in their explanatory power," has made it all clear to me: The "core of conservatism," he says, is "distinctions and consequences," to which other political persuasions are oblivious or indifferent. "Conservatives feel impelled to make clear distinctions between right and wrong," Medved avers. "We reject all notions of moral relativism." Not only that, he says, but conservatives want society to "encourage the good and discourage the bad." They always ask, "Will a given policy or initiative help society to encourage good behavior and discourage destructiveness?" Everyone else, I guess, wants to know how to discourage good behavior and encourage destructiveness.

I'm not a conservative, so by definition I'm not very good with distinctions, but that seems like a pretty clear one to me. Still, it does not go very far in "resolv[ing] some of the apparent conservative contradictions," as Medved promises to do.

"It's impossible to say that conservatives want 'small government' above all," he concedes, "when most of us want expanded governmental efforts to crack down on terrorists, crooks and illegal immigrants. Yes, we generally favor 'less regulation,' but we also want more restrictions on abortion, pornography and desecration of the flag." Is there some theory about the proper role of government underlying those policy preferences? Medved never really says, beyond the idea that the government should foster good things and crack down on bad things.

One of those good things is capitalism, except when it isn't (emphasis added):

We favor free markets and small government not for their own sake but because the profit system represents the best possible means to encourage wholesome, constructive choices. The only way to make money in a free marketplace is to benefit and bless other people: to provide them with a product or a service they choose to buy. You enrich yourself and enhance your own power by providing your neighbors with what they want.

As long as it's not drugs. Or gangster rap. Or pornography. Or lap dances. Or abortion. Or an opportunity to bet on football. Presumably Medved-style conservatives see no benefit or blessing in these activities because they are not wholesome or constructive. (Does that mean no one makes money by providing them?) Yet many left-liberals are willing to tolerate such transactions, even while seeking to ban the sale of handguns, trans fats, harp seal fur, or drinks in smoky bars. Is this because they do not draw distinctions or care about consequences? Or is it because they draw different distinctions and care about different consequences?

Likewise, Medved asserts that "liberals want us to continue to pour foreign aid into the most dysfunctional nations on earth." Like Iraq? No, not like Iraq, because Saddam was evil! The rulers of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia "aren't all that good," Medved concedes, but they're our friends. So much for eschewing moral relativism and making clear distinctions between right and wrong.

Instead of elucidating the differences in values and principles that distinguish modern American conservatism, Medved settles for smugly assuming his own moral and intellectual superiority. The "core of conservatism," it seems, is a dark, mushy mess.

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  • ||

    It has always seemed to me that the essence of conservatism as well as liberalism is simply the particular cultures which admit them.

  • Ashley||

    I see only one fundamental difference between the two and it ends up being the same mistake.

    The Right wants control of your body. The Left wants control of your production. Without the one, there cannot be the other so you get the self-contradictory stances you describe. Each fails when given what it seeks.

  • uncle sam||

    I don't know what that al says about conservatism, but it certainly says something about Michael Medved.

    Conservatives seem to be cultural collectivists.

  • ||

    As a preteen movie fan watching his reviews, I was always baffled by why he had such a beef with almost every film he commented on. Later, as an adult..."Oh, I see".

  • ||

    'The rulers of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia "aren't all that good," Medved concedes, but they're our friends. So much for eschewing moral relativism and making clear distinctions between right and wrong.'

    Exactly. As I like to say when people ask me whether I'm a relativist or not, "Well, it depends on the situation...."

    Get one of these so-called anti-relativists to take a principled position on violence or coercion or an assortment of other moral issues and you find out they are much more relativistic than they believe they are. And don't get me started on many fundamentalist Christians, another subset of absolutists, who while they claim to follow the Bible to the letter, are not about to turn the other cheek in practice, or to eschew government use of violence or coercion, or to offer someone the shirt off their back, or to live in poverty, or to avoid eschew judging others, and on and on.

  • ||

    Medved settles for smugly assuming his own moral and intellectual superiority

    "I'm laughing at the superior intellect!"

  • Francois Tremblay||

    Actually, I explain the nature of conservatism and liberalism in a recent article on Strike the Root. Conservatism is the paradigmatic instance of vertical collectivism: belief in hierarchies, authorities, and the primacy of the group, "us v them" mentality. The framework of vertical collectivism answers all the questions asked by Mr. Sullum in his article.

  • tros||

    So I guess that makes me a conservative anarchist. I think that people who do not understnad the REALITY of moral relativism are dangerous to the people around them, and more importantly to the Earth's environment. The reason LSD is illegal is that when you give it to Christian Fundamentalists they become Al-Quaida terrorists, figuratively speaking of course. This is illustrated vividly in the movie The Devil and Daniel Johnston.

    In other words, to really believe that YOUR PERSONAL TRIP is the only real one makes you CERTAFIABLY BATSHIT CRAZY.

    Don't worry, we have a full length feature film in the works to explain this and other concepts that might have seemed incoherent in the past. It's called The War On Retards: Operation "Irradiate All Faith Based Programs"

  • ||

    It might not be so much that these disparate things - lower taxes, anti-flag burning,etc. - have some mysterious underlying force connecting them together as much as that a lot of people are bandwagon folks. A couple of people share the same opinion on a couple of issues and after awhile these seemingly unconnected associations take on a power on their own. People jump unto the bandwagon with both feet, as their friends, the people they grew up with, the majority of the peope in their party share the same beliefs. Some do stray outside of these firm party lines and say, "Hey, just because I'm in favor of abortion, I don't see why I have no right to protect myself with a handgun against would-be intruders." But that's unusual. We're social animals - questioning these issues and connections too deeply risks running afoul of the flock.

    Perhaps that's only part of the equation. It might be that some issues really do connect well-together - school prayer and banning pornography or abortion, for example. So, it's a dog breakfast of different forces that draws issues and people together. One underlying reason is not enough to explain it.

  • ||

    Poor Medved: he keeps insisting that libertarians should assimilate into the conservative camp, then inadvertently gives us all these excellent reasons why we shouldn't...

  • Kevin Carson||

    I understand the rationale behind conservatives' *rhetorical* support for free markets. But what about their *actual* support for corporatism? The "conservative" pols who talk most about "free markets" are in hock to the banks, the real estate industry, agribusiness, Big Pharma, and the copyright Nazis at the RIAA/MPAA.

  • ||

    he "core of conservatism," he says, is "distinctions and consequences," to which other political persuasions are oblivious or indifferent.

    This is blatantly false.

    Other political persuasions simply have a different set of consequences for a different set of actions.

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    How long do you think Medved will stay in the closet?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    War on Retards.....

    Wine on the monitor. Again.

  • ||

    Mr. Medved's column uses circular reasoning and doesn't display any ideas that we haven't seen before. The main character, played by Mr. Medved is smug, self involved and wholly unlikeable. I don't recommend this column for anyone who doesn't want to reinforce their own self righteousness. Medved is Russian for bear, and quite frankly, this reviewer hopes that he is eaten by one.

    1/2*
    Medved's column is rated G for "Good God, people pay this man to opine on things?"

  • Edward||

    I'm certainly glad that libertarians aren't conservatives. Fuck the status quo.

  • Hayekian Dreamer||

    I'm curious, since Medved rejects "moral relativism" surely that means that someone's morals are "right" and "good" and some are "bad" and "wrong." Well, that's all fine and dandy, but then the question becomes "whose opinion of morality should be the standard for conservatism?" Should conservatives follow Giuliani's conservatism? Gingrich's? McCain's? Are people who disagree with whatever "non relativist" moral standard we use not conservative?

    It seems fairly obvious that Medved is not advocating a truly objective morality free from relativism, instead he's covertly arguing for Evangelical Christianity as the only truly "good" morality. Presumably then non-Christians and perhaps even non-Evangelicals are no longer to be considered conservative. Barry Goldwater would weep at what the "conservative" party has become.

  • ||

    juris imprudent wins the thread with an excellent Star Trek II reference.

  • ||

    Isn't the common thread to conservativism just what is advertised in the name; that is, being conservative and having an overly fond view of the past and tradition?

    It seems to me a lot of the stuff that conservatives oppose is just stuff that is new and not part of What People Have Always Thought™, and most of the stuff that they support is. Sure, they accept advances in technology and so on, but only if they are an improvement on older techniques that fall under WPHAT™ (e.g., killin' "bad guys" or making sure the neighbor's aren't living in sin).

  • Armed and Hammered||

    I've been saying for years that I'm easy to get along with as long as I get exactly what I want - which works for me, more or less, but is a shitty political agenda.

  • ||

    "Isn't the common thread to conservativism just what is advertised in the name; that is, being conservative and having an overly fond view of the past and tradition?"

    Sure! They just want things to be the same way they always used to be (or the way they perceived or remember them to be) and they want them to stay that way. It's why they're called conservatives.

  • ||

    Other political persuasions simply have a different set of consequences for a different set of actions

    And isn't the seeming inability to recognize this the real core of conservatism?

  • Guy Montag||

    As long as it's . . . Or pornography. Or lap dances.

    I knew I wasn't that kind of Conservative! I love all of that stuff and want it to be legal too! Even the stuff I don't like I want to be legal. I just don't want all of that Socialistic "tax the hell out of it" crap getting in the way.

    I am beginning to wonder that when Leftists say "legalize [list of drugs they like] and tax the hell out of it" if they are just trying to pull some BS to make it palatable to Conservatives, but are so clueless as to what Conservatives appreciate they blow it at the end. Frequently "make lots of money off of it" follows.

    My responding with "what the hell is taxing it high going to do, besides lock in a black market?" apparently takes them off script too far to continue a discussion. Yes, as Ann Coulter has observed, they can rise to their highest level of expression, throwing food, if this is taken too far.

    "Conservatives" who favor a 'windfall profits tax' are a whole different drinking game.

    Don't forget to support women in the arts! They work for tips and tips alone!

  • Guy Montag||

    Sure! They just want things to be the same way they always used to be (or the way they perceived or remember them to be) and they want them to stay that way. It's why they're called conservatives.

    Yea, that's what I think of when I hear all of those Global Warming folks proposing any crackpot scheme to control the temperature of the earth: "Those Conservatives are out of control."

  • Guy Montag||

    How long do you think Medved will stay in the closet?

    What is with being so nosey? Can't you find a date?

  • Guy Montag||

    The Right wants control of your body. The Left wants control of your production.

    Tea, that's what I think whenever one of these smoking bans, transfat bans, etc. goes through the council in DC, SF, NYC . . . "Wow, those places are soooo Conservative!"

  • ||

    I agree in principle with Ashley's argument, although to counter M. Montag's customarily cogent point (ahem) I would say that conservatives prefer to interfere where you live and liberals where you work; but the distinction between the locations is far less important than the mutual desire to interfere, which is what distinguishes the authoritarian or collectivist tradition in Western politics from the individualist tradition.

  • Guy Montag||

    peachy,

    Very good. Yes, I prefer to distinguish between interfearers and individualists as the whole Left/Right/Conservative/Liberal thing just seems to fall apart with a few examples.

    I do have a tendancy to lump nosieness into the Left and frequently accuse self-identified "Conservatives" as being Leftist when they suggest such things.

  • ||

    Except that conservatives want to interfere with your work if it involves things they don't like. And liberals want to interfere at home if it involves fatty food or whatnot.

    I'm tempted to say that it's just a matter of two coalitions. A bunch of groups held their noses and decided they could stomach each other more than they could stomach the other camp.

    The problem, however, is that they do more than hold their noses. Sure, not every conservative is in complete agreement with all of the other elements of their coalition, but a lot of these positions do seem to be pretty strongly correlated. Support for gun rights does, for some reason, seem to be strongly correlated with opposition to abortion and (at least a few years ago) support for the war in Iraq. (Yeah, yeah, that isn't true among libertarians, but libertarians or conservative-leaning libertarians or whatever are a pretty small element in the conservative coalition.)

    It may be that coalitions are the best way to think about political parties, but that's not necessarily true of the broader group of people who call themselves conservatives, at least when they're talking about ideas rather than forming alliances behind candidates. It seems that, for whatever reason, certain ideas are strongly correlated with each other. No, not perfectly correlated, but strongly correlated.

    I don't claim any insight on why this is.

  • ||

    Here's the one I really don't get:

    Find yourself somebody who talks the really, really good talk on the Patriot Act and domestic spying and other current civil liberties issues in the war on terror...and then ask that person what he or she thinks about Canadian healthcare. And then tear your hair out in frustration.

    Then find yourself somebody who talks the really, really good talk on taxes and gun control...and then ask that person what he or she thinks about homosexuals. And then tear your hair out in frustration.

    No, it doesn't always work out that way, but all too often it does.

  • Guy Montag||

    Then find yourself somebody who talks the really, really good talk on taxes and gun control...and then ask that person what he or she thinks about homosexuals. And then tear your hair out in frustration.

    Yea, I pull my hair out on this board with that one. Since I don't care who does who I am somehow a "homophobe". When I see someone getting nosey I call them on it (see above) and I do the same thing when they get too nosey about anybody's guns too.

  • Antarctic Penguin||

    Many American conservatives do not even consider the Saudi government to be "our friends".

  • Antarctic Christian||

    " instead he's covertly arguing for Evangelical Christianity as the only truly "good" morality. Presumably then non-Christians and perhaps even non-Evangelicals are no longer to be considered conservative. Barry Goldwater would weep at what the "conservative" party has become."

    Umm ... I would like to point out that Medved is NOT Christian, he is Jewish.

  • ||

    People who wear mustaches like Medved have forfeited their right to privacy.

  • Antarctic Penguin||

    WOW I do not know why I typed in my name above as "Antarctic Christian" I am a penguin, not a Christian. Sorry for the typo. That fowl above is me

  • ||

    The "core of conservatism," he says, is "distinctions and consequences," to which other political persuasions are oblivious or indifferent. "Conservatives feel impelled to make clear distinctions between right and wrong," Medved avers. "We reject all notions of moral relativism." Not only that, he says, but conservatives want society to "encourage the good and discourage the bad." They always ask, "Will a given policy or initiative help society to encourage good behavior and discourage destructiveness?"?

    To sum this up, conservatism according to Medved is both consequentialist and deontological. Doh! Back to the drawing board, poncho!

  • Guy Montag||

    This whole thing seems to be slipping into that mistake, that I have not noticed yet but it seems to be getting close, that Republican == Conservative and Democrat == Liberal.

    Those are big mistakes to make as anybody who has listened to the G. Gordon Liddy show for more than 10 min. can find out.

    Same same with any other pair of data points.

    I had roughly the same beliefs now as I did when I was voting Democrat. The only reason that I can tell that I voted that way was because of blind partaisanship, especially after I finally bothered to look at how my Rep. votes.

  • Guy Montag||

    To sum this up, conservatism according to Medved is both consequentialist and deontological. Doh! Back to the drawing board, poncho!

    I think the anti-dentite defimination league needs to be made aware of him too.

  • ||

    >>The Right wants control of your body. The
    >>Left wants control of your production.

    >Tea, that's what I think whenever one of
    >these smoking bans, transfat bans, etc. goes
    >through the council in DC, SF, >NYC . . . "Wow, those places are soooo >Conservative!"

    How about "Liberals want to save your body, Conservatives want to save your soul," as a rubric? Porn, gambling, etc. - bad for the soul. Trans-fats, poverty, smoking - bad for the body. Drugs - bad for both.

  • Guy Montag||

    How about "Liberals want to save your body, Conservatives want to save your soul," as a rubric?

    I am not sure any of this can be boiled down to an accurate 'bumper sticker', especially when you toss in killing babies and old people :)

  • ||

    Was it Cloud or Ermsberger who urged libertarians to use the left and right's cognitive dissonance against themselves?
    "If you can ban trans fats entering someone's body, why can't you ban an abortion suction tube?" "If you support a military draft to force someone to do something for two years that they don't want to do, then what is wrong with simply raising their taxes to do something they don't want to pay for?"

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Back in the day, politics was easy to understand. The Right let you keep your money in return for controlling your private life, the Left let you do as you pleased as long as it could take all your money. Then both sides got wise to the fact that they could get away with grabbing and controlling a good deal of both.

  • ||

    Anybody whose interested can go read Thomas Sowell's book A Conflict of Vision or Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate. Both deal with the origins of political differences.

    I consider myself a conservative/libertarian mainly out of my distrust for human reason. Most people have a hard enough time running their own lives, I don't trust a beurucrat with mine. Social sciences should one day be given the same level of respect by educated people as theology.

    And I hate the cult victimization with every bone in my body.

  • ||

    "The rulers of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia "aren't all that good," Medved concedes, but they're our friends. So much for eschewing moral relativism and making clear distinctions between right and wrong."

    A conservative habit that goes back through Reagan's snuggly relationship with Saddam and terrorists throughout Latin America, on through Nixon and Kissinger, back through the United Fruit coups in Hondorus and Guatemala. Some morality.

    And let's not forget the greatest advance of decency in America during the 20th century, the Civil Rights Movement. Where were the conservatives? Oh, right, trying to shut down the whole thing in order to save lunch counter owners from having to treat black people like human beings. Agree or not, that's not putting clear definitions of morality first.

    "Why does opposition to gun control tend to go hand in hand with support for drug control (National Review's editors being an honorable exception on that score)? What does banning flag burning have in common with repealing restrictions on political ads? Why does pro-life on abortion and assisted suicide become pro-death on capital punishment? How does support for freedom of contract jibe with opposition to gay marriage? What do lower taxes have to do with prohibiting cloning? How is support for free markets reconciled with bans on migrant labor and online gambling?"

    The right seeks to maintain and expand existing relationships of power.

  • thoreau||

    joe, let's take your paradigm of existing power relationships and run with it a bit: How long would a system of regulation or redistribution or whatever have to be in place before you'd consider it an existing relationship of power?

  • Dan T.||

    The problem with today's conservatism is that the economic system that it champions (capitalism) produces and encourages the very behaviors they find immoral.

    They resolve this problem by blaming "the left" and their various alleged institutions (the media, academia, unions).

    For example, they will blame "Hollywood" for mass-producing trashy movies when it's the system of capitalism that makes these movies possible in the first place.

    Mr. Sullum is correct: it's a mess.

  • Andy||

    This is one of the most frustrating things about arguing with people who are "liberal" or "conservative" - rather than someone who embraces a real system of values, or decision-making matrix. Most of the time, when arguing with someone of a "party" persuasion, they'll get frustrated and assert that my position is "unrealistic." Inevitably, I'll try to point out that my system is far more realistic than theirs.

    In a representative system, an elected representative has to make thousands of decisions a year, the vast majority of which will never come up on the campaign trail. When your position essentially comes down to "I do what I think is right in each individual situation" you have no position in a representative government, unless you are going to Washington yourself. Otherwise, you're just trying to elect someone who lines up with you on one or two big issues, then hoping for the best. Then, of course, you're shocked when, for example, most Democrats turn out not to be anti-war, because nobody thought to ask them about that 10 years ago.

    In short, that sort of political decision making essentially comes down to "the world would be better if I ran it." A nice sentiment, but nothing one can do anything with. I honestly think most people would be a lot better off if they took the time to figure out how they want to make their decisions.

    Of course, in my opinion, the best way of dealing with this whole train of logic is to point out:
    "So, essentially, you're saying that you're capable of making the correct decisions when you're given a choice."
    "Yes"
    "But no one else is? Or at the very least, they're better off when you make them for them?"

    Really, the only people I can admire are the people who are willing to just concede that, yes, they think they know best.

  • Guy Montag||

    Anybody whose interested can go read Thomas Sowell's book A Conflict of Vision

    IIRC, that is the one that David Weigel urges folks to read. Maybe it is a different one with a similar title.

    For example, they will blame "Hollywood" for mass-producing trashy movies when it's the system of capitalism that makes these movies possible in the first place.

    Umm, maybe those alleged "Conservatives" in Church do. The rest of us note that very popular movies don't seem to get too many awards.

    Kinda opposite of the folks who review music that hardly anybody wants to listen to and then proclaim that it is too "advanced" for tha masses.

  • ||

    "A conservative habit that goes back through Reagan's snuggly relationship with Saddam and terrorists throughout Latin America, on through Nixon and Kissinger, back through the United Fruit coups in Hondorus and Guatemala. Some morality." - joe

    joe's channeling Chomsky again, folks. It's likely to be a rough few weeks on HNR...

    "And let's not forget the greatest advance of decency in America during the 20th century, the Civil Rights Movement. Where were the conservatives? Oh, right, trying to shut down the whole thing in order to save lunch counter owners from having to treat black people like human beings. Agree or not, that's not putting clear definitions of morality first." - joe

    Charge being led by who? Oh, yeah, Southern Democrats - yet another flank of the party joe consistently shills for.

    "The right seeks to maintain and expand existing relationships of power." - joe

    So does the left. Only a guy who refuses to open his eyes could fail to see that both sides suck.

    "Why does opposition to gun control tend to go hand in hand with support for drug control?"

    For conservatives, this is definitely a problem. I love the fact that libertarians have no cognitive dissonance on this point.

    "What does banning flag burning have in common with repealing restrictions on political ads?"

    Nothing.

    "Why does pro-life on abortion and assisted suicide become pro-death on capital punishment?"

    Again, it's easy to not have cognitive dissonance on this, because I am pro-choice, anti-death penalty, and pro-assisted suicide. ON the face these things seem to be in conflict you say? Nope. They all are in support of individual rights and against gov't power. (Though I think it makes sense to be pro-life and pro-death penalty - both stem from a desire to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. I just don't think the gov't should have the power of life and death over its citizens. There's no way to free someone who's been unjustly executed.)

    "How does support for freedom of contract jibe with opposition to gay marriage?"

    It doesn't. One is an issue based on conservative views about the economy and one is based on their views about society. In their world, the two operate on different priniciples.

    "What do lower taxes have to do with prohibiting cloning?"

    I can't even see how these to things could be linked, frankly, or even contradictory.

    "How is support for free markets reconciled with bans on migrant labor and online gambling?"

    It can't be. See society vs. economy argument above.

    The problem with both "conservative Republicans" and "liberal Democrats" is that neither are based on PRINCIPLE. They're both just ad hoc collections of conflicting knee-jerk positions that each party hopes will bring more rubes into their tent than the other guy's tent. The only underlying motivator for the positions on either side is a desire to garner political power.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    "joe, let's take your paradigm of existing power relationships and run with it a bit: How long would a system of regulation or redistribution or whatever have to be in place before you'd consider it an existing relationship of power?"

    Exactly seven years, four months, six days, fourteen hours and thirty-six minutes. Happy?

    But seriously...

    First of all, I meant to write "traditional relations of power," or "established relations of power, "not "existing." Obviously, conservatives reject to existing relations of power in many places.

    Second, let's keep in mind that there are mutually exclusive conservatisms, based on which relations of power are traditional in any time and place. Conservatives in Saudi Arabia have deep attachments to certain relations of power that conservatives in the U.S. deplore.

    But to finally answer your question, in cases of radical inversions of power relationships, such as in the USSR, it's a gradual process of transition. When does a black cloth in bleach become light enough to call white? Who knows? It gets lighter, and at some point it's pretty white.

    By the 1980s, the rule of the Communist Party over the means of production in the USSR was so established that the "Communist hardliners" were the conservatives and Gorbachev was the liberal, with his freer-market-driven ideas.

  • andy||

    Joe! You're alive! And pretending that the "Poor Little Rich Man" thread never even existed! Neither surprising nor admirable!

  • ||

    "Charge being led by who? Oh, yeah, Southern Democrats - yet another flank of the party joe consistently shills for."

    Hey, look, the first one to fall in the "Democrat-Reupblican" trap Guy warned us about was rob, who can write enough about how far above partisanship he is.

    You would do well to stop thinking of everything in such partisan terms, rob.

  • Guy Montag||

    rob,

    Thanks for taking care of that. I just did not have the energy.

    BTW, I happen to be "pro-choice-life", i.e., I encourage a different choice than you, anti-death penalty and anti-assisted suicide.

    Only other thing I will tag on here is they were called the DixieCRATS not the DixiePUBLICANS, to add to where you were going :)

  • ||

    "You would do well to stop thinking of everything in such partisan terms, rob." - joe

    It never fails to amuse me how you think partisanship comes from calling out the side you don't like.

  • Guy Montag||

    Hey, look, the first one to fall in the "Democrat-Reupblican" trap Guy warned us about was rob, who can write enough about how far above partisanship he is.

    Actually, he seems to have negotiated that trap well, by being able to bring it up in proper context.

    [sighs] I see another Chomsky stream of conciousness up there that I am not going to bother with.

  • Grotius||

    Focusing on the policy prescriptions of liberals and conservatives isn't going to get at the root of either.

  • ||

    That should have read:

    It never fails to amuse me how you think partisanship comes from calling out the side you like.

    Unlike you, my views fall into neither camp, because they're based on principle, rather than partisanship. When you find that I disagree with your partisan views, perhaps you should make an argument based on my position, rather than simply ascribing me to other team. Of course, I've been telling you this for a LONG time, but you simply refuse to believe that anyone who doesn't agree with you must be on the other guy's team. (See also, previous post about both parties not caring a whit about priniciple but about garnering power.)

  • ||

    Gah! I did it again! That should read:

    ...but you simply refuse to believe that anyone who doesn't agree with you ISN'T on the other guy's team.

  • Fluffy||

    I have to disagree with this analysis fundamentally.

    The grouping of libertarians and conservatives together on "the right" is an accident of history - geopolitical and electoral.

    The real reason these two groups are together is opposition to Communism. Libertarians are opposed to Communism because it's evil, and conservatives are opposed to Communism because it's atheistic [which is one of the only things it got right].

    Since the major issue of the post-1929 era was opposition to world communism and "pinkism" in the United States, these groups could cooperate and think they had a lot in common.

    The performance of the conservative movement since the fall of the Soviet Union demonstrates pretty conclusively that the coalition needs to be dumped on the ashbin of history. The Bush presidency is the best evidence of that, combining as it does big government, repression of civil liberties, torture, hatred of science, etc. I have more in common with Nader, even as big an asshole as he is, than I have with Bush or Ralph Reed.

    One more generation, and the evangelicals will forget that those godless Communists were economic collectivists, and their residual respect for property will disappear, too, and then their fundamental social and political collectivism will express itself economically, too. Watch.

  • Grotius||

    I've drawn on this before re: Sowell's book (both openly and otherwise) and I'll simply link to it now: http://www.gmu.edu/departments/economics/bcaplan/sowell

  • Grotius||

    Fluffy,

    That makes a lot of sense really. I hadn't considered it from that perspective.

  • Andy||

    That's a terrific point, Fluffy, that I had never really considered, but I think you're absolutely right. You're already starting to see it, like in Michael Gerson's work in Newsweek recently in which he talked about "new conservative interests" in charity, and the absolutely disgusting "faith-based, government-funded charity" initiatives. I have to admit though, it leaves me a little terrified.

  • ||

    rob,

    You're line of bull about how nonpartisan you are would gain a patina of credibility if you were ever, ever seen criticizing Republicans and conservatives.

    As opposed to including in your lengthy anti-liberal/anti-Democrat screeds little parentheticals about how totally non-partisan you are.

  • ||

    Guy,

    "Actually, he seems to have negotiated that trap well, by being able to bring it up in proper context."

    Actually, he "negotiated" it by arguing that pro-segregation Southern Democrats were liberals, thus falling into the trap of assuming that Democrat=liberal.

  • Guy Montag||

    The Bush presidency is the best evidence of that, combining as it does big government, repression of civil liberties, torture, hatred of science, etc.

    You were doing great until you started making things up. First, you must have him confused with a fiscal Conservative. The only people who claimed him to be that were Leftists trying to make up a false argument. Well, maybe him a little too, but not in practice.

    What civil liberty has been repressed? Being able to freely talk to your handler in Iran from a phone in the US?

    When you expand the definition of "torture" to mean anything uncomfortable then joe and Dave W. (commentor not the staffer) are much more guilty than Bush or his subordinants.

    Hatred of science? Where did that come from? Oh, all of that AGW, hydrogen and ethonol nonsense he keeps wanting funds for. Yea, we can agree there.

  • ||

    Fluffy - Your point certainly does go quite a ways toward explaining the libertarian opposition to communism and leftist/liberalism in general.

    I like your take on the right's fixation on religion, but I'm not sure that I totally agree that the right's opposition was mostly due to Communism's atheist bent. I think a lot of conservative opposition to Communism was nationalistic in nature, as well. The John Birch types come to mind... I suspect that the nationalist side of conservatism would have opposed any system that was monolithic and counter-U.S. aims, really.

  • Guy Montag||

    Actually, he "negotiated" it by arguing that pro-segregation Southern Democrats were liberals, thus falling into the trap of assuming that Democrat=liberal.

    They were just as Liberal as Charlie Rangel is now with his recurring slavery restoration act.

  • ||

    Fluffy,

    I agree about the historical accident that put the libertarians in with the "traditionalist conservatives," but let's not forget that their common anti-leftism on the international scene was also reflected in their anti-unionism and anti-New Dealism on the domestic front.

  • ||

    Medved is a lightweight loudmouth. Always has been, always will be.

  • Andy||

    Guy,

    Wait, are you really saying there hasn't been a tremendous amount of damage done to civil liberties under this administration?

    "Enemy combatant" trials, FBI warrantless phone taps, the library rules... this isn't enough for you?

  • ||

    Just to make the attacks on Medved more productive, he's not an Evangelical Christian. He's a Jew.

  • Grotius||

    joe,

    What is wrong with being against the New Deal? Especially in light of how many of its programs we've rejected over the years.

  • Equality 7-2521||

    After posting that, I realized it sounded like I'm suggesting attacking Jews or that you're attacking him because he's Jewish in a racist sort of way.

    I'm not. His irrational conservatism, though certainly in the mainstream, isn't identifiable with the Evangelical movement exclusively is my point.

  • ||

    Grotius,

    Nope, not interested.

    I was just laying out the political dynamics, not discussing who was right.

  • Grotius||

    joe,

    Anyway, I don't know how many "traditional conservatives" were opposed to aspects of the New Deal like the TVA and so forth (indeed, I'd argue, that many favor such things).

  • Grotius||

    joe,

    Indeed, a lot of what one would call traditional conservatives today were in fact part of the Democratic coalition under FDR, so...

  • Grotius||

    Anyway, the more I learn about people the more I realize that people are (a) tribal and (b) that those tribes never have a really "rationally" coherant philosophy.

  • ||

    "You're line of bull about how nonpartisan you are would gain a patina of credibility if you were ever, ever seen criticizing Republicans and conservatives." - joe

    Really? You know a LOT of pro-gay marriage/gay rights, pro-choice, anti-religion, anti-death penalty, pro-1st Amendment, pro-flag burning, pro-civil liberties, pro-stem cell research, etc. Republicans?

    On the other hand... I am also pro-military, pro-fiscal responsibility, anti-big gov't, pro-school choice, anti-affirmative action, pro-civil liberties, etc. (civil liberties being something that both sides want to expand or curtail depending on which liberty is being discussed).

    Nice try, joe, but anyone who believes you on this is not capable of reading what I've written.

    "As opposed to including in your lengthy anti-liberal/anti-Democrat screeds little parentheticals about how totally non-partisan you are." - joe

    Have you ever noticed that those posts are usually in reactoin to you? Can you think your way through to an answer on why my responses to your posts might seem partisan to you? (Maybe you should just go stand in front of a mirror.)

  • Guy Montag||

    Wait, are you really saying there hasn't been a tremendous amount of damage done to civil liberties under this administration?

    Yes.

  • Andy||

    Guy,

    And your response to my example would be?

  • ||

    Anyway, the more I learn about people the more I realize that people are (a) tribal and (b) that those tribes never have a really "rationally" coherent philosophy.

    That is the heart of it. Most seemingly incomprehensible human behavior suddenly makes sense when you view it in terms of tribalism. This is especially true of politics and organized violence of any sort.

  • ||

    "Wait, are you really saying there hasn't been a tremendous amount of damage done to civil liberties under this administration?" - Andy

    Andy, compared to Anti-Sedition Act and every other war-time set of civil liberties infringements (Lincoln's Civil War suspension of habeas corpus, for example), "'Enemy combatant' trials, FBI warrantless phone taps, the library rules" just don't seem that bad...

    Yeah, they still suck, but I like to think of it as an example of how far we've come that these things were about as far as they could go - and PATRIOT still gets a lot of backlash.

    Besides, "enemy combatant" trials are pretty common in the military justice system...

  • ||

    Grotius,

    True enough, many of those who would today be called "Southern conservatives" were big New Deal supporters. But at the time, they were not "men of the right." At that time, decades before the Civil Rights movement and the rest of the 60s, one could be segregationist and authoritarian and still be, if not a progressive, at least a wing of the New Deal coalition, which extended from the left to the center (or maybe even center right).

    But let's not let the point get lost here - the subject is what constitutes the Right. Opposition to the ideas behind the New Deal, from the 20s to the 90s, was a defining characteristic of American conservatism.

  • ||

    Anyway, the more I learn about people the more I realize that people are (a) tribal and (b) that those tribes never have a really "rationally" coherent philosophy.

    That is the heart of it. Most seemingly incomprehensible human behavior suddenly makes sense when you view it in terms of tribalism. This is especially true of politics and organized violence of any sort.

  • ||

    'That is the heart of it. Most seemingly incomprehensible human behavior suddenly makes sense when you view it in terms of tribalism. This is especially true of politics and organized violence of any sort." - Number 6

    Dude, you are hereby anointed "Ruler Of The Thread."

  • ||

    Appy Polly Loggies for the double post. The squirrels have staged a counter-coup, it appears.

  • Grotius||

    Number 6,

    It of course has its benefits and its costs.

    Anyway, it is why arguing about doctrine with a religionist is so often a fruitless endeavour; they didn't adopt that religion because of doctrine or because of the argument from design or what have you, indeed appears to be often the reverse.

  • Grotius||

    joe,

    You make my point. At best any coalition is going to be filled with lots of lumpy irregularities. Which is why I suspect that lots of the conservatives who were part of a coalition of conservatives and libertarians weren't in toto opposed to the New Deal.

  • Andy||

    Rob,

    First things first - Guy's original denial was that any civil liberty was being repressed (short of talking Iraqi handlers).

    Second, relativism in the face in the face of the denial of freedom is about the weakest sauce I've ever encountered. An administration that attacks civil liberties isn't given a gold star because it does so LESS than a previous administration.

    Third, your use of the phrase "war-time" is misleading. What little domestic threat America faces is no greater than it was after Oklahoma City, and to say that our wars of choice in the Middle East justify "war-time" measures is to say that any time we put soldiers abroad, we forfeit our rights to do.

    Fourth, while your optimism is admirable, you're forgetting a key difference. With instant media and "individual reporting" the awareness of these events is higher, and the unknown timeline is shorter. You could be impressed its only gotten this far, or be horrified that even when watching the events unfold in real time, its gotten this far.

  • Andy||

    And "enemy combatant" trials of US, non-military citizens do NOT "happen all the time." that's a disgusting level of casual apologism for the denial of a plethora of absolutely critical rights.

  • ||

    "Have you ever noticed that those posts are usually in reactoin to you?"

    Yes, and I've also noticed how utterly disinterested you are in posting similar criticisms of any conservatives or conservative ideas whatsoever.

    And how eagerly you parrot whatever conservative spin of the day is coming out of the Republican Noise Machine, and downplay concerns about the Bush administration. To wit,

    "Andy, compared to Anti-Sedition Act and every other war-time set of civil liberties infringements (Lincoln's Civil War suspension of habeas corpus, for example), "'Enemy combatant' trials, FBI warrantless phone taps, the library rules" just don't seem that bad...

    Yeah, they still suck, but I like to think of it as an example of how far we've come that these things were about as far as they could go - and PATRIOT still gets a lot of backlash.

    Besides, "enemy combatant" trials are pretty common in the military justice system..."

    The abuses of this administration are no different from what other presidents have done, so there's nothing to worry about? Gee, you don't say...

  • ||

    Wow Mr. Sullum, aren't you quite full of faulty premises.

    Why does opposition to gun control tend to go hand in hand with support for drug control (National Review's editors being an honorable exception on that score)?

    It's only opposition to gun control for the 'in crowd'. Ask them how many believe in handing out guns to immigrants and felons? Their actions belie their rhetoric.

    What does banning flag burning have in common with repealing restrictions on political ads?
    And how many Republicans voted for McCain-Feingold? They're only for repealing restrictions on political ads only as far as they are confident they have more money to advertise with. Makes sense doesn't it?

    Why does pro-life on abortion and assisted suicide become pro-death on capital punishment?

    I haven't seen them be very pro-life with respect to saving black and brown babies from not just abortion, but malaria, cholera and myriads of other diseases. Is it just pro-white-life?

    How does support for freedom of contract jibe with opposition to gay marriage?

    How does support for freedom of contract support overwhelming Republican support for the anti-gay contract amendment in Virginia? Oh right, gays aren't part of the 'in crowd' and thus don't get to be included in the benefits conservatives try to implement for themselves.

    What do lower taxes have to do with prohibiting cloning?

    That makes better sense when you pair lower taxes with greater debt and an unsupportable budget.

    How is support for free markets reconciled with bans on migrant labor and online gambling?

    And since when were conservatives pro-free-market? They've always been for corporatism and socializing risk while privatizing profit.

    Apparently Mr. Sullum, you've bought into the propaganda by taking conservatives at their word instead of judging them by their actions. When you examine their actions instead of listening to their self-proclaimed ideology, there isn't any contention between the scenarios you have set up.

  • ||

    Grotius,

    "You make my point. At best any coalition is going to be filled with lots of lumpy irregularities." Yes, certainly. But "liberaL" and "conservative" describe ideologies, not coalitions. There are often conservatives in coalitions led by liberals, and vice-versa.

  • Grotius||

    joe,

    I think an ideology is a coalition, or a grouping, or whatever term you want to call it. Honestly, how many liberals or conservatives have really ever delved into the roots or underbelly of their "ideology" and existed their for a while? In my experience it is not all that common.

  • Grotius||

    Indeed, as often as anything people adopt these positions because that's how they were raised or for other similar reasons.

  • ||

    "An administration that attacks civil liberties isn't given a gold star because it does so LESS than a previous administration." - Andy

    Agreed. But it's good to not get too hysterical when something happens a little bit when history tells you that traditionally it's been far worse. The reaction is usually to a perceived threat, and I doubt many U.S. citizens have felt more threatened than they did in the wake of 9/11. That doesn't excuse it, but it helps to have the context.

    "Third, your use of the phrase 'war-time' is misleading. What little domestic threat America faces is no greater than it was after Oklahoma City, and to say that our wars of choice in the Middle East justify 'war-time' measures is to say that any time we put soldiers abroad, we forfeit our rights to do." - Andy

    There's nothing mis-leading about my use of "war-time," and it strikes me as disingenous to make that argument. Your points could have just as easily be made about World War I & II, and in some circles have probably been made about the Civil War. The actual likelihood of an attack on U.S. soil is probably greater now than WWI & 2, certainly more so than the Cold War. (Particularly in the continental U.S.)

    "while your optimism is admirable, you're forgetting a key difference. With instant media and 'individual reporting' the awareness of these events is higher, and the unknown timeline is shorter. You could be impressed its only gotten this far, or be horrified that even when watching the events unfold in real time, its gotten this far." - Andy

    I think that "individual reporting" is about as reliable as "anecdotal evidence." Sadly, they can swing a debate with emotional appeals, but that is rarely for the good. Emotional appeals are used by people who don't have faith in rational thought and discourse, in my experience.

  • Andy||

    I'm not sure that I believe that "liberalism" or "conservatism" as it exists today in America is even an ideology. I really don't see the system in the beliefs that tend to identify themselves under those umbrellas, as discussed above.

    And anyway, semantics aside, his point was clear and goes unanswered.

  • ||

    Grotius,

    You make some interesting points, and I certainly agree that group identity plays a role. And certainly, my idea about rooting for the underdog or the top dog contains more than a little of such group dynamics. Still, I'm not ready to abandon the ideological component altogether.

  • Grotius||

    Number 6,

    The fact that well educated persons (like myself) can be tribal is an indication of how tribal we are. Here I am discussing tribalism in a cool, rational manner yet I know that I am as prone to it as any other human being.

  • ||

    "Yes, and I've also noticed how utterly disinterested you are in posting similar criticisms of any conservatives or conservative ideas whatsoever." - joe

    What's it like to live in a paranoid world where everyone who doesn't agree with you on everything is your sworn enemy? Got jihad, joe?

    "And how eagerly you parrot whatever conservative spin of the day is coming out of the Republican Noise Machine, and downplay concerns about the Bush administration." - joe

    You're the guy in here shilling for the DNC's latest talking points, joe. Project much? But yeah, I'm cynical enough to believe that it's no surprise that the current administration is a cluster-fuck. I've been around long enough to realize that it's not any different than any other administration. Yep, I'm SO partisan!

    "The abuses of this administration are no different from what other presidents have done, so there's nothing to worry about?"

    Pound that straw man, joe, pound it...

    "Gee, you don't say..." - joe

    Uh, no, joe. I DIDN'T say that. Obviously, reading comprehension would just ruin your partisan outrage.

    joe - I agree with everything that metalgrid just posted. Now, about your partisanship insults...

  • Grotius||

    joe,

    I'd say that it is a complicated issue. That's not a novel observation I must admit, but I ask when I watch humans work in groups are a lot of the ideas that are floated around in such groups, a lot of the arguments that are made, etc. because of conscious, deliberately decided ideology, or because certain norms have been taught to these people. I think in a lot of cases it is just the result of the passing on of ideas generationally or because of a desire for group solidarity or similar things.

  • ||

    "And anyway, semantics aside, his point was clear and goes unanswered."

    Whose point has gone unanswered? Sorry, maybe I should work on MY reading comprehension skills...

  • ||

    "What's it like to live in a paranoid world where everyone who doesn't agree with you on everything is your sworn enemy?"

    I wouldn't know, troll boy. I have enjoyable, substantive, good natured debates with people who disagree with me on this site every day.

    "I've been around long enough to realize that it's not any different than any other administration." You've "been around long enough" to pretend there's nothing different going on, even when there obviously is. Yes, that makes you a partisan hack.

  • Grotius||

    Anyway, everyone gets my point by now I am sure and I'll stop belaboring it now. ;)

  • Grotius||

    joe,

    If you took sociology as an undergraduate did you watch those films where EVERYONE watched a fire in a store start and grow larger while waiting on some social cue from someone else?

  • Andy||

    Rob,

    So you concede that this administration has harmed American civil liberties. You concede that relativism isn't a defense. Beyond that, you're just arguing to argue.

    BUT - I like to argue, so... en garde

    In regards to "war-time," you totally skipped over my assertions regarding Oklahoma City. My point was terrorism was not a unique threat, and that any rational person could see that. Really, the only grounds for your argument here is a return to your point that the average American on American soil had more to fear than in other conflicts. Well, in regards to that point, someone smart once told me that "Emotional appeals are used by people who don't have faith in rational thought and discourse"

    The simple fact is that if you extend "the potential threat of terrorism" to be a "wartime" situation, you have officially put the US on "War footing" forever, and have ceded your freedoms forever, because that threat will never change. You might be comfortable with that, but frankly, you'd be wrong to be so.

    And in regards to individual reporting, you may have seen my earlier posts regarding my hatred for the concept on a lot of the same grounds you've already mentioned. But my point isn't that it somehow is more reliable, it's that it means we are AWARE of what's happening. Unlike, say, the Civil War, when news of a major change in civil liberties could take months or years to reach the general populace, we're looking at a time line of days, or even hours sometimes. So in my opinion, it's unfair to equate impact solely in terms of without considering knowledge of,immediacy of, and acquiescence to the impact of the violation.

    (And you casually passed over the fact that military tribunals for non-military US Citizens don't happen all the time, and they are a big deal, but I put it in a seperate post, so you may have missed it. Also, it's sort of just a.. you know... fact.)

  • ||

    Grotius,

    I wouldn't say deliberateness or conscious awareness are the borders of ideologyl. Ideology can be less-than fully articulated or conscious, and still be ideological. I didn't deduce my way to "all men are created equal." I was raised that way, but it's still part of my ideology.

  • Andy||

    Sorry, Grotius, I was referring to your original point in this thread...

    *Yes, certainly. But "liberaL" and "conservative" describe ideologies, not coalitions. There are often conservatives in coalitions led by liberals, and vice-versa.*

    Which I, at least, took to mean that painting historical conservatives as "Against the New Deal" is as silly as painting liberals today as "against the Iraq war." Because both groups lack a real system of beliefs, the variation within on an issue is to great to throw that sort of thing around.

  • Andy||

    Sorry:

    THIS post:

    *joe,

    You make my point. At best any coalition is going to be filled with lots of lumpy irregularities. Which is why I suspect that lots of the conservatives who were part of a coalition of conservatives and libertarians weren't in toto opposed to the New Deal.*

  • ||

    Andy,

    Not only does he go from "threat" to "wartime," but he apparently takes the additional step of going from "wartime" to "on the battlefield."

    Even during war, the government's authority to go beyond the scope of civil law is limited to areas of active military operation.

  • Grotius||

    joe,

    Well, I was raised a Christian, grew up in a mileau of what one would call populism, and then became something (at least formally) quite different. So it may be just a matter of personal experience.

  • Grotius||

    Andy,

    I'm confused. Just repeat your comment to me. Thanks. :)

  • Andy||

    Sigh, my point was just that you'd said tha:

    "You make my point. At best any coalition is going to be filled with lots of lumpy irregularities. Which is why I suspect that lots of the conservatives who were part of a coalition of conservatives and libertarians weren't in toto opposed to the New Deal."

    to joe

    and joe had objected with your use of coalition rather than ideology, but regardless of which word you used, the point, which i took to be that painting historical conservatives as "Against the New Deal" is as silly as painting liberals today as "against the Iraq war." Because both groups lack a real system of beliefs, the variation within on an issue is to great to throw that sort of thing around.

    was still a valid one, no matter what word was used.

  • Andy||

    I'm not skipping my morning coffee again any time soon! :)

  • ||

    "I wouldn't know, troll boy. I have enjoyable, substantive, good natured debates with people who disagree with me on this site every day." - joe

    With who? Granted, I may be a bit biased here, but you have contentious, snotty, snarky arguments in which you are insulting and engage in partisan-minded screeching with plenty of people here every day, too. Calling me a troll doesn't change the reality of your behaviors.

    "You've 'been around long enough' to pretend there's nothing different going on, even when there obviously is. Yes, that makes you a partisan hack." - joe

    As I was saying earlier about "contentious, snotty, snarky arguments in which you are insulting and engage in partisan-minded screeching." Explain the primary differences between today's political circus and that of the previous administration? Yeah, politicians are politicians and people in authority behave like people in authority. This isn't a novel observation, nor is it a partisan one, joe. No matter how hard you try to spin it.

    But you still cling to the idea that parroting the DNC's talking points here is somehow helping you paint me as a partisan? What's it like in your parallel universe?

  • Grotius||

    Andy,

    Ok, I get it now. Thanks.

  • ||

    "In regards to 'war-time,' you totally skipped over my assertions regarding Oklahoma City." - Andy

    Sorry, didn't mean to.

    "My point was terrorism was not a unique threat, and that any rational person could see that." - Andy

    Not a uniquue threat, true. But 9/11 was certainly different in that it was carried out by foreign agents and had even more devastating consequences than Oklahoma.

    "Really, the only grounds for your argument here is a return to your point that the average American on American soil had more to fear than in other conflicts." - Andy

    No, my argument is based on the idea that the American people NORMALLY freak out even more with even less provocation, and are even MORE willing to accept (and even advocate for) far greater curtailments of civil liberties.

    "The simple fact is that if you extend 'the potential threat of terrorism' to be a 'wartime' situation, you have officially put the US on 'War footing' forever, and have ceded your freedoms forever, because that threat will never change. You might be comfortable with that, but frankly, you'd be wrong to be so." - Andy

    No, I'm not comfortable with perpetual "war footing." But I don't think that even this threat is perpetual. Even world wars end.

    "in regards to individual reporting, you may have seen my earlier posts regarding my hatred for the concept on a lot of the same grounds you've already mentioned. But my point isn't that it somehow is more reliable, it's that it means we are AWARE of what's happening. Unlike, say, the Civil War, when news of a major change in civil liberties could take months or years to reach the general populace, we're looking at a time line of days, or even hours sometimes." -Andy

    Actually, I think you vastly underestimate the turn-around time for news to hit the streets back in a time when daily newspapers published multiple editions throughout the day.

    "So in my opinion, it's unfair to equate impact solely in terms of without considering knowledge of,immediacy of, and acquiescence to the impact of the violation." - Andy

    Even back in the days of the Civil War, there was the "New York Draft Riots." I don't think the timing of discovery of such curtailments is the primary motivator here.

    "And you casually passed over the fact that military tribunals for non-military US Citizens don't happen all the time, and they are a big deal, but I put it in a seperate post, so you may have missed it. Also, it's sort of just a.. you know... fact.)" - Andy

    But military tribunals for enemy combatants and spies frequently happen in war time. To pretend that the U.S. is not engaged in war at this point just runs counter to "a.. you know... fact."

  • FBC3||

    The difference between then is simple. Libertarianism is a moral position.
    Conservativism is a political position.

  • ||

    "Then find yourself somebody who talks the really, really good talk on taxes and gun control...and then ask that person what he or ashe thinks about homosexuals. And then tear your hair out in frustration."

    I've been there far more times than I care to think about.

    If you want a picture of the frustration imparted by such hypocrisy, imagine beating your head against a wall -- forever.

  • Andy||

    Rob,

    Terrorism as a threat simply won't end. I can't be any clearer than that. Maybe terrorism as a threat from Al Qaeda will dry up, or even terrorism as a threat from Muslims, but as long as America is powerful and has enemies, terrorism will be a concern.

    With that in mind, if you're comfortable with the government being able to declare American citizens enemy combatants WITHOUT explaining why or offering a chance for defense, then, frankly, you will deserve what you get.

    And now to go line by line:

    It really doesn't matter whether Americans freak out more or less, as you yourself said, reason should be free from emotion. Violating civil liberties because you're scared is exactly the same as violating them because you're bored. It's a violation of a right you're not allowed to violate.

    Answered above.

    I assume by "underestimate" you mean "overestimate" - that is to say, you believe news reached the general populace faster. To which I can only say, in a large city, to some extent, of course. But not across the country. And it was MUCH easier to keep things quiet. Those points are just not deniable. I'm not sure what exactly you're trying to say here, my point is only that we shouldn't be congratulating ourselves for getting more worked up about violations when we know about them faster and in more detail. There's just no argument that that is the case.

    By its very nature, a draft is something people would find out about almost immediately... when drafted... I really don't know what you were going for there, either.

    As I mentioned above, Rob, innocent people have been captured and held under these programs. That's just a fact. It's happened. If you believe that you have to take some of the good with the bad because "we're at war" - well, it's not nice to wish ill on people, but I really hope that you're one of the people who ends up on the wrong list and goes to Gitmo. Because, frankly, it would be some comfort to know that the people being held there without access to charges, defense, or reason believed that decision was the right one.

  • Guy Montag||

    And your response to my example would be?

    I was in a meeting defending America from foreign enemies. Sorry about that.

    rob handled things pretty decent while I was away and I will add, you are just a crybaby. Go hide in your room.

  • ||

    "Even during war, the government's authority to go beyond the scope of civil law is limited to areas of active military operation." - joe

    Wrong on the facts, joe, and it was FDR who can show you that:

    "President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered military tribunals for eight German prisoners accused of planning sabotage in the United States as part of Operation Pastorius. Roosevelt's decision was challenged, but upheld, in Ex parte Quirin. All eight of the accused were convicted and sentenced to death. Six were executed by electric chair at the District of Columbia jail on August 8, 1942. Two who had given evidence against the others had their sentences reduced by Roosevelt to prison terms."

    And for your info:

    "In the 1942 Supreme Court of the United States ruling Ex Parte Quirin the court uses the terms with their historical meanings to distinguish between unlawful combatants and lawful combatants:

    Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful. The spy who secretly and without uniform passes the military lines of a belligerent in time of war, seeking to gather military information and communicate it to the enemy, or an enemy combatant who without uniform comes secretly through the lines for the purpose of waging war by destruction of life or property, are familiar examples of belligerents who are generally deemed not to be entitled to the status of prisoners of war, but to be offenders against the law of war subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_tribunal

  • Andy||

    Awww, Guy, you're a real toughie...

    Hopefully America's enemies aren't very smart!

  • ||

    rob,

    When 8 saboteurs are in an area behind the lines, conducting military operations to further the war effort, they bring the battlefield with them. The areas where the enemy carries out their military operations become areas of military operations.

  • ||

    "Terrorism as a threat simply won't end. I can't be any clearer than that. Maybe terrorism as a threat from Al Qaeda will dry up, or even terrorism as a threat from Muslims, but as long as America is powerful and has enemies, terrorism will be a concern." - Andy

    That's an assessment so dark and cynical that even I don't share it. And I'm a pretty dark and cynical guy.

    "With that in mind, if you're comfortable with the government being able to declare American citizens enemy combatants WITHOUT explaining why or offering a chance for defense, then, frankly, you will deserve what you get." - Andy

    Not comfortable, no. Which U.S. citizens are you referring to, by the way? A few names would be useful at this point, of U.S. citizens who were sitting at home when they were swept away to Gitmo to face a military tribunal. I'm having trouble coming up with a clear-cut example here...

    But I have faith, based on the history of these things, that the curtailment of civil liberties tends to correct itself with a bit of time. I don't think such curtailments are right, but I also think that worrying about public library patron reading lists being made available to investigators might be setting the bar a bit high...

    "It really doesn't matter whether Americans freak out more or less, as you yourself said, reason should be free from emotion. Violating civil liberties because you're scared is exactly the same as violating them because you're bored. It's a violation of a right you're not allowed to violate." - And

    I never argued that it was right, I simply said that it was nowhere near as bad as some people make it out to be, especially when considered in a historical context.

    "To which I can only say, in a large city, to some extent, of course. But not across the country. And it was MUCH easier to keep things quiet. Those points are just not deniable. I'm not sure what exactly you're trying to say here, my point is only that we shouldn't be congratulating ourselves for getting more worked up about violations when we know about them faster and in more detail. There's just no argument that that is the case.

    By its very nature, a draft is something people would find out about almost immediately... when drafted... I really don't know what you were going for there, either.

    "As I mentioned above, Rob, innocent people have been captured and held under these programs. That's just a fact. It's happened." - Andy

    And this is one of the tragedies of war that happen in every conflict. I don't see the point here...

    "If you believe that you have to take some of the good with the bad because 'we're at war' - well, it's not nice to wish ill on people, but I really hope that you're one of the people who ends up on the wrong list and goes to Gitmo." - Andy

    Wow, that's pretty harsh. I hope nothing of the sort ever happens to anyone. I realize it does, tho, and that it's part of the general nastiness of human warfare.

    "Because, frankly, it would be some comfort to know that the people being held there without access to charges, defense, or reason believed that decision was the right one." - Andy

    I'd appreciate it if you'd stop conflating my understanding of the tragedies inherent in war with condoning mistreatment of people. Just because people are unjustly convicted in the regular U.S. legal system doesn't mean that we should scrap the entire system.

  • Andy||

    Rob,

    Speaking of those pesky facts.

    Ex parte quirin applied to non-citizens under orders from a foreign government. Additionally, an ABA report on the case found that...

    "The Quirin case, however, does not stand for the proposition that detainees may be held incommunicado and denied access to counsel; the defendants in Quirin were able to seek review and they were represented by counsel. In Quirin, "The question for decision is whether the detention of petitioners for trial by Military Commission ... is in conformity with the laws and Constitution of the United States. " Quirin, 317 U.S. at 18. Since the Supreme Court has decided that even enemy aliens not lawfully within the United States are entitled to review under the circumstances of Quirin,11 that right could hardly be denied to U. S. citizens and other persons lawfully present in the United States, especially when held without any charges at all"

  • Andy||

    From those liberal jerks at the CATO Institute:

    "ose Padilla, a.k.a. Abdullah al-Muhajir, supposedly plotted to build and detonate a radiological "dirty bomb." He is a U.S. citizen. Yet he's being detained by the military -- indefinitely, without seeing an attorney, even though he hasn't been charged with any crime. Yaser Esam Hamdi is also a U.S. citizen. He, too, is being detained by the military -- indefinitely, without seeing an attorney, even though he hasn't been charged with any crime. Meanwhile, Zacarias Moussaoui, purportedly the 20th hijacker, is not a U.S. citizen. Neither is Richard Reid, the alleged shoe bomber. Both have attorneys. Both have been charged before federal civilian courts.

    What gives? Four men: two citizens and two non-citizens. Is it possible that constitutional rights -- like habeas corpus, which requires the government to justify continued detentions, and the Sixth Amendment, which assures a speedy and public jury trial with assistance of counsel -- can be denied to citizens yet extended to non-citizens? That's what the Bush administration would have us believe. Citizen Padilla's treatment is perfectly legitimate, insists Attorney General John Ashcroft, because Padilla is an "enemy combatant" and there is "clear Supreme Court precedent" to handle those persons differently, even if they are citizens."

  • VM||

    "but I really hope that you're one of the people who ends up on the wrong list and goes to Gitmo." - Andy"

    wow. just wow.

    Andy:Dave W :: Rob:Phil.

    just wow.

  • ||

    So you agree that captured terrorists and other unlawful enemy combatants can be tried by military tribunal? If the battlefield is wherever the unlawful enemy combatants are operating, what are you arguing here?

    Your two statements obviously contradict one another:

    "Not only does he go from "threat" to 'wartime,' but he apparently takes the additional step of going from 'wartime' to 'on the battlefield.' Even during war, the government's authority to go beyond the scope of civil law is limited to areas of active military operation." - joe

    "When 8 saboteurs are in an area behind the lines, conducting military operations to further the war effort, they bring the battlefield with them. The areas where the enemy carries out their military operations become areas of military operations." - joe

  • ||

    Who is Phil?

  • Andy||

    I stand by my comment - if you think that people being unfairly arrested is just "part of the unfortunate price," I'd rather you paid that price than someone else.

  • ||

    What drives many modern conservatives and many modern liberals is a fundamental desire to meddle.

    Sure they have different rationales for why they want to meddle. A conservative will prattle on for hours about how they are all for freedom and limited government but if the government doesn't do such and such or ban the things he dislikes, order will become chaos, black will become white, the wicked foreigners will pour across our borders, burn our flags and make us speak Spanish or Arabic, and cats and dogs will start living together and siring cute furry little dats.

    And liberals will let you know that the government doesn't have a right to interfere with your body but they must make you do certain things and take your property or the social contract will break down, people will starve in the streets, infants will be taken directly from the uterus to the factory floor, the arctic will melt, the heavens shall fall, and all of us shall drown in melted ice because we'll be too fat to tread water.

    Neither side recognizes the fallibility of human wisdom or entertains any doubt that without their vaunted wisdom to save us, we'd all perish. Because if they admitted that we all might just do fine without them, they'd have to find honest work and just might face the hangman's noose for their crimes.

    And then there are those of us who would rather the government stop meddling in everyone's lives, and have come to a measure of peace with the realization that this lack of meddling may just mean that their neighbor will be free to do things that the individualist doesn't like or approve of, other people in other nations will engage in cultural or religious practices that he doesn't like or approve of, but as long as no one steals from us or shoots at us, we can all live and let live.

  • VM||

    High#:
    hier

    (If I were a naughty Moose, the answer would be, "man with no arms and no legs in a hole". But I'm not into such base humor. Nah uh)

  • ||

    "So you agree that captured terrorists and other unlawful enemy combatants can be tried by military tribunal?" Grey area. I believe the "military tribunal" has to be a "regularly constituted tribunal," and operate according to due process as it is understood in the UCMJ.

    "If the battlefield is wherever the unlawful enemy combatants are operating, what are you arguing here?" That places where the unlawful enemy combatants are not operating, like my phone line, living room, and mail, are NOT the battlefield, and the government must operate according to civil law.

  • ||

    Neither of those statements are remotely contradictory towards the other.

  • ||

    "Is it possible that constitutional rights -- like habeas corpus, which requires the government to justify continued detentions, and the Sixth Amendment, which assures a speedy and public jury trial with assistance of counsel -- can be denied to citizens yet extended to non-citizens? That's what the Bush administration would have us believe." - Andy

    But last time I checked, it really doesn't matter what Bush's administration claims, because " The extraordinary government power to curb civil rights and liberties during crisis periods, such as times of war, lies with Congress and not the President. Article 1, Section 9, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress, and not the President, with the power to suspend the right of habeas corpus during a period of rebellion or invasion."

    "Citizen Padilla's treatment is perfectly legitimate, insists Attorney General John Ashcroft, because Padilla is an 'enemy combatant' and there is 'clear Supreme Court precedent' to handle those persons differently, even if they are citizens." - Andy

    See above.

  • Andy||

    Rob,

    You asked for an example, I gave you one. The fact that it's not constitutional is sort of my point...

  • ||

    "I believe the 'military tribunal' has to be a 'regularly constituted tribunal,' and operate according to due process as it is understood in the UCMJ." - joe

    Great. Now there's all the gray area surrounding what "regularly constituted" means. We can't even get consensuse on what "well-regulated militia" means...

    "That places where the unlawful enemy combatants are not operating, like my phone line, living room, and mail, are NOT the battlefield, and the government must operate according to civil law." - joe

    You and I agree there. So again, what are you arguing about with me?

    "Neither of those statements are remotely contradictory towards the other." - joe

    Frankly, maybe you're right and there's no conflict in those two statements. But they seem clearly contradictory to me. Maybe it's an example of you understanding what you mean and I just can't get it from reading what you wrote.

  • ||

    VM,
    Have we heard from Phil since Feb 10 2006?
    His website that he mentioned on that comment thread is gone. I can't find any recent mentions of Phil Dennison of Fairfax, VA on the internet.

  • Andy||

    Maybe he was so depressed about the cancer and the wife cheating that he flew to the Middle East, where he was killed by an Arab?

  • ||

    Andy - Jose Padilla was not at Gitmo, nor was he tried by tribunal. After all the legal wrangling he was tried by a federal court on crimina charges:

    "April 3, 2006: Supreme Court rejects Padilla's appeal, although Chief Justice John Roberts and other key justices said that they would be watching to ensure Padilla receives the protections "guaranteed to all federal criminal defendants."
    Aug. 16, 2006: Federal trial court in Miami, Florida dismisses conspiracy to murder charges against Padilla, leaving the most serious charge still pending a charge that could bring a 15 year prison sentence.
    Oct., 2006: Padilla moves to dismiss the federal criminal case against him alleging that he had been tortured and that proceedings had been delayed too long from his arrest in May of 2002.
    Jan. 30, 2007: The U.S. Court of Appeals reverses the August 2006 decision and reinstates the conspiracy to murder charge with a potential life sentence."

    How is that not a victory for civil liberties?

    In the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, it's much the same tale:

    "The Hamdi decision reaffirmed the importance of separation of powers among the branches of the government, and, in particular, the role of the judiciary in reviewing actions of the executive branch infringing the rights of citizens even in emergencies. During the American Civil War, the Supreme Court prohibited military detention of noncombatant Americans without appeal or writ of habeas corpus, as long as the courts were functioning. A 1971 law condemned the detention of Japanese-Americans without legal recourse during World War II and prohibited the imprisonment of American citizens except pursuant to an act of Congress.

    The Bush administration claimed that U.S. law does not apply to "illegal enemy combatants" and, furthermore, the Bush administration asserted the right to decide which U.S. citizens are "enemy combatants," ineligible for protection of their rights as enshrined in the United States Constitution.

    Some liberal legal scholars hailed the Supreme Court decision as the most important civil rights opinion in a half-century and a dramatic reversal of the sweeping authority asserted by the White House after the September 11, 2001 attacks."

    Again, how is this indicative of a dark age for civil liberties? How is this not a victory for civil liberties?

  • Andy||

    Yes, a victory for civil liberties AGAINST the ravishing of the current administration, which fought tooth and nail for the right to do whatever it wanted to him, and tortured him in the process. Let's remember here, that's where this begins, the question of whether this administration is good on civil liberties.

  • ||

    Maybe Dave moved in next door to him.

  • Andy||

    Rob,

    I don't know why you keep claiming I believe "it's the worst time ever" or "a dark ages" for civil liberties. I have made two points.

    First, the current administration is very bad on civil liberties.

    Two, all violations of civil liberties are a bad thing, regardless of how much they have been violated comparatively in the past. I never claimed we're in the "dark ages" - nor would I have any interest in doing so.

  • VM||

    High - we haven't.

    hmmm. Maybe we'll find him next to a bottle of Glock (brand) HFCS. In a puddle of tort.

    Moral of the story - don't fuck with the Farces!

  • Andy||

    VM - My turn for ignorance - what are the Farces?

  • VM||

    That's his web site - Farces...

  • ||

    Andy,

    Dave W.'s band.

  • Andy||

    Oh, ok, sorry - got it now.

  • ||

    "Yes, a victory for civil liberties AGAINST the ravishing of the current administration, which fought tooth and nail for the right to do whatever it wanted to him, and tortured him in the process. Let's remember here, that's where this begins, the question of whether this administration is good on civil liberties." - Andy

    No, where my disagreement was with the concept that this administration is somehow more terrible on civil liberties than other administrations. They're still exactly the same sort of power-hungry, authoritarian jackals that usually inhabit the Executive Branch.

    Frankly, I think where a lot things go wrong is when people start listening to lawyers, who all think it is perfectly "ok" to argue technicalities rather than the spirit of the law. While they are certainly technically correct, it often leads to serious injustices.

    For example, this kind of nonsense: "Dec. 21, 2005: 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig chastises the administration for using one set of facts to justify holding Padilla without charges and another set to persuade a grand jury in Florida to indict him. Luttig said the administration has risked its 'credibility before the courts.'"

  • ||

    Too many conservatives believe in the worst kind of moral relativism: "The ends justify the means."

  • ||

    "First, the current administration is very bad on civil liberties." - Andy

    And I've pointed out that it's hardly remotely near as bad as many make it out to be, and that this administration - while certainly not great - is nowhere near as bad as many throughtout the U.S.'s short history.

    "Two, all violations of civil liberties are a bad thing, regardless of how much they have been violated comparatively in the past." - Andy

    Agreed.

  • ||

    "Frankly, I think where a lot things go wrong is when people start listening to lawyers, who all think it is perfectly "ok" to argue technicalities rather than the spirit of the law."

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!

    You don't have even a rudimentary degree of self-awareness, do you rob?

  • ||

    "You don't have even a rudimentary degree of self-awareness, do you rob?" - joe

    Compared to you, it's better than 20/20.

  • ||

    You don't have even the slightest idea why I find it amusing that you would chastise someone for arguing technicalities and ignoring the substance of the issue, do you?

  • ||

    Sooo...150+ posts into this bad boy and I was wondering, does anyone have a nice, clear, simple list of what conservatives believe in nowadays?
    I'm honestly curious.

  • Guy Montag||

    Hopefully America's enemies aren't very smart!

    Yea, me too and every day that an enemy (perhaps one of your allies, sorry) fails to land on your noggin go ahead and thank me, I will pass it around :)

    rob, I was agreeing with you but I disagree on amything being too harsh now. I would prefer we get a little tougher than Lincoln (not Cheffe) instead of this PC warfare we are in now.

  • Robert||

    My recent thinking has been that current "conservative" values have been inherited from the Middle Ages of Europe, in response to depopulation from plagues and Crusades, and a desire to fight Crusades and feudal wars.

  • Paul Rako||

    "I have long searched for the unifying thread that ties together the seemingly disparate positions typically advocated by people on "the right." "

    It is the same thing that unifies liberals and Democrats-- the deep seating feeling the the world would be a better place if they ran things. They have an overwhelming need to be in charge and the more we let them the worse off we all are. Hence libertarianism.

  • Andy||

    Rob,

    For the most part I guess we agree to agree. For my own enlightenment, though, I'm curious. Do you consider the incidents we've been discussing an acceptable consequence of democracy operating as it should, or over the line? It's been a little hard to tell from your posts.


    Guy,

    I'll put you on the thank-you list, but I've still got to hug my garbageman and write that note to my pizza delivery guy, and then get to the whole staff that designed Microsoft Works. Don't worry though, you're on there!

    (As an aside, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by enemies landing on my noggin? Or allies? Are you implying I'm with the terrorists? Are you implying the terrorists are Mario, and I'm a mushroom guy? I just don't know where that's going.)

    Seriously, though, I wonder, if one is willing to discard the freedoms and values that make America worth living in in order to fight more efficiently, I am left puzzled as to what they would be fighting for.


    YGB Johnny Clarke,

    I, at least, don't think there's an answer to that question. I welcome a self-identified conservative to answer it, but I really don't see that thread. Of course, neither do I see it in "liberal" thinking. I think it's just sort of the consequence of "big tent" parties - but I for one wish more people knew WHY they were in the tent they're in.

  • Guy Montag||

    Me: It is lonely being the only true libertarian in a world of Socialists.

  • Andy||

    The guy who says that you should have the right to imprison anyone he wants is the true libertarian? What just happened, did I have a stroke?

  • uncle sam||

    I suspect there may be bio-neurological differences among people that manifest as certain social tendencies.

    People with an acute sensitivity to the approbation of others, detected in facial expressions and vocal intonations, find some security in participating in relationships with clearly delinated morés such as found in religious cults. Those without any such snesitivity may be sociopathic.

    I'll presume some kind of curve between those extremes plus other factors such as rational faculty, emotional inhibition, etc.

    One fault I find among certain, um, conservative types, is an inability to dsitinguish between morés and morality. This behavior is a feature of cults with their devotion to "the group" and hierarchy.
    On the other side of the aisle, we have certain leftists that toss out any conception of morality and instead opt for the primacy of morés.

    Thus the tribal nature of humans is manifested in the game of "us vs them" which politicians utilize for their own gain as they seek to elevate themselves in wichever hierarchical group they happen to be a part of.

    And so, for many, the rational faculty is simply a means for successful integration into their group, which proved some time ago to be a very useful survival strategy. These are animals of clever intelligence.

    To be more than intelligent animals, humans must acquire moral agency. Moral agency is achieved when one's survival urges are tempered with an adherence to moral principles.

  • Guy Montag||

    I use the small L because I really do believe in National Defense. Unlike Lincoln I do not believe in putting political opponents in prison, unless they did something else, like work for a foreign government against us.

  • ||

    "You don't have even the slightest idea why I find it amusing that you would chastise someone for arguing technicalities and ignoring the substance of the issue, do you?" - joe

    It undoubtedly has to do with your complaints that I "nitpick" you with things like "facts." I recall you recently blathering about that on the architecture thread. I remember thinking that you somehow decided that proving you wrong on actual facts was just a technicality to you.

    "For the most part I guess we agree to agree. For my own enlightenment, though, I'm curious. Do you consider the incidents we've been discussing an acceptable consequence of democracy operating as it should, or over the line? It's been a little hard to tell from your posts." - Andy

    I consider any infringements of civil liberties to be a very bad thing. But I object to the way people like joe pretend that somehow the guys he wants people to vote for would be better, when history has shown this to simply be untrue. I never really got the feeling we were disagreeing so much as we were "talking past each other."

  • Guy Montag||

    Missed this, sorry!

    (As an aside, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by enemies landing on my noggin? Or allies? Are you implying I'm with the terrorists? Are you implying the terrorists are Mario, and I'm a mushroom guy? I just don't know where that's going.)

    Somehow the word "warheads" did not get typed in. I used noggin on purpose as "warhead on your head" sounds silly.

    As I really can not tell which side you are really on I decided to try not to offend you by accusing you of supporting the "wrong" side :)

  • ||

    You had me until the Harp Seals. Damn you libertarians, why do you always have to sound so reasonable and then bring up something like that?

    "I believe in the right to get high."

    "Yeah!"

    "And the right to sleep with whomever you want."

    "Yeah!!"

    "And the right to club baby seals over the head."

    "Um..."

    "And flay the skin off their still-warm little bodies."

    "Wait a minute..."

    "And broadcast the whole thing on pay-per-view."

    "Uh..."

  • ktc2||

    There is no difference really at the core. The core of conservatism, just like the core of liberalism is, "I know best and you will live your life my way OR ELSE." That's it. No great mystery.

  • Mike Laursen||

    You're looking for a pattern in randomness. On every conceivable issue, the Republicans and Democrats have to set up a dichotomy in order to divide the American people into opposing camps. It's not that important what the two sides of the dichotomy are.

  • ||

    Yea, that's what I think of when I hear all of those Global Warming folks proposing any crackpot scheme to control the temperature of the earth: "Those Conservatives are out of control."

    Now that is the best comment on this whole thread. Guy, you're great. Wish I could have a beer with you sometime.

  • ||

    Actually, I explain the nature of conservatism and liberalism in a recent article....The framework of vertical collectivism answers all the questions asked by Mr. Sullum in his article.

    Egads. You've got to be an academic. Nobody else could say that.

    You explain it about as well as Marx explained economics.

  • ||

    On every conceivable issue, the Republicans and Democrats have to set up a dichotomy in order to divide the American people into opposing camps. It's not that important what the two sides of the dichotomy are.

    That's how the parasite Politicus Rampantus feeds itself, yes. But the underlying phenomena are just a tad more complex, methinks.

    What people advocate politically has much to do with a deep seated need to define themselves, the ways they want to live, and the kinds of things they do -- and don't -- want to experience.

    I, for example, am opposed to "gay bashing" and anti-gay laws. OTOH, I am not gay and have absolutely no desire to have gay the life style rubbed in my face all the time. I'll tolerate it but I really don't want it living in my house. I should be quite happy ignoring it so far as possible.

    How people choose to define themselves, and in turn the kinds of life experiences they do and don't want, is never going to exhibit rational consistency if you put it in a pot and boil it down to essences.

    Fact: people absorb many of their preferences from their environment. Not all of the threads in the fabric are consistent.

    So what? Life is. I contend that there is no ultimately consistent philosophy, if you want to throw the "it ain't rational" stone.

    Socialism: a foolish belief that social classes can be eliminated from society. It has never been and shall never be.

    Capitalism: the foolish belief that a free market can go on forever without intervention.

    But the purpose of capitalism is to make more and more money. On that principle we unleash Bill Gates, until one morning he comes on our radios and TVs, and announces that he has just bought The Market.

    Yes boys and girls, that's right. Bill Gates bought the whole goddamned thing. The financing has all been arranged.

    Oddly enough, when you let them run their natural courses, socialism and capitalism will end up in about the same place.

  • ||

    But in fact, politics is even more complex than a simple blending of many different (contradictory) preferences.

    Aristotle says in _The Politics_: "the people of the State may share everything in common, or they may share nothing in common. But surely it cannot be that they share nothing in common, for they must at least share the name of the State."

    Rough paraphrase from memory. Something to that effect. [also a perfect example of what I love about Aristotle's way of thinking -- sweep across the whole ball field in one wave of the arm]

    As long as we're bashing Right and Left, I'll take this quanit opportunity to bash We the Libertarians.

    What, precisely, do we libertarians share in common? Besides the name.

    We're ready to tolerate drugs and cocks fighting each other (ahem) and green and purple hair and Big Transfat Macs. Along with anything else you want, as long as you want it.

    Now I have to get that vague allusion to "whatever you want, as long as it doesn't hurt anybody else" in here too. Let's not get into what exactly that means, or we'll be here all night. But when you boil it down to how we advocate living -- we aren't advocating anything. We got no trademark.

    I for one am firmly of the "live and let live" philosophy. But maybe you can understand now why our philosophy will forever be on the sidelines?

    Our philosophy is self defeating, just like Deism was a self defeating religious movement.

    We not only don't give the average (or in our case, not) joe a way to define himself. We go so far as to take away his attempts to define himself.

    All of which goes far in convincing me that the "man is still a tribal creature" argument makes lots of sense.

  • ||

    I forever return to this conclusion: the all-time biggest advance in Applied Political Engineering, is The Bill of Rights.

    The Bill of Rights should be the inviolate central core of government. Idealogically, legally, etc etc.

    But in ying and yang terms, people's drive to define themselves is the the stronger (and in fact the driving force that propels us along), while The Bill of Rights is the weaker.

    And now that we've got the whole friggin' world figured out, what else did you want to do? How about let's paint our hair green and go smoke a joint.

  • Guy Montag||

    Now that is the best comment on this whole thread. Guy, you're great. Wish I could have a beer with you sometime.

    If you are "defending the wall" this weekend in DC everybody is probably hanging out at a beer place afterwords.

  • twv||

    Michael Medved was a lightweight as a film reviewer. As a political philosopher he makes Ayn Rand look like Aristotle. (Ooops. Wrong crowd for that comparison.) Like many conservatives, he defines his politics by a putative absolutist morality. Trouble is, an absolutist in morality is a person who can't see the relativism inherent in his positoins. Similarly, on the left, relativists are embarrassed with numerous instances where they talk and act absolutist.

    These people are muddled, muddled in the heat, I tell you. And you can usually tell whether a person is muddled very easily: they get upset about absolutism or relativism (take your pick) at the merest provocation.

    They don't find the problems interesting. They find them so vexing that they immediately disallow real thought, preferring slogans.

    Conservatives and "liberals" are the two dominant ideologies trying to control a state whose constitutional limits have eroded over time. Both differentiate themselves in terms of each other. The terms of those differentiations change. It is to be expected. It's an almost Hegelian push-and-shove-and-pull of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, forever repeating, nothing ever settled.

    Libertarians are people who (when they realize it, which isn't always) wish to redefine society in terms of individuals, and take a step back from institutional obsessions. Their main concern is drawing clear boundaries of action between individuals. As such, their intersections with dominant ideologies are many, and confusing. They are up to something different, constitutional politics, and most conservative and most "liberals" understandably find them untrustworthy.

    They (we) are. On matters of institutions, we put liberty first.

    Conservatives merely want to carve out a huge niche for themselves in relation to a very powerful interventionist state, deciding when to use it for their group advantages, and when to oppose, for the foiling of "the other" group.

    Same goes for "liberals."

    Claims otherwise look like pretensions to those of us who have taken a step back from the state, and imagine a rule of law with much more radically distributed powers.

    We are unlikely to win. There's no obvious sectarian prize to be obtained. And human beings like prizes and other trophies of war, even when it is nothing more available than one's enemy's head on a pike.

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