Monday, July 17, 2006

Can Conservatives...or Liberals... Govern?

An interesting essay crossed my line of sight, written by Alan Wolfe (author of Does American Democracy Still Work?) on “Why Conservatives Can't Govern”. Published in the July/August Washington Monthly, the article was insightful and erudite, offering an earnest, clever interpretation of why American conservatism finds itself cornered, in a cycle of relentless failures and rationalizations.

And yet, at another level, the piece illustrates the very same kind of political myopia that has guaranteed defeat for Democrats and liberals, for years. Starting with this blanket generalization.

“Contemporary conservatism is first and foremost about shrinking the size and reach of the federal government.”

In a moment I will discuss this axiom, this fundamental premise. But first, let me attempt the obligatory task of any honest arguer, a duty to paraphrase. To show that I understand what I plan to criticise.

Wolfe’s core contention appears to be that those who ideologically despise government power are inherently ill-suited to handle that power well, when they manage to grab absolute control over it. Since they disdain government’s ability to accomplish great good, they refuse to use it that way. And yet, since they are human beings (and therefore corruptible), they cannot actually reduce government power, once it is in their hands. The temptations are just too great.

Hence, the result of conservative power is not reticence, when it comes to matters budgetary, administrative, diplomatic or military, but rather the opposite, a kind of extreme adventurism, justified by hypocritical rationalizations that grow more frenetic and frantic with time.

(Wolfe might have mentioned the ultimate irony. Historically, the few successful efforts to reduce government paperwork, or to stimulate industries through fair and unbiased deregulation, were all accomplished under Democratic administrations. The far-fewer GOP-led efforts at “deregulation” were, in fact, sweetheart giveaways and not true deregulation: e.g. Energy “Reform” and the Savings and Loan Scandal.)

Hence, Wolfe explains both today’s pork-orgy of graft and the relentless waging of political “culture war” as natural outcomes of cognitive dissonance. An inability of the ruling caste to face or examine their own betrayals of principle. Those who oppose governmental authority as a matter of creed (and Wolfe labels this as the core trait of conservatism) are inherently and psychologically unsuited to wield power.

Wolfe especially disdains those self-described conservatives who have been pulling away from the present administration and from the recent orgies of neocon excess. He likens these people to Trotskyites, who (in a few smoke-filled, bohemian corners) still mutter that Communism was hijacked by Stalinist-Maoist monsters, and never given a proper trial. Wolfe drips contempt for the rationalization that “those neocon looters aren’t true conservatives.” Rather, his exegesis attempts to prove that the sickness is inherent, across the board. It is rooted in the fundamental premises of conservatism itself.

How convenient. Wolfe’s opponents are disqualified from ever having useful contributions to offer, in government, because of intrinsic traits of dogma and personality that apply to all varieties, at all times. Wow. Impressive.

--------

As you might expect, while I found Wolfe’s essay stimulating and interesting, I also deem it to be cockeyed and utterly foolish, for about a dozen reasons.

But first pause. For the record, I share a profound motivation with Alan Wolfe. I truly despise the rascals and monsters who have seized power over our great nation, at least as much as Wolfe does. Among my own many essays proving this are:

          The Real Culture War: Defining the Background

                and
       
          Should Democrats Issue a New 'Contract with America'?

And yet, as a contrarian, I must part company with many of my allies over strategy and tactics. For example, while some liberals and others see this as a matter of waging an ongoing culture war more effectively, I look back at the relentless torment of the Clinton Administration and ask: “What if we win?”

Seriously. Suppose a great miracle happens and democracy thrives, despite the imabalnced influence of cash, or the rigged game of Diebold-fixed electoral fraud and even gerrymandered radicalism. GLet’s imagine that grownups resume power, at least enough to let civil servants issue subpoenas and stop the Great Raid. At one level, that would be grand, of course. But at another....

If the ambiance after victory is yet another round of bitterly partisan savagery (recall the Clinton Era), won’t Karl Rove still have won? Won’t America simply become another petty Balkans, a nasty and brutally silly people, endlessly sniping, blue against red, our side imposing peurile vengeance against theirs, until it becomes “their turn” again? How, in such a nation, can big problems ever get ambitiously solved? The ultimate solution to “culture war” is not to wage it better, but to calmly and decisively end it. To take power out of the hands of these monsters forever, by denying them the main levers that they have used to attain it -- oversimplification and divisiveness.

When we oversimplify the enemy, categorizing in a way that demonizes millions of potential allies, we may get a surge of satisfaction, but it is not smart tactics. Sun Tzu would have told you, long ago, to find ways to divide your enemies, to find common cause with some of them. To reduce the size of their coalition and to enhance your own.

This is the very same methodology that led to neocon victory.
And please note: there is certainly a time and place for studying your opponent’s winning tactics. While many are and were despicable, some of those tactics may have been smart and morally neutral. Those we should think about, carefully.

In biological science there has long been a collegial struggle between “lumpers and splitters...” between those who lump all sorts of sub species together and those who are seeking subtle differences among them. Clearly, the temptation, politically -- one that Wolfe demonstrates in extreme -- is to lump together all “conservatives” using an a-priori definition that he blithely tosses off as an obvious and assumed axiom... and upon which derives his entire thesis.

But the flaw in Wolfe’s argument -- in his finely molded strawman of the opposition -- is in this axiom. In this fundamental , lumping premise.

In fact, countless self-described “conservatives” in America today have far different obsessions and concerns than would be simply explained by Wolfe’s diagnosis. Indeed, the differences among conservatives are so fantastically broad and astonishing that they merit whole books, analyzing how Karl Rove achieved this marvel of a Big Tent... one so filled with contradictions that it should have fallen into tatters long ago! And perhaps it would have, if so many on the left weren’t just as intent on keeping it intact as Karl is!

(In this case, lumping is - tactically - the sheerest folly. Talk about an inherently self-defeating character flaw!)

Where shall we begin, peeling away exceptions to Wolfe’s axiom? Let’s put aside those “conservatives” who would be far better called “anti-modernists terrified of change” e.g. fundamentalists. “Excess government” per se is not the fixation of paranoid nativists and aggressive jingoists. Nor those neo-feudalist aristocrats who quite openly adore government, so long as it is their enrichment tool.

I would certainly remove those who share the belief that Barry Goldwater expressed, in his last year of his long and fascinating life -that hate-filled neocons are a pack of crazy, nasty jerks. I think those denunciations are meaningful, but Wolfe and I can legitimately disagree about that.

Putting all of those (and a myiad other) exceptions aside, let’s ponder only those “conservatives” who DO genuinely and centrally despise government power. Even in this large category, there are millions who feel deeply wronged by the contradictions that Wolfe describes. Many would argue that these would properly be called Libertarians, rather than “conservatives.”

And yes, a great many libertarian Americans do choose the GOP as a “lesser of evils” -- a lazy tendency that I have been fighting hard, since it is based on absurd premises that are easily disproved. Wolfe would hold that my efforts are a waste of time. I contend that it may be the best possible way to undermine the monsters, by drawing away from them millions of their most intelligent and most sincere supporters.

I start by pointing to Adam Smith, the patron saint of creative free markets. And yes, one of the core founders of “liberalism.”

Anyone with an open mind who reads history ought to already know this. The very thing that Smith despised most was not “government bureaucracy, but instead oligarchy. The market warping of aristocratic cheaters who use money, influence and crony favoritism to wring economic benefits unrelated to delivery of superior goods and services.

This historical fact is devastating! Some truly clever liberal tactician could use Adam Smith as an icon! Millions truly have heard of him and it would be easily grasped by those millions (if someone pointed it out) that today’s markets are far more in danger from oligarchic cheaters than from earnest bureaucrats. If only someone were to say, aloud, that the Emperor has no clothes.

If only someone would remind us all what the term “liberal” originally meant... which was unleashing the creatively competitive spirit of humanity in ways that would benefit us all, while minimizing the almost universal capacity of cheaters to cheat. Levelling the playing field enough so that no youth would enter it disadvantaged, but giving the markets enough room to breathe and grow.

Government has a role to play in this fostering of open, joyful and fair competition. (And even in ensuring that nobody loses too badly.) Today’s “liberals” are right about that... while they are wrong to forget that competitive markets were the greatest invention of their movement! Decent conservatives have a point when they remind us that government has no rightful place in predetermining all outcomes of the game.

It would be so powerful an argument, especially in contrast to the neo-oligarchy’s orgy of insatiable cheating. But this cannot be done, because fellows like Wolfe automatically and reflexively dismiss the posibility of a positive conservatism. Wolfe dismisses these millions of libertarian-leaning fellow Americans as fools and/or psychotics and/or members of a criminal gang. What utter foolishness!

Look, for years I have been defying classic political and culture warriors to define for me the standard left-right political axis, a hoary and insipid metaphor when it was first concocted, by the French, in 1789. Nearly everyone stammers and fails. And as for the few who appear to succeed? They nearly all do so the way that Wolfe does, by armwaving a strawman caricature in the general direction of everybody they dislike.

But suspicion of government authority is not automatically insane! Our social mythos is deeply woven with messages of suspicion of authority (SOA) that fill almost all of our popular books, movies, dramas. If democrats fixate on one kind of looming authority figues -- conspiring aristocracies and corporations -- were not libertarians right to at least worry over the extremes of bureaucratic control that were typified by, say, communism?

Neither of these views are inherently sick. But they should be better informed about history, about the world, about each other.

We will not win this struggle through oversimplifications that feel oh-so righteous and portray as idiotic everyone on “the other side.”

We will win be separating the monsters from sincere libertarians and others who might be persuaded - instead - to support a return to general sanity.


See more: Politics for the 21st Century

46 comments:

Victoria said...

You're not the only one who found that article of interest.
Many executives who take bold actions, whether for good or for bad, believe that history will redeem their actions. Or prove them right. Or however you want to phrase it. The only ones that I can think of that don't publicly declare this are the succession of dictators in Africa, the ones that embezzle millions of dollars from their country and so forth. And declare that AIDS isn't a disease. And that otherwise abuse their position of power. But they have the power of the military to support them, and they don't need the support of an electorate.
I'm not so sure how much redistricting will solve the problem of incumbency, largely because redistricting when a single party controls most of the power tends to lead to that single party controlling even more of the power on a more permanent basis. Gerrymandering, anyone?
It is certainly true, however, that they have to deal with the conflict between increasing services and decreasing taxes. However, I do not think this conflict is limited to those who describe themselves and who are voted in as conservatives: this is a systemwide conflict, one which has been in place since the New Deal (and perhaps earlier?)
I find it interesting that he spends so long describing how conservatives are defensive. Inherently, one cannot promote the status quo. It is about as ridiculous as carrying placards that read "Suffrage for Women in America!" There's no point in being activist about it, it's already happened. The closest alternative is to complain about it when something happens to threaten it. Isn't that what conservatives are doing?
People usually don't see the maintenance of the status quo as something important. We don't speak of watershed decades where nothing of note happened. We talk of such and such a year when a war was started, or a conquest made, or slavery abolished. That could be part of why conservatism has been so ignored.
I'll agree with his statement that if you don't agree with what you're doing, you won't do it very well. (That might be why my defense of certain points of his aren't working very well,...) It's certainly true, though.
I agree that the Bush administration has made a mess of most government agencies, as well.
And that there's definitely a greater exposure of corruption these days. Maybe there was corruption in those days, too, but at least it wasn't so flagrant.
But back to your response. It's an excellent summary of the article. And you are certainly right about the stereotyping. There is no doubt that the piece is polarizing. The extent to which this is true, however, may not be solely a result of his beliefs, but also a wish to get a piece published. Many popular media outlets (as you should know!) are reluctant to publish moderate pieces. There's a tendency to sensationalize. There is a reason why more people read tabloids than the New York Times. And especially with the current conflicts, and with a possible new space race occurring (China and Israel, anyone?), can we really afford to be divided? At least, with our forces engaged overseas, we aren't likely to have a civil war. Yet.
I'll also agree with your assertion that government has no place in determining everyone elses' place. But, as you noted, wealth breeds wealth. It's easier to get a million dollars if you already have half a million than it is if you just have a penny. It's not impossible (look at Asimov!) but it's difficult.
I think part of the societal fascination with defiance is that it's interesting. Would you rather read an Foundation-style novel, or one about a bureaucratic puppet who goes about his daily duties for a thousand pages?
Let's start by electing sane moderates!

Stefan Jones said...

Off topic, but . . . ungh. There's something sincerely creepy about this:

http://www.taylormarsh.com/archives_view.php?id=24262

Dear World:

We're sorry. We either didn't vote for him or didn't know better.

Sincerely,

U.S.

monkyboy said...

Or maybe a majority of Americans, having reached mountaintop of "modernism," find it really dull and are trying to drive this country back to the good ol' days when life was a struggle...and see the neocons as the right party to lead us there.

Don Quijote said...

“What if we win?”

A. a "Bill Clinton" clone wins, he triangulates, attempts to clean up the mess, Melon-Scaife and company come out and we get a "Bush" clone eight years from now, and we start the whole rigamarole all over while the social, economic, military position of the country keeps getting worse.

B. a "Don Quijote" clone wins, he goes to the left and stays there,
raises taxes (income & gas) to cover the deficit, investigates military contracts and puts contractors (Halliburton) in jail, downsizes the military and closes our Europeans bases and gets us out of the ME, investigates Media Monopolies and breaks them up, investigates corporate consolidation and breaks up or nationalises corporate giants (GE, BOEING, etc), expends Medicare to cover the whole country, investigates the Mellon-Scaifes and company and makes their lifes as miserable as possible, investigates the Robertsons, Falwell and company and makes their lifes as miserable as possible (they are not your friends, so why be nice?). Lose the next election, but maybe, just maybe we will break the theocratic-fascist right.

agarrett said...

I have two comments on this. I'm going to start, I'm afraid, with the more adversarial. In the original article, you'd said, "Wolfe might have mentioned the ultimate irony. Historically, the few successful efforts to reduce government paperwork, or to stimulate industries through fair and unbiased deregulation, were all accomplished under Democratic administrations."

I think this disregards the Reagan administration, which probably had the best in both counts in recent memory. His deregulation, of the phone company among others, has proven greatly successful, and tax reform helped greatly on paperwork (though I concede this benefit has largely been undone.) While President Clinton did a fine job economically, I'm at a bit of a loss to think of any significant deregulation he performed - though I am not minimizing his free trade instincts in dealing with other countried. President Carter was considerably worse in that regard, I'm afraid. What Democratic administration were you thinking of?

OK, now on to my other point, which is at least friendlier.

This post, and others, shows a dissatisfaction with the current party alignment. I am not entirely clear on whether it is the current alignment you disagree with, or the notion of aligning in parties entirely. There are, I believe, a great many benefits in forming political parties. In order to be competitive, parties need to bring many factions within themselves, and so begin the necessary process of compromising from the beginning. And yes, I do think compromise is an essential part of politics. At the same time, competing parties allow, well, competition, with all the benefits that brings. Each party must try to refine their programs to be more appealing to the electorate - again, to our overall advantage.

Our system of voting tends to encourage a two-party system, with third parties occasionally forming and either dying or replacing one of the current parties. I'd say the current level of dissatisfaction with the two parties makes us ripe for a vigorous third party. However, I've either been saying, or heard that said, for about the last 20 years.

Well, I think I've gone on enough for the moment - may add more later...

Drew Garrett

Mark said...

David,

I agree with perhaps 90%+ of what you say here and in all your other posts, yet for some reason I only feel the need to respond to that in which I disagree. Funny how that works.

When we oversimplify the enemy, categorizing in a way that demonizes millions of potential allies, we may get a surge of satisfaction, but it is not smart tactics.

Conservatives have gone to great lengths to vilify the word "liberal" and this has served them well. I believe vilifying the word "conservative" has equal value as a tactic. When you can get your opposition to react defensively when labeled with his own word, as Democrats often react to the word "liberal", you gain ground.

Right now there are many on the right that are trying to save the word "conservative" in light of Bush's unpopularity. They are claiming he is not a "real conservative". I think it is very important we don't let them get away with that.

This does not take away from your divide and conquer approach. As you point out, the only thing that seems to bind conservatives together is that word: "conservative". Language and symbols are important. Take that away and they have to work twice as hard to keep the voting block together.

Doug S. said...

I think I've just come up with a simple definition of the left-right political axis.

The political Left is whatever policies and ideals the Democratic party supports.
The political Right is whatever policies and ideals the Republican party supports.

(Notice the complete absence of any ideological content whatsoever.)

David Brin said...

Drew, sorry, but everyone I know in the biz says that phone deregulation was utterly botched. Splitting Ma Bell GEOGRAPHICALLY replaced a single monopoly with many local monopolies that did not compete with each other at all and then proceeded to re-merge. Yes there were good outcomes, too. Don’t forget that RR had a Demo Congress.

Far better deregulations were in these industries: banking, cell communications, fiber optics, trucking airlines... many of them done under (wait for it)... Jimmy Carter. Yes, Carter; without meaning any offense, you may want to study up.

What RR did give us was the Savings and Loan deregulation. Ah, me. Still, the resulting spasm of aristocratic and crony-ist thieving seems positively amateur compared to today. (The biggest diff? I do not blame RR PERSONALLY at all. He seemed personally decent and honest.)

RR’s tax reforms did very little to reduce paperwork, and dat's a fack. Al Gore’s Reinventing Govt program was the first effort in history that actually reduced the number of pages of federal codes and the number of forms to fill out. Any credit? Hah.

Nor for actually reducing the number of secrets (as opposed to skyrocketing secrecy today.)

To blame Carter for the stagflation we inherited from Vietnam will be like blaming the NEXT president for the way THIS one set fire to a TRILLION dollars of our money and savings. We will feel the loss of that trillion very soon and the pain will last a while.

Would I change the parties? See a political rant about solving the problem of gerrymandering: http://www.davidbrin.com/gerrymandering1.html

Mark, I see your point about villifying “conservative” the way “liberal” has been... and the left wants to imitate Karl Rove (the sincerest flattery) by emulating his nastiest traits. By waging Culture War in a cross-riff with him that can only benefit the extremes. Both ends are collaborators in a war against the middle.

I would rather look at the neocons’ success (especially the early parts, under Gingrich) as an opportunity to learn and pick up some methods that weren’t as nasty. That were clever and even worthy of some respect. Like coalition building under a big tent.

The feat of attracting, luring and gathering an incredible melange of interests under one alliance USED TO BE A TRAIT OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. Today, lefties apply litmus tests to a dozens key issues and if you speak up against even one, you are cast out! (Witness what’s being done to Lieberman.) In doing this, the left has HELPED Rove to lump his side, while splitting the liberal side at every opportunity.

I’d call that an IQ test, pure and simple. Rove probably read Alan Wolfe’s article and laughed aloud. “Yes! More! Some of my libertarians were packing up to leave my tent. By all means, drive them back inside! Hahahahahah!”

Doug S... your left right notion is exactly how Rove wants it seen. It utterly destroys modernism.

Mark said...

A few months back MoveOn sent me (and millions of my best friends) a survey that asked if they should "support progressive primary challengers to right-wing Democrats." I said no.

Yet, I have to disagree with you on Lieberman, he has to go and it isn't about ideology, it's about partisanship. Here is the test: after seeing on Fox news are you left with the impression that:

A) The Republicans are mostly a radical bunch pushing us away from the center and the Democrats, as Lieberman demonstrates, are all moderate and reasonable, or

B) The Republicans are a mostly moderate bunch and the Democrats are radicals, pushing us away from the center with only a few moderates like Lieberman left to defend what was once a proud party.

I think it is pretty clear Lieberman lives his political life presenting case B. That in no way helps Democrats. Primary voters have every right to 1) vote for whom they choose and 2) vote for partisan reasons. I recently heard some claim the voters were "terrorizing" Lieberman, as if voting was somehow an act of terror.

As far as vilifying the word "conservative" goes, I still stand that this is not in opposition to what you want to do. In fact, the Washington Monthly column makes a great case for mixed government, or better yet, that Republicans are at their best as the loyal opposition. Anyway, there are many voices. This may not be the best approach for a politician to take, but it propagates a useful and productive meme.

Doug S. said...

Doug S... your left right notion is exactly how Rove wants it seen. It utterly destroys modernism.

Which is why, as you have said so many times, using left-right talk to describe anything other than two-party partisan politics is silly.

Anonymous said...

Conservative is a hard word to vilify (not imposible but hard) and more importantly it reinforces the self identity devised and maintained by rove etc.

Whats needed is to define the oposition (from a dem perspective) in a way that they dont like that can be used freely and easily

using UK politics parties names are Labour and Conservative names used by oposition are Socialists and Torys (because of its supposed reactionary or die hard connotations)


how about calling conservatives REACTIONARYS,. and Sticking with it.

President bush said.... - response well thats what the reactionarys always do

John mccain said......- response well thats what the reactionarys always say


Dont let big tenters get away with only acepting part of the identity use THE SAME LITMUS TEST DAVID COMPLAINS OF on the oposition.

There are no libetarians in the big tent JUST REACTIONARYS

There are no Single issue REACTIONARYS - you buy it its ALL yours



Define the other side dont let them define themselves ask John "Flip Floping Coward" Kerry or AL ""i invented the internet" boring wonk" Gore about why this is a good idea, (or for that matter ask good old George W, over a beer, you know he's the sort of guy who you could relate to, and a unitor not a divider a compasionate conservative)

monkyboy said...

anon,

Here's how Americans have voted since WWI:

1948 - Democrat
1952 - Republican
1956 - Republican
1960 - Democrat
1964 - Democrat
1968 - Republican
1972 - Republican
1976 - Democrat
1980 - Republican
1984 - Republican
1988 - Republican
1992 - Democrat
1996 - Democrat
2000 - Republican
2004 - Republican

Americans are far smarter than its intellctuals, spinmeisters and pundits...throw the bums out is the best way to keep America free...look for a Democratic president in 2008.

Nate said...

There's a lot to comment on this one, but it's late and I have work tomorrow, so for now, I'm just gonna comment on Joe Lieberman.

Where to begin on Lieberman? With the fact that a primary challenge is being presented as if it's some kind of bad thing? Nothing guarantees Joe Lieberman his seat in the Senate. If the voters want someone different, that's their choice, isn't it?

But you know what? Yes, I'd be happy to see Joe Lieberman out of the Senate. For reasons of partisanship, not ideology. I'll clarify what I mean by that. Yeah, there's a lot of issues I don't agree with him on, where he's practically a Republican, but that's not the biggest reason to vote him out. Not even the war.

The biggest reason to vote him out is he's George Bush's go-to guy in the Senate. Whenever he needs a little "bipartisan" cover, he can count on Joe. (All the Republicans and Joe Lieberman support this! It's bipartisan!) And Lieberman's record of voting with the Republicans to end debate on important bills, then throwing a show-off vote against whatever atrocity they're ready to pass, when it won't matter. Case in point, the horrible bankruptcy bill.

And if you listen to him on any of the talk shows, as Mark said, he regurgitates Republican talking points aimed at his own party. And everything he said can be picked up by the Limbaughs and the Delays and the Roves of the world and flaunted as "LOOK! Even the Democrats say ($today's spin)." He's an enabler.

No, I will shed no tears for Joe Lieberman if he loses.

medic-human said...

i think agarrett's comment seem logic ..hair loss

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

David,

Your retort to Alan Wolfe seems to be that he paints with too broad a brush. But there is something to Wolfe's arguments, even in Orange County and San Diego Counties, where I have lived and now live, respectively. I think it's no accident that these two counties, bastions of right wing Republican politics, gave away the store to public employee unions in a way that most Democratic Party stalwart politicians would not have done. Note that Villagarosia in Los Angeles has already disappointed the public union leaders who had backed him and his efforts to wrestle control of the LA Unified School District (I say this even with my anger at him for dissing Angeledies a few weeks ago).

Generally speaking, there is a core incompetence, at the federal, state and local levels, among a particular set of "conservative" politicians who resolutely claim to abhor government and who exault the private sector.

I would also go further than Wolfe in one respect: I appreciate your efforts to push what I see as "business" libertarians away from the Republican Party. However, too many "business" libertarians, even to this day, fear the Social Security Administration or national health insurance proposals more than they fear Bush and Cheney pushing the envelope against significant civil liberties.

As a friend of mine once said, appropos of himself, "I'm about 70% with the libertarians, but the other 30% is a head shot." Meaning, he just can't get there from here. More specifically, he scratches his head as to why libertarians boil with rage against an increased minimum wage, national health insurance, and perhaps some labor union law reform to make it easier for workers to act collectively against their employers, starting in the large entities that continue to exist in the private sector--while dithering about Bush/Cheney's real threats to national civil liberties and ultimately the foundations of our republic.

Finally, I've read enough of Adam Smith to know that the above Democratic Party policy proposals would not do significant or perhaps any damage to his vision of a healthy competition in our society. Too many libertarians read Smith as carefully as fundamentalists read the Bible--which is to say, not very well.

Rob Perkins said...

hmm. bit o' spam got through in spite of the captcha...

o well.

Anonymous, the reason we don't wish to label conservatives "reactionary" is that they're not, the idea is demagoguery, and extreme, and further plays into Rove's hands.

monkyboy said...

A little blast from America's past, present and maybe future:

I have confessed repeatedly in these communications my equal distrust of a right that blindly and greedily pursued its interests, wandering in a myopia of arrogant stupidity.

They disdained organization and deliberately scorned the one element of their forces that has some semblance of structure, The National Party, they preached vengeance against the Christian Democrats whom they regarded as a more justifiable enemy because of its betrayal of class than their class enemy, the Communists.

They fought the First Rule of nature, of change, and insolently believed that time stands still.

They only tolerated the few modernists in their midsts, men who were certainly no less rich, no less self-interested, but who at least understood the flux in which we are all caught.

From a cable written by U.S. Ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry in September of 1970.

He was describing our erstwhile allies, who had just lost an open election to lefty Salvador Allende...but he could have been talking about our pals, The Republicans.

http://tinyurl.com/kapyd

Tangent said...

Considering how many of these truths you've pointed out, and the fact that the liberal leadership seem to be ignoring it, why don't you strive toward a position of leadership within one of these political parties and help lead people in a direction more beneficial toward true democracy and unity, Mr. Brin?

Tangent said...

Ultimately, the one overwhelming factor that will determine the winner of the presidency in '08 is the president who has the soundest plan on dealing with gas prices.

If a Democratic candidate shows up and states "I have a four-year-plan in my hands on how to eliminate our dependency on foreign oil, and have our automobiles running off of X instead, which will result in a savings of Y per gallon" then the people will flock to him.

For that matter, if a Republican candidate did that, the same would happen. But I don't see a Republican doing that because a lot of the Republican party appears to have substantial ties to oil and related fields, and destroying our dependency on oil would bankrupt quite a few of their contributors (if not themselves).

Oil and gas prices will be the big thing for the 2008 election. I do not see gas prices dropping down below $2/gallon ever. Considering the new generation of electric cars is coming out (http://www.teslamotors.com/ for example), and hybrid foreign cars are gaining momentum, people are definitely going to be concerned with finding a way around gas prices. The candidate who jumps on this wagon and puts their full support behind it will have the support of the underclass who can't afford the current spike in fuel prices.

Melissa said...

For flavor and meaning, the term "regressive" may be more suitable. Thus the modernists can be the progressives and the fundie-feudal crowd can be the regressives.

Stefan, I checked your link about the assault on the German chancellor. It made my skin crawl. (GWB apparently wants women out of their burkas so that they'll be easier to massage!)

Tony Fisk said...

'Grope' is perhaps a bit extreme as a description of the incident Stefan referred to, but it certainly looks like ole' wobbly was indulging in a bit of overbearing body language.

Ah me! The people who display arrogance without just cause!

My recommendation to the german chancellor: fish hooks in the shoulder pads!

David Brin said...

Tangent, I have said far too many things ever to be a politician. I am sure a thousandth of a percent of them, taken out of context, would get me tarred & feathered.

As for gas prices coming to our rescue?

Never underestimate Rove's ability to keep his troops and coalition loyal with distraction - e.g. "Wait for hydrogen fuel!" or "Don't you know there's a war on?" Or "ALaska oil! “ or “It’s the Liberals' fault!" I guarantee, most red (gray) staters will twist like pretzels in order to forgive.

What do we need? I have pondered hard on this.

We need a Dem who is willing NOT to become president. Someone willing and eager to stand in front and PRETEND to be the front runner, drawing fire for everyone else. Someone who can concentrate on the attack and draw all the swift-boaters into the open. He/she should be attacking and attacking on all the weak points. NOT things that feed Rove’s machine... like lefty peacenikism, but cutting the neocons at the knees for their theft and lying and blithering incomptence.

Foe example, MOCKING hydrogen power... and their frantic use of the very wod "war".

Hillary would be just the person for this. Her present strategy... playing demure and balanced... does not work. And it's NOT because of the balanced part! I am all in favor of balance and moderation. But not when it becomes boring and wishy-washy. Today, her “balance” is the caution of the front runner, so her moderation is

Example. One can oppose the Iraqi Mess without seeming wimpy if one aggressively showed HOW MUCH BETTER THE BALKANS WAR WAS HANDLED.

At all levels and in all ways it was simply a better example and expression of Pax Americana power, applied efficiently and with staggeringly rapid effectiveness, in areas of our genuine national interest, in conjunction with allies, leaving our reserves alone, enhancing our alliances, even enhacing our standing in the muslim world! And not one US soldier died. Some of the same neocons screeched about time and cost and appearances then, in ways that should be thrown in their faces.

I tear my hair out, wondering when someone... ANYONE... will make that comparison. Hillary could do that proudly. "I was there."

And note, just by comparing two wars, the accusation of “cut and run cowardice” is completely wiped out! FOr it clearly says “I am willing to defend us... I am unwilling to do it stupidly.”

Yes, that would risk her lefty base. But that's my point. Hillary could come out swinging precisely because she has decided, rationally, that this is not her year! But rather, a year for someone like her to have fun on center stage, tearing the guts out of the enemy and paving the way for someone else to reach the end zone.

Look, it’s the only sensible choice for her. Even if she won the presidency, it would be useless, a pyrrhic victory. The Culture War that followed would make Monicagate look like a tea party. Rove's coalition would be held together by her name alone. We all lose if culture war increases, if gasoline rather than water goes onto the divisive fire.

Ah, but suppose she were to REALIZE this! A smart woman and politician, could she realize that she has an even better role to play? As nominal front runner, she could, instead of droning boring fence-straddling speeches that say nothing, come out attacking with every camera in the country on her! Draw all the shriekers and swiftboaters. Make guys like Mark Warner look judicious while you draw fire...
.
...scoring huge hits while clearing a path, and earning undying gratitude. And, yes, respect for a real fighter.

This would mean arming yourself with NEW bullets, not standard ones that Rove already knows how to dodge. Like;

The balkans comparison

Or the fact that Bill Clinton defended the borders far better than W.

Or the opposite attitudes toward secrecy.

Or the monstrous failure of neocons to ask :”How would I have reacted if Clinton had_____” And fill in ANY action by W.

With Ken Lay and a colleague from Enron BOTH dropping dead suspiciously amid plea bargains, can you believe that I have heard talk radio guys STILL calling poor Vince Foster a murder victim. Because he might have blabbed about... how two people in the White House Travel Office got their jobs transferred under the WRONG CLERICAL PROCEDURE!!!!!!

The hypocrisy is staggering and no one dares to take it on.

Anonymous said...

Rob
I know what you mean by
we don't wish to label conservatives "reactionary" is that they're not, the idea is demagoguery, and extreme" I agree it is intended to be so, however
but i throughly disagree that
" it plays into Rove's hands."

thats the way that was tried at the last election - stand tall, dont stoop to their level.

AND IT LOST

Melissa

Love REGRESSIVE much better than reactionary (which sounds a little 3rd 4th 5th (take your pick)internationa for me to be honest ), what a wonderful word - and perfectly condesending (always a good way to treat your opponenets - you do think they are wrong after all).

David

Yes Yes Yes

Fight them and keep fighting, define the battle ground as THEIR week points and NEVER let up.

David Brin said...

jfefb
Anonymous, don't you DARE think I am saying stand tall and don't fight!

What I am saying is that it's owur turn to use jiu jitsu.

They know how to take every lefty posture and turn it into a million point (voter) throw.

So? Don't attack them there! Attack them where it will hurt most.

By breaking up their alliance.

You think I want to mince on stage and "take the high road" like Kerry?

I assure you, I can rip their guts out better by quoting Adam Smith and Dwight Eisenhower and Andrew Carnegie and Barry Goldwater and (yes!) Ronald Reagan then you will ever damage them by quoting Ghandi.

These monsters are weakest in areas on HONESTY and COMPETENCE. DIg it. Attack them there and we don't even have to play into the left-right thing AT ALL! They are rapacious lying crooks and microcephalic morons! We can easily show that's more than enough reason for change.

monkyboy said...

How are we supposed to tell who the "good" Nazis are?

Even if we could tell the "good" Nazis from the "bad" Nazis (many have thought they could and paid the price)... how could you get them to give up their primitive superstitions and billions of dollars of easy pork?

Mark said...

David,

As a guy who spent a fair amount of time a couple of years ago trying to get Wes Clark nominated, I feel your pain. When Clark campaigned for Kerry he great line where he pointed out that Bush was a cheerleader in college and Kerry played hockey. No one else ever picked up on that.

But the one thing that really, really gets me about Iraq is the lie both the Republicans and Democrats have gone with: that congress voted "for war" and that we thought there were WMDs when the war began. In reality they voted to give Bush a loaded gun to point at the head of Saddam to get weapon inspectors back in Iraq. It worked, we got the inspectors in and we kept the pressure on to keep them in.

But they didn't find anything.

And before the could finish the job, Bush pulled the inspectors out! By this point, it had become clear that perhaps there really were no WMDs. Leave the inspectors in and we would have known for sure.

Not a Democrat called him on it at the time, at least not one that voted to authorize war, because they all wanted to look tough, just like W. I still think the vote to authorize war was the correct one, even knowing what we know about the WMDs. It was worth getting the inspectors in to find out. But the war itself is an entirely different matter. Was the vote correct based on the knowledge we now have on the trustworthiness of our president? That is a much harder question. We now know we were screwed no matter what, basically.

But the time Democrats could call Bush on this sham came and went and now we are all stuck with this inaccurate portrayal of history. Bleh.

(I've seem to have ranted way off topic, sorry about that!)

Anonymous said...

David

I sincerely agree with what you said (my Yes Yes Yes was meant as a sort of cheer)

My point on walking tall - and loosing was adressed to rob who seems to think fighting tough is playing into the hands of rove -

Rob Perkins said...

Anonymous, you've committed fallacy.

The reason such demagoguery plays into Rove's hands is because it's demagoguery. Disgusted with both sides for politics as usual, centrists like me will examine the field of eight or nine candidates, and choose the least-steaming-pile, confident that no matter how he votes (in most states) the state he's in is gonna choose the predetermined candidate for one of the top-two-funded candidates, thanks to the disgusting and amoral winner-take-all electoral selection system present in all but two states.

Last time, the least-steaming-pile appeared to be W. This is borne out by his electoral win. (Complaining about election irregularities in Ohio while not also complaining about the same irregularities in Washington, California, or Pennsylvania is marvelously disingenuous. Problems exist everywhere.)

Enraged name-calling is politics-as-usual, and doesn't serve any cause nearly as well as the angryperson hopes. It isn't "fighting tough" to *be* like the otherguys.

David offered a decent rubric. People on the Right really really want their crack at Hillary Clinton. Perhaps she should give it to them by announcing a candidacy, and as he pointed out, having her take it on the chin... this time. If you want to convince people like my father that such a person as Clinton is a decent leader, airing it all is a good way to do it.

On the subject of the phone companies, deregulation did nothing for local service, and everything for "long distance", though the fee structures today are still byzantine and in some ways offensive (They don't have to advertise the bottom line price!)

Therefore, it wasn't a *failure*, it was a "mixed bag". The '96 Telecom Act (under Clinton! but... with a Republican Congress) was the thing which permitted mergers, not the Reagan-era action, in which the Congress didn't participate directly.

Now, of course, the Telcos are fighting for even more power to merge and control, with upcoming legislation on the Internet et al. Their stance is centered completely around preserving a monopoly on voice traffic and extending it to data traffic. It's worth fighting.

David Brin said...

Thanks ROb. But there is no way to do successfully what millions of conservatives now do, and call W the "least steaming pile". The paroxysms of pretzel twists that they must perform, in order to call people like Hillary and Kerry"equivalently bad" on the left are starting to simply look grotesque.

Don't your spines hurt?

If any democratic president were to BLOCK a Justice Department investigation for political reasons... or any other reason whatsoever... every right wing pundit would be all over him. Bush, in contrast, has doen it at an accelerating pace. He has to! Lest the snowball effect take over.

This is NOT a case where "stuff equivalent to Ohio" happened in California, etc. It's just not true. If it were true, don't you think this Congress would have investigated Diebold, by now?

Most of the country's voting machines, made by a company with CLOSE partisan ties, allowing NO audits of its software, not even by confidential contractors, accredited even though the machines have been routinely hacked and failed every test?

And where does one have to stand, in order to feel that this stench is "equivalent"?

Dig it... I put the kiabosh on this entire equivalence thing. In 2000 we were PROMISED INDICTMENTS. By the incoming Bush administration. They said "As soon as honest men get their hands on the file cabinets of the Executive Branch, there will be a flood of indictments of Clintonite officials who participated in the most corrupt administration in US history."

Rush Limbaugh and Hanity and such crowed this prediction... and then fell silent gradually as a funny thing happened. Even though several BILLION dollars were spent investigating and rifling through those file cabinets searching for smoking guns, for ANY excuse to indict...

...taking FBI agents away from other duties during the run-up to 9/11,,, a scandal in its own right...

...what was the net result? Where was the entertaining and diverting indictment-fest we were so lovingly and eagerly promised? A Clintonite hanging from every lamp post?

Um... the net and total number of Clinton Era federal officials who have been indicted for malfeasance in the actual performance of their sworn official duties has amounted to ... ZERO.

After severall billions and untold wasted man hours, after all the drooling promises, after all the fervid and turgid accusations, it turns out that - by absolutely verifiable fact, the Clinton Administration was by far the most honest and open and professional in all of American... in all of human... history.

The neocon hypocrites may sputter and stammer and choke and fume over that statement (which was parsed that way in order to achieve that entertaining effect, by the way). But they cannot refute it. They have spent billions and fourteen YEARS searching for Clintonian smoking guns. They have peered through every file cabinet, issued countless subpoenas, offered bribes and whistleblower rewards, spread conspiracy theories, hurled slander and baseless accusations, screeched over the tiniest corelations... and come up with abso-freaking-lutely nothing whatsoever.

Again and again I ask my not-insane conservative friends; "What will it take?"

"What will it take for you to contemplate the possibility that you were wrong?"

I had the foresight to challenge one guy with the indictments thing in 2000. (If only I had done it publicly!) I asked "What if five years from now there are ZERO INDICTMENTS (not to mention convictions)? Will you THEN admit this was all a lot of loony ranting? He said "That'll never happen. But sure, in that case..."

Go ahead and ask your friends out there this question: "What will it take?"

In their stubborn loyalty and partisanship, they will stammer about how "we're at war." They will claim the left is worse. They will come up with excuses for a new clade of feudal lords and the greatest surge of secrecy in government in all our lives, far outstripping anything during the Cold War. They will writhe and avoid committing themselves to ANY threshhold, beyond which they'll say "Enough!"

THIS is the fundamental flaw in conservatism. Not any of the stuff discussed by Alan Wolfe.

When the chips were down, in 1947, patriotic liberals turned their backs on Communism and voted for the Enlightenment, saying "our side can have monsters."

But you will not see courage like this from conservatives. The elephant should be replaced with an ostrich.

David Brin said...

Oh... one more despairing item.

I have tried absolutely every variation with that ##@#%*! Mindstorms IR tower. I removed ALL usb devices. I uninstalled everything. (though windows refuses to remove the IR Tower from its list of installed devices) I re-installed every which way . I followed every piece of advice on the Lego site. Nada. Just endless Windows agony.

(When I have forgotten where a file or application is on my Mac? I go to Spotlight and start typing the name or some word inside the file's content and get instant gratification, in seconds. Ever tried Windows "search" to find anything? Anything at all? Why do people still defend that stuff? Talk about blind conservatism?)

Seriously, if any of you know a Mindstorms expert, please have him her get in touch. Summer's a wasting and I have two boys.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Diebold in California:

Schwarzenegger was elected when Diebold machines were used.

In the next election, Schwarzenegger sponsored several ballot measures. All failed. Paper/punchcard ballots were used.

In the next election, the new Republican secretary of state accepted the Diebold equipment despite its proven vulnerabilities. The equipment was taken home by pollworkers days or weeks before the election. (Traditionally this was done to ease distribution of the older, more secure systems on election morning. This practice was disallowed -- by law or agency regulation -- with the new machines. Nonetheless, the decertified machines went home with pollworkers and were used in the election.) In this election, Schwarzenegger won the primary.

When Diebold machines are used, Schwarzenegger wins.

When paper/punchcards are used, Schwarzenegger loses.

Maybe he won because of his vast name recognition as a movie star. Maybe the machines were rigged. We'll never know.

Anonymous said...

Japan purchased 80% or $300 million of Alaska’s energy exports in 2004. China, Hong Kong, Korea, Canada and Chile imported the remainder.

Don't assume that because it comes from Alaska, Americans will get the product.

http://www.gov.state.ak.us/trade/products/energy_export2004.php

monkyboy said...

Dr. Brin,

Handwringing and despair have their place, but...less than 4 months to go until the election.

Can we get your official predictions?

Will the Democrats regain control of the House?

Will the Democrats regain control of the Senate?

Anonymous said...

rob

you see me calling for enraged name calling - i'm not

Im calling for consistent and coherant name calling - there is a difference. the key difference being that you get to define the other side in a way they dont want you to (which is why i dont like conservative as it sounds too inherintly positive).


Your belife that this leds to you voting for W is probably mistaken as this was NOT done effectivly at the last election.

And in fact since Kerry appeared to be unable to run an effective campaign i have to agree with you he would not have been a good president.

Had Kerrys campaign and the Dems as a whole run an effective coherant agressive campaign with a strong message defining the republicans in a negative way - insread of a disorganised campaign where the demagogory was left to the Michael moors and Move ons with too extreme and shrill denounciations and a resounding silence from the centre then he would have won.

Further if this plays into roves hands how come HE plays it that way.

Sory rob politics as usual is there to win elections.

A regular turn over of parties in power tends to bring parties back to the middle ground and promote modernism.

it the dems stick with the same aas last election they will end up loosing again.







As far as i can see there has not been politics as normal since the bushies started using 9/11, we're at war, dont citisise us in any way or your un american as a daily cry.

Rob Perkins said...

David,

My spine is in fine shape, thankyouverymuch. A little buyer's remorse, to be sure, but recognize please, as I'm sure you do, that W can't be reelected, and that "least steaming pile" will likely turn Rove out as well. If Republicans go to the polls for the primaries.

I mean, I seriously considered voting for the Constitution Party candidate, until it dawned on me that even W and Kerry were less insane. I think had he been anyone but Kerry, my vote would have gone to the Democrat.

Not that it matters: my State sent electors for the Democrat. Seattle is a juggernaut that way.

And I think I've explained my supposition: The Clinton White House, all of whose alleged indiscretions but one came early on, *dared* not cheat... because an antagonistic Congress was watching it with all diligence!

That's the thing, in my opinion, which made those six years so different from the last six. Bush has a pushover Congress, whose leaders are more interested in raiding the bank for their consituents than checking the powers of the President.

Seen from that perspective, it's hardly a wonder that the Balkans aggressions were handled with relative competence (though I won't really agree that Serbia and Iraq are comparable scenarios at all, except to play in your backyard pool a bit). The oversight committees were working!

Moving along, you ask, " Go ahead and ask your friends out there this question: "What will it take?""

Knowing what I know about conservatives (among whom I can't really claim to be a friend, you know) the answer is: take their side, or at least take them seriously, on social issues. Then you have them, hook, line, and sinker.

It's why Rove has them. So... nominate someone who is not as polarizing as Clinton or Dean, and "looks the same" from the perspective of social issues as any Republican, and then the other issues of competence and malfeasance can rise to the top. Otherwise, what you get is a Republican side which says, "We might have done wrong, but we're still on your side re gay marriage!"

If that's an affront to some of you here, well, you may bite them. But they bite back, and you're suffering through eight years of "the wrong president" because of it.

Nate said...

I know Dr. Brin's going to bemoan the "zealots" who brought gay marriage suits in Mass. and elsewhere, so I'm going to say in advance the Democratic party was trying to pull off what he advised, not bringing it up and downplaying it, as they had been for years, and then some private citizens got tired of waiting to get married, and getting no relief from elected officals, took their case to court. And of COURSE the Republicans lit up their "Culture War" about it. Becuase they know they're losing, most importantly with the kids. And most of the Democrats still dithered, instead of coming out and saying what they believed. And that dithering did more damage than any of Rove's culture war crap. Because it made them look afraid, and weak, and not sure what they believed in. Better to have come out on the side of their beliefs and fought. At least then it'd look like they cared.

And that's actually sort of related to what my main point was. I've read the first two novels in the 1632 series in the past couple days, and there's been parts of them that've illuminated other things for me. Like the concept of the Loyal Opposition. Seeing your electoral opponents as opponents, rather than enemies.

That's one of the things Rove and his predecessors in the culture war, back to the 60s and surely before have been trying to destroy. "Oppose us and you oppose the country!" "You're either with us or against us!" "If you're not for war, you're objectively pro-Saddam!" They've been converting their opponents from opponents to enemies, and making the Loyal Opposition into Enemies. And the press. And whatever scapegoat group it happens to be, gays or immigrants or whatever.

And it's repeated endlessly by the Limbaughs and O'Reilleys and Andrew Sullivans and Restates and Little Green Footballs of the web and radio and Fox news and Washington Times. Repeated, and escalated. Until they're calling journalists traitors for publishing pictures of the VP's vacation house. Until they're calling for the execution of academics for imagined treason during Vietnam. Until they're calling millions of citizens in cities and coasts a "potential fifth column" for Al-Queda.

And that's the most dangerous part of everything they've done, at least to the future of our democracy. Incompetence, lies, foolish wars, and no diplomacy we've survived before. Fantasyland economics, scientific ignorance, and Deadly Social Issues of the Day, we've survived before. But when they turn at least half the country, whole swathes of land and people and history and culture into The Enemy, that, we may not be able to survive.

How do you compromise with that? What moderation will get them to stop? I don't know. I wish I did. And that is the threat I fear most.

David Brin said...

I do not recommend moderation in dealing with them. I recommend and angry and militant pragmatic, centrist modernism.

That means holding no truck with symbolism junkies of any side.

Gay couples who have seen civil unions sanctioned in many states could quietly have taken the final steps by getting the states's entire marriage law duplicated for them, only with a few buzz words altered, allowing demure old fashioned troglodytes to hold onto THEIR symbols!

What would it have hurt to call it "barriage"? or "Larriage?" The tiniest concession might have divided the oppositiopn side enough to let us get this behind us. With gay couples then free to protect and ceremoniously honor each other exactly the same way heteros do.

But that's just the point. To romantics, the slightest concession is inconceivable. To instead fume in outrage is the goal. And never, ever, to call their unwillingness to concede a little symbolism "intolerant".

What it comes down to is being the kind of people who care about the feelings of others. And old-fashioned, fearful, middle-american troglodytes have feelings, too.

Fhydra said...

Tesla Motors just unvieled its car yeseterday. I hope you guys checked their site out.

In other technology news, I recently heard this story on how almost everyone from Sweden has been evacuated from Lebanon on Thursday. They did it using cell phones: Here's a link

If only the US would do that...

Rob Perkins said...

What it comes down to is being the kind of people who care about the feelings of others. And old-fashioned, fearful, middle-american troglodytes have feelings, too.

There it is. That's how you win conservative votes. Of course, the sentence is kind of back-handed, since conservatives consider themselves neither fearful, nor troglodytish. I wouldn't use those words; they convey the contempt you *must* hide if you want these people's attentions for more than the fourteen seconds it will take them to decide you're not in line with their preconceived notions.

Rob Perkins said...

The U.S., whose telecom system is far more complex and far less homogenous than Sweden's, would have had a hard time text-messaging "all citizens in lebanon registered with a Swedish telecom company".

Not to mention the issues dealing with releasing private contact information to the U.S. government for any reason. ACLU lawsuit, anyone?

Regarding demagoguing the conservatives, by calling them "reactionary", let's just establish that most conservatives are not reactionary. Then it becomes namecalling. If reactionary, your basic conservative would want the restoration of fault-based divorce instead of no-fault divorce. Or, maybe, he would want the Senate's makeup to be chosen by State legislatures.

If not that, he might want women to stop voting, or black people to return to a place as second-class citizens or slaves.

Conservatives want none of those things. Therefore, yes, it's namecalling and demagoguery to say so, and a guarantee that the end result could approach balkanization.

Nate said...

Most liberals don't want most of the things that strawman "liberals" get accused of all the time. It's name-calling and demagoguery, but it sure seems to be working for the conservatives. So why should liberals sit there and take the high road and not fight back? That's really working well so far. Why not discredit the conservatives with the worst of their party, a lot of whom happen to be the ones in the leadership of their party.

Anonymous said...

nate

thanks for expressing that more eloquently than i managed.

Rob Perkins said...

Nate, It works best when it's true. If it's not true, it backfires eventually.

I have, as a centrist ticket splitter, no respect for those who take up the tools of dirty politics. I hate choosing on the basis of "least steaming pile". The idea that these people are enemies, instead of fellow americans, is simple anathema.

Feel completely free to discredit all the people worth discrediting, but recognize that it's only gonna stick if it's true.

Anonymous said...

Rob,

You were concerned about "releasing private contact information to the U.S. government". I thought the U.S. government had already acquired all private contact information through its various interpretations of Presidential power.

Also, you claim conservatives are not interested in depriving women of the vote and blacks of first-class citizenship. I have seen so many instances of neocons wistfully longing for disenfranchisement of those groups that the threat has to be considered, even if most conservatives have made it to the late twentieth century.

Nate said...

Dr. Brin said:
"Gay couples who have seen civil unions sanctioned in many states could quietly have taken the final steps by getting the states's entire marriage law duplicated for them, only with a few buzz words altered, allowing demure old fashioned troglodytes to hold onto THEIR symbols!

Seperate but Equal, Dr. Brin?

There's a LOT of things involved with marriage. States are required to recognize each other's marriages, for one. Not with Domestic Partnerships. Neither are insurance companies. Taxes on the state, federal, and local levels. Hospitial visitation rights. Adoption. Inheritance. Not to mention all the kinds of positive cultural associations with marriage. Things that wouldn't be there quite the same for any kind of "not-really-marriage". It's almost ironic that so many conservatives are freaking out because gay people want to join in on all the same kinds of cultural and social values and traditions of marriage.

Rob Perkins said:
"Feel completely free to discredit all the people worth discrediting, but recognize that it's only gonna stick if it's true."

Tell that to Al Gore. And Bill Clinton. And John Kerry. And all the "freedom-hating" "Al-queda sympathizing" anti-war protestors. Or any "America-hating" liberal. Or, hell, to Richard Nixon, who actually has people defending him. Or Ollie North, who's hailed as an "American Hero" in signifigant portions of the country for lying to Congress and selling weapons to terrorists. It doesn't need to be true to stick, it just needs to be repeated over and over and over regardless of the truth, against opponents who aren't quite as good at repeating the opposites. "Not sticking" depends on the time frame. Sure, future historians writing about the time might write an accurate account, but that doesn't matter in the here and now. And just pointing at the name-calling and going "That's not nice! Foul! Foul!" doesn't do a bit of good.

Rob Perkins said...

Oy, another round of "why gay marriage is vital and critical to all people now" in spite of the fact that we've all done without it for the entire history of mankind, up to this point.

I know I'm looking forward to it, 'cause it'll finally convince those commiepinkolibrals/backwardsflyoverreactionaries that MY point of view is the One True Point of View.

NOT!