Of course I'm liberal, I believe in liberty.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

From the comments:

I liked the 65 word version - but the line about "power must be held in check no matter in what form it takes" sounds rather conservative. Doesn't creating more and more government programs and regulations give more power to the greatest concentration of power in the world? In fact, I can't say I disagree with any of it.

Actually, I'd be curious to know which part of American Prospect's 'conservatism's elevator pitch' you disagree with?
I think both liberals and conservatives want to keep power in check but focus on different groups. Typically conservatives worry about the government (except the parts that use guns, for some reason) and unions, while liberals worry about big business and the potential aristocracy. At their worst you could say both sides simply want to increase their own power and worry about the other guy's power.

I tend to come in at a liberal libertarian point of view, all concentrated power must be kept in check. My big grief with most libertarians is they don't seem to worry about non-governmental actors infringing on the liberties of others. As I've said before, monopolies are anti-capitalistic. Inheritance tax is necessary to prevent the formation of an aristocracy. The reason I tend to worry less about government then other parties is we already have elections and built in checks and balances. However, with Bush in office I've become far more worried about governmental power; so much so it's actually altered my philosophy somewhat. The fact we didn't vote out an obviously incompetent government really weakened my faith in democracy.

I must say, though, I'm not sure my statement really applies to all liberals. One of the hard parts of defining liberalism is we each have our own point of view. Some would put environmentalism first, others helping the poor, and still others would focus on labor. I tend to focus on social liberty. But it always comes back to protecting the little guy from the big guy, I guess.

The American Prospect's 'conservatism's elevator pitch' was "we believe in freedom and liberty, and we're for low taxes, less government, traditional values, and a strong national defense." To me low taxes and less government are red herrings, I believe in efficient government and good government. For example, is social security big government and high taxes? Perhaps from one perspective, but the system is extremely efficient and fair. It works. I'm closer to the conservatives on defense (though Iraq was just plain stupid), but given we spend more on defense then the rest of the world combined, there is plenty of room for negotiation.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Well Disguised

Matthew Yglesias links to the New Republic's Well Disguised article (I provided a free link) and points out how Bush sounds like a liberal New Dealer:
Bush is more-or-less the reverse, a faux liberal. If you listen to his speeches, you would believe that his agenda consists of making the tax code fairer to people of modest means, improving the environment, expanding access to affordable health care, strenghtening New Deal/Great Society entitlement programs, and ending poverty. The fact that he isn't doing those things does, of course, matter. But the fact that he feels a need to pretend to be doing those things also matters. It shows that, roughly speaking, Bill Clinton succeeded in rehabilitating liberalism, even if he left office with the Democratic Party 100 percent out of power. The GOP has only been able to succeed by consistently adopting a pose of liberalism. This is a significant achievement, in and of itself, even if it would also be nice to win elections.
Even with all the recent backlash it's important to remind ourselves from time to time that liberals have still won most of the fights. Despite attempts to push back mankind and America are still becoming ever more liberal, just as George Washington hoped.

The Liberal Agenda

American Prospect has an interesting contest asking readers to submit short statements defining liberalism in 30 words or less:
Well, we all know the basic outline of conservatism's elevator pitch: "We believe in freedom and liberty, and we're for low taxes, less government, traditional values, and a strong national defense." But what is liberalism's? We at the Prospect have, among us, attended or sat on about eleventy hundred panels since the election at which someone invariably says something like the following: "We know what conservatives stand for. But what do we stand for?"

No one in Washington seems to know. So we turn to you. Give us liberalism's elevator pitch.
At first I thought I had this nailed, after all I've tried to define my liberalism several times on this site. I've attempted to be short an elegant and felt I've been reasonably successful, such as when I stated:

I'm a liberal because I believe all people deserve liberty, because I believe real problems can be solved, because I believe concentrated power must be held in check no matter in what form it takes and because I believe it is our moral obligation to pass on to our children a better world -- with better opportunities for all -- than what we received from our parents.

But that's 65 words, more than twice the number allowed. Hmmm, this may be tricky. I also at one point said "liberalism is all about expanding who belongs in the mainstream and listening to new ideas outside of the mainstream" and true liberals are those "who will fight for the liberty of someone they don't know, like or understand", but I don't think thats the best selling point.

I'd also like to get the phrase "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" in as a way to point out our views on investment, but that's a full third of the alloted word count right there. Hmmm...

Well, here's the best I've come up with so far:

Liberals believe in the Golden Rule, the power of cooperation and teamwork, a strong middle class, investments today lead to a better tomorrow and respect, liberty and justice for all.

I don't think it's good enough to submit, yet. I'll think some more.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

First Tinky-Winky, Now SpongeBob

Once again we learn that tolerance is not a family value and Dr. Dobson is leading the fight to make sure it stays that way. Apparently, SpongeBob SquarePants is part of an insidious plan to brainwash America's kids. From the Times:
Dr. Dobson said, SpongeBob's creators had enlisted him in a "pro-homosexual video," in which he appeared alongside children's television colleagues like Barney and Jimmy Neutron, among many others. The makers of the video, he said, planned to mail it to thousands of elementary schools to promote a "tolerance pledge" that includes tolerance for differences of "sexual identity."
Paul Batura, assistant to Mr. Dobson at Focus on the Family, said the group stood by its accusation.

"We see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids," he said. "It is a classic bait and switch."
Wow, sounds like those "We Are Family" guys are evil and devious, doesn't it? While the video isn't on line you can go read about it at We Are Famlily:
Arthur, Barney, Bear, Big Bird, Clifford, JoJo and SpongeBob, as well as over 100 other beloved children's characters, have united to re-record the smash hit "We Are Family" in an unprecedented music video to promote tolerance and diversity to America's children. The video, which demonstrates to children the importance of togetherness embodied in the word “family”, will be distributed to 61,000 public and private elementary schools in the United States on March 11, 2005, in celebration of the proposed National We Are Family Day.
“Cooperation and unity are the most important values we can teach children. We believe that this is the essential first step to loving thy neighbor,” says Nile Rodgers, co-writer of the song “We Are Family” and founder of the We Are Family Foundation. “And the fun and exciting format makes it a lesson that's easy for children to learn.”
How dare they say cooperation and tolerance should be taught to our children! We must teach our children to hate those unlike themselves! Hate! Hate! Hate!

The "tolerance pledge" does not appear on the video, but there is a link for it at the We Are Family site. For the record, here it is
Tolerance is a personal decision that comes from a belief that every person is a treasure. I believe that America's diversity is its strength. I also recognize that ignorance, insensitivity and bigotry can turn that diversity into a source of prejudice and discrimination.

To help keep diversity a wellspring of strength and make America a better place for all, I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own.
Wow, that's some evil stuff there, eh?

Seriously though, I always feel a deep sadness seeing complaints like this. Those of us on the left like to think of Dobson and his righteous brethren as the evil agents of oppression and intolerance. Or as the popular Colorado bumpersticker goes, "Focus On Your Own Damn Family". But if you go to the family.org web site and look around it is pretty clear the guy is legitimately trying to do what he thinks is best. He's just wrong.

The good news is guys like Dobson were racial biggots only a few decades ago. I see no sign Dobson himself is racist. While there is still racism out there it appears liberals have basically won that battle. Perhaps fifty years from now the next generation of conservatives will accept gay couples just like they accept non-whites today. Dobson fan Hammertime is already half way there.

I'm a big believer in balance, so I think we still need those conservatives out there, though, to clean up some of the collateral damage. Yes, liberalism does at times lead to too much promiscuity, too much dependence and not enough responsibility. Bill Cosby talks about it and so did Bill Clinton, even if he couldn't live up to it, personally. If only they'd stop singling out entire groups of people as scape goats and focus on real problems. If they want to complain about the in-your-face sexuality of some gay-pride parades I'm right there with them, but they attack the loving couples in committed relationships as well -- that's just wrong and immoral.

James Wolcott is less tolerant of the intolerant than I and suggests we call Dobson SpongeDob Stickypants for now on. I won't, but I'm willing to pass on the idea to others.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Stratum IX Leadership

The other night I rediscovered an post I made to the Wesley Clark blog back in October. Most of this is cut-n-paste from the three articles I list at the end. If I were younger and deciding what to major in, I'd be tempted to go for something in the cognitive sciences instead of physics. Perhaps in my next life... Anyway, I found this interesting.

Posted to mark's weblog on Sat Oct 2nd, 2004 at 05:25:17 PM PDT

For some reason I found myself thinking about that old New Yorker article about presidential candidates and complex thought.  That article was revered in Clark circles for the line "Kerry was not the sharpest of the Democratic candidates this year (Wesley Clark scored in the parallel stratosphere)".  Well I decided to do some googling this morning to find out more about Cason and the theory behind this article.  Here is what I found out.

The four types of mental (information) processing are:

  1. Declarative processing:  Argument by making simple, unconnected points.

  2. Cumulative processing:  Argument by making a number of connected points.

  3. Serial processing:  Argument based on an "if-then" structure, "if A then B and hence C"

  4. Parallel processing:  Several serial arguments are linked together.

[To determine which type someone is,] he observes the logic you use in arguments, when they become so heated that you forget you're being watched. If you easily interweave several lines of argument at once, or argue from several perspectives, you operate on a higher stratum than someone who makes simpler assertions.

Declarative types: Bob Dole, Michael Dukakis, Gerald Ford.

Cumulative types: Bill Clinton, Walter Mondale, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, Al Gore

Serial types: Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun, Ronald Reagan, J.F.K., John Kerry

Parallel types: Wesley Clark

Stratum I: These jobs might include shop floor operator, salesclerk, or general police officer; most work is routine, and supervision is commonplace for new tasks. Such jobs are good fits for "level one" people, who can cope with thinking about a time horizon of one day to three months.

 Stratum II: First-line managers, shop-floor supervisors, foremen, proprietors of some small businesses, and police lieutenant positions have a felt-fair pay level of one-and-one-half times what a Stratum I employee might get. This job fits people with a three-month to one-year time horizon (who can handle assignments that take that long to fulfill).

Stratum III: Department heads, workshop managers, owners of multistore franchises, and police captains would make felt-fair pay that was three times that of a Stratum I employee. Stratum III managers typically know personally all the people below them in a hierarchy. Many professionals with high technical skill levels operate at this level, managing just a few people. People with a time horizon of one to two years can handle this.

 Stratum IV: A plant manager, editor of a large media operation, lab manager, or any line leader with responsibility for diverse constituencies would earn felt-fair pay six times that of Stratum I. Appropriate time horizon: two to five years.

 Stratum V: Positions at this level include large-company divisional executives, business-unit heads (at the vice presidential level), production directors, and CEOs of 5,000-employee organizations. Most "zealot" jobs are probably Stratum V positions. Felt-fair pay: 12 times Stratum I. Time horizon: five to 10 years.

 Stratum VI: From here on out, the air gets rarefied. Positions include CEOs of companies with 20,000 people, or executive vice presidents and business-unit leaders of larger companies. Felt-fair pay: 24 times Stratum I. Time horizon: 10 to 20 years.

Stratum VII: Positions include CEOs of most Fortune 500 companies, high-level civil servants (like the Sir Humphrey character in "Yes Minister"), and other leaders whose decisions might (or should) be sweeping enough to take decades to fully realize. Felt-fair pay: 48 times Stratum I. Time horizon: 20 to 50 years.

Stratum VIII: The CEOs of General Electric Company, the General Motors Corporation, and other super-corporations have Stratum VIII jobs, with a felt-fair pay level 96 times that of Stratum I. If you are chosen for such a job, you'd better be one of those rare people (like Jack Welch) with an innate time horizon of 50 to 100 years, or your corporation will probably decline.

Stratum IX and higher: Now we move beyond the mere CEO level, to the geniuses who operate on behalf of society's far future, or whose work embodies extraordinary complexity ... for example, Christ, Buddha, Confucius, Mozart, Galileo, Einstein, Gandhi, Winston Churchill, and a few business leaders like Konosuke Matsushita and Alfred Sloan, who graduate from running Stratum VIII companies to looking out for society's development. Most of us cannot count a single Stratum IX person among our acquaintances. And their felt-fair pay? Well, James Joyce spent his life in poverty.

I'll let you Clarkies draw your own conclusions from this.  :-)

(1) New Yorker article
(2) 04-05TOCandROTheoryOverview.pdf
(3) strategy+business article

Evil Genius Worries

It's funny, but so many Democrats have bought into the "Karl Rove is an Evil Genius" meme we tend to assume anything that goes badly for these guys must be part of some master plan. They know all, they see all, they know what we'll do months before we do. Nah. They're good, but that aren't anywhere close to this good. In fact, Bush, Rove and company have a history of overreaching; they just get away with it. They're kind of like the star basketball player that fouls every play; the refs just don't call it anymore.

Today all the liberal blogs should be rejoicing for what appears to be a victory to prevent the phase out of social security. From the Post:
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) predicted yesterday that partisan warfare over Social Security will quickly render President Bush's plan "a dead horse" and called on Congress to undertake a broader review of the problems of an aging nation.
But the initial reaction of most bloggers has been like Kevin Drum's:
Democrats are going to keep a pretty united front on this, and that united front is going to scare at least 40 or 50 Republicans away from supporting it. The votes just aren't there.

But here's the funny thing: surely Karl Rove knows this? Unless I'm missing something, it seems like a no brainer. So what's the point?

I dunno. Maybe a head fake of some kind? Back in 2002 I couldn't figure out why Bush initially opposed a vote on the Iraq war either, since it was obvious that he'd win one easily. In that case, generating Democratic demands for a vote was probably the underlying reason, since that prevented Democrats from then claiming that the whole thing was just a partisan trap.
Nope, the Republicans just screwed up. Unless I'm mistaken Bush will talk a great deal about Social Security in his inaugural speech. Democrats need to hold his feet to the fire on this one. Fortunately, most Democrats (including Drum) realize this. Mark Schmitt, after discussing some similar worries best sums up the Democratic advantage thus:
The problem for the White House is not that they will lose the legislation. They were prepared for that. The problem is that they can't even get to the starting point of credibility on their legislation, even befor they offer it. If they can't get to the debate they want, they will lose control of the agenda, and it will disintegrate into a bunch of nutty and hugely embarassing ideas like Thomas's plan to "gender-adjust" Social Security to reduce benefits for women because they live longer. (Putting all this together, Social Security is, according to Republicans, unfair to African-Americans because they die young and too generous to widows because they live too long.) If you can remember not to panic about any of this actually becoming law, it will be highly entertaining.

This sorry game is over. The challenge for Democrats is now to drag it out, to inflict maximum pain, to drag this out at least as long as the Clinton health care debacle was drawn out.

American Study Laboratory

Disney was right, it is a small world after all. I just noticed a link from a site in Japan chiming in on the sticker controversy. The site is アメリカ学研究所, which via bablefish becomes The American study laboratory. Here is the bablefish conclusion:
So well when "rational and naturalism" are worshipped, although you criticize you call evolution theory to humorous thing, as for the creative theory supporters sometimes, that also the self is swallowed in rational ƒ…?

Don't you think? as for them like whether at first glance you dislike science of, however it is visible, as for truth having faith the doctrine of science from heart,the it is.
Bablefish is a great tool, but it still has some room for improvement. Looks like a call for moderation.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Moderation and the Party of Opposition

I'm a liberal because I believe all people deserve liberty, because I believe real problems can be solved, because I believe concentrated power must be held in check no matter in what form it takes and because I believe it is our moral obligation to pass on to our children a better world -- with better opportunities for all -- than what we received from our parents.

I'm a moderate because I realize change is difficult, because 90% of all suggested solutions stink, because pragmatism trumps ideology1 and because we can't solve the next generation's problems today. In my idealized America we'd have a liberal House trying to solve all the problems, a conservative Senate tossing away all the bad ideas while perfecting the good ones and as president we'd have, well, me (hey, it's my fantasy.) Ok, in the Oval Office would sit a moral, moderate, Stratum IX leader wisely guiding the way.

Given that moderate approach it may seem surprising that I keep reminding Democrats we are now the party of opposition and we need to hold the line on the social security privatization/phase out plan. Shouldn't we work with the Republicans to minimize the harm while maximizing the benefits of their privatization scheme? Isn't that what moderation is all about?

Well, yea, in theory. But you have to hold some power make the theory work. Pragmatism trumps ideology I claimed and that includes the ideal of moderation. As the saying goes, "moderation in all things, including moderation." Democrats hold very little power in Washington right now -- that power needs to be used wisely. Josh Marshall had an excellent post yesterday primarily to complain about Rahm Emanuel (D) of Illinois' appearance on Meet The Press, but he goes on to explain the big picture:
When Bill Clinton was president, I'm not sure he had any bigger supporter than me. But many of those who worked with him in the White House got into a mindset that can easily lead Democrats astray in our present circumstances. Clinton's critics often knock him for his reliance on tactical positioning, on tacking back and forth against the wind, on finding the small rhetorical or policy distinctions, the sweet spots that could upend his opponents.

But when you hold the White House those approaches really can work -- because you have three levers of power, the executive branch, the bully pulpit and the veto pen. That power gives you control over the terms and pace of the debate. And those let you bring clever tactics and fancy footwork into play.

But the Democrats don't have any of that today. They're completely excluded from power in Washington. The only effective power they have is the ability to deny the president the cover of bipartisanship in enacting his agenda when his agenda conflicts with their fundamental principles.
No one is saying that Democrats should meet the president with effrontery. That would be counterproductive. Nor should the Democrats be unwilling to work together if President Bush supports legislation that doesn't go against Democrats' fundamental principles. But President Bush has made explicitly clear in this case that his proposal will go against those principles and he's made clear over the last four years that he has little interest in true legislative give-and-take.

Given those facts and given that the Democrats hold neither the White House nor either chamber of Congress, the only power the Democrats have is their power to state the facts clearly and withhold the legitimacy they alone can impart through providing bipartisan cover. This isn't rude or political. If Democrats believe private accounts are wrong they should say so and vote so. No voter expects politicians to vote for bills they believe are flatly wrong.

Is there a Social Security crisis? No.

There's no reason to cook up some other 'crisis' to provide some sort of silly balance.

Is the president being honest about private accounts? No.

Will Democrats support a phase-out bill with private accounts? No.

Should the Democrats have an alternative beyond just saying 'no'. Yes, they should. And they have a very good one. But it is very much the secondary part of the strategy. And their alternative can only be comprehensible and effective if the primary part is made sufficiently clear: that Democrats don't believe Social Security is in crisis and that whatever long-term funding challenges it faces do not require a fundamental revision of the structure of the program, let alone phasing it out as President Bush wants to do.

This is what opposition parties do. State their contrary vision where they have one, vote their principles on matters of fundamental political difference, and build a clear contrast on key issues which they can take to the voters in the next election. All the more so when the facts and the people's values are on their side. That's democracy.
I whole-heartedly agree.

1But, for the record, morals trump pragmatism.

Hello To Quantum Thinkers

Ah, the power of the internet. Even though Quantum Thought doesn't support trackback, Norm still noticed my post by looking here and I know he found me that way by looking here, so even though he didn't trackback to me, I noticed he wrote this, here:

Quantum Left Doubles

I have added The Moderate Liberal to my blog role under the category of "Quantum Left". He is discussing something about the recent posts I had on intelligent design. His site is thoughtful though liberal...no guys, that's not an oxymoron...it can actually happen. He has an interesting column. You might want to drop him some of your ideas. Who knows, maybe we can tip him a bit to the right. Analphilosopher...you made the change from liberal to conservative. Maybe you can help him make the transition.

I thought about asking The Chinese Monkey Dancer. But his usual means of influencing thought processes involve red hot pokers, slicing, smashing fingers and toes on anvils, etc. Not quite moderate enough
Good luck with that conversion, I'll be trying the same. Perhaps we'll meet half way from time to time. I plan to write much more on evolution, ID, religion, etc. as time goes by.

And no, I don't know much about this Chinese Monkey Dancer guy... person... thing, whatever. Sounds like a real party-monkey.

BTW: I believe the guys at CERN are now zapping my former summer home (for a few weeks, anyway) with gagilleons of neutrinos, assuming they every went through with the experiment.

Jury Duty

James Wolcott muses about being sent to jury duty this week. Myself, I've never served on a jury before. Several times in my life I've received a jury summoning forwarded from a previous address. Each time I'd read the fine print telling me to ignore the letter if I no longer lived in the district in question, so I'd toss the notice into the trash bin. I guess some would find that a useful side effect of moving every few years but I always felt a little left out. I was curious, what was jury duty really like? What's it like to haggle over the life and death issues facing our fellow man in a court of law? I wondered if I'd ever find out?

Then one day my summoning was finally valid, they caught me at the correct address (why I still lived there and everything). Finally, I would experience the Enlightened courtroom drama first hand, experience the pains and joy of the ultimate reality show in person. The day of the summoning was so special, so interesting I still remember the exact date, Sept. 11, 2001....

You can probably guess how the rest of the story goes....

Monday, January 17, 2005

Graceful Words

I once criticized one of Digby's posts as how not to be a moderate liberal, but today he more than makes up for that. Digby posts a wonderful speech Clinton made on an anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech and ends with this:
Martin Luther King was murdered before his dream could be realized. But it's getting better slowly but surely. There will be no going back. It's an enormous achievement for a screwed up country like ours that we've finally managed to make progress in spite of the huge cultural obstacles that were virtually built into our political system from the very beginning.

Democrats led the way on that and paid a huge political price. For all the talk of spinelessness and weakness that you hear out there, when the chips were down, the Democratic Party showed that it would stand up for what was right. There is no doubt which party Martin Luther King would choose today.

I'm not evolved enough, I'm afraid, to be forgiving for what the Republicans have done to this country these last few years. I'll need some time to come to that. But, I appreciate the notion that we can't let them sour us and turn inward. Nothing will ever change if we do that. And I figure as long as African Americans are in our party fighting the good fight, the least I can do is stand beside them.
In this partisan world where we each wrap ourselves in our comfortable partisan blankets, listen to our partisan radio shows and peek outside (but always within earshot of our partisan echo chambers) just long enough to remind ourselves what a big bunch of corrupt idiots the other side is, we need to remind ourselves we are all in this together. One country, one people, one world, one humanity. And yes, that is a liberal concept but we often forget to apply it to the most obvious alternative culture around: the conservative next door.

Lately its felt like were loosing the good fight; hell, maybe we are losing, but I don't think so. Not over the long term anyway; we still have the youth on our side. But it's vital we don't turn this into our tribe versus theirs, that's supposed to be their problem. Once we give up on love, compassion and understanding, what do we have left?

Republicans Play Christian Right For Fools

Every election year the Republicans talk up moral values, preach the dangers of the godless liberal elite and pander to fears of conservative church-goers in Middle America. And for all this the Christian Right gets what, exactly? Not much, really. From the Washington Post:
On the domestic front, Bush said he would not lobby the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage.

While seeking reelection, Bush voiced strong support for such a ban, and many political analysts credit this position for inspiring record turnout among evangelical Christians, who are fighting same-sex marriage at every juncture. Groups such as the Family Research Council have made the marriage amendment their top priority for the next four years.

The president said there is no reason to press for the amendment because so many senators are convinced that the Defense of Marriage Act -- which says states that outlaw same-sex unions do not have to recognize such marriages conducted outside their borders -- is sufficient. "Senators have made it clear that so long as DOMA is deemed constitutional, nothing will happen. I'd take their admonition seriously. . . . Until that changes, nothing will happen in the Senate."

Bush's position is likely to infuriate some of his socially conservative supporters, but congressional officials say it will be impossible to secure the 67 votes needed to pass the amendment in the Senate.

Yesterday morning, the day after the interview, White House spokesman Scott McClellan called to say the president wished to clarify his position, saying Bush was "willing to spend political capital" but believes it will be virtually impossible to overcome Senate resistance until the courts render a verdict on DOMA.
It always works like this, Republicans talk up moral values to get the votes and then follow through on none of their promises. It's a pretty good deal for Bush and his buddies, after all he needs the Christian vote. But what would Christians do without abortion and gays to worry about? Some might start worrying about the poor again, like Jesus did. Or remember that Jesus was the greatest pacifist ever to walk the Earth and start voting against war. Many Christians already vote that way, how many more can the Republicans afford loose? Not many. If Republicans actually tried to follow through with their promises they would either 1) succeed, which would remove any reason for the Christian vote or 2) fail, which would anger their libertarian friends.

Make no mistake, this alliance between the old-money elite and faithful poor has been put in place for the benefit of the elite.

Matthew Yglesais has this to say:
Ed Kilgore remarks on Bush's sudden betrayal of the gay-bashing movement in his Washington Post interview with the observation that Bush "and his party richly deserve whatever backlash they incur from social conservatives on this one." But they won't incur any backlash, just as the GOP never incurs a backlash, despite having never done anything to advance social conservatism in a serious way. This is what social conservatives deserve to get sneered at for. They're the great suckers of American politics, whipped into a frenzy every two or four years and ordered to vote Republican in order to hold back the tide of libertinism, and then the Republicans don't lift a finger to do so. For one thing, their financers don't support the social conservative agenda. For another thing, if social conservatives ever had anything done for them, they might not be so mad all the time. But last and by no means least, social conservatives get screwed every time because their willingness to get screwed and then come crawling back begging for more next time there's an election on is well-established. It's pathetic and eminently sneer-worthy.
Indeed. The Bull Moose chimes in with this observation:
The Republican establishment cynically manipulates the cultural issues because they recognize that a party that is dedicated to redistributing wealth upward has little chance of majority status. Once elected, Republicans reward the religious right with some crumbs while the real goodies are handed out to their wealthy donors and their corporate cronies.

The genuine agenda of the Bushies was magnificently spelled out by Nicholas Confessore in the New York Times Magazine,

"In theoretical terms, Bush's cuts have brought the United States tax code closer to a system under which income from savings and investments aren't taxed at all and revenues would be raised exclusively from taxes on labor. The consequence of those policies is that a greater proportion of tax revenues now come from what the middle class earns and a smaller proportion from what the wealthy earn."

Perhaps some day it will dawn on the rank and file of social conservatives that they are being manipulated to serve another agenda by the hierarchy of the Republican Party.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Intelligent Intelligent Design Posts

If you are interested in a fairly intelligent set of posts in favor of Intelligent Design, go visit Norm Weatherby's Quantum Thought, in particular here, here, here, and here. However, notice that virtually all of his complaints deal with the very early universe (values of universal constants) or very early Earth (early protein combinations, etc.), not so much the evolution of species itself.

Also, he tends to throw around infinitesimally small probabilities like 10-255 to show how random chance can't produce the needed result sans intelligent design. However, it should be understood that the evolutionary process is a form of intelligent design. Using an evolutionary model, genetic algorithms have shown enough creativity to produce patentable circuit designs. Only recently have we begun to understand the nature of complexity (which can partially be thought of as the basic mathematical laws leading to evolution) which so far shows promise of resolving some of the intelligent design issues.

Anyway, check out what the other side has to say.

For the Record...

Professor: bad, bad.
Student: bad, bad, bad.

[Just think, if Ahmad had used my brilliant rhetorical techniques he would have received all A's and we would not have a problem! :-) [Are you allowed to use smilies in academic papers? No? Oh, well.]]

[And no, I'm not going to elaborate. Just click on the links.]

How to Determine the Iraqi Withdrawal Time Table

Over at the Talking Dog we learn how to decipher the clues, read the tea leaves and peer into the crystal ball to determine the administration's time table for Iraqi withdrawal:
Ignore what Powell said. Ignore what Bush said. Just watch very carefully what Rumsfeld has to say, oh, say, around two weeks from today, when the bloodbath election is complete, and the results (80% Shia seats, 20% Kurd seats, 0% Sunni seats) are announced. If Rummy starts saying things like "democracy is messy", look for a rapid drawdown, possibly complete by June or July. If Rummy starts talking about "known knowns and unknown knowns" and so forth, look for American casualties to continue for sometime... If Rumsfeld isn't called upon to make a statement at all, God help us all: we're probably talking about a draft, and an expansion of this wing-ding into some kind of massive regional war, probably involving both Iran and Syria.

Clinton Uses Federal Agency to Push Political Agenda

From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 - Over the objections of many of its own employees, the Social Security Administration is gearing up for a major effort to publicize the financial problems of Social Security and to convince the public that private accounts are needed as part of any solution.

The agency's plans are set forth in internal documents, including a "tactical plan" for communications and marketing of the idea that Social Security faces dire financial problems requiring immediate action.

Social Security officials say the agency is carrying out its mission to educate the public, including more than 47 million beneficiaries, and to support President Clinton's agenda.

"The system is broken, and promises are being made that Social Security cannot keep," Mr. Clinton said in his Saturday radio address. He is expected to address the issue in his Inaugural Address.

But agency employees have complained to Social Security officials that they are being conscripted into a political battle over the future of the program. They question the accuracy of recent statements by the agency, and they say that money from the Social Security trust fund should not be used for such advocacy.
Yes, this is the first in my new What If Clinton Did This series, follow the link for an explanation. The real article is about Bush.

So how do I feel about Clinton using my tax dollars to promote a political agenda? Well, if I agreed with the agenda and didn't think Clinton was outright lying about the problem, the way Bush is, I would be less mad but feel awfully guilty about it. Using our tax dollars to advertise a political agenda is just wrong. I'd have to cave in; Clinton just screwed up, here.

My conclusion, Bush doesn't pass the Clinton test this time. This is just wrong.

[I can already tell I'm going to have to go out of my way to find examples where Bush does pass the Clinton test...]

If Clinton Did This...

One of my goals, both as a person and in The Moderate Liberal, is to remove myself from the echo chambers and see beyond the partisan bickering; I want to make sure my concerns are real and fair, not just a knee jerk reaction. However, this can be very difficult. Once upon a time I didn't picture myself as a partisan. Sure, I tended to vote Democratic and registered that way so I could vote in the primaries, but I didn't think of myself as a Democrat; it wasn't part of my self-perception. Today, I'm a Democrat, no doubt about it. I've chosen my side and it is a part of who I am. I'm now fully partisan.

So how does one see objectively through blue-tinted glasses? How would a like-minded, moderate Republican see though his or her red-tinted glasses? One exercise I use every time I get mad at Bush is to imagine how I would react if Clinton had done the same thing. Would I feel the same way or would I give Clinton the benefit of the doubt? I suggest everyone try this out. If you are a Republican defending the latest attack against Bush, ask yourself "what if Clinton did this, would I feel the same way".

Sometimes it can be hard to imagine. "No, Clinton would never do something that dumb," I think to myself. Well, to help the imagination I'm going to start a new feature. When an article comes out about Bush that just gets me mad I'm going to post a hacked up version of that article claiming it was Clinton, perhaps with the dates or a few cosmetic facts altered. Then we can react, if Clinton did this, would we still feel the same?

David Brin

When I set up this site I was going to put David Brin's blog on my blog roll, but he hadn't updated it since just after the elections, so I left if off the list fearing the blog had been abandoned. Brin is my favorite fiction author -- the only author from whom I automatically buy the next hardback -- and he has a unique approach to politics. Like myself, he's a bit of a liberal libertarian with a strong pragmatic/moderate streak. In fact, in 2002 he gave a keynote for the 2002 Libertarian Party national convention; a must read for anyone who sympathizes with a libertarian point of view.

Anyway, I just noticed he started blogging again this past week. As I write this I still haven't read the new stuff, but I feel confident it's great. Now I can add him back to my blog roll. Check it out.