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

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Anti Freedom Republicans

I agree completely with what Digby says:
These people want to dictate how you live your private life. They want to tell you who you can marry, how to raise your kids, what religion to practice (and you must practice it) and what "values" you must hold. And they want to use the strong arm of the government to do it. Sure, there are problems in our society. Yes we are living in a fast paced society in which it is difficult to raise children and the world is changing so quickly that it's hard to keep your balance sometimes. But most Americans don't wish for others to make decisions for them about how to live their day to day lives, regardless of the challenges. It's just not the American character.

That is not to say that we have no concept of the common good. Americans once came to a consensus that the government was the most democratic means of helping people to mitigate the pitfalls of capitalism and ensuring all of its citizens a fair shake. But we have never seen it as a means to legislate what people do behind closed doors or when making the most personal life decisions about their marriages, families or their own bodies. We believe that the government is far too clumsy a mechanism for such delicate matters. The individual reigns supreme over himself. All we ask is citizens pitch in for the national defense, the running of the government, social services to help the weakest among us and insure themselves against the risks they must take in a dynamic capitalistic system.

It's just this simple: The Republican party wants to tell you how to live your personal life while they systematically remove all government cooperation in ameliorating the risks this fast paced world creates. The Democrats want the government to leave you to make your own personal decisions while having it help you mitigate the social and economic risk our fast paced world creates. It is a stark choice. There is no reason we cannot begin to make the affirmative case for ourselves on this basis.
Many people have convinced themselves that higher taxes with higher services is anti-freedom. Because of taxes, and basically taxes alone as far as I can tell, they somehow convince themselves that Republicans provide greater freedom to Americans than Democrats. But it's the Republicans who consistently try to micromanage our lives, distrust judges and local control and always, always assume they know best, regardless. Take the Terri Schiavo case. Republicans assure us they know the correct answer and all the judges and doctors involved in the case are just idiots. "Trust us," they say, "we know best." Democrats make no such broad proclamation of know-it-all truth, they just assume the system probably worked and give those closest to the issue the benefit of the doubt.

Tear Down The Walls

From David in the comments: "I'm still unclear how the republicans are willing to tear down every check and balance? Seems if they wanted to do that, they'd order the national guard in there...instead of searching for any loop hole they can find."

From World Net Daily:
Religious and political groups are banding together to urge President Bush and his brother Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to use their executive powers to order police to take Terri Schiavo into protective custody.
That was news from World Net, here is some commentary:
If Gov. Bush will confront this evil by sending in the state police or national guard to protect Terri, he will be remembered for his courage and integrity. Moreover, his commitment to his oath of office and to protecting the citizens under his care will likely ensure him a successful run for the White House in 2008.
And Ann Coulter:
So how about a Republican governor sending in the National Guard to stop an innocent American woman from being starved to death in Florida? Republicans like the military.
And William Bennett:
It is time, therefore, for Governor Bush to execute the law and protect her rights, and, in turn, he should take responsibility for his actions. Using the state police powers, Governor Bush can order the feeding tube reinserted. His defense will be that he and a majority of the Florida legislature believe the Florida Constitution requires nothing less. Some will argue that Governor Bush will be violating the law. We think he will not be violating the law, but if he is judged to have done so, it will be in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr., who answered to a higher law than a judge's opinion.
Rumor has it Pat Buchanan supports this action as well, though I can't google up a quote.

I realize the Brothers Bush haven't taken this action. I'm just saying.

UPDATE: I missed a very important sentence in William Bennett's piece: "It is a mistake to believe that the courts have the ultimate say as to what a constitution means." If that doesn't scare you, you don't understand our system of government.

How Far Will They Go To Kill Conservatism?

Check out the post by conservative blogger John Cole, How Far Will They Go To Kill Conservatism:
I have said it before- this is jihad for these folks. They don't give two hoots in hell about Terri Schiavo- this is about abortion, religion, and most of all, about power and control. Their concept of morality is king, you see- your behavior in the bedroom, your choice in sexual partner, your desires about end of life decisions, abortion, even the medication you use to ease the pain when you are dying of terminal diseases- their religious text should have authority over you, and if all these 'small-government strict constructionists states right's advocates' have to attain that through government proxy, so be it.
Now, that's a conservative Republican talking. You know, there are parts of conservatism that I agree with, but more and more it seems that the those are the parts that Republicans have been dropping from their platform. I used to consider myself a fiscal conservative, but that was back when the phrase really meant fiscal responsibility. Today fiscal conservative means tax cuts are the answer to every problem and deficits don't matter. Since Clinton, the Democrats have been the party of fiscal responsibility. This reminds me of liberal Kung Fu Monkey's post several months ago I Miss Republicans:
No, seriously. Remember Republicans? Sober men in suits, pipes, who'd nod thoughtfully over their latest tract on market-driven fiscal conservatism while grinding out the numbers on rocket science. Remember those serious-looking 1950's-1960's science guys in the movies -- Republican to a one.

They were the grown-ups. They were the realists. Sure they were a bummer, maaaaan, but on the way to La Revolution you need somebody to remember where you parked the car. I was never one (nor a Democrat, really, more an agnostic libertarian big on the social contract, but we don't have a party ...), but I genuinely liked them.

How did they become the party of fairy dust and make believe? How did they become the anti-science guys? The anti-fact guys? The anti-logic guys?

I'm not talking McCain, Hagel, Snowe, or Lugar, here, the cool hard-ass Republicans who still operate in the real world. I'm talking specifically about the guys running the party right now.

Stem cell research? Agin' it.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ..."-- Why not?
Biggest Surplus to biggest debt, even not counting the war? More tax cuts!
Post-war planning in one of the most divisive Arab communities in the world? Don't need it.
Global warming? No, no it's not.
No WMD's? So what? ... "So what?" SO WHAT?
Conservation? Bigger tax breaks for Hummers than hybrids.
Soldiers need more armor! No, no they don't. Nonny-nonny-nonny ...

UPDATE: Even Glenn Reynolds is beginning to see a Conservative Crackup and quotes many more conservatives who see the same thing. As pointed out above, this has been going on for quite some time, but now it's becoming obvious to most everyone.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Schiavo & Hudson & Nikolouzos

Originally, I was going to stay out of the whole Schiavo thing; generally I think this lady is dead in every way that matters. I don't really understand why anyone on any side gets all that upset. I mean, I understand the parents and the husband, but not everyone else. She isn't in pain, she isn't going to get better, she doesn't have any dignity to worry about, she's dead. But then Bush cancels a vacation for the first time in his presidency to stick his nose into the whole mess.

But what makes this all he more interesting is in 1999 George Bush signed a law allowing hospitals in Texas to stop supporting terminally ill patients, even against the wishes of the patient and family. A six month old boy recently died due to that law. Read about it here. These are all interesting moral issues and virtually all of us struggle at least a bit on how we would react in these situations. But the fact Bush would showboat and step in directly in one situation yet sign a law that leads to similar situations is just plain bazaar.
Sun Hudson, a six-month-old boy with a fatal congenital disease, died Thursday after a Texas hospital, over his mother's objections, withdrew his feeding tube. The child was apparently certain to die, but was conscious. [Or perhaps not: see third update below.] The hospital simply decided that it had better things to do than keeping the child alive, and the Texas courts upheld that decision after the penniless mother failed, during the 10-day window provided for by Texas law, to find another institution willing to take the child .

Where, I would ask, is the outrage? In particular, where is the outrage from those like Tom DeLay, who referred to the withdrawal of Terry Schiavo's life support as "murder"? If it's appropriate to Federalize the Schiavo case, what about the people being terminated simply because their cases are hopeless and their bank accounts empty?

Sun Hudson is dead, but 68-year-old Spiro Nikolouzos is still alive, thanks to an emergency appeals court order issued yesterday. However, his life support could be cut off at any moment. A nursing home is willing to take him if his family can show that he will be covered by Medicaid after his Medicare runs out. Otherwise, the hospital gets to pull the plug.

UPDATE: Check out an interesting liberal perspective from The Talking Dog:When the Wrong People try to do the Wrong Thing for the Right Reason.

UPDATE 2: The Moderate Voice is horrified by Bush and company on this, for what some would call conservative reasons. See Barry Goldwater And Ronald Reagan Are Turning Over In Their Graves and a follow up.

Monday, March 21, 2005


Sometimes, heck, maybe even most of the time, the whole liberal vs conservative dichotomy doesn't really cut it. And in politics, were power corrupts right before our very eyes, we often think we are criticizing the left or right, but really we are criticizing power abuse and hubris, something both parties are quite capable of. Republicans have claimed they are for limited government and local control, but give them power and it's blindingly obvious to all who care to look that they don't care about limited government at all, they only say that when the government is run by someone else. Whether it's to force testing at local schools (without funding), stick their noses into Major League Baseball, expanding the ability to lock up American citizens without trial or getting directly involved in a family medical squabble, Republicans have proved they don't mind broad, overriding governmental power at all, just as long as they are the ones in control.

Andrew Sullivan, who still considers himself a conservative for some reason I don't quite understand, states:
So it is now the federal government's role to micro-manage baseball and to prevent a single Florida woman who is trapped in a living hell from dying with dignity. We're getting to the point when conservatism has become a political philosophy that believes that government - at the most distant level - has the right to intervene in almost anything to achieve the right solution. Today's conservatism is becoming yesterday's liberalism.
The Bull Moose, a conservative Democrat and former member of the Christian Coalition continues:
The Moose notes the passing of conservatism.

All pretenses of limited government conservatism have been cast aside with congressional intervention in the Schiavo case. The era of big government conservatism is in full swing. That is, if it can be called conservatism, at all.

At its heart, conservatism had reverence for process and order. But what we are witnessing now is the triumph of ends over means. That is exactly what the right loathed about the left. In the eye of conservatives, the left would stretch the Constitution and the law to serve its so-called noble ends. Liberals would turn to the federal courts to nullify the judgments of localities. In the end, according to the right, the law of unintended consequences would prevail and the rule of law would be obliterated.

Process no longer matters to the right - after all they are on the side of the angels. Whether it is pork barrel spending , the Senate filibuster or federal intervention in a family dispute, modern conservatism knows no boundaries. The right is now intoxicated with power - process is for wimps.

When it comes to federal intervention on behalf of the disadvantaged, the conservative response is to leave it to the states and the "mediating institutions" of community and locality. However, when it involves pandering to the religious right, federal power in the pursuit of righteous aims is no vice.

A few brave souls such as George Will and Andrew Sullivan attempt to hold the right to its principles. But the right is now aping all that it loathed in liberalism - the arrogance of power.

Look in the mirror conservatives - you have become your own worst enemy.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Jesus Christ Superstar

My wife and I finally got my daughter to watch Jesus Christ Superstar and it was an interesting experience. Now, you may be wondering what "finally got my daughter to watch" really means. You see, my attempts to raise an open-minded or at least agnostic child capable of making her own decisions about religion as she grows older have so far failed; I seem to be raising a little atheist. In the past, any attempt to talk about the various religions in the world have been met with a somewhat fearful reaction as if we were going to try to convert her or brain wash her or something.

I think this reaction started back when she was four and in school. Apparently, one of her classmates tried to convert her and she didn't take it very well. Eventually this ended up with her getting into an argument with the entire class, with my daughter claiming there was no God and every other student taking the other side. Imagine, the lone four year old, grade skipped from the pre-school a month into the school year, taking on a class of gifted five and six year olds. (That year only went so well. The following year went much better, mostly due to a kindred spirit in the class, and we've been homeschooling ever since.)

The strange thing is my daughter is no unimaginative literalist; in fact, quite the opposite. At that point in her life I was somewhat afraid she was going to get completely sucked down into her own imaginative world. This is a girl who fully believed that Pooh Bear was real and would later develop an elaborate mythology based on the Sprite of Spring where the Sprite's deaths and rebirths directly corresponded to evolutionary epochs. (She also believed it was the Sprite's fault the volcano erupted for she ignored the Elk's warning -- my daughter's own little original sin story.)

But I could never get her interested in the religions of the world. Even Greek mythology wasn't interesting to her, so she said. And any talk of God or Christianity was met with much resistance. Basically, what little she knew she gathered from Little House on the Prairie episodes.

But we have been getting into musicals lately. She likes Moulin Rouge and we recently watched Hair!. But it was the recent viewing of Once More With Feeling, the musical episode from Buffy the Vampire Slayer that opened her to the idea of watching Jesus Christ Superstar. (I wonder how often that has happened? I'm guessing not often.)

So anyway, here we are watching Jesus Christ Superstar with someone who's into the movie but doesn't know how it ends. That's a unique experience. Ok, she figures out that Jesus is probably going to die and we warn her that she's right. But how? Why? She wonders if the whipping killed him. No, we tell her, they kill him some other way. How?? We think you'll recognize the instrument of death when you see it. And wouldn't he really be upset if he knew he was going to die the next day? Well yes, that's what this song is about right here.

When we told her this story (well, actually the resurrection a few days later) was what Easter celebrated, she instantly asked what this story had to do with bunnies and eggs. Tempting as it was, I spared her the Eddie Izzard1 routine.

I'm not sure many have watched a passion play completely unaware of the basic story arc or how the play would end. As I said, a unique experience. Now she knows, even if it does include a bit more sympathy for Judas than conventionally granted.

1Bonus somewhat related Eddie Izzard quote:
Umm, so they murdered him. And kids eat chocolate eggs, because of the color of the chocolate, and the color of the…wood on the cross.

Well, you tell me! It’s got nothing to do with it, has it! You know, people going, uhh, “Remember kids,” the kids who’re eating the chocolate eggs, uhh, “Jesus died for your sins.” “Yeah, I know, it’s great! No, no no, it’s bad, it’s bad! No, it’s bad! It’s very bad. It’s terrible! Whatever you want, I mean – just keep giving me these eggs."

And the bunny rabbits! Where do they come into the crucifixion? There were no bunny rabbits up on the hill going, “Hey – you – what, are you going to put those crosses in our – bur – warrens? We live below this hill, all right?” Bunny rabbits are for shagging, eggs are for fertility. It’s a festival – it’s the spring festival!