Happy Hour Discurso »« Last Day in Port

Woozle and Mike Debate Thread

It’s a banner day, my darlings. This is the first time on this blog that a thread’s filled up to the point where it has to be closed and a new one opened. They’ve requested a new forum, and their wish is my command.

Of course, I’m sure neither of them will object if anyone else wishes to join the debate. They’re currently discussing reality vs. fantasy in sex ed.

Enjoy!

Comments

  1. says

    [breaks bottle of very splendid and worthwhile champagne across the noble brow of this splendid yellow bulldozer... errm, I mean comment thread]Eck, Blogger still not playing nice with Firefox 3. (Anyone else having trouble?) I spoze I can make do with Epiphany until whatever-it-is gets fixed…–But maybe this would be a good time to reopen an inquiry which got a bit lost early on.We established that the difference between liberalism and conservatism has to do with the manner in which change is carried out, and that conservatism makes “tradition” its primary concern, seeing “abstract principles, and arbitrary and general doctrines” as the opposite.This somewhat implies that liberalism, being more or less opposite conservatism, embraces “abstract principles, and arbitrary and general doctrines” — I’d agree about principles, and I might even agree that good principles tend to be abstract in much the same way that a well-designed rocket engine requires a lot of abstract math, but I also see those abstract principles as being based on very concrete concerns of compassion at all levels — for individuals, for communities, for nations, for humanity, and for civilization.The question is this: how does a conservative decide which traditions to embrace?I could choose to call myself a conservative on the basis of the fact that I patriotically embrace our nation’s established principles of justice, freedom of speech/expression, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, respect for the scientific method over superstition, and a general disdain for established hierarchical authority.These ideas were, of course, firmly rooted in the century-old ideas of the Enlightenment and long-standing investigative and philosophical practices which it it helped formalize and crystallize into the institutions and traditions of what we now know as “science”.If the 1600s are too recent, then perhaps I should go back to the ancient Greeks, and state my firm adherence to the principles of rationality and ethics first sketched out by philosophers such as Aristotle and Socrates.If I were more of a history buff, I could probably write a lot more in this vein, but you get the idea.So anyway… as a staunch adherent to these time-honored traditions of Western Civilization and Our Great Nation, I believe firmly in a number of great conservative causes:* The exclusive, complete, and inalienable right of a woman to make life-or-death decisions regarding the fruits of her body, so long as they remain within her* The rights of those to whom nature hath given various affections to practice those affections with others so consenting, and for the law to respect all such varieties of affection equally* The responsibility of wealthy nations to assist lesser nations to provide a minimum level of welfare for their citizens, in order to prevent the desperately impoverished from becoming manipulated and radicalized by powerful interests resulting in a possible terrorism risk to other nations* The responsibility of our great nation, grounded as it is in the traditions of freedom and respect for individual liberty, to provide the greatest possible minimum level of welfare and education for its own citizens so as to allow all citizens to participate meaningfully in our democracy and minimize the overall levels of crime with which all citizens must contendNow, tell me: how are any of those positions not thoroughly conservative in the American tradition?How are the anti-gay, anti-women’s-rights, anti-science, anti-welfare, pro-fundie-Christian agendas being pursued by today’s so-called “Conservatives” anything but arbitrary and capricious innovations heedlessly seeking to “change the definition” of many of our most basic values?

  2. says

    Oh, and add “pro-torture”,”pro-big-business”, and “anti-transparency” to the list of not-at-all-conservative “conservative” positions.The point of this juxtaposition, I should belatedly point out, is that we were both wanting to draw a clear distinction between conservatism as an ideal and conservatism as it is actually practiced. The problem is that conservatism-as-practiced so blatantly contradicts my understanding of the term “conservative” that I’m having trouble figuring out what conservatism-as-an-ideal (of which you, Mike, are supposedly a proponent, albeit in a more “progressive” flavor) actually is.

  3. says

    O/T announcement: Cujo’s been having Firefox/Blogger issues too. He discovered that if you leave an edit screen up too much, it can’t save the post. That might also be what’s affecting comments. FYI – hope it helps.You two have fun.

  4. says

    Prompted by Specter’s defection I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about so-called moderates or Centrists and their place in the political landscape. Both seem to be codewords for ‘someone inclined to vote with the other side on one or more major issue’. So when we’re talking about a ‘moderate Republican’ who votes with the Left 50% of the time…I think the person needs to be honest with himself and become an Independent. For the rest of us that side with the Right (or Left) 80% of the time then I think we can claim the title of conservative or liberal with justification. But even within those ranks there are different types of conservatives and liberals. There are Religious Conservatives, Fiscal Conservatives and what I will call ‘Static Conservatives’ which are folks who have an irrational fear of progress or the future. They are the ones that picture Leave it to Beaver as the high point of human culture. There are also conservatives like myself who I would call progressive because they don’t fear the future and they are happy to help guide human progress. We just want to see it happen within a conservative framework which means some patience and some looking before we leap. For example, global warming; I think most intelligent and free thinking conservatives will say that they believe man is impacting the planet in a negative way with emissions and pollution. We are even willing to accept the premise that it is causing global warming. Where our conservatism kicks in is where we are cautious about undertaking very expensive reforms to fight a problem that a lot of climate scientists admit we don’t have a full grasp of. As for deciding what traditions to honor and uphold, I guess what i would say is that we approach the world withthe attitude that not everything is broke and not everything needs liberal re-invention.

  5. says

    You’re not really answering the “how” question… do I take that answer as “I don’t know how I know, but I know the right answer when I see it” kind of thing?I’m on board for a re-analysis of what we should be doing about global warming (possibly including an investigation into the alleged problems with the scientific process which led to the allegedly overblown conclusions about GW). What I mainly object to is (1) denialism, where the same points are brought up again and again as if they hadn’t already been refuted again and again, and (2) complacency — the idea that “if it’s not anthropogenic, we can go back to business as usual” rather than “if it’s not anthropogenic, then we better figure out where the hell it’s coming from and what the hell we can do about it”.I favor:* intensive investment in alternative energy (especially solar), until we find a set of energy sources adequate to replace fossil fuels for most of the country’s needs* intensive investment in portable power storage (to replace gasoline — new battery tech, hydrogen, whatever seems most promising), to be followed by investment (incentives, grants) to develop infrastructure for delivering energy via whatever new means emerges as the best alternative — quick battery change/charge stations, for example* a solar power satellite initiativeI can’t see any good reason for supporting continued dependency on fossil fuels, no matter how conservative you are.

  6. says

    I don’t know if it’s a matter of keeping one thing and discarding another. If you recall the Disraeli quote he talks about change being inevitable but a difference to manners, customs, etc. The way I understand that is to mean that we have to approach change with caution and not be so quick to assume that we always know more than the people that came before us. Back to global warming; liberals put such unflinching faith in science and ‘reason’ that they have really accelerated the global warming stuff beyond the science. That’s the danger of only looking forward.

  7. says

    “Faith in science” — isn’t that an oxymoron? Science is based entirely on evidence; “faith” is usually taken to mean belief in something where evidence is lacking….oh, you must mean the scientific establishment — actually, I never had a whole lot of faith in them, and recently it has been strained even further. This is partly due to the republican war on science, of course, where they’ve done their best to sow chaos and discord in all directions.On the one hand, you can’t question the official story of 9/11 in scientific circles, because the body of 9/11 literature has been thoroughly salted with nonsensical ideas that nobody would take seriously, which everyone now assumes are the main counterarguments, so legitimate scientists can’t touch it with a 42-foot pole because it would be equivalent to investigating UFOs or psychic powers. (Or maybe it really is wacky to think that the buildings didn’t just collapse the way the official story says, and there were perfectly good reasons for firing/retiring the scientists who disagreed. Who can tell?)And on the other hand, you have things like Intelligent Design being presented as serious scientific ideas, making the scientific establishment look (in the eyes of the gullible, anyway) like ivory-tower snobs when they refuse to engage with it. (I’m still waiting for the Flat Earthers and geocentrists to re-emerge — GPSs, photographs, and satellite TV notwithstanding; overwhelming evidence doesn’t seem to matter anymore, if you simply claim that truth leads to immorality and the collapse of civilization and therefore we urgently need to ignore anything that makes sense and believe in imaginary stuff if we don’t want to be punished for all eternity.)Global warming is a great example. There is tons of evidence that the conventional energy industry has manufactured the current “controversy” over each and every aspect of the GW agenda when the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree with it — and yet the supposed corruption in scientific institutions is being used as evidence that the conclusion was influenced in the other direction.(…presumably by all those powerful ecological organizations who obtained their vast illicit wealth by brazenly and wantonly, uh, accepting donations from those who agreed with them. The sheer gall!)I have very little faith in the ability of science-as-an-institution to fight off these attacks anymore. There needs to be an independent office whose job it is to look into these controversies and either refute or substantiate them. I’ve tried to do it myself, but anything beyond scratching the surface takes a lot more time than I have.So anyway… what were you saying again? Oh, right, the false dichotomy of having to choose which traditions to keep.That’s the great thing about liberalism: it doesn’t force a choice. We can have all kinds of different traditions, or no tradition at all, and they all get equal respect as long as they don’t start trying to order people around.So… tell me more about how conservatism doesn’t arbitrarily override the wisdom of our great American-Western traditions of liberalism, science, individualism, diversity, rationality, secularism, and class equality.

  8. says

    P.S. If conservatives are leery of science, dislike big government, are concerned about national security, and abhor waste, then why is it that conservatives always seem to favor nuclear power over other energy alternatives?

  9. says

    I would contend that a perfect conservatism doesn’t override previously acquired wisdom. That’s the whole point. Conservatives remind us that change is not always necessary. Previously acquired knowledge is not always in need of liberal improvements.

  10. says

    So… at the risk of stating the obvious… from what you said, I draw the following conclusions:1. There have been few, if any, recent (within, say, the past 20-40 years) political expressions of ideal conservatism.2. Ideal conservatism would *not* go against long-held American traditions by supporting torture, claiming that the US is “a Christian nation”, favoring ideology over science, favoring big business over individual welfare, shutting the doors on the “huddled masses”, distorting the truth in order to get what it wants, or being comfortable with allowing powerful people to get away with absolutely anything as long as they’re in your party?Also: earlier, you said that Conservatism isn’t about trying to stop change (since change is inevitable), but merely about respecting custom and tradition rather than abstract principles when deciding how to go about dealing with change.Are you saying, then, that it’s better to make the same mistakes over and over again, just because that’s how things have always been done, than to attempt to rectify them?And finally: your description of traditions and customs as “wisdom” and “knowledge” implies that we understand something about those customs — that we know why we follow those traditions and customs, why they are a benefit, rather than just having rote-memorized them.In that case, you should be able to take any arbitrary “controversial” liberal cause and explain why the conservative tenet which opposes it is superior, right? That is, you should be able to tell me why following the tradition will lead to a better outcome than would being guided by a rational analysis of the situation. Yes?

  11. says

    Just a reminder, I believe we agreed from the start that we would discuss an ideal form of conservatism, liberalism, etc. As soon as you get into real-world examples the conversation is pointless. For every example of ideal liberalism you offer as a good thing, i could no doubt find an example where the Democratic party tried to apply that idea with disasterous results. And you could do the same with the GOP. You keep coming back to the notion that conservatives are suggesting we always go with tradition over new ideas. What you’re talking about is of course traditionalist conservatism which was well-defined by Russell Kirk back in the 1950′s. If you recall the original premise of this conversation was whether a progressive conservatism could exist. While Kirk and his colleagues favored what I will call a more ‘static’ view of society which distrusted most change as unneccessary, what I have suggested is that progressive conservatives can accept change and that it is the pace and the scope we must control.One of Kirk’s 6 ‘canons of conservatism’ was a ‘recognition that change and reform are not identical’. That’s pretty much the angle I am taking. What I am suggesting is we don’t have to keep rewriting the script, which I believe is a liberal tendency resulting from a kind of institutional boredom. For example, capitalism. I think that history and experience (which is where traditions are rooted) has shown us that the basic structure of capitalism is sound. Liberals see things like the housing bubble bursting and suddenly they are singing the praises of Swedish socialism. That is where a progressive conservatism steps in. It recognizes that a leave-it-alone traditionalist conservative position is a bad approach, but it also recognizes that a liberal throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater approach is equally dangerous. The progressive conservative suggests reforms to the system that recognize the core strengths of capitalism and takes cautious steps to put firewalls in place to prevent the mistakes from happening again.No doubt you will argue that liberals recognize the basic good of capitalism and want to take a similar approach of minimal regulation. I would argue that the liberal tendency to pass up a good plan for a brilliant one and put more faith in the Paul Krugmans of the world than the Tyler Cowens is where the typical leftward overreach occurs.

  12. says

    (First) I agreed in advance to draw a clear distinction between the “ideal” and “real world” versions of each political stance (conservatism and liberalism); I think I was pretty clear about that distinction in my previous comment.It’s important to periodically check in with “real world” conservatism, if only to say specifically that some specific popular “conservative” attitude is not what you are advocating under the name “(progressive) conservatism”.To be clear: “ideal” X is that which we are pushing for when we vote for a candidate who runs on a platform of X. The candidate may let us down in some ways (e.g. Obama’s backpedaling on troop withdrawal and repealing DADT, or a liberal Catholic arguing against abortion); those are “real world” expressions of liberalism. Similarly, I presume that Fred Phelps is not an expression of “ideal” conservatism, but merely a “real world” example with certain “conservative” but extreme views that aren’t really a reasonable extrapolation from core (“ideal”) conservatism.I do not agree, however, that the ideals on either side should not be subject to the test of reality. If an idea is tried, with an implementation that is reasonably faithful to the ideal, and it fails, then that is a piece of data indicating failure of the ideal.Mind you, it may take more than one data point to reach a conclusion — if we find 3 failures of an idea but also 20 successes, then we can look at the costs and benefits of that idea and see if it was worth it despite the failures. We can then compare that track record to the results of other ideas competing within the same problem-space. This isn’t some abstract Platonic discussion about whose ideas are more pure or inherently virtuous; it’s about which ideas work best to achieve the goals we both agree on (e.g. “minimizing unwanted pregnancies” or “satisfying our nation’s energy needs”).If we can agree on a goal, and you can show me that a conservative idea has a better track record at achieving that goal (with all side-effects taken into account), then the conservative idea wins.–(Second) The sudden jump to “Swedish socialism” you describe is not liberal in the suddenness of its jumping; that idea has been around for many decades. The “jumping around’ is due more to the political process, where a grand failure of one idea leads the public to suddenly be much more willing to examine their assumptions.For instance: If the car you’re driving in runs out of gas, that’s not a big deal; you know how to deal with that. If it suddenly starts belching clouds of smoke and then you can’t get it started and the guy in the repair shop says that fixing it will cost you as much as another car… well, you might find yourself thinking about another car.You might also find yourself thinking that maybe a Ford Pinto wasn’t such a great buy, and maybe it’s time to try something radically different… like a Honda, or a motorcycle.People (myself included) have been saying for decades that the healthcare system was broken. The evidence seems quite plain. I know at least one conservative who favors Euro-style socialized medicine. This isn’t a sudden leap; it’s just that the evidence has now become so overwhelming and obvious that the political will may exist now (as it did not under Clinton) to actually do something about it.Also, socialized medicine is in no way in opposition to capitalism. Who will be making all those medicines and medical equipment? Who will make and clean the hospital uniforms and lab coats? Who will provide telecommunications and computing services to the doctors and hospitals? Who will keep the drink and snack machines stocked? Who will provide food services?Are you thinking that Obama’s health care plan includes replacing all of the businesses that do and make these things with government workers?Capitalism — free-market competition between providers of services and goods — is arguably the best-known way of maximizing the quality of services and goods in a large, complex society. Individual consumers explore and choose among the available options; they communicate their findings with each other; gradually, the winners emerge and the losers either quickly change the way they do business or are squeezed out of the marketplace.The problem is that the model totally breaks down when it comes to medical care. Do you have a choice of which hospital the ambulance takes you to? Do you have a choice in which doctor is assigned to your case? Can you truly make an informed decision about which brand of an obscure life-saving drug you should receive (assuming the drug’s patent has expired and there are other brands)?If the hospital charges you $10 for an aspirin, can you demand your money back and go get the aspirin somewhere else? Or perhaps you simply vow never to be sick in that hospital again, and swear loudly that you will tell all of your accident-prone friends never to go there in an emergency either….which leads naturally to the reason why they charge so outrageously much for certain things: to make up for the emergency cases who can’t afford to pay diddly-squat.I know what the “real world conservative” take is on this problem, but I’d like to hear what solution “ideal (progressive) conservatism” would suggest.–What firewalls and safeguards would you suggest putting in place to prevent the current meltdown from ever happening again?–Why would you ever want to go for anything other than the best available plan? Or perhaps the question should be: What is the difference between “brilliant” (when juxtaposed with “good”) and “best available”?

  13. says

    A progressive conservative solution to the healthcare problem would be keep it private, offer short-term government plans for the temporarily uninsured, and use anti-monopoly powers to bring rates down to reasonable levels. I also like the idea of collective bargaining where small companies can band together and purchase coverage at discounted rates. As for the current financial mess – I will admit that there’s not much progressive about how I would have handled it. On that score I am very much an old-school, non-interventionalist. I would have let all those companies crumble and I would have let everyone get foreclosed on. It’s the only way we will learn from our mistakes.

  14. says

    You’re seriously still arguing that private insurance is a valid solution to healthcare?Okay. Let’s take a look at this.First: “short-term government plans for the temporarily uninsured”:* what do you do about the permanently uninsured?* what about independent contractors and the self-employed? Will your “collective bargaining” ensure that they have a place at the table? How?* what about people with low or unpredictable incomes? How will you ensure that they can afford basic medical care? How will you ensure that they don’t have to choose between medical check-ups and a decent meal (or rent, or heat)?Second, a larger and more general question: Why is it better to have an entire industry devoted to insurance — multiple companies each spending millions upon millions of dollars trying to convince us that their “brand” of coverage, which is essentially indistinguishable from every other brand, is clearly superior — than to just pay for everyone’s basic medical care up front, no questions asked?All the resources — time, paperwork, office buildings, advertising dollars, the list goes on and on — currently used in the war between Huey, Dewey, and Louie for our medical dollars — could go into something useful… like gardens or horse farms or ACTUAL EFFING MEDICAL CARE.If you could envision a design for private medical insurance in which medical care becomes as painless as it is in — say — England, I might be interested. Let me relay the horrendous, dismal swamp of the dreaded government-controlled socialist (pardon my French) medical care in that backward country, as described by a conservative-libertarian relative of mine:STEP 1. Walk into doctor’s office.STEP 2. Be greeted by doctor.STEP 3. Doctor adds you to his patient list.STEP 4. Treatment.The horror.Note the primitive state of the English medical industry — they lack even such basic amenities as a front office full of other people who have been waiting an hour, a secretary to take down the insurance information you don’t have because you don’t need it, and a corner of the room full of dilapidated toys and small children who are failing to be entertained by them. Their doctors apparently haven’t even heard of the ingenious American medical innovation of being available at least half an hour after your appointment time. Truly an appalling system.The whole point of the capitalistic approach is that it is supposed to lead to a superior product. It has clearly failed, and we have a pretty good understanding of why it has failed and why it is the wrong model to apply (as I outlined in my previous comment).Why do you still support it?–As for the bail-outs — I agree, at least tentatively and in general. I was not in favor of going further into debt to save failed institutions that only made money in the most abstract possible way; they were not factories that actually added any value to anything, or infrastructure that helped people conduct the business of making wealth, or a resource whose destruction would be felt as a loss.The only loss was the money they had promised to pay back. To whatever extent the government was going to fix the problem, it should have been by seizing the businesses as they failed, paying off their bad debts prioritized on a case-by-case basis, using their remaining assets to assist — not keeping them running to leech another day.And actually, I view this solution as potentially quite progressive in that it would have been much better than the current solution, for most of the people affected. The only people whose lives would have been made more difficult are those who got into those businesses knowing the risks they were running but hoping to cash in on a huge level. My sympathy is, shall we say, limited.However, what I meant to ask about was not how you would handle the pile of bodies at the foot of the cliff, but what you would have done about preventing all the people from falling over it in the first place.

  15. says

    Without letting this devolve too far into a healthcare discussion, because quite frankly it’s an area I don’t feel knowledgable enough debating, as far as the self-employed, private contractors, etc…let them band together under the same system as I suggested for small businesses. As for the ‘permanantely uninsured’ I need more clarification. Are you talking about someone with a health issue that can’t hold a job? Woudln’t medicare cover them? As for the financial mess, I am not convinced these kinds of things can always be prevented. The very nature of financial markets is to always be looking for the next way to make millions. You put your finger in one leak and another pops out. We can put regs in place but I don’t think it’s realistic to think we can prevent something like this from happenign again, no matter how many firewalls we throw up.

  16. says

    Well, I hate to jump on someone when they’ve admitted they don’t know something, but if you don’t really understand the way the current system works, how can you argue that you know it’s fixable?I don’t have any special knowledge of US healthcare either, except for my direct experiences of its shortcomings whilst trying to find services for an autistic boy.This is someone who will (probably) never be capable of having a normal job. He doesn’t speak or communicate in any reliable way. Yet it took us years to find out that he qualified for our state’s version of Medicaid (though probably not for the Federal version, which has a lower “poverty level” limit on income), and several months of back-and-forth with paperwork after discovering this.Once we got Medicaid, we found that it got us… well, nothing much, really, except that once Josh’s number comes up on the waiting list for a group home, it will help pay his expenses. Though it would really be better, we’re told, if he could get CAP-MR/DD (funds currently frozen; governor’s budget allocates more money for it, but republicans tried to kill the budget) or SSI. We tried to get him SSI 2 years ago, but were turned down because his mother has more than $2000 in savings, so she’s obviously a sponge trying to bilk the government….never mind that group homes do not and will not accept private payment, because they’d much rather deal with the government….and never mind that her savings are emergency money only and totally swamped by $165k in debt (and growing), which they don’t count.I could go on and on — don’t get me started about how conservative attempts to “streamline” the system here in NC (by taking various administrative tasks which had all been handled centrally and “outsourcing” them into individual agencies which capitalistically “compete” with each other for “clients”) ended up making it cost 4 times as much, and probably cost Josh several years of services — but the point is this:You have totally failed to convince me that government-paid universal healthcare isn’t a really good idea — much less that it’s nothing more than a “brilliant” solution-du-jour which liberals only support because it is trendy and they are bored.—And it sounds like you’re basically throwing your hands up as far as the financial mess: Who could have foreseen the exact events which led to this mess?, you seem to be arguing. There are no known preventative measures worth bothering with.This is the same tired old Republican mantra for whenever some totally preventable crisis happens. Who could have foreseen that a major hurricane would devastate New Orleans? Who could have foreseen that we would actually need volcano monitoring? Who could have foreseen that Bin Laden was a threat, and that the World Trade towers were a target? And what’s the point of trying to prevent any of these things, anyway?All of these things were foreseen, and solutions were offered, but Republicans passively failed to act or actively worked against action in every case.Yes, that is “real-world” and Republicanism, not “ideal conservatism” — but your version of ideal conservatism seems to be defending that same do-nothing attitude towards crisis prevention.If you’re not part of the solution, then get out of the way.

  17. says

    Seems like the best solution to the healthcare problems you describe is a renewal of the Efficency Movement, which was a major component of the Progressive Era. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficiency_MovementAs for finance, I really believe that any government regs are completely reactionary. I’m not saying we shouldn’t create new regs, but what I am saying is that it’s 1 step forward, 1 step back. Abandoning capitalism isn’t the answer.

  18. says

    I think I have just one more question.You weren’t able to show me how the premise of ideal conservatism (as you define it, i.e. choosing to respect tradition and custom over arbitrary principles when deciding how to handle or implement change) naturally leads to support of the particular causes you espouse and which you seem to be offering as expressions of that ideal.As far as defining conservatism, then, this leaves us with only those examples by which to understand it, since it’s not clear why those particular causes (rather than any others rooted in different but no less American/Western/whatever traditions and customs) are the inevitable conclusion even if one accepts the premise of conservatism as you described it.So let me try another angle.You made it a point to say that your definition of “ideal” conservatism should not be confused with “real world” conservatism as expressed by most politicians or public figures calling themselves “conservative” — but so far, I can’t really tell the difference.My question, then, is this: are there any prominent conservative figures whose views you disagree with? If so, please tell me more about this. I’m particularly interested to hear if you have any points of difference with Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, Karl Rove, William Kristol, Sarah Palin, or Dick Cheney… but please feel free to throw in any others whose views you would like to comment on.

  19. says

    I think you are trying to goad me into a discussion of conservatism in practice verses ideal conservatism. What I will tell you is that I do not particular like any of the people you mentioned. I think at various times all have probably made points I agree with but since I generally don’t ascribe to any of their political visions, it’s really irrelevant. If you’d like me to point out some conservatives I do have a lot in common with, I’d be happy to do so.

  20. says

    I would hardly call it “goading”, since this was one of the key points we agreed on near the beginning of the discussion, i.e. that it was important to distinguish between a political ideal and the expressions of that ideal — to which I would add that expressions can still be in tune with the ideal and help to explain it, so it can be helpful to give specific examples of good or bad real-world expressions so others can connect the dots of the picture you’re trying to draw……especially since the picture you described doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with the outlines you’ve sketched…But sure, if you’d rather go for examples to illustrate what your ideal is rather than what it isn’t, that sounds at least as sensible as what I suggested.Show me the side of conservatism that truly has the interests of civilization and/or America at heart, and that is working for the best future for all of us. It should be most welcome relief from the idiocy which seems to get all the media coverage these days.

  21. says

    Just as a quick sample:-Ross Douthat-John Schwenkler-David Brooks-Megan McArdle (although she’s a bit more libertarian)-Tyler Cowen-Daniel LarisonThe liberal hysteria over the kinds of folks you mentioned (Limbaugh, Coulter, etc) is kind of a self-fullfilling prophecy in my opinion. To be quite honest, they appeal to the Dana Hunter’s of the world. Those prone to anger and outrage. If you want to really understand what’s going on in the intellectual halls of conservatism you have to dig a bit deeper than Fox News. Likewise, I don’t depend on Keith Olberman and Chris Matthews for the intellectual side of liberalism.

  22. says

    Can you be more specific — point me to something any of those folks have written which you pretty much agree with? …especially if it relates to core beliefs, or disagreements with the liberal point of view (or disagreements with mainstream conservatism, for that matter). I remember we discussed Douthat once before — you linked to an Atlantic piece about abortion; Douthat’s argument was full of logical fallacies and fuzzy thinking, and made no sense. So I hope that’s just a bad example.I can’t think of anything Olbermann has said that I didn’t pretty much agree with, sometimes with tremendous gratitude that someone in the mainstream media is apparently still able to not only disagree openly with the GOP party line, but explain clearly and unambiguously how completely wrong and evil it is. (Feel free to show me why I shouldn’t…)I do consider that at least some of the folks I mentioned earlier seem to be actively trying to destroy civilization so they can feast on its entrails after they’re done selling off the useful bits to the highest bidder.Limbaugh, for one, is only funny if you have a particular fondness for kicking puppies and laughing at their pathetic yelping and whining as you grind them underfoot with your steel-toed boots. I don’t think Godwin’s Law would be invoked if I said he would be right at home in Nazi Germany, because I can completely justify that statement. I guess the people who enjoy his work were never bullied or teased as schoolkids because they were the ones doing the bullying and teasing, and nobody ever explained to them (preferably with a baseball bat) that it’s wrong.Coulter would be indistinguishable from a really good parody of the worst mainstream-conservative impulses (liberals should be killed, tortured, etc.) if it weren’t for the existence of Stephen Colbert, who shows how parody is done — Bush apparently thought he was a genuine neocon, and the rest of us laughed our butts off when Colbert roasted him at the White House.But enough about me. I turn the mic back over to Mike…

  23. says

    Well for Douthat I would point to this article:http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/006/312korit.aspThat was the genesis for the book he co-wrote (Grand New Party) which lays out a very aggressive, family friendly, and progressive agenda for the GOP. Douthat just got Bill Kristol’s old spot at the NY Times so he will have a much louder voice now. I would also suggest an article by David Brooks called, “The Coming Activist Age” where he uses a quote you will recognize. For Daniel Larison I would just point to his blog which is filled with forward-thinking conservative ideals I think he calls it ‘reform conservatism’). I would also mention Joel Kotkin, who is a conservative urban studies guy. He’s probably my favorite academic. Anything by him is fantastic, but you might want to check out, “The Era to Bring Back” which discusses a renewed Progressive Era.
    I will resist the urge to say too much about Olberman but what I will say is that I think him and Rush will probably be roommates when they leave the mortal world. I suppose I can see the delight some liberal take in him. When I used to read Coulter regularly I often found myself nodding in agreement because, “…someone in the mainstream media is apparently still able to not only disagree openly with the [liberal] line, but explain clearly and unambiguously how completely wrong…it is.” She’s just cringe-worthy in her delivery.

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    Oh yeah, right — give me *one* example of anything true that Coulter has said. Bonus points if it’s something that I can’t find Fox News parroting.Reading the Douthat/Salam article; will get back to you when done.

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    PART ONE (apparently this comment is too long — which means it must be longer than any of my previous comments, as I have never run into this 4096 character upper limit before — so I’ve had to split it into 2 parts.)Going through the Douthat/Salam article, there’s not really all that much for me to agree or disagree with. It’s written by conservatives for conservatives, and thus the overall background patterns of conservatism are “subtracted out”; the article is about what the authors believe is wrong with conservatism, but we are left to assume the parts they agree with — which means it’s not really the best place to go for a quick backgrounder in the conservative philosophy.I suppose I could pick a small bone with their approach to change: as with current efforts at reform, they seem to focus more on image than substance (“how can we change the way we convince people to go along with the things we’ve decided we want to do?” rather than “what do our supporters want us to do, and how can we do it?”). They don’t seem to get the idea that a party’s actions must reflect a set of underlying values, and that those values are determined by the people who belong to that party — not by a pre-set agenda engraved in stone.Or maybe that’s what Republicanism is all about — following edicts engraved in stone, even as they lead you over the cliff?[Addendum: the article finally does come around to admitting that the GOP is "out of touch with its base", which sounds more or less equivalent... but then it goes back to looking at demographics -- which has more to do with manipulating statistics to get the most votes than it does with finding common cause with your supporters. Maybe this is the distinction that the GOP mindset fails to grasp?]I’m on page 2 before I see anything I can really object to:…bad-but-popular liberal ideas like … hiking taxes on the wealthy to fund a health care entitlement.What’s this obsession with protecting the incomes of the rich? As has been pointed out at great length, the highest taxes under the Obama plan will still be vastly lower than at any time since before Reagan. It’s not so much “hiking” them as “nudging them just the tiniest bit back towards some semblance of sanity”.For that matter, conservatives have yet to demonstrate that there’s anything wrong with a universal healthcare entitlement. I understand that you don’t feel qualified to explain why you think it’s a bad idea, even though you still think it’s a bad idea regardless of any arguments to the contrary. Okay.Now we come to the “two-parent family” thing (what, not “one man and one woman”?). Am I to understand that the nuclear family is an essential element of conservatism (whether classic or progressive)?

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    PART TWO (umm… three parts?)I also have a bone to pick with some of the equivalences he draws with regard to “family”:Having lots of kids is not the same as having faith in the future… unless you mean a blind, unthinking faith. I have faith in the future (as I understand “faith”), but I know that that faith will not be realized if we do not make responsible decisions now. That statement should be something any conservative can relate to.And yes, having too many kids is irresponsible.Population cannot expand indefinitely without causing “the innovation and entrepreneurial zeal that make America the world’s economic leader” to “slowly wither” due to overcrowding and exhaustion of resources.”Without a youthful population, the costs of supporting retirees are unsustainable”. This is wrong. I know some of the standard assumptions behind this idea, but I can’t tell which particular fallacies he is buying into. Even if it were true, it’s like a Ponzi scheme; we can’t keep the bubble going indefinitely. See above.The world (and the US) is already crowded enough, thanks — and I’m speaking from one of the less-crowded parts of it. I don’t care if it does mean a bit of economic hardship (and I don’t see how the truth could be anything but the reverse of that); I don’t want to survive only to watch the world growing more crowded and unpleasant (and, if you add in the rest of GOP philosophy, intolerant and ignorant). I’m willing to do a little extra work to make up for the kids that won’t be there to take care of me in the future, if that’s really what it comes down to — but I don’t think it does.Now, if the GOP were talking about creating more places for people to expand into — be that seasteading, colonizing the Antarctic, greening the deserts, building space colonies, whatever — all forward-looking, progressive ideas — then we might talk about reproductive incentives for those who move into any of those new spaces which prove to be “homesteadable”. (I suspect it would be quite unnecessary, however.)I agree, though, with his criticism of the “don’t expect any sympathy” attitude, if I’m reading it right. Failing to provide basic universal health care for kids is no less irresponsible than having too many of them. We may not need huge families, but we do need our children to grow up healthy and well-educated — and the predominant GOP attitude has always been “tough luck” to those who can’t afford proper healthcare or education.Paying couples to have children, however, is exactly the wrong thing to do. It adds incentive to reproduce, which is the last thing we need, while not doing anything at all for the child’s long-term welfare, nor doing anything to help existing families, nor focusing on those who need help the most. I’m not sure how much more wrong it would be possible to be.As for the “two-career family” issue: I agree that it’s a problem, and most of his proposals seem within the scope of reason and possibly even what I would call “progressive”. I’m not sure he’s covering all the important territory, but it’s a good start.I can’t really see liberals disagreeing with those ideas, though — which gets into one of the GOP’s problems of late: if liberals like it, then the GOP can’t embrace it. This small-minded, zero-sum thinking is why the GOP is choking and dying right now.

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    PART THREE (…amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as…)The authors are also correct that the healthcare system needs to be redesigned from the ground up (as Obama & co. are now apparently trying to do), rather than patched to handle the "bug" posed by the existence of the uninsured.The authors' ideas about welfare reform are a little weird. Why on earth would we want to spend government funds to make "less-educated single men" "more desirable marriage partners"? (How about spending that money to, say, educate them, for example?)Analyzing the rest of this article would take more time than I have, but in any case it's pretty much off-topic; the topic is "What is progressive conservatism? Please give examples." The article helps a little bit with that; we have some useful ideas on health care reform and family support, and at least some ideas (however odd) with which to start discussion on welfare reform……but I don't see anything that would make anyone say "YES! This party's policy recommendations clearly make more sense than those of the other dominant party, and they consequently have my support."Where's the beef?

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    Re: CoulterI’ll give you two:- Hollywood glorifies unwed births and that probably isn’t good for society.- Changes to lending rules under Clinton were a major factor in the housing foreclosure problem we have today.

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    You brought up the point that the world is 'overcrowded' before and I believe I challenged it while never receiving a response. I will accept that some countries are over-crowded in the sense that there aren't enough resources for every citizen, but in that respect you could almost argue that the US was over-crowded during the Depression because people were going hungry. So the implication is really about the ratio of resources to people. When you start digging in that direction you quickly find that worldwide there is more than enough resources for people, it's just a problem with distribution. So you're going to have to do better if you want o use that as a reason to invalidate S & D's call for a healthy birthrate. When you start looking at the US (and that's where their proposals are meant to be applied) you actually see a birthrate that is nearly negative in certain cities like San Francisco and rapidly dropping in other places. Even making an exception for SF as the gay capital of the United States, it's still disturbing. Why? Because the birthrate is usually an indicator of demographics. There is no diversity in San Francisco. I would think a liberal would appreciate how bad that is. The simplest answer is that you cannot build an economy on gay couples or white collar workers who historically don't produce as many children. There is a reason why the middle class is considered ideal. They are more integrated into various sectors of the economy than those at the top. And a healthy birthrate is an indicator of a vibrant middle class (of course the lower class also has a lot of kids, which is actually something we need to fix – but another topic). I appreciate that you are acknowledging that some of these ideas are forward-thinking and arguably 'progressive'. As to fleshing them out or making them even more appealing, you would have to read their book that was sprang from this article. It goes into a lot more detail on all of these proposals. They have some really creative ideas for using the tax code to encourage desirable behaviors, some of which they discuss in the article. One example I am a big fan of is using tax credits to create larger incentives for people to be stay-at-home parents. I believe they even floated the idea of giving families with kids in a certain age bracket a complete tax amnesty. Much of what they propose is specifically a progressive conservatism because instead of taking the liberal do-what-you-want-and-the-government-provides-a-safety-net route they believe the government should use it’s leverage to encourage more desirable behaviors. As they say, “…just as culture impacts economics, so too can economic policy affect cultural trends.” That point is a key point of conservative philosophy. I would argue that liberals generally see cultural trends as a juggernaut that can’t / shouldn’t ever be stopped.

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    Re Coulter: wrong, and wrong.How does Hollywood glorify unwed births? Please give at least 3 examples from major motion pictures. Examples must specifically celebrate how wonderful it is that the offspring’s parents weren’t married, rather than celebrating other aspects of the story such as the offspring’s triumph over adversity in spite of being born out of wedlock.Clinton helped cause the mortgage crisis? I realize you might not have read about this if you don’t read liberal blogs much (and the conservative blogs certainly wouldn’t have passed on the tip, much less the mainstream media), but that claim was quickly shown to be hollow, for those to whom this wasn’t already obvious.Give me a break. Next they’ll be blaming Obama for The Great Depression, because policies he supports are in agreement with Roosevelt’s actions which they will erroneously claim made the Depression worse rather than helping… oh wait, they already tried to pull that one too.

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    Re overcrowding: I’m talking about two things: (1) personal preference — the world (and my corner of it) is already plenty crowded for me, thanks, (2) we are already consuming in excess of the world’s production capacity — hence rainforests being destroyed to make toilet paper, “drill baby drill” to try and increase petrolium supplies (which is pathetic, because domestic reserves are tiny compared to those we mainly depend on), Bush deciding that we desperately need to return some public lands to commercial use, etc. (3) it’s all very well to say that “it’s just a problem of distribution”*, but until you solve that problem, STFU about having enough resources for everyone, ok?*Actually, what you said earlier (that I didn’t respond to) was that it was “a product of failures in resources, not over-reproduction.” DUDE! That’s what over-reproduction IS — when you don’t have enough resources to meet your population! Geez, that’s like a driver saying “no, I didn’t wreck the car, I just experienced a high-speed impact with an immovable object.”“The simplest answer is that you cannot build an economy on gay couples or white collar workers who historically don’t produce as many children.”We have plenty of children. If anything, we need more gay couples to help absorb the over-production. (I’ve said this before, and you ignored it.)Negative birthrate = good, as far as I’m concerned, at least until we get the planet down to something like a billion or two (whatever the best estimates are of the planet’s sustainable carrying capacity given current technology… I know I’ve seen an estimate somewhere of what this number would be, and it sure as hell isn’t 6.67 billion. Maybe some day it will be, but where’s the effing conservatism in saying we can borrow against the future just so we can have as many kids as we want? Where’s the effing conservatism in fighting every effort to develop sustainable technologies so we could afford those kids?I mean, have you ever been to SF? To someone raised in North Carolina, it seems plenty crowded… and cities tend to be more affected by job-related migration than local birthrate, anyway, as I understand it. If a lot of gay San Franciscans are acting as a sink for excess child-production, then conservatives ought to be thanking them.“And a healthy birthrate is an indicator of a vibrant middle class.” …but when it’s the lower classes having a healthy birthrate, then it’s a problem.Right.This is obviously some strange new usage of the word “indicator”.–“instead of taking the liberal do-what-you-want-and-the-government-provides-a-safety-net route they believe the government should use its leverage to encourage more desirable behaviors…”Remind me again — which party was it that tried to use government leverage to stop irresponsibility on Wall Street while it was still small and cute, and which party blocked those efforts?

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    I think Coulter is talking about the people in Hollywood and their private lives more than the movies.As for Clinton and the loans, Clinton has admitted himself thathe caused part of the problem, in hindsight. And as to how this started, it was at least partially the Dems fault. From Tyler Cowen:“As much as 70 percent of recent early payment defaults had fraudulent misrepresentations on their original loan applications, according to one recent study. The research was done by BasePoint Analytics, which helps banks and lenders identify fraudulent transactions; the study looked at more than three million loans from 1997 to 2006, with a majority from 2005 to 2006. Applications with misrepresentations were also five times as likely to go into default. Many of the frauds were simple rather than ingenious. In some cases, borrowers who were asked to state their incomes just lied, sometimes reporting five times actual income; other borrowers falsified income documents by using computers. Too often, mortgage originators and middlemen looked the other way rather than slowing down the process or insisting on adequate documentation of income and assets. As long as housing prices kept rising, it didn’t seem to matter. In other words, many of the people now losing their homes committed fraud.”The CRA contributed to this.

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    “I think Coulter is talking about the people in Hollywood and their private lives more than the movies.”If it’s not entirely clear what she’s talking about, how can you tell if it’s true? In any case, my objection to the original interpretation stands: show me people in Hollywood saying things like “it’s so great that she decided not to get married when having her baby”.“Clinton has admitted himself that he caused part of the problem, in hindsight.” If that’s true (sources?), he’s being much too gracious — considering that the majority of the loans involved in the crash were not CRA loans, that CRA lenders have tended to engage in less dangerous lending than others — and that Clinton and the dems fought to reduce levels of predatory lending, to investigate fraud, and to try and reduce the deleterious effects of the eventual crash, while conservatives blocked them at every turn.The Tyler Cowen quote is totally irrelevant to your point; why do you even bring it up?“Let’s try to remember to be polite, shall we?”I didn’t forget; that was the polite version of what I started to type.The reason why it’s important to be polite in a conversation is to prevent it from decaying into personal attacks, angry rhetoric, and general shouting — in other words, to keep the conversation focused on reason, logic, and common sense.When someone answers a reasonable argument by changing the subject, throws in distracting irrelevancies, and generally evades responsibility for admitting their mistakes, I’d say they’re violating the spirit of polite conversation.Worse, when someone seems completely oblivious to the horrendous implications of their claims — or, worse, is aware of them but apparently doesn’t give a flying feghoot — a little verbal intensity seems entirely appropriate in order to draw their attention to the gravity of their error.Which would you rather deal with: the occasional expleted deletive, or someone who unapologetically incites their followers to riot against you, or talks about torturing and killing those who agree with you? However, perhaps I could be a bit more eloquent and thoughtful in examining the… shall we say “dissonance”… between your claim that “overcrowding is really just a problem of resource allocation” and the typical republican/conservative attitude towards those who would be on the receiving end of such reallocation, i.e. “tough luck, losers” and (to paraphrase only slightly) “STFU, liberal bitches” (aka Republican bipartisanship).Go on, tell me Palin was “just kidding”. Tell me that Limbaugh doesn’t mean it literally, that Coulter is only joking when she talks about torturing and killing liberals. McCain at least was decent enough to say, when he realized his crowd were taking the anti-Obama “terrorist” rhetoric wayyy too seriously, that Obama’s not a terrorist, he’s a good and decent guy, we just disagree — and he was BOOed for saying this (by people who, coincidentally, claim the same ideological affiliation as you). Were they just kidding too?Why the frack aren’t you horrified?”Can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding.”

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    More on Coulter (wouldn’t fit into the original post… I swear this 4096-character limit must be a new thing.):I’d also like to know what conclusion she drew from her assertion, as on the face of it “celebrating out-of-wedlock births” doesn’t seem like a terrible thing if the kids grow up prosperous and healthy.I imagine Coulter has occasionally thrown in the occasional true fact to give her writing that delicate frisson of truthiness (e.g. “the sun rose as usual that morning, casting its cheerful beams on Obama’s usual liberally-healthy breakfast of partial-birth-aborted fetuses, sauteed stem cells, and filet of recalcitrant heterosexual”), but what matters, ultimately, is where she goes with them.”Hollywood celebrates out-of-wedlock childbirth” — therefore “Hollywood takes an admirably positive attitude towards adversity”? — or therefore “liberals are out to destroy the family and America”?The devil is in the conclusions.

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    Show me people in Hollywood saying things like “it’s so great that she decided not to get married when having her baby”.Show me Republicans saying, ‘We hate poor people.” But something tells me you think most generally do based on their actions. Actions have meaning. Just because people in Hollywood don’t vocalize it doesn’t mean that out-of-wedlock births aren’t becoming normalized. And despite your celebration of the wonderful tapestry of diversity, out-of-wedlock marriages are generally to blame for a host of social problems.

    If that’s true (sources?), he’s being much too gracious — considering that the majority of the loans involved in the crash were not CRA loans, that CRA lenders have tended to engage in less dangerous lending than others — and that Clinton and the dems fought to reduce levels of predatory lending, to investigate fraud, and to try and reduce the deleterious effects of the eventual crash, while conservatives blocked them at every turn.This is the text of Bill Clinton’s remarks on the Today Show, 09/25/08.Lauer: [According to a NY Times article] your administration pressured Fannie Mae to increase the number of lower and middle income families and individuals who could get a mortgage and thus own a home and that to accomplish that Fannie Mae lowered their standard for credit, these subprime mortgages, and while the article said it was good intentioned, it was dangerous. Would you agree with that?Clinton: I think, through the lense of this, it looks like that is true. But let’s go back to where we were at the time. At the time they had lots of money, were making lots of money and I thought too much of the money was being given out in value to the shareholders and compensation to the executives.
    Which would you rather deal with: the occasional expleted deletive, or someone who unapologetically incites their followers to riot against you, or talks about torturing and killing those who agree with you? Palin tried to get people to riot against you? You’re more popular than I thought!

    I’m talking about two things: (1) personal preference — the world (and my corner of it) is already plenty crowded for me, thanks, (2) we are already consuming in excess of the world’s production capacity (3) it’s all very well to say that “it’s just a problem of distribution”*, but until you solve that problem, STFU about having enough resources for everyone, ok?I don’t think anyone argues that petroleum is vital to the survival of worldwide populations. At the end of the day it’s a luxury item. If it went away tomorrow, goods would still get where they need to, just perhaps a little slower (a good-sized chunk of the U.S. navy seems to be doing pretty well on nuclear).
    As for personal preference, I suspect you know what my reply to that is.

    Negative birthrate = good, as far as I’m concerned, at least until we get the planet down to something like a billion or two…I’m curious as to how a higher birthrate in SF would effect, let’s say, Thailand?

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    Re Hollywood:“Show me Republicans saying, ‘We hate poor people.””I didn’t say they said that. What I said was that they say “tough luck, loser” — let me know if you need examples.I think Republicans must actually love poor people very much, because they seem to want to make more of them all the time. They love poor people becuase they know poor people can be more easily manipulated than people who have all their basic needs and are reasonably well-educated. They love poor people because they know poor people will do more work for less money, and won’t complain about being bossed around, and “know their place”.Republican leaders depend heavily on poor people to help maintain republican leader lifestyles, and to vote for republican leaders out of subservience and ignorance, and to believe (because they don’t have the time or understanding to read otherwise) that they themselves are also republicans, whose interests will be protected and cared for by the republican leaders they help elect.“Just because people in Hollywood don’t vocalize it doesn’t mean that out-of-wedlock births aren’t becoming normalized.”Not the same thing as “celebrating” them.“And despite your celebration of the wonderful tapestry of diversity, out-of-wedlock births are generally to blame for a host of social problems.” (slightly corrected)In Hollywood??Some out-of-wedlock births are a problem, but only when the mother doesn’t have access to adequate resources. Many are not a problem at all, and many in-wedlock births end up being a problem either because of divorce or due to other problems with the family.I’m still not sure what point you’re trying to make, though. Ann Coulter says Hollywood (and presumably she’s aiming this at liberals) celebrate out-of-wedlock births. Presumably she means this is a bad thing, and liberals should be ashamed of themselves for doing so. Why is it a bad thing? I’m guessing it’s because she believes out-of-wedlock births are such an overwhelming problem that… something something. I can’t quite figure it out, except by the usual conservative guilt-by-association logic of “X causes problems and is unconventional, therefore you must hate and despise it or you are a Damned Liberal trying to destroy marriage and our society”.You haven’t established that Coulter was telling the truth here… but I’m willing to explore this claim in a hypothetical sense, because maybe we can learn something more about the nature of conservatism.So tell, me, Mike, why would it be bad to celebrate out-of-wedlock childbirth?–Re Clinton: no he didn’t. He admitted that it might look that way from a present-day vantage point (6 months ago), but he flatly denied (earlier in the interview) that the problem was rooted in acts of his administration, and further argues that the crisis didn’t really “take off” until the SEC under Bush relaxed oversight and removed the “uptick rule”, thus enabling some of the worst behaviors which clearly did play a part in the crisis.This is what we addled liberals refer to as “quoting out of context”, and it’s a no-no for polite dialog.“Palin tried to get people to riot against you? You’re more popular than I thought!”It’s a mystery to me, too… but I’m a member of at least two different groups that Palin and her ilk seem to be out to get (as in physically intimidate and threaten, and possibly kill a few just to make an example for the rest). It’s a popularity I can live without, thanks.To be continued… I now officially H8 the new gods-be-damned 4,096-character limit. If Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter would like to start a hate-group devoted to threatening and intimidating whoever thought it was a good idea, I’m there. I’ll bring along my posters of botched and aborted comments.

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    PART TWO“I don’t think anyone argues that petroleum is vital to the survival of worldwide populations. At the end of the day it’s a luxury item. If it went away tomorrow, goods would still get where they need to, just perhaps a little slower (a good-sized chunk of the U.S. navy seems to be doing pretty well on nuclear).”Okay, Mike, you’ve gone over the edge on this one. Are you seriously arguing that there would not be major worldwide consequences if all the oil wells suddenly ran dry?“As for personal preference, I suspect you know what my reply to that is.”I’m not sure I do, Mike… I wouldn’t want to presume that you would be so callous as to completely dismiss someone’s opinion as totally irrelevant just because you don’t happen to agree with it, so I can only think that you mean something else.“I’m curious as to how a higher birthrate in SF would affect, let’s say, Thailand?”Probably none at all… but you were the one who seemed to be worrying about a tragic decline in the population of SF due to the presence of too many gay people.Obviously we need more gay people in Thailand and China, too… but it would probably be unethical to try and induce it via genetic manipulation, so we’ll just have to go the old-fashioned way and reduce overpopulation by encouraging proper sex education and a higher standard of living. Sometimes traditional solutions just work best.

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    Some out-of-wedlock births are a problem, but only when the mother doesn’t have access to adequate resources. Many are not a problem at all, and many in-wedlock births end up being a problem either because of divorce or due to other problems with the family.So tell, me, Mike, why would it be bad to celebrate out-of-wedlock childbirth?It’s not just a question of finances. There is a lot of research out there that demonstrates how the lack of a male figure (i.e. father) is a significant problem in out-of-wedlock situations. So, no, I wouldn’t call a celebration of that situation to be desirable.
    Re Clinton: no he didn’t. He admitted that it might look that way from a present-day vantage point (6 months ago), but he flatly denied (earlier in the interview) that the problem was rooted in acts of his administration, and further argues that the crisis didn’t really “take off” until the SEC under Bush relaxed oversight and removed the “uptick rule”, thus enabling some of the worst behaviors which clearly did play a part in the crisis.I disagree with your assessment. Clinton refers to some bill he signed that, “…the banking industry wanted to let them get into securities issuance there…That bill primarily enabled them to, like the Bank of America, to buy Merrill Lynch here without a hitch. And I think that helped to stabilize the situation. “ The main criticisms were leveled not at that bill but at the changes to the CRA. When Lauer brings those up later in the interview, Clinton clearly admits there is some appearance of wrong-doing.
    Are you seriously arguing that there would not be major worldwide consequences if all the oil wells suddenly ran dry?I’m saying petroleum is not the key to the survival of mankind.
    I’m not sure I do, Mike… I wouldn’t want to presume that you would be so callous as to completely dismiss someone’s opinion as totally irrelevant just because you don’t happen to agree with it, so I can only think that you mean something else.Well then let be more clear: pointing to personal preferences as a measure of over-crowding/over-population is a ridiculous notion.

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    (PART 1 of 2)“There is a lot of research out there that demonstrates how the lack of a male figure (i.e. father) is a significant problem in out-of-wedlock situations. So, no, I wouldn’t call a celebration of that situation to be desirable.”Well sure, but Coulter makes it sound like liberals are terrorists jumping up and down on the ashes of America for saying anything positive about it at all. What’s wrong with, say, celebrating the kids who do manage to do well in spite of having only one parent, and celebrating the moms who manage to raise a successful kid under those circumstances?In order to demonstrate the truth of Coulter’s statement, you would still need to show that liberals/Hollywood are celebrating the very fact of single motherhood — by, say, speaking approvingly of statistics showing an increase in the proportion of single-parent families.“When Lauer brings those up later in the interview, Clinton clearly admits there is some appearance of wrong-doing.”Which, as I said, is quite different from admitting actual culpability. Obviously there’s an appearance, otherwise the Right wouldn’t be so gleefully pointing to it. …no, wait, I take that back; they point to plenty of things that don’t exist. So maybe it was necessary for Clinton to concede that yes, there might appear to be a connection, before he explains that the appearance does not reflect reality.[M] I don’t think anyone argues that petroleum is vital to the survival of worldwide populations. At the end of the day it’s a luxury item. If it went away tomorrow, goods would still get where they need to, just perhaps a little slower (a good-sized chunk of the U.S. navy seems to be doing pretty well on nuclear).[W] Are you seriously arguing that there would not be major worldwide consequences if all the oil wells suddenly ran dry?[M] I’m saying petroleum is not the key to the survival of mankind.The first thing you said (not vital to the survival of worldwide populations) is arguably consistent with that, but implies a long-term view.The last thing you said, though — “If it went away tomorrow, goods would still get where they need to…” — implies a much shorter-term view, i.e. “tomorrow”.Perhaps you meant a metaphorical “tomorrow”, meaning “sometime in the next 10-50 years”? I’ll respond on the basis of that interpretation.I also have to interpret your statement “goods would still get where they need to” to mean that enough goods — especially food — would move fast enough to keep people adequately supplied with their wants and needs, at more or less current per-capita levels, since we were talking about the risks of increasing population.This statement is true only if we have a replacement energy-source for transportation ready by the time petroleum runs out, and if population does not exceed the resulting carrying capacity at any time. (There’s probably a little wiggle-room because of stockpiling of goods, but recently-fashionable “just-in-time” logistics practices have whittled that down to an unhealthy level in many economic sectors.)In general, though, if petroleum were to become unavailable (as it will eventually), there would be worldwide famine and a huge economic downturn (much worse than this one) — unless some alternative form(s) of fuel were already being phased in at adequate levels — which might happen in, say, 15-30 years if all goes well.Conservatives laugh at liberal efforts to fund development for alternative fuels, while you (Mike) are insisting that we should just keep on reproducing as fast as we possibly can and everything will be fine.Are you saying that “progressive conservatism” supports development of alternative fuels and transportation?Even if that’s the case, however, it’s hardly reasonable (or responsible) to say that we can just keep on breeding, full steam ahead (drill, baby, drill!), when we don’t yet have those alternative energy resources online.

  40. says

    (PART 2 of 2)Even if that’s the case, however, it’s hardly reasonable (or responsible) to say that we can just keep on breeding, full steam ahead (drill, baby, drill!), when we don’t yet have those alternative energy resources online.“Well then let be more clear: pointing to personal preferences as a measure of over-crowding/over-population is a ridiculous notion.”Why so? The Earth is where I live. If people started moving into your house, casually helping themselves to every comfortable surface available, wouldn’t you feel that you had a right to say “this place is too damn crowded”?If you want to expand the population further, go get your own planet (or space colony or seastead or whatever). Hell, I’d probably be among the first to move there, given the opportunity; I won’t even insist that you risk your neck.Even if you totally dismiss personal aesthetics as a basis for national policy, you certainly can’t go around with the blanket assumption that more population is a good thing. It isn’t, and there are both aesthetic and urgent practical reasons why this is so.

  41. says

    (W) In order to demonstrate the truth of Coulter’s statement, you would still need to show that liberals/Hollywood are celebrating the very fact of single motherhood — by, say, speaking approvingly of statistics showing an increase in the proportion of single-parent families.As I said, actions have meaning. You don’t have to have a press release to give the message that out-of-wedlock births are celebrated/normalized.
    (M)”When Lauer brings those up later in the interview, Clinton clearly admits there is some appearance of wrong-doing.”(W)Which, as I said, is quite different from admitting actual culpability. Obviously there’s an appearance, otherwise the Right wouldn’t be so gleefully pointing to it. …no, wait, I take that back; they point to plenty of things that don’t exist. So maybe it was necessary for Clinton to concede that yes, there might appear to be a connection, before he explains that the appearance does not reflect reality.Let me rephrase that. Clinton admits to the exact scenario that conservatives say was problematic. He says (paraphrasing), “You have to understand our thinking in 1994. It made sense knowing what we knew then. Now it looks like it was a bad idea.”
    (W) The last thing you said, though — “If it went away tomorrow, goods would still get where they need to…” — implies a much shorter-term view, i.e. “tomorrow”.You said that because we are ‘…already consuming in excess of the world’s production capacity,” and made a reference to drilling. I am saying that worldwide population can be sustained without oil. I think that at the current reproduction rates, if we got SERIOUS about alternative fuels, etc we could easily replace oil with something else and not trigger a catastrophe. So yes, I guess I wasn’t talking about oil wells going dry LITERALLY tomorrow. To answer your other question, yes, I am 100% in favor of researching and moving towards alternative fuels, including nuclear. I should also point out that the point about over-population came about from your rebuttal to Douthat’s piece, because you believe he is encouraging people to have more kids. I think we should note that he is talking about the United States, not Somalia. In parts of the US (as in parts of Europe) there is a declining birthrate. A lot of economists, sociologists, anthropologists, etc will correctly point out that in a developed nation this trend has negative side-effects. In this respect birthrate is a regional issue and a discussion of world-wide food supplies is irrelevant (unless you propose more aggressive food distribution programs, increased food subsidies in the US, and some sort of world-wide quota system that will ensure uneaten rice in California ends up in the bellies of hungry children in the Congo).
    (M)”Well then let be more clear: pointing to personal preferences as a measure of over-crowding/over-population is a ridiculous notion.”(W)Why so? The Earth is where I live. If people started moving into your house, casually helping themselves to every comfortable surface available, wouldn’t you feel that you had a right to say “this place is too damn crowded”?So then my question is, what do YOU propose as a means of controlling sprawl?

  42. says

    PART ONE of two, I hope“As I said, actions have meaning. You don’t have to have a press release to give the message that out-of-wedlock births are celebrated/normalized.”Yes, but you (Mike) do have to show some evidence that this is the case. I don’t agree that it is. (And “normalized” is different from “celebrated”, which was the original claim.)“Clinton admits to the exact scenario that conservatives say was problematic. He says (paraphrasing), “You have to understand our thinking in 1994. It made sense knowing what we knew then. Now it looks like it was a bad idea.””Earlier in the interview, he flatly denies that his administration did anything to cause the crisis, and puts the blame squarely in Bush’s lap.Even if you’re saying that he’s backing off a bit or contradicting himself (so his earlier denial doesn’t count), I still read him as saying that there is an appearance of bad judgment given the current context — although I admit his subsequent defense of his actions does muddy the waters a bit.The fact remains that the claims of culpability by his administration have been pretty well demolished, as far as I can tell, so either he made a mistake in the moment or he’s being misinterpreted. It may only be possible to resolve this by writing to Clinton himself, to ask if he intended to agree with the charge… and I’m not at all sure how to get in touch with him. Does anyone know who represents him these days?I’m not saying that there’s absolutely no connection, or that Clinton didn’t make a bad call — but it’s ludicrous to look at this one small possible contribution (among many much larger and more definite ones) and triumphantly shout “Aha! Democrats dun it!”. If you subtract the dollars lost by this one possible mistake and add dollars for all the things the Dems did right, you end up with an overwhelmingly positive balance sheet. The same definitely cannot be said for the Repubs, during Clinton or at any time since Carter.“I am saying that worldwide population can be sustained without oil. I think that at the current reproduction rates, if we got SERIOUS about alternative fuels, etc we could easily replace oil with something else and not trigger a catastrophe. So yes, I guess I wasn’t talking about oil wells going dry LITERALLY tomorrow.”I agree with this — though I’d still rather hold off on the reproduction as much as posssible, because until you have that renewable energy capacity online, there’s no guarantee that it will happen fast enough to meet the rising demand.Regardless of whether it’s wrong or right, though, I’d hardly call this argument for maintaining the current birth rate “conservative”.

  43. says

    PART TWO of two“…yes, I am 100% in favor of researching and moving towards alternative fuels, including nuclear.”I’m not automatically against nuclear, but I want to have a much better understanding of the costs — and I think we need to do a 180 on the way we handle plant security. Transparency should be the rule, rather than obsessive secrecy.“In parts of the US (as in parts of Europe) there is a declining birthrate. A lot of economists, sociologists, anthropologists, etc will correctly point out that in a developed nation this trend has negative side-effects.”Such side-effects are bound to be temporary, as the economy adjusts to a more steady population. Increasing population also has negative effects, such as ever-increasing real estate prices in some areas, which undermines the stability of neighborhoods and communities — and surely you wouldn’t argue that ever-increasing population in a given area won’t eventually lead to some sort of horrendous crisis as the resource-exploitation rate diminishes while the population’s demand-rate continues to increase?My understanding is that areas in the US which are suffering declining populations are not doing so because of low birthrates, though; rather, it’s because the kids leave town. So having more kids wouldn’t necessarily make a difference in the underpopulated areas, and would just make the problem worse in the more popular areas.Looking at continued growth as a near-term problem (until the global population begins to stabilize), so we eventually reach a stable/sustainable plateau, I see a good opportunity for some progressive solutions here: offer immigrants an easier path to citizenhood if they will live for a minimum amount of time in an “underpopulated” area and, say, start a business there. Perhaps some tax incentives would help too (something which would cost the government exactly nothing, since the taxes “lost” would be from people who otherwise wouldn’t be there paying taxes in the first place).“So then my question is, what do YOU propose as a means of controlling sprawl?”Sprawl“? I didn’t know that was a problem for which increased population was a solution. As far as I can tell, sprawl is actually more a symptom of too-rapid growth.Nonetheless, it’s a valid question. The problem is twofold: how to rein in existing sprawl, and how to prevent more of it. The solutions for each will generally have a lot in common, although preventative solutions will focus more on planning and negotiation (having high-density transportation corridors built around bus lines or, if possible, rail; requiring developers to fund or build bike-ped paths connecting their new subdivisions with existing bike-ped networks; encouraging mixed-use developments over “bedroom communities”, etc.). For dealing with existing sprawl, I think we need more friendly bus systems to work against the “ghettophobia” middle-class people have when considering taking the bus — e.g. live webcams on all buses should be affordable now; better web sites so newbies can quickly get up to speed on how the system works; ability to purchase tickets and passes online; etc. Obviously I support trains (light or heavy rail, whatever looks best in the cost-benefit analysis for that region).As a nod to the near future, I think self-driving cabs will make a huge change when they become practical (I’d guess no more than 5-10 years before we start seeing prototypes at car shows); it won’t be like getting in the car with a stranger and having to fork over $10, it’ll be more like summoning your invisible chauffeur, whom you pay about as much as you’d pay for a cellphone. Why take your own car, when that means you have to park it and walk back to where you parked it? Much easier to be dropped off at the door, and summon another one (from cellphone, PDA, or a curbside box) to pick you up when finished.

  44. says

    P.S. With regard to your claim that “Abortion clinic violence is almost non-existent these days”, recent news item of which you may have heard is just one indicator that it may be on the upswing again — inspired in part by the insane rhetoric of which I spoke earlier (Palin, Limbaugh, Coulter, et al.).This might be a good time to ask: do you agree with comments made prior to this murder such as “Tiller should should be executed for these deaths.”, “…the abortion industry is all about the almighty dollar!”, “I cannot believe that anyone/any judge, would/could let this man get away with these crimes.”, “Tiller needs to face the death penalty.”, and “I don’t understand how mass murder can be deemed a misdemeanor?” (referring to the abortions Tiller performed).

  45. says

    If I read about someone being decapitated by ninjas in my neighborhood should I assume that means a possible upswing in ninja attacks? One murder, while regrettable, is not proof of anything in a movement of millions.

  46. says

    …hence the phrase “just one”. There’s also this and this and this (from last June, but killer references hatred for “Obama-nation”) and this and this (cited previously in a related context) and this and…But hell, I don’t need to convince you, because I already know that you’ll believe what you want to believe regardless of those annoying logical/rational/Vulcan facts…. and if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be much happier than if it does.Just to be clear:(1) My premise is that right-wingers, with their party now in the minority and rapidly losing ground, are terrified of what the evil liberal left will do (possibly in retaliation for all the crap the right pulled and got away with for the past 8 years), that Obama’s election and inauguration have been the catalyst for a subtle but significant shift in attitude from “angry citizens” to “angry mob”, which may lead to more violent incidents like this (targeting abortion doctors, gays, and others perceived as being part of the vast left-wing conspiracy).(2) I don’t advocate any pre-emptive government intervention for dealing with this (much less individual intimidation or violence)(3) I do advocate a national campaign (whether government or private or both) to promote critical thinking and the importance of rational dialogue. The main problem with right-wingers seems to be that they were never taught this — and you can’t have a civil society without it.(4) The insane rhetoric has to stop. Anyone who supports such speech is part of the problem. I agree that people have the right to say what they think, but that doesn’t include the right to be free from responsibility for doing so. People have the right to say really stupid things, but saying them doesn’t make them any less stupid.And you didn’t answer my question.

  47. says

    I tend to think your alarmism is well, just that. My grandfather was a 40 year police officer. He missed my aunt’s high school graduation in 1968 because he was working the riots that swept through Louisville and many other cities after Dr.King was assassinated. I heard all kinds of stories growing up about what people did in frustration to the events of the day. I tell you this story because if this nation could make it through 1968 without completely imploding then the stuff you are referring to is just silly in comparison. The 8 years that Bush was in office was marked by a lot of partisan fighting. Both sides were engaged in it. While I have no doubt that you spent those 8 years formulating your opinion that, “The main problem with right-wingers seems to be that they were never taught [critical thinking and the importance of rational dialogue],” I formed a similar opinion of the Left. Now we can spend the next two weeks trying to prove the other one wrong, or we can agree that perception is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe the fear on the Left is because we like guns a lot more than you all..but neither side has a monopoly on wackos. And that’s what most of this is. White supremacists, no matter how well-organized, are mentally unstable in my opinion. The same for someone who murders an abortion provider or shoots up a gay-friendly church. If you want to try to color millions of conservatives based on the actions of a fraction of a percent of extremists (who quite frankly aren’t real conservatives anyhow) then that is your choice. A willingness to be fooled in that way is not something I can easily remedy, no matter how persuasive my comments on this blog are.

  48. says

    “Maybe the fear on the Left is because we like guns a lot more than you all..but neither side has a monopoly on wackos.”Our wackos don’t have guns; you’ve made my point.Yes, there are exceptions — Ted Kaczynski comes to mind — but that’s the point: they are exceptional. Can you name a Kaczynski for every gun-totin’ liberal-hatin’ Jesus-fearin’ “patriot” on the Right? How about for every 10 of them? Every 100?And how many people were killed or injured by angry liberal rioters (not counting the rioters themselves)? How many such events have there been in the history of the US?And you didn’t answer my question (again): do you agree with the anti-Tiller comments I quoted? Here’s another bunch for the collection — do you agree with Ms. Edmonds?

  49. says

    Without looking up the statistics, if we assign the riots of the 1960′s, plus the LA riots to liberals…not to mention various WTO protests, etc…I’d say liberal-lead riots are responsible for more deaths than conservative-lead riots. To thatend, I’m trying hard to think of a conservative-lead riot in the last 40 years. If you’re scared of ‘gun-toting’ conservatives I suggest you Google some images from any one of a hundred anti-Bush rallies during his presidency. i think you’re being selectively fearful. and i don’t agree with any tiller comments that called for his death. i DO agree with any that called him a mass murderer.

  50. says

    I accidentally posted three comments here which were actually replies to the Case Against Gay Marriage thread; I have now moved them there.–The "whose philosophy causes the most violence" question will have to wait while I do some research.–[W] The main problem with right-wingers seems to be that they were never taught [critical thinking and the importance of rational dialogue][M] I formed a similar opinion of the Left….and yet in the thread just mentioned you seem to be admitting that conservatives don't value those things as much as liberals do, and indeed look down on the liberal "obsession" with them.(and that's all I have time for this morning…)

  51. says

    I was assuming that you were saying that your personal opposition was based on a universal morality — but now you're saying there are two different types of morality — (a) a universal one, where things are "immoral" if they go against it, and (b) your personal morality, where things which go against it aren't "immoral" but still "defy morals" and are "wrong" and "separate from morality".
    I’m saying that ‘immorality’ is a term that I don’t use in either case. I’m not willing to say gay marriage is immoral based on my own personal morality or based on society’s morals. I’m saying that right now it is a morality that is not shared by the majority of Americans. Look at it this way, I could say that my morals tell me it’s not okay to spank a child. You might say that your morality tells you it is. I would say we have a difference opinion there, but I’m not willing to call your opinion ‘immoral’. It’s just different and I think there is a distinction ‘immoral’ and ‘different’. So to answer your question, I don’t think an opinion shift in American society constitutes gay marriage suddenly becoming moral…I just think that America has accepted a new kind of morals.
    (Obviously there are certain acts we can probably universally agree are ‘immoral’ such as rape, murder, etc.)

    …and a further question is begged as well: How does that group come to its decisions about what is right and wrong? Do you believe it generally makes good decisions?
    Yes, call me naïve or overly-optimistic but in general I think society usually errs on the side of good.

    Shorter Haidt: We must sacrifice centuries of progress in overcoming emotional bias and superstition, and instead allow ourselves to be led around by myths, rumors, and emotionally persuasive candy-arguments…
    I think you are dwelling exclusively on the three other pillars haidt points out instead of remembering his initial comment (emphasis mine):
    My recent research shows that social conservatives do indeed rely upon those two foundations, but they also value virtues related to three additional psychological systems: The point being that conservatives don’t rely on the Vulcan pillars alone but also rely on other aspects of human personalities. As Barone points out at the end of the article, ” Read the whole thing. You might even conclude, as I suspect Haidt does, that Republican voters tend to be more nuanced and sophisticated than Democratic voters.”

  52. says

    Just an FYI – I'm going on vacation tomorrow. I will probably have internet access all week but my wife really hates it when I leave town and spend have my time on the internet. I'll do my best to respond to any comments you leave, but it may not be until I get back…As food for thought i am curious to hear your opinion on a mostly unrelated subject. i've been forming a theory that the so-called 'moderate Republicans' who are pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, etc really just have libertarian leanings and are confusing it for liberalism. I think that while a liberal might say they believe in equality for gays and that their relationships are just as 'normal' as hetero ones a libertarian-leaning Republican would be okay with gay marriage not because they approve but because they're all about personal freedom. Since they know liberals have similar general positions they assume they are 'moderates'. Basically they have equal goals with completely different reasons for arriving there. Would you agree with this theory?

  53. says

    Haven't got time for a proper response yet (composing it in a proper editor where it will be safe from Firefox), but I did want to point out that your repeated labeling of liberals as "Vulcans" — aside from being totally off-target in its implicit claim that libs are unemotional and obsessed with pure logic — undermines your arguments in at least two ways.First: In the episode "The Apple", it is the Vulcan who argues that the alien culture, along with its and tradition of continual sacrifice to the machine-god Vaal, must not be disturbed because "it works for them". (I suspect there are other examples, but that was the one the kids were watching last night.)The analogy is valid, too: liberals do not support interference with local cultures and traditions, but only in the laws under which we all must live, so that we can have a civil society with a minimum level of individual suffering.Is the Trek story a better analogy for liberals trying to change conservative ways (which we are not, so long as they don't negatively affect us), or for US intervention in Iraq? Why would conservatives support "non-interference" when it comes to their culture, but not the cultures of others?Second: it undermines your arguments about morality. By labeling liberals as "Vulcans", you imply that we behave so bizarrely, by your standards, that we must be another species.If we're another species, why should your morality have to apply to us? Why do you care if Vulcans have different mating practices, or if Vulcan doctors murder Vulcan babies? What right do you have to say anything about it, in any state or country where Vulcans live?Are you perhaps agreeing with Richard Dawkins, that babies are babies regardless of the ideology of their parents, that there are no "Christian children" or "Muslim children" but only "children who grow up and may adopt the Christian or Muslim faiths"?

  54. says

    I refer to liberals as Vulcans because of the over-obsession with logic and reason. I think it is also applicable because like Vulcans emotions only seem to be suppressed and like Vulcans they bubble to the surface from time to time with comical and sometimes disasterous results.

  55. says

    Mike, if you think that it's a bad thing to respond to emotion and rhetoric with logic and reason, then there may simply be too much of a gulf here for meaningful dialogue to take place.The fact that people — even those who are "obsessed" with logic — can be overwhelmed by emotion is the reason why it is necessary to conduct the argument in rational/logical terms.If you are not interested in keeping this discussion on a rational level, then what are you doing here?

  56. says

    You're missing my point. I don't think liberals actually are the voice of reason and logic…you just think you are. Sort of like Vulcans. They think that they are logical beings and then every so often they reveal the emotion just below the surface. You all do the same thing. Nothing wrong with that…you should just be honest about it.

  57. says

    There is no "voice" of reason; the question is whether it is important to keep the conversation on that level — and that is all I am advocating.The fact that you seem to think logic has a "voice" — a particular point of view, of which only one "side" in an argument may be in possession — implies to me that you don't really understand the nature of it.The whole point of reason and logic is that they can expose flaws in any side of a debate. If my logic has holes — if I am being illogical or irrational in what I am saying — you can use logic to find them and to show how "irrational liberal" I am being, just as I have used it to find the flaws in your arguments.This makes the discussion more fair and more likely to arrive at truths which everyone can agree on because they are grounded in reality.

  58. says

    I thought we were still discussing the article I cited which makes generalities about liberals and conservatives. That's what I am speaking about. In general, liberals embrace logic and reason while criticizing emotion and harder-to-define items like 'morality'. You seemed to agree with this assesment and pointed out that it revealed how flawed conservative thought is. i am simply trying to point out that the liberal reliance on the three pillars only is mostly just a self-perception thing, not reality.

  59. says

    It looks to me like this is where we started off (with some paraphrasing, and emphasis added):[W] The main problem with right-wingers seems to be that they were never taught [critical thinking and the importance of rational dialogue][M] I formed a similar opinion of the Left.[W] …and yet in the thread just mentioned you seem to be admitting that conservatives don't value those things as much as liberals do, and indeed look down on the liberal "obsession" with them.[M] The point being that conservatives don’t rely on the Vulcan pillars alone but also rely on other aspects of human personalities.I get your point — that I'm holding out logic as an ideal, and you're saying that my arguments are actually just as emotion-based as any con claim of "morality". The problem is that the point you're criticizing (where I said that boutique eugenics would not be condoned by modern society) is one where I believe I'm agreeing with you. If you want me to defend that position logically — or perhaps find fault with it — I'm game, but if I find fault with it, then the same criticisms apply to your agreement with it — unless you are saying that you disagree.More to the point, you can't use a criticism of one argument as grounds for criticizing other arguments, unless you can show that those other arguments are somehow based on it.(Your implicit point — made explicit in the Barone article you linked — that liberals are actually taking in less information than cons, and that therefore the con worldview is actually more "nuanced" than the liberal one, is total BS which I will be happy to take apart for you piece by piece if you like.)The point I was trying to make: your statement that cons don't consider logic and reason to be as important as liberals (and indeed are somewhat disdainful of "obsession" with them) undermines your implicit claim that libs are just as bad at reasoning as cons are. If you don't value something (like logic, or government), you're generally not going to be very good at it.All that aside — who is better at it, or who claims to be better at it — can we at least agree on one thing — that when there are disputes to settle, meaningful discussion can only take place if the dialogue is based on rationality and logic.(This isn't to say that feelings can't be expressed in such dialogue. The fact that someone feels injured may well indicate that they have in fact been injured, even if they can't explain how, and is sufficient cause for further investigation.)

  60. says

    (Your implicit point — made explicit in the Barone article you linked — that liberals are actually taking in less information than cons, and that therefore the con worldview is actually more "nuanced" than the liberal one, is total BS which I will be happy to take apart for you piece by piece if you like.)
    Actually yes, I'd like to see that.
    …can we at least agree on one thing — that when there are disputes to settle, meaningful discussion can only take place if the dialogue is based on rationality and logic.
    Based….no. Starts with…yes. But if you think meaningful discussions are only based on logic and reason then I think you misread much of the history of intellectual discussion.

  61. says

    ** May I just say that I checked and we have been having this conversation for 6 months. I don't know about you but for me that is an impressive feat. Whatever has been said or no matter how little progress has actually been made, let me just say that it has been an honor. Very, very enjoyable experience. 6 more months anyone?

  62. says

    Analysis complete. (46,276 characters — no way am I splitting that into separate Blogger comments… never mind the lack of decent formatting…)[W] can we at least agree on one thing: that when there are disputes to settle, meaningful discussion can only take place if the dialogue is based on rationality and logic.[M] Based….no. Starts with…yes.Houston, I think we have a problem.[M] But if you think meaningful discussions are only based on logic and reason then I think you misread much of the history of intellectual discussion.That's not what I said; I was speaking specifically about disputes.Yes, it has been a good six months; I wish I had had more time and focus to devote to the discussion, but I've certainly learned a lot.* draws pen-sword and salutes Mike ** considers shaking hands, then worries about ideological contamination ** retreats to Haidt's pillar #5 *I've been confronting conservatism, in one way or another, since at least 1981, so I don't expect I'll be stopping anytime soon.However, I'm not sure there can be much to talk about if we can't agree on the basic rules — and the idea that arguments in a dispute are only valid if they are based on fact (even if the fact is "I feel X"), and reasoned logically, seems like a pretty basic premise for civil society.

  63. says

    …the idea that arguments in a dispute are only valid if they are based on fact…Now you're changing the dynamic. I'm talking specific about the notion of 'reason and logic' which I believe if often an illusion. Fact is something completely different. of course I agree to stick with facts whenever possible. I do not agree with a devotion to reason and logic.

  64. says

    I was counting the determination of what is factual as being part of the dialogue.I'll add that in to make it clear:Premise: When there are disputes to settle, meaningful discussion — especially including determinations of what is fact and what is not — can only take place if the dialogue and its determinations are based on rationality and logic.Do you agree to the premise?

  65. says

    So let's say we're talking about abortion. My personal opinion is that when you really get down to the core issue it's all about the definition of 'personhood'. It's also my opinion that the definition, whatever it may be, is not a reason or logic-based decision. It's based on emotion, personal beliefs and ultimately it's an arbitrary line that cannot be defined logically. So that's why I dismiss the notion that all discussions should start from a place of 'logic and reason' because at the core of all arguements is often a logic-defying base. You can take any number of American institutions and if you asked a foreigner about them they might say they seemed completely illogical. Likewise if we were asked about the way things are done in other countries. So that's why I could never agree to some illusion of 'logic and reason' when I know it to be a flawed concept. I debate as intelligently as I know how to do. I stick to facts whenever possible and if I deviate from them into conjecture I try to be honest about it. And if my positions are rooted in logic-defying morality or reason-defying tradition, I try to be honest about that as well because I don't consider that a weakness. That's really all I can offer. You've had 6 months to analyze the way I debate. If you suddenly feel I'm no longer debate-worthy simply because I am skeptical of the power of logic and reason…that is your choice.

  66. says

    Yes, this looks like a good example of what I'm talking about.[M] My personal opinion is that when you really get down to the core issue it's all about the definition of 'personhood'. It's also my opinion that the definition, whatever it may be, is not a reason or logic-based decision. It's based on emotion, personal beliefs and ultimately it's an arbitrary line that cannot be defined logically.I have some things to say about those statements, but for the sake of argument — if it is true that this is not an issue which can be resolved through reason and logic, then what process do you recommend for resolving it?I mean, you've ruled out reason and logic as a way of deciding our difference of opinion regarding "personhood". So, what modes of human discourse remain, by which you can try to convince me of the rightness of your point of view (and vice-versa) such that we can end up agreeing?

  67. says

    'Personhood' is an arbitrary definition. So then it becomes a morality issue. I think we look to cultural opinion on that. The majority of people in this country consider a fetus a 'person' prior to the minority liberal opinion which seems to be about 5 minutes before birth. I tend to like to put moral issues to the most local government possible or direct vote by the people.

  68. says

    So what you're saying, if I've got this right, is that in the absence of a means of rational analysis, you're content to put matters of fact (such as the point at which "personhood" occurs) up to a popular vote?(I'm not saying I disagree; I just want to make sure I'm understanding right.)

  69. says

    What happens, then, when you disagree with the majority? How can you tell the difference between "I'm probably being unreasonable about this" and "The majority are being unreasonable about this"?

  70. says

    1. How do you know you are right and they are wrong?2. By what means do you try to persuade them, if not through reason and logic?

  71. says

    Well… right, yes, exactly. You're obviously not happy about this, and I can understand at least a little why that might be (given the situation as you apparently understand it) so I would think that you would be very interested in changing the minds of the majority, possibly starting with me or anyone else who is willing to discuss it reasonably.In this particular context, then, the question I am trying to ask is:By what method do you propose to convince me (or anyone else) that the majority "pro-choice" position is wrong and the "pro-life" position is correct, if not through logic and reason?

  72. says

    If it was up to me I would take every pro-choice person to a ultrasound around the 2nd term mark and then have them there whenthe baby is born. If they can't figure it out then nothign else is going to work. I assume you consider yourself a person. How do you define your own personhood? How do I know you are a person and not a non-person?

  73. says

    I've been present at an ultrasound, felt the baby kick, been present at her birth (held the mother's hand and helped anchor her), was the main feeder and changer-of-diapers for the better part of two years, and somewhat reluctant primary caregiver for several more after that.I also put her on my shoulders and carried her around more times than I can count, ate a chocolate raisin with curry powder on it because she thought I would like chocolate better if it was spicy (it's horrible, thanks), gave her innumerable "flips", had the pulls on my jackets removed by her, had computer printers ruined by her insertion of inappropriate materials, and been accused of being wrapped around her little finger because I tried to treat her like a future adult rather than a play-toy.She just graduated from middle school with mostly "A"s, and is already planning a career in anthropology and journalism, or something like that. (At her age, I was terrified to think about college.)…so: if this experience has failed to convince me that abortion is always wrong, does this mean that you now believe nothing else is going to work and that you might as well give up trying?Personhood: I've always been inclined to say that it begins when a casual observer can tell the kid apart from the rest of them (especially by behavior). That's somewhat facetious but not wholly inaccurate, and does at least show the stark contrast between my view of personhood and the idea that it begins at conception.So I'm not really sure how the question is relevant, but there's an answer.

  74. says

    …so: if this experience has failed to convince me that abortion is always wrong, does this mean that you now believe nothing else is going to work and that you might as well give up trying?Yeah – pretty much. If someone has that experience and still believes it would have been okay to abort the child, nothing I can say is going to make a dent. So you don't even allow for personhood to begin at birth? It apparently only occurs when the child develops a personality? Yeesh…then I was correct in saying trying to convince you of the incorrectness of abortion isd a pointless exercise.

  75. says

    Well, no, it wouldn't have been okay to abort her, because there was no compelling reason to do so. She was (1) a wanted child (2) with no apparent health issues.Now…If #1 had been untrue, you would insist that she be born anyway, into a home where she might not be properly cared for, rather than killing the fetus before it has the ability to feel pain or loss (at which point it certainly is not a person by any reasonable criteria).If #2 had been true — let's say some truly horrible developmental issues only became apparent during the third trimester — you would insist that she be born with possibly crippling physical or mental deformities and be unable to enjoy life to its fullest. You would also condemn the doctor who performed this painful but essential euthanasia as a "killer".Why in the world would you want to convince me not to abort under those circumstances?

  76. says

    Knowing two couples who have spent thousands of dollars and waited nearly two years for children to adopt (one successful, one still waiting) I dismiss #1 completely.#2 – I'm willing to make health of the fetus exceptions…but only for terminal diseases. I know someone who recently aborted a 6 month pregnancy because the baby had Down Syndrome. That turns my stomach.

  77. says

    [W] If #1 had been untrue, you would insist that she be born anyway, into a home where she might not be properly cared for, rather than killing the fetus before it has the ability to feel pain or loss (at which point it certainly is not a person by any reasonable criteria).[M] Knowing two couples who have spent thousands of dollars and waited nearly two years for children to adopt (one successful, one still waiting) I dismiss #1 completely.Where are all these couples desperate to adopt kids? Will they take my hypertwin's 16-y.o. autistic son (who is totally nonverbal/noncommunicative but physically perfectly healthy and with an active and curious mind)?We've been trying to get him into a better residence for at least 2 years now, and we've been trying to get proper services (developmental therapy) for him since 2003 (when he was 10). If adoption were so widely available, you'd think that someone would have mentioned this at some point.[M] #2 – I'm willing to make health of the fetus exceptions…but only for terminal diseases.Why only for terminal diseases? How about just horribly painful diseases, or diseases which leave the kid with little to no chance for a meaningful life?[M] I know someone who recently aborted a 6 month pregnancy because the baby had Down Syndrome. That turns my stomach.The idea that you would deny them a happy, healthy child (and require a developmentally-disabled child to be born) rather than suffer a little stomach queasiness turns my stomach.I don't think a battle of the stomachs is going to resolve anything much, but you're setting the terms of the argument here and trying to show me a better way of resolving disagreements than through reason and logic, so I'll keep following along for now.

  78. says

    I think there's a big difference between adopting a 16 year-old special-needs kid and a baby. Yes, there are lots and lots of people clamoring for adoptions in the U.S.But adoption is not a priority for liberals or, unfortunately, this President. As for 'denying them a healthy child' what about denying them a child of the gender they want? What about denying them a child with the correct genes to supply bone marrow to another child who has leukemia? What about denying them a child who has blue eyes? If we have reached the point where we discard undesirable children based on 'health' then what is the next LOGICAL step? They are already allowing abortions based on gender in some countries. As science progresses who knows what pre-birth traits we may be able to screen for a remove unwanted fetuses with similar ease? That is the road your argument goes down.And I think I mentioned this early in our discussions…but I'd like you to show me someone of a clear mental state that wishes they had never been born. It's quite easy to make the judgement of being fit for survival as someone safe from abortion.

  79. says

    [M] I think there's a big difference between adopting a 16 year-old special-needs kid and a baby.1. This 16-y.o. was once a baby, believe it or not.2. A fetus with congenital deformities and who is not aborted is very likely to become a special-needs baby, a special-needs 16 y.o., and may even survive to become a special-needs adult — from whom your Republican buddies would then take away funding for government services.[M] Yes, there are lots and lots of people clamoring for adoptions in the U.S.Why weren't any of these people mentioned to us earlier on, when Josh was young, cute, and manageable?[M] But adoption is not a priority for liberals or, unfortunately, this President.Don't even try that one. Most of the time we have been spending trying to get these services was during Bush's tenure. Obama's stimulus package has rescued some of the services which would otherwise have been cut due to the economic situation; as a Republican, McCain would have been honor-bound to let them die (and help bury them).[M]As for 'denying them a healthy child' what about denying them a child of the gender they want? What about denying them a child who has blue eyes?Not a fair comparison. I'm arguing for making sure a child has a quality life, and you're talking about personal preferences — it's the old "boutique eugenics" argument, and it's BS.[M] What about denying them a child with the correct genes to supply bone marrow to another child who has leukemia?This question begs further questions:(1) Are there no other reliable ways to get the necessary bone-marrow match? A test-tube fertilization using genetically pre-screened sperm and ovum (so that the child was guaranteed to have the necessary match), perhaps?(2) Is it ethical to spawn a child specifically for the purpose of being a medical donor, even without needing any abortions?I'm inclined to think that this would not be a good thing to do, but it would depend heavily on the situation (including information about what's medically possible).You seem to be assuming that the answer is so clearly "NO!" that preventing it requires banning all abortions. This makes no sense. Would it be any better to have seven kids hoping to get the right match, and perhaps failing anyway? I can't see that as being an improvement.[M] If we have reached the point where we discard undesirable children based on 'health' then what is the next LOGICAL step? They are already allowing abortions based on gender in some countries.I don't like gender-screening — but in an overpopulated world, I don't see anything wrong with increasing the amount of effort invested per child.[M] As science progresses who knows what pre-birth traits we may be able to screen for a remove unwanted fetuses with similar ease? That is the road your argument goes down.As science progresses, we'll be better able to pre-determine the genes we want in a child without even having to mix sperm and ova to see how they come out. You may argue that this is not a good thing — so what will your argument against abortion be then?Or will you just decide that science is bad for giving us too much control over ourselves and our world?[M] And I think I mentioned this early in our discussions…but I'd like you to show me someone of a clear mental state that wishes they had never been born.I can do that, but only if you agree that suicidal thoughts do not automatically disqualify someone from having a "clear mental state". You should probably define "clear mental state", for that matter, so you can't go changing the criteria after I produce an example.

  80. says

    Don't even try that one. Most of the time we have been spending trying to get these services was during Bush's tenure. Obama's stimulus package has rescued some of the services which would otherwise have been cut due to the economic situation; as a Republican, McCain would have been honor-bound to let them die (and help bury them).
    We are talking about adoption, remember? I would suggest you investigate who the primary sponsor of The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 was. I would also ask you to relate tome what Obama’s adoption policy is according to his pre-election Blueprint for Change.
    Not a fair comparison. I'm arguing for making sure a child has a quality life, and you're talking about personal preferences — it's the old "boutique eugenics" argument, and it's BS.
    I believe it IS a fair comparison. You admit you have a problem with screening and aborting for gender. I have a problem with aborting for health issues when they are non-life threatening. It seems it’s fairly arbitrary.
    I don't like gender-screening…
    Why? I’m curious as to the ‘logic’ behind that position.

  81. says

    This question from a few weeks ago may have missed you so i am reposting, at least partially in an attempt to move the conversation away from abortion.From Mike:"As food for thought i am curious to hear your opinion on a mostly unrelated subject. i've been forming a theory that the so-called 'moderate Republicans' who are pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, etc really just have libertarian leanings and are confusing it for liberalism. I think that while a liberal might say they believe in equality for gays and that their relationships are just as 'normal' as hetero ones a libertarian-leaning Republican would be okay with gay marriage not because they approve but because they're all about personal freedom. Since they know liberals have similar general positions they assume they are 'moderates'. Basically they have equal goals with completely different reasons for arriving there. Would you agree with this theory?"

  82. says

    [M] But adoption is not a priority for liberals or, unfortunately, this President.[W] Don't even try that one. Most of the time we have been spending trying to get these services was during Bush's tenure. Obama's stimulus package has rescued some of the services which would otherwise have been cut due to the economic situation; as a Republican, McCain would have been honor-bound to let them die (and help bury them).[M] We are talking about adoption, remember? I would suggest you investigate who the primary sponsor of The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 was.The two issues are related. You can't argue against abortion while making it more difficult to raise kids. Conservatives would get a lot more sympathy from liberals (or at least from me) on this issue if they would spend more of that anti-abortion energy working on solutionsinstead of just trying to make the problem illegal.But let's see about that Act… it was largely instigated by that Clinton chick whom all good Republicans loathe, used additional ideas from both sides of the aisle, and was signed into law by that other Clinton whom all good Republicans also loathe.Moreover, checking what Obama's up to in this area, I see he just signed the Protecting Incentives for the Adoption of Children with Special Needs Act of 2009 (sponsored by a Dem, co-sponsored by a Repub) into law.It's true that Obama seems to lack policies specifically on adoption — but as long as he is working to keep abortion available, to help struggling families to recover, to ensure care for special needs kids, and to fix our healthcare mess, I think he's got his priorities straight. Those are bigger problems whose solutions will help to reduce the need for adoptions. Adoptions are a bandaid solution.===[M]As for 'denying them a healthy child' what about denying them a child of the gender they want? What about denying them a child who has blue eyes?[W] Not a fair comparison. I'm arguing for making sure a child has a quality life, and you're talking about personal preferences — it's the old "boutique eugenics" argument, and it's BS.[M] I believe it IS a fair comparison. You admit you have a problem with screening and aborting for gender. I have a problem with aborting for health issues when they are non-life threatening. It seems it’s fairly arbitrary.First: I said I dislike it, but it's not something I would outlaw. I would much rather address the underlying cultural issues which cause people to prefer one gender (or eye color) over the other.Second: It's not at all an arbitrary distinction — unless you see the question of a child's long-term health as being of no more importance than their eye color.–[W] I don't like gender-screening…[M] Why? I’m curious as to the ‘logic’ behind that position.Do I need a reason? Are you saying you think it's a good idea?Again, I would not outlaw it, but here's my personal, biased reason: when societies show a gender preference, they tend to prefer boys. I personally like girls better. While I wouldn't go so far as to screen in the other direction (that wouldn't be fair to the heterosexual majority, who would then be competing for a relatively small population of potential mates), the side-effects to a society's female population when they are significantly in the minority can be rather harsh.That last bit is arguably logical and unbiased, if you allow empathy to figure in your logic (I do).–When we discuss the abortion issue, we only seem to make any progress when logic and reason are involved. Anything else (based on your guidance thus far) seems to be pretty much just "my feelings versus your feelings", best 3 out of 5 falls or whatever — so I rather think I've made my point about the need for reason and logic to be the ultimate arbiters.

  83. says

    On the other question:[M] "…Would you agree with this theory?"In truth, I read that question several times, tried to come up with something meaningful to say in response, and then eventually got distracted before I came up with anything.I guess what it comes down to is that I haven't met very many "moderate Republicans", so I can't really say. The one Republican whose views I do know in any depth, and who might be described as "moderate" (especially on social issues), says himself that he is really more of a Libertarian (which is basically just a more respectable word for "anarchist", as far as I can tell), and the "live and let live" attitude seems to match your description.I think I'd describe liberalism and libertarianism as having a lot of ground in common (the idea of personal liberty) and a lot of compatible goals as a result of this common ground Libertarians lack the conservative obsession with imposing their customs and beliefs on everyone else, which is compatible with (but less active than) the liberal belief in supporting and nurturing diversity, but not with the liberal idea of using government as a tool for enforcing the level playing fields in which diversity can flourish. Libertarians sound more like conservatives in that area: if your customs and ways can't thrive on their own, "tough luck".This strikes me as at least a reasonable compromise up to a point — but of course if fairness isn't enforced somehow, unfair practices will eventually dominate (which, as far as I can tell, ultimately reduces to something like feudalism). Libertarianism fails when it tries to be too ideologically pure on that issue.Does that answer your question?

  84. says

    [M] We are talking about adoption, remember? I would suggest you investigate who the primary sponsor of The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 was.[W]The two issues are related. You can't argue against abortion while making it more difficult to raise kids. Conservatives would get a lot more sympathy from liberals (or at least from me) on this issue if they would spend more of that anti-abortion energy working on solutions — instead of just trying to make the problem illegal.
    As for my own opinion, I would love to see more job training for low-skilled workers, tax credits that encourage one parent to stay at home during their early years, job sharing, increased maternity/paternity leave, guaranteed health care for uninsured children, etc. As you know, many of those ideas are embraced by conservatives. But before you claim the GOP hasn’t done anything to ‘help these children’ I would point out that Republicans helped pass welfare reform in the 90’s which was probably the best move either side has made towards ‘helping kids’ in a very long time.I will also point out the most obvious comment which is that regardless of how far we have to go to make a life full of flowers and puppies for kids saved from abortion…it doesn’t justify your argument that in lieu of those changes the kids are better off not being born.

    [W] I don't like gender-screening…[M] Why? I’m curious as to the ‘logic’ behind that position.[W]Do I need a reason? Are you saying you think it's a good idea?Again, I would not outlaw it…
    Why wouldn’t you outlaw it? You make a good case from a ‘logical’ perspective that it could create an imbalance of one gender which compounds certain pre-existing gender tensions. So why not be firm and outlaw it?

  85. says

    Man, I hate telemarketers. Here's the sequence of events:- I spend maybe 20 minutes writing a reply comment- Preview a couple of times, make tweaks; just about ready to post it when…- There's a phone call.- I open a tab to Google the phone number, because it looks vaguely familiar…- Google results show it's probably a telemarketer.- Firefox crashes.- Telemarketer: "….hello?…." Hangs up without leaving any further message.- Woozle experiences urge to kill. (It was time to give Josh his shower, so there was no time to rewrite the damn thing or even post a comment about how much I hate telemarketers.)So, if the following comment seems a little ragged around the edges, or a little disjointed — as if, perhaps, it is a poorly-remembered reconstruction of earlier writing — now you know why.

  86. says

    [M] …before you claim the GOP hasn’t done anything to ‘help these children’ I would point out that Republicans helped pass welfare reform in the 90’s which was probably the best move either side has made towards ‘helping kids’ in a very long time.You mean this? I was skeptical at the time, and I can't say that the benefit of 13 years' hindsight has eroded that skepticism any. It looks to me like what it mainly did was make it universally harder to get welfare, rather than delivering it more efficiently or inexpensively.Moreover, it hasn't even succeeded on its own terms; the guy who introduced it was trying to reduce immigration by making the US a less appealing place to be poor. Well, he certainly accomplished the latter goal, but immigration has only accelerated in our neck of the woods. (Having experienced it first hand, I still don't understand why conservatives see this as a problem, much less something which will destroy society. Oh noes, brown people from Unamerica are taking over buildings abandoned by good, decent Americans and -gasp- turning them into thriving businesses!)[M] I will also point out the most obvious comment which is that regardless of how far we have to go to make a life full of flowers and puppies for kids saved from abortion…it doesn’t justify your argument that in lieu of those changes the kids are better off not being born.It doesn't prove that they are always better off not being born, but it does counter the opposite assumption — that "choosing life" is always better. It isn't. Anti-abortionists are being dishonest and manipulative when they pretend that it is not only so but unquestionably so, and they long ago lost my respect for that reason alone (not that there aren't plenty of other reasons).Abortion is never an easy decision. On what logic would you have the government — which Republicans claim to be trying to reduce, in other contexts — step in and take that decision away from those in the best position to make it, and say "no, we know what is best for everyone, we don't care what you think"? From what wellspring of compassion comes the belief that a potential mother, agonizing over what is best for her, her family, and their potential child, should be told that there is only one possible Right decision, and any other decision she might make would prove that she is evil, unfit to be a mother, and should go to jail along with her doctor?What customs, what vital social institutions, what cultural norms are being served by this?In short, how does outlawing abortion benefit anyone, fetus included?[W] I don't like gender-screening…[M] Why? I’m curious as to the ‘logic’ behind that position.[W] Do I need a reason? Are you saying you think it's a good idea? .. Again, I would not outlaw it…[M] Why wouldn’t you outlaw it? You make a good case from a ‘logical’ perspective…Because sometimes outlawing things doesn't do diddly towards preventing them, and can even make things worse. Abortion rates in particular, as I know we have discussed previously, are pretty much unaffected by illegality; it just goes underground and becomes more dangerous for both mother and fetus.In this case, more to the point, the practice of gender-selective abortion is likely just one symptom of a bad idea that has taken root in the culture. I'd rather work to overcome that cultural idea, which would solve not only the gender-selection abortion problem but also many other gender-related problems this hypothetical culture probably has.And the best way to do that (as with reducing abortion rates in general) is education.

  87. says

    Welfare reform has reduced the number of people dependent on the government for handouts and is considered a success on both sides of the aisle. Getting recipients back to work is the most benificial thing we can do for their kids.As for sex ed being the 'best way' to reduce abortions…I find that interesting. You are so completely skepitcal of abstinence only at least in part because it is unrealistic when confronted with hormonal impulses. But yet you completely dismiss the equally strong hormonal impulse for people to be irresponsible. Education will not cure that, no matter how thorough.

  88. says

    "As for sex ed being the 'best way' to reduce abortions…I find that interesting."Actually, I didn't say "sex ed", I said education. All kinds. Obviously sex ed is especially important in reducing abortion rates specifically, but I was referring to the general upward effect that education has on prosperity.I'm glad you find it interesting; it is also what we logic-obsessed liberals call "factual"."You are so completely skepitcal of abstinence only at least in part because it is unrealistic when confronted with hormonal impulses. But yet you completely dismiss the equally strong hormonal impulse for people to be irresponsible. Education will not cure that, no matter how thorough."The facts contradict you; sex ed has been shown to reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancies. This is a factual matter about which there is no debate, unless you have some new information which you haven't chosen to share.If it makes it any easier, I can suggest a mechanism whereby this might work (while your solution doesn't): which is easier (a) fighting the urge to have sex altogether, or (b) fighting that urge just long enough to deploy an appropriate contraceptive or two?—On a slightly different topic, I just saw the following update from the New York Times:Poll Shows Obama's Clout on Health Care Is ErodingPresident Obama's ability to shape the debate on health care appears to be eroding as opponents aggressively portray the effort as a government-takeover that could limit Americans' ability to chose their doctor and course of treatment, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.Americans are concerned that overhauling the health care system would reduce the quality of their care, increase their out-of-pocket health costs and tax bills and limit their options in choosing doctors, treatment and tests, the poll found.I've tried logic and reason; now have some well-framed emotional narrative (as recommended by Dr. Haidt!) for an apertif.I currently have no healthcare, and have not had any for 8 years or so (since the last time I worked for a giant soulless corporation; well-behaved sheep are taken care of by those who own the means of production).I'm sure you also have had plenty of my whining about our failures in getting proper mental health care for my hypertwin's autistic son, Josh.I just want you to know that if you and your Republican friends succeed in "slowing down" Obama's "headlong rush" to bring us a system we can afford, to the point where what comes out the other end isn't a system where I — or Josh, or my hypertwin (uninsured since 1990), or anyone! — can't easily obtain healthcare……you guys are going to be so very on my shit list.I mean, I've already just about had it up to here with the ideology that calls itself "conservatism", but nonetheless we've been having this polite disagreement here in the comment section for the past 6-7 months now, in the hope of finding some kind of common ground. If, because of "conservative" propaganda, a reasonable healthcare plan doesn't go through, it won't be polite any more after that. There will be swear words, yes. And silence.And 28% approval will look like The Good Old Days — or would, if there was any justice in the world and Americans didn't believe everything their TV tells them.Just remember that, and the three of us (you're "pro-family", right?), when you think about your opinion on this issue, and when you decide which SELF-SERVING RIGHT-WING LIES to repeat.

  89. says

    I think they tried for universal healthcare under FDR. Still waiting. Healthcare reform is being sunk by a few factors, only one of which is 'republican'. 1) The president has done a piss-poor job of selling it and hasn't advanced his own plan.2) Blue Dog Democrats have the balls to fight against all the crap that Pelosi and Co. loaded into the bill.3) Republicans are adequately pointing out the multitude of flaws in the proposal. I'm curious though, how does one get by for 8 years without healthcare and what is the rationale for not trying to find a job where it would be provided?

  90. says

    #1: What, this isn't enough?That Obama has to "sell" the plan implies that there's someone he needs to sell it to; my understanding is that most of the country is ready and waiting for it — or would be, if Republicans hadn't done their slimy best to turn people against it.#2: What "crap" might this be, exactly?Knowing where the Blue Dogs get most of their campaign money, I doubt very much that their "balls" consist of anything more than excuses pumped into them by the insurance industry (like an athlete on steroids).And knowing how much the GOP despises any change that might accidentally aid the common good, I suspect that the only thing wrong with Obama's plan is that it doesn't go far enough. The vital thing is to get it through, warts and all, before the GOP can turn people against it with the aforementioned lies and propaganda. Any problems can be patched by further bills later on, but the main change needs to go through now or else we'll probably have to wait another 15 years to try again.The Blue Dogs are traitors to this cause for delaying it just long enough that the vote won't be until after the "recess", and for that they too will be on my aforementioned list if (as I expect) the reform is defeated or bastardized into something more "industry-friendly".#3: What is the point of pointing out flaws if you don't have your own plan?Besides, you know as well as I do that the GOP aren't interested in "fixing" the plan; they want to bloody well KILL IT FOREVER, no matter who gets hurt, and have said as much.Kristol implies they are only doing this so they can "start over"; that too is a lie. They had 6 years of unfettered control of the legislative and executive branches in which to push through their own reform without any substantial Dem opposition.Furthermore, there are reasonable alternative plans which might be proposed (I suggested one in an earlier comment); the GOP has not come within light-years of any of them. Their sole intent is to stop change, at any cost to the rest of us. Any claim that the GOP isn't trying to kill health reform as dead as possible is a flat-out lie.I have come to despise them, and to despise those who should know better than to support them.–"How does one get by?" By being ridiculously healthy and damn lucky. "What is the rationale for not trying?" Who said I haven't been trying? This sounds like the classic conservative assumption that honest effort always leads to success, which simply isn't true.

  91. says

    Your understanding of public desire for this is incorrect. I saw a poll yesterday on MSNBC that indicated that healthcare is a far distant second when compared to the economy/jobs. The bill is flawed in about a hundred different ways (rough estimate) but the chief problem is that it intends to kill the insurance industry completely. The Democrats should have been upfront from the start that they wanted universal, government-provided healthcare. At least then there would have been an honest debate. As it has gone down it's been a lot of smoke and mirrors and misdirection, not from the Right but from the Left who have to keep contradicting all conventional logic and several non-partisan CBO reports that say the bill is a stinker. Your colorful use of the word 'traitor' to describe the Blue Dogs is not surprising. I believe that is what Dana said about anyone who didn't rush to pass the stimulus bill last year. I realize that Democrats are big fans of the legislate-now-fix-later approach, but how did that work out with the stimulus? We've had little job creation, mostly because the President transferred the responsibility for the bill to Nancy Pelosi who loaded it up with Democrat pet projects that created no new jobs. He's done the same on healthcare, letting Congress run the show, which is crazy considering the disparity between their approval rating and his. The GOP has suggested alternatives, such as healthcare co-ops which might benefit someone like yourself. The problem seems to be though that the biggest fans of government-provided healthcare are the ones who really like the idea of the government giving them lots of goodies as a sort of reward just for residing here. They don't think about the long-term viability of the program (see Medicare, Johnson, Lyndon) just about their own needs. That sort of hierarchy of needs mentality is effective in building larger Democratic coalitions, linked only by their desire to get theirs, but it's not viable as a way to get legislation passed. Let me be clear here: If the healthcare bill doesn't pass it is not going to be because of the GOP. The Democrats have 60 votes in the senate. The President has a very high approval rating and should still be in the 'honeymoon' phase of his first term. If this doesn't pass it's because the Democrats were unable to offer a plan that appealed to the majority of the voters and by proxy, the members of Congress who represent them. What you can expect is for this debate to get more and more complex after Congress returns in September, after they've had a month to hear their constituents complain about the misplaced priorities of healthcare 'reform' in lieu of job creation, and support for this will begin to collapse just like it has every time since FDR was in office. The Democrats are never going to see any real changes in the system until they stop emulating Europe and start focusing on a uniquely American system that addresses American sensabilities. I am truly sorry that you haven't been able to get healthcare for yourself despite trying so hard. In my 19-year working life I've never had that problem. But your position is not one held by the majority of Americans I am afraid. I realize it may seem really important to you, sort of like the way stopping the Ohio River Bridges Project here in Louisville seems to me, but both of us have to realize that in a Democracy we can't always blame the other side just because we don't get our way. President Bush tried hard to reform a dying Social Security program. Democrats did a good job of stopping social security reform (why?) but I was mature enough not to blame them because the responsibility of persuasion ultimately lies with the reformer. If you have a good plan, the American people will not be tricked by propaganda and lies. Right now Democrats do not have a good plan. You seem to acknowledge its deep flaws yourself. Your solution is to pass a bad bill now and fix it later. Ours is to wait for a good bill. I will bet you $5 that the latter approach wins the day.

  92. says

    "Your understanding of public desire for this is incorrect. I saw a poll yesterday on MSNBC that indicated that healthcare is a far distant second when compared to the economy/jobs."That has absolutely nothing to do with my statement that the public is "ready and waiting" for it. For a lot of people, apparently it's not a big priority — but for a large minority, it's the big one."it intends to kill the insurance industry completely."That's a flaw? That's what we need."I realize that Democrats are big fans of the legislate-now-fix-later approach…"I thought you said that we always insist on the "brilliant" approach rather than one that is "good enough"?"…but how did that work out with the stimulus?"We won't know until it has had a chance to take effect. Why do Republicans insist on taking the car out for a test-drive when it's still being built, and then failing it because the wheels aren't all on yet?Because they're dishonest and will do anything to make the Dems look bad."We've had little job creation…"No wonder Republicans think a chart with colorful shapes on it is the same as a "plan"; they seem to think these things work instantly, by magic or something."The GOP has suggested alternatives, such as healthcare co-ops…"Yeah, right.You go ahead and set up those co-ops first, before calling them an "alternative". Do you think you can have those ready by, say, 2030?If Cons really believe they're a good solution to the healthcare mess, why didn't they propose them anytime during Bush II — or as a counter to Clinton's plan? You've had 15 years in which to impress me with your alternatives, and what I see is that CONS DON'T WANT HEALTHCARE REFORM."The Democrats have 60 votes in the senate."…until you take out the Blue Dogs, who (as I mentioned earlier) just agreed to a "compomise" which stalls the final decision until after the recess — long enough for the GOP noise machine to convince people that Obamacare kills grannies and will destroy our economy while taking away the freedom we supposedly have now to choose our own doctors.(over 4k chars, to be continued…)

  93. says

    (part two)"If this doesn't pass it's because the Democrats were unable to offer a plan that appealed to the majority of the voters…"Reality Translation: "If this doesn't pass, it's because backers of the plan lacked sufficient PR skillz to overcome the doubts planted in people's minds by the opposition, who aren't constrained by accuracy or fairness….""…and by proxy, the members of Congress who represent them."Reality Translation: "…and, by proxy, the members of Congress who know who really elects them.""What you can expect is for this debate to get more and more complex after Congress returns in September, after they've had a month to hear their constituents complain about the misplaced priorities of healthcare 'reform' in lieu of job creation, and support for this will begin to collapse just like it has every time since FDR was in office."On this, we are agreed."The Democrats are never going to see any real changes in the system until they stop emulating Europe and start focusing on a uniquely American system that addresses American sensibilities."Screw "uniquely American". I want healthcare that works. What we have now is "uniquely American" ineptitude. I'd much rather see "uniquely American" adaptability and ingenuity. We are the melting pot of the world — why can't we use the best ideas from other cultures as well?Plus, I don't see how the plan as originally envisioned isn't "uniquely American"; it will be based around American government (medical care in Europe doesn't have "states" to deal with, for example), American medical care facilities, American doctors, and the American way of life.The requirement that it must be "uniquely American" is a scare tactic and total BS."But your position is not one held by the majority of Americans I am afraid."orly?"..both of us have to realize that in a Democracy we can't always blame the other side just because we don't get our way."No, I'm blaming the other side because they're being dishonest sleazy bastards on this issue (among many others).I don't suppose "honesty" matters anymore, though. You know you're right, so any argument you can use to convince people is a good one."If you have a good plan, the American people will not be tricked by propaganda and lies."Do you honestly believe that, Mike?"Right now Democrats do not have a good plan. You seem to acknowledge its deep flaws yourself."Um… I did? Where?"I will bet you $5 that the latter approach wins the day."The race goes not always to the swift.

  94. says

    Paging Mike, who once said "You are so completely skeptical of abstinence only at least in part because it is unrealistic when confronted with hormonal impulses. But yet you completely dismiss the equally strong hormonal impulse for people to be irresponsible. Education will not cure that, no matter how thorough."This isn't exactly conclusive, but it's yet more evidence pointing towards what I've been saying all along — and there sure as death and taxes isn't any evidence saying the opposite:"…study researcher Joseph Strayhorn of Drexel University College of Medicine and University of Pittsburgh offers … the most probable explanation: "We conjecture that religious communities in the U.S. are more successful in discouraging the use of contraception among their teenagers than they are in discouraging sexual intercourse itself." (emphasis mine)Still out there, Mike? Or should I put on my flight suit and declare victory?

  95. says

    So I finally decided to jump back in here and I'm just going to piggyback off of the anger you seemed to be projecting in your last couple of comments…So, I still don't really understand why liberals are so outraged that Republicans won't play ball on their scheme *ahem* plan to overhaul healthcare. Well, no, that's actually a fib. I DO understand but I think most on the Left are being dishonest about why it hacks them off so much. The truth is that they have this great big majority and they really should be able to ram all sorts of ultra-liberal legislation through. I actually wish they would go with the nuclear option and get things done. Why? Because I want to see if they have the balls to stand alone on this legislation. My gut feeling is that they would prefer not to because they will have no political cover if it fails. And with the current proposals, failure is a distinct possibility. The truth is that the minority party has no responsibility to propose alternative legislation. The Dems didn't do it with SS back in 2005. The GOP isn't doing it now. That's a poltical choice. And it's a principled one, even if you don't see it as such. Trust me, if the GOP thought that this was going to be a homerun, they would want to be on-board. But they really don't think it's good legislation. And seriously, do you honestly think anyone on the Left would be receptive to GOP counter-proposals? So here's my proposal: Get the Democrats' plan through, whatever that looks like. Don't be pussies and put 2013 on it and instead make it effective next year. Then when the 2012 election comes around the voters will have had two years to form an opinion of the plan and can voice their opinion of it with their votes. Doesn't that seem like the honest way to tackle this issue?