Wednesday, November 5, 2008

All Hail the Republic!

For the 44th time in 220 years, our nation has chosen a new President.
May he be blessed. May he serve our country with honor.
May he uphold his oath to Preserve, Protect, and Defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

We'll be watching.


  1. Amen.

    I may have more thoughts later, but for now, you've hit it right on.

    Oyster out.

  2. Yes.

    I hope no one I share a political affiliation with wears black tomorrow, or otherwise throws a leftist tantrum. I'm disappointed my guy lost, but America wins every time our leaders are chosen by votes instead of bullets, and power is transferred willingly.

    God Bless America, and may her new President be up to the task of leading her.

  3. You know, I'm not worried about us in the end. I'm confident that even with an untested socialist in office, we'll weather this thing. The conservatives will become leaner, meaner and more ready to bring the fight next time. In the end, it will be OK for us.

    The ones I feel truly sorry for are the poor Iraqi citizens. I have no doubt Obama will do what he promised and leave them in the lurch, and their avaricious neighbors will pour in and subject them to a modern-day Killing Fields, quite possibly wiping the country off the political map. This is inevitably what happens when you choose to end war by conceding it, rather than winning.

  4. Pirate King, I fear you are right, and that breaks my heart more than anything.

  5. Pirate king, you touched on something that got quite a bit of discussion on the PJTV coverage tonight - regrouping. I didn't get to watch a lot of it - I had to go to work - but I've been giving it a lot of thought in the last few days, and especially tonight. I would like to get an idea of what's on other people's minds as far as the direction we go from here. I've posted a request for input at my journal (please forgive if that sounds like a plug), or I can be reached at How would you define conservatism - as Bill asked tonight - in a single sentence? And for my own curiosity, what as the issues facing us that most concern you?
    We discuss these things a great deal here in indirect ways, but I do best with clear stances. I want to hear not just from giants like Bill and his colleagues at PJM, or from smaller heroes like our beloved daddyquatro or ~Paules. I want to know what the ineloquent, the uninformed, the timid, and the busy have to say. Who are you, and who do you think we are? We will show our grace in defeat, but before we can rebuild we have to know what we're building. Oyster out.

  6. Oyster, I'm not even "conservative", but I don't know if the philosophy fits into a single sentence. In fact, that's one of the things that frustrates me. The winner in this election are about "Hope and Change", but what I stand for won't fit on a bumper sticker.

    Now that the election is over, I hope to spend some time developing some rather complex discussions that help define the ideas we're fighting to defend.

  7. FWIW --
    I come from a large family, (9 siblings, total of 10 children). I was the eighth child. By the time I reached my teen/young adult idiocy years, my parents had pretty much seen and dealt with everything that could derail a young aspiring-adult. They (my Mom and Dad) absorbed an incredible amount of pain and suffering in their hearts as each of us youngsters sailed our course into and through the many varied tribulations of life.

    My oldest sister allowed some insight into the patience that kept them going, as she raised her own children, grand-children, and great-grand-children, also abosrbing considerable pain as the young ones stumbled or broke in the wrong direction.

    She told me that, at such times in our lives, Mom always said,"Whatever decision (the young aspiring-adult) makes, he/she will reap the consequences. We can't prevent every disaster if he/she is to grow. But, as parents, it is our responsibility to be there when needed, to pick up the pieces, and get (them) going again.

    We will be here, to pick up the pieces. As unenviable and messy as that may be, we will be here.

  8. Conservatism is such a grab bag of inconsistent and incompatible notions it can't be defined coherently. Much less be defined in a single coherent statement.

    Conservatism has always deserved to lose. Liberalism has never deserved to win. No matter which side won, the individual was going to lose. The ONLY question was who, to home, why, when, how fast, and for what excuse.

    We will once again experience the abject failure of the socialist philosophy. Only this time we will experience it up close and very personal.

  9. "to home" should read "to whom". Sorry for me fingers being faster than my eyes or brain.

  10. Very well said! All of you! Including Lionell (holy crap, I agree with you on something). I'd just like to add one thing. Yes, conservatism lost last night, but it was partially due to "moderate-ism". Clearly, conservatives (including my self) did not do a good enough job of getting the message out. Or even keeping it clear. And thus we have been kicked out of the arena. Time to reflect, regroup, and start muddling about "next year".
    One last thought: Remember to breathe. It's going to be ok.

  11. You can define it in a single sentence:

    American Conservatism is the understanding that the individual is inalienably sovereign, and that the role of government is to protect and defend that sovereignty to the greatest possible extent.

  12. Orrin, what you describe sounds close to my own position (which is not "conservative") but it leaves undefined "sovereign".

    Do I have the sovereign right to regulate what substances may be imported into my body? I believe so, but "conservatives" think not.

  13. Orrin Johnson,

    That may be what conservatism should but what it actually is, is anything but that.

    Conservatism is nothing but a confused and undefined admixture of faith, family, country, and that sacred of sacredness: *tradition*. Which means a thing is right because its a tired old habit that someone a long time ago said that is what should be. The individual exists only as a ghost who's duty is to serve that *tradition*. The mind, reason, reality, and logic are not even on the chart.

  14. That's what conservatism is. Defining the edges is the battle we happily fight internally.

    Expanding and protecting the sovereignty of the individual necessarily depends on some sense of order. Anarchy is not conducive to protecting individuals.

    Social conservatism beleives that a pervasive culture and "peer pressure" is the best way to preserve that order without being slaves to the state. (Where religious people seek to use the power of the state to impose, such as BHO forcing us all to be our brothers' keepers, that is NOT conservative.)

    National Defense conservatives believe that unless we are free from the fear and real possibility of death, no other liberty can be fully enjoyed.

    Conservatives who favor strict drug laws do so because they believe rampant drug use leads to increased crime, pestilence, death, and are direct threats to children - all of which diminishes our ability to move about our cities freely. it's like the national defense thing on a smaller scale.

    These may or may not be the best ways to most fully expand and defend individual liberty. Not all Conservatives are perfectly consistent. But there is a common philosophical thread to our generally agreed on policy preferences.

  15. Lionell - What we need to discuss is exactly that: what conservatism should be. I don't think anyone here is under the illusion that what we have now is what it should be. Tradition for its own sake is blind and useless, but it often contains principles that have been proven over time by successful nations and cultures. "Faith, family, and country" are things that have shown themselves successful over years, centuries and millenia. They are principles (applications may vary) that have produced successful and stable societies - including this one. Those are what we need to find and put at our core: the things that work. We can build the rest on that.

    Monster - I think we buy into a failing game when we equate the philosophy with the party. For example, your statement that "conservatives" want to regulate what he can put in his body. I know many conservatives - solid ones - who have not the slightest interest in what you do with your body. I'm one of them: if you want to get sloshed on Friday night, that's your business and your family's. Once you get behind the wheel of a car, of course, it becomes an entirely different issue. But what you do strictly to yourself is your business. My view of conservatism has nothing to do with protecting you from yourself.

    Orrin - nicely done. As Monster notes, it could use a little clarification, but you've got a solid foundation. Thank you.

  16. I can define Conservatism in a sentence. Clarifying it takes a lot more! That's the theme of my whole blog. And I hope it will be the theme of conservatives everywhere, and more importantly, of the Republican party which is the only realistic vessel for carrying conservatism forward.

    Doing battle with hippy law profs and students in Seattle made me leaner and more consistently conservative. Now that we have to deal with a hippy law prof as President (and as VP for that matter), I hope the same can be said for our movement.

  17. Very well said, all of you. Lionell's last objection pretty well sums up why I don't choose to identify as "conservative". I'm well aware that others would label me that way dismissively, but it's a broad and inaccurate brush that (like it's close cousin "reactionary") implies arbitrary and inflexible resistance to any and all change. Heck, I consider myself a "dynamist"! Steven Den Beste's excellent "I am a 'Conservative', because I am a liberal", which my Blogger profile calls out, hits many of the salient points for me.

    Labels are labels, and my philosophy won't fit on a standard-sized bumper sticker, so I don't want to get too hung up on the need for either. Ideas are what matters (albeit the ability to communicate them concisely is valuable), and I look forward to participating more in the discussion of them with all of you. I still haven't found any one label that works for me (I don't suppose there's much hope of getting small "L" "liberal" back?). "Ejectian"? "FreeRanger"? Maybe. Still looking.

  18. FreeRangeOyster: the things that work.

    If we are going to use that as a standard of judgment, shouldn't we figure out what "works" means? Once we do that, shouldn't THAT identification be our standard of judgment?

    Faith, family, country, and what works are still as ambiguous as hope and change or even the sacred *tradition*. They can mean just about anything you want them to mean.

    Before I sign on to the program, I need a lot more clarity, specificity, and objectivity on those things. Without that you might as well use the traditional: Motherhood, The American Flag, Apple Pie, and the Fourth of July for all the good it will do. See the recent McCain debacle for a case in point.

  19. Policies must flow from philosophy. Then the philosophy behind the policies needs to be adequately explained and understood by all. That was the genius of Reagan, and the number one achillies heel of Bush.

    Labels are useful shorthand for these philosophies and policies. One of the grand successes of the Left this time around is their ability to label Bush as the epitome of Conservatism when he was anything but.

  20. Lionell, one of the primary points I have been trying to drive home is that I don't want to deliver you a platform and have you decide whether you like it or not, I want you and me and everyone else to bring our own ideas of what is important to the table.

    I'll grant you that "faith" is a vague term. Perhaps not vague so much as mutable: it means different things to me than it does to anyone else."Family" is clearer, i think. The fundamental unit of society is the family. In every culture where that has been eliminated, decay and entropy have set in rapidly. Strong families grow a strong nation. If you want to see the results of the breakdown of the family unit, look at the ghettos. "Country" can also vary, but I will say this: if you are not committed to the well-being of our collective home, you have no business running it. That goes for those voting and those being elected. I am not a fan of blind patriotism (or blind anything for that matter), but at some level you need to be invested in the success of the nation, even if only out of enlightened self-interest.

    And as far as what "works" means, if you have to ask what a successful society is, then this whole conversation is probably for naught. The principles we seek are the ones that will preserve the rights and facilitate the goals outlined in the founding documents of our nation, the Declaration and Constitution. It all comes back to that.

  21. FreeRangeOyster: And as far as what "works" means, if you have to ask what a successful society is, then this whole conversation is probably for naught.

    Argument from intimidation rather equivalent to "if you have to ask how much, you can't afford it." Both questions are valid and vital to answer: what do you mean by what you say and what is implied by my commitment to it?

    What works means is no more obvious than what is faith, family, and country. I don't know about you but I don't sign a contract unless I fully understand the terms, conditions, cost, and duration AND find them explicit and acceptable. Implied undefined obligations and duties are NOT acceptable in any way.

  22. Lionell - I stated quite clearly what I meant by "works" in the last paragraph: principles that will support and strengthen the objectives laid out by the Founders. I have tried to draw you out repeatedly, to find out your stance on what principles would be of value to our nation. You have responded with nothing but meta-arguments and lawyerish nitpicking. You seem to have nothing positive or constructive to contribute. I am done with this conversation.

    Oyster out.

  23. I think Orrin did a darn fine job of trying to define conservatism in a sentence. I don't think I could sum up my conservative beliefs in under 30 words. But let me flip this the other way: Can you define "liberalism" in under 30 words? (no joke. I'm being serious)

  24. As a thinker, I am falling in love with the actual thought that I am encountering here. I have already blogged my reaction to the election, the suggestion that fiscal and constitutional conservatives need to regroup, and that Campaign '12 begins today.

    There is perhaps something I can contribute to the attempt to define conservativism. As a redneck Jacksonian, I am frequently taken for a conservative; but I eschew that label. I consider myself a "classical liberal" and define myself as either a small (L) libertarian or an Ayn Rand objectivist. If you will permit me, I think the wrong question is being posed.

    In his speech nominating Barry Goldwater at the 1964 GOP convention, Ronald Reagan said:

    "You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or right, but I would like to suggest that there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down–up to a man’s age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order–or down to the ant heap totalitarianism, and regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course."

    I couldn't agree more, and a couple of years ago I created a circular political spectrum chart that illustrates this up/down principle. By bending the line into a circle, it shows that the extremes of either end of the traditional Left/Right spectrum end up in the same place: serfdom. When viewed this way, those of us in center field (rather than being just "unprincipled" moderates on a fence that some call "wishy-washy"), are actually holding the high ground. The chart is located here, and I would love to discuss it.

    The real political core of America is, and always has been, in the middle. Both wings of the Incumbrepublocrat Party have done mayhem to their majority of moderates in order to cobble together a working majority for elections. This is where the multiparty parliamentary system has the advantage. They can retain their principles and create their governing coalitions after their elections. I am willing to try to recapture the Republican Party, but I think it needs to be drug to the center, where it could attract Truman and Reagan Democrats and other fiscal/constitutional conservatives; not to the Right. ◄Dave►

  25. Dave, I think you could lay your chart on top of the diamond form of the Nolan Chart:

    and get pretty good agreement. That quiz classifies people along two axes; there is at least one orthogonal axis for foreign policy, which is responsible for the excommunication of Joe Lieberman from the Democratic Party.

    Make that one the Z axis, because it's not about the relationship between the government and individual citizens, but between governments.

    A system of proportional representation with post-election coalition building would do a better job of recognizing such three-dimensional diversity than a simple left-right spectrum.

  26. Chase,

    I've given a lot of thought to that, too. To the extend the left has any principle beyond the pragmatism of raw power, I think it's this:

    "Modern Liberalism is the belief that utopia can be engineered if only is it designed and run correctly, and that individual liberty must be subsumed to the greater good for this societal machine to run smoothly for the greater good."

    For the less philisophically inclined, liberalism is all about wishing life was as carefree as when you were still a kid. The hippies celebrating today are all excited to be moving into Mamma Barack's basement.

  27. The Monster said:

    "Dave, I think you could lay your chart on top of the diamond form of the Nolan Chart ... and get pretty good agreement."

    Agreed, and that quiz's graph, which I first encountered on paper at a Libertarian Party booth at a county fair back in the mid '70s, influenced my own. The simple questions, of course, are designed to help one conclude that one is more of a libertarian than realized. Mine allows one to place oneself on the line based on conventional wisdom, and then notice how far below the ideals promulgated by our founders said position is.

    Its genesis (before Jonah Goldberg effectively settled it) was the age-old argument over whether fascism belonged on the Left or Right. My point was that it didn't matter which way one traveled to get there, it was a form of tyranny, and the opposite of Liberty. The more important point is that moderates from both Parties are closer to the ideal of our Liberty heritage, than the ideologues on either side. E.g., when someone says to a moderate Republican, "You are not conservative enough," while discussing the constitution or economy, does that mean they think they should slide more toward the Right extreme? I posit the opposite.

    Our government shouldn't have any relationships with other governments outside the interests of our people. Some of us perceive outside threats, and some do not. Personally, I do see them and expect our government to protect our foreign interests and defend us from invasion. Other than a court system to adjudicate disputes between the States, that is about all I expect the Federal Government to do.

    If our CinC thinks we need to go to war, it is his job to sell us on why, and keep us sold through victory. Bush failed miserably at that chore. Probably unfortunately, the Obamessiah is unlikely to ever try. Hmmm... I wonder if he would offer me the same deal he wants to give the Iraqis? Just go away and leave me alone to fend for myself, rather than try to micromanage my life according to his ideals? ◄Dave►

  28. The more important point is that moderates from both Parties are closer to the ideal of our Liberty heritage, than the ideologues on either side.

    This depends ENTIRELY on how you define "moderate," and I think it's incorrect here. For example, George Bush worked across the aisle on NCLB, prescription drug bennies, and massive spending. He signed McCain-Feingold into law, and supported the center-left immigration "reform" package. He championed Pelosi's socialistic bailout. Despite the lies of the left, he spent his entire administration trying to reach out to his political opponents. But he gets classified as an "extreme conservative", which I think is absurd.

    Bush is a moderate. Where he was moderate, our liberties suffered most.

    Likewise, Sarah Palin gets branded as "extreme" because of her social views, and I think she is VERY conservative. But because of (not in spite of) the fact that she is a rock-ribbed conservative, her record is bereft of any attempt to "impose" those social views on her state. See especially her first veto as Guv. And I think AK is probably the most liberty minded state remaining in the Union.

    It's critical to understand that the proper definition of a left-right spectrum relies entirely on the balancing of individual liberty and some "greater good." Don't conflate "religious" automatically with "conservative".

  29. ~Paules says,

    I can define my conservatism in two words: personal liberty. Ideally, as much liberty as the individual is willing to be responsible for. Implied in the liberty vs. responsibility equation is the unalienable right to fail. Therein lies my disagreement with mere social liberals who seem to think it's the governments job to prevent failure. When the government supplies a safety net against failure (corporate, personal, or otherwise), it virtually guarantees more of the same.

    Let me offer a simplistic example. What if I marked one of my student's essays with an 'A' after discovering 30 errors in spelling, syntax and grammar? Could I logically expect improvement on the next essay? You see, failure is a necessary part of the process for improvement. I remember one of BW's quotes from a technician at the Mojave skunkworks: "The problem with this program is that no one has been killed yet." Wow! What a profound insight! You gotta pay to play, baby. The tariff in aerospace engineering can mean your life. Now how cool is that?

    The problem with socialism is that it insulates everyone from everything. That's fine when we're talking about toddlers, but it's no philosophy for an adult society. Risk is vital to a dynamic society. A coddled people is the sure mark of a decadent society. Ask Europe. The British now pad telephone polls to prevent injury. It seems too many pedestrians were having head-on collisions while text messaging. I wonder what Charles Darwin would say?

    Every government guarantee requires a price. The more secure you wish to be, the more liberty you must sacrifice to the state. And that's just not American. In fact, it's not much of a guarantee either. It might very well be that the future of the Republican Party is libertarianism. At least we'll have Darwin on our side. It's a start.

  30. I think we're largely all in agreement on the primacy of the individual in the philosophical principles we're trying to lay out. What's required for such a philosophy to work is an acknowledgement of the people that they have personal and direct responsibility for their own success or failure. That's also a big part of the definition of being an adult.

    I try not to say liberal/leftist/progressive if I can avoid it, and I'm increasingly uncomfortable with conservative too. The dicotomy I see is between the statists on the other side and the individualists on our side. Statism tends (inevitably, I'd say) to totalitarianism, where the state controls everything. Individualism would tend toward anarchy, except that most individualists fully understand the advantages of voluntary associations to accomplish tasks single people are unable to do.

    So maybe we should espouse individualism, with the concepts of duty, honor, and responsibility, as opposed to statism, with the concept of subsuming the individual's desires to those of the people in authority over the society.

  31. The problem with that, Doug, is that the labels are here. They aren't going away. For better or worse, they are what we have, and if we ever want to do more than just sit around and philosophise on a blog, we've got to work affirmatively to take them back.

    Both Reagan and GWB redefined "Conservative" in the minds of America. One made it a good word, the other made it a dirty word. We need to redefine it to better match our individualistic, anti-statist, Leave-me-alone philosophy that to me, is more in keeping with what the Founders intended and what we're trying to "conserve."

    The other label that matters and that we need to take back is "Republican." It has become chic among the disaffected among us to say, "I'm not so much a Republican as I am a Conservative." Well, that may be true, and it may be dandy, and it may play well on the cocktail circuit, but it won't win elections. And without winning elections, all we are is a living history lesson pissing into the wind while we whine about our new Nanny State Overlords.

  32. There is a huge difference between saying "this works" and identifying what "it works" means. The first assumes the latter but does not state it. The latter requires the specification of the standard by which you determine that the "this" actually works. This is what is missing and until defined, nothing has been said beyond a pile of meaningless BS no better than an unspecified "hope and change".

  33. I have to admit I'm torn between the arguments that dougloss and orrin present. On the one hand, I treasure accuracy and the concept of individualism is more directly descriptive of the ideals we share. "Conservative" is a relative term, because it simply means to preserve what has been established. In the United States as nowhere else on Earth, the original state of affairs was an independent, individualist philosophy. That is what we are seeking to conserve or restore, depending on how far you think we've slipped.

    On the other hand, as orrin says we have to work with things that the body of the people will understand. Language is key to communion, and if the way we speak and the way we explain things is incompatible with the rest of the population, we have isolated ourselves. That won't do anyone any good.

    I see the two words, at least in the American context, as synonymous. If we use them interchangeably and openly, I think that should help to clarify to ourselves and those to whom we reach out what we mean and what we represent.

    Individualism and natural law are, to me, the most overwhelmingly prevalent concepts to be found in the Declaration and Constitution. The systems the Founders created were designed to protect the liberty of the individual as much as possible. They haven't always been used or guided properly, but that is the fundamental principle of their design.

    Bumper stickers and slogans are not good bases for a philosophy. When I relayed BW's challenge to put it one sentence, it was never intended for merchandising. I'll tell you this: if you can't state what you're about clearly and concisely, you'll never get there. One sentence may not be enough to explain it... but have you seen how much thought and discussion the challenge spawned? :)

  34. Bumper stickers and slogans are not good bases for a philosophy.

    Of course not! But they are CRITICAL to SELLING our philosophy. Liberals are experts in this, as Mr. Hope and Change has demonstrated so robustly. But when I hear "Morning in America," I know what that means, and it's awesome imagery that encapsulates the wider set of ideas.

    The difference is, we don't have to lie about our philosophies to win. :)

  35. If you wish to converse with me, define your terms.” -Voltaire

    ...which is what we are attempting to do; but as Orrin makes clear in his reply to me, in this age of Orwellian "New Speak," the very terms we use in trying to define others have become meaningless. By "moderate" I mean to imply one who is not an ideologue on either end of the arbitrary Left/Right duopoly that those same ideologues endeavor to force us to adopt as the political spectrum. A moderate may not entirely eschew government intervention in our economic or social lives, but wants less of it than the ideologues, and with a little education (sprinkled with a measure of common sense), could probably be persuaded of the wisdom of actually returning to the model of the constitutional Republic our founders bequeathed to us.

    GWB is not a moderate, in my view. He is a statist, who we foolishly permitted to redefine conservatism as "compassionate," meaning henceforth conservatives would be ready to "spread the wealth around" to the less fortunate, in return for some of their votes. I'm sorry, as much as I admired his handling of 911, and as much as I appreciate that we have not had another in the past seven years, he lost me with his taxpayer funded altruism. I am in the private education business, so the NCLB Act pissed me off too. Ditto Medicare and Prescription Drugs. And don't even get me started on the Mexican border issue...

    These are not "moderate" positions, unless one is so far to the Right that one cannot see all the way to the Left, and thinks he stopped in the middle in his capitulation to the Left's agenda. He did not. I'm sorry to say, the Left played him for a fool; and he was so sure he could create comity in DC like he did in Austin, he probably was one. I worked very hard for his reelection; but if it hadn't helped prevent that miscreant who threw his medals on the WH lawn from ever living there, I probably would regret it now.

    Sarah Palin is my new hero, and I lost some very close virtual friends over my defense of her during her media mauling. I agree that she is conservative, and it is the very fact that she does not seem to wish to impose her personal values on America that makes her so attractive (well... maybe that smile helps too...). How I wish the abortion issue would just go away as a national matter. The dishonest contortions national candidates have to go through over it, to have any hope of being nominated by their Party, and then somehow elected, is simply ridiculous.

    Were it not for that one issue, I think the Democrat tent would have folded by now. Were I a woman, I would be just as against the evangelicals trying to tell me what I must do with my body as I would the Marxists trying to tell me what I must do with my money. "Do right, and leave others be" is my gospel according to Dave...

    Back to terms... I never use the word liberal to define the Left, because in classical terms I am a liberal, which is the antitheses of a Marxist. I rarely use socialist, because it is an euphemism for communist, and has become too respectable for my tastes. Calling someone a communist only gets one dismissed as a kooky proponent of McCarthyism. Basically, I use Marxist when I wish to be precise, and Progressive when I wish to be polite.

    Progressive is a nice counter term to conservative, because they both still have nominal meanings beyond the political spectrum, which somewhat describe the agenda of their proponents. As has been noted, a conservative wishes to conserve tradition and the status quo, and a progressive wishes to tinker with same, with some hope for improvement in change moving forward, or beyond the past. The problem I see looming with these shopworn words, is that the Progressives have had the ball for so long, it is now they who are on defense and trying to conserve their rather successful efforts over the past hundred years, from our attempts to dismantle them.

    Lest I sound anti-ideologue, I condone pragmatism even less. Actually, in my model of the political world, I am a rabid ideologue myself. Only, my principled and uncompromising position is UP, not Left or Right, both of which I consider (equally) DOWN. I still agree with Reagan. Maximum individual Liberty (within a loose social contract proscribing chaos) vs. tyranny and serfdom. Pick one, and stay off the slippery slopes. ◄Dave►

  36. Yes, yes. You get an A+ for precision. But being king of the Libertarian diamond chart won't win elections, and winning elections while carrying forward our principles is the problem we're looking for a real solution for here.

    We will not win elections until the words "conservative" and "Republican" mean something different than "George W. Bush." And right now they do. Those are the terms we're realistically stuck with. So let's redefine them. Or perhaps more accurately, re-RE-define them.

    Otherwise, we'll be the most precise and correct people ever to sit in political oblivion.

  37. Orrin, how do you propose to go about this redefining? For "Republican" the task is straightforward, if difficult--by taking control of the party appratus, by wresting it away from the Rockefeller Republicans (I don't say RINOs because they actually control the party now; we're the real RINOs if you think about it). For "conservative" I'm open to suggestion. The MSM is currently deciding for the masses what "conservative" means, you know. They call whoever they wish to, "conservative" whether it's someone we'd recognize as such or not. They're working diligently to make it an epithet similar to what "liberal" became, although "liberal" became a term of opprobrium because of the views of the self-styled liberals. That's why they keep trying to call themselves "progressives" these days. I'm afraid that until the MSM is no longer able to create the connotations for words in the minds of the public we won't be able to redefine the term "conservative" as anything other than "mean-spirited old white men" in the minds of the general public. I think we need to identify ourselves entirely differently, build awareness of this new identity, and gradually explain that what we are is what real "conservatives" were all along.

  38. Well said, Doug. That is precisely why I was suggesting a new way to look at who we are. We shouldn't be any more wedded to "conservative" than the Left wishes to be to "liberal." There isn't a damn thing about the political system in this country, as it currently exists, that is worth conserving anymore anyway.

    Just as I am not stuck on libertarian... I prefer Objectivist; but then you have to explain that term, and anyone who has read Leonard Peikoff knows how bloody esoteric that can get. I suggest "Constitutionalist." Isn't that what we wish we could return to, our Constitution? It has a familiar ring; most folks would at least think they know what is meant by the term; and it would be pretty hard to demonize it. There is no religious baggage that goes along with it, and it is the antithesis of government solutions to individual travails. We could sidestep such thorny issues as abortion, by simply declaring the subject extra-Constitutional and therefore outside the purview of our politics.

    I know there have been attempts to form a "Constitution Party," and I have no idea what became of such; but we are talking about "Constitutionalists" (instead of "conservatives") wresting control of the Republican Party from the preachers and Rockefeller types. They can join us as is without their silly litmus tests, or go caucus with their altruistic brethren on the Marxist side. I'd trade them both for the solid working class families stuck in the unions, AKA the Truman and Reagan Democrats that belong with us anyway. ◄Dave►

  39. The MSM is currently deciding for the masses what "conservative" means, you know.

    Listen to yourself. "The masses." Bah! Purge that word from your lexicon! It is insulting.

    The "masses" are 300 million free individuals who will make up their own minds. I have faith in the American people, and in the ability of free people to make up their own minds. As soon as you stop respecting the people, you might as well throw in with the dictators.

    No - the communication problems are much less than the lies of the MSM. The problem is that we haven't had a political leader who could cogently articulate Conservative Principles since Newt Gingrich, and Reagan before him. It is OUR fault. WE are responsible. As soon as we accept that, then WE can overcome.

    The task before us is one of salesmanship - and then partaking of our own product. Unlike the hippies, we don't have to lie to sell our principles. We DO, however, have to explain them in a way people NOT obsessed with political theory can understand.

    Running from the word "conservative" because Chris Matthews has declared it dirty is a retreat we will never recover from. It is inexorably tied to "Republican." "Constitutionalist" is already taken, and I want no part of that - talk about assuring irrelevancy.

  40. I ask you again Orrin, how do you propose to go about what you propose? Just how do you intend to mount the advertising campaign that will change public perception of what the term "conservative" means? The MSM is solidly arrayed against us and you know it, I"m sure. At present they're the gatekeepers for public attention. Their grip on that is weakening, for which we're all grateful. But it's still in there, at least for some time to come. Also, those faux conservatives you (and I) would like to disclaim are exactly the ones the MSM holds up to the public as representative of conservatism as a philosophy. How do you propose to separate ourselves from them?

    If there's some way to reclaim the word "conservative" to describe those who agree with the principles that we hold closest, I'm happy to help. But I need to see some sort of feasible outline on how we can do that. I suspect it's not possible. We can use the term internally all we want, but if the MSM has successfully attached the word "mean-spirited" to conservative in the public mind I think it does us no benefit to go out trying to claim, "no, that's not really what we are, we're nice guys!" Try this: speak to a group of non-political individuals sometime and ask them how they feel about the various principles that guide conservatism. While doing so, don't mention conservatives, liberals, or anything. Just ask about philosophies of life. You'll find that many people agree with you, including many blacks. Now do the same with a different group of non-politicals, but talk to them about conservative values and principles. Many fewer will agree, and almost no blacks. That's what you're up against. I say, get people to embrace and internalize the principles, to live by them and vote according to them. If we need to use a different, connotationally-clean, term for this philosophy to do so, where's the problem?

  41. ~Paules says,


    We need a leader. I reckon Mitch McConnel is up to the task of running the filibuster, but I agree that we need someone who can articulate our message. Much as I like the lady, it won't be Palin. I think Bobby Jindal is our next best hope.

  42. To ~Paules:

    I hate to disagree with you - sincerely - but I do not think a leader is what we need just yet. I think that we need to work to make sure that a sizable portion of the Republican Party (All would be nice, but I am being realistic) is on the same page with us. Whether we will be in a position to select a leader before the 2010 election or not, I do not know. My instinct is to work our butts off to get Representatives and Senators elected in 2010 who will fully support limited government, personal liberty, etc., riding on the inevitable wave of disapproval for Pelosi/Reid/maybe Obama. Then when we have a place at the table again and proof that the people want these principles and are convinced at the grassroots, we can select someone to lead out nationally. I believe for now we need to concentrate on taking action on the local and state scene and on educating those around us. Just my two pearls. Oyster out.

  43. I last checked in with this site 2 weeks ago or so and it left me with lots of questions about your particular brand of Conserva-Repub-Liber-Constitu-Declarationism. Just took the Nolan test: 90% on personal, 30% on economic, which puts me diametrically opposite GWB on the chart, just where I want to be. This also makes me the perfect guinea pig for the reclamation project espoused here. If you want to sell your politics to the majority, start with someone who sent President-Elect Obama an email the night of his 2004 red state/blue state/United States speech saying, “if you ever run for President, I will vote for you.” Start with me.

    Here’s what I like already: you’re not trapped by certain social issues currently synonymous with the words “conservative” and “Republican” (though the sooner you deal with those flashbacks of battling hippies in the 60’s the better). You use phrases like “individual liberty” – which, unless they are code for “let the have-nots starve”, goes down well. Perhaps, along with the “sovereign right to regulate what substances may be imported into my body”, Monster, your new platform may emphasize a woman’s sovereign right to regulate what substances may be exported from her body.

    Here’s where you lose me: [where the hell is the enya on this keyboard]-Paules says, “When the government supplies a safety net against failure (corporate, personal, or otherwise), it virtually guarantees more of the same.” We’ve just spent over $1 trillion in government bailouts to the financial system [and how on earth is this Pelosi’s bailout and not Paulson’s bailout?!], with promises of more to come, and we have an exploding national debt and deficit. No one is pleased with this. Yet, apparently, we are all to blame for allowing our financial markets to run amok with the concepts of “liberty”, “freedom”, “laissez faire”, “free market” and “deregulation”. How do you square that?

    Also, if not for certain social services, the poor and the elderly would be dying on our city streets. When you come down from the heights of pure ideology and rejoin the world as it is, how would you and your candidates handle the reality of hungry, homeless citizens? No one I know thinks “it's the governments job to prevent failure,” [found it]~Paules, but most agree with the idea of a government committed to preventing starvation. What are your solutions? [My hippie flashback goes like this: I lived in NYC during the Reagan years when social services budgets were slashed and will never forget the homeless women relieving themselves between parked cars in broad daylight. This country can do better.]

    So, Orrin, when you write things like, “Expanding and protecting the sovereignty of the individual necessarily depends on some sense of order... Social conservatism beleives that a pervasive culture and "peer pressure" is the best way to preserve that order without being slaves to the state. (Where religious people seek to use the power of the state to impose, such as BHO forcing us all to be our brothers' keepers, that is NOT conservative.)” - it leaves me wondering where assistance will come from for those who choose to live outside the horrors of “peer pressure” and the religious or state imposition of slavery. As discussed in a previous post, charity will never cure poverty. Again, what are your solutions? Find a cure for poverty without imposing some version of “family values” and you’ve got my vote. Note #1: if you think this isn’t “your issue”, think again - 1.2 million Americans just lost their jobs. Note #2: wait at least two generations before dragging out that “trickle down” theory again – our memories are long.

    Here’s what will never work: the sniping, snide, outpourings of revulsion for Barack Obama. Not just because it smacks of absurd Rovian ugliness (Liddy Dole’s ad choice) at a time when we’re all looking for calm inspiration and intelligence. But those of us who voted for him (52%) don’t understand what you think he represents – in fact, I wonder if you’ve taken the time to spell it for out yourselves in any detail. See if you can get specific about what you stand for without taking gratuitous swipes at those who may or may not be in your way.

    The notion of hope is a powerful motivator in an electorate. You might investigate what causes hope in Americans now that over half of us voted for the “untested socialist”, the “hippy law prof”, and then spent last Tuesday night in an orgy of thankfulness and hope.

    Kudos to Daddyquatro for the original post.

  44. Wow Morph, wo wrong on so many counts! First, you're not the candidate for us to "sell out politics" to. You've already rejected them by your confrontation here. Your claim that the bailout has anything to do with conservative principles and values is flatout, 180 degrees wrong. We are not all to blame for allowing our financial markets to run amok. The government essentially forced financial institutions into making bad loans (vide CRA). And when various Republicans (not conservatives necessarily, but nevermind) attempted to address the loming problem before it exploded, the Democrats who caused it blocked any relief, claiming there was nothing wrong. When the inevitable happened, your side claims it was because there wasn't enough regulation, when it was government meddling with the market that caused the problem in the first place.

    The poor and elderly would be dying on our city streets without socialist services? Bullcrap. Prove that lame assertion if you can. I call it a load of hooey. You claim that charity will never cure poverty. That's of course true, since you'll just define poverty as whatever standard of living the bottom levels of society have. Is it really poverty as was known in centuries past when all the poor people have cars, cellphones, and color TVs? Do you honestly believe that there were massive die-offs of poor people before Social Security and Medicare were created? It's difficult to respond reasonably to such benighted ideas.

    You say about Obama "But those of us who voted for him (52%) don’t understand what you think he represents." That's amusing, because those of us who didn't vote for him are fairly certain that you haven't a clue what he truly represents either. YOu all moon over the nebulous concepts of "hope" and "change" as though they actually are actionable programs, projecting your vague desires onto your current cult hero. My prediction: there will be a huge amount of "buyer's remorse" in the first year to 18 months among the Obama voters when he can't deliver everything they desire to everybody. Some of you will do your best to excuse his failures, acting as enablers for further failures. Others will turn on him and his approval ratings will plummet.

    When people begin to realize that no Messiah figure will make all their hurts go away and be the big Daddy in the Sky, perhaps they'll be ready to learn about self-reliance, empowering of the individual, and taking personal responsibility for their actions and their lives. That's the conservative message they need to learn. I hope you can learn it too one day. If you want to help those in need (as we all do), then do so. But don't steal the property of others under color of law and give it to those you deem more deserving, and then feel self-righteous about how much you've "helped" them. That isn't you helping anyone, it's just you being a thief.

  45. I ask you again Orrin, how do you propose to go about what you propose?

    Well, that's the question, isn't it? I don't know the full answers, but I think the following is the way to start, at least on our humble grass roots level:

    1. Don't hide that you're a Conservative Republican - you only contribute to the "dirty word" status. If you work in a newsroom, don't let snark go unanswered. If you work in the entertainment industry, speak up. If you're a college or law student, don't let professorial hippy bromides go unchallenged. If your office is full of Obama lovers, don't cower in your cubicle. Your silence is a vote for the other side.

    1a. Be outspoken, but be happy warriors. People hate Bush, but they don't hate you (hopefully!). We are ambassadors for Conservatism - act like it. And be successful at whatever it is you do.

    2. Get involved with the local party, and make it a social affair. Make it fun. Bring other young people in. When I moved to NV about a year and a half ago, I went to GOP HQ and found mostly older people who liked the clubbiness of it all, and didn't embrace my repeated efforts to integrate myself and make myself useful. (I contrast that with my local McCain Campaign HQ, which was younger, more dynamic, and far more fun - and far more effective, although unfortunately not enough to beat the legions of imported Californians...)

    College Republicans should have the best parties.

    3. Vote for candidates who embody the happy, fun, cool, youthful, proudly conservative party we want to be. Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal are PRIME examples of this, and (no surprise) they are incredibly successful leaders of their respective states. They are the templates.

    3a. Voting is two years away for most of us. But we need to start incubating these people now. Find them. Recruit them. Raise money for them. Draw from the social networks in Point 2. If you think you have what it takes, consider running yourself - even if it's inconvenient, or it involves a pay cut. Never let a local Democrat run unopposed.

    4. Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We need to be more consistently conservative, but be VERY careful with talk of "purges." Purge corruption and resist statism, but beware the college libertarian urge to turn savagely on anyone who doesn't meet some purity standard.

    For social conservatives, understand and explain yourself in terms of limited government - the two are connected. (For example, I'm not anti-abortion because of religion in the sense that "God said so, so we can't," but rather because I believe there is something intrinsically valuable about an individual human being at all staged of life, and his or her right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.) If you disagree, explain why in terms of limited government, and avoid at all costs anti-religion sanctimony (which is how I used to feel, to my embarrassment now that I'm older).

    Same goes for national defense conservatives, fiscal conservatives, etc. Learn to explain yourself in terms of maximizing individual liberty. Incubate, develop, and vote for candidates who can explain and articulate this well.

    5. When people complain about high taxes, stupid regulation, unaccountable bureaucracy, and societal freeloaders, remind them that this is what liberals promised to deliver. Repetition can build reputations. Keep the drums pounding.

    6. Understand and accept that leadership and personality matters. Goldwater and Reagan didn't disagree on much, but one was buried while the other was elevated. One was seen as an angry partisan, the other a leader for all. We need standard bearers running for office. See Point 3a.

    7. Education matters. Children need to learn Constitutional Law and history - the correct version. Incubate, fund, and elect local school board members who agree. Support with money and time organizations that already exist who sponsor essay contests, high school debates, etc. that drive those issues forward.

    Broad outlines and baby steps to be sure. But that's where it will begin. With us. We'll be waiting a long time if we sit around and complain until someone comes to save us.

  46. So, Orrin, when you write things like, “Expanding and protecting the sovereignty of the individual necessarily depends on some sense of order... Social conservatism beleives that a pervasive culture and "peer pressure" is the best way to preserve that order without being slaves to the state. (Where religious people seek to use the power of the state to impose, such as BHO forcing us all to be our brothers' keepers, that is NOT conservative.)” - it leaves me wondering where assistance will come from for those who choose to live outside the horrors of “peer pressure” and the religious or state imposition of slavery. As discussed in a previous post, charity will never cure poverty. Again, what are your solutions? Find a cure for poverty without imposing some version of “family values” and you’ve got my vote. Note #1: if you think this isn’t “your issue”, think again - 1.2 million Americans just lost their jobs. Note #2: wait at least two generations before dragging out that “trickle down” theory again – our memories are long.

    Where to begin...

    - Family values are inextricably linked to escaping poverty. Do you really think the outrageously high rate of illegitimacy among black people in this country contributes nothing to their disproportionate poverty? Even Barack Obama recognizes this as part of the problem, to his credit.

    - Charity will never completely cure poverty, because there will always be people who insist on making dumb decisions over and over and over. For the same reason, government will never cure poverty. Besides, attempts to cure poverty at the expense of liberty is too high a price - as all communist nations have discovered to their horror. If you aren't free to fail, you aren't free.

    - Compare the results of 4 years of Reagan era supply-side economics to 4 years of Carter era Big Hearted Charity Government. Would you really trade the economy of 1984 for the economy of 1980? Perhaps your memory isn't so long after all...

  47. Well, Dougloss, there you go again. I don’t know who you’re arguing with, but it isn’t me. What I wrote was not a confrontation. You’re faced with an open mind which was brought up with a different world view – your challenge is to convince me that your outlook makes more sense. I am the first of many you’ll have to convert if you want your world view to win future elections.

    This is the best you can come up with? The CRA excuse for the financial meltdown has been roundly discredited. Find me some excuse that hasn’t already been chewed up and spat out by such a long list of people in-the-know. Your point on “government meddling with the market” is well taken. But encouraging house ownership is not such a vile goal for a government to espouse. You’d do better by explaining to me how you’re going to prevent the re-selling of subprime loans and all the other hair-raising shenanigans perpetrated by free marketeers who are all too quick to take advantage of any system which encourages the sport of making money. How do we prevent the consequent tax-funded bailouts? Talk about thievery.

    Yup, people died in the streets before FDR introduced us to government assistance. Do you need to see pictures? Try the (rather exploitative) photographs of Jacob Riis and Dorothea Lange, or the feel-good movie, Cinderella Man. Some estimate over 15 million people died of starvation during the Great Depression. Today 10 million people die of hunger and hunger-related diseases every year – but only a small fraction of those deaths now occur in the United States. Still, a little over 10% of American households experience “food insecurity or very low food security.” Here’s your government at work:

    I’m not sure what statistics you can quote to support the notion that “all the poor people have cars, cellphones, and color TVs”, but the folks I’m talking about don’t even have black and white TVs. ;-)

    Personally, I’ve got plenty of self-reliance, I am an empowered individual who takes personal responsibility for my actions and my life – so if that’s all it takes to be a conservative, I’m already there. But no amount of charity on my part can get to the underlying causes of poverty, or a public education system which doesn’t educate, or a healthcare system that no one can afford.

    I don’t want to speculate about you and your background, and you needn’t speculate about my expectations of Obama. For me, it’s nothing mystical, mysterious or fantastical. Here’s what I expect: He will go to work on the issues that mean something to me. He won’t solve the world’s ills in four years, but he will focus on things that actually matter. He’ll make the most of a variety of ideas to do what’s possible with this wretched economy and still find the energy to approach the healthcare crisis. I’m betting that whatever improvements he can implement for our educational system will be more effective than anything Bush or McCain could come up with. At least I am convinced that education is a genuine priority. I’m hoping he’ll lead the way in putting an end to party politics for the sake of getting things done – you can ride me about that one if he hasn’t made consistent progress in a year. But that’s my pie-in-the-sky issue: without bilateral cooperation, this country is doomed.

    If you want me to repudiate the man and his politics I’ll need more persuading.


    Orrin, thanks for your response. Yes, Barack Obama has pointedly reminded men take part in raising their own children (financially and otherwise), but I have a hard time penalizing women and children for deciding not to live with husbands and fathers who turn out to be bums. Not every two-parent household is a happy one and not every family has universally beneficial values. Better we should educate the young before they become parents. We could educate them to become Dougloss’ model citizens: self-reliant, self-empowered, self-actualized, and personally responsible. Then *their* children could be raised by persons capable of maintaining well-paid jobs who could afford the high cost of family life – even in households headed by single parents. I especially stress education for women over a one-size-fits-all approach toward “family values” because, based on results, a good education is a more reliable escape from poverty than dependence on a man.

    This scenario may serve double duty as the best way for me to understand a point you made in an earlier post: *It's critical to understand that the proper definition of a left-right spectrum relies entirely on the balancing of individual liberty and some "greater good."* I puzzled over how individual liberty is threatened by the notion of “greater good,” but when I imagine a person’s individual liberty threatened by “family values” which condemn him/her and the children to life with a truly lousy spouse (your greater good?), the threat becomes more clear. Now if only I could apply this notion to the point you were actually trying to make… I know this must seem like Conservatism 101, but that’s where I am with all this.

    On your second point, I think there are plenty of people who assiduously avoid making dumb decisions but never manage to work their way out of poverty. Their problem is that they start from a position of generational failure or disability and are therefore not free to succeed. Some precious few make it on their own, but government can use legislation to ensure that life isn’t purely a crap shoot for most. How this comes at the expense of liberty is one of those conservative conundrums you’re going to have to explain in full.

    Perhaps by now it’s predictable for me to point out that the Reagan years were nothing for poor folks to be nostalgic about. Not to go all commie on you, but the facts show that supply-side economics proved to be an effective device for increasing the disparity between the richest few and the ever-more-numerous poor. And that disparity has at least doubled again in the last 8 years. Early on in this discussion a conversation was begun about the definition of a successful society. I would posit that a successful society finds ways to ensure that economic possibilities and benefits extend from the least self-sufficient to the most self-sufficient. If you can find ways to do this without impinging on personal liberty (what is that code for again?), we may come to some agreement yet.

  48. Morph, you are fuzzy in your terms. You talk about "a successful society" when you actually mean "government." You give your self away as a lefty when you start talking about "code." {erhaps this wil lexplain it all for you quickly, easily, and incorrectly: everything we conservatives/individualists say that you disagree with is code for "racism." There, no further thought required.

    The CRA "excuse" has only been roundly discredited amony your liberal apologist friends, you know. It's glaringly obvious to many that forcing financial institutions to issue loans to people they KNEW wouldn't be able to repay them was the root cause of the mortgage crisis. "People-in-the-know?" Is that code for "people who agree with me?"

    As I said before, what constitutes poverty gets continually defined up so that there is (and always will be) a constant level of poverty. It's how the bureaucracies justify their continued existence. If they had to admit that they were successful in virtually eliminating poverty, serious questions would be asked about why they still exist.

    The Great Depression was an economic crisis greatly deepened and worsened by FDR's policies. If people died on the streets in such tremendous numbers (which I need more than your word to accept) then FDR is more to blaim than to praise for fixing things by socializing even more of society. As for 10% of American households experiencing “food insecurity or very low food security,” see my earlier comment about bureaucracies justifying their existences. "Food insecurity" is not starvation, now is it? In fact, it means next to nothing.

    A couple of things that we can agree on is that the public education system doesn't educate (vouchers to send kids to schools that have better track records, introducing needed competition to the field, anyone?), and that health care is expensive (put health care funde in the hands of the consumers and let them purchase the health care they desire with their own money, which will foster competition and bring prices down. Nothing else will). Our differences I think are that you probably believe that government can fix these areas and I understand that government is the cause of these problems and can only fix them by getting out of the way and letting people and the free market work things out for themselves.

    I read what you said in response to Orrin, about Barack Obama. It's very clear that you're projecting your vague desires onto him without any idea of how he can achieve them. You are typical of the Obama voters I think--you voted for style and good feelings rather than anything logical.

    You also say "I puzzled over how individual liberty is threatened by the notion of 'greater good.'” Orrin never said that, of course. However, your confusion comes from your misunderstanding of the term "greater good," even though you're the first one to bring it up. To be honest, I'm not sure what you mean by the term either. If I had to define the term, I'd say the "greater good" is to foster a society where everyone has an equal opportunity to pursue his or her life goals with the minimum of interference from others, either individuals or organizations. Along with this would be acknowledgement of individual responsibilities toward others in the society, most especially those dependent on you for their sustenance. Individual liberty isn't threatened by this at all, of course. But if by "greater good" you mean government protectionism and guarantees of equal outcomes to everyone, then it definitely contravenes individual liberty. Government's atempt to do this is what destroyed black family values in our inercities over the past 40-45 years. Of course from your previos posts, you seem to believe that family values are nasty too. You'll never convince us of that.

    YOu say "Better we should educate the young before they become parents." Nebulous terms again. Who's "we?" If you mean we as individuals, as voluntary associations like churches, charities, etc., I'll agree with you. IF you mean government, I'll oppose you forever.

  49. Dougloss,

    Good, now we’re talking. A little clean-up, then on to the main ideas.

    - I agree I was fuzzy on many terms, and that’s exactly what I’m trying to discourage in my participation here – so thanks for pointing that out and please continue to do so when I’m unclear.
    - The “successful society” term came from a conversation between Lionell Griffith and FreeRangeOyster on Nov. 5, further up the thread.
    - I gave myself away as a lefty at the top of my first entry when I announced my score on the Nolan test: 90% personal and 30% economic = a big fat liberal. That does not mean I am not open to change. And as I say you need to convert lefties if you hope to win national elections – it won’t be enough to merely recruit the young’uns.
    - Yes, there are lots of codes for racism, but that’s not what I was driving at. The phrase “personal liberty” is a fuzzy term to me. I’m not sure what it means to conservatives. Didn’t mean to be overly snide – I just need a definition.
    - You’re going to hate this, but I don’t have the time to track down everything I read about the CRA theory, so I just googled CRA and came up with a long Wikipedia article full of references supporting both sides of the argument. It’s wiki, go ahead and add to it if you know better. I figure the root cause of the problem had less to do with gov’t regulation than the profitability of subprime loans.
    - Apologies for the vague reference to 15 million Great Depression deaths – first, that’s a worldwide estimate – second, it comes from long-forgotten sources and should probably be ignored until I can resurrect a good one.
    - I’ll need more than your word that FDR caused more damage to the economy than repair. I think I’d need a lobotomy. But please cite your references. Certainly FDR’s solution caused the swing toward a governmental philosophy you can’t abide, but unemployment was around 20% when FDR took office and was significantly improved long before WWII started the big boom. And we got all those highways and architectural gems and collected folk songs out of it. Hey – got any songs you’d care to share? I hear they’ll be starting up a new infrastructure program to stave off further increases in unemployment next year – can folk songs be far behind?
    - You write, ‘"Food insecurity" is not starvation, now is it? In fact, it means next to nothing.’ Well, that’s a little harsh, isn’t it? Ever been insecure about where your next meal is coming from? Ever been down to your local community food bank? If you won’t be swayed by figures from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, how about the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs? Or is that just another one of those gov’t bureaucracies we’d be better off without? Here’s their take on homeless vets:

    Here’s a big idea to ponder: are you suggesting that poverty only exists in the minds of those who stand to be gainfully employed in dealing with it? Or that poverty may exist, but if government did not exist, poverty would be eradicated? I contend that poverty does (has and always will) exist and that the purpose of gov’t intervention is to alleviate suffering to some small degree. It will never be eradicated, and neither will government. Perhaps we can evolve to a point where each of us can choose where our tax dollars will go – I’ll fund the poor, you’ll fund defense. But for now, we’ve got a slush fund and a million lobbyists.

    I’ve got nothing against vouchers if privatized education can reliably produce better education for all. The fear, of course, is that each school will produce its own brand of truth, thus ending our competitiveness with the rest of the world’s educated who rely on expert opinion in the fields of history, science and technology. Each nation’s version of history is skewed, of course, but some teachers are better than others. The goal of public education is to recruit the best and brightest to teach a well-rounded program of subjects to every person regardless of personal circumstances. We’ve fallen way short. Here’s where Obama, as an educator, might be a boon. I know you don’t like his politics (though you continue to avoid specifics – just go to his website and choose a few things to dissect), but the guy is smart and committed to getting kids educated.

    You write: “health care is expensive (put health care funde in the hands of the consumers and let them purchase the health care they desire with their own money, which will foster competition and bring prices down. Nothing else will).” How should we be putting health care funds in the hands of poor/disabled people who need it most? Lose your job and you’ve lost your health care. I really do agree with making health care costs more competitive, but there are too many who cannot afford even the most competitively priced care. Millions.

    You write: “You are typical of the Obama voters I think--you voted for style and good feelings rather than anything logical.” You show an inclination to describe motives and characteristics of those you don’t understand very well. This makes it a little tougher to go back and forth on things. Here’s my take on Obama: yes, he’s got great style and produces profoundly good feelings, but my appreciation of his potential as a President is very logical. Do his policies match mine? We’re very much in sync (again, see his website for details). Is he well-educated? You betcha. Has he excelled in his academics? Very much so. Has he experienced life as an American in foreign countries? Why, yes he has. Does he have the respect of our military? About 50% of current members of our Armed Forces voted for him, and then there’s all those former generals and admirals who lined up behind him in Denver. And Colin Powell. Does he know anything about constitutional law? Just a bit. Would he reach out to experts I have regard for? Take a look at his economic advisers - don't they look like my kind of experts? Does he have intimate knowledge of what it is to be a minority in this country? Yup. Does he have a family life I admire? Yes, indeed. Does he have a sense of humor about himself? Uh-huh. Do I really think he wants to end political divisiveness? It took a while for me to truly believe this – I wanted it too badly to trust the feel-good message – but after some digging around I’ve come to believe he not only wants to draw from the largest pool of political talent, but that he has the skills to get those on the other side of the aisle to sit down at the table and deal with him. This more than anything inspires my vote for him.

    You write, “You also say ‘I puzzled over how individual liberty is threatened by the notion of “greater good.”' Orrin never said that, of course.” But Orrin did say that – I quoted him saying it further up the thread. I’d ask him how he defined “greater good” as I wasn’t the first to bring it up. But you go on to say, “If I had to define the term, I'd say the "greater good" is to foster a society where everyone has an equal opportunity to pursue his or her life goals with the minimum of interference from others, either individuals or organizations.” How would you define “interference”? Taxation? Anything else? Affirmative Action? What else? I’m lining up things I may or may not agree with you on.

    You go on to say, “Along with this would be acknowledgment of individual responsibilities toward others in the society, most especially those dependent on you for their sustenance. Individual liberty isn't threatened by this at all, of course. But if by "greater good" you mean government protectionism and guarantees of equal outcomes to everyone, then it definitely contravenes individual liberty. Government's atempt to do this is what destroyed black family values in our inercities over the past 40-45 years. Of course from your previos posts, you seem to believe that family values are nasty too. You'll never convince us of that.”

    I agree that welfare was extremely detrimental to inner city black family values. And impoverished white family values, too. The goal was to help single mothers keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, but it produced a culture of runaway fathers and divided homes. So every 40 years or so you’ve got to tweak the system til you get it right. Otherwise how can we live up to your first acknowledgment of individual responsibilities toward others in the society? It’s great to be able to take care of your own dependents, but an advanced society acts on the advantages of taking responsibility, in some part, for others who would otherwise drag us all to a lowest common denominator.

    Here’s my thing about family values: I was blessed to grow up with a tight family of six, my parents were great together and loved each other and us kids enormously. We had an ideal family unit. If all families could be as profoundly lucky as we were I would champion family values as the paragon of social units, too. But over the years I’ve rarely found families as tight as the one I grew up with. Turns out it’s not an applicable concept for many. And don’t get me started on the gay thing. Why those people can’t be allowed to make the most of what they have with regards to family is beyond me. The phrase “family values” was used by the religious right to beat up on families which did not mirror their own ideal. It was used to blame people for their own miseries, perhaps so that its boosters could avoid feeling responsible for those of another race or culture who could not measure up in some way. The fact is that some dads beat their wives and kids. The fact is that some mothers have substance abuse problems. While the Christian interpretation of “family values” is a lovely ideal for some, it should not be used as a litmus test for worthiness OR as the only permissible social structure for kids. We’d be forcing women to live with their abusers and kids to put up with addicts for parents, etc., etc. Until there’s a broader vision of what constitutes a viable social unit (one that improves itself and its surroundings as it develops) I’ll place my faith in educating people to be self-sufficient.

    Lastly (whew – are you still with me?), you write: “YOu say ‘Better we should educate the young before they become parents.’ Nebulous terms again. Who's "we?" Yes, very good, thanks, I was indeed referring to the public education version of “we”.

    “If you mean we as individuals, as voluntary associations like churches, charities, etc., I'll agree with you. IF you mean government, I'll oppose you forever.” Great – this is why I came to this website. Could you expand on exactly why government never, ever could do the job more effectively than voluntary associations? By the way, my voluntary association is called the United States Government because I’ve never found another organization with enough power and funding to get the really tough jobs done, but here’s where we part ways, I guess. I don’t think you should have to “belong” to the association (as a non-volunteer) if you don’t want to. But I want to know why you don’t want to.

    Here’s what I get out of my conversations with you – it appears to be a liberal’s role is to bring up the ghastly reality of human existence – and I’m sorry I have to play on this team, but somebody’s got to do it. Conservatives appear to want to avoid acknowledging the grimmer aspects of the human condition, but this stuff is impossible to escape entirely. If you’ve got real solutions to my concerns, please do let me know. Otherwise, I’ll just keep on voting for those who I believe can do some good.

  50. ~Paules says,


    There is no point in arguing with a leftist ideologue. Such arguments boil down to "government can solve the problem" vs. "government is the problem." You can point to a thousand public failures (public education, public housing, public buses, and public toilets) but that won't convince a true believer that public health care won't work. We need to send our message to the middle where elections are won and lost. And Morph, please don't come back with a list of public successes. I don't have the time to instruct you in the efficiencies of the free market versus public initiatives. If it's not self-evident that what government does best with our money is grow more government, I can't help you. If you think I'm fixed in my position and unmovable, you're right. I believe in limited government, as do my conservative colleagues. Period. End of story.

    What really bothers me about the election results is the loss of public virtue. On the one hand we have those who think government owes them something. That's the clear sign of a corrupted body politic. And on the other we have an ignorant populace that has bought into something that to a clear mind is nothing more than slick advertising. Who is the president elect? We don't know, and neither do his supporters. The warning signs are not good, but until the man actually starts making decisions, we won't know.

    Clearly, at least to my mind, we need to make the case that a self-reliant, responsible, and independent people is more desirable than a dependent population. I don't know how much more simple I can make it. Every decision we allow government to make for us, every dollar we send to Washington, and every prerogative that we surrender as individuals further erodes our liberties. We need to make the case that the only way we can lose our republic is by surrendering it. And we are perilously close to doing just that.

    Look across the Atlantic. The nation-states of Europe have surrendered sovereignty to an unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy. Europe has crossed the Rubicon. There is no mechanism in place to regain lost sovereignty. And it happened because the people drank a very powerful sedative: socialism. It has turned the entire population into somnabulists. But it's no less than a corrupted body politic deserves. Why is it so seldom said that those who would live off the hard work of others are the greedy ones? Only, I guess, because class warfare is such an easy game to play. Demagogues are skilled at playing on envy.

    The more I ruminate on the loss of public virtue, the more disturbed I am by current events. If we travel the road of socialism, we will prove indeed that we are the lesser sons of better men. I still think we have time to stop the trend, but just barely. I ask again, how do we restore public virtue?

  51. Hello, ~Paules,

    Ok, this will be my last post. You have no time for the curious few right now - fine. But I was not arguing and I never asked for argument. I asked questions and gave my point of view. I gave it my best shot. You couldn’t care less. [cue violins] So go ahead, wander the wilderness, scheming your subtle schemes, perfecting your secret handshakes, whatever, and when the next open mind comes your way I hope you won’t still be sunk into such a funk of demoralized self pity that you won’t take the time to educate.

    I conceded every helpful point that’s been made – you don’t like statism – great! either do I – and, by the way, what are the options for the poor as you see it? I expected “bootstraps!” or some such thing, but… nothing. I guess you have no solutions. None that you’d care to type out. Possibly it never occurred to you to care that there are people who for one reason or another cannot survive your game (whatever the hell it is).

    OF COURSE a self-reliant, responsible, and independent people is more desirable than a dependent population. Agreed! But without detailed explanation as to how that is possible with a population as varied as ours, this all sounds a hell of a lot more vague than my understanding of the true nature of the President Elect.

    You believe in limited government. Period? End of story? Still no “here’s why” that makes any sense to someone who loves libraries and national parks and the NEA [National Endowment for the Arts or the National Education Association – take your pick]. Am I illustrative of the greedy ones you mention? Do libraries live off the hard work of “others”? Whoops! Sorry – I must be so predictable. That looks to be the start of just the little list you asked me not to bother you with. Nevermind.

    A quick observation: to achieve your ends, your communication options may have to be reconsidered between now and the mid-terms. Your phraseology conjures up dimly understood concepts from generations past, fusty powdered wigs and epaulettes, survivors of the run up San Juan hill sloshing in their tin tubs regaling one another over shots of brandy, cigar smokers in top hats and tails muttering in club chairs about “filthy Reds” swarming city streets, great fun, but nothing relevant to anyone under the age of 40, and nothing tangible. Nothing tangible. Just a powerful sense of loss.

    You mourn a loss of virtue. Here’s a virtue: get out of the rut of linear thinking that leaves you snarling, “you’re either with us or against us,” and get past the idea that those who do not understand you are your enemies. Just explain yourselves.

    But, ok, maybe this is not a good forum for newbies. Or maybe it’s just too soon, too soon. Anyway, best of luck.

  52. Your point is well-taken, Paules. Jousting with Morph is a waste of time. We need to spend our time educating people on the virtues of self-reliance, not just as it relates to political conservatism but as a philosophy for life. I'm going to look into getting involved in one or another organization that counsels young people in the community. They need to hear an encouraging message about empowerment and self-reliance that they aren't currently getting.

    Oh, just one more response to Morph, then I'm through. Morph, if you think the US government is a voluntary association you're delusional. Go ahead and try to opt out of paying federal taxes, see where that gets you.

  53. To one and all but particularly to Morph, if you're still around. I have no love of the State; I am no libertarian but I lean in their direction. Here is a key to consider: the key to almost everything is the Constitution of the United States. I don't want to see state-run health care or even universal state-funded health care. There are a multitude of reasons not to do this at any level, but at the federal level lies the most powerful of all reasons: it is forbidden. The Constitution explicitly gives all power not specifically given to the national government or forbidden outright to the states to oversee. If the people of one of thee states of the Union want to fund their neighbors' health care, more power to them. That is between them and their state legislature. The national government was not given authority over that and may not have it. There is precedent for violating that - see the Department of Education - and we have seen what a mess it makes of things.

    When we talk about politics, we tend to focus on the national. That makes sense, since we are spread across the country, and most of us don't even know where anyone else is. But the keys to a lot of our problems are at a local and state level. You want to stamp out poverty? I will promise you, the solutions will not come from a centralized government office. They come from grassroots work at a local level. Block by block, city by city. It is utterly foolish to imagine that a central bureaucracy could effectively manage the widely ranging needs of such a diverse nation. That is why we have the states. They take care of themselves and their people domestically. The national government is there to help them coordinate with one another and to present a united face to the world at large. I know that hasn't been the case since Lincoln, but I don't care. I am idealistic enough to believe that we should follow the mandate of our charter - the system as it was created, and as it functions best. That dedicated, local work will not be effective or likely to occur until the national government gets its nose back where it belongs - in interstate commerce and national security.

    I'm sorry, Morph, that I was so tardy in explaining my solution to you... I'm a busy mollusc, and I haven't been standing by on the keyboard as I regularly am. I think I can safely speak for many if not all of us when I say that the reason we don't have a glib answer to the poverty question is because it varies widely from place to place. There are a great many factors, not least of which is helping people understand that they are better off if they can do for themselves. I live well below the official poverty line, Morph, as do all of my neighbors. I can take any half a dozen of us and find wildly different reasons and necessary solutions. I know what I need to do to get out of that state. Because I know them and the local circumstances, I can give a good shot at what kind of help or direction my neighbors need. There is not a shadow of a chance that a bureaucrat or Senator in Washington is going to have the right answer.

    Returning to my more general point - there are all kinds of things that can be done to improve our governments at local and state levels. There are all kinds of ideas to be experimented with by the states, to find what works best for them. But none of that is going to be possible with a national government that continues to exceed its Constitutional bounds in a multitude of ways. Our first step must be to put the national government back in its proper place. And the only way to do that is to find and support candidates who will act in the best interest of the nation over their own self-interest 100% of the time. We need men and women of unshakable principles. And we need to find a way to coordinate support for them. Two big challenges, and I think some of the very first steps. Oyster out.

  54. While I agree that Morph's thinking is a bit fuzzy, at least he appears to be thinking! It is refreshing to see a progressive engage the cognitive faculties of his brain, rather than relying on emotions alone, as so many on the Left prefer to do. I rather appreciate the perspective of his challenge, and must agree that if we cannot convince most of the moderates possessing a mind as open as he claims his to be, that individual Liberty and responsibility are the ideal; we will never cobble together a working majority for righting what is wrong with our Federal government.

    I do think that we should establish that as our limited goal. I don't have a burning need to change "society," only the obtrusive Federal government that is meddling in affairs that are none of its business. I truly live by the libertarian tag line:

    "I care not what others do with their lives, as long as they don't forcibly interfere in mine."

    Extending that, there are ample places in Flyover Country where a man can live a good life without meddlesome neighbors or obtrusive local taxes and "authorities." I live in such a place now, and believe it or not it is in CA. Why should I care how the odd folks who prefer to live in NYC or LA live theirs? They are free to organize their city in any manner they choose. They can tax the snot out of their own citizens to provide welfare for the poor downtrodden ghetto dwellers they choose to keep eternally trapped in victimhood, as long as they aren't permitted to empower the Feds to come out here and tax me for that purpose; because they are not my victims.

    It has been my experience that the average American really doesn't understand the political spectrum and its labels. Few have a clue what I mean when I say I am a libertarian. Fewer still understand federalism, economics, or the nature of money.

    Fairly or not, I have for over thirty years explained the essential difference between progressives, conservatives, and libertarians thus:

    A progressive is someone who desires complete personal liberty. They want government to stay the hell out of their private lives; but they are quite willing to empower government to use their guns to confiscate wealth from productive citizens, so they can redistribute it through their pet social experiments.

    A conservative is someone who desires complete economic liberty. They want government to stay the hell out of their pocketbooks; but they are quite willing to empower government to use their guns to force others to behave according to their preferred moral code.

    A libertarian is someone who desires complete individual liberty. They just want government to stay the hell out of their lives - period. They are unwilling to empower government to use their guns against non-violent citizens for any purpose.

    I find that when I use this explanation, together with the tag line mentioned above, as a predicate; I can convert most productive Americans (who are over 35 and not drawing a government paycheck), into a nominal libertarian in a single serious conversation. Or, at least close enough for a serious campaign to rein in the Federal government.

    Those coming from the Right, immediately leap to the drug issue, which is the deal killer for them with libertarianism. I am not a user, so I don't have a lot of passion about the issue; but when I explain that public behavior under such influence would still be regulated just like alcohol, that helps. So too, does the suggestion that legal sales could be heavily taxed, would eliminate the worst elements of the narco-trade from our streets, and save the public treasury from the ineffective yet exorbitant enforcement costs. Most can be persuaded that it would at least worth a try.

    Those coming from the Left, usually go to the social safety net, the need for which is axiomatic to their worldview. I simply point out that before progressives mucked it up with their social experiments, America had a fine social safety net consisting of churches and benevolent societies. I have a whole riff if necessary, on the selfishness of altruism, which both Marxism and Christianity are predicated upon it; only the former relies on coercion and the latter volunteer charity. I find it more effective, however, to point out my own native generosity and the selfish pleasure I derive from giving someone a hand up when they are down.

    My selfish nature demands that reward, which is why I give exclusively to local individuals and causes where I can see for myself the positive effect of my "good works." I only feel ripped off when my money is stolen and amalgamated in the maw of the massive Federal "entitlement" programs, with no positive feedback whatever regarding any good it might have done anyone I might have found worthy of the labor I expended earning it. I reckon I deserve the pleasure that the progressives deny me; and absent their meddling, I would have more to give to pleasing causes.

    Moreover, this progressive "entitlement" model denies the recipient of public assistance the pleasure of gratitude, and the inspiration to take the necessary steps to extract themselves from their condition, in order to be able to repay the kindness by helping someone else. This is the real tragedy of "entitlements" that trap unsuspecting folks in the cycle of poverty, which assures callous politicians of perpetual incumbency. The last thing the poverty pimps want is to actually solve the problem, for then they would be out of a job.

    If I get this far with someone, I find either side intrigued and open to exploring the notions of individual sovereignty, republic vs. democracy, and real money; concepts at least 90% have never even heard of, much less understand. But those are subjects for another time; this comment will turn into a BW length essay if I don't quit here. ◄Dave►

  55. Morph,


    I'm a Public Defender. All of my clients, and I have many, are legally "indigent". Virtually all of them are in financial straits not by unavoidable bad luck, but via a long sequence of horrible personal choices. Virtually all of them have cell phones, houses, clean water, a car, televisions, computers, reliable shelter, heat, a/c, food, etc., with plenty left over for alcohol and drugs.

    I personally lived in the crappiest trailer park in town where I grew up in South Dakota when I graduated from high school. Thank GOD I didn't have any liberals around to tell me I had an excuse for failure. Thank God.

    Listen to yourself when you talk about how poor people just can't make it without your (or the people you vote for's) beneficence. How dare you deny them their humanity! They are not children or animals to be "taken care of," they are people no less and no more than you and I!!!

    The way to build a self reliant population is to a) reinforce cultural mores that makes taking public assistance a thing to abhor, and b) allow people who make bad decisions to enjoy the fruits of those bad decisions.

    Under FDR, unemployment didn't fall below 20% until 1936. In 1938, when he was able to appoint enough Supreme Court Justices to stop the New Deal blockage, it spiked back up to 19%. It was at 14.6% in 1940 - almost twice as high as it was during the first year of the Great Depression. And don't forget that Hoover's response to the '29 crash was Big Government Intervention.

    More on Poverty in America.

  56. Here's an article from the Jewish Daily Forward that is quite apropos to this discussion:

    For Conservatives, Exile and Reformation

  57. I appreciated the article, Doug. I hope this discussion has not completely died.

    My friend Troy has just posted a serious proposal that it is time for us to consider secession as an option for saving at least part of America from the Marxists. I find it not only serious, but agreeable. I am sure he would appreciate some of the rational mind-power lurking hereabouts critiquing it. ◄Dave►

  58. Consider the source(s), but here is a NY Times piece from a London Guardian article discussing the British conservatives experiences trying to come back from a similar shellacking by the charismatic Tony Blair. ◄Dave►


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