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December 29, 2006

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Yawn. So Bush finally got the guy who tried to kill his daddy. Big deal.

All this was at the cost of almost 3K American lives and tens of thousands of injured Americans--to date, of course. And not to be forgotten--although more than a few Americans would prefer to do--at the cost of hundreds of thousands of other Iraqis, of course.

I don't think it was worth the cost either (in either American or Iraqi lives, I hasten to add - don't want to get accused of hating Canadians) but I'm not yawning and neither are the Iraqi people. For the majority of them, this is long-delayed justice.

Bizarro World succumbs to it's true nature, using the occasion to attack their domestic rivals.

I will quote attaturk from Eschaton in full:

"While Bush waits for special DVD of what 700,000 lives and half-a-trillion dollars can get you nowadays. He must really love Iran."

A most foul slur, dude. What the President does in the privacy of the Oval Office while engaging in his private viewing of the Saddam hanging is like really private. We will not descend to Ken Starr levels.

And anyway, we don't even know there is such a DVD. You need to substantiate that.

We do know that Bush had a private personal viewing of the abu Ghraib material, with possibly only a trusted colleague or close personal friend to share the experience.

So I ask:does anybody know if Bush got regular videos of Texas executions while Governor? He may consider such painful watching, with multiple replays, an important part of his duty as the Justicer.

Fifty-six days from sentence to execution. It's like the model for the GOP's conception of capital punishment.

Boy, I'd hate to be the jizz-mopper at Redstate HQ tonight.

See a sarcastic visual of George Bush playing a round of “Hangman”…here:

www.thoughttheater.com

the coverage really is strange. it's non-stop, breathless and repetetive. it seems like it's more than they gave Ford's death.

personally, i'm not a big fan of the death penalty. and though Saddam is surely one of the few who, without question, has proved he cared less about taking human life than anyone else cares about taking his, i can't bring myself to high-five anyone - the RedState gang are deranged. and i'm going to avoid watching the hanging video, when it eventually shows up on the blogs because, that sh!t squicks me.

so, good for us for getting him out of the killing business. but, frankly, that feat was accomplished years ago. the execution seems superflous.

The timing seems weird to me. From the Bush point of view, isn't the Friday before a holiday weekend a bad time for a media event? Also in Iraq it's Eid--is that weird or what to have a well-publicized execution on a religious holiday?

Good riddance. But it's such a pointless footnote in light of everything else.

I didn't expect to be psyched--it will surprise no one that I'm anti-death penalty--but I didn't expect to be actively depressed either.

My firm is co-counsel in a case involving someone sentenced to be hanged in Iraq, which cannot be helping things.

But even leaving that aside....I guess it's just the futility. The only thing that makes sentencing murderers to death any better to me than sentencing rapists to be raped is that capital punishment, unlike rape or torture, incapacitates as well as causing pain for the sake of causing pain. The murderer can do his victims no more harm--death guarantees that in a way that's more certain than prison, particularly in politically unstable countries. But in this case, there are so many more immediate dangers that it just seems so utterly futile. This is what we have to offer Iraqis: "Sure, our war has left you in far more danger of being murdered, tortured, and brutalized than you were before, and it will only get worse from here--but we just arranged for a bad man to be painfully strangled to death for you! Go us."

And the trial was a depressing botch. I suppose it was never going to be good in the current situation but did it have to be this bad? And why the hurry to do it before the trial on Anfal?

Bin Ladden must be proud.

Hanging is actually supposed to be as humane as the guillotine. With the right amount of slack in the rope, the neck should be snapped and death nearly instantaneous.

(Too little slack leads to strangulation, too much can be ... messy and distresses the onlookers. This from "The Sunday Hangman" by James McClure.)

Saddam really should have been handed over to an international court, and in any event should not have been offered up as a ritual sacrifice on the eve of Eid al-Adha. Juan Cole has more in Salon.

raj For the majority of them, this is long-delayed justice.

Revenge, not justice. It's not as if he were tried for or convicted of his worst crimes.

Jes reminds me of what I thought when I first heard this was going to happen: weren't they in the midst of another trial? And weren't there going to be a series of trials, more or less showing that every community was a victim of SH?

I suppose, though, that this could be a sign that the 'new way forward' is going to include both an announcement that the mission has been accomplished, and a de-emphasis on de-Baathification.

The one thing that opponents of the Administration have to keep in mind is that the President will not do anything to de-escalate unless and until he can find a way to spin it as victory. If our joining him in that delusion is the price of getting out of Iraq, I'm prepared for some limited suspension of disbelief.

Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray! We won the war! Victory is ours.


Can we go home now?

Don't get me started on Eid al-Adha either (which celebrates Abraham's willingness to kill his son on God's orders--in the Muslim's version it's Ishmael, in the Christian and Jewish, Isaac.) "It proves that some men will follow any order no matter how asinine as long as it comes from a resonant, well-modulated voice."

"...find a way to spin it as victory. If our joining him in that delusion is the price of getting out of Iraq, I'm prepared for some limited suspension of disbelief."

Strikes me as a dangerous precedent, on multiple grounds.

More on the timing.

The probable reason for trying and executing Saddam for that one massacre is that it avoids the larger crimes. The ones that occured when the US was supporting Saddam - IIRC, up to and including chemical technology. Not 'chemical warfare technology', of course, just 'chemical technology'.

I know, bob. The problem, of course, is that unless he/they/we can find a way for the boy-king to save face, more members of the armed forces will get killed or wounded.

I'm on record saying that his pride isn't worth the life of a single soldier.

Neither is mine.

Hanging is actually supposed to be as humane as the guillotine.

As a grisly bit of trivia, there is some evidence that the severed head of a guillotine victim may retain some level of consciousness for up to 30 seconds after being separated from the body. 30 seconds goes by pretty fast, but still.

I'm not sure there are any humane ways to kill someone. Even natural death can be grueling. Bodies don't want to die.

Thanks -

Bodies don't want to die.

Posted by: russell | December 30, 2006 at 12:58 PM

Unless it is for democracy and WMD.

So, what happens to all the other charges for all the other massacres? Are there any defendants left to be tried on those? Any investigations yet to be done?

So, what happens to all the other charges for all the other massacres?

they must be put aside. it's time for the country to heal.

Well, the army of death squads should help the "healing."

I don't know what to make of the Saddam sculpture at Puri, except to say that the place is wonderfully scenic, and because of the soft stone along the shore, has some of the most supple Hindu sculpture available.

I think the local craftsman have sculpted just about everything there at one time or another. I wouldn't be surprised to come upon a Bob's Big Boy sculpted from the local stone, probably in his manifestation as me suffering from dysentery, bent over from severe intestinal discomfort.

Russell:

"As a grisly bit of trivia, there is some evidence that the severed head of a guillotine victim may retain some level of consciousness for up to 30 seconds ..."

I've wondered about this. Were I to make a film about the life and death of Marie Antoinette, I would end it with the credits running, and the camera from her point of view, there in the basket, and 30 seconds or so of her overvoice in a stream of consciousness monologue.

Jim Henly makes a great point (which I will let you read for yourself)

Not that it matters, but I mistook Puri for Mahabalipuram, the latter of which is far south on the eastern coast of India.

Both are scenic with great sculpture. I had dysentery in both places, which causes a type of hysteria in its more severe forms.
I was having a flashback. ;)

s/Henly/Henley/g

There was a Straight Dope column on consciousness after decapitation.

ghoulish, pathetic, barbaric

I know that describes Hussein perfectly, and perhaps there's a certain poetic justice in his death being covered by the world's media in like fashion, but the whole human race just dropped a big notch in my esteem today.

Those words equally describe the keyboard pundits with no personal connection to the dictator or his deeds who still feel this is cause for celebration. Whether his death is deserved or not, anyone who's "glad" or "happy" or otherwise celebratory about this is so beyond pathetic it churns like bile in my soul to contemplate what motivates such misplaced rejoicing. Is it empathy with Hussein's victims (and if so, where's evidence of that)? Or simply a bloodlust, from the safety of their homes of course, that tantilizes their sicker selves into drooling over this far-too-costly outcome?

I need to find a dog or cat to feed and pet.

This has got me more teed off than I would have thought.

Saddam gets no sympathy from me. Contemplating deaths like his that make me wish I believed in the afterlife. No matter what you do Saddam in a hypothetical John Thullen's Garage, there can be no earthly justice for his victims.

I'm no fan of the death penalty, mostly on the grounds that the state doesn't have the right to kill it's citizens, and it amazes me that so many in the US support it. Here in NZ you can always get about 50% or so support for it in polls, but that's polls for you. No politician has been daft enough to run on a policy of killing Kiwis.

I seem to remember that the Iraqi president was not going to sign the death warrant untill after the holidays, was I wrong about that or is bureaucracy just too much of a bitch in the shiny new democracy between the rivers?

I'm guessing you all have seen the photo's. I supose uniforms were too much to ask for. Was it the Iraqi govt. that excecuted Saddam or did the US just had him over to a few of those volunteers we were hearing so much about? Strange fruit.

It was revenge all right. The Shiites killed him on the Sunni Eid.
Kinda like if the Baptists strung up the Pope on All Saints Day.

CharleyCarp, I wish I could see this as Bush looking for a spinnable victory moment, however he's told us too many times that leaving is losing. I think he means it. 'Declare victory and leave' is a contradiction to him. Listen to what he says "Many difficult choices and further sacrifices lie ahead. Yet the safety and security of the American people require that we not relent in ensuring that Iraq's young democracy continues to progress." Yeeha.


Sorry abouy all the typo's. I'm not particularly calm.

Like Ed_, (who I wish would comment more, and I hope is doing well), I should go and pet my pets.

Bronwen Maddox of the (Rupert Murdoch) Times:

The rapid confirmation of the death sentence against Saddam Hussein is a long step backwards for Iraq. It is a brutal, if inevitable, display of victor’s justice that offends the principles that the US said it sought to uphold in toppling Iraq’s dictator. It will deepen the rifts between Shias and Sunnis, perhaps already fatal to Iraq’s unity.

The loud welcome that the US gave yesterday to the Iraqi court’s ruling was ugly. It sounded like an attempt to extract some proof of success, for want of any other. But if Iraq achieves stability, it may well now be under a Shia “strongman”, not quite the contrast to Saddam that the US intended.

[..]

By announcing the sentence after this first trial on the killings at Dujail, the court decided that other charges were redundant. Yet those might have better established that the chain of command ran all the way to Saddam. They would also have supplied a longer record of Saddam’s atrocities, part of any value of such a trial.

[...]

The Iraqi Government should have spared Saddam the death penalty. When it did not, Mr Blair should have condemned it: first, on principle, for adding to the brutality of a country already awash in blood; and secondly, on the pragmatic grounds that it will inflame Iraq’s sectarian wars even further.

So, what happens to all the other charges for all the other massacres? Are there any defendants left to be tried on those? Any investigations yet to be done?

I hope that the saddam trial blog will continue to cover at least the Anfal trial.

Trevino focuses on what's most important: bashing the left (but not The Left™.)

Kinda like if the Baptists strung up the Pope on All Saints Day.
Except that Christians don't mark All Saints Day by making sacrifices, whereas as Muslims do celebrate Eid al-Adha that way. So it seems even more objectionable than your analogy.

And no, I hadn't seen the photos, but I've taken a quick look at the early ones now and agree that it would have been better to have the executioners dressed in some way that made them look less like central-casting terrorists or bank robbers. Ski masks!?

... more objectionable than your analogy suggests, that is.

I will way what I do object to: I object to rumors that just before the execution his masked executioners were chanting the name of al-Sadr. I'm not sure what more is needed to give the appearance of a kangaroo court. Not what we needed.

Chanting to name of al-Sadr: hope they repeat that on Fox news.

re: Ara's 9:58pm - The NY Times:

The room was quiet as everyone began to pray, including Mr. Hussein. “Peace be upon Mohammed and his holy family.”

Two guards added, “Supporting his son Moktada, Moktada, Moktada.”

Mr. Hussein seemed a bit stunned, swinging his head in their direction.

They were talking about Moktada al-Sadr, the firebrand cleric whose militia is now committing some of the worst violence in the sectarian fighting; he is the son of a revered Shiite cleric, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, whom many believe Mr. Hussein ordered murdered.

“Moktada?” he spat out, mixing sarcasm and disbelief.

Is there really much from Trevino that does not reduce to, "You aren't clapping loud enough?" (Or, alternatively, "Methinks thou clap'st not loudly enough, peasant?")

"The timing seems weird to me. From the Bush point of view, isn't the Friday before a holiday weekend a bad time for a media event?"

Maybe it isn't all about Bush all the time.

Is there really much from Trevino that does not reduce to, "You aren't clapping loud enough?"

No.

for the life of me, i do not understand where his reputation comes from. he's the hackiest hack in the box.

for the life of me, i do not understand where his reputation comes from.

What reputation? He used to be reasonably well-respected across the board, but it's been a couple of years (at the very latest, since he helped found RedState) since that's been true. These days, the only people I see linking favorably to him are conservatives/right-wingers, a lot of whom to seem to (*shudder*) like his writing style.

You know, I could mount a pretty good defence of Trevino/Tacitus, but I'm not in the mood at the moment .. maybe some other day.

The last sentence in Matt Bastard's link, by Trevino, is this:

"They (KOS, the Left, whatever) think it a function of their power of perspicacity; but it is nothing more than the very thing that drove the dead man himself; the marriage of persistant paranoia and enduring hate."

Well, let's get a grip!

I remember, several years ago on the old Tacitus site, Trevino himself self-effacingly telling the story of his infatuation with Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" when he was very young (and later rejecting its simple remedies), and if I remember properly, going into his mother's kitchen after reading that mess and earnestly explaining to his mother that she should immediately stop paying her taxes because to not do so would violate some absolute Rand had laid down.

I imagine (and Trevino understood his mother's understanding) his mother, her hands in suds at the sink, biting her bottom lip for the sheer appreciation of the earnestness of this kid, that he would take Rand's wooden words so earnestly and beseech her to practice, now, this alabaster, unblemished ideology, and turning and dropping to her knees before him and gripping his hands and explaining Josh (maybe she called him Tacitus, and therein lies the problem), kiddo, the world is not that cut and dried and is a funny, confusing, confounding place and you just can't go ahead and hope the world is going to live up to your image, sweety.

Which is what I want to do when he compares the Left in America (a sorry motley group in its own right) to Saddam Hussein, as he has in that last sentence.

Compared to Trevino, I'm an inarticulate oaf,
but for crying out loud, take it from a guy who has made a lifestyle out of immature behavior, and grow the eff up!


Were I to make a film about the life and death of Marie Antoinette, I would end it with the credits running, and the camera from her point of view, there in the basket, and 30 seconds or so of her overvoice in a stream of consciousness monologue.

Um, *don't*, okay? Eeeew.

I mean, it would be better than the Coppola movie, but still.

"They (KOS, the Left, whatever) think it a function of their power of perspicacity; but it is nothing more than the very thing that drove the dead man himself; the marriage of persistant paranoia and enduring hate."

And then they picked a peck of pickled peppers?

At some point, warmongering right-wingers (and the “pragmatic libertarians” who love to fear with them) are going to have to answer a few questions.

One being:

Why did they support an American politician who protected Bin Laden and his Saudi and Pakistani backers?

Compared to Trevino, I'm an inarticulate oaf

Whatever you are compared to Trevino, it's certainly not an inarticulate oaf.

"The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."

---George Bush

Unless, of course, they are Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

Whatever you are compared to Trevino, it's certainly not an inarticulate oaf

Um, like, yeah.

If your definition of "writing" includes "successfully conveying ideas supported by evidence" then Trevino is not and has never been a good writer.

Digby moans....
Josh Marshall whines...
Matthew Yglesias mourns....

That's pretty much the extent of his argument. A blogger turned paid propagandist who is only successful at conveying impotent rage. Which, I might add, doesn't do much to make one sympathetic to his cause. I suppose his mandate is to keep the faithful in high frenzy. A terrible writer turned terrible propagandist.

Compared to Trevino, I'm an inarticulate oaf

Josh Trevino is not articulate. His writing is ponderous, pretentious and labored. I always have to read him a couple of time to understand what his actual point is. He's a show-off.

Once upon a time, he had thoughtful and interesting things to say. Nowadays, it all seems to boil down to "The Christian West Must Prevail", capitals included.

In it's everyday form, that sentiment is blustering, chauvinist folly. In more extreme forms, it's fascism. I'm not sure anymore exactly where on that continuum Trevino falls.

We are definitely facing some serious problems, but all folks like Trevino bring to the table are arguments for a generation of global war. It's stupid, and unnecessary.

I can't take him, or folks like him, seriously anymore. We need better, smarter, more thoughtful voices, whose desire is to solve problems, not make them worse.

Thanks -

but all folks like Trevino bring to the table are arguments for a generation of global war

yup. they so want a WWII of their own. too much History Channel.

Josh doesn't want a WWII of his own. He wants a Cold War of his own. He suffers from having come of age during what he perceives as Reagan's triumph and, despite being quite an astute student of history, can't seem to dissassociate himself from the desire to see it all happen "one more time" in his lifetime long enough to appreciate history doesn't actually repeat itself in quite as much exacting detail as all that.

Or so I'd say I believe under oath

Tacitus' prose demonstrates a bunch of points in George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language", and offers no surprises to anyone who's read that essay.

While I freely admit I'm not a sympathetic reader, it seems like conservative writing in general has split into two camps: there's the assault of vulgarity, piling on the attacks and abuse, and there's overwritten emotionally stunted rationalizations for unrestrained power. Damn little in between. And the treatment by the right of those who recover what I think of as normal human affect is pretty harsh.

Mattbastard:

I remember reding in a profile of Murdoch by Ken Auletta several years ago in The New Yorker that Murdoch opposed capital punishment.

Regarding Mr. Trevino, he really seemed to go around the bend IMHO around the time of the establishment of Red State. He's like H. L. Mencken with the vocabulary and none of the actual wit.

Trevino, and a lot of other righties, lost it when the war didn't go as they predicted. Rather than re-evaluate their premises, which would have meant handling cognitive dissonance of epic proportions, they chose FantasyLand.

After that, it's all vector sums: a divergence that seems trivial in the beginning, but has expanded in orders of magnitude since.

What good have conservatives ever been to our society? Seriously. Pick a period of American history and think about the compelling issues of the day, the real problems which needed to be solved, the people who offered constructive ideas, and those that didn't. It's always the conservatives who preseverated on issues that turned out, in the long run, to be of less importance while interfering with to solve real problems. Conservatism isn't a political philosophy: it's a habit of mind, the habit of viewing political life from the stand point of fearful selfishness. The conserrvatives of today are just as fearful and selfish as the nativists of the nineteenth centry, the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age, the defenders of state's rights in the early eighteen hundreds and the late twentieth century, and the the Red Scare proponents. And now, faced with global warming, conservatives carp, bicker and obstruct any actions to mitigate the harm we are doing to our planet, while promoting unnecessary war. They have never been right about anything that matters, have never offered a solution to a real problem, and their ideas (as a decade of republican rule demonstrates) don't work in the real world.

I left the word "efforts" out of a sentence.

He's like H. L. Mencken with the vocabulary and none of the actual wit.

Posted by: Randy Paul | December 31, 2006 at 08:46 PM

BINGO!!!

He has some wonderful prose...his wit will get better...the war has sapped his will to be witty.

their ideas (as a decade of republican rule demonstrates) don't work in the real world.

Unfortunately, it could be said that a fair number of liberal ideas haven't worked either. As a grossly simplified example, conservatives generally assumed that advocates of the New Deal and the War on Poverty believed that if we simply provided the poor with more money we would also fix their other "undesirable" behaviors (like kids out of wedlock, crime, little interest in school, drug and alcohol abuse, etc.). The lack of material things has largely been fixed, but still we have an underclass. And many conservatives remain convinced that giving money to the poor will never lead to them living a better life, while adhering to religiously-based moral teachings would. I find it hard to come up with a convincing argument proving them wrong.

"What good have conservatives ever been to our society? Seriously. Pick a period of American history and think about the compelling issues of the day, the real problems which needed to be solved, the people who offered constructive ideas, and those that didn't. It's always the conservatives who preseverated on issues that turned out, in the long run, to be of less importance while interfering with to solve real problems."

If you define it as the wrong side of any historical argument, of course you are going to think that. At that point it is tautological. But resisting people who want to 'solve real problems' but go about it improperly is an important function. See resisting Nazism and Communism.

I have a favorite formulation about how some conservatives losing it in the face of the failure of the Magical War, from 'http://pithandsubstance.blogspot.com/2006/12/hindsight.html>Pithlord':

Two things stand out in particular:

1. Everybody in the whole world (except the Anglophone centre and right) predicted disaster, more-or-less of the kind that occurred. Hippies did. Gaullists did. Andean peasants, Buchananite reactionaries, John Paul II, Al Gore, the career US military, pulp novelists, realist IR professors and pissy arts students all saw this one coming. I know it's kind of embarrassing for the English-speaking right to admit that they didn't have the foreign policy chops of the Berkeley Women Studies' department, but them's the facts.

2. When one argued with Anglophone righties back in the day, one could almost see them twitch with anticipation of being proven right against all of the persons mentioned in point #1 above. Their narratives of Churchill and Reagan were not really attempts to understand the present in light of the past, but the sweet anticipation of being a vindicated minority (albeit one in possession of the world's only military superpower). If Afghanistan's #1 problem right now was a sense of bourgeois ennui, I can't imagine them taking well to talk of "hindsight being 20/20." No, they would demand nothing less than acknowlegment that History had proven them right.


And many conservatives remain convinced that giving money to the poor will never lead to them living a better life, while adhering to religiously-based moral teachings would.

From my conversations with conservatives, this seems slightly off. They seem convinced that government giving money to the poor will never lead to them living a better life. Most would say that private charity is fine.

I find it hard to come up with a convincing argument proving them wrong.

Let me help you out.

Giving money to poor people helps them eat, heat their homes, pay for medical care, and buy clothes. In virtually all cases, these things mean a better life.

Thanks -

I'll add this to Russell's of 3:19 (with which I agree) --

conservatives generally assumed that advocates of the New Deal and the War on Poverty believed that if we simply provided the poor with more money we would also fix their other "undesirable" behaviors (like kids out of wedlock, crime, little interest in school, drug and alcohol abuse, etc.).

Such conservatives are skipping over a whole lot of what the ND and WOP were about and how they were supposed to work. It wasn't just cutting checks.

"Such conservatives are skipping over a whole lot of what the ND and WOP were about and how they were supposed to work."

Ahem. ;)

Sebastian: But resisting people who want to 'solve real problems' but go about it improperly is an important function.

Yeah. Which is why liberals need to resist the well-meaning conservatives who genuinely think that denying people on a low income health care, shelter, food, and education is the right way to resolve poverty. Or that attacking democratic government, or women's rights, or supporting terrorism in another country is the right way to oppose Communism.

See resisting Nazism

Godwin's law. It's not just for Christmas.

As a matter of history, of course, American conservatism as a political force did not resist Hitler until after Pearl Harbor, and the Republicans spent much of the war years investigating the war's conduct in a level of detail and degree of hostility that they absolutely wouldn't tolerate about any of hteir own endeavors, then or later. Furthermore, the conservative conduct of the struggle against Communism frequently included opposition to the one thing that seems to have tipped the balance in many Soviet-governed lands, the free movement of goods and ideas capable of rousing popular dissatisfaction to the point where the people take action. And, of course, from Philby to Pollard it's included the coddling of traitors at high level, a feature repeated in the post-communist era with people like Chalabi.

Nor has American conservatism learned much from experience. The language of conservative opposition to comprehensive health care hasn't really improved in a century, for example. It's gone from "It couldn't work" to "some distinctive feature of American society lets us ignore everyone else's experience", pretty much. Likewise on many other issues.

Finally, American conservativism in practice doesn't believe that the morality of the rich matters. The poor must always be scrutinied and every scrap of their tendency to greed, sloth, and the like, must be purged. But where are the efforts to deny best trading terms to businesses whose boards are reliably dishonest in their reckonings and projections? Why does the IRS get directed to put so much more effort into auditing those at the bottom than the top? When was the last time a conservative magazine ran a scathing analysis of the sexual immoralities of the rich and then backed it up by coming back to the subject again and again? Or of heirs who refuses to do an honest day's work? It's as though - exactly as though - there is no personal sin when you're rich, only when you're poor.

(Yes, there are jabs at the nouveau rich. But not at the vices of the established rich, nor of the prominent subsidizers of the movement. Immorality is a reason to withhold aid from the poor, but not to refuse donations from the rich, apparently.)

As I've said before and will again, American conservativism used to perform a very valuable service in pushing for a scrupulous reckoning of means. But it gave that up thirty years ago.

Still ignoring the Democrat's corruption:

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) has "accepted responsibility" for possibly violating House rules by requiring his official staff to perform campaign-related work, according to a statement quietly released by the House ethics committee late Friday evening.

There is nothing wrong with feeling sympathy not for "Saddam Hussein" the Western product and Iraqi dictator, but for the defenseless 69 year old man who was "hung by the neck until dead."

The last person executed by hanging in a Southwestern state was an over-weight female murderer whose noose wasn't tied correctly so it did not break her neck as intended, but instead she flopped around at the end of the rope as she slowly choked to death. Witnesses believed that the execution was as criminal as the crime for which she was executed.

Hanging the 69 year old man was no less barbaric than the act for which he was executed.

I have an uncomfortable feeling about gloating over the death of any person, and about the law being used to kill a man who would have had an interesting perspective of the years when Rumsfeld, Cheney and Reagan were his facilitators. The enablers of some of Saddam Hussein's atrocities were able to silence him with a kangaroo court that ignored a defendant’s right to a fair trial. In a sense Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld just got away with murder by proxy. It reminds me of another crime that may have been by proxy.

bril,

Violating House rules is not the same as breaking the law. How is this "corruption" being ignored considering that the committee investigated it and made it public?

Bipartisanship?

From Alternet, the “The top 11” (outrageous right wing statements of 2006) “(in chronological order):”

The following are a few samples.

"William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights: "Well, look, there are people in Hollywood, not all of them, but there are some people who are nothing more than harlots. They will do anything for the buck. They wouldn't care. If you asked them to sodomize their own mother in a movie, they would do so, and they would do it with a smile on their face." [2/9/06]"

There are some presidents of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights who are nothing more than harlots.

"Fox News host John Gibson: "Do your duty. Make more babies. That's a lesson drawn out of two interesting stories over the last couple of days. First, a story yesterday that half of the kids in this country under five years old are minorities. By far, the greatest numbers are Hispanic. You know what that means? Twenty-five years and the majority of the population is Hispanic. Why is that? Well, Hispanics are having more kids than others. Notably, the ones Hispanics call 'gabachos' -- white people -- are having fewer." [5/11/06]"

Whether the statistics are true or not, the way that Gibson presents them is racist.

"Nationally syndicated radio host Michael Savage: "That's why the department store dummy named Wolf Blitzer, a Jew who was born in Israel, will do the astonishing act of being the type that would stick Jewish children into a gas chamber to stay alive another day. He's probably the most despicable man in the media next to Larry King, who takes a close runner-up by the hair of a nose. The two of them together look like the type that would have pushed Jewish children into the oven to stay alive one more day to entertain the Nazis." [8/7/06]"

Is the criticism above that Wolf and Larry are not right wing enough? Imagine my surprise, because I think that both of them are sycophants or possibly “harlots.” for CNN. In addition there is a suggestion of racism expressed, of course. This appears to be a typical attitude of the right wing mouth pieces.

"Coulter on Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., an African-American: "Congresswoman Maxine Waters had parachuted into Connecticut earlier in the week to campaign against [Sen. Joseph I.] Lieberman because he once expressed reservations about affirmative action, without which she would not have a job that didn't involve wearing a paper hat. Waters also considers Joe 'soft' on the issue of the CIA inventing crack cocaine and AIDS to kill all the black people in America." [8/9/06]"

Coulter is a proud racist. Somebody or a few people are pumping her little blonde head full of nonsense that it is less than a classic example of cretinism, to express herself in such a manner.

"Coulter on Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I.: "They Shot the Wrong Lincoln." [8/30/06]"

This is actually funny, but continues to reflect the same bitter and twisted view of other people and our world that the right wing in the U.S. harbors.

"CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck to Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn.: "OK. No offense, and I know Muslims. I like Muslims. … With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying, 'Let's cut and run.' And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.'" [11/14/06]"

…more racist remarks

"Right-wing pundit Debbie Schlussel on Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.: So, even if he identifies strongly as a Christian … is a man who Muslims think is a Muslim, who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father, and who is now moving in the direction of his father's heritage, a man we want as president when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?" [12/18/06]"

…and yet, another appeal to racism.

There are also several Honorable mentions following the above list for disgusting right wing media talk.

The six year winner, I believe, was “Mission Accomplished” after the first battle had been won, but the war had just begun. #%@& them!

Bipartisanship? #%@& them!

Of course, the republicans want bipartisanship, they certainly do not want to be treated the way that they treated the Democratic Party and its supporters over the past ten years. #%@& them!

The republicans are smart enough to not say what they and some of their constituency would be heard saying if they came out of their fascist closet, so they let the media’s right wing whack-jobs say what they would like to say if they had integrity and were not cowards who hide behind a cheap façade of civility and tolerance, “putting make-up on a pig’s ass,” that no one but a fool believes. #%@& them!

The very first act that the republicans committed after stealing the presidency in 2000 was to slander the members of the outgoing democratic administration of having stolen and vandalized government property. #%@& them!

First, I'm hardly a conservative myself, there's been too many times when classic conservative ideology produces bad results. But then, if one is honest, there's too many times when liberal classic ideology also produces bad results. Russell, I agree with your comment about government vs. private charity, I simply wasn't thinking of private charity when I wrote that.

Giving money to poor people helps them eat, heat their homes, pay for medical care, and buy clothes. In virtually all cases, these things mean a better life.

Certainly, and if one looks at the numbers comparing, say, 1900 with 2000, the increase in material goods, especially among the poor, has increased dramatically, even in a relative sense. But has that led to improvements in things like education, crime, drug abuse, broken families and so on? A fair number of liberals in the ND etc thought that it would; that the poor were really just middle-class without money. The whole premise of these programs was that, once helped, the poor could stay out of poverty and become productive citizens. That failure, perhaps more than any other, has given strength to conservatives' beliefs about the importance of religion and authority in maintaining a civil society, and maybe provides some clues why so many Americans seem so resistant to democrats.

Such conservatives are skipping over a whole lot of what the ND and WOP were about and how they were supposed to work. It wasn't just cutting checks.

I would certainly agree about the skipping part. But they would say that the whole effort was doomed, no matter how much effort was put into it. I remember one of Milton Friedman's programs where a bureaucrat stated that his program could work if only he had more money. Friedman's response was that every bureaucrat would say the same thing.

There might be a rough analogy here with the conservatives' pursuit of a military solution for Iraq.

Friedman's response was that every bureaucrat would say the same thing.

Sure. But that doesn't mean the bureaucrat was wrong. The question raised in your comment is how the additional money would be used. If it's just checks to poor people, I agree that benefits will be short-term.

It's all very well to pronounce either the ND or the WOP as failures, and fair by some measures. This is a long long way from saying that the results obtained were less favorable than would have been had by doing nothing.

WRT Iraq, I'll admit that I have the same doubts about the efficacy of a full Powell Doctrine assault in 2003 that were expressed by President GHWB in his book on the prior Gulf War. Nonetheless, that doesn't mean that it couldn't have been done competently, with a large enough force and committment. We'll never know what 500,000 soldiers could have accomplished in the spring/summer of 2003.

So, wait a minute: According to Sebastian, the ideas of liberalism are so bad for human society that, even absent any actual ideas or solutions of their own, it's as important for conservatives to resist them as it was for people to resist the Nazis? And, um, this is going to stand unchallenged?

Just to flank my earlier comment: American liberalism also has some big huge failures, both in general thought and policy. It's just that American liberalism also has some big huge successes, short- and long-term, and is much more visibly interested in learning from experience. It could use a much heftier infusion from its left wing, but that beats being the wing's captive.

But has that led to improvements in things like education, crime, drug abuse, broken families and so on? A fair number of liberals in the ND etc thought that it would; that the poor were really just middle-class without money. The whole premise of these programs was that, once helped, the poor could stay out of poverty and become productive citizens.

Hey cw -

Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

If you're talking 60's era Great Society programs, I think the goodness of the outcomes is debatable.

If you're talking New Deal, the answer is, quite simply, yes. Yes, New Deal programs led to improvements in things like education, crime, drug abuse, broken families and so on.

In my family, every member of the generation or two before me was poor. In many cases, very poor. I won't bore you with the details, but many of them were materially helped by New Deal programs. In every single case, once helped they stayed out of poverty and became productive citizens. No exceptions.

It's almost impossible for people now to imagine the kind of hardship that plain old average folks lived with as a matter of course in the 20's and 30's. IMO, the New Deal saved this country.

That failure, perhaps more than any other, has given strength to conservatives' beliefs about the importance of religion and authority in maintaining a civil society, and maybe provides some clues why so many Americans seem so resistant to democrats.

I agree that not all social programs are effective. I do not agree that that is the reason for a breakdown in civil society, to the degree that there is one.

If you're interested in my two cents, the main reason for whatever breakdown we see in civil society is that, somewhere over the last generation or two, Americans aquired an overwhelming sense of personal entitlement.

As far as I can tell, this has little to do with social "safety net" programs. I don't see this sense of entitlement in the woman in the grocery line paying with food stamps. I don't see it in the people with limited English who clean the office building I work in. I don't see it in the families who patronize my local food bank. Those folks all seem, to me, grateful for whatever help comes their way, and generally eager to move on to something better.

I see this sense of entitlement in the folks who have, more or less, everything they could ever need or even want, who seem to assume that that is simply the way it should be, and who will let the rest of the world go to hell before they'll give up one tiny inch of that. To my eye, that's the root of any breakdown of civil society.

Thanks -

Attacking liberalism doesn't constitute a defense of conservatism.

The people I consider to be conservatives are the people who identify themselves as such. Self-identified conservatives are the people who have consistannly opposed any reforms or solutions to real problems over the period between now and the late nineteenth century.

The left side of the political spectrum was able to get support from the middle for the following accomplshments: child labor laws, women's suffrage, the formation of labor unions, the Muckraker reforms to business practices, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the establishhment of the infrascruture that enabled us to fight a two ocean war, leadership during World War Two, ending the Red Scare of the fifties, the Civil Rights Movement and subsequent legislation, the Freedom of Innformation Act, the Clean Air, Clean Water, Wildernness, annd Enndangered Species Acts, recognition that the Viet Nam War wasn't a proxy war against the Russians and that we were losing and , indeed, didnn't have annything left but vanity to fighht for.

Conserrvatives opposed all of that.

What have conservatives accomplshed during the same period? Well thhey support the military industrial complex. Of course many Democrats do too for the same reason: lobbying pressure from the local military contractor. Conservatives say they support a strong defense, but the money we spend on defense is ony partly related to real defense needs. Still give thhe conservatives a point for beinng in favor of defense. Just remember that Democrats have just as legitimate a clain in this area both for thhe positive action of supporting real deffense annd (some Democrats)thhe nnegative one of feedinng the local pork barrel military contractor.

Conservatives like to claim for themselves the fall of the Soviet Union. In reality the credit for the fall goes to thhe Russianns, but the Reagan Adminnistrationn should get some credit for thhe timing.


That's it.

There is a lot of back and forth upthhread about conservatives being more for self reliance than liberals. If conservatives are judged by acction ratherr thhann words, they favvor self reliance only for othherr people, ont for themselves. The self reliance prinnciple gets dragged out as a handy way to be againnst solving problems until the problem effects the conservative. Conservative ranchers want their subsides. Coonserrvative timber company exs want subsidized access to our National Forests. Conservative voters want federal taxdollars (even though theyy wannt THEIR taxes to be cut) to keep coming into their areas so that expensive infrastructure can be maintained withouut raising local taxes. And so on.

Remember the discussion that broke out awhile back about the accomplishments of the Bush administrationn? Self-proclaimed conservatives trumphantly took over the government armed with what they said was a conservative agenda: promotion of religious extremism, reduction of taxes for the rich, gutting of environmental legislation, the crippling of regulatroy agencies through the appointment of people who didn't support the fuction of the agency, the use of big government to interfere in private decisions about sex and medical treatment....and that's what they did.Given control over both Houses and the Executive branch self-identified conservatives acted so stupidly that other conservatives tried to escape the emabarassment by claiming that the consservtives in Congress weren't actual conservatives!

Which means that either "real" conservatism doesn't exist in the real world, ie , or conservatism isn't practiced by its own adherents.


"So, wait a minute: According to Sebastian, the ideas of liberalism are so bad for human society that, even absent any actual ideas or solutions of their own, it's as important for conservatives to resist them as it was for people to resist the Nazis? And, um, this is going to stand unchallenged?"

No. You are confusing 'Conservatives' and 'Liberals' with my attack on the Lily's definition of 'Conservatives' as being the people who opposed all the things she likes. Of course if you go back in history and classify all people who went against the things you like as 'conservatives' you are going to be able to say that conservatives are always against the things you like. But that is tautology, not argument. I wasn't arguing that real life liberals failed to fight Communism and Nazism. Not at all.

I'm arguing that under the ridiculous definition lily is using, people who fought Communism and Nazism were fighting idealistic change and thus under that ridiculous definition, were conservatives.

Yes that is a silly way to look at things. That is precisely my point.

i'd really like to see a conservative respond to russell and lily, and defend conservatism on its own, not as simply an opposition to liberalism. and i'd like to see them do it using a definition of 'conservatism' that isn't equivalent to 'libertarianism'.

and i'd like a pony. no, wait, i don't have room for a pony. i'll take a Shelby Mustang, instead.

That may be what you wanted to say, Sebastian, but it isn't even in the same galaxy as what you actually wrote. When lily wrote that conservatives were the people who opposed all the good ideas, you responded: But resisting people who want to 'solve real problems' but go about it improperly is an important function. See resisting Nazism and Communism.

The problem with this discussion is that there are two kinnds of conservatism: the ideology as it exists in books and think tanks and the real world manifestation. The think tank type of conserrvatism exists only to interfere with thhe process of solving real life problems. Take action on global warming? No, your idea is against my ideology! Civil rights for blacks in Alabama in the fifties? No, you can't take action because it's against my ideology! That kind of connservatism is responisble for nothing prodcutive because it can't be. In terms of elections annd politics, problem withh that kind of conserrvatism is that hardly anyone believes in it. Most Americans think the government is there to help them. They wannt the government to solve problems. They want mitigations on capitalism. They want government regulatory agencies to regulate. Issue by issue most Amerricans are liberal to middle. There aren't enough voters that believe in the think tank type of conservative ideology to fill a large room, let alone elect anyone.
So what are the ocnservatives to do? For thhe last hundred years the pattern has been to get elected by hiding their conservative ideas behind a smoke screen of non-issues and emotional appeals, mostly appeals to the basest emotions: hate, fear and selfishness. Conservatives always promote a bogeyman: Communists, "niggers on welfare", liberals and gays, terrorist Muslims. Remember term limits? Thats how the current conservatives got elected to Congress. They ran on a hate-liberals, hate-Congress, throw the bums out annd put in term limits platform. And promptly forgot all about term limits onnce elected.
Back in Atwater's day the Republican party decided to expand its base by reaching out for the votes of religous extermists annd authoritarian nutjobs, the segment of society once known as thhe righht winng lunatic fringe. They pushed the hate-liberals/gays line and got control of all the branches of the governnment by putting righht winng lunatic fringers in Congress ,White houuse, the pundit class, and every level of the Republicann party aparatus. Then they proceeded to show us all the other type of conservatism: the real life manifestation of conservatism as big governnment promotion of religious extremism, big governnment violation of the prinnciples of the Connstitutionn, management of regulatory agencies by shills of the entities they were supposed to regulate, benefits to the rich, and the politicizationn of defense for domestic poltical purposes (the ultimate hate/fear salepitch). That's how people who call themselves conservatives behaved whhen they hhad the power to do what thhey wanted to do. It doesn't match up entirely with thhe thinnk tank conservatives but that doesn't mean thhey arenn't conservatives. They say thhey are. The think tank conservatives didn't repudiate them when they were winning elelctions.
So no, I didn't define connservatives as being annyone who opposes the things I like. I define conservatism as beinng a phenomenon of books and thinnk tanks which annd as being the policies and actions of people who call themselves conservatives annd are acepted as such by othher people whho call themselve conservatives,at least when thhey are winning elelctions. What other definition couuld thheir possibly be?

conservatives generally assumed that advocates of the New Deal and the War on Poverty believed that if we simply provided the poor with more money we would also fix their other "undesirable" behaviors...

I remember one of Milton Friedman's programs where a bureaucrat stated that his program could work if only he had more money. Friedman's response was that every bureaucrat would say the same thing.


But understand that Friedman was no opponent of helping the poor. He advocated a negative income tax in lieu of various other programs, and, IIRC, said that if you want to help poor people just give them money.

This was simply a reflection of his opinion that poor people ought to be allowed to spend their money - even if given to them - as they wished, rather than having the government provide housing subsidies, food stamps, and other directed benefits.

This idea, whatever one thinks of it, is not only anti-bureaucratic but also has absolutely nothing to do with "the importance of religion and authority." This is hardly surprising, since government bureaucracy is also "authority." So for the most prominent conservative economic thinker of recent decades the problem with the WOP was distinctly not that it gave people money.

It seems to be the case that many folks who call themselves “conservatives” are really “reactionary.”

Reactionary is another way to say “Revolutionary Conservatives” which the traditional Republican Party was not.

Well yes, many self-identified conservatives are reactionaries and the Republican party is, right now, the party of reactionnaries. My original question was, "What good are conservatives?" My answer is, of course, little or no good, because conservatism is either a mirage, an ideology with no realworld application, or another name for authoritarian reaction non of which is connstructive.

BTW, when child lablor laws were first introduced, the conservatives and their reactionary supporters (this is back around the turn of the previous cenntury) opposed them on the grounds that the laws were a violation of property righhts, an overextensionn of governnmental power and an unaceptable intrusion into the free market.
See? Always wrong.

Charley, It's all very well to pronounce either the ND or the WOP as failures...

Personally I think they're a mixed bag. I'd bet most conservatives would judge them as failures, in part due to the reasons I've mentioned. As for Iraq, I have my doubts that even 500,000 troops would have been able to install a lasting liberal democracy there. That was the original goal, wasn't it. We've gone through so many...

Russell, I do not agree that that is the reason for a breakdown in civil society, to the degree that there is one.

I would agree with this and just about everything else you've written. But my comments weren't about me, they were my attempt to put myself inside a conservative's mind (assuming there is one, snark snark). Does your last paragraph make you a potential populist?

Lily, if conservatives are as bad as you picture them (and I'd agree they are pretty bad, especially in their current manifestation) why are they so popular, at least until they really screw things up? Why do so many Americans, otherwise probably sensible people, dislike liberals so much? Part of it is well-hidden greed, part is inattention, the list goes on. But part of it is also due to the overreaching of liberals, one symptom of which is the continuing dysfunctions among the poor, in spite of "everything we've done for them". At least that's how many conservatives see it.

Cleek, good luck with the pony. Certainly I'm not your man.

Bernard, you are of course correct. I wasn't trying to imply anything about Friedman's views other than how he disliked intrusive government intervention; I could have written more clearly.

why are they so popular, at least until they really screw things up?

See below.

Why do so many Americans ... dislike liberals so much?

One word: Marketing.

No matter how bad conservatives are, remember, at least they ain't lib'ruls. This is a staple concept in conservative media.

Conservatives are perennially popular because they appeal to the worst of human nature-- fearfulness and selfishnesss--and those qualities are always with us.

It is true that liberals can overreach or cling to frames that no longer work. I get annoyed at the people who can't processs the significant differences in race relations now as opposed to forty years ago. But that's the subject of a different thread. I never claimed liberals were perfect. I just asked what good conservatives are and so far I'm the only one to suggest a defense of their record!

I just asked what good conservatives are and so far I'm the only one to suggest a defense of their record!

To my mind, conservatism and liberalism, at their best, work in tandem with each other. Liberalism prevents stagnation, while conservatism keeps society from careening off the rails. Rather than standing athwart history, shouting "Stop!" as per William Buckley, conservatism (ideally) should stand athwart history shouting "Measure twice, cut once" or, occasionally, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Genuine conservatism does not seek to turn the clock back to the 19th century. It seeks to conserve the best of past liberal reforms, while repairing the damage done by those reforms that didn't turn out so well. You want an example? Welfare reform in the 90s. Kennedy's and Reagan's tax cuts. Not necessary all tax cuts - there's a time and place for everything. Which is something genuine conservatives, as opposed to reactionaries, understand.

I know a lot of you think it's a cop-out when self-proclaimed conservatives say this, but I believe that the Bush administration is not "conservative" in any genuine sense of the word except on social issues. And even there, it has been radical in its methods, as the Terry Schiavo mess demonstrated. The Bush administration's foreign policy has not been conservative, but instead the bastard child of Wilsonian internationalism and Jacksonian ultra-nationalism. Its fiscal policy has been wildly irresponsible, and it has been reactionary in its policies toward the economic and social reforms of the last century.

Look, I'm not denying that in practice conservatism has sometimes had ill effects, and I'm not going to deny that racism, sexism and homophobia are expressions of a certain type of conservatism. Unchecked conservatism ultimately leads to Francisco Franco. On the other hand, unchecked liberalism leads to Robespierre (I'm trying to avoid the usual Hitler and Stalin comparisons).

Like I said before, I think that conservatism and liberalism need each other. Not only that, the Republicans and Democrats need each other. We've all seen what too much power has done to the Republican Party over the last six years. You think the Democrats are immune from the same temptations? William Tweed and Richard Daley have a bridge they'd like to sell you.

Last, best example that I can think of at the moment. The American Revolution didn't turn into a radical attempt to restructure society, followed by mass bloodshed, unlike the French, Russian, and Iranian Revolutions (to name a few others that have greatly influenced world history). Why not? Because the revolution was leavened with a certain degree of conservatism. We didn't put Tom Paine in charge, we put George Washington. Some historians have even called the American Revolution a conservative revolution, almost a contradiction in terms. So you may dislike us, lily, but you need us.

Sorry for the long post.

"Conservatives are perennially popular because they appeal to the worst of human nature-- fearfulness and selfishnesss--and those qualities are always with us."

Ugh, I could as easily say that the popularity of liberals is due to an appeal to self-righteousness and a self-indulgent desire to appear caring--whatever the policy results actually are. I could pretend that liberals are like the cat lady found in every city--who feeds hundreds of cats in her house, letting them breed and piss and poop in the house because she just loves kitties soooo much.

In a well functioning system tempermental liberals will dream and move for change while tempermental conservatives will let them do so, but only after making sure that the changes don't kill off other important things or cause more damage than the alleged benefit. For good progress you really do need both types of people.

Now we don't have a very well functioning system here in that respect. The currently powerful political conservatives don't respect what I see as important in conservative thinking, and liberals like you lily have pretty much never understood what conservatives add to the mix. So it is no wonder that things get messy.

Dang, I posted to the wrong thread. How about a separate post to consider the question of conservative/liberal philosophy? Some interesting thoughts flying around here and it would be nice to maybe go with a restatement and a discussion.

I didn't see what ThirdGorchBro wrote until after I posted. I agree with his take.

I was just going to say that if anyone didn't want to wade through my comment, they should just read Sebastian's last two paragraphs. ;)

I find the question of ownership or at least authority over descriptions a fascinating one, but am too tired to write entertainingly about it now. Maybe later.

TGB: "Reagan's tax cuts"

Umm, weren't they inspired by bogus newfangled economic theories, and didn't they lead to huge deficits, and didn't Reagan have to reverse them almost immediately? In short, weren't they profoundly unconservative?

Farbeit from me to leap to conservatism's defense (or is this offense), but:

And, of course, from Philby to Pollard [conservatism]'s included the coddling of traitors at high level, a feature repeated in the post-communist era with people like Chalabi.

While that's true insofar as it goes, it omits the rather grave issues of spies/traitors within the ranks of liberalism as well. I tend to think that the Right (such as it is) massively overestimates the magnitude and severity of such treacheries but they shouldn't be dismissed, even implicitly, by those on our side of the aisle.

Anarch, yes, it's true, there have been highly placed traitors in liberal circles, though not many since World War II. It's just that so many of the really damaging ones chose conservative cover.

But part of it is also due to the overreaching of liberals, one symptom of which is the continuing dysfunctions among the poor, in spite of "everything we've done for them". At least that's how many conservatives see it.

Interestingly, though, those continuing disfunctions are less a manifestation of liberalism's failures than they are of the power and class structures which conservatives seek to preserve. It's sort of fun to snicker at the fact that higher rates of illiteracy, divorce, welfare, abortion, teen sex, etc. prevail in the God-guns-and-gays "red states," but there's something serious going on there, and I don't think it has much to do with the War on Poverty or the New Deal.

For example, abstinence-only, no-sex-until-marriage education is a well-documented failure which leads to horny kids with little knowledge of contraception marrying at 17 so they can get laid, having children right away, and dooming themselves to a poor earnings future. The ones that don't sneak off to have abortions, that is. On the other hand, a comprehensive sex-ed program which includes information on -- and more crucially, easy access to -- contraceptives works. It's successful at lowering the rates of teen pregnancy, which in turn lowers the abortion rate.

That conservatives can convince their voting base that the two propositions above are exactly reversed is indeed a triumph of marketing, but maybe not such a smart move, since it will give them more of the things they claim not to want. Unless, of course, the interest is less in making peoples' lives better and more in preserving the class structure.

Phil -
Ironies and ignorance abound. It looks like we've hijacked this thread so badly Seb started another one to continue this line of discussion. I'm heading over there.

"Anarch, yes, it's true, there have been highly placed traitors in liberal circles, though not many since World War II. It's just that so many of the really damaging ones chose conservative cover."

This is an odd formulation. The ideologically motivated traitors weren't placed in 'liberal' circles, but they did in fact tend to betraying for ideals on the left (labeling confusion on full, I know). Now so long as we label 'liberal' as those changes on the left which in retrospect didn't cause massive problems to the extent of Commmunism, I guess you can avoid any connection. But if we are going to swing wildly with supposition about why they hid as 'conservative', the door opens as to why they were in fact more 'liberal'.

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