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September 02, 2010

Comments

It is rather strange to label ED Kain as a right of center voice. His preferred policies look quite liberal to me. He's pro-choice. Pro-immigration. Anti-torture. Pro-government-run-healthcare. Really, he strikes me as the kind of guy who started life as a conservative and over time drifted firmly into the liberal camp but never updated his label. To put it another way: he seems only very marginally further to the right than I am. And I don't see myself as even close to right of center, do you?

I think this demonstrates my fundamental problem with the "need" for OW to get some more conservative folks on the front page: all of the conservative folks worth reading are basically liberals in disguise. As the conservative movement has fallen under the sway of insane conspiracy theorists (Kenya! Malcom X's child! Gold!) or just plain nutty ideas (Laffer curve! Ground Zero Mosque! Fourteenth Amendment repeal!), old school conservatives have been migrating to liberalism, in effect if not in name. Bringing those folks on board won't significantly benefit the blog. And the remaining conservatives become loonier everyday. The dynamic is not unlike Specter's party move: by switching, he made both parties in the Senate more conservative.

Is Kain pro-choice? Also, economically, I believe he is conservative.

Eric, Kain's position is precisely pro-choice: he strongly believes that abortion should be legal. He insisted on calling himself pro-life because he personally would not get an abortion, but after getting called on it by commenters may have changed his labeling. So yeah, you can say that Kain is pro-choice, if you're a stickler for using the well accepted meaning of the term.

Economically, he seems a bit more conservative than I am. More specifically, I'd say his economics are more libertarian than conservative. But his fixation with having a strong government run safety net makes him pretty liberal IMO. Too put it another way: he doesn't like stupid laws and regulations. His idea of which ones are stupid might be different than your average liberal, but that doesn't make him a conservative. Is there some particular economic policy he's advocated for that you find particularly conservative?

His libertarian leanings economically were what I was addressing.

I don't know of many economic conservatives that strongly support and advocate government investment in high speed rail. I'd say that puts him well to the left of Seb or Von economically.

Is this familiar-faced guest Gary Farber, as rumor has suggested? I hope so. I miss that guy, maybe as much as I miss Hilzoy and Publius. (Not that you aren't doing a fabulous job, Eric. I just don't miss you, since you're, like, still here, and stuff.)

Well, maybe I'll just have to give you a reason to miss me!

(PS: Your detective skills are impressive)

Bringing those folks on board won't significantly benefit the blog.

I may be misunderstanding the point here, but this seems to assume that adding a poster or two won't benefit the blog unless the new folks somehow balance the political spectrum.

I don't agree with that. There were zero posts 8/28-8/30. Jacob, who was going great guns for a while, hasn't posted anything since 8/24. (This isn't meant as a criticism -- neither ObWi in general nor Jacob in particular owes us anything, and speaking for myself I would be better off if I spent less time noodling around here anyhow.)

But I think the blog would be better off with a couple of additional top of the page people, and if no suitable "conservatives" can be found, that's no reason not to add someone else who is suitable in terms of intellect, the ability to string a coherent thought train together for the rest of us, a modicum of good will, an ability to take some abuse, etc.

JanieM: I'll take suggestions from any side of the spectrum.

Well, I think E.D. Kain would self-describe as a right-of-center conservative who believes the social safety net is a necessary component of a properly functioning capitalist economy.

So, yes, somewhat right-of-center before the world rolled off its centering axis and began spinning toward civil society's endgame on the far-Right horizon.

He's been at Balloon Juice for about a month and already has thrown over the current (I suspect permanent, unless it ceases to exist by other means, which seems a world-saving lifetime goal for the properly radicalized at this point) dangerous Republican Party.

The funny thing is, I'm still looking for a real, by-god lefty voice in the blogosphere.

I'd also love to hear from a conservative voice whose understanding of "conservative" wasn't inextricably wedded to "no matter what, leave the market alone".

It's a weirdly constrained universe of political and social voices that we live in.

Have a great vacation Eric!

russell -- in response to this and your comment on the other thread -- because it's too hot to do anything useful, I've been rererereading George Bernard Shaw's letters a few at a time. (I did my PhD dissertation on him, but the department was English, not Political Science. I have the Collected Letters in 4 fat volumes and dip into them every few years, when I'm in need of a breath of fresh air and sanity in my life.)

To immerse in a world where active involvement in "a fundamental criticism of capitalism as a social and economic system" was taken for granted as a central activity is a weird experience in the context of the real world we're living in right now.

*****

For Eric: I don't have enough knowledge, nor do I read widely enough on the web, to have what are likely to be viable suggestions for new posters. But the commenter called Lemuel Pitkin, who posted that Keynes quote at Crooked Timber that I copied to the Sharia thread, is here and seems to be looking for a bigger platform. I always appreciate his involvement in CT threads, when I'm spending any time over there.

I'd be willing to sign up for a regular gig, if you're interested.

Note: I also am XX-enabled, which might be a useful broadening of the current regular stable. I had great hopes for Lindsay, but ....

I may be misunderstanding the point here, but this seems to assume that adding a poster or two won't benefit the blog unless the new folks somehow balance the political spectrum.

Oh, certainly adding a new poster in general is a good idea. I'm just reacting to the previously expressed notion that "ZOMG OW has to add a conservative front pager" or three.


His libertarian leanings economically were what I was addressing.

Is Matt Yglesias now considered a libertarian? Because I haven't seen ED Kain write much that is substantially different from Matt Yglesias' writings.

Part of the disjunct here is that I think young urban technocrat liberal folk these days have a bunch of policy positions that you might describe as libertarian but are rejected or ignored by actual libertarians. Some of it is old (pro civil liberties, anti drug wars) but some of it is new, like the fight against crazy parking/zoning laws that limit housing density or the fight against local licensing boards. People in that demographic, which includes ED and myself and maybe even Eric seem to buy into that basket of policy preferences more than other liberals. But even though the arguments for these policies draws a lot from libertarians, actual libertarians don't seem to care about these policy preferences. That's not completely true: some libertarians care very much about civil liberties or the drug war, but those are not where libertarians seem to spend a lot of their time. And on the urban planning issues, a lot of libertarians and libertarian institutions become downright statist in their insistence that the government absolutely must provide guaranteed free parking to everyone all the time or that the current popularity of suburban housing is based entirely on market choices and does not depend in any way on government support. So yeah, ED does have some libertarian policy preferences, but I think it is very confused to say that ED is anything but a young technocrat liberal.


I think E.D. Kain would self-describe as a right-of-center conservative who believes the social safety net is a necessary component of a properly functioning capitalist economy.

Sure, but just to be clear, this is how ED describes himself:

I’ve been drifting leftward for quite a while now (from dissident conservative to fed-up libertarian to, more recently, pro-market liberal with libertarian and especially civil libertarian streaks). I no longer have any desire to be considered a conservative – and no longer consider myself one.

I think OW could really benefit from having Doctor Science on the front page. Certainly, the addition of a writer with more experience with feminism would be helpful.

Although it is less of an issue now (with Jacob's arrival and the recent departures), this place for a long time leaned more heavily on the lawyers/liberal-arts school than I would have preferred and the addition of an actual scientist would be nice too.

I think OW could really benefit from having Doctor Science on the front page.

For one thing, she's got a master's degree--IN SCIENCE!

Maybe a spread of issues would be as valuable as a spread of POVs as far as the front page goes. Right now it seems to be mostly economic policy and national security (with a side of Muslims).

Maybe a spread of issues would be as valuable as a spread of POVs as far as the front page goes.

Yes indeed.

Jacob, I demand you make a post explaining the CAP theorem and its implications for operating large fault tolerant computing services like Google.

Turb: Exactly. I don't even know what that is, but I want one.

Maybe a spread of issues would be as valuable as a spread of POVs as far as the front page goes. Right now it seems to be mostly economic policy and national security (with a side of Muslims).

I heartily agree with this.

Well, I think I do.

The weird thing is, before blogs came along I paid almost no attention to economic policy, national security, or politics in general, beyond trying to be a reasonably informed citizen, or in relation to issues that touched me closely.

Now that there are blogs, I read ObWi obsessively, and 3 or 4 other blogs often (the Daily Dish, Crooked Timber, and 3 Quarks Daily). At one time I was reading Dispatches from the Culture Wars pretty regularly, but I quit when Ed Brayton called a woman a bitch for opining that $600 was a lot to spend for a weekend gathering of the blog's fans.

The point being -- in my meat world reading I'm interested in all kinds of things (and in fact 3QD feeds that dilettantishness well) and I almost never read about politics, economics, or national security.

So what is it about Obsidian Wings...?

I think it's the high quality of the writers and commenters combined with the continuity -- despite bloggish meanderings -- of the conversation.

If changing the balance of the subject matter doesn't mess that up, I'm all for it. Not that we can tell in advance, but it's worth a try.

(If Doctor Science were to come on board and sometimes write about population genetics, that would be extra cool with me. Also, I have a vague notion that she is the blogger whose links I followed once and found daily picture puzzles -- though I don't see evidence of that at her current link. If my memory is accurate, I hope she will pledge, if she comes on board here, never, ever to post links to picture puzzles. Like sudoku, they're like a drink to a recovering alcoholic for me. I don't want the strain on my willpower to get to the breaking point. ;^)

I don't know if you could induce him to blog regularly again, but Chris Bray is one of my favorite bloggers ever, despite our differences on some issues. His energy, writing and attention to fact make him extremely effective. He's not entirely classifiable within our contemporary labels, but libertarian comes close, if you can imagine a libertarian who's also capable of great empathy.

It's wrong to assume every conservative is pro-life. I know more than a few conservatives who are both pro-choice and fiscally conservative.

Turb: Exactly. I don't even know what that is, but I want one.

I wouldn't mind having a Google myself. Even something a little smaller would do nicely.

Janie:

I'm so sorry about the puzzles! I really hope to be starting them up again soon, I miss them too.

Basically, back in February I tripped over my own feet, fell, and gave myself a big ol' concussion on the bannister. A week or so later, my head was all better -- but then we found out I'd broken my wrist, trying to break my fall (or so we assume -- no-one else was there, and everything I had in short-term memory at that time is gone with the wind).

So I had to deal with: a broken wrist; selling our house (successfully!), finding a place to live, getting rid of half our stuff, packing, moving, and unpacking.

Now at last we have a nice place to live, renting in one of those walkable communities like you read about, in the same school district so the kid doesn't have any dislocation. And PT has got my wrist almost back to fighting strength.

Anyway, I could put together a couple of test posts in the next few days, then Lemuel Pitkin and maybe Chris Bray and I could rotate and try to get the posting levels up around here again.

Mavens, you know where to find me.

Yay, Doctor Science!

There's also the person who writes as Cynic, and recently guest posted at TNC's place. Zir contributions are always thoughtful. Maybe Eric should seek out Cynic?

It's slightly late-ish, and (as Balloon Juice argot would have it) I'm +2, so take this with a grain of salt.

That said, regarding conservatism:

When I think of "American" and "conservative", I don't think of guys like Edmund Burke, the nominal "father of conservatism". Burke was English, and his thinking was inextricably bound to the idea that social class, and specifically social class as a function of property ownership, was a fine and natural thing.

I don't think that's a natural or native American concept, conservative liberal or otherwise.

When I think of "American" and "conservative", I think of somebody like Wendell Berry, with his respect for tradition, and place, and the value of good and useful work.

The ideologies presenting themselves as "conservative" in our current-day political milieu break down, in my mind, into two flavors:

1. Social reactionaries
2. People who don't want to be bound to other people by any social obligation

To me, neither of those points of view are particularly conservative. At best, a socially reactionary position is a kind of kitschy version of a real regard and respect for tradition. But it has a sentimental, ersatz flavor. And a refusal to recognize or respect social obligations is, to my mind, nothing more or less than pathology.

Guys like Berry, or maybe Bill McKibben, seem, to me, to be genuine conservative voices. Even a guy like Thom Hartmann, who ends up being presented as some kind of wild-eyed radical lefty, seems about 1,000 times more conservative (to me) than anybody you will ever see or hear on Fox News or any of the other nominally "conservative" media organs in the US.

Better, and real, conservatives please. And, please, conservatives whose first concern is not social resentment and/or money and property.

My two cents, FWIW.

russell :

The second link in the blogroll to your left leads to Daniel Larison, who I think meets most of your criteria for a real conservative.

Wes Jackson and The Land Institute are American conservatives in the same sense that Wendell Berry is an American conservative.

I mostly lurk these days, but add me as another voice supporting Doctor Science as a front page poster here.

Russell: Stay at +2 Your thinking at that level resonates. What passes for conservatism in today's United States is anything but.

I'll fifth the Doctor Science recommendation.

Stay at +2 Your thinking at that level resonates.

OK, I'll expose my ignorance: what does "+2" mean? It sounds like a D&D reference but that doesn't seem to fit the context...

UK: In Balloon-Juice-ese, +X indicates the number of alcoholic drinks one has imbibed at the time of writing.

The ideologies presenting themselves as "conservative" in our current-day political milieu break down, in my mind, into two flavors:

1. Social reactionaries
2. People who don't want to be bound to other people by any social obligation

Once again, Russell nails it with pith and clarity.

A big problem with the notion of "balancing" the views of ObWi front-pagers with more conservative voices is that it assumes there is some value to doing so. The crazier the conservative movement in general gets, the less convinced I am that there is any such value.

Another problem is that I don't think political terminology has yet caught up with the state of things. As Russell illustrated above, very little of the aspects of conservatism that have traditionally provided value to our national discourse actually exist in contemporary conservatism anymore. There are very, very few conservative voices on the internet with any visibility that are worth listening to--and those that are worth listening to are either waging a losing battle for the soul of conservatism in this country, or are catching up to what conservatism has become and ceasing to consider themselves conservatives.

UK: In Balloon-Juice-ese, +X indicates the number of alcoholic drinks one has imbibed at the time of writing.

Thanks, elm. Good to know.

JanieM-

I'm very flattered! but I agree with others that Doctor Science would be a better addition for the front page. Maybe I'll start commenting here, tho.

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