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February 28, 2007

A privacy constitutional amendment for Oregon?

Over on Loaded Orygun, there's an interesting thread about the possibility of a privacy amendment for Oregon.

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February 27, 2007

Clip: Reid Highlights GOP's Bogus National-Security Cred

This is one of the best encapsulations of where the real focus should be, from an existential threat perspective.  9-11 showed that a massive event would have minor repercussions from a financial and system perspective in America, reinforced by the minor burble that the loss of an entire American city had when Katrina destoryed New Orleans.  If we can lose an entire city without shaking the foundations, there is little short of a nuclear event that could.

Clip: The Blog | Bob Geiger: Reid Highlights GOP's Bogus National-Security Cred | The Huffington Post:

“We will take steps to protect America from the greatest threat we face -- nuclear terrorism.”
Harry Reid

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Clip: Maybe We Deserve to Be Ripped Off By Bush's Billionaires

Clip: AlterNet: Maybe We Deserve to Be Ripped Off By Bush's Billionaires:

[Bush's budget will] increase spending generally while cutting taxes and social programming. They commit taxpayers to giant subsidies of already Croseus-rich energy corporations, pharmaceutical companies and defense manufacturers while simultaneously cutting taxes on those who most directly benefit from those subsidies. Thus you're not cutting spending -- you're just cutting spending on people who actually need the money.
This is something different from traditional conservatism and something different from big-government liberalism; this is a new kind of politics that transforms the state into a huge, ever-expanding instrument for converting private savings into corporate profit.

That's not only bad government, it's bad capitalism. It makes legalized bribery and political connections more important factors than performance and competition in the corporate marketplace. Beyond that, it's just plain fucking offensive to ordinary people.

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February 26, 2007

Conservatism lacks answers

To make one aspect of some of my previous posts (here and here) more concrete, the aspect that conservatism doesn't have answers, one of the phrases I've been using lately is to ask:

How do lower taxes and smaller government solve global warming?

How do lower taxes and smaller government undermine the causes of alienation and disaffection that underlie globalized terrorism?

How do lower taxes and smaller government help the middle class in the face of globalization's commoditization of work?

How do lower taxes and smaller government change our healthcare system to cover more people more cheaply?

How do lower taxes and smaller government improve our schools?

Conservatives have no answers to the pressing issues of our times.

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Clip: Why I Am Not a Conservative

This, from 1960, provides an excellent contrast of conservative and progressive/liberal worldviews and the inherent problems of conservatism -- it neither provides real solutions and tends toward authoritarian, anti-democratic leadership, such as Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon and George Bush.  In contrast to the claims of today's conservative apologists, who blame Bush for not being a “true conservative”, this is built into conservatism and the Republican Party -- it may not be true of them personally, but it is how conservatives act collectively.

To see this, it is only necessary to read this and look at the current conservative government since 1994 -- not just Bush, but Gingrich, Delay, etc. and you can see that the entire Republican conservative system is corrupted by this worldview, not just the Bush administration.

Interestingly, this is essentially a scientific proof: Hayek described the conservative worldview and the consequences of it and, starting from Reagan, we have seen it play out exactly as he predicted.

Clip: Why I Am Not a Conservative - Institut HAYEK:

Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving. It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance ... What the liberal must ask, first of all, is not how fast or how far we should move, but where we should move.
....But the admiration of the conservatives for free growth generally applies only to the past. They typically lack the courage to welcome the same undesigned change from which new tools of human endeavors will emerge.
As has often been acknowledged by conservative writers, one of the fundamental traits of the conservative attitude is a fear of change, a timid distrust of the new as such,[5] while the liberal position is based on courage and confidence, on a preparedness to let change run its course even if we cannot predict where it will lead. There would not be much to object to if the conservatives merely disliked too rapid change in institutions and public policy; here the case for caution and slow process is indeed strong. But the conservatives are inclined to use the powers of government to prevent change ....
This fear of trusting uncontrolled social forces is closely related to two other characteristics of conservatism: its fondness for authority and its lack of understanding of economic forces. Since it distrusts both abstract theories and general principles,[6] it neither understands those spontaneous forces on which a policy of freedom relies nor possesses a basis for formulating principles of policy. Order appears to the conservative as the result of the continuous attention of authority, which, for this purpose, must be allowed to do what is required by the particular circumstances and not be tied to rigid rule. A commitment to principles presupposes an understanding of the general forces by which the efforts of society are co-ordinated, but it is such a theory of society and especially of the economic mechanism that conservatism conspicuously lacks.
Let me return, however, to the main point, which is the characteristic complacency of the conservative toward the action of established authority and his prime concern that this authority be not weakened rather than that its power be kept within bounds. This is difficult to reconcile with the preservation of liberty. In general, it can probably be said that the conservative does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes. He believes that if government is in the hands of decent men, it ought not to be too much restricted by rigid rules. Since he is essentially opportunist and lacks principles, his main hope must be that the wise and the good will rule - not merely by example, as we all must wish, but by authority given to them and enforced by them.[7] Like the socialist, he is less concerned with the problem of how the powers of government should be limited than with that of who wields them; and, like the socialist, he regards himself as entitled to force the value he holds on other people.

When I say that the conservative lacks principles, I do not mean to suggest that he lacks moral conviction. The typical conservative is indeed usually a man of very strong moral convictions. What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force. The acceptance of such principles means that we agree to tolerate much that we dislike.... To live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one's concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends.
....I sometimes feel that the most conspicuous attribute of liberalism that distinguishes it as much from conservatism as from socialism is the view that moral beliefs concerning matters of conduct which do not directly interfere with the protected sphere of other persons do not justify coercion.

In the last resort, the conservative position rests on the belief that in any society there are recognizably superior persons whose inherited standards and values and position ought to be protected and who should have a greater influence on public affairs than others. The liberal, of course, does not deny that there are some superior people - he is not an egalitarian - but he [the liberal] denies that anyone has authority to decide who these superior people are. While the conservative inclines to defend a particular established hierarchy and wishes authority to protect the status of those whom he values, the liberal feels that no respect for established values can justify the resort to privilege or monopoly or any other coercive power of the state in order to shelter such people against the forces of economic change. Though he is fully aware of the important role that cultural and intellectual elites have played in the evolution of civilization, he also believes that these elites have to prove themselves by their capacity to maintain their position under the same rules that apply to all others.

Closely connected with this is the usual attitude of the conservative to democracy. I have made it clear earlier that I do not regard majority rule as an end but merely as a means, or perhaps even as the least evil of those forms of government from which we have to choose. But I believe that the conservatives deceive themselves when they blame the evils of our time on democracy. The chief evil is unlimited government, and nobody is qualified to wield unlimited power.[8] The powers which modern democracy possesses would be even more intolerable in the hands of some small elite.
....Conservatives feel instinctively that it is new ideas more than anything else that cause change. But, from its point of view rightly, conservatism fears new ideas because it has no distinctive principles of its own to oppose them; and, by its distrust of theory and its lack of imagination concerning anything except that which experience has already proved, it deprives itself of the weapons needed in the struggle of ideas. Unlike liberalism, with its fundamental belief in the long-range power of ideas, conservatism is bound by the stock of ideas inherited at a given time. And since it does not really believe in the power of argument, its last resort is generally a claim to superior wisdom, based on some self-arrogated superior quality.
...By refusing to face the facts, the conservative only weakens his own position. Frequently the conclusions which rationalist presumption draws from new scientific insights do not at all follow from them. But only by actively taking part in the elaboration of the consequences of new discoveries do we learn whether or not they fit into our world picture and, if so, how. Should our moral beliefs really prove to be dependent on factual assumptions shown to be incorrect, it would hardly be moral to defend them by refusing to acknowledge facts.
.... the liberal position shares with conservatism a distrust of reason to the extent that the liberal is very much aware that we do not know all the answers and that he is not sure that the answers he has are certainly the rights ones or even that we can find all the answers. He also does not disdain to seek assistance from whatever non-rational institutions or habits have proved their worth. The liberal differs from the conservative in his willingness to face this ignorance and to admit how little we know, without claiming the authority of supernatural forces of knowledge where his reason fails him. It has to be admitted that in some respects the liberal is fundamentally a skeptic[12] - but it seems to require a certain degree of diffidence to let others seek their happiness in their own fashion and to adhere consistently to that tolerance which is an essential characteristic of liberalism.

....What distinguishes the liberal from the conservative here is that, however profound his own spiritual beliefs, he will never regard himself as entitled to impose them on others and that for him the spiritual and the temporal are different sphere which ought not to be confused.

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February 25, 2007

Clip: Stuck in the Mud

From Frank Luntz, Republican pollster extraordinaire, no less ...

Re: Stuck in the Mud - washingtonpost.com:

It is unfortunate that the Republican Party is currently dominated by hyperpartisan, gut-punching professional politicians and expert technicians whom I wouldn't want to face at the dark end of the electoral alley. They specialize in the flawless execution of “wedge” politics. That may have worked well in past elections, but no longer. The latest gimmick is “branding” -- a Madison Avenue technique -- to reverse the Republican slide. But political parties are not brands, slogans are not a replacement for ideas and you don't sell leaders the way you sell widgets.
My polls show that Democrats now hold a perceived advantage with voters not just on reducing deficits and balancing the budget but on an issue long seen as a GOP strength: ending wasteful spending. That alone should jar Republicans into taking a fresh approach.
As a pollster, I rarely hear voters call for smaller government. They tell me that they want more efficient and more effective government. (Note to Republicans: There is no starker symbol of Washington's inefficiency and ineffectiveness than the federal government's inability to control our borders and prevent illegal immigration.)

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February 23, 2007

Clip: Ten Steps to Restore the US' Moral Authority

Clip:   Ten Steps to Restore the United States' Moral Authority  (Human Rights Watch, 22-2-2007):

A Common Sense Agenda for the 110th Congress

1) Restore Habeas Corpus
(2) Stop Renditions to Torture
(3) Abolish Secret Prisons
(4) Hold Abusers Accountable
(5) Hold Fair Trials
(6) Prohibit Abusive Interrogations
(7) Close Guantánamo Bay
(8) Respect the Laws of War
(9) Protect Victims of Persecution From Being Defined As Terrorists
(10) End Indefinite Detention Without Charge

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Statehouse Yields Clues to Obama - WSJ.com

Re: Statehouse Yields Clues to Obama - WSJ.com:

The accomplishment was emblematic of the picture that emerges of the eight years Mr. Obama spent here: of a lawmaker of lofty, liberal rhetoric who nonetheless pragmatically accepted bipartisan compromises that won over foes -- and sometimes left supporters dissatisfied.
[Obama] also wrote that through his state Senate years he “clung to the notion that politics could be different,” less combative, more bipartisan. He has put that notion at the heart of his presidential bid.

Illinois Republicans recall Mr. Obama as a committed liberal of no singular achievements, yet one they could work with to pass ethics, welfare and death-penalty revisions. “He's unique in his ability to deal with extremely complex issues, to reach across the aisle and to deal with diverse people,” says Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard. “If he surrounds himself with good people, I wouldn't lose any sleep with him as my president.”

February 20, 2007

Re: MAJORITY OF RELIGIOUS VOTERS IN U.S. NOW FEEL RELIGION IS “UNDER ATTACK”

[Posted re: MAJORITY OF RELIGIOUS VOTERS IN U.S. NOW FEEL RELIGION IS “UNDER ATTACK” 2/20/2007]

The larger story is that, Republicans use fear as a motivator in order to cause people to revert to basal motivations and “activate” the desire for imposition of order -- the classic conservative authoritarian.  In this case, they are using, as they often do, what Robert Reich calls the “Mob at the Gate” -- one of his four American stories.  The absurdity of the notion of secular aethiests persecuting the majority is, in reality as a Gallup poll recently showed, is that the group discriminated against in America are not any religious sect nor even believers, but ... atheists!  This whole Republican christianist campaign is an instance of claiming victimhood -- Christians are the majority, trying to  claim they are a “persecuted majority”.

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February 14, 2007

24 Sucks | The Huffington Post

The Blog | David Roberts: 24 Sucks | The Huffington Post:

24 reflects a warped, adolescent view of violence and human nature. It reeks of macho fantasies, born of insecurity, entitlement, and above all fear. No problem arises on the show that cannot be solved with more force, more brutality. Anyone attempting to mitigate that brutality is an effete, naive bureaucrat. In the world of 24, torture is always necessary, and it always works.

It is a show for a nation of terrified crybabies who want Daddy to keep them safe, and it both reflects and accelerates the degradation of our national character. It's a genuinely malign force.

This has implications of members of the “Daddy party” as a whole who need someone else to take care of them.  They may cover for it with bullying behavior but it sure reflects a lot of their behavior.

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