Democrats & Liberals Archives

Morality and Ideology

The surest way to lose one’s moral compass is to focus too intently on a single moral truth. It has happened to well intended souls throughout the ages, and every one of us is susceptible to this blindness. Surely a healthy exercise for anyone, is to acknowledge the moral underpinnings for ideologies which typically run counter to his/her own. If you really believe any of the following statements to be false, I believe you need to take a long hard look at why you might be wrong about that.

The best of liberal tenets and policies have a solid moral underpinning.

The best of conservative tenets and policies have a solid moral underpinning.

The best of libertarian tenets and policies have a solid moral underpinning.

The best of communitarian tenets and policies have a solid moral underpinning.

For a year and a half, I have been writing occasionally here in the blue column, "Democrats & Liberals". When I first joined, I debated whether I might be better placed in the middle column, but in all honesty I pretty consistently vote for Democrats and am animated by a fairly liberal political philosophy. That scarcely means that I cannot see truths and goodness in other competing philosophies. But there certainly is no shame in championing the rights of the disadvantaged, advocating for government playing a role in assisting the needy, applying extreme caution before unleashing the dogs of war, or valuing our environmental legacy over the rights of corporations to make a profit, to name a few.

None of those truths or moral concerns negate the value of honoring long-standing traditions, avoiding the debilitation of fostering dependency, being willing to use force when necessary to counter evil, or allowing a free-market to create the environment where the creative ingenuity of individuals can fluorish, innovate, and produce goods for consumption.

Often we face choices where value systems collide. It is sad when the response is for advocates of either side to attack the underlying values of their opponents as less worthy than their own. That often misses the points and raises unnecessary hackles, pitching us into a values war in which we often miss opportunities for compromises which can honor the values of both sides. Even when there must be clear winners and losers, honoring the values of the losers and acknowledging our collective need to pay them heed as we move forward serves us well.

Many voices are decrying the extremism which they perceive in the goals of their opponents, but I would suggest that our greatest problems come not from extremism, but from radical orthodoxy. "What's the difference?" you might ask. Well, occasionally an extreme or radical change is what society needs most. There was a time when the abolishment of slavery was a radical notion, for instance. In the world of science, relativity and quantum mechanics were once radical notions which have enhanced our understanding of the natural order. Radical orthodoxy in contrast, holds fast to a rigid set of beliefs, and counters every competing notion as evil, regardless of its logical merits. We correctly think of Islamic extremists, or doctrinaire Marxists, but some hold to a "moderate" radical orthodoxy as well, where they believe that every issue should be decided by splitting the difference between the solution on the right and the solution on the left. Even when there are noble ideals represented on both sides of an issue, such an attempt to always split the difference won't always work.

Let's consider a particular example to differentiate extremism from radical orthodoxy.

Global warming and our increasing recognition of the human role in causing it, should call for some radical changes in human behavior over the next century. There may be SOME radical suggestions which in spite of dire economic consequences, ought to be followed if we wish to preserve a comfortable legacy for the human generations which follow us. I don't pretend to know WHICH suggestions are critical, though I suspect that the Kyoto accord doesn't go nearly far enough to solve this problem. If we reflexively resist "extremism" in looking for a way out, we may miss some of the best solutions. But we can and should resist the radical orthodoxy which sees the problem of global warming, decides that corporate greed is the root evil causing it, and blindly embraces EVERY extreme position in opposing development and industry. That is not to say that corporate greed is not a contributing factor in causing global warming - it surely is; but there are just as surely corporate initiatives which are seeking solutions to this problem as well, and those should be welcomed.

This article, however, is not intended as an argument about global warming, but is rather an appeal to honor those with whom we have honest disagreements, even as we earnestly make our best case for those policies which honor and promote those values which we hold dear.

And remember:

Environmental idealism is not properly represented by the arsonist burning down new construction.

A culture of life is not properly represented by the bombing of an abortion clinic.

Treasuring of individual liberties is not properly represented by blind opposition to every law or regulation.

Celebration of our strength in community is not properly represented by rigid enforcement of group-think.

Pacifism is not properly represented by violent protest.

Religious freedom is not properly represented by religious control of the state.

It's always easy to find hypocrisy. It's existence does nothing to de-legitimate the values being espoused by the hypocrites. We are weakened by hypocrisy, but we are strengthened by the values represented by decent people of all stripes, even when their arguments run counter to our own. It is important to call attention to hypocrisy, but we need to be careful not to jump to conclusions based upon the duplicity of a few.

In future articles I expect to go back to espousing particular points of view based on my generally liberal values, or to exposing interesting trends, policies, or political realities which I observe in our nation or our world. I look forward to the debates as our various values inform our wide array of opinions. It is important to occasionally step back from particulars and look at the overarching source of our disagreements. Please forgive the element of preachiness which may have ensued from my attempt to do so. It is an honor to write for a site which values the input from all parts of the political spectrum, while discouraging the denigration of those who participate. It reflects my own belief that the best way forward will come from dialog and working together, rather than from tearing down and pulling apart. Now I may consider that a liberal value, but I know that it is shared by some who wouldn't call themselves liberal in a million years.

Posted by Walker Willingham at December 26, 2005 12:12 PM
Comment #107566


I applaud you and your article. I agree with everything you said.

Yes, we disagee with others. Nevertheless, we must honor their opinions. Who knows? Maybe we may get to agree with them in the future.

I can’t, however, resist saying that your attitude of skepticism and philosophy of inclusion is what stamps you as a liberal. Not always but too often, conservatives adopt the attitude that they could not be wrong. Take President Bush as an example.

Good democratic government depends on good ideas. Finding and using good ideas depends on discussion, such as we have here. Good discussion depends on goodwill. We are all in this together to help our country.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at December 26, 2005 2:04 PM
Comment #107578


I agree with what Walkers says, but you are bringing it back into the right is wrong mode and the Bush attack stance. Can’t you just give it a rest for a little while?


You make very good points. I have an operational rule that I use in my own life.

“Often wrong, but never in doubt.” I don’t mean that as a joke. In order to accomplish anything, you have to execute with confidence and certainty. On the other hand, you have to recognize that you will often be wrong. That means you must be willing to change. I know it is a paradox in theory, but it works in practice.

The other point I agree with is that compromise is not often the best solution. It is actually rare that the truth lies between two extremes. In fact we live in a multidimensional world. More likely truth is nearer one than the other, but it might not be on the same plane.

You mention Kyoto. I recognize the need for change, but Kyoto is probably worse than nothing, since it is so flawed, but makes people think they are doing something to solve the problem. It is also flawed in that it might slow the creation of paradigm shifting technologies. The problem of global warming will not be solved by moving along the plane of current technologies. We will have to reengineer processes and depend on things still not currently available (like the biotech I talk about on the other side)

Posted by: Jack at December 26, 2005 2:59 PM
Comment #107591

Excellent post Walker,

When we start out with two extremes on an issue and end with two extremes, then we can never move forward. Compromise is an artform, but many today have forgotten how to do it.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at December 26, 2005 4:19 PM
Comment #107605

Very nice sentiments and objectivity, Walter. Who could possibly argue with such a sanguine view of life? The only problem is that there are moral choices to be made. We cannot evade them. Did this President lie to get us involved in a war that is not only illegal but immoral? If so, and I think it is so, then we have a moral choice to make. And that choice cannot be one of compromise and conciliation. Sorry. Peace

Posted by: cml at December 26, 2005 5:38 PM
Comment #107621

What do you think caused the global warming that ended the past 4 or 5 ice ages? It wasn’t us so what was it?

Posted by: David at December 26, 2005 7:02 PM
Comment #107629


What do you think caused the global warming that ended the past 4 or 5 ice ages? It wasn’t us so what was it?

Several years ago, Art Bell (popular UFO-spotting, conspiracy-theorizing weirdo radio show guy) said something about global warming that I actually agreed with. He said that the debates on whether man is causing global warming or not are a waste of time. We know that global warming is occurring. The important question isn’t whether it’s man-made or natural. The important question is simply can we do anything about it?can we do anything about it? If it’s gonna eventually kill us, we don’t need to be debating about whose fault it is. We need to either stop it or find a way off this rock.

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at December 26, 2005 7:23 PM
Comment #107640


You are really on to something. I have a question for you. Who is the one who should be in Congress? The one who has the “correct” beliefs and votes their conscience , or the one whose conscience tells him/her to vote the way the people they represent would want them to even if it is opposed to their personal view? Who is right?


Posted by: Craig Holmes at December 26, 2005 8:15 PM
Comment #107654


How can we fix it if we don’t know what’s causing it.

Posted by: David at December 26, 2005 8:50 PM
Comment #107671

Mr Willingham:
Thank you very much for a refreshing piece of wisdom and open-minded insight that, for the most part, mirrors my own beliefs (and I am neither wise nor truly insightful-just learning).

When are you running for office? (half-joking)

Wisdom and peace to all for the new year.

Posted by: cburns at December 26, 2005 9:15 PM
Comment #107688

Libertarians..solid moral underpinnings???? Are you sure about that? Most libertarians are total right wing nihilists (no offense to right wing nihilists ofcourse by including them under the libertarian banner).

I think what you are trying to discuss is why do all three parties suck, right? At one capacity or another totally blow. We unfortunately don’t have a party that supports intellectualism, everything is dummied down and watered down to the lowest ‘uncommon’ demoninator. The problem is people with all the intellectual curiousity of a dislexic ameoba have to vote too and know the issues. that’s part one, whenever the dems play to that card they LOSE bigtime (even while in office), I’ll just put forth Kery and Gore as examples of dummed down at election-time and Clinton with his ten thousand clichees (move forward not back) as evidence of this effect. It’s insulting to their own constituency.

This type of stupid talk or the condescending ‘talking-down’ (to us) usually is a republican thing or do they revile it too? I’m not sure they seem to have the same problem there as well.

Now as to whether it’s radical orthodoxy—NO IT IS NOT. It’s pandering to ones percieved votary populace or constituency. See Bush pulls if off so well with his press apparatus that we think it’s genuinely an ideal he holds—AGAIN, IT IS NOT. Look at his track record, take a look, NOW is what he claims is on the plate ACTUALLY ON THE PLATE? No it’s horsecrap. NOT RADICAL ORTHODOXY—PLACATION, hello.

George and his people are just really good at it and he IS NOT A CONSERVATIVE but he plays one on TV.

Posted by: Novenge at December 26, 2005 9:41 PM
Comment #107703


There are different sorts of intelligence. What we call intellectual is only one kind and not a very effective one for getting things done. Look at how poorly run university departments are. Intellectuals’ place is to contribute ideas that someone else implements.

BTW - intellectual does not always mean intelligent or vise-versa. Many business executives have very high IQs, but are not intellectual in the sense most people use the word.

One more thing, Gore might have qualified as an intellectual. He would have been happier as a professor than as a politician. If politics had not been the family business, I bet he would not have gone into it. Kerry is not an intellectual. I am not even sure he is so smart. Remember, his grades at Yale were just a little worse than George Bush’s.

You know who is a real intellectual is Dick Cheney. He hold little intellectual gatherings to discuss things like the Epic of Gilgamesh or the western way of war. Consider that when you wish for intellectuals. I like Cheney, but I bet you don’t.

Posted by: Jack at December 26, 2005 10:01 PM
Comment #107705

Republcans want wars so the talking points reflect war while the liberals, democrats, are more humanitarian and don’t like the idea of people being blown apart. the reason the two representative parties reflect that are based on finding a concensus audience, they know by going in that perspective direction they will get respected for it by their party/concensus audience.

My point again—Did not democrats vote to support the war, yes. What was it based on? Largely a concensus opinion at the time. the sad truth is that those on the hill are pandering asses trying to gain feathers for their little caps at election time. I know this is a rudementary point but I scarcely agree that all this from the democrats is a 1960’s feelgood throw-back, there is an audience involved as so too with Bush atteptively aping conservatism (or is it compassionate conservatism with lots of socialism/bureaucracy and bogus political answers—no child left behind, faith-based initiatives, Social Security reforms, that we already have on the books currently, and the like).

What is being provided are political answers in deeply entrenched political times and go no where beyond the echo chamber. More sh#t, I think that’s my point.

Posted by: Novenge at December 26, 2005 10:09 PM
Comment #107710


Cheney was on the Bush roster of appointees because A) he was an ex-secretary of defense that he and his father trusted, worked with and war was on this administration’s plate when they went in in 2000, obviously by a look at their cabinet. War was on that administration’s plate at the point of entry and with Colin Powell there you knew where that war was probably going to be.

And B) Cheney had corporate connections as did Condaleeza (Chevron). I mean heck what’s the point in creating a war cabinet and going to war if you can’t get your fingers into the spoils and governemnt contracts? A war cabinet, a war a means for Wallstreet investors to profit. Bush may have gone in a millionaire but he leaves a billionaire, that’s just Washington, buy a dog.

Posted by: Novenge at December 26, 2005 10:26 PM
Comment #107717


I didn’t say Cheney got the job BECAUSE he was an intellectual, just that he is one.

The other things you wrote are tangents or suppositions. While they may or may not be true, they don’t address points I made in response to your earlier ones.

There is no reason for you to say that the Bush team is personally profiting from the war. You just like to say it. It is not true.

Posted by: Jack at December 26, 2005 10:46 PM
Comment #107723

Wow! Youse guys really use big words and delve deep into politics and such, and you get along so good you must have belonged to the same frat house. Ya’ll been taking lessons from Walker?

Go get them darned neocons dems…don’t wait for me though, ‘cause I’m gonna go medetate…medatate…meditate…go think or somethin’.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 26, 2005 11:06 PM
Comment #107724

Jack you brought up your liking Mr. Cheney. I just went over my impressions of ‘Dick’.

With this war are thousands upon thousands of government contracts, those contractors give monies to politicians to ‘via a bundle’ get those procurement contracts. War gets votes and they know that formulaically that is what supposedly makes a good republican administration and in some cases a successful one.

Bush may have done this for corporate reasons and/or even Keynesian ones to make certain that they as an administration don’t go through a downsliding economy which was their fear at the tail-end of the Clinton administration.

Bush may just profit by osmosis if that is to your liking but he will make money on this as he stands to profit immensely. the question was of moral fortitude as to would he, his stock potfolio is actually online—prove me wrong, please. I’d love to have some good faith in elected leaders too.

Posted by: Novenge at December 26, 2005 11:07 PM
Comment #107735

I believe Bush went into Iraq because he thought it was a threat. He might have been wrong, but we just don’t make money from wars that we can’t make in other ways without as much risk.

I talked about this in other posts. I have small investments. Some in oil firms. They haven’t made that much money over the Bush time. My best investment is Starbucks. I guess it must be blood for coffee.

Posted by: Jack at December 26, 2005 11:39 PM
Comment #107749

First, I should comment that since adopting the term ‘radical orthodoxy’, I have discovered that the phrase radical orthodoxy is used in theological parlance to refer to something very different and much more specific than the sense in which I meant it. My meaning, which I believe is clear from the context, refers to any rigid orthodoxy which seeks to view all truth through one inflexible prism.

I can appreciate the practical utility of your operational rule “often wrong, but never in doubt,” and could probably benefit from it, but alas I’m just not that good at fooling myself.

As to Kyoto, I share some of your sentiment that there is a danger in giving people a false sense that more is being done about something than is actually the case, but am skeptical that Kyoto is AS flawed as you claim, and when a group of nations as disparate as those who signed the accord can agree to anything it is cause for some celebration. I’m convinced that the US refusal to sign betrays a capitulation to corporate interests far more than it does any true dissatisfaction with actual flaws of the accord. Better to sign and then push for better, than to dissent and allow the status quo to reign.

I agree both with your assessment of this administration’s lack of honesty, and that there are times NOT to compromise. But I think it is important not to paint all conservatives with a single brush.

I really think that we should be happy to have a representative democracy (i.e. republic), and that our representatives should sell us on themselves and their ability to govern smartly and with conscience, and then we should give them the latitude to do so without taking a poll every month. It’s real nice that Pres. Bush tells us he won’t govern by poll, but I have yet to see the evidence that he is governing by conscience.

(sigh) Ironically you may test as politically ‘closer’ to me (-7.00, -4.82) than most of the other commenters here, but you have outed yourself as utterly intolerant of those who would test differently, but still have the best interests of everyone at heart.

I agree that a substantial percentage of libertarians are so positively giddy at having discovered an ideology that allows them personal freedom without economic or social responsibility for those less fortunate, that it is easy to condemn the whole ideology as selfish and morally bankrupt. But the best of libertarian values do hold a genuine interest in the personal liberty of everyone, and a genuine concern about the negative consequences associated with government handouts and entitlements which can and do foster dependency and remove incentives for self improvement. I think most libertarians go too far, but they offer some cautionary advice that is worth heeding to some extent.

Finally, I attack what I referred to as radical orthodoxy not because it is the only source of bad political behavior, but because it traps people (not just politicians) who are initially well motivated into faulty thinking. I admitted that my article was a bit preachy and overly general, but I stand by my observations as worthy of consideration.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at December 27, 2005 12:05 AM
Comment #107763

Well renown scientists don’t even agree on Global Warming, for every article out there stating Global Warming is responsible there is another one that states the research used was exaggerated. As one example…

Today’s CNN

It gives the impression that a huge thaw is coming because of Global Warming yet?

A permafrost researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, however, disagrees that the thaw could be so large. Alaska’s permafrost won’t melt that fast or deep, said Vladimir Romanovsky, who monitors a network of permafrost observatories for the Geophysical Institute.

You can have all the supercomputers in the world but if you don’t input reliable accurate data into them? You are not going to get reliable accurate results. This has been shown again and again. When it gets to the point where sheep and cow flatulence is claimed as something we have to prevent? I’m sorry but I have to wonder.

Posted by: Lisa Renee at December 27, 2005 12:55 AM
Comment #107785

Test results: Libertarian left -2.38 -2.87. Mandela and Dalai Lama region but more central. I’m not intolerant of other parties I just get it and happen to be quite wry about it. The moral underpinnings of the libertarians are that we should do away with our entire country and sufficely turn into a third world nation. It does have a twinge of the whacky stuff, call it intolerance if you like, the rest of us can just call it not thinking ahead or not thinking within the best interests of the nation. Yes, selfish is an excellent description although I would label their giddiness as an inerant lack of forethought and potential lead in the drinking water. Okay maybe I am intolerant, but I try.

Orthodoxy or pandering, that is the question. Pandering serves them more where orthodoxy is a play. It’s a valid point that they play to the middle eventually all the while toting a whole different ideological banner (what’s advertised in the window is not always what’s for sale). They also play to the congress holders, another rudementary point.

Politically I am hanging to the threadbare remnants of the Democratic party. What they are about now is strangely stereotypical and not an arguement based on logic and soul equally. The war issue should be fought on grounds that hell or highwater highlight the truth of the war and not on our own narcisistic glazed-over American interests. We need activism be it obstructionism to the MSM/concensus poll media. but unfortunately media sets the dulled down tone for how we discuss things and if you don’t meet with their homogeny then it comes out looking like activism, which is not a bad thing. those on the hill are supposed to be activists, CNN doesn’t get so Wolf blitzer and others deride it like it’s a strange odd beast to openly object to the government line regardless the logical/technical basis of the objection. To say they largely don’t understand democracy or what our leaders are there to do is an absolute understatement. They (congress persons)are there to be goalies to some extent, all we hear is that they object not the substance of the debate or any of the many needed details involved. But anyway they (media) set the glazed-over mayonaise pasteurized news-product tone to what is essentially a very technical business and not one of just duelling parties.

Just like the news story about(yeah I’m off on a rant) the riots in Australia. Do you know what that is about? CNN didn’t want you to know because they would BE LABELED INTOLERANT of Arab muslims. Reuters grazed the topic but when you understand it as an issue of sociological beliefs by Muslim immigrants who believe they have teh right to rape non-muslim women not wearing headscarves the charges would fly at them that they are being racist. Someone would ask about all the white rapists and the truth is by and large, based on the demographic data, there are actually higher numbers percapita of rapists within the arab community than in other such populations. Isn’t that racist even if it’s the truth. Blacks and crime same thing but no one is allowed to say it for fear of charges of bias and racism even when all the data is quite up to par and equally varifiable. The problem isn’t race it’s about maintaining an image or being one’s own living mission statement in an ethos that defeats the purpose of reporting the truth and it sets the tone for how we discuss politics.

When we deal with the Iraq issue we are even to the point of calling ‘soldiers’ ‘troops’. That’s pretty removed. And also the question of pulling ‘troops’ out as opposed to the meat and substance of what we are doing within that conflict. It’s a near complete media black-out so instead of investigativism we have baloney and mayonaise on white bread.

My point to sum up is that all politics is pigeon-holed into following with this milque-toast dialogue of hamburger media concensus central instead of issues or be crowned with a label, obstructionist, racist or something else.

Political correctness serves the workplace well (as it keeps everybody’s teeth in their mouths) but not in news media, sometimes you have to go with the story and sidenote: also take the time to understand that this is a democracy not an oligarchy where mandates come down from monarchs on high.

Posted by: Novenge at December 27, 2005 1:41 AM
Comment #107843

Walker, outstanding article. I very much appreciated your leading me to take that step back and review.

I have always been fond of the premise I learned in college philosophy classes: that which provides the greatest good for the greatest number of all other options is almost always the proper course of action. It is a guide that serves my politics and way of living to this day.

It is not however, by any means, the guiding principle in American politics or of politicians. And that is truly, truly the heart of the matter as to why American politics is not fulfilling its potential.

American politics needs Libertarians and Green Party members in the U.S. Congress so that their voices and philosophies, and values which you quite correctly merited in your article can become an influential part of deriving legislation which achieves the greatest good, for the greatest number. The two party system we currently have, is so very limiting and tunnel visioned drawn inexorably toward legislation that differentiates the two parties (i.e. their extremes) rather than legislation that seeks greatest good for greatest number.

Half of this nation’s voter’s voices are not represented by the Democratic or Republican parties. This is a terrible indictment of any system choosing to call itself democratic. Yet, the Democratic Party is so willing to walk hand in hand with the Republican Party when it comes to maintaining their power lock on limiting American voter choice, American voter’s views in Congress, by locking out and erecting the highest possible barriers through the FEC and CPD and other election system agencies and organizations to other parties and views.

Designing policy which will holds the promise of the greatest good for the greatest number depends very much on weighing the widest set of options initially and considering the widest set of views and values. That of course is not what happens in Congress with the duopoly party system. Hence, it is no surprise to me see such abominable legislation come forth like the Medicare Rx drug plan which polls show only a small percentage of eligible persons are willing to participate in.

Or, the complete and abject failure of the Democratic and Republican parties to take the most obvious and direct route to homeland security after 9/11, securing our borders against entry by our enemies.

Mediocrity reigns in Congress today and it is supported as much by the Democratic Party as it is by the Republican Party. I would hope that at least some Democrats and Republicans would start holding their parties to a higher standard. They can do this by withholding their vote from their party at the very least, or outright voting anti-incumbent until such time that the Republican and Democratic Parties acknowledge that their incumbency depends upon results. Until the incumbents and freshman politicians alike acknowledge the power of the voter to cancel their careers when excuses, other party accusations, and compromised results substitute government policies which generate the greatest good for the greatest number of Americans.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 27, 2005 3:54 AM
Comment #107891

>>Mediocrity reigns in Congress today and it is supported as much by the Democratic Party as it is by the Republican Party

Hear! Hear!

Posted by: Marysdude at December 27, 2005 6:15 AM
Comment #107912

Excellent thread. One point regarding the economy. Noting above the comment about the Bush Admin. engaging in war to bolster the economy. I have noticed that my conservative friends are celebrating the economy without an understanding of its shaky underpinnings. They equate a good economy with a good Dow Jones. I’m an anthropologist, not an economist, but as I understand it the Dow only reports the behavior of the 30 largest corporations. Instead, I urge them to consider that our current Republican economy is truly based on

* massive military/homeland security spending backed by even more massive borrowing from foreign (Japan, China) governments
* huge corporate subsidies (oil industry, airlines),
* exploitation of foreign and domestic labor per Wallerstein’s Modern World-Systems theory (Wallerstein’s theories are well accepted in the academic and economic worlds, and are based on patterns of exploitation going back to just prior to the Spanish conquest),
* “free trade” proliferate. Trade is not free unless you tie the average wages of each nation to the tariffs at the border — these agreements tend to install systems that are favorable to investors but not to the general populations of any of the nations involved.

And the one that really gets me—

* wholesale excusing of corporations for their pension obligations — American corporations looted their funds 15-20 years ago, and now Bush Co. is letting them walk on their obligations — how secure is your pension? We taxpayers are picking up the judiciously reduced bill.

And, of course, manufacturing and related jobs continue to flee offshore. This is altogether shaky ground indeed for a sustainable economy.

Anybody want to talk solutions? There are lots of excellent ones; unfortunately, none of them particularly involve funneling money into the pockets of the well-connected.


Posted by: JimC. at December 27, 2005 8:20 AM
Comment #107919

Walker, thanks for your response. I tried not to be too critical of your basic premise because one would like to support it. However, do you think it possible to have the kind of open, non-hyperbolic discussion you envision? It seems that both those on the left (and I am one of those) and right seem more intent on destroying each other than listening to what is said. In short, is it possible to have rational discourse without rancour? cml

Posted by: cml at December 27, 2005 9:39 AM
Comment #107947

Wow! Youse guys really use big words and delve deep into politics and such, and you get along so good you must have belonged to the same frat house. … Posted by: Marysdude at December 26, 2005 11:06 PM

It seems that both those on the left (and I am one of those) and right seem more intent on destroying each other than listening to what is said. In short, is it possible to have rational discourse without rancour? cml

Not for me, cml. I’m a paranoid and sometimes it seems to me this post is dominated by Republicans whose mission is to filter out democratic thought and gently, so you won’t notice, bring the discussion around to a Republican party point of view or to deflect any great criticism of it.

I prefer the democrats who give ‘em hell.

Posted by: Kathleen at December 27, 2005 11:38 AM
Comment #107970

Nice piece.However I will have to echo cml. I have had some respect for real conservatives for a long time. Goldwater was pro-choice. The conservative notion that everyone should be treated equally under the law means that gays should be allowed to marry .The government has no place in the bedroom. The strict separation of church and state is a thoughtful bit of conservative bedrock. These are just examples to prove an unfortunate point. We are not dealing with conservatives. We are dealing with corporate fascist. Their agenda has no moral basis,only control by whatever means necessary. One of their control methods is the use of fear to develope a cadre of brownshirts, the brighter of which we sometimes see here responding with the current slogans.
Compromise? On some issues possible but these issues are not their point. but only red-herrings and propaganda.Their point is power.Greed is their creed. There are some evils where there can be no compromise. Cut a deal with Hitler to only kill half the Jews of Europe? Maybe we should only destroy half the enviorment? The so called “Great Compromise” ,allowing slave states led directly to the Civil War.No. I am afraid they must be routed out to return Ameria to the path of its true promise.
This is not theory. Real people are being hurt. Furthur example: We all know that national healthcare is a the solution. It works fine in the rest of the industrial West. We do not have it purely because of corporate greed. Result, people die unnecessarily. Compromise?Only let some people die ? That is in effect what we are doing when we provide healthcare just to some children and not even all of them. Is it better than nothing? Sure. Is it enough? Not even close.To compromise here is immoral. There are plenty of other examples.

Posted by: Bill at December 27, 2005 12:35 PM
Comment #108189

“Mr. President, Saudi Arabian terrorists have destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon and killed twenty-four hundred of our people. They are led and financed by another Saudi by the name of Ossama benLadin. What should we do?”
“Hmmm, okay, I know what to do. Tell Rummy to send a bunch of our guys over there to kill a bunch of Afghanis, but don’t go after Ossama.”
“Mr. President, Saddam has a bunch of weapons of mass destruction. What should we do?”
“Hmmm, I know what to do. Tell Rummy to send a bunch more of our troops over there to kill a bunch of Iraqis.”
“Mr. President, there is some question about the WMD, but we think Saddam has been in bed with Ossama, and has training camps for Alqaida terrorists. What should we do?”
“Hmmm, I know what to do. Look for those camps. If you have trouble finding them, tell Rummy to kill a bunch more Iraqis.”
“Mr. President, it appears that there are no WMD or terrorist training camps, but Saddam is a bad guy who kills other Iraqis. What should we do?”
“Hmmm, can’t find WMD over here, can’t find them over there, can’t find them anywhere…hee, hee, hee. Okay, I know what to do. Tell Rummy to find Saddam, and if he can’t be found, tell him to kill some more Iraqis.”
“Mr. President, we’ve located that rat Saddam hiding in a hidy-hole.”
“Hmmm, was the old boy hiding in one of those terrorist training camps with all them missing WMD? Hee, hee, hee…okay I know what to do. We’ll democratize Iraq. It’ll be good for them, whether they think so or not. Tell Rummy to set up an election, and if he has any trouble getting it set up, tell him to kill a bunch more Iraqis.”

Our president has lied to us about the facts of his ‘war on terror’, and he’s lied to us about his motivations. As a result of those lies 2000+ American military have died as a direct result of combat, several hundreds more have died peripherally, and countless thousands have been injured. Mr. Bush is responsible for the deaths of more Iraqis than Saddam would have been during the same period of time.
None of this is as serious as the following:
• Fifty-one percent of American voters, in the last election voted on the basis of ‘morality’. They voted for a liar who uses his own military as cannon fodder, and kills the innocent as well as the guilty, just because he can.
• Fifty-one percent of our American voters would not recognize ‘morality’ if it jumped up and bit them.
Now that’s serious…

According to this blog writer, i’m supposed to empathize with that fifty-one percent, but if I did I’d be going completely against everything I hold dear, i.e., America, Freedom, the Constitution, the military that I dedicated twenty years of my life to and my freedom loving family.

I don’t care if that fifty-one percent thought they were doing right or not…they were wrong and they were fools.

And now, my government may be taking my name because Dubbya can check my thoughts eletronically without a warrant. Why in the world should I empathize with their position?

Posted by: Marysdude at December 27, 2005 7:36 PM
Comment #108248

Just to be clear, please note that my statement was:

The best of conservative tenets and policies have a solid moral underpinning.

I gave no pass to the current Administration or Congressional Republican leadership. As has been amply noted, they do NOT represent the best of conservative tenets or policies, and as the ballooning deficit attests cannot properly be called conservative.

Yes, job one is to remove the greedy thieves from power, but I insist on differentiating between them and an ideology which they pretend to represent.

As a liberal I would prefer reasonable liberals at the helm, but as a realist I want reasonable conservative (and other) voices represented as well.

As far as Bush and Company are concerned (and it was on purpose that I left them out of this article) I have consistently maintained that it is not how far right they are, it is how far wrong they are.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at December 28, 2005 12:51 AM
Comment #108251

>>The best of conservative tenets and policies have a solid moral underpinning.

Yeah, I guess I left that part out. Just like all religions have a good base that their leadership many times corrupt, political platforms may start with ideals, but it doesn’t take long for those to fade away…sometimes I get on a high-horse.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 28, 2005 1:06 AM
Comment #108261

Wake up people ! The United States is going down down down.
We are selling the China as fast as this adminstration can get rid of billions of dollars.
People are dying as I speak.
The United States used to lead the world in everything.Now it is trailing behind everyone. People hate Americans now, where once we were good people.Now we are dirty liberals, of which I am one. Or stinking republicans, and racial religions,
We need leaders in this countries , not war mongels , that scarce children and old people. Our medicnes are over priced, our doctors are over worked,and under paid, we can’t pay our medical bills, our jobs are shipper overs seas or to Mexico.We have free trade with Canada, but old people can’t buy their drugs there. So much for free trade. We are told we have to do what the politicans tell us we can do. And say we live in a free country.Hog wash !
We are being sold the biggest list of lies in American history.
Please wake up.While we still can.
The American Constition was the best document ever wrote. And the President don’t want to live by it.He wants power over Americans . And his crowd want this country to be rich people and
poor people. Take from the poor and give to the rich.
I am 68 years old. I paid more in taxes under Clinton than under Bush, but all the people of America were making money during the Clinton years. Business was booming.People were happy all over the world. And Americans were helping people of other countries.Fighting aids. finding cures. now our drug companies will not make flu meds ,because they don’t make enough money. My space is up, but please wake up now.

Posted by: Sue at December 28, 2005 1:43 AM
Comment #108526
What do you think caused the global warming that ended the past 4 or 5 ice ages? It wasn’t us so what was it?

Dont know. But it happenned over many thousands of years. Not a few decades.

Posted by: Schwamp at December 28, 2005 3:49 PM
Comment #109533

liberal, conservative, libertarian or communitarian.

Though I appreciate your use of the english language and dare make no attempt to compete, I have a problem with the use of the term ‘solid moral underpinnings’, unless you are referring to GW as in not being any of the four above…..

In a society of common approach and endeavor we don’t need someone ‘up’ there telling the world how things work and which step to take next….

We’re like at the 30thl evel in the Education World, but GW treats the other 29 above us like they do not have a clue as to economy, environmental impact, health, prejudice, terrorism, human rights or anything else, like everything humanity has learned since human existence has been thrown out of the window and replaced with someones personal idealogical radical answer to everything which might be bad today, even if it’s them and their idealologies which made them bad in the first place.

I see NO moral underpinnings when it comes to the ignorance expressed from our own nation. the people have been confused, intentionally, no longer knowing right from wrong, leaving it up to their supreme leaders in DC to do what’s right.

The Mutual Moral Compass is Kaputt. The USA is Kaputt and there is nobody powerful enough to rid us of the corruption which dictates our lives and well being.

Posted by: Steve at December 31, 2005 8:02 PM
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