Democrats & Liberals Archives

Dystopias are the Utopias of the Few

It is easy to think almost any system works, if you live at the top, if you’re in the top one percent. You take your hits, you absorb your damage, you get your friends in authority to fix things up for you, and then you’re good. If you’re part of some political party dominating things, and you’re seeing your agenda pushed everywhere, you might think that you’re in the best of all possible worlds. The world often ensures that the last people to know something is wrong, are the ones who lead and dominate.

When it comes down to it, human beings are fallible, parochial, gullible, ignorant creatures. Not simply some people, everybody. We have to struggle to do better than that. It doesn't come for free.

Of course, not everybody embarks on that struggle, or has the resources at their hands to succeed. We can pretend that we can be plug ignorant about most of the way the world works, and still operate in it, but the fact of the matter is, our ability to negotiate with our world, rather than be its helpless victim, is strongly dependent on how well we improve ourselves.

I know plenty of people look at science as elitism. I see the study and discipline of science as a form of humility, in regards to the world, and in regards to human weaknesses. Going past the pure core of it, I think it's valuable to realize that many of the things we believe may turn out to be mere illusions.

Folks think, oh, it's about doubting everything. Not quite. It's about moderating belief by using a combination of reason, precise measuring tools and practices, and results derived from evidence to test it. It's not that if your rival argues one theory, and you're able to pick apart their hypothesis, yours somehow triumphs. No, your theories are subject to the same tests. What's more, if yours is less reliable than the hypothesis you declared dead, that hypothesis might still dominate. All theories and hypotheses are tentative, but to knock down one for good, you can't merely find flaws. ALL theories and hypotheses have flaws, unanswered questions. That's what scientists do for a living: they work through all these flaws and unanswered questions, and they try to find better answers, better explanations.

Being flawed doesn't kill a theory. Failure to predict all outcomes doesn't doom one either. The Standard Model of Quantum Physics is dreadfully inelegant, with tons of unanswered questions, plenty of room for more elegant explanations, and a whole bunch of predictions yet unproved. But your computer, your cellphone, and other electronics work according to its principles and predictions.

Similarly, there are a great many things Einstein's General theory of Relativity does a lousy job of dealing with. It doesn't really mesh with Quantum Theory. But it keeps on making pretty good predictions about the way the universe actually works.

Will there be successors to these theories? Well, that's a good question. The truth is, probably. But the successors have to be a closer approximation to reality, and even then, The work of phyisicists in these realms might not be entirely done away with, only clarified. They still used Newtonian Physics, decades after Einstein superseded it, because Einstein's theory pretty much dealt with discrepancies in the flow of space and time concerning objects going very fast or moving in incredibly strong gravitational fields.

In the same way, Maxwell's equations of Electromagnetism still work for people wiring together houses or making transformers and generators, despite the shift to quantum physical explanations for the phenomena.

What am I saying here? It's not merely some debate. It's not one idea of things versus another, necessarily. It's about taking the facts of the world around us, and testing our beliefs against those facts. Mercury's odd orbit, which Newtonian Mechanics could not explain, was part of where Einstein stepped in. The existence of Brownian Motion is what Einstein used to prove the existence of Atoms. He used the mysterious phenomena of the photoelectric effect (what solar panels use to generate electricity) to determine that light travelled in discrete packets called photons.

It would be a strange result in a restarted weather simulation that gave us the Butterfly Effect, and in turn the scientific revolution of Chaos Theory, where the "monsters" of old, the inexplicably badly behaved systems, were revealed to have a deeper nature. It was an odd, unexpected noise, found in every direction a radio telescope pointed that clued us into the big-bang.

Why am I telling you all this? Because even in non-scientific circles, we need to appreciate the value of unexpected results. We discover the most about the world when we stop treating anything that doesn't conform to our view of how the world should work as if it's just an anomaly, or a product of somebody else's error or bias.

Political parties, though, often cruise along on expectations. The platforms, in general, often present us with nice, clean positions and talking points. You are rewarded for faithfully following the beliefs of the leaders.

This isn't restricted to any one party. And of course, with political debate, there's often a steep price for admitting it when you're wrong, for admitting policy isn't working. Politics often frustrates people, myself included, on account of this tendency.

The problem gets worse if we go from pretending you're right, to insisting you're right, when the results don't square. Science benefits from the fact that not only is finding an error not a bad thing, it's an essential thing. The true nature of the world often reveals itself in how our predictions don't pan out. But if you're invested in not admitting error or defeat, you might just maintain a program or a policy despite a wealth of evidence telling you it's wrong. Worst yet, there may be a possible way of making that policy, and the politics behind it work, and because you're too scared to face the failures and fix them, observe the discrepancies, and work out their cause, you end up riding your own political movement into the ground.

Take Obamacare. The system doesn't necessarily work perfectly. Is that the death of any kind of program like that? No. But I would need to revise that program to where it does work. It might lose me some political capital to do that, to admit that, but that can be rebuilt if I get it working better.

Republicans are suffering at this point because they've built a system that tells them everything is alright so long as nobody admits fault, admits that Conservatism, as it currently is, doesn't have all the answers. They made it a policy to ignore signals that they're offending people, even if those people are the fastest growing groups of voters. They make it a policy to institutionalize their prejudices, not only overlooking the abuses of police and policies on minorities, but ridiculing those alleging the inequalities, if not outright legitimizing the abuses. Rather than deal with things, they define down the deviancy.

Democrats can be clueless, too. But that's the thing: we have a mainstream and a left-wing media that will call people on that cluelessness. Democrats are not allowed, so much, to indulge their illusions. If they offend somebody, somebody lets them know it, and they usually apologize for it. It might be more entertaining, less embarrassing to watch your leader rage against political correctness, but idolizing that indifference to offense ultimately leads to your politicians getting to be tacky, bullying jackasses who don't gain much sympathy among voters.

The problems that have undermined the Republican's good fortunes haven't gone away. They've gotten worse, more intense, and it's part of what tears the party apart. For one thing, pure ideology, pure reason of any kind has a nasty tendency to mutate, and for people to end up balkanizing each other over those mutations. Only when common realities and dealing with those realities comes into play do we really get past that kind of malignant, metastasizing splintering and backbiting. The Tea Party has crippled the ability of the GOP to negotiate more veto-proof legislation, and more effectively express conservatism at a national level. Trump isn't helping things either, at this point.

Trump has won a commanding lead among Republican candidates by laser focusing himself on pandering to a particular set of prejudices that Republicans themselves have been pandering to, even going a step further on them. When button pushing and litmus test passage is what gets you elected, inevitably the rhetoric and the extremism ramp up, and with it, the forces tearing the party apart.

Whether it likes it or not, the GOP is a party built of people with different beliefs, and different attitudes, willing to stomach an imperfect match with their beliefs in order to get what they strongly believe taken care of. The degree of that tolerance depends on the degree of the tolerance in return, and as each part of the party gets more intense in its partisanship on their favored issue, the other people in the party get less and less comfortable with staying with the party.

Which brings us back to where we started, really.

What happens when a party locks up a whole bunch of political power, and with that power pushes policies with heedless disregard for what anybody else wants?

There is winning in politics, and then there is winning. Some wins put you in a healthy place, where power can be self-sustaining. Other wins put you in a spot where you essentially have to do more and more unhealthy things, indulge in more and more dishonest behavior, etc, lest your wins turn to defeats.

This is what I would say happened with George W. Bush. It must have been wonderful to take the White House back from Clinton, and to see Republicans control everything for the first time in decades must have been a blessing. Unfortunately, that in no way guaranteed that the courses of action Bush was taking were smart or wise, nor that Republicans would be completely vindicated. No, It only meant that, now, more than ever, their beliefs were going to be put to the test.

Our system is set up to allow that test to occur. It is an inherent part of our system of self government, written into the Constitution. The First Amendment, in the parts that relate to speech and expression, prevents people from simply shutting up those who say that things aren't working quite as advertised. The parts concerning petition and peaceful assembly prevent the people in charge from outlawing their opposition. The elected nature of our government allows us to change out politicians if the politicians won't change out their bad ideas, and all this keeps the pressure on politicians to deal with bad situations when they arise, deal with mistakes when they are made.

You're fighting the system if you're insisting on trying to push ideology, regardless of what the population or the Constitution has to say. The point of our kind of government was to get past ideology, to move to a more active government, which would respond to the feedback given it.

Ultimately, to the people. It is not difficult to create a system that ignores the people and sees to the interests of a small group of wealthy, powerful people. Kingdoms, tyrannies, empires, republics, and even lands in civil conflict have their share of those who command great riches, power, and political power. Accumulation of these things are inevitable even in systems like Soviet Communism, which are ostensibly supposed to be fair and equal. It's only the methods of accumulation that are different.

It's making sure things flow more equitably and dependably to the average person, creating a higher standard of living, that's the real challenge. You can make a nation a prosperous utopia for a top few percent. Ask Marie Antoinette or Tsar Nicholas what happens to that when people starve. You can make things great for one party, for one political movement. Ask the Nazis or Soviets how that turned out, or the Chinese how many people died in famine on account of the decisions of the few up top. You can make things great for one religion, or none at all. Ask Europe or the Middle East how that has turned out. You can make things great for once race or ethnic group... well, count the number of horrors and atrocities, perpetrated back and force, all the pain and suffering caused by such racism and tribalism.

Beyond our dreams of Utopia lies a reality that is merciless and relentless in dashing the hopes of those who would try to take the ideal world in their mind, and recreate it in the real world. Of course, that doesn't mean that our ideals don't have some value. It's just that we need to realize that the good of our beliefs doesn't necessarily translate to the quality of our actions or the quality of the results.

One thing is, true, though: the more unfair a system, the more people are motivated to destroy it. Capitalism survives best when more than just the rich few profit from it. Conservatism survives best when what it preserves and sustains preserves and sustains the quality of the average person's life. Liberalism endures best when it improves lives, creates prosperity. Whatever our hunger for vindication, we only get that, earn that, by bending the curve of what we believe to fit the real world, and to do the most real good for the most people.

Republicans need to rediscover their sense of shame, their common sense. They need to stop imagining all this as some sort of epic pitched battle between good and evil, with themselves on the right side, and everybody else on the wrong. Things are far more prosaic, far more complicated and troublesome than that. They need to start paying attention to what's going wrong, because they will not be exempted from responsibility for it forever. The biased Right Wing Media has done a stellar job of denying the GOP the need to face what's it's screwed up, the way it is seen by people outside the party. It's done a good job of convincing people that if only Republicans got everything they wanted, in terms of power, everything would be right with the world.

Problem is, and I think this is part of what they've been running away from for the last decade, is that they already got what they wanted, and that's what nearly destroyed them. What, arguably, continues to destroy them, only now in a kind of slow motion corrosion, rather than a quick dissolution.

The GOP got its President, its judges, its Congress, got them all together. But what came of that was far different than what they expected, what they were told to expect. The explanation, each time, was that other forces interfered, and things will get better, and only get better, if we go back to having things like they were back then. But there's another idea, a frightening one to them: That they were wrong, that reality tested their ideas, found them wanting.

How do you deal with that, when your philosophy, your sources of information tell you that your political philosophy, your ideology is perfect, that it's everybody else who needs to change to meet your expectations? The answer is, you don't. The resurgence through the Tea Party is a poisoned one, a product of a political faction that just won't simply allow anything or anyone else to dissuade it.

The trouble is, these people are positioned in a prime place to prevent the rest of us from dealing with our problems, making the changes and reforms necessary to adapt to today's world. People like me, we're not looking for some incredibly idealized world, we're looking for one that's functional, at the very least. We're looking to roll with the punches, deal with the nit, the grits, the nuts and bolts of how things are actually working.

The time has come to leave aside the egotistical dreams of political philosphy, and tend to the boring but necessarily details of proper self-government.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at December 4, 2015 10:57 AM
Comment #401144

One of the most necessary details of ‘proper self-government’ is respect, Stephen. If you don’t respect people, their beliefs, their values, their way of life, they will not work with you on “how things are actually working.”

When liberals use the courts and government to force everybody else to change to meet their expectations, you create barriers of mistrust and resentment. When you personally attack those who dare not fall in lockstep with liberal ideology, you create division. When you write off the individual rights and freedoms they cherish as nothing but “egotistical dreams,” you create hostility towards your own dreams of change.

Think about it for a minute, Stephen. If the Constitution is so outdated and Republican policies are such a failure, why do tens of millions of voters choose them over liberal policy?

Posted by: kctim at December 4, 2015 3:16 PM
Comment #401145

“The problems that have undermined the Republican’s good fortunes haven’t gone away.”

By good fortune are you referring to the capture of both the House and Senate, 10 or 11 additional State Governor-ships, control of more state government legislatures, or something else?

If the former, I would not call it “good fortune”, but rather an electorate disgusted with liberal policies that don’t work for the middle class.

“What happens when a party locks up a whole bunch of political power, and with that power pushes policies with heedless disregard for what anybody else wants?”

The party falters as is the case with the Democrats. They defied a majority of Americans who didn’t and don’t want Obamacare, who want our borders effectively closed to illegals, and want foreign policy that keeps America strong and diminishes, rather than encourages our enemies.

Americans want their Constitutional Rights protected and promoted; not parsed and assaulted.

Welcome back Stephen…we have missed you.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 4, 2015 3:21 PM
Comment #401147


You oppose the top-down establishment. Me too. Who do you think the top-down establishment really is? Who wants to impose more rules on you and who wants to leave you alone more often? Who wants to use the coercive power of the state to change social outcomes more often?

I am reading a good book called the evolution of everything. The author says that most things in society work from bottom up when they work best, that markets are emergent, not planned. He call centralized planners “creationists” since they think that a centralized intelligence can plan better than people can plan for themselves. I am more in the evolutionary camp when it comes to markets, science, society and most other things.

Posted by: C&J at December 4, 2015 4:23 PM
Comment #401154

Stephen, following is just one example of the open contempt this administration holds for our Constitution, liberty and freedom.

“The Supreme Court today issued an injunction that put a hard stop to the race-based, separatist election in Hawaii that violated the ‘fundamental constitutional rights’ of our American citizen clients. Today’s ruling is a historic setback to the State of Hawaii and the Obama administration, which misused public monies to push a racially discriminatory election. President Obama and Hawaiian political leaders should be called to account for their cynical support of a race-based election that violated numerous civil rights laws and the U.S. Constitution. Our clients are brave patriots who took a public stand on behalf of the rule of law. The High Court agreed our clients had an indisputable right to this relief and it is wonderful to see their faith in our Constitution vindicated by today’s Supreme Court ruling. In addition, Judicial Watch’s hundreds of thousands of supporters deserve thanks for providing the voluntary support that allowed our team of hard-working attorneys to stop this corrupt and dangerous election. Kudos also to the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a Hawaii-based think tank, that gave invaluable assistance to our efforts.”

“The application for injunction pending appellate review presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is granted. Respondents are enjoined from counting the ballots cast in, and certifying the winners of, the election described in the application, pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, Justice Sotomayor, and Justice Kagan would deny the application.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 5, 2015 12:48 PM
Comment #401155

Obama remarks at the Paris climate talks.

“I’ve come here personally, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second-largest emitter, to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem; we embrace our responsibility to do something about it.”

I submit that the world owes the United States a great deal of gratitude for the many wonderful things this country created and shared with the world that would not have been possible without fossil fuel. The United States along with many others, and fossil fuel, made it possible to win two World Wars and bring freedom to many enslaved peoples around the world. Our food production using fossil fuel has fed many millions of the world’s hungry.

The list of benefits derived from fossil fuel is nearly endless.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 5, 2015 12:58 PM
Comment #401156

The situation in HI is actually pretty interesting and raises some controversial issues- very sensitive ones for people living on the islands. If you have never done so, consider reading up on Hawaiian history. I’m pretty sure native Hawaiians do not feel the US did them a big favor by colonizing, overthrowing their government, and taking away their land. I seriously doubt they feel they ‘owe a great debt of gratitude’ to the United States.

Here is a little more balanced look at the Hawaiian issue:

Btw, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is NOT a grassroots organization. It is part of the State Policy Network created by the Heritage Foundation. It connects to ALEC, which writes legislation beneficial to corporations and harmful to citizens, and also connects to the Koch Brothers, as well as the usual networks of right wing sources of funding.

These kinds of groups are not on the side of liberals or conservatives. They serve the interests of corporations in general and the Koch Brothers in particular. There is a good reason conservatives have turned their backs on the Koch Brothers agenda and embraced Donald Trump.

Posted by: phx8 at December 5, 2015 5:13 PM
Comment #401157

“Here is a little more balanced look at the Hawaiian issue:”

Balanced? Simply a different point of view.

Surely you perceive the larger ramifications of this issue which allows race-based elections that violate numerous civil rights laws and the U.S. Constitution

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 5, 2015 5:35 PM
Comment #401158

“The group’s lawsuit challenging the election argues that the state shouldn’t be involved in a race-based election. The state argues it’s not involved in the election.”


“U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright in Honolulu ruled in October the purpose of the private election is to establish self-determination for the indigenous people of Hawaii. Those elected won’t be able to alter state or local laws, he said.”

Hence, the controversy. Native Americans in the continental United States and Alaska enjoy many rights and unusual control on their reservations. Native Hawaiians do not.

Oh, and I’m pretty sure Native Americans do not see feel ‘a great deal of gratitude’ towards the United States for what happened to them, either.

Posted by: phx8 at December 5, 2015 6:33 PM
Comment #401159

OK, put phx8 down as favoring race-based elections. Quite the heresy for a liberal.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 5, 2015 6:42 PM
Comment #401160

So what’s the deal, RF? Do you want to finish the job, and polish off indigenous Americans once and for all? Refuse to acknowledge the the value of their cultures, and then annihilate them as separate entities, assimilate them, and finally expect them to express gratitude to the United States for being so totally awesome, thanks to the awesome power of fossil fuels?

Posted by: phx8 at December 5, 2015 7:33 PM
Comment #401161

Now, I am really confused. After 200 years, the longstanding practice of granting aboriginal Americans limited amounts of political autonomy is now considered controversial?

Posted by: Warren Porter at December 5, 2015 10:44 PM
Comment #401164

The lovely thing about the Constitution is that people do not have to behave like ideal, reasonable human beings for it to work, sooner or later.

I love getting lectured by you about how much you’re imposed on, how disrespectful we are. You’ve shown me little respect this whole time, set no kind of example as to how you wanted to be treated. But the lovely thing about our form of government is that people don’t have to like each other to get things done. The system is built to force consensus, and that is what eventually develops, It’s an imposition on everybody. Nobody is exempted from having some law they don’t like applied to them.

It’s not about you. Do you realize that? It’s not all centered around flattering the beliefs and ideas of Conservatives and Libertarians, or liberals and leftists for that matter! They built a system that assumed a fairly fragmented society, full of factions competing to see their own particular good taken care of.

So, people like me recognize that we’re in for a little bit of disappointment over time. We don’t win every battle. We don’t get everything we want. Yet mysteriously, we seem to keep winning things. Your people ascribe this to weak conservatives. The reality is, though, the brand of “do everything I want, or nothing gets done” conservatism that the Tea Party has produced has actually ensured that the Republicans can’t do much, can’t change much, and can only have a certain level of influence over policy.

See, you have to get majority votes to pass things, and in order to make it law, you need to get the thing past the President, or get enough votes together to pass it over his objection.

That simple! But it’s something I’ve seen the supposed Constitutionalists struggle with, and whine and cry over like spoiled brats again and again.

And the people they elect, they promise to give them the red meat, and so they do, but only in the display case, because they can’t actually produce changes in policies like their voters want, and they haven’t had the honesty to tell those voters that everything they’re doing is symbolic. Obama understands, and because of that, he can work the system to get what he wants. You guys cry foul about that, but you have crippled your majority by allowing its critical component to act like they’re a part of some parliament, where the majority coalition determines policy, period.

You guys have had more success at the local and state levels… so to speak. I’m willing to bet that the policy excesses at that level are going to start to become a burden on the party. It will get much worse before it gets better, but sooner or later, people are going to want more from their government than excuses, or policies that embarrass them in front of the nation. Sooner or later, the Demographics are going to catch up.

I trust in the system to allow the moderation of it’s people to come forward, and when it does, those who rely on brute force political manipulations to continue their dominance will see the props knocked out from under them.

Royal Flush-
How’s that Obamacare repeal going? It’s not? That’s what I think of your success. Moreover, I don’t see your people actually delivering the results they promised. I see them pushing policies that embarrass the nation, that hold us up to shame. You’ve been fighting the nature of the system, and on major issues like immigration (The Arizona Case,) Marriage, and Obamacare, this failure to understand how it works has resulted in stinging defeats, despite a court that is majority conservative.

Besides, the Tea Party is doing the work of a dozen Democratic parties in convincing minorities and young people that the Conservatives and Republicans are not the people to represent them. We are the people growing towards majority in this society, and you have alienated us profoundly. And for what? To quickly take back what you deserved to lose.

As for this whole Hawaiian thing?

If I’m reading it right, the whole thing revolves around recognition of Native Hawaiians as a distinct ethnic aboriginal group, with rights similar to that of Native Americans stateside. Now, if I’m not mistaken, those who are not part of those tribes here don’t get to participate in votes on those councils. So, tell me, why is it that any such vote in Hawaii should include people who are not of that group?

It’s a tricky issue, and I would caution those who are rabidly following the propaganda-rich path of the Heritage Foundation, ALEC, and their astroturfed organization here, that it isn’t necessarily set to go in their favor.

I lament how little actual nuance and firsthand understanding many Conservatives bring to debates these days. They have their focus grouped propaganda, but they don’t seem to have a solid grasp of all the issues. They throw around words like racist at their opponents not because they apply, but because the accusations sting, and undermine moral authority. It cheapens its use, and defines down the deviancy of actual racism.

You need to look into a concept called “strange loops.” In essence, systems with hierarchies, sure enough, top down management, but the lower parts of that hierarchy can turn around and affect the nature of the top parts of that hierarchy. I believe we need both top down and bottom up structures in society, and indeed the task is not imposing one or the other, but instead managing the natural interaction between the two kinds of political order.

Leadership of our communities, our states, and our nation are full time jobs for a reason. But we also subject those officials to elections for a reason. We want to be able to concentrate on doing the things that we do as whatever we are, and leave matters of managing the political order to people whose job it is. But we don’t want those people able to just run amok, so we set up a system that moderates their behavior.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 6, 2015 12:52 PM
Comment #401170

Daugherty boldly writes; “How’s that Obamacare repeal going? It’s not? That’s what I think of your success.”

The Republican controlled congress, answering majority public demand, has passed a bill to de-fund Obamacare. The president will veto it.

Nearly half of insurance companies offering obamacare policies have failed or left the field. Most Americans have seen medical coverage decrease with higher deductibles and premiums and a loss of choice of doctors.

Is this a success when obama promised hundreds of times that none of the above would happen? He lied.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 6, 2015 5:18 PM
Comment #401195


I wasn’t trying to lecture you on anything. I am merely telling you that dismissing or attacking those who disagree with you, is not working. IF you truly are “looking to roll with the punches, deal with the nit, the grits, the nuts and bolts of how things are actually working,” the first thing you are going to have to do is understand and respect WHY people disagree with you. NOT call them hate filled racists, sexists, bigots etc…

Unfortunately, just like your response here, you guys care more about blaming the ‘other side,’ than you do about actually working on solutions.

Posted by: kctim at December 7, 2015 11:57 AM
Comment #401211

Royal Flush-
Document it. I hear a lot of flamboyant language from your side that doesn’t amount to an awful lot. Whether or not that’s true (and it’s blatantly obvious you’re trying to change the subject,) the law remains in place, despite literally dozens of votes and many lawsuits. Yet your people continue this sorry farce. Why? Because they’ve got it made. They can do absolutely nothing of value for the nation as a whole, and still get re-elected, if they repeatedly make these knowingly futile attempts to slay the bogeyman they made a bogeyman. It’s a big con, basically, and people like you have bought into it.

So, even if Obamacare has failed, so have the people you elected to destroy it. They could, instead, accept that the President isn’t going to destroy it, and suggest improvements instead, but you know what? You’ve taken this from being a dispute about politics into being a battle between good and evil, and how can you compromise with evil?

Makes for good voter-bait, but ultimately, it makes it very hard to do what this Constitution wanted us to do, and that’s negotiate towards common ground. You would rather be symbolically successful hardline partisans than actually successful compromisers and negotiators.

If a person makes race, biological or cultural, a criteria for differing standards of law enforcement, I will not hesitate to call that what that is. When the abilities of our womenfolk are disparaged on account of their gender, and not more objective information about their capabilities, I will call people out on that. Never mind if they try to pull this barefoot and in the kitchen BS with me.

If they treat Islam, as a religion, as an automatic security threat, rather than as a faith that the vast majority of Muslims practice peacefully, I will call them on that. If they act like the solution to the whole problem is to Nuke the Middle East or Mecca, I will call what they’re doing what it is.

You might have gotten comfortable with the walled gardens of the Conservative movement, bathing in the warm, golden amber light of a situation where you could just completely ignore being respectful to anybody else but the white, male, Christians of the world, but the rest of us have progressed since your people got so self-involved, so we increasingly see those inside that movement as outside the mainstream.

So, yes, you will suffer ridicule for that.

And really, why do you disagree with me? Nine times out of ten, I don’t think you folks really have an actual principle behind it. I mean, hell, Obamacare was Romneycare. Romneycare was a mandate. Mandates are all about making individuals responsible for maintaining their healthcare, and then giving them a market solution to their problem. It’s supposed to solve that oh-so socialist free-rider problem.

Yet, you guys, through the magic of rhetoric have made it a bastion of socialism. You’ve made it the enemy you have to defeat at all costs. Your own alternative to single-payer healthcare, and you’ve not only disowned it, but turned your own people on it.

Your people gloried, basked in the peaceful resolution of the Cold War, yet you turn around and elevate a bunch of Warmongers. Why? Because Clinton adopted your peace through diplomacy approach. The GOP embraced the rhetoric and ideology of the old Solid South during the Nixon era. Why? To counter the Democrats. In the process, though, they became the party that apologized for all the things that the Democrats of old did to justify their side of the Civil War.

The GOP once founded the EPA, once supported and successfully used science to head off an environmental threat. Then they turned on it. Part of the reason I’m not a Republican is this discounting of what I knew to be mainstream science.

In the pursuit of their politics, Republicans have become contrarians not only to the Democrats, but to themselves, as the Democrats adopted Republican approaches that worked, and Republicans then insisted on contradicting them in order to avoid looking like they were in agreement.

This is how you guys seem to operate, the kind of intellectually ****ed approach that leads to an entirely impractical approach to getting things done. You seem phobic about establishing and dwelling in any common ground with us, for fear of being contaminated by us.

You can start working on solutions to problems when you stop caring about stupid **** like Benghazi, and start caring about things like how things are actually going in Libya now. You can start working on solutions to problems when you recognize that 90+ percent of any group reaching consensus that a problem exists is probably a good sign that one actually does.

You can better deal with our debt problem when you admit your policies added the bulk of that deficit and debt, and the whole supply-side tax policy is just an excuse to lighten the tax burden on the rich. You can better deal with it if you look at the debt ceiling for what it is, a blanket approach to approving financing for spending Congress has asked for, rather than behaving like it’s some sort of redline for debt, meant to stop further accumulation.

Unfortunately, the media environment has been purposefully designed for the right to turn in on itself, to acknowledge only its own standards, only its own views, to act like America and what it means to be American is only defined by their own particular choices and cultural patterns. You’ve been caught up in a closed loop that keeps you from seeing that the rest of us have an independent, self-sufficient view of the world that in this country is both valid and our right.

It’s time to step out of the box, and into the rest of the world.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 7, 2015 3:26 PM
Comment #401217


What you say and what the left actually practices, are two very different things.

Nobody is saying there should be different standards of law enforcement based on race.
Women today are not told that they have little worth.

In its desire for votes, the left created talking-points based on fear and hyperbole, and you guys are now starting to actually believe them to be fact.

How can we work to solve our problems, when you refuse to acknowledge the actual problem?

Posted by: kctim at December 7, 2015 4:57 PM
Comment #401218

Silly me, I thought Daugherty was on hiatus to study and learn. Nope, I was wrong. Same old hate theme as usual.

He sees liberal thinking, power and policies shrinking among the electorate and just becomes more virulent. So sad.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 7, 2015 5:07 PM
Comment #401220

What is racial profiling in practice but the preferential ignoring of Fourth Amendment rights. I’ve heard plenty of conservatives support that. The fact we have a Lilly Ledbetter Act comes from the fact that a business did indeed value the work of a woman less than a man’s despite equal work and duties.

You say we create talking points based on fear and hyperbole. How do you test that? I can point to a bunch of data from well-regarded scientists that says climate change is a problem. Your people’s response? Impugn their motives, allege a conspiracy, get things to where people don’t even care about what the data says anymore, because they’ve been told the sources are corrupt and dishonest.

Look at the Planned Parenthood videos. They’ve been exposed, like many videos in the orbit of James O’Keefe and the Breitbart people to be badly misrepresentative of what the people secretly filmed said. They even use video of a Stillborn child, leaving viewers to assume the child is actually an induced abortion. I say this, though, and I get all kinds of rationalization, up to and including allegations of bias on my part. We can actually demonstrate a gap between what these people allege, imply, or otherwise say, and what the unedited footage actually says, and not just one one video, but on many.

One point of view is being supported, but doubt is being cast on it by dishonest, sophistry-laden methods, while another point of view is being argued, again with dishonest, sophistry laden methods, but it’s fact-based disproof is being disregarded on account of who it is who is complaining.

We tell you that you’re disenfranchising more people than you’ll actually catch or prevent from casting fraudulent ballots. You don’t care, though. We tell you that torture doesn’t work, back it up with all kinds of research and expert opinion to that effect. Guess what your responses is? We tell you that the Refugee screening process is in fact very thorough, and we haven’t had one turn on us since 9/11. You don’t care.

We’re holding up our end of the bargain, data-wise. We’re explaining ourselves quite thoroughly. If we want to solve problems, we have to start from basic reality. If we indulge illusions, party-lines instead, nothing right will get done but by chance.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 7, 2015 5:19 PM
Comment #401249


You provide an excellent example of my point. Your agenda has become more important than the reality of the issue.
You don’t know if a person supports profiling for the results it provides, or if out of a false sense of superiority, but you scream racist to all.
You don’t know if a person values the work of a woman less, or if they simply believe the legal options available are sufficient, but you scream sexist to all.

How can you honestly expect people to vote for you when you label them racists and sexists for simply disagreeing with you?

You do realize that the doomer and denier absolutists are the only ones fighting this ‘climate change battle,’ right? That most people judge the issue by what they know from experience?
The fact is that people have seen your data proven wrong time and time again, and they are skeptical of the drastic lifestyle changes you are demanding.
But instead of trying to understand things, you scream unintelligent brainwashed deniers of science.

OK, Let’s look at the Planned Parenthood videos.
It is a fact that people were kept in the dark about research on aborted fetuses and that these videos brought it into the light to be judged. And THAT is the real issue here.
The full videos are available for people to watch and they show the same callous attitude that the shortened videos show. He11, I am pro-abortion and I had no idea that the selling of aborted fetuses was so unregulated.
But instead of trying to understand how the videos affected people, you “impugn their motives” and “allege a conspiracy.”

Do people support Voter ID out of racism, or to protect the integrity of our elections? Do people support stricter screening processes because they hate muslims, or because Boston, and now San Bernardino, has them now questioning the process?
You don’t know because you don’t care to know. All you care about is that your hyperbole results in votes.

“We’re explaining ourselves quite thoroughly.”

And people still reject the policy you support, Stephen. Why? You’ve been blaming it on everything from brainwashing to conspiracy to racism to sexism and it’s NOT working. Perhaps it’s time to finally listen?

The basic reality of the situation is that you are just as guilty as those you condemn.

Posted by: kctim at December 8, 2015 10:32 AM
Comment #401253

Royal Flush-
Study and Learn? More like write something I love in the stead of something I merely like.

You should congratulate yourself on having the gall to tell me that my posts are filled with hate. Hate is what fills you. Underneath it all, I still remember the days during which I believed that reason by itself could triumph.

These days, I’m unconvinced. You’re part of that. No matter what I say, your response is simply to incite hatred and distrust against me, not actually argue the real points. It’s become the habit of the strongest voices on the right, and it’s biggest fault is that it compels a reverse kind of claim of infallibility. Conservatism can’t fail, because if it fails, then you lose the contrast you need in order to claim that only conservatism has the right to succeed. We have to be traitors, so you can be the only true patriots. Global Warming has to be a hoax so your insistence on backing the polluter’s play doesn’t read like sold-out corruption.

So on, and so forth. The rigidity of it all, though, has locked you into support of some pretty bad ideas. Conservatism used to have more resilience, could advance with the times. Now you have to remain a relic of the past, or worse, reach back into the realms of the discredited and the outdated, in order to keep your base.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 8, 2015 12:22 PM
Comment #401254

You know, repeating people’s words back to them wasn’t mature argumentation when I was in third grade, and it isn’t now.

You say it’s the fact of their disagreement that makes them racists or sexists.


If you say that a black person is naturally dumber than a white person (The Bell Curve.) you’re not racist because you disagree with the Liberal position of equality between the races, you’re racist because you insist one race is better than the other.

If you say that women ought to remain in the kitchen and submit to their husbands, you’re not sexist because you disagree with women’s lib, you’re sexist because you’re insisting that one gender must submit to the other. It is the SUBSTANCE of the disagreement that is the meat of the charge.

The attacks on the President tend to insist that he’s merely a stupid guy, a lazy guy, a gimme-freebies guy who was helped into office by Whites guilty about the consequences of racism before. Now you tell me, if you really drill into that, how many ****ing black stereotypes can you dig out of that? You might as well call him Stepin Fetchit. Ah, but you don’t feel racist, do you? Well, racism was never a damn feeling, now was it?

If you were really operating on a non racist basis with him, you would take Harvard Law at its word when it says he graduated from the top of his class, and not question that unless evidence came up that made it reasonable to do so. It’s a very tacky double standard, but you seem to have taken it in stride.

Maybe it’s not your racism, but that doesn’t excuse it. You ought to, as a reasoning person say, “wait a second here, what’s the point of all this?”

But instead, it’s welfare and affirmative action tropes. If this was done in a private setting, it would be a big, ugly news story. But because the Republicans are doing it, and they’ve made this kind of dogwhistle politics par for the course, unfortunately, it’s given a pass.

Well, some of us don’t give those passes, and it’s not up to us, who are not exercising an unfair stereotype, to apologize to those who are insisting on them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 8, 2015 12:36 PM
Comment #401257

Daugherty writes; “No matter what I say, your response is simply to incite hatred and distrust against me, not actually argue the real points.”

Wow, in addition to his comments being full of hate as I wrote, Daugherty has a memory of convenience. I have presented hundreds of facts, backed by evidence, to Daugherty on a variety of subjects which he can’t answer except for attacking either me, the author of the fact, or the relevance.

I have written how successful Republicans and Conservatives have been in national and state elections. He can’t refute the fact…but rather, argues the reason from some left-wing crazy angle. Dems and Libs are losing elections because Americans don’t vote for them and their ideas. It is that simple Daugherty.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 8, 2015 1:32 PM
Comment #401258


So now you jump off the ledge and start with the personal attacks and denial. Shame, for a minute there I thought you might be serious about actual solutions.

Nobody said anything about a black person being naturally dumber than a white person, but you. Nobody said anything about women submitting to anybody, but you.
In fact, all you did with your little outburst is further prove my point that despite the lack of facts, you assume and promote the worse for political gain.

I disagree with the President on policy and I only “attack” him on the policy he supports. I have never mentioned Harvard Law. But you didn’t know that, did you? No, I dare disagree with the solutions you support so there is no reason for you to take the time to know what you are talking about.

People don’t want a pass, Stephen, they want you to have some integrity.

Posted by: kctim at December 8, 2015 1:38 PM
Comment #401260

Royal Flush-
Good job validating my point. Typical hate from you. You say you’ve shown me hundreds of facts. I don’t typically see them, I see wonderful phrases like “left-wing crazy angle.”

I don’t think it’s particularly crazy to say that the Republicans aren’t a functional governing party. How many times has my party had to bail your party out, because your Tea Partiers are too freaking politically precious to join in voting for your compromises. They can’t even compromise with their own people, they’re so antisocial. I’ve never even seen anything like it, not even during the days of the former Republican Majority. They, at least, seemed capable of functioning, even if they didn’t produce what I’d call ideal results.

I never saw the Republican Majority try the shutdown crap again during the Clinton Administration, much less take that spectacular flying leap at insanity that was the Debt Ceiling showdown. They learned, understood that they would look bad doing that. They understood, too, that eventually all the dysfunction would come back to haunt them.

Today, your people have convinced themselves that it’s so crucial to win, that all of that can be cast aside. I promise you, it can’t. You think you’ve won, but what have you won? Even now, with both houses of Congress, what do you have? A stalemate, that’s what. You dress it up with a ton of symbolic votes, but it’s really a fraud.

You basically redistricted and bull****ed your way into knocking out some of the old conservative Democrats out of their districts. Good job, but in the process, you destroyed many of your best backchannels and purified the Democrats of much of the remnants of Reagan-Era growth in conservatism. You’ve also managed to polarize the left much more, taking people who might have once been wiling to reach across the aisle with the Republicans, and so brutally abusing them that they either quit or hardened as more doctrinaire Democrats.

You’ve built your house divided against itself. You’ve forgotten the advice and the ethic of your Party’s first President.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 8, 2015 2:53 PM
Comment #401263

Did I say it was about you? Did I say, kctim, you’re a racist because you said this, a sexist because you said that? Don’t lecture me about integrity! I don’t resort to cheap rhetorical tricks to put people back on their heels.

I simply stated that many times, there is good cause to call the comments in question racist or sexist, or whatever. It’s just that these days, you can’t get many on the right to admit just how bad, how prejudiced their rhetoric has become. The only test applied is one of self-perception, which lo-and-behold, people always pass!

As a person with Aspergers, I’ve learned the hard way that social interactions require give and take. Unfortunately, Republicans seem to have inflicted an acquired case of autistic, naive thinking on themselves, divorcing themselves from all the different feedbacks that would warn them, long before things got really bad, that their words and thoughts were entering obnoxious, even vile territory.

Conservatives these days are of two minds. They dislike the fact that they’ve become so poorly appreciated beyond their party lines, yet they’re all too willing to push the envelope on being nasty to their opponents.

Conservatives need to realize that they can’t dispense with the rest of us. All they’ve gotten out of this decades-long partisan war is a deepening divide in a canyon whose far wall is beginning to lean over their heads.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 8, 2015 3:18 PM
Comment #401267

I wrote that Daugherty has a memory of convenience and he proves it once again.

He writes; “You say you’ve shown me hundreds of facts. I don’t typically see them, I see wonderful phrases like “left-wing crazy angle.”

He admits that he seldom reads the facts I present despite the many times he has withdrawn from the field whipped by those very facts.

The “left-wing crazy angle” I write about is a favorite excuse used by the Left to explain their increasing loss of elections in national and state elections.

The libbys blame redistricting for their losses. I suppose they blame the decennial US census as well.

The primary reason the Leftist/Socialist agenda is failing in the US is simple. The majority of American voters reject their political and social philosophy. As they lose more political clout they become, like Daugherty, more shrill, discordant, and hate-filled.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 8, 2015 4:13 PM
Comment #401268

If Obama is Right about Terrorism… then we Need Fossil Fuels!

“If you buy President Obama’s bogus claim that poverty and lack of hope of economic betterment foster terrorism, then the President should join us in supporting access to affordable energy, which is overwhelmingly from fossil fuels.

Producing more coal, oil, and natural gas will bring electricity and cars to the billions of very poor people in poor countries.” writes Myron Ebell, the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The cheap energy provided by conventional sources effectively reduces the price of everything, which promotes the kind of social stability and cohesion that make societies poor breeding grounds for terrorism, experts say.”

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 8, 2015 4:27 PM
Comment #401270


I apologize. I took all the “If you were,” “you would take,” and “you seem to” references in a personal way, rather than the general sense you meant. My bad.

Your OP basically claims that the Utopia of those on the right is actually a dystopia, but we are all just to stupid to understand it. And that we should just roll over and let you deal with the ‘real’ world.

I contend that understanding and respect for differing beliefs would be more productive than the all or nothing tactics you use now.
You disagree and you continue to blame all of the right for all of our problems. So be it. That’s life.

Good luck on a peaceful solution, my friend.

Posted by: kctim at December 8, 2015 4:40 PM
Comment #401342

Royal Flush-
You’re so darling, being the judge of your own rhetorical successes.

You follow things up with a quote from a think tank, as if to illustrate why I don’t hold your facts in high regard. Or rather, typically enough, the opinions held out as facts.

If we made fossil fuels obsolete, in whole, or even just partially, that would disrupt the market for the product whose proceeds helps fund terrorism in the Middle East. The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s man isn’t going to say, “let’s take a radically different direction from what benefits the people who pay me to produce scholarly material on their behalf.”

Solar actually does better in many cases. It doesn’t require an infrastructure be built to the different places. Many of the poorest countries are also some of the most tropical- naturally good places to get lots of dependable sunshine. The technology is cheap, getting cheaper. It has mobility on its side, too.

Your problem is, you’re not arguing with somebody who knows just what they’ve been fed through their political group, you’re arguing with somebody who keeps themselves posted on actual, real-world STEM material. That includes new energy technologies. That includes innovative approaches to third-world issues like power generation.

Ask yourself: just why does the developing world have to recapitulate all our different steps? I’ll give you an example: in many places in the world, mobile phones and technology have penetrated where stationary ones never did. Why is that? Because the infrastructural challenges in stringing up wire became moot when cellular phone technology became cheap enough and reliable enough to substitute for it. Hell, even people here in America don’t necessarily ask for a landline when they move somewhere new. PCs are losing (or maybe already have lost) their primacy as computing systems as people pick up smartphones and tablets. I bypassed getting a laptop entirely, and instead got an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard case. Works perfectly well for the purpose I need it to.

You’re stuck repeating the canned opinions of people paid to drum up, maintain, and defend business for folks whose business models are a questionable good for the public.

Solar power has the virtues of being distributable. You don’t need one big station somewhere to burn the fossil fuel or safely “burn” a bundle of expensive nuclear fuel. You have this power source that is limitless on any timescale that matters to humanity, and the technology has improved as we’ve become better able to engineer materials at the level of billionths of a meter. You can take solar panels and get some rudimentary lights and appliances going in a place, kickstarting the whole thing.

We don’t need to forever depend on fossil fuels. In fact, by doing so, we support the very market that overall makes money for the people supporting terrorism. We need to unentangle ourselves from that fuel source, and by doing that, allow ourselves greater freedom to mind our own business rather than worry about theirs. al-Qaeda came to target us, in part, because we went to the Saudis and had them pick us to defend the Kingdom. If our interests hadn’t made that necessary, terrorism wouldn’t be such a big threat, and ISIS most certainly would not exist. Then again, maybe a lot of things would be different. The whole trouble with Iran comes about because we intervened to put a friendly Shah in place so that BP could keep its oil fields there. Saddam Hussein wasn’t selling baseball cards to afford that army we flattened in a matter of days both time we faced them.

Wow, you suffer poor self esteem. My title’s point is this sentiment: it is not difficult to create a nation whose conditions are wonderful for a select few. Even a warlord in Somalia might live a relatively prosperous life while others around him starve, kill each other, and live in primitive squalor thanks to a lack of decent infrastructure.

Revolutionary era France was splendid for the upper echelon, including the King and Marie Antoinette. The Tsars and the nobility beneath them most certainly lived in luxury. The London of Victorian times, whether at the beginning or the end, had splendid lives for those on top, while those in the lower classes had to deal with lives of appalling deprivation.

The vast majority of governments and civilizations in world history have had people who were better off than most. The rare, notable, and admirable exceptions are those where the average person had a decent standard of living, where even the poor are well-taken care of.

Consider our situation for a moment. Transport a slave from the Antebellum South to today’s world, and let them see who is President. Transport a doctor from among those who treated Washington to one of today’s hospitals, and let him see them cure what their quackery could not. Let a Civil War battlefield doctor see them not only save limbs that he could not, save gunshot victims he could not, but give those who do need amputations mechanical limbs engineered from light, space-age materials.

Take a scientist from their era, and let them see the face of a dwarf planet they didn’t even know existed. Then tell them that there are more where that came from, not just around our sun, but other stars. And that the stars they see at night are just those orbiting around the center of one galaxy, and that beyond their sight in the night, there are hundreds of billions, just like it. Not just that, but we can see those stars in forms of light they only barely know about, and in forms that they don’t even have the first clue about.

It is the rare person in this country who actually does laundry strictly by hand. Only two percent of us are necessary to create the food that feeds the other 98%. We don’t slaughter the pigs, chickens, and cows we eat from. We don’t even normally raise them. Some of us hunt deer. We use weapons that would be science fiction devices to the framers, from the miniature, industrially rifled barrels, to the composites and plastics that form parts, to the refined alloys and standardized pieces that go into these devices.

Yet it’s far from what we would consider a utopia. I keep on recalling Louis C.K.’s brilliant comment that the fantastic, incredible fact of modern airflight was lost on modern people. “You’re sitting in a chair in the SKY!” But of course, we’re not measuring things from that position of wonder. We’re actually experiencing what others dreamed of, and that is always going to differ from what we dreamed. Some dreamed that the internet was going to bring everybody together. Which it did. And allowed some people to drill themselves down into isolated pockets of eccentricity and fringiness.

The world doesn’t owe us the fulfillment of our fantasies. Whatever can happen, does, and we deal with the consequences.

The Right these days… It’s not that the ideas are all irredeemably bad. Far from it. But it’s gotten caught up in a cultural phenomenon that values appearances, loyalties and dogmatic conformity over creative thought, pragmatism, etc. Folks have gotten the unfortunate idea in their heads that they have all the problems licked, if they just could force everybody to do things and see things their way.

Whatever side of the political fence you’re on, if any, the emphasis needs to be on that inquisitive, curious interaction with the real world. We need people willing and able, strong enough, to admit when things are not working and change the policies for the better.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 9, 2015 11:24 PM
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