Confirmation Bias

We think that we look for facts to make decisions. More likely, we make decisions and then look for confirming facts. This explains some of the polarization in our society. Confronted by the same evidence, our prior decisions lead us to different conclusions. This article shows how deep in our brains this goes. Media choice exacerbates it.

We are uncomfortable when our ideas are challenged, so we watch, read and listen to those who agree with us. A recent 20/20 episode talks about how we choose our friends and even our home towns to confirm our political prejudices.

Because of where I work and live, many of my friends are liberals. They claim to like me, but they always say things like, "you are not a typical conservative." Of course, nobody is a typical anything. They have a stereotype about what a conservative is and few (or no) real people fit that image. My conservative friends have similar misconceptions about liberals. They ask me how I can stand hanging around with liberals. If my liberal friends resembled my conservative friends' image, I would have to agree, but they don't (usually).

I enjoy political discourse and I enjoy political arguments. Many of us who write for blogs do. We have to recognize, however, that most people are not like us. Normal people avoid talking about religion, money or politics. They don’t like the discomfort of uncertainty, which is why they choose friends and media that confirm their biases. We really cannot let them do this. And we cannot let ourselves do it. We have to ask ourselves disconfirming questions and BE a disconfirming question to others.

One thing I have found very useful to check myself is to make predictions about the outcomes of big events. I write them down and then DO NOT look at them until after the event has occurred. Before reading my predictions, I again write what I though I predicted. It is very interesting that my mind has often adjusted my memory to fit subsequent events. (I have learned some of my habitual patterns. Even when I am aware, I often cannot stop them, but at least I can anticiipate some consequences.) Everybody does has this flaw. It is human. This is why so many of us think we accurately understood events in the past, but so few of us are rich or famous for actually having done it.

So let's disconfirm ourselves. We can still fight about ideas. One valid reason why we all see the world differently is that we have different goals, paradigms and values. This should give us plenty to fight about. But let's stop just thinking the other side is stupid. That is unhelpful and empirically wrong. Since the political sides seem evenly matched, if we think our opponent is stupid, we must be stupid too.

P.S. Let me add ex post facto that my title is meant to bother liberals. That is what I do and why I write on the red side. If I wrote in a neutral venue, I would have chosen a more neutral title. But if I did that, I would not be writing under a title Republicans & Conservatives. It is a definitional thing.

Posted by Jack at July 1, 2006 11:13 PM
Comment #164068

Of course, you could have titled this “Why Conservatives Can’t See The Bad in Bush”.

Posted by: womanmarine at July 2, 2006 12:06 AM
Comment #164075

Or it could be titled “Why liberals Fight Anything a Conservative Says”.

Posted by: lllplus2 at July 2, 2006 12:31 AM
Comment #164077

Woman and Ill

Yes. I choose the titles because of the side I am on. We all suffer from confirmation bias.

BTW - this is not always a bad thing. People who cannot make any decisions are often worse off than those who make a bad one and constant vacilation gets you nowhere.

Posted by: Jack at July 2, 2006 12:40 AM
Comment #164091


Thanks for the link. I watched the same 20/20 episode. I find it worrying.

I think it would have made a big difference if Bush had been the uniter he promised to be. Instead he is the decider.

Posted by: womanmarine at July 2, 2006 2:08 AM
Comment #164092

I need to add this because it bothers me how the word “liberal” seems to be dirty nowdays. Here is the definition: NOT LIMITED TO OR BY ESABLISHED,TRADITIONAL,ORTHODOX, OR AUTHORTARIAN ATTITIDES,VIEEWS OR DOGMAS…FREE FROM BIGIOTRY. fAVORING PROPOSALS FOR REFORM, OPEN TO NEW IDEAS FOR PROGRESS AND TOLAERANT OF THE IDEAS OND BEHAVIOU OF OTHERS; BROADMINDED….I don’t always agree with the left, but i am damn proud to be a “liberal”

Posted by: del erickson at July 2, 2006 2:14 AM
Comment #164093

Jack, the Sci. Amer. article leaves a lot of questions and real world human experience unaccounted for.

For example, are swing voters more skeptical than party line voters? This would be rather important to know, would it not? I mean in terms of campaigns, if the swing voters are more skeptical, would it not make far more sense and use money far more wisely to appeal to their skepticism with logical and rational arguments, instead of the emotional rhetoric which dominates campaign messages?

What accounts for the skeptical susceptibles to changing to their minds? Is it education level? Is it education in particular fields of endeavor? I suspect there are very strong correlations in these areas.

I recognize the Sci. Amer. article is limited by the scope of the fMRI study. But, you see, one of the design flaws in the study is that they used subjects who already had a strong self-identified party affiliation. That would amount to the study being relevant only for party line voters. And party line voters DO not even make up half of the eligible voting public.

So, in terms of usefulness, this research does not tell us much. What it does tell us is what psychological research had confirmed decades ago. That cognitive dissonance results in rationalization to reduce the dissonance. Which means Party loyalists will discount information which contradicts or brings into question their party loyalty.

So, this research is valuable only in that it confirms cognitive dissonance theory which has been well researched and established, but, it does so only for a moderate sub set of the American population. One exception should be noted. This research predicts that emotional appeals will be useful in motivating their base to go to the polls, especially with messages that reflect that the opposing party is highly motivated to show up, potentially besting them.

Some who don’t understand the limitations of such designs, might project that this research means campaign money should be spent on emotional appeals. But that may be wasted money if directed at swing and independent voters who may be the skeptical ones, and whose decisions may not be so oriented on neural reward mechanisms based on emotional reception, but, may in fact derive their neural rewards from insight and logical or rational arguments based on external realities.

Any more general applications of the emotional appeal would lead to wrong conclusions not only based on the researche’s results but, also on the limitation of the sample which specifically excluded swing and independent voters who don’t identify strongly with either Dem’s or Rep’s. Since, our close races today depend heavily on swing and independent voters, which this research does not address at all, it is of limited use, except as noted in terms of motivating a party’s base to the polls.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 2, 2006 2:30 AM
Comment #164094


You ended by saying
“One valid reason why we all see the world differently is that we have different goals, paradigms and values. This should give us plenty to fight about. But let’s stop just thinking the other side is stupid. That is unhelpful and empirically wrong. Since the political sides seem evenly matched, if we think our opponent is stupid, we must be stupid too.”

Reminds me of a running line from The Blues Brothers:

Elwood: We’ll be all right if we can just get back on the expressway.
Jake: This don’t look like no expressway to me, pal.
Elwood: Don’t yell at me.
Jake: Well whadda you want me to do, Motorhead?
Elwood: Why da ya gotta be so negative all the time? Why can’t ya offer some… constructive criticism?

Posted by: JR at July 2, 2006 2:41 AM
Comment #164097

Del, I will go one further and say that in today’s political environment, liberals outright oppose authoritarians in government, where conservatives revere traditional which often has authoritarian roots.

Conservatives, generally speaking will be reluctant to change because it worked in the past and what was good enough for their forebears is good enough for them. This is respect for authoritarian dogma and tradition. Liberals are constantly questioning tradition and authors of past ways and means of doing things.

Hence, when the nation feels the need to return to traditional values, it will swing toward conservatives. But, when the nation needs creative and innovative solutions, it will swing liberal. This is one of the basic drivers of the pendulum which swings between conservative and liberal trends throughout modern western history and culture. It is not a clean predictive solution to future needs however, because of timing and inertia. Too often the need for a liberal swing comes to late to adequately address the problems in time, and the need for a conservative swing is so general and broad that it stifles progress in too many other areas beyond that of social values.

The pendulum swings inexorably, but, all to often too slowly to be optimal for a nations needs, and too complete to allow exceptions.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 2, 2006 3:01 AM
Comment #164098

David R

No mas, no mas! You win. I’ll agree to being stupid if you promise to never, ever write about cognative dissonance theory again! I flash back to junior year summer session - motivational psych and the interaction of chemical/electrical stimuli that bullied & burdened my last free summer in 1983. And yes, I voted for Reagan. Twice.

Posted by: JR at July 2, 2006 3:04 AM
Comment #164099

Jack, as always, you’ve written a good article that just barely has anything to do with politics and doesn’t deal with Republican Party issues or ideology at all. Well done.

They claim to like me, but they always say things like, “you are not a typical conservative.”

Perhaps that’s because you’re really a “Third Way” Clinton Democrat. :)

Posted by: American Pundit at July 2, 2006 3:17 AM
Comment #164102

American Pundit

Did you mean to say a “Three Way” Clinton Democrat? I believe there’s a word for that…
And He’s (Bill) into it!

Posted by: JR at July 2, 2006 3:44 AM
Comment #164111

JR, I guess you’re making some kind of dirty joke. Thanks for your input.

Posted by: American Pundit at July 2, 2006 4:20 AM
Comment #164124

Why Conservatives can’t see the good in Gore…
How does that sentence affect your orbital frontal cortex?

You make some great points Jack, and I see why you have liberal friends.

I’m usually open to changing my mind based on the actual content of someone’s words rather than another’s interpretation. That’s why I read the transcripts of speeches. I usually find that the intent of speaker is spun by the interpreter.

Some observations about the links you provided:

Political opinions have a stronger emotional than intellectual home in our brains. We connect these beliefs to childhood religious experiences and close ties to family. Some people undergo a self-reflective period where they examen their beliefs to understand them or change them. Most people don’t go through this process.

My take on the 20/20 show is that conservatives like political programming that resembles professional wrestling and most liberals like gossiping about people behind their backs.

It is ironic that the 20/20 website contained links to John Stossel, whose programming and book might be retitled “Why liberals are wrong about everything”

Posted by: Loren at July 2, 2006 8:03 AM
Comment #164129

I was at the grocery store a few weeks ago, and was ask to try a new soda. I tried it, and it sucked. Not really because it lacked what other sodas had… and the taste test person brought this up by saying: “you just don’t like sodas.”

Ya know, he was right. I don’t like soda. So I have a bias, maybe…? Or, could it be that it’s not that I’m against sodas, but it’s simply a case that sodas have nothing about them that I like. Maybe it’s all my fault because I just won’t adjust my tastes to fit what the soda offers. My thought: sodas taste bad, are bad for you, and cost too much. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the soda’s fault for having nothing for me to like.???

(hint: maybe it’s not that I simply hate Bush… maybe it’s an issue that pretty much everything Bush has done is a miserable failure and he’s done nothing for me to like…?)

Posted by: tony at July 2, 2006 8:57 AM
Comment #164136


You’re right in principal, but not in fact with your argument. The fact is that it is now liberals who are acting conservative. For almost 50 years now, they’ve run amok. Thier grand experiments of removing absolute morals and anything traditional they could from American society has been a burden to the nation and is replete with examples of failure. Despite this, they refuse to offer new ideas, instead clinging to the same old solutions of throwing government money at social problems. They dynamism and conviction of the 60s liberals has been replaced with a staid institution. The people who once occupied the administration buildings are now trying to indoctrinate the next generation with thier tired Marxist rhetoric.

Conservativism may not be the best answer for every single problem now faced, but it beats the hell out of the last 50 year’s approach.

Posted by: 1LT B at July 2, 2006 9:12 AM
Comment #164141


You forgot to add a few descriptors to your definition of “Liberal.” Allow me …


… and so on.

Posted by: crowan at July 2, 2006 9:19 AM
Comment #164146

Liberals are not the only one that can change history and re-write the dictionary.
Right on cowan!

Posted by: coach at July 2, 2006 9:36 AM
Comment #164151


I have an image of two reflections in a mirror, both arguing over who is real and who is whose reflection. Their only argument is to walk away to prove that the other doesn’t really exist.

Posted by: tony at July 2, 2006 9:53 AM
Comment #164154

I agree with crowan, most liberals look at the dictionary definition and walk around feeling smug. But, the action of the “liberals” is not liberal, it is more akin to socialists. I would suggest looking up the definition of the word socialist if you want to see a closer definition of the current liberal agenda.

Posted by: Paul at July 2, 2006 9:58 AM
Comment #164162

Paul -

Are you a liberal? No. Then keep do discussing what you know and exposing the enlightenment/benefits/whatever of what you do know. When you start telling people what they are thinking and why they are thinking it, then you start sounding like my sister (who has no kids) giving me advice on how to raise them. For my sister, she comes across as obnoxiously ill-informed about the subject.

I tend to have the same feelings about Neo-cons who cloak their war agenda with their bibles: smug. I don’t have any real connection to neo-cons, so I can’t see things from their perspective… so how could I project an emotion or state of mind onto them?

Posted by: tony at July 2, 2006 10:14 AM
Comment #164165

Yes, tony, I am a liberal per the dictionary. Therefore I suppose I can tell you what I think. Since your sentence structure is hard to understand, I think you are telling me if I was a conservative I would not be allowed to tell you what I think. Ergo, you are a conservative person who claims to be a liberal political person. That is exactly my point. Please believe me, I would not dare attempt to tell you what you are thinking, it wasn’t clear in your writing and it probably wouldn’t be any clearer if we talked. I am not quite sure what the rant about your sister was about but I hope you develop a better relationship with her.

You say you are smug about your feelings regarding Neo-cons? I am not sure of your point since I have never met any of the Neo-cons who exist in “liberals” nightmares but I know that I would be concerned about them rather than smug.

Re: the projections or projecting yourself onto Neo-cons, I am not into that so I cannot comment.

Posted by: Paul at July 2, 2006 10:25 AM
Comment #164166

I love how I read every entry on this blog, including the original posting, and nothing was said. Politics today has become a bunch of name calling monologist, never taking time to listen, god forbid anyone ever think.

A bunch of he said she said little girls going, “Un uh, you are.”

Liberals are socialists, conservatives are fascist, and why don’t we look at acts and not ideas. It’s ideas that have congress spending my money delivering speeches on issues without merit why my countrymen die in a futile attempt to save face for a crumbling nation. A nation that has lost its place in the world, a country that no longer takes the high road in with international law, a place where it’s “our way or the highway,” yet we have the citizens arguing dictionary definitions while Rome burns. Why are we arguing semantics while we spend and burn our grandchildren’s future? Because that is what the Roves of this world want us to do. Just continue to fight amongst yourselves while those at the top sing happily on their way to the bank with our money.

We sit here arguing china patterns, unaware that we are out of food.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut at July 2, 2006 10:32 AM
Comment #164170

Paul -

Sorry - I wrote “do” instead of “to.”

My point is that people call each other generalized names and assign “thoughts” or assumptions that make it easy to dismiss each other.

I assumed that your were a conservative calling liberals smug. My bad for assuming what you were.

My question: why do you feel smug?

Posted by: tony at July 2, 2006 10:40 AM
Comment #164172

The only rational decent thing posted yet
good job.

Posted by: Russ at July 2, 2006 10:44 AM
Comment #164173

“This is why so many of us think we accurately understood events in the past, but so few of us are rich or famous for actually having done it. So let’s disconfirm ourselves. We can still fight about ideas. One valid reason why we all see the world differently is that we have different goals, paradigms and values. This should give us plenty to fight about. But let’s stop just thinking the other side is stupid. That is unhelpful and empirically wrong. Since the political sides seem evenly matched, if we think our opponent is stupid, we must be stupid too.”

Jack, good post, I applaud your effort to try and referee both sides of this (neverending) political witchhunt; however, there’s a reason people “make decisions and then look for confirming facts.” and most of the time it’s b/c of blind hatred for the enemy. Notice I said enemy. People actually think Bush is the enemy; so, how could one possibly have a logical argument with someone who, in this day and age with all the evil that’s confronting us (Iran, Al Qaeda, North Korea, etc.), looks at Bush as “evil”?!! Face it, that’s asking (way!!!) too much of someone to have a rational conversation with (sick, twisted) individuals like that.

By the way, the title certainly fits the article.

Posted by: rahdigly at July 2, 2006 11:05 AM
Comment #164174

I suppose “rational” is being used in the context of only some people believe what “nutty” wrote is true and those people agree with me (you, Russ) therefore it is rational.

It order to have a discourse it is necessary to make sure that the words are defined correctly or, if that is not possible, then at least both parties understand the definition consistently.

If you use the word liberal as a curse and I use it as a blessing, then it is difficult to actually understand what the other person is talking about since the context is radically different.

I think this was what the original topic was about; i.e. if I think Bush = good and you think Bush = bad then it is extremely difficult to discuss the topic since every contextual reference is influence by the underlying assumptions.

Posted by: Paul at July 2, 2006 11:09 AM
Comment #164178

Russ you are absolutly right. GOOD job Nutty, and well said! Both sides have a hand in this mess that we are in right now. Lets stop pointing fingers and get to work geting this counntry back to where, we can have some respect again. And Cowan, it wasn’t MY definition, all you have to do is look it up yourself. I just suggested that it really isn’t the dirty word that it seems to be to the right…..thats all.

Posted by: DEL at July 2, 2006 11:13 AM
Comment #164179

Tony -

How can you get two reflections of anything in a mirror without a second mirror?

I’m not even sure I understand the point you were trying to make. I think you dislike my additional liberal descriptors, and I can understand why. It must be terribly frustrating (and not a little bit embarrassing) to be associated with a group of people who have backed themselves into a corner, politically speaking.

The only way Lib ideology can succeed is if we, as a nation, fail. We must fail militarily in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in the world. We must fail economically here at home. We must fail to raise our children in loving homes with a biological mom and a biological dad. We must fail to respect the God-given right of the not-yet-born to live.

You get the picture. They key word here is FAILURE. Libs are experts when it comes to failure. They desperately NEED failure in order to survive. Just look at their front-line political mouthpieces - Gore, Kerry, Dean - failures all. If you want to get ahead in the Democrat Party, then you’d better fail at something. And the bigger the failure, the higher you go in the Democrat heirarchy.

Libs NEED for the War on Terror to fail. Libs NEED a large portion of the electorate to feel helpless and hopeless so they become dependent on the government for their day-to-day survival. Libs NEED to redefine marriage in order to further undermine the American family. Libs NEED whiny, indecisive, emasculates in power to advance their decidedly UNmanly agenda. In short, Libs NEED failure.

That’s what nauseates me about Liberals.

Posted by: crowan at July 2, 2006 11:15 AM
Comment #164184

Crowan, thank you for proving my point. One would usually have to go to a playground to hear such a formidable wit.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut at July 2, 2006 11:42 AM
Comment #164188

Nut, can you dispute what crowan actually said?! Can you prove that liberals aren’t routing for failure?! If so, then prove it.

Posted by: rahdigly at July 2, 2006 11:54 AM
Comment #164190

Nutty -

Wow, that’s quite a retort. You must be the smartest person in the room, wherever you go.

When a Lib fails in the arena of ideas, he typically resorts to ad hominem attacks, “character assassination,” and the like.

Feeling a little frustrated, Nutty?

Posted by: crowan at July 2, 2006 11:57 AM
Comment #164192

First, I don’t claim to speak for anyone besides myself.

Second, I want my country to be a model of democracy and I will support any leader that feels the same.

Third, I do want failure of toture, secret prisons, dismantling of the Constitution and the destruction of what was once the most free country on the planet.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut at July 2, 2006 11:58 AM
Comment #164193

So the answer is no, you can’t prove that liberals don’t route for failure of this country. Thanks for playing.

By the way, this is (and always will be) “the most free country on the planet”. Better believe that!

Posted by: rahdigly at July 2, 2006 12:02 PM
Comment #164198

I’m glad this is just a little fun game for you. If you want to play, try this:

Can you prove that conservatives don’t want this country to continue towards this administrations desire for a fascist state?

Posted by: nutty little nut nut at July 2, 2006 12:14 PM
Comment #164199

You need liberals to be the enemy. You need us to be nauseating. You wouldn’t know what to do with yourself politically otherwise.

We’re your scapegoats. Republicans find themselves mired in scandal? It’s the liberal media. Lose a vote? Obstructionist liberals. Courts rule against you? Damn Activist (read: liberal) judges, making up law!

The modern conservative movement grew out of a minority position, and was the defined by it’s rise from that. It constantly used complaints about liberal leadership and liberal media to gain sympathy as it built its power. Something happened, though, and it relates to the confirmation bias that is the subject of this entry: Republicans became dependent on internal dogma and talking points to define what were reliable sources of information, and what information was reliable. Being Republican became defined by who you listened to, and who you ignored or outright opposed.

We balance our outlook on the world by the views that surround us. If you visit a site like this, you might find people become more moderate, because they’re not just exposed to Republican or Democrat views. You don’t just have a lot of dittoheads from both parties repeating the line.

I can’t help but shake my head when I read a post like yours. It’s anger and hatred are misplace, the motives misread. You turn us into a bunch of mustache-twirling melodramatic villains, out to destroy America and the world.

I want us to win. I think Bush’s policy is in the way. I want us to win. I think Bush’s personnel aren’t up to the job. I want us to win. I think our crediblity on spreading Democracy suffers when we’re caught doing inhumane and vicious things. I want us to win. Letting Bush get away with crippling mistakes in foreign and domestic policy doesn’t seem to fit that bill.

Trouble is, you think that your people have the only means of victory, the only plans that will work, the only attitude of leadership that will successfully lead the nation. Therefore, anybody who disagrees with you wants us to lose.

In the real world, no matter how much we ensconse ourselves in yes-men and fellow travellers, we often are lacking for the knowledge, wisdom and luck to know exactly what we need to do when difficult problems arise. The wise among us recognize that no one person or one party is sufficiently wise to know all ends, see all outcomes. The wise among us recognize the need to grow into leadership, rather than supposing we already know and believe everything we need to win. The wise among us recognize that for boldness and courage to take us the last mile, our preparations must often bring us most of the way there.

Attitude and will cannot win without means, and it certain won’t win if wisdom is not allowed to guide us to push our efforts in the right direction.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 2, 2006 12:15 PM
Comment #164202

I’m a liberal and I don’t root for the failure of this country.

We want to stop the people who use terrorism to kill the innocent and bring chaos. We disagree with the way it is currently being done. I want our military to fight on the side of right, not on the side of the highest profit, because the 2 sides are frequently not the same.

My wife and I are bringing up our daughter in a loving and tolerant home with moral values. Gay marriage has absolutely no imact on that.

This country is the freest govt on the planet, and we liberals are fighting hard to keep the neocons from changing that freedom status.

Posted by: Loren at July 2, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #164203

Nut, no, you need to prove you can answer the question first, then I’ll answer yours.

Prove that the liberals aren’t for failure in this country.

And, by the way, I can (easily) prove that Conservatives are for America and not about “scapegoatin liberals”. The libs put themselves on that island, b/c they can’t come up with (logical) reasonable solutions to the complex problems we face.

Posted by: rahdigly at July 2, 2006 12:24 PM
Comment #164207

“When a Lib fails in the arena of ideas, he typically resorts to ad hominem attacks”

This is too funny.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut at July 2, 2006 12:29 PM
Comment #164210

I thought this was the birth place of logical fallacies.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut at July 2, 2006 12:32 PM
Comment #164211

I speak for myself, too, but I think there are a lot of people who agree with me.

Nutty wants America to be a ” … model of democracy,” insinuating that the opposite is true at present. I believe that we ARE a model of democracy and must prevail in this war if we are to survive as a nation and a people.

Nutty accuses this Administration of torture, secret prisons, and “dismantling” of the Constitution. I have to admit that when it comes to extricating information from jihadist headcutters, I’m actually OK with a little forced discomfort. And that’s pretty much all we did with the jihadist headcutters at Abu Graib - we made them uncomfortable. We didn’t cut off their fingers and toes. We didn’t string them from the ceiling with piano wire. We made them uncomfortable by depriving them of sleep, scaring the crap out of them with dogs, and humiliating them. Contrast our treatment of them with their treatment of US. How many American solders captured by the jihadist headcutters have survived? Where is the Liberal outrage against the jihadist headcutters?

Nutty seems to think that the concept of “secret prisons” was invented by the Bush Administration. I actually think it predates Bush, don’t you? I really don’t know for sure because the existence of these prisons was, of course, SECRET. Thank goodness for liberal bias in the media! Does anyone really think the NY or LA Times would have divulged the existence of secret prisons during a Clinton Administration?

And if anyone is “dismantling the Constitution,” it is liberal activist judges who are legislating from the bench, thus nullifying the will of the people to govern themselves.

Posted by: crowan at July 2, 2006 12:34 PM
Comment #164212

“When a Lib fails in the arena of ideas, he typically resorts to ad hominem attacks”

‘This is too funny.’

Funny, yet, so (damn) true. BTW, dodging arguments are another “resort” for libs, as well.

Posted by: rahdigly at July 2, 2006 12:38 PM
Comment #164214

The job of a judge is to interpret the law and determine its constitutionality. They can’t leglislate. They force the executive and the legislature to obey our system of law. The will of the people is fallible and changes on a whim, especially when the powers that be decide what is the will of the people, regardless of contradictory evidence.

Posted by: Loren at July 2, 2006 12:45 PM
Comment #164218

One problem not addressed is that the word “Liberal”, contrary to poular belief, was not “highjacked” by the Right, but rather by the far-left. “Liberals” were once people like Harry Truman and JFK. I saw CNN refer to Angela Davis as a “Liberal Activist”… (cough). It’s probably one of the greatest successes the Left has had…. much more dangerous and vile beliefs and actions are now mererly labeled “Liberal”… the death of Classic Liberalism if you will. Wouldn’t you have (maybe) a smidgeon of “respect” for the likes of Micheal Moore if he looked straight into the camera and said “I AM A COMMUNIST WHO WANTS TO SEE THE DESTRUCTION OF THE US GOVERNMENT”?? - That is, of course, the actual truth…


Posted by: chotty at July 2, 2006 12:53 PM
Comment #164220

The trouble I find with some Republican’s sense of classic liberalism is that these leaders they talk about are safely in the past. If JFK proposed what he did now today, Republicans would be calling him a socialist along with everybody else. He was a New Deal Democrat, for heaven’s sake.

You can define liberals today as much further to the right on things, but that wouldn’t be useful at all for cheap political distinctions.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 2, 2006 12:57 PM
Comment #164222

crowan -

“I’m not even sure I understand the point you were trying to make. I think you dislike my additional liberal descriptors, and I can understand why.”

Wow, you follow up a statement which you do not grasp with 2 more assumptions. I’m not surprised the “reflection” argument confuses you.

Posted by: tony at July 2, 2006 1:01 PM
Comment #164224

The funny part is my mouth is so full of words I didn’t put there. I never mentioned “Bush” or attempted to dodge any valid argument (finding out the political affiliation and stance of every human on the planet isn’t really an argument) nor have I every voiced a desire for the failure of the US.

I stand for truth justice and all that stuff.

Rove has done his job of dividing people on issues so well that people are defending themselves when there is no attack, just a desire to learn. Through knowledge we may have a better view of the world before us. Those who speak with authority of world events must be able to get there information somewhere besides the media. Please, let us all know your source.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut at July 2, 2006 1:09 PM
Comment #164235

Stephen -

I don’t need Libs to be nauseating; I need Libs to continue to fail. I need Libs to come out of the closet and simply BE what they ARE. Let the American people judge you for what you truly believe. That way, conservatives will stay in power for the next 50 years.

Republicans are mired in scandal? I could say the same for Democrats. So what?

You attribute the rise of conservatism to “… complaints about liberal leadership and liberal media.” That’s typical of Libs. People are sooo stupid that they believe whatever they’re told. It couldn’t possibly be that the vast majority of people arrived at the same conclusion at the same time; namely, that 50 years of liberal legislative rule has wasted trillions of dollars and produced little more than an endless cycle of dependency and despair.

You balance our outlook on the world by the views that surround you. In other words, you point your finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing before you make a decision. You don’t have a core set of values that are immutable and inviolate. Everything is relative. So, Jihadist headcutters are not evil. They’re just misunderstood. The 9/11 hijackers were freedom fighters, not terrorists.

I like the image of Libs as moustache-twirling villians. I really do.

You want us to win, but you think Bush and his administration don’t have what it takes to pull it off. Well, Stephen, here’s your chance to put forward your Lib champion. Which Lib will it be? Murtha? Kerry? Gore? Hillary? Pelosi? And what, exactly, would President Hillary do differently that would help us win the War on Terror? Surrender?

Do I think “my people” have the only means of victory? Hmm. Is there some way to defeat jihadist headcutters other than kill them?

What, exactly, would Libs do differently?

Posted by: crowan at July 2, 2006 1:33 PM
Comment #164257

Jack, this is a good post. However, the title should read:

“Confirmation Bias: Why liberals and conservatives do not understand each other”

If this were your title I would have told you that this is an outstanding post.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at July 2, 2006 2:39 PM
Comment #164258


“You attribute the rise of conservatism to “… complaints about liberal leadership and liberal media.”

I attribute the “rise of conservatism” to the “Contract with America” and the promises therein.

Oh, and BTW, just how many of those promises have been fulfilled?

How about homeland security?
Border security?
No child left behind?

Posted by: Rocky at July 2, 2006 2:42 PM
Comment #164260

stephen D, Jfk, was a liberal and most of the country liked him .Eisenhower was a conservative and most of the country liked him also.and they really liked each other.there seemed to be a seamless transition when the election was over,and it was a very close race in 1960. eisenhower was a visionary and so was jfk.eisenhower took a stand and said no to french in vietnam and would not place troops on the ground.that was a real conservative. Jfk did involve the troops. but I believe he would have pulled them out later, if he had the chance.and said I made a mistake. that was a real liberal. I also believe Reagan would have never done Iraq,we all know clinton talked about it, but I also don’t think he would have.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at July 2, 2006 2:47 PM
Comment #164264


Really the way I think the conversation has gone is this.

Republican: “Employment is up 1%. Bush is doing a great job all around.”

Democrat: “That’s debatable. But it really doesn’t matter. The debt is the larger problem we should be focused on.”

Republican: “Yup. You just can’t admit everything is great right now.”

Circle endlessly.

Posted by: Max at July 2, 2006 3:04 PM
Comment #164269

We are what we are. It’s only folks like you who seem to have this need to read dark, apocalyptic motives into our positions.

I think the Republicans have done a good job of setting up an array of media sources that can simultaneously swamp the discourse with the same talking points, making points seem like consensus by incestuous amplification. That’s been key to vaulting to power. But it’s had its price. It’s stifled Conservatism as a robust philosophy.

Now, you might think that I think that would be a bad thing, but you assume too much. When I heard that my college didn’t allow drinking on campus, I thought that was a good thing. I have nothing pierced, nothing tatooed. When Nancy said Just Say No, I said yes ma’am. I’m fairly conservative in some ways. Now I was never a big fan of deficits, but even as a kid I found it nonsensical that one couldn’t occasionally raise taxes to cover one’s costs. I enjoyed seeing Clinton reduce the deficit. But as for endless cycles of dependency and despair, don’t give yourself too much credit.

I think people from time to time want the rules to ease up, want reform, and unfortunately, my party wasn’t doing that. Now, it’s your party’s turn. You should be concerned about your politician, crowan, because the Scandals the Democratic party went through were key to our downfall as a majority. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that your party may follow our party’s fate over its policies and it’s corruption.

I think people see the government as out of control, society out of control, and they want somebody to lay down the law and return a kind of fairness and flexibility to the government.

As for your commentary about my balance, I don’t think you quite get it. It’s not about sticking your finger in their, but rather about removing one’s head from the ground and actually seeing things for yourself. One can have solid principles without having rigid dogma about one’s choices. I don’t have much sympathy for those who run planes into towers or cut helpless people’s heads off. They may not be evil, but their actions, however motivated, are evil. They target defenseless people, and if somebody killed them to stop them from doing what they were doing, I would consider it a good thing.

As for the images of the melodrama villains, the idea was that like the black-hatted mustachioed bad guy, your notion of us was a cliched stereotype. You think of us as surrenderers, as cowards, as just folks trying to bring your great leaders down. You’re so busy fitting this effigy of us in your little box that you don’t even recognize your fellow American standing right beside you.

Is there a way to defeat “Jihadist headcutters” without killing them? There are ways. You can erode their popularity. You can act like the good guys you want people to believe you are. You can configure international law to make it more difficult for them to operate. You can put them in jails. You can deny them recruits. You can do a lot.

But who said we have a problem with killing terrorists. We just don’t think that alone will do the trick. When Von Clausewitz talked of destroying forces, he elaborated that this wasn’t always a question of attrition. You can scare them so bad they can’t fight. You can deprive them of supplies, communications, home bases, etc, etc. Operations like al-Qaeda’s depend on more than just the survival of their members. We could do a better job of defeating our enemies, if we worked smarter, and didn’t just assume they had a limited number of soldiers, like some conventional army.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 2, 2006 3:19 PM
Comment #164272

The position taken by “Conservatives” on virtually every issue on the table is the position that most, if not all, of the people “Liberals” SAY are their heroes, predecesors and role models…

Which side of the “Homo-Sexual Marriage”, “Abortion”, “Flag-Burning”, “Iraq War”, “Palestinian-Statehood”, “Narcotic Drug-Legalization” and so many other issues do you think Abe, FDR, MLK Jr., Bobby, JFK, Harry, LBJ and everyone including Mother Teresa would be on today…?

You’re either being dishonest with yourself or others if you say you believe that they’re not rolling over in their graves at the site of what’s happening in the “Liberal” movement and the Demoratic Party.

Posted by: Rugged Individual at July 2, 2006 3:27 PM
Comment #164273

rahdigly, that was a good one. “Prove liberals are not…”

Very good one. Anyone with logic 101 under their belt knows it is impossible to prove a negative. Clever way of taking advantage of the naieve, though.

For the benefit of those who haven’t taken Logic: you can potentially prove there is a god by producing him on the kitchen table. Just because no one has yet, doesn’t mean someone won’t in the future. Just because you can’t produce him on the kitchen table is not proof he doesn’t exist.

Same with trying to prove Liberals aren’t… or Conservatives aren’t… But, you can prove liberals do… or Conservatives do… by producing the evidence of same.

“Republicans are not fiscally responsible”. You can’t prove this. They can point to many spending cuts which are evidence of being fiscally responsible. “Republicans have produced the largest national debt and record deficits of any in history.” That you can prove. Does this fact make Republicans fiscally irresponsible? In common sense terms one can argue yes. But, one cannot logically prove it. For Republicans can argue the debt and deficits were necessary to precipitate the greatest fiscal responsibility yet to come as a backlash.

Hope this helps regarding the logic of Rahdigly’s clever sophistry.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 2, 2006 3:28 PM
Comment #164278

Jack - you wrote an interesting article, and I agree with almost everything you said….except the title. The SciAm article said “Republican subjects were as critical of Kerry as Democratic subjects were of Bush, yet both let their own candidate off the hook” - in other words, that confirmation bias applied to both parties, not just liberals.

Seems like in spite of your fine words, you yourself managed to only confirm what you expected to see - that liberals are biased - and ignored the other obvious implication, that conservatives are biased.

Meanwhile, how to you manage to explain away the fact that Independents mave moved from being evening split for-against Bush in 2004 to almost unanimously against him in 2006? have they developed a stronger bias, or are they more receptive to the evidence that Republicans are doomed to ignore?

Posted by: William Cohen at July 2, 2006 3:37 PM
Comment #164281

The Contract with America was the RESULT of a rising tide of conservatism, not its cause.

“The National Strategy for Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Act of 2002 served to mobilize and organize our nation to secure the homeland from terrorist attacks.” (Taken from the DHS home page)

There has not been another 9/11-style attack on our homeland since the inception of the DHS. Doesn’t that lend support to the notion that the DHS is accomplishing its goals? I guess that point is debatable. I suppose it could be argued that the DHS has done absolutely nothing to make us safer. Personally, I would like to think we’re safer because the DHS is doing its job.

Posted by: crowan at July 2, 2006 3:46 PM
Comment #164296

Crowanm, with wide open borders and years between attacks previous to 9/11, I am not convinced DHS or the Republican government has done what it can or should to defend our homeland. I have locks on my home’s doors and windows as a first line of defense against intruders. Dumb me, I guess, since DHS and Bush don’t think border security is a worthy endeavor except for token gestures allowing them to argue they did something, however ineffective and incomplete.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 2, 2006 4:10 PM
Comment #164303

It’s either naive or intellectually dishonest to suggest that the terrorists aren’t trying a thousand times harder to infiltrate our borders NOW than they have been over the previous decades.

Posted by: Rugged Individual at July 2, 2006 4:38 PM
Comment #164307

Of course your mind adjusts to fit subsequent events, Jack…

You’re a BUSHIE

Posted by: RGF at July 2, 2006 4:51 PM
Comment #164311

Stephen -

I don’t have a need to “… read dark, apocalyptic motives into [y]our positions.” I do not believe there is a vast, left-wing cabal to destroy America. I think most Libs are Libs because their parents were Libs. Simple as that.

Where is this vast conservative media you describe? Are you talking about Fox News? One network out of - what - SIX? Let’s see, there’s CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, NPR … All tilt decidely left of center in their reporting and analyses.

Are you talking about Rush Limbaugh, Shawn Hannity, Michael Savage, and Ann Coulter? Well, advertisers wouldn’t buy air time on their programs if their message didn’t resonate with a good portion of the listening audience. Air America was/is a dismal failure because no one wants to listen to a bunch of whiny Libs bad-mouth their nation and its leaders. It’s simple market economics, Stephen.

Clinton reduced the deficit. Yay. He also failed to capture Bin Laden when he had several opportunities to do so. I think his failure to get Bin Laden is more relevant to this discussion than his so-called success in reducing the deficit. And wasn’t it a Republican Congress who wrote and sponsored the bill that ultimately balanced the budget and reduced the deficit? Clinton merely signed it into law.

Libs like Stephen are salivating over Republican “scandals” in the fervent hope that the American people will vote them out of office in disgust. Personally, I’m going to vote for the person who can best protect my family. Who do you think can better protect your family - Tom “The Hammer” Delay or Dick “The Turbin” Durban? Dick Cheney or Nancy “Cut and Run” Pelosi? Rick Santorum or Howard “The Scream” Dean?

Society is out of control? Well, what do you expect after 50 years of liberal social experimentation? What you see before you is the result of liberal policy gone wild. Conservatives are trying desperately to rein in the madness, but you Libs are blocking us at every turn. We can’t monitor electronic communications between people in the states and overseas who may be plotting to kill us. We can’t monitor the transfer of funds to and from individuals and organizations that may be plotting to kill us. We can’t coerce information from captured terrorists who actively tried to kill us.

And you’re right - I do consider most dyed-in-the-wool Libs to be knee-jerk surrenderers, moldy holdovers from the 60’s who never really grew up. But how could I consider Libs to be any nationality other than American? I do not deny Libs their Americanism. I know they’re Americans. I just don’t trust them with the security of the nation.

With regard to alternatives to killing jihadist headcutters,” … you can erode their popularity.” How, exactly? By building schools, repairing roads and bridges, and the like? Aren’t we already doing that in Iraq and Afghanistan?

“You can act like the good guys you want people to believe you are.” Again, HOW exactly? Do you really believe that if we just act nice to the jihadist headcutters that they will come to accept and love us?

“You can configure international law to make it more difficult for them to operate.” So worldwide terrorism is simply a legal problem best left to municipal police departments? And we’re supposed to entrust our security to the most corrupt organization on the planet - the United Nations?

“You can put them in jails.” Not any more. If you Libs have your way, every jihadist in Gitmo will be given a green card along with a plane ticket to Miami.

“You can deny them recruits.” Yes, BY KILLING THEM.

Posted by: crowan at July 2, 2006 4:59 PM
Comment #164312

It seems you left out the other half of your equation. That is, if Truman were around today, he sure as hell would not be thought of as a “Liberal Democrat”. he’d be considered somewhere to thr right of Goldwater… Good points also, Rodney. Let me try another one:
JFK was a true Liberal. Russ Feingold is a Leftist… No one ON the left would ever, ever call him that, would they? ;-)

I see many Marxist Millionaires in the media also. Harry Bellafonte gives a rabid, anti-Bush/ Anti-American/ Anti- Capitalism “speech” recently, then heads DIRECTLY back home to a 13.5 MILLION dollar Park Avenue Penthouse. And gets BIG Applause, no less… I mean, W….T…F??

Posted by: chotty at July 2, 2006 5:00 PM
Comment #164316


Ok. please pardon the above cheap shot. I couldn’t help it. It was too easy. You have observed some very real truths in your article above. I have to give you that.

That said, we cannot “disaffirm” each other, as you say, unless we first arrive at some sort of common recognition of what we are discussing or arguing. That is why I have been so frustrated and why I said what I said in my last post to your article entitled: “Bush can’t do nothin’ right.”

I, and others, offer reams of evidence and analysis to suport positions and decisions and we get back the same tired old already refuted assertions without any new consideration to what we previously pointed out.

The article entitled: “Exposing left-wing media bias: Iraq war” is a prime example of this pheonomenon. I, myself, have offered multiple examples refuting the myth of liberal media bias and yet, without any nod at all to any of that, we get this blindly asserted article making the same rediculous claim. It gets tired fast. We are not having a discussion or a debate. We are not even on the same page.

I disagree with you regarding values, Jack. At the core I believe we all want the same things: personal as well as national stability, freedom to persue our goals and desires and to speak our minds, the chance to succeed for ourselves and our families and friends (we DO define these groups differently, though), a peaceful and law abiding society where we are not burdened by those who do not have our best interests in mind (again we define this differently). We have different points of view on these things and how best to achieve them, but the values are the same.

There is a work by PLATO called the GORGIAS. In it Socrates discusses what GOOD is. It is a fascinating concept when you see where the discussion goes. The path leeds to the inexcapable conclusin that relative good has no menaing and no value. It is not enough to “Do good for your friends and harm to your enemies.” Greater good may sometimes even be bad for a specific individual or group of individuals. Is it society? or law? What is the greater whole?

The new modern republican party seem to many on the left to be extreme relativists. They see only a narow view and ignore anything broader at all. Even morality seems to take a back-seat to what is pragmatic, not moral or legal, for a select few.

Posted by: RGF at July 2, 2006 5:15 PM
Comment #164317

David -

“… DHS and Bush don’t think border security is a worthy endeavor except for token gestures allowing them to argue they did something, however ineffective and incomplete.”

I agree that we need to do more to secure our borders - a LOT more. But how many Libs would support an actual solution to the problem? Yes, I’m going to invoke the “W” word here - the solution to the problem of illegal immigration is (gasp!) a WALL! Call it whatever you want - a barrier, a fence, a wall - the end result will be a more secure border. Sending 6,000 National Guard troops helps a lot, but it’s only a temporary stopgap measure.

But Libs would NEVER support an actual solution to the problem because …

1. We’re a nation of immigrants. (A facile arguement if there ever was one. EVERY nation is a nation of immigrants.)

2. Building a wall along our entire border with Mexico is not possible. (Sure it is. It wouldn’t happen overnight, but it can be done.)

3. Building a wall simply wouldn’t work. (Sure it would. That’s what walls DO - keep people OUT. Walls have been keeping people out for centuries.)

… and so on.

But it doesn’t matter. Libs would never support the building of a wall between Mexico and the U.S.

Posted by: crowan at July 2, 2006 5:18 PM
Comment #164318

del erickson - do you believe Democrat leaders are tolerant of Conservatives? (that is, tolerant other people’s beliefs). Do you believe the Democrat leaders are bigotted? If not, then why do they fight so hard to discriminate against white people?

Do you think a United White Colleg Fund or National Association for White People would go over as well as the Democrat supported organizations for people of color?

Posted by: Steve at July 2, 2006 5:25 PM
Comment #164320

Crowan, there are a great many liberals and conservatives who DO support a border barrier backed up by manpower and technology.

The Senate version however, which was largely supported by both Dem’s and Rep’s, was an atrocious concession of national security to cheap labor and potentially increased party voters. That I agree with entirely.

I fully back the Republican House measure. But, that doesn’t make me a conservative anymore than my support for flag burning as a 1st amendment right makes me a Democrat. I am neither. I don’t need a political party to tell me what to think or say on any given issue.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 2, 2006 5:33 PM
Comment #164322

Honesty Crowan….You scare me as much as any terrorist could. You are the narrow minded finger pointer that is the problem all of us face in this country. Lets just have a civil war again….right and left….and be done with the bickering….want to? OK, thats a joke, just so you know. I don’t want you to spend a lot of time telling me who will win. I don’t care about who’s in charge of this country, as long as he/she does a good job. This bunch is NOT, has not. Period.

Posted by: DEL at July 2, 2006 5:41 PM
Comment #164330


I am seeing another area where there is disconnect of communication going on.

You bring up a wall again with only the blind assertion that walls work because that they do. huh?

Hell, crowan, we have a shark infested moat separating us from Cuba and Haiti and IT isn’t WORKING! Why? because of the great economic disparity.

Mexico is the same. A wall, even if nominally worked, would only exacerbate the problem to the point of inducing the Mexicans to swim, fly, dig, bribe their way here. Heck, they already are!

We have large businesses, GOP contributing corporations, who are PROFITING from the continued disparity between our two nations and also from the continued ease with which they can hire and take advantage of undocumneted labor. They INVESTED in the STATUS QUO. Which is why nothing is going to change.

Don’t believe me?
Just hide and watch.

We don’t even have to get to the idea of whether or not a 2,000 mile wall running over rivers, canyons, mountains and dessert badlands could even be effectively contstructed. On its face, it is a non-sensical idea that accomplishes nothing.

You want a solution? Consider this: It is the economic disparity that is causing the problem and the singal largest problem that continues to yield corruption and economic hardship in Mexico is the drug trade. The drug trade would be NOTHING at all if it was not for the market in THIS COUNTRY.

I don’t like drugs. I hate what they do to people. I have seen the destruction of mind body and soul that they leave in their wake. But, perhaps the time has come to seriously consider DECRIMINALIZING them thus remove the profit potential that sows such seeds of disaster.

Posted by: RGF at July 2, 2006 6:00 PM
Comment #164334

Your logic on the matter of the DHS will work right up to the point when the next terrorist attack happens. It’s culture, I think, is a matter for discussion, given the current issues, such as the performance of FEMA and the INS. Two places where we’re really failing, and both happen to be in a department that I’ve heard described as laughable. Bush, instead of sitting down and putting together a real plan for a department, Frankensteined together dozens of agencies from other branches, burying them in bureaucracy.

As for the conservative media, I doubt you’ve never heard a conservative talk radio host, read books by imprints like Regnery, seen pundits on Regular Network television, or heard an AEI or Heritage foundation research talk. And there is a market for what they say, a highly specialized, subsidized market of true believers.

The networks and other “liberal” organizations don’t really qualify as liberal. When’s the last time you saw liberal commentary by a newscaster? When’s the last time someone on the evening news went off like a Fox anchor?

As for capturing Bin Laden, do tell me what kind of actual improvement Bush has made on that. Last I heard, The man is still sitting pretty somewhere in East Pakistan, occasionally sending a nice video or audio message telling us “you wish you were here.” As For Clinton, you have no room to talk. Clinton took terrorism seriously as a threat. When Bush came into office, he took counterterrorism from a cabinet level position reporting directly to him, and turned our foreign policy towards rogue states and missile defense. In comparing the two, we should recall that so far nobody’s shot a missile at us, but recently a hell of a lot of Americans died in a terrorist attack. Who do you think had their priorities straight?

As for monitoring people, you’re not even listening to our real arguments. We want warrants when the calls involve American citizens. We want the terrorists to enjoy their rights so there is nothing to get in the way of their enjoying the death penalty or life rotting away in a cell.

You think we’re stupid. You think we have no sense of self-preservation. You think we’re just out to undercut.

I think folks like you want to feel superior to the rest of us, to be the elitists in our place, as you imagine us. You want to dictate things. You want your way.

Now I can admit that there are things that I would like to change. But here’s the difference between you and I: I believe we can’t ultimately change this country for the better unless we have the most help we can get.

I can’t do away with the right wing, any more than they can do away with me and other folks on the left. This is a game of persuasion, and folks like you will lose it if you continue to be so charming. You can’t get past people’s biases by confirming them.

I don’t know really. I know the Democrats of old were much more economically liberal than folks of today. Socially may be a different matter, or maybe it isn’t. These were complex people, so talk of them being exactly like Democrats or Republicans of today are perhaps unwarranted. As for Harry Belafonte? I would say that pure ideologies exist only in textbooks and hardly anywhere else.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 2, 2006 6:15 PM
Comment #164339

Steve…i know exactly what you are and it doesn’t deserve a response. Good luck.I feel sorry for you.

Posted by: DEL at July 2, 2006 6:29 PM
Comment #164351

Don’t hide behind such insinuations. Tell me what I really think. I let you know if you’re anywhere close.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 2, 2006 7:08 PM
Comment #164355

Jack, you could me conseritave if you dont spend more than your pay check. I want you list 5 thing s that g.w. bush has done for working Americans in past 5 years beside putting the next generations in debt. Somuch for being consertive.

Posted by: Earl T. R. Republican at July 2, 2006 7:43 PM
Comment #164356

Nice article Jack,

I found myself nodding as I was reading it especially to this part.

“They don’t like the discomfort of uncertainty, which is why they choose friends and media that confirm their biases. We really cannot let them do this. And we cannot let ourselves do it”

I too have liberal and conservative friends and I avoid talking about politics/religion with them. The open dialogue between people of different political backgrounds is one of the reasons why I love Watchblog so much.

Keep up the good work y’all.

Posted by: Nikita at July 2, 2006 7:46 PM
Comment #164364

steve,at 5.25pm post,some culture does the soul good. try watching the special on TV or cable called the howlin’wolf special, aka chester my mind he was one of the best blues singer ever.he says in the special, one of the people who inspired him was a old long gone blues and country singer named Jimmie Rodgers who btw was white. jimmie recorded 113 songs and had a beautiful and powerful voice, and had a blue yodel. which the wolf just loved, when he first heard it as a kid.the wolf also had a great guitar player named hubert sumlin. and anyone who plays the guitar knows hubert.the wolf also had this most powerful and beautiful voice, I still get the goosebumps when i hear smokestack lightnin. he also was the best harmonica player ever.well i don’t want to bore you to much. howlin’ wolf and hubert was the men, who inspired most all of the early blues -Rock group’s and the great guitar players of the 1960s and 1970s. smokestack lightnin.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at July 2, 2006 8:49 PM
Comment #164365

I tend to think of liberals as falling into one of three catagories. Stupid. Evil. Or well-intentioned but hopelessly misguided. I live in the Northeast, and I have a number of Liberal friends (the well-intentioned kind) with whom I don’t talk about politics because… I’m very much outnumbered in this part of the country, and…blood vessels in my brain start popping when they attempt to defend their defensless positions. I find when I think about Liberals as individuals, they’re ‘okay’, sometimes even nice or interesting. But when I think of them all as one big group, I just wish they would all disappear (or worse). Perhaps their is a lesson in there somewhere.

Posted by: Beany at July 2, 2006 8:53 PM
Comment #164366

^”there” I mean.

Posted by: Beany at July 2, 2006 8:55 PM
Comment #164367

Geez. There sure are a lot of Libs who post comments on this blog site.

Del -

Sorry if I scare the hell out of you, but I honestly don’t see what is so scary about creating a physical barrier between two sovereign nations. Most every other sovereign nation on the planet employs some form of physical barrier to define its boundaries, if nothing else.

And you’re right - we should do more to prevent illegal immigration from Cuba. But I don’t think near as many people enter the U.S. from Cuba as they do from Mexico.


I remember similar cries of derision when the Israelis started to build a fence along their 365-kilometer frontier with the West Bank. How about this:

“The simple fact is that the fence works. So far in 2004, no Israelis have reportedly been killed or wounded by suicide bombings in areas protected by the fence, whereas 19 Israelis have been killed and 102 wounded in suicide attacks in areas without the barrier.”

It’s pretty obvious to me that a properly designed fence works wonders. It sure keeps the terrorists out of Israel.

And your solution to the problem of illegal immigration is … DECRIMINALIZE DRUGS! How in the world … ? RGF, now you’re scaring the hell out of ME.

Posted by: crowan at July 2, 2006 9:01 PM
Comment #164368

Beany -

Many liberals think the same way about you and your ilk.

There in lies the problem. Political parties keep us at each others throats - and keep the power and this country running to serve their own needs. One day, you might want to look at liberals the same way I look at most conservatives: they want what’s best for this country, we just disagree on the ways to get there. I don’t think you will as fair a shake from any of the elected party officials - no matter their mascot.

Posted by: tony at July 2, 2006 9:02 PM
Comment #164371

The use of the wall doesn’t demonstrate a solution. It demonstrates the failure of a militant policy. The fact that it hasn’t stopped attacks on the other side of the barrier should tell you something.

Things like this make me wish for some kind of alien invasion. Old Cliche, but maybe it would do us some good to realize that we all bleed the same blood, and often for the same sad reasons.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 2, 2006 9:28 PM
Comment #164381

Stephen -

I never stated that I thought the DHS was infallible. A terrorist attack could occur tomorrow, next week, five years from now, or never. Who knows? But the simple fact that the jihadists have not succeeded in launching an attack on our home turf at least partially vindicates the Bush Administration, wouldn’t you agree? The jihadists have certainly tried.

You don’t think CNN and the rest qualify as “liberal” organizations? Well, I don’t agree with you, and I don’t think the majority of thinking Americans agree with you, either. Dan Rather was (is) a Lib, no doubt about that. So is Andy Roony and the entire CBS/60 Minutes crew. But I don’t have to tell you that.

I have no way of knowing whether or not Clinton took terrorism seriously. I do know that Clinton was president when the World Trade Center was attacked in 1993, U.S. embassies in Africa were bombed in 1998, and the U.S.S. Cole was attacked in 2000. Whether he took terrorism seriously or not doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. What matters is that Clinton failed to recognize these attacks for what they were - as acts of war.

The War on Terror began a long time ago. Clinton didn’t see it that way. But, then again, he was probably pretty distracted with the Lewinsky scandal and allegations of sexual assault by Juanita Broaddrick, Eileen Wellstone, Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Regina Hopper Blakely, Kathleen Willey, Sandra Allen James, Kathy Bradshaw, and others. And then there was Whitewater, and ChinaGate, and TravelGate, all those mysterious deaths, and on, and on. Hey, I’d be distracted too.

Do I think Clinton had his “priorities straight”? No, Stephen. Honestly I don’t. Clinton failed us politically, militarily, and (most of all) morally. Clinton could have had Bin Laden handed to him on a silver platter, but he refused the offer more than once.

When have calls between American citizens been monitored without a warrant? I was under the impression that only overseas calls involving suspected Al Quada-types were being monitored. I seriously doubt that the NSA monitors my calls because I don’t make calls to terrorists and have never made an overseas call.

Stephen, I don’t think you and your Lib friends are stupid; I think you and your Lib friends are DANGEROUS. Libs simply cannot be entrusted with the security of the nation in general and my family in particular.

You think I want to feel superior to everyone? Where did THAT come from? I’m a middle-aged married man with two children, 17 and 21. I’ve been married to the same wonderful woman all my adult life. I have worked for the local school district nearly 20 years. Nuthin’ special about me at all. I have strong views about things and can string words together to form a coherent sentence. Does that make me a superiorist?

There are a LOT of things I’d like to change, and I can see real progress being made. I’m hopeful for the future. It’s only when Libs like yourself talk about changing this country for the better that I get antsy. Your idea of a better country is most likely a lot different than mine. And “different” isn’t always better.

You think I’m charming? Ohhhh, I get it. You’re being sarcastic, right?

I can’t get past people’s biases by confirming them. I’ll have to remember that the next time I try to get past someone’s bias. I wasn’t trying to get past YOUR bias, Stephen, but thanks for driving home the point that you are, in fact, biased. I thought Libs like yourself considered all the sides of an issue before making a decision. Guess I was wrong about that.

Posted by: crowan at July 2, 2006 10:39 PM
Comment #164430

I’m simply pointing out to you that attributing the lack of terrorist attacks to the presence of the DHS without supporting evidence is a fallacious argument. The long period may be intentional, and they may be running a successful campaign right now that simply hasn’t hit us yet.

The Bush adminstration would have been better vindicated if the last of al-Qaeda’s command structure bleed their last into the ground at Tora Bora, and Bin Laden and Mullah Omar had been captured.

The Canadians just intercepted a plot north of us, which means at least some terrorists were active on this continent. Coupled with our porous borders, a good argument can be made that we aren’t safe at all, that this last five years of reprieve are no different than the eight we had before 9/11.

Remember that between the WTC bombing in 1993, and 9/11, there were any number of terrorist attacks on allies and interests leading up to that final devastating day. According to your logic, we could give Clinton credit for that 8 year caesura. Frankly, I don’t think we should brag about how safe we are; to brag is to think we’ve done enough, to think we’ve done enough is to slack off, to slack off (if we haven’t already) is to leave the kind of critical openings these people exploit.

The Bin Laden handover thing was dubious at best. We didn’t trust the man making the offer. He might have been just planning to distract us while Bin Laden slipped out the back door. There’s good reason to believe that was the case; the national leader on whose behalf this man was acting was a good friend of Bin Laden’s. Stuff like this has happened before. We get a lead on a terrorist from a government, we close in, terrorist slips out the backdoor, sometimes with the nation’s officials looking the other way, sometimes with their active cooperation. Then the nation in question gets to smile and say: “Too bad, these things happen, but hey, we tried to help you. Want to make a better trade deal?”

As for all the Clinton innuendo, it wasn’t the Democrats and Liberals who were distracted by it. Why is it that everytime Clinton tried to send a cruise missile up the terrorists’ hindquarters, your side of the aisle was their to cheer him on with cries of “wag the dog!” and “you bombed a baby formula factory!”, and insinuations that any intervention in Afghanistan were just for political show. Fact is, you folks would have never let Clinton fight a war in Afghanistan.

He had his priorities straight, and his facts straight, too. He didn’t have us chasing after an axis of evil when we had a deadly enemy still at large. He didn’t start talking missile defense in a time when the last, worst attack was one where planes were used as cruise missiles.

On the NSA phone taps, there was nothing to prevent the NSA from tapping your phone anyway. You see, the whole point of warrants is they limit the scope and the direction of the search, letting the courts know where the police are allowed to investigate. Without that, there’s really no oversight on that aspect. The program’s predecessor, Total Information Awareness was in fact used to track innocuous anti-war groups and even journalists. Who knows, they might track you, on such grounds, because you hang around arguing with us libs all day! That’s the game with guilt by suspicion, by association.

We aren’t dangerous. We’re half the country, perhaps even more now. We can be entrusted, just like you can be entrusted, once we understand that nobody wants a repeat of 9/11.

You’re treating your own fellow countrymen as enemies, striking self-inflicted wounds on the country tryingt to do the impossible: purging this country of a well established political sensibility. In fact, by being so pushy about it, you’ve likely made more people liberal out of fear of your excesses, your willingness to play politics even as the Terrorists breath down our neck.

Have you ever considered that we really don’t have enough time to both defend this country and mount partisan purges? Have you considered that American cannot act at its strongest, so long as people seek to divide it for partisan gain?

You’ve made your bias clear, but there’s hope for you yet. You think we’re idiots, you think we’re fools, but the truth is, we are your friends, your neighbors, your fellow workers, even your spouses and your children. Years of GOP propaganda have you scared shitless of us, but we’re just folks. We’re people just like you. Your suspicion of us serves no other purpose but to benefit an enemy who clearly wants to see America tear itself apart.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 3, 2006 8:27 AM
Comment #164438

Instead of being a party loyalist, why not get some cahonees and be an American?
Have contempt for them all.
Start treating politicians like the ‘temp’ employees the really are.

Posted by: Joe at July 3, 2006 9:47 AM
Comment #164453

liberal= openmindedness

but can also mean “openmindedness without moral boundaries”

Posted by: bubba at July 3, 2006 10:57 AM
Comment #164472

does anyone else find it ironic that after a post about how we are all biased by our views and need to open up and respect and listen to the other side the discussion has turned into a bunch of bilious, biased, raging, screaming, ad hominem attacks?

crowan, del, and rgf: it might help you a little to actually read the article that jack posted, you are all proving his point perfectly…

oh yeah, and that mirror metaphor was beautiful, well placed, and true.

now, i’ve said this multiple times before (though not on this post): the public, mainstream definitions of ‘democrat,’ ‘republican,’ ‘liberal,’ and ‘conservative’ are all stereotypical misrepresentations of the extremist elements. all republicans are now seen as reactionary, bible-thumping, religious zealots and democrats as radical, socialist, anti-religious fanatics; and both of these couldn’t be farther from the truth. most of america is much more moderate and centrist and the biased media, both liberal and conservative, has purposefully put these false images into the mainstream in a vile, though commonly accepted method, attempt to further the cause of their respective parties. but, all they’ve managed to do is make everyone paranoid, pissed off, and confused.

as a liberal (not a democrat, i will support any candidate who i believe will best help our country) i am against the current war on terror, the way it is being prosecuted, and the falsified justifications used to invade iraq. there should be a war on terror, terrorism is a horrible practice but simply invading any country in which we think there might be terrorists will never work; we’d have to invade every single country in the world. but the current administration has not been going about prosecuting the war as well as i, and many along with me, believe it should be. not that democrats have a solid plan to do about it either. at this point, nobody but the experts does, and noone seems to be willing to actually listen to them. both sides are content for now to use the experts articles and opinions wrongly to support their own biased policies.

Posted by: alefnought at July 3, 2006 12:09 PM
Comment #164485
The trouble I find with some Republican’s sense of classic liberalism is that these leaders they talk about are safely in the past. If JFK proposed what he did now today, Republicans would be calling him a socialist along with everybody else. He was a New Deal Democrat, for heaven’s sake.

You can define liberals today as much further to the right on things, but that wouldn’t be useful at all for cheap political distinctions.


Nothing more ridiculous has been said in this thread than these outrageous remarks of yours here. Not ONE of the above mentioned Libs were left of the leadership of today’s Libs. You guys are much more socialist than they ever were. The abortion issue alone would send them running to our side. Just imagine what they’d see you as when they relized that you guys want it to be available to 13 year-olds and to have no obligation to inform her parents. I repeat…

Which side of the “Homo-Sexual Marriage”, “Abortion”, “Flag-Burning”, “Iraq War”, “Palestinian-Statehood”, “Narcotic Drug-Legalization” and so many other issues do you think Abe, FDR, MLK Jr., Bobby, JFK, Harry, LBJ and everyone including Mother Teresa would be on today…?

Go ahead… Make my day. Answer the question. I’m asking for your opinion. Not the answer to a mathematical problem. They feared God, loved life and wouldn’t be caught DEAD agreeing today’s Dems. Or WOULD they…?

By the way… Many more Conservatives bleed for this nation than Libs. An 80% Republican All-Volunteer-Force has proven that quite handily. If only Progressives wouldn’t bite the hand that protects, provides and prevails. We should have an all-vacuous-farce (naturally, composed of liberal war protesters and other Bush-bashers) to send to negotiate peace with the terrorists and the Palestinians, Syrians and other Jihadist cheerleaders. The libs would fit right in, at first. Then they’d discover that the purpose is to KILL all infidels, not live harmoniously with them. That’s when the libs would begin to lose composure and lose their heads. LITERALLY.

Posted by: Rugged Individual at July 3, 2006 12:46 PM
Comment #164494

To “Rugged Individual”. You don’t for a moment think that bush, the republican congress, the republican senate, and a appointed-predominately-by-republican federal court is against abortion, do you? The day abortion goes away as an issue, the day that there are no more abortions allowed or performed will be a sad one for the republican party because it is an issue, a symbol that WORKS TO KEEP THEM IN POWER!!!
Don’t you think that if republicans really thought, I mean REALLY THOUGHT that abortion was the taking of an innocent life, that they would DO something about it?
google ‘abortion statistics’ and look at the number of abortions committed under republican and democratic presidents, say, between 1972 and 2004; 16 years dems, 16 repubs and you show me the difference.
People who promote abortion are wrong to do so.
People who say how wrong it is knowing full well that they are benefiting from its continuation will have a special place in hell!!

P. S. How is the amendment to ban “flag burning” coming along?

Posted by: Charles Ross at July 3, 2006 1:32 PM
Comment #164499

As the 20/20 story highlights, when faced with a problem, we can argue about it or solve it. While the former makes for more entertaining television and blogs, it doesn’t serve us well in the functioning of the republic.

The 20/20 segment focuses on the shouting while Jack focuses on self-selection: we seek like-minded views to buttress our own. Of the two, I’m more disturbed by the shouting. I suspect that Jack and I would initially disagree on about 50% of public policy decisions. After calm fact-based discussions, the areas of disagreement would drop significantly with both sides seeing each other’s points. That is why juries often reach unanimity while in politics 60% of the vote is considered a landslide. I am more comfortable with challenge than I am with derision. How about you?

Posted by: common ground at July 3, 2006 1:43 PM
Comment #164498

As the 20/20 story highlights, when faced with a problem, we can argue about it or solve it. While the former makes for more entertaining television and blogs, it doesn’t serve us well in the functioning of the republic.

The 20/20 segment focuses on the shouting while Jack focuses on self-selection: we seek like-minded views to buttress our own. Of the two, I’m more disturbed by the shouting. I suspect that Jack and I would initially disagree on about 50% of public policy decisions. After calm fact-based discussions, the areas of disagreement would drop significantly with both sides seeing each other’s points. That is why juries often reach unanimity while in politics 60% of the vote is considered a landslide. I am more comfortable with challenge than I am with derision. How about you?

Posted by: common ground at July 3, 2006 1:43 PM
Comment #164509

What! No comments on my post. You “conservatives” are the biggest bunch of hypocrites I have ever, ever, seen!!!

P.s How is the amendment to ban “gay marriage” coming along? Now, that is a burning issue!!!

Posted by: Charles Ross at July 3, 2006 2:12 PM
Comment #164510

Anyone you uses terms like “Neo-cons” is not what I call an open-minded soul. It’s kinda like when people call you liberals Commies…

Posted by: ChrisC at July 3, 2006 2:22 PM
Comment #164575

I always like your blogs, you rock :o)
HAPPY 4th (regardless who you like) we all bleed Red, White and Blue!

Posted by: Christina at July 3, 2006 8:00 PM
Comment #164598

um, christina…you might wanna get that looked at.

most folks just bleed red….

oh, oh wait you were being patriotic…….ohhhhhhhhh hah…



Posted by: views at July 3, 2006 9:42 PM
Comment #164650

I also use the term “NEO-CON” from time to time because, believe it or not, I once considered myself a conservative. It still IRKS me that those calling themselves conservative today are so far off base. So, out of respect for what conservative USED to mean, I accuse the lunacy I see in the new GOP on ‘NEO-CONS.’ It simply blows my mind that clear headed, thinking conservatives from the 80’s, would blindly follow the same party after it has spun a 180 degree turn and violated EVERY principal that once mattered to them. Bush and his agendas are POISONOUS to this country.

Posted by: RGF at July 4, 2006 12:57 AM
Comment #164949

No good man would condone torture.

Posted by: graham at July 5, 2006 1:18 PM
Comment #164982

as a moderate, I have voted on both sides of the issues. but I Also believe the sacred Constitution is the Foundation of this Great country, and both sides Trample on it,but lately the side that always proclamed they where for A Smaller and more efficient and less wasteful Government, is doing the bigest walking on it.and that Boils my Blood,is the nexus power? Washington warned about the parties, but he also understood the need for a two party system.the 1960s and 1970s were about social change and the vietnam war.and the other party was in power for forty plus years, in the congress and most of the senate and mostly the supreme court.then in the 1990s a sea change in the congress and senate and now the supreme court. and a 180 degree shift in ideology has taken place Again. and the parties are getting more Extreme,and the divisions are worse. when a moderate in any party ,is booed off the stage like what is going on today from both sides. I truly grieve for this country.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at July 5, 2006 3:36 PM
Comment #192521

The Shelter system is in violation of families who seek shelter lives. The Path Temporary housing unit turns away families and finds them ineligible for shelter. Informs families that they must leave and find housing else where. Path informs families that their in jeopardy of losing their children to ACS because they can’t provide adequate housing to care for their children. Path use scare tactics to even help families leave New York to seek shelter out of town. Path violates the rights of family member’s or friends who for reason or cause states that for reason’s the family can’t live with them and Path then decides that the family is ineligible for shelter. A incident occur where a family was at the shelter system. The family provided address and phone numbers, once Path investigors when to the homes of each individual, informed that the family could not stay, The family was then denied shelter and informed that they could return back to the home because it has enough room for them. This is truely a disgrace because families are being turn away with no where to. It is a violation of laws being passed known as (Family reunification) to help protect and assist familys from separation. To put families out into the street or threat them is truely a code of ethnics and conduct of the human rights law. To combat homelessness is not to humaliate or disregard familys rights to assistance of goverment. What conclusion or determintion is made to consider a family to be ineligible. Why are families not given any forms or documents concerning their rights to the shelter system. The reasons the families are coming to the shelter is apparently to seek assistance for concrete care for their familes and themselves. As we can see Homelessness has not be address but buried away to be unseen.

Posted by: cRYSTA at November 1, 2006 9:40 PM
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