Differences worth Noting

As a liberal, Stephen writes, “My instincts are neither to trust nor not to trust, but rather to set expectations and punished those who fall short. I don’t believe government is any more fundamentally good than people are, and I believe people, all people are fundamentally corruptible if they are not held to certain standards.” As a conservative, I believe in setting goals and then rewarding those who exceed them, but that is not the big difference between us. The big difference is the trust in government as the method to hold people to standards.

Government is not now nor has it ever be a strictly disinterested party. Government is run by people who are just as corruptible (or resistant to corruption) as those who run businesses. We make rules to try to keep people honest or at least keep transactions transparent. But in the long run, or even the short one in most cases, what keeps people from abusing power, whether it is market power, government power or personal power, is their LACK of uncontested power.

That is why conservatives dislike concentration of power anywhere. Power that is concentrated to "do good" can easily be turned to doing evil. In fact, almost all great evils have come to power by promising and sometimes actually intending to do good by their own lights. Lenin, Hitler, Mao and Pol-Pot, among others, were truly evil men. But they didn't come to power by promising to murder lots of innocent people. Rather, the promised - and probably believed - in the need to concentrate power in the hands of their governments in order to do good. The Devil rarely enters uninvited.
In fact, you can imagine Lenin or Hitler promising to set expectations and then punish those who fall short. It is what they did when they were in power.

Rhinhold in the middle column has written a post a little different and better than mine outlining the underlying problem. People want to use the powerful tools of government coercion. Many just want to use them to get more stuff for themselves. These are bad actors, but not the worst. The worst are those who want to concentrate to coercive power of the state in order to do good. Hitler, Lenin and Mao were not personally particularly greedy for things. The goal of their revolutionary socialism was to make the world better based on their own nutty ideas. Rousseau and Robespierre were precursors.

The coercive power of the state should not be concentrated. It needs to be balanced by people with independent means to just say no and by firms that can thumb their noses at any president as long as they obey the rule of just law. This frustrates those who want to make quick changes and to coerce others into doing their bidding, but it is the best system yet devised by fallible human beings.

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." We need balance of power and we need to understand that we will never, ever reach perfection. We can pursue justice and happiness but never actual achieve a finished version of either. Those who do not recognize these fundamental truths get lots of people hurt and killed. Hitler, Lenin, Mao, as well as Rousseau and Robespierre would have disagreed with me. It is good to have such people are enemies.

Posted by Christine & John at November 26, 2011 3:38 PM
Comments
Comment #332435

C&J, I hope you’re not expecting Stephen to be able to understand what you wrote.

Posted by: Frank at November 26, 2011 10:25 PM
Comment #332438

How terrible! With the above pile of excrement you have damned and shat upon the entire Enlightenment era! In the process of attempting to take a dump on Lenin and Mao you’ve also chosen to dismiss the entire foundational philosophy which gave birth to the thoughts of both Jefferson and Madison:

Rousseau and Robespierre were precursors.

Yes. Indeed they were. Along with an extremely heavy portion of Locke and a fair amount of Montesquieu. These philosophers were key to the very BASIS of what we now know as Enlightenment philosophy — and their thinking was in turn very firmly embedded within the bedrock foundations of American government. Yet in denouncing this for utterly partisan reasons, you denounce all of the ideas that formed American government entirely.
It is Insanely Idiotic — shamefully so. The fact of the matter is this: only the most nutty, regressive, unstable and “low information” of rightwingers now sets themselves up against every principle contained in the Enlightenment — simply because they hate the idea of a functional American government capable of effectively responding to the needs of large masses of our people.

So, may we assume that C&J has finally fallen that far south of the rational and logical sphere? Are you now proudly announcing the fact that you’re totally whacked — so much so, that you’re content to place yourselves amongst the blatantly moronic, regressive and dimwitted?
If so, I only have one word: Pathetic! No, make it four: because this also happens to be Disgraceful, Inhumane, and for lack of a better word, utterly Dumbf*ck!

Let me make myself perfectly clear here:
The above post is an admission of an antiquated philosophical stance that is LESS MODERN than the rich, privileged, plantation and slave-owning white guys who formed our government back in 1776!!!

Posted by: Adrienne at November 27, 2011 3:52 AM
Comment #332439

Adrienne

There are different people who are part of the Enlightenment. Rousseau had lots of good sayings, but his fundamental idea on the nobles savage and the perfectibility of man helped fuel the terror of the French Revolution, the horrors of Lenin and Mao and were a direct inspiration to Pol Pot.

I can like and appreciate some things about Rousseau w/o accepting the whole guy. This nuance is something people like me do well, but is hard to explain to those who don’t.

You must also understand, unless you are just tossing names, that the various philosophies of the Enlightenment were at times in conflict. Our Founding Fathers found a synthesis that brought together contradictions. All greatness is based in contradiction.

I am afraid that my subtle and nuanced approach is just beyond the understanding of some people. Just as the genius of our Founding Fathers is beyond some of you.

Your interpretation of what I wrote is shamefully shallow.

Your philosophy is that of the French Revolution. Mine is more like that of the American. They look alike in many ways, but one is better.

Posted by: C&J at November 27, 2011 4:04 AM
Comment #332440

BTW

You don’t really believe Robespierre was an inspiration to Jefferson and Madison, do you? And you also understand the evolution of Jefferson’s thought and how Madison sometimes differed?

Posted by: C&J at November 27, 2011 4:06 AM
Comment #332452

Correction: C&J, I hope you’re not expecting Stephen and Adrienne to be able to understand what you wrote.

Posted by: Frank at November 27, 2011 9:49 PM
Comment #332456

First question: what is any government without the ability to concentrate power?

To answer this question, we first must consider what is the smallest possible decisionmakers possible.

That’s the individual. Each individual can make a decision, given their position, so they are our basic unit of power. If you can’t concentrate enough power, you can’t shape the behavior of the masses.

Question: can you prevent this concentration?

Answer: No. People are social animals, and even in the absence of formal government, they concentrate power for their own advantage. Look at Somalia, if you doubt that. We concentrate power willingly, formally, and according to pre-arranged agreements in order to avoid the nasty effects of having those who concentrate power spontaneously by force.

I mean, can C&J deny this, having relied on the police to disperse those DFH’s among the OWS protestors? What if the police just decided to follow their own personal preferences?

What is it that we have here in America, in terms of the concentration of power? The way I would put it is that we have concentrated power pitted against concentrated power. That is what the Constitution does. Rather than indulge the naive idea that power won’t concentrate in other hands if it’s not concentrated in a central government, the framers instead chartered a government structured to turn one group of people concentrating power for one purpose against another group concentrating power for their own purposes.

The structure I have always portrayed and praised, under our constitution is one that leaves us able to create law and govern when enough of us agree, but weakens it when too many factions disagree. Not only that, it’s deliberately structured to prevent the majority from using it’s power to permanently protect the changes its made to law and land with its power, so nobody gets to finally take over once and for all. We are forced to work out our differences in order to get what we all want and need out of our government.

The coercive power of the state WILL be concentrated. That is what happens when you put a nation together. That is what the nation does, and what it is a product of in turn. A nation needs a strong government to exist, and a strong government needs the organizing dynamic of a nation to exist. They are two faces of the same fact of political organization.

My stance is that is that things are set up to where the nation’s course is not determined by the direction of one group of people, nor the direction of another, but of the combined vector of both side’s interaction. The government, in my opinion, is neither meant to be conservative nor liberal, nor any other political tradition. It is meant to be what’s left over when our ideosyncratic ideas have cancelled each other out, and our common interests have won out over our personal ones. That’s the point of our form of government. It filters out the stuff only a few of us care about, and then uses the government’s full, concentrated power to take care of what most of us need it to do, with the main constraints to that being that this fully concentrated power is always meant to be tentative, no concentration lasting longer than the political power necessary to preserve it.

Frank-
I hope you’re not expecting to win any arguments with me by insulting my intelligence. If such insults worked, you would have had me shut up by now. Obviously, you’ve failed.

Folks should recognize the difference between recognition of an argument’s premises and conclusions, and agreement with them. They can be and often are two different questions.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 28, 2011 12:26 AM
Comment #332457

Stephen

“you can’t shape the behavior of the masses” - Two things I don’t like about it. First, I don’t think we should “shape the behavior of the masses” secondly, I don’t like the use of the term “masses” which is a communist/Nazi/fascist term. It dehumanizes the individual.

Now let’s talk about government. We NEED a strong government, but one that limits itself and does not extend itself into every realm of society.

Some power will be concentrated in government. But we need that others have countervailing power.

What progressive-liberal policies have done over my lifetime is to chip away at the rights of individuals and firms. Bureaucartization has slipped into all parts of our society and our freedoms are compromised.

A small business owner often needs to hire a firm to handle his HR, since otherwise he will almost certainly run afoul of employment laws. He needs professional accounting services, since no ordinary human can understand the complexities of tax law. He is probably violating dozens of EPA regulations w/o knowing it.

The business owner will also need to figure out how to game the benefits he can get from government. There will be all sorts of special credits and special grants available. Not to do so will put him at a competitive disadvantage.

A free life is one where a reasonable person has a good chance of knowing if what he is doing is illegal or not, w/o consulting experts and lawyers. A free life is one where you can earn your own salary w/o having to consult authorities on a regular basis. In a free society, you know government exists, but you don’t think about it very much. Your liberties are protected by the rule of law and if you follow the easily understood laws, you can ignore politics if you choose.

Posted by: C&J at November 28, 2011 6:08 AM
Comment #332464

“Frank-

I hope you’re not expecting to win any arguments with me by insulting my intelligence. If such insults worked, you would have had me shut up by now. Obviously, you’ve failed.

Folks should recognize the difference between recognition of an argument’s premises and conclusions, and agreement with them. They can be and often are two different questions.”

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 28, 2011 12:26 AM

Stephen, I have come to the conclusion winning an argument with you is a lesson in futility. You are a defender of Obama socialist policies, you are a defender of democrat socialist policies, and you are a defender of this ignorant group of unwashed OWS protestors. How do you debate with one whose conclusions are set in stone? Yes, I say it is a waste of time for C&J and any other conservative to attempt a debate with you. Frankly, I have no desire to change your mind, my only goal is to reveal you for the socialist that you are.

You know, it’s amazing how much you can learn about someone on the internet, i.e. FB. It would take a real narcissist to post on WB under a person’s real name and then spend all their time bragging on themselves on FB. Since I have been reading posts on WB; I have noticed a real need for liberals to brag on their own education. On the other hand, I have not read one single post of a conservative doing the same thing. I believe, with liberal socialists, it’s an all about “me” attitude. Alan Combs had a Fox News show with Sean Hannity and when Alan Combs left the show, he fell off the map. Who knows Alan Combs? Nobody… MSNBC has their socialist cable shows; Olbermann (gone), Maddow & Lawrence (unknown to most of the world). Then we have SD and DRR, who have tried their best to get their socialist message out. No one knows them, no one listens to them, and no one responds to them. Why is that; because they are dogmatic socialist liberals who have no desire to debate? They are legends in the own minds; and since they are smarter than anyone else, then what they say has to be truth and what everyone else says is false. Just as Combs, Olbermann, Maddow, and Lawrence have no following; we find that SD and DRR have no following. Why, because they represent a very small fringe group of wackos who have nothing in common with real Americans.

Posted by: Frank at November 28, 2011 10:41 AM
Comment #332471

Wow Frank!
Maybe the most delusional post in the history of WB.

Posted by: Schwamp at November 28, 2011 12:48 PM
Comment #332473

Schwamp

That is a bold statement. Don’t you remember Aldous?

Posted by: C&J at November 28, 2011 12:55 PM
Comment #332481

C&H,
Heh.
I mean, C&J,
Aldous was often satirical. Frank is serious.

Frank uses “socialist” at least six times, but I seriously, seriously doubt he even knows what the word means. It’s just meant to be an insult that somehow automatically ends the discussion, the conservative equivalent of nazi godwinizing; or perhaps it’s just a lazy way of arguing, a dog whistle for conservatives, as if ‘big government’ and ‘progressive taxation’ and ‘socialism’ all mean the same thing.

Having said that, C&J, I think Frank represent many conservatives, maybe even most conservatives. Conservatism has changed a great deal. Think Palin, who considered the question “what do you read” a gotcha question. Think Cain. Think Trump. Think the Tea Party. For these conservatives, it’s all dog whistles and distrust of elitists who are educated. Global Warming? It’s a worldwide plot by scientists to bring down America and encourage… you guessed it… socialism to the whole world. Evolution? Bah! Just a theory! Their sources of information incite indignation- think Rushbaugh and Hannity and Beck- and then these same sources encourage listeners (NOT readers; listeners) to distrust all other sources of information as liberal or elistist or whatever.

And that is the state of conservatism today.

Posted by: phx8 at November 28, 2011 4:02 PM
Comment #332482


C&J, it was rather delusional.

Speaking of delusional, conservatives need to take Morning Joe’s RINO quiz. You can do so at the Talking Points Memo website. Your proven fiscal conservative with the presidential attributes is languishing in the doldrums.

Posted by: jlw at November 28, 2011 4:09 PM
Comment #332484


Phx8, I have experience these conservative types in everyday life. It doesn’t take much to get them to regurgitate the conservative talking points.

I met one just the other day in the return line. He was returning a three pack of those new fluorescent light bulbs for a refund. Two did not work and one was broken. He admitted to me that he had dropped them in the parking lot before going home to discover that they did not work; and before launching into a right wing diatribe about the socialist Obama and his thirty years in a worthless socialist organization called the Railroad union.

I ask him what socialism was and got no response and no more diatribe.

I make it a habit of asking them what socialism is and the general response is - what Obama and the Democrats are doing.

You have to hand it to the right wing propagandists and their knowledge of the conservative mind.

Of course there are conservatives who cling to their socialist perks like Social Security, Medicare and union memberships.

Posted by: jlw at November 28, 2011 4:55 PM
Comment #332486

SD writes; “That’s the point of our form of government. It filters out the stuff only a few of us care about, and then uses the government’s full, concentrated power to take care of what most of us need it to do, with the main constraints to that being that this fully concentrated power is always meant to be tentative, no concentration lasting longer than the political power necessary to preserve it.”

What an interesting interpretation of our founding documents. I notice that SD completely left out the primary restraint of government…our individual rights.

Our Constitution clearly outlines the duties and legitimate functions of the federal government. That our politicians have greatly overreached these boundaries is obvious. We will return to the constitution when the majority of Americans are fed up with manufactured special interest “rights”.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 28, 2011 5:39 PM
Comment #332487

C&J-
Masses is a communist/Nazi/fascist term? I’ll be sure to tell that to the folks who run the Statue of liberty. I mean, it says bring me your huddled ****es, yearning to breath free. Fill in the blanks.

Funny that conservatives are now deciding what words are permissable to use, after years of decrying political correctness. Is it the liberal nature of what was forbidden that you disliked, or were you ever truly concerned about honesty being uninhibited by overgrown sensitivies?

You talk about what progressive-liberal policies have done over the course of your life, but I figure that by now, more than half of your life has consisted in your side pulling things their way. You’ve defeated liberal ambitions and undermined liberal policies again and again, but never does it seem that all these victories add up to something you can settle for.

Funny how you’re set on that particular treadmill. Two possibilities exist: Either everything is secretly being undermined by liberal conspiracies, contaminating and undermining everything, or your side is lead by people who hype the liberal threat, the threat of progressivism, certainly the threat of socialism, and the overall spectre of collectivism in order to panic your people into more and more extreme policies.

If you’re saying we need to make the laws more elegant, more easy to understand, sure. But if you want to have a culture, at the same time, which ruthlessly exploits loopholes, which uses armies of lawyers to defy and undermine limits, well, you’re going to see the complexities of laws, regulations, and legal questions increase. You also can’t push a literalistic interpretation of law and avoid that complexity. If everybody is forced to work with just the letter of the law, then the law proliferates to cover all the little technicalities.

In the end, if you want laws simpler to understand, more elegant to consider, your willingness to reach consensus with the rest of us must increase. Only agreement about meaning simplifies the law.

As for your conception of a free life? I don’t think your notion of a free life can survive a modern industrial, much less post-industrial society. How do we legislate or regulate against computer crime wisely without deferring to somebody who knows how such crimes are committed? How do we regulated and deal with drugs and environmental poisons whose way of acting upon our bodies are so complex?

We can’t just deal with the problems that everybody can understand. We have to deal with the problems we’re faced with, regardless of whether most of us understand how they work. If we want to be free, we have to proactive in our own education. Freedom cannot be handed to you, you must earn it by your own eternal vigilance, be willing to take it by acting in your own interest, and maintain it by dealing with things when you err in your judgment or are taken in by those taking deceptive courses of action. We cannot afford to sulk that we aren’t always fairly dealt with. As citizens of a Democratic Republic, we must be willing to take our fate into our own hands on all levels.

If society could be justly ruled in ignorance and lazy simplicity, we would have resolved many problems by now without having to involve government.

Frank-
I’ve been here almost eight years now because I prefer to talk about substance, rather than try to win arguments by hurting people’s feelings. I don’t call C&J all kinds of names to refute their arguments about the GSEs, I quote all kinds of information that factually contradicts their position.

Why? Because it makes them admit everything? No. Because it makes it harder for others to take that position seriously. Take your allegation that Rachel Maddow has no following. I could scream “conservative bias!” Or I could point out that Maddow is within ten thousand viewers of Sean Hannity in a critical demographic, and that Jon Stewart beats them on a regular basis.

The problem with an argument from popularity, in the end, is that it can always be turned on its head if you find something more popular. The lowest viewership for CBS, for total viewers, was something like six million. By comparison, Hannity drew one point two million, Reilly one point nine. That’s what CBS news makes in viewership for just the 25-54 demographic.

Yeah, it puts it in perspective doesn’t it?

See, politics often runs on hype. When you argue only from hype, you get predictably bad arguments. But really, anybody who has the intellectual honesty to just look at the numbers and concede their reality will realize that FOXNews, being the prestige network of the Conservative media has an interest in pushing itself as a winner. So, it will pit itself against CNN and other cable networks, while meanwhile the big three networks will post something like 24 million viewers combined.

If you lump CNN and MSNBC in there, then you have something like 26 million versus one and a half, if my math is right for that time slot.

But then, many people get their news from the internet, and CNN.com sees about 74 million unique users a month on average, so there you go.

Of course, Fox probably has something comparable. Point is, if you want to play the popularity game, you have to realize that with 300 million people in the country, you can get an audience for anything.

Provable arguments have the virtue of being backstoppable against further argument,except by those who will argue that up is down, right is left, and black is white when it doesn’t come from a politically approved source.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 28, 2011 5:51 PM
Comment #332488

Royal Flush-

Not only that, it’s deliberately structured to prevent the majority from using it’s power to permanently protect the changes its made to law and land with its power, so nobody gets to finally take over once and for all.

That is a reference to our rights in the Bill of Rights. Freedom of Speech, religion, press, etc. allow people the opportunity to form consensuses that contradict the current one in Washington, and to eventually overthrow the old order if they so wish.

More than anything else, the right to dissent, and the right to persuade others to join your dissent is critical. It’s the motor oil that keeps the engine of Democracy from grinding to a halt.

Your people took full advantage of these rights, as have we. And you know what? Nobody’s got any cause to just sit on their ass and take the people of this country for granted. That’s what I keep on trying to tell you folks.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 28, 2011 5:59 PM
Comment #332489

Sorry SD, you can’t weasel your way out of what I quoted from your post that easily.

Under our constitution the majority “never” has the legitimate power to even temporarily undo or restrict our individual rights. Our founders recognized, and stated, that these rights come not from man, but from our creator.

To even refer to our rights, in the Bill of Rights, as merely an opportunity indicates your complete misunderstanding of them. No “consensus” is necessary for us to exercise our rights, and no consensus can eliminate them.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 28, 2011 6:25 PM
Comment #332493

Stephen

The term in the poem on the Statue of Liberty was used in the 1883. The term was used and misused by communists/Nazis/fascists after that. The connotation changed. Your use of the the term is more like theirs and less like Emma Lazarus’, which is why I object.

In any case, when you use a word, you need to think of its meaning and its context. Perfectly good words like niggardly, inflammable or indifferent cannot be used anymore, since most people will misinterpret them.

Re liberal stuff - I am indeed happy that some of the liberal moves have been slowed. I learned that people were blank slates. This is now been proven wrong by science. I learned that “the poor” were powerless victims. Now we understand more about feedback loops. I learned that governments could fine-tune the economy. We now know that is silly. But in other ways, liberalism has expanded farther into our lives, in the ways I mention.

Re the law - loopholes get exploited because we have thrown out the reasonable man test for too many things, too many things are brought to the law.

Take tax laws as an example. I have an MBA. I currently work with a $10million budget at my job. Yet when I do my taxes, I am not sure if I am legal. I try very hard to be honest, but there are several interpretations to some of the things I do. One accountant told me, and I quote, “I think we followed all the proper rules, but make sure you keep the records in case they ding you on this later.” What the hell? The expert cannot tell if a future tax guy might or might not “ding” me?

The reasonable man rule would say that I operated completely in good faith and would not permit a ding down the road.

Let me give you another example. I have been a party to three class action lawsuits. In all three cases, I did not understand how I had been harmed, by JOS A Bank, Charles Schwab and Citibank respectively. In all three cases, “my” lawyers won. I got nothing. I didn’t want anything since I was not harmed, but “my” lawyers collected.

I figure that if an intelligent guy with an MBA cannot figure out the law, how can a ordinary guy have a chance? And if you cannot reasonably understand if you are breaking the law or not, how can you respect it?

It is important the we pass no laws that those who are to follow them cannot understand, at least in broad brush.

Posted by: C&J at November 28, 2011 7:54 PM
Comment #332503

Royal Flush-
Weasel? Do yourself a big favor and research my past entries. These are consistent views of mine.

My belief, and the belief of many political scholars, is that the whole point of these rights is to help make our political power, the democratic republic the constitution proper gives us, meaningful.

If you can’t speak the truth, how can you convince people to vote on its account?

If you can’t gather together peacefully, how can you organize a political effort to promote or oppose a policy, much less form a political party?

If the state tells you how you may worship, how do you establish for yourself your own religious values, the heart of your conscience?

If you can’t publish news, information, and opinions, how can people know what they need to know to form the majorities this nation needs to govern itself wisely?

So on and so forth. The point of these freedoms is to strategically limit the ability of the government to predetermine what public opinion is, regardless of the truth of how things actually are. It’s not that government is completely unable to push or pull public opinion one way or the other, but it has to constantly fight to do that.

This is not some momentary excuse to get out of some corner I painted myself into. This is a well developed sensibility of mine, as the thought my explanation puts into it makes clear.

Consensus is not unimportant in a Democratic Republic. Until people come together in agreement to pass something, that something isn’t law. Consensus, whether you want to believe it or not, is a condition of legal, legislative change.

You might not like it, but you can’t just force things on people, you have to change minds. Consensus is not necessary for our rights, nor are our rights necessary for a consensus to form. No, what our rights allow, is for the consensus to develop more naturally, more organically, rather than as a product of the strong arm of the government imposed on its people.

You think I’m trying to weasel my way out of acknowledging the constitution, because that’s what the idjits in the GOP punditry say. But the truth is, I’m dedicated to a different view of the Constitution. The living view isn’t about ignoring the Constitution, it’s about interpreting the Constitution in the midst of a society that’s changed much since the rules have been laid down, with a minimum of revision to the document.

Or, put another way, we want to apply the principles behind the provisions of the constitution in a way that works for our times. We’re less literal on every little provision, but being literal doesn’t mean being faithful to the law. After all, we do talk about respecting the letter of the law but violating its spirit.

Liberals like me seek a balance of modern times with a couple-centuries old founding document, not an overthrow of the Constitution in favor of some degenerate order.

But of course, if your leaders told you we were doing that, you’d probably have lunch with us, rather than trying to beat the **** out of us in the elections. Neighbors don’t motivate as many people to the polls and to pick up the party line, as much as fifth-columnist traitor bastards do, now do they?

C&J-
Your argument’s specious. This is the first time anybody’s gotten bent out of shape out of me talking about the masses that I can remember. Add in the argumentiam ad Hitlerum (Hitler was a Vegetarian! Vegetarianism is bad!) and you’ve got me low on patience. I’ve also yet to find somebody who is more than indifferent to indifferent as a word.

People are not blank slates. That’s never been what I would say. People come into each election with a few years of frustration and concerns. Unfortunately, your party’s done little to really help people. Hell, it’s done little at all, and it likes to make a show of it, trying to impress people with how much it’s held up.

Has it occured to you that people might not have wanted things held up? That they wanted the parties to do as they seem to have done before, resolving their differences, instead of meeting up in damaging showdowns? The hero complex of the right’s led them to think that people were rooting for them to resist, to stop everything.

No, people want something done. Not something too extreme, but they’re counting on whatever gets done to do what needs to be done. If all we have after hundreds of thousands of public lay-offs and no positive policies to increase jobs is a stagnant economy, people are going to start changing their minds on what party needs its business fixed.

Speaking of that, have you considered that sometimes when God wants to punish somebody, he gives them what they want?

The reason we have a big, complex tax code is that folks in that income bracket have been trying to create hidey-places for their money, so they could avoid paying their fair share? What do you think all those tax breaks and itemizations you’re allow were going to do to the tax code? Your problem, to put it bluntly, is that your people are having to clean up your own mess, and you’re just now realizing how disgusting and piled-to-the-ceiling the whole thing is.

Of course, you blame this all on us. Well, some of our people were responsible way back when, but most of the most recent changes came from your end. You had your opportunity to do what you were saying you were going to do, and you didn’t do it. Either your people didn’t believe it enough, or your folks saw bad consequences coming, either from contributors or from the results, and cut things short.

I don’t mind a reduction of the complication, a humanizing of the law, but you have to realize that the problem isn’t merely what’s written, but what gets interpreted in between the lines of what’s written. The solution is neither to get more literal or more austere in the structure of the law, but to recognize that there has to be a substantial common-sense component to the interpretation of the law.

As for the Banks? The banks sold a lot of crappy products to people, as did the companies they swallowed up in the midst of the crisis. People were harmed, the practices often defrauding people of their money, or losing them where the professional duty of the broker should have been to cut those losses short.

Civilization doesn’t have to be simple, and it’s a complicated task to simplify it correctly. Not all processes and interactions can be simplified appropriately.

We should pass laws that work. Whether or not a layman can understand them all the time isn’t the point. The question is whether they create a just and appropriate result. That’s more important. You can always tell the people administering things to take appropriate care in their application.

The world isn’t always as simple as we’d like it. We can either force an inaccurate theory on this situation, or we can push ourselves to become smarter so we can understand. Have him explain to you what the problems might be, what the risks are.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 28, 2011 10:00 PM
Comment #332504

Phx8 said:

“Conservatism has changed a great deal.”

And I suppose the Democratic Party is the same party as JFK, sorry, I don’t think so.

Jlw said:

“I ask him what socialism was and got no response and no more diatribe.”

Well jlw, I guess you really stumped that union redneck, didn’t you. I guess he saw the intelligence oozing out of your head, “if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bullshit”.

Stephen Daugherty:

You are a real jewel: you come back at me with numbers and figures and links, trying to tell me that America is listening to the liberal media:

“Frank-
I’ve been here almost eight years now because I prefer to talk about substance, rather than try to win arguments by hurting people’s feelings. I don’t call C&J all kinds of names to refute their arguments about the GSEs, I quote all kinds of information that factually contradicts their position.”

So who cares how long you have been writing your diatribe on WB. So you started spreading your BS when you were fresh out of having your head filled with mush at Baylor? Are you the expert because you have been writing for 8 years, or does it mean you haven’t learned anything in 8 years. I bet if we were to check the archives, we would find our comments haven’t changed one bit over 8 years. You and the rest of the libs on WB have called ALL conservatives by ANY name to get your point across. So don’t go acting all holy on us.

“Why? Because it makes them admit everything? No. Because it makes it harder for others to take that position seriously. Take your allegation that Rachel Maddow has no following. I could scream “conservative bias!” Or I could point out that Maddow is within ten thousand viewers of Sean Hannity in a critical demographic, and that Jon Stewart beats them on a regular basis.

The problem with an argument from popularity, in the end, is that it can always be turned on its head if you find something more popular. The lowest viewership for CBS, for total viewers, was something like six million. By comparison, Hannity drew one point two million, Reilly one point nine. That’s what CBS news makes in viewership for just the 25-54 demographic.”

What is a “Critical Demographic” supposed to mean? Is it code for conservatives are whooping our asses on TV and Radio, but if we razzle-dazzle with the wording, we can show that some people watch and listen to liberal/socialists too. You better look at your link again; you will find Fox News ahead of all other cable news outlets, and comparing CBS, ABC, and NBC to cable outlets is oranges and apples. I guess until the left is able to use the taxpayers’ dollars to guarantee cable in every low income household, the poor people will just have to watch regular TV, with an antenna. Re-internet news; the Drudge Report has the highest rating, you remember the Drudge.com don’t you? Yes, the same Drudge that Obama and the left hates; because he is a revealer of stupidity on the left.

Stephen, let’s talk about conservative book writers compared to liberals. Tell us about the liberal/socialist books that reach the best seller list; and I will tell you about the plethora of conservative writers who all have books that are best sellers for weeks on end. Who wants to read a liberal’s book; it simply slams America, promotes more spending on social programs and higher taxes to pay for it. There is only so many ways to promote Global Warming with faulty data, cutting defense spending while saying “I am a patriot”, slamming corporations while taking their money for re-elections, blaming Republicans for cutting Medicare and SS while democrats are voting to do that very thing under obamacare, and we could go on and on with the lies of the left. The only way a liberal writers can sell their books, is if the unions or taxpayers pay for them:

“The State Department has bought more than $70,000 worth of books authored by President Obama, sending out copies as Christmas gratuities and stocking “key libraries” around the world with “Dreams From My Father” more than a decade after its release.

The US Embassy in Egypt, for instance, spent $28,636 in August 2009 for copies of Mr. Obama’s best-selling 1995 memoir. Six weeks earlier, the embassy had placed another order for the same book for more than $9,000, federal purchasing records show.

About the same time, halfway around the world, the US Embassy in South Korea had the same idea and spent more than $6,000 for copies of “Dreams From My Father.”

One month later, the US Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, spent more than $3,800 for hardcover copies of the Indonesian version of Mr. Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope,” records show.”

http://newmediajournal.us/indx.php/item/3339

Oh, by the way, I am fully aware of what the word “Socialism” means.

I would like for Mr. Daugherty to give me just one example of how he has agreed with a conservative. After 8 years of writing on WB, I’m sure he can think of at least one time when he wasn’t worshipping at the altar of liberalism, and actually agreed with a conservative.

Posted by: Frank at November 28, 2011 10:54 PM
Comment #332508

Frank

SD is still trying to figure out how to compromise that answer.

SD

“have you considered that sometimes when God wants to punish somebody, he gives them what they want?”

That is not how my GOD works. He tells me in the Bible that it is not how he works. So you need to clarify what your source is.


Posted by: tom humes at November 29, 2011 12:05 AM
Comment #332510

Stephen

re blank slates etc - I am just praising the passing of many notions that were the basis of the kind of liberalism I faced in 1970 and - yes - it was more virulent than it is today. The blank slate idea was common in universities. It fit well the idea that you could perfect humanity with the right mix of social programs. It was one of the basis on which disastrous programs such as the Great Society were built. This, fortunately, is mostly gone.

Re “my” party having done little - you just implied we did a lot. You seem to think that we destroyed the edifice of liberal programs from the 1960s and 1970s, things that were moving along, IMO, to the destruction of society.

I, in fact, disagree with you on this. It is not as bad as it was in 1970, when the liberal point of view was ascendant, but we did not succeed in bringing government back to its core responsibilities.

Re taxes - we should lower the rates and eliminate most of the loopholes. The rich already pay a greater % of the total tax bill than they did back when rates were higher. The tax code is messed up because politicians want to manipulate society. The power to tax is the power to control. Take that away by a simpler code.

Re law in general - they should be simple and few. When the cost of doing something “wrong” is less than the cost of making and administering a rule or law to make it “right”, just don’t do it. Bureaucracies are full of rules that save a nickle at the cost of a dollar.

Government is good at displacing these costs, i.e. shifting them onto others. We need to fight this constantly.

“Civilization doesn’t have to be simple, and it’s a complicated task to simplify it correctly.” You are right. It is TOO complicated to be managed centrally. That is why the best laws are simple. They allow the people involved to interpret and innovate.

A good government is owned by the people, not the other way around. Within the rule of law, people need the freedom to use their intelligence and innovation to make things better.

Posted by: C&J at November 29, 2011 2:13 AM
Comment #332516

C&J-
You aren’t facing liberalism in 1970. You’re facing a party that’s grown in the last forty years, and which has far different attitudes.

I mean, can most of your fellow Republicans even remember, hell did they ever actually learn what the policies of Democrats were that long ago? It’s easy to tell somebody that their country is mired in socialism when they have no perspective on just how much more liberalism used to pervade society, and just how little this concerned most people at the time.

Could they even recall what the taxes were like under Saint Reagan of the Supply Side? That he raised taxes? That both times he did cut taxes, the revenue didn’t rebound, the economy didn’t soar to new heights, and that deregulation turned out to have a dark side?

No. There’s a reason I’m not aching for Democrats to develop a truly liberal media apparatus, and to put it simply, it’s that we, just like Republicans can get taken off into a journey into fantasy land when we don’t have countervailing points of view and politics-independent information to make our decisions on. Long story short? Reality may be a lot gentler in terms of government as it is now than the average Republican thinks. Most people don’t have to even fill out their tax forms themselves these days. I’ve never personally filled out a tax return on paper. You just enter stuff in a bunch of input windows, and you get a number at the other end of it.

You can automate other things like this, send out pamphlets to those engaging in a certain business explaining what the laws are. Heck, you could create an updateable site for it. As for the rest? Look, I’m into science, technology, and engineering, which means that I see both the bright and the dark sides of such complexity. It also means that I’ve come to realize that past a certain point, you can’t avoid this level of complexity.

Or, put another way, the complexity emerges from the system itself. The simple fact that we advanced beyond being a nation of farmers with industry being tucked in one corner of the country meant that both the society and its government was going to get more complicated.

And we need a government that can handle that complexity. If we don’t have it, well, then the country’s going to go off the rails. To a certain extent, though, the advantage of Democracy is that you’re not depending on any one small group of people to understand the complex economics and everything. The value of federalism is that the national government doesn’t have to understand every part of the country in minute detail. We already distribute a lot of the tasks of governing to the people themselves, and to governments more local, and better able to determine the needs of that particular place, as oppose to the nation in general.

Here’s the thing, though. We do have general interests as a country, problems that don’t stay neatly within borders. We can simply assume that we can let the more complex or technical problems solve themselves, but in the course of history, they haven’t. Wall Street’s problems never solved themselves, and still aren’t solving themselves today. They still get into ridiculously complicated and self-destructive messes, and our fate as a country depends on dealing with that. Same thing with global warming and carbon emissions, energy, manufacturing.

If we can only govern what can be dumbed down to explain to people, this country’s going down in flames, because our problems are as complex as the society and the technology that enables them. Right now, they’re blasting their way through the upper quadrant of the country to lay down fiber optic cables to shave milliseconds off of computer automated trades, the likes of which recently almost created a market crash, all by themselves. And the 1987 crash certainly wasn’t helped by the automated trading programs they had in place twenty four years ago.

Just because you can’t understand it as a individual doesn’t mean you don’t need somebody to govern it on your behalf. In fact, that’s the point of having dedicated agencies, agencies where people can specialize in understanding and properly dealing with the problems in question.

The one valuable bit of information I got from Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point (other than that, he was just saying, “there are points where critical transitions take place”) is that once you get past a 150 or so in a group, people become unable to personally know everybody else. Which is to say, that after that, you need some sort of administration, a system to manage affairs between people. At some point, you need some bureaucracy, out of necessity. They’re not as preferable as more personal systems, but more personal systems rely on things being small enough to manage personally.

The key is not wishful thinking, the key is to adapt to things as they are.

There are ways to do this, but you have to stop trying to force things to work in a way they won’t, simply because you’re nostalgic for something different.

tom humes-
God gave the corrupt leaders of the Sanhedrin Jesus hanging on the cross. It didn’t work out like they thought it would, but there you go. He let the evil of the world win, as it understood winning. It didn’t work out as the one who spreads evil thought it would, but there you go.

I think God most certainly has a sense of cosmic irony, turning people’s dark, evil, or merely petty wishes on themselves.

Frank-
Trying to tell you? I damn well succeeded! Are you saying that all those millions of people tuning in are just ignoring everything they’re watching?

Not too likely.

So who cares how long you have been writing your diatribe on WB.

You know, it does you no good to try and drag me down into the dirt with you. If you don’t think that anything you say will make a difference, then the best thing you can do is go away. Not because you shouldn’t be free to write here. By all means. But if I thought that I had absolutely no chance of at least convincing our audience of what I thought, if I thought it was all futile, I wouldn’t bother coming here. I would write elsewhere, and on other things.

Critical Demographic, by the way, is the 25-54 demographic, which is the one that advertisers pay attention to the most, because they have the disposable income, the children, the jobs, etc, necessary to pay for things. Shows can have decent overall ratings, but get into trouble if they don’t do well in that category. Just laying out the market conditions, since you see fit to make a market-oriented comment.

Now I posted the links that go to the sites that were reporting on those ratings, telling you how many people were watching from which group. You say say razzle dazzle, but I’ve kept my argument pretty close to the facts, so my conclusions don’t need me to twist the meaning of those numbers. The numbers speak for themselves. 24 million people don’t watch a show they’re not intending to pay attention to.

Do you realize that you’re making factually disprovable claims here? I mean, if nobody ever pays attention to or believes a liberal, then what is Jon Stewart, Barack Obama, Al Gore, or anybody else doing on the bestseller lists, where they’ve shown up?

Obama’s second book was a bestseller in 2006, before the State Department made the bulk purchases and the first was made a bestseller when he made his high-profile appearance at the Democratic Party National Convention in 2004, again before he was able to rig the sales.

See how facts work? I can logically exclude the possibility that his work was simply made a bestseller by the government buying the books. If that were the case, both books would have never reached bestseller status when they did. Not unless Bush was subsidizing a Democrat’s good fortunes out of the goodness of his heart.

You? You’re just tossing around claims, hoping to intimidate me. But since I put my two feet on the ground of real world information, not just political propaganda whipped into castles of air, I’m not going to be intimidated. Why should I be intimidated by your party’s lies when I know the truth, and the truth refutes your party’s lies?

I’m not going to budge where I have a factual basis for a belief. If you’re not going to do your homework, if you’re going to make wild accusations and claims without checking what you’re saying against available facts, I’m going to shoot those claims down where I can, and only concede what I can’t disprove. That might seem like excessively stubborn resistance to the truth from your end, but if your arguments are any indication, you’re not familiar enough with real numbers or real facts that bear on your argument to justify me conceding my position anyway.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 29, 2011 8:25 AM
Comment #332517

So I guess you are in agreement that Rush Limbaugh’s daily 20 million listeners makes him a credible news source? Since you believe numbers mean success.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/shortstack/2009/08/conservative_bestsellers_galor.html

Posted by: Frank at November 29, 2011 10:00 AM
Comment #332520

Frank,

“So I guess you are in agreement that Rush Limbaugh’s daily 20 million listeners makes him a credible news source?”

Except for the fact that even Limbaugh, at his peak, only claimed to have 20 million listeners a week, you might have something.

BTW, you might want to actually read your link as it doesn’t mention Limbaugh anywhere.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 29, 2011 11:17 AM
Comment #332524

SD wrote; “Or, put another way, we want to apply the principles behind the provisions of the constitution in a way that works for our times. We’re less literal on every little provision, but being literal doesn’t mean being faithful to the law. After all, we do talk about respecting the letter of the law but violating its spirit.

Liberals like me seek a balance of modern times with a couple-centuries old founding document, not an overthrow of the Constitution in favor of some degenerate order.”

Very revealing comment. Thanks for allowing me even greater insight into your conception of our founding documents. Liberalism as practiced today, is a direct affront to all that our founders believed and formulated into the rules under which our federal government was to operate.

With a mere 27 amendments to our Constitution, the last being ratified in 1992, this “couple-centuries old founding document” has served us well.

Your admitted seeking of a balance to reflect modern times is simply an evident desire to circumvent the protections provided by our founding documents. Liberalism in full flower would attempt to deny individual rights in favor of the special interest group. Liberalism, whether practiced by a dem or a rep, is anathema to the very foundation upon which our Republic stands.

The liberal argues for greater, stronger, more intrusive federal government which is in direct opposition to what our founders intended. This then, is the core reason that SD finds it outdated and for which he is seeking change. The liberal finds, that within the confines of our Constitution, their desires are thwarted…and thus, wish to convince the populace that it no longer applies as it is insufficient to handle the problems of the 21st century.

I find this argument to be much the same as some Christian religious organizations and leaders. If God can’t be made to change, then change Gods. If the Constitution can’t be made to serve liberal ambitions, then change the Constitution. If Capitalism can’t be made to serve the liberal socialist desires then throw it away keeping only the name to placate those who can not think for themselves.

Fortunately, the liberal and socialist, having been granted some degree of power and influence over the past 50 years, have proven that what they offer simply does not work. We are far the worse off, as a nation, for their blundering efforts. The lure of “something for nothing”, of forced equality of outcomes for individuals, of birth to death subservience to government is failing as it certainly must.

They are running out of other peoples money to sustain the unsustainable. Their last grasping effort to keep the game afloat is now apparent in their lust for ever more booty from the rich and corporate folks. Their abominable political philosophy can not sustain itself on its merits and thus much rely upon the sweat, toil and efforts of others. Liberals and socialists are takers, leeches, and parasites…producing nothing of value themselves and totally dependent upon a willing host.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 29, 2011 3:48 PM
Comment #332526

Stephen

I had hoped that liberals had changed. The high point of their apparent conversion was when Bill Clinton announced that the era of big government was over and we had bipartisan support for things like welfare reform and balanced budgets.

But then we had Obama and the resurgence of the old liberalism, a believe in the efficacy of government to solve big problems. I have no doubt that it too will recede. It just doesn’t work. But it has already damaged our country.

Re complexity - systems do tend toward complexity and must be simplified periodically. The irony is that often more complexity in some sorts of technology can make other applications much simpler.

I know you know something about computer technology. The technology itself has been becoming more complex. My son is studying computer engineering and I know it is hopeless for me to understand the details. However, as the tech becomes harder, the application becomes easier and more intuitive. I can make a computer do most of the things I want it to do. I could not do this with the simpler systems, when I had to learn FORTRAN to make the machine put a series of words in alphabetical order.

The same thing goes for most things in our society. A ordinary car is much beyond our ability to fix, but I can use a car much easier today than when I was a young man. Back then, cars were simpler, but they broke down more often and everybody needed mechanical skills.

This should apply to law. Indeed, I expect that there are aspects of law that require the skills of a Talmudic scholar. But ordinary citizens should have a good idea if things he does in his daily life are legal or not. W/o the ability of ordinary people to understand the law, we cannot have law that we can expect them to respect.

I am surprised that having laws that people can understand and respect is a conservative idea in your opinion. It just makes sense.

Re your being here eight years, you are a pain in the ass, but I do appreciate you being around.

Posted by: C&J at November 29, 2011 5:07 PM
Comment #332531

“Frank,

“So I guess you are in agreement that Rush Limbaugh’s daily 20 million listeners makes him a credible news source?”

Except for the fact that even Limbaugh, at his peak, only claimed to have 20 million listeners a week, you might have something.

BTW, you might want to actually read your link as it doesn’t mention Limbaugh anywhere.

Rocky”

Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 29, 2011 11:17 AM

Well I might suggest that you do some research. Rush Limbaugh has had some poll accounts of 30-50 million listeners over a week on 616 radio channels. With 20 million listening to him on any given day. Sorry Rocky, but that’s the facts. You can do your own research, since you already have preconceived ideas.

Tell me Rocky; when Rush organized and started “Operation Chaos” in the Obama/Hillary primary, it was for the purpose of extending the Democratic Primary. Guess what, it worked; the MSM was furious that Limbaugh would use his listeners to bring chaos to the Democratic primary. Now the question is; what type of listening audience and how many would be required to make a change in a national primary? The goal was never to help Hillary to beat Obama; the goal was to bloody Obama’s nose and it did.

Posted by: Frank at November 29, 2011 6:22 PM
Comment #332534

Frank,

“Rush Limbaugh has had some poll accounts of 30-50 million listeners over a week on 616 radio channels. With 20 million listening to him on any given day. Sorry Rocky, but that’s the facts.”

You are welcome to believe it if you want, however that isn’t how it works.
According to “Talkers Magazine” these are the numbers;

http://www.talkers.com/top-talk-radio-audiences/

In it’s latest survey, from April 2010, to March 2011, Arbitron, the nation’s leading ratings system of radio stations polled over 395,000 people and their findings were that Limbaugh’s audience is 15+ million per week.

Arbitron’s numbers are what advertising rates are based on all over the country.

Sorry Frank, but those are the facts.

“You can do your own research, since you already have preconceived ideas.”

Whatever Frank.
I listen to Limbaugh on a fairly regular basis, and have since George H.W. Bush was President.
That said, most people in their cars, for instance, don’t listen to the same radio station for more than a few minutes at a time, and usually change the station when the adds happen.

Look it up.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 29, 2011 8:24 PM
Comment #332544

Frank-
The claim is based on twenty year old cumulative-style ratings of the show.

What’s more, they don’t represent an accurate picture of how many people actually listened to the show.

As a radio trade reporter confirmed to MSNBC last week, common industry shorthand to determine the actual size of a radio audience at any given moment is to cut the cume figure down by a factor of 10, which would mean Limbaugh’s 20 million becomes 2 million. Or, if you take the more modest cume number of 14 million, which some inside the industry have used to judge the talker’s audience, Limbaugh’s rating becomes 1.4 million, which is roughly the same size audience that Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann get each night on cable TV. So why doesn’t the press treat them as the ultimate kingmakers?[emphasis mine, article is pre-Olbermann’s departure]

So, if you read your numbers right, Limbaugh is just another political figure, accorded an inflated reputation.

Oh well.

As for Operation Chaos? What extended the Democratic Party primary was Hillary Clinton’s unwillingness to concede defeat, not Limbaugh’s support. The fact that in the end, it did not succeed in peeling off Hillary voters in the general election makes Operation Chaos a complete exercise in futility. Not even the introduction of Caribou Barbie got them to vote Republican or stay home in discontent. The Chaos was swallowed up by the discipline of Obama’s supporters and his own successful fence-mending within the party.

My suspicion is that Limbaugh wanted to feel important, since there was a lot weighing against his party, and the man he opposed in his own party’s primary won anyway.

Royal Flush-
Liberalism is this, liberalism is that. You’re always telling us liberal what liberalism is. Not that you seem to listen when we try to tell you this ourselves.

If I thought the constitution is outdated, I would have said so. Instead, I said it required a little more than just a literal interpretation in order to be usefully interpreted for our times.

After all, the founding document doesn’t mention wiretaps, computer hacking, or anything like that, but does that mean that I think the fourth amendment doesn’t apply? No.

The question is, what was that provision meant to deal with in its time, and what is the analogous situation now? More to the point, how do we deal with the consequences of the new amendments, not to mention the court decision in the 1800s that became the basis for modern corporate law? Why are we asked to pretend that corporations behave like their 1700s counterparts, when there’s such a profound constitutional difference in how they’re set up and operated now?

How do we also adjust to changes in the constitution that increased the roll of those once considered second class citizens? These are not questions, short of an amendment, that we can answer without interpreting the constitution, faithfully mind you, in order to figure out how it applies to these new situations. The framers deliberately gave us a government we could change to suit our needs, within the framework of our constitution. They weren’t sentencing us to a prison of their ideology, which would be convenient for those who also claim, arrogantly enough, to be the sole heirs of the true intepretation of the constitution. They were giving us the freedom to plot a course for ourselves, freed from the bonds of dusty, mindless tradition that bound Europeans at the time.

They are running out of other peoples money to sustain the unsustainable.

I believe you’re trying to pretend like we’re no longer able to borrow at a decent rate. This, on point of fact, is demonstrably false. If you don’t believe me, take a look at how cheap treasury bonds are going for.

Your hamfisted representation of us, the product of fevered, rhetoric-driven imagination, is also demonstrably false. The main drivers of our deficit are your tax cuts, your wars, and the economy you’re blaming on everybody else but yourselves. The provisions of ours you would repeal actually reduce the deficit. The job programs you would forestall are both paid for, and would help to decrease long term debt by reducing the need for deficit spending.

I could ask you to quite relying on such dumb arguments, but the Republicans have essentially shaped their political identity based on opposing their fantasies of Democrats, so I shall leave you to hobble on that crutch, since you’re so attached to those slanders.

C&J-
There’s a book out that I commonly use as a reference for my psychological theories of politics called The User Illusion. The book is about the limits of conscious thought, but overall, the term refers to the idea people have that the program is its interface, rather than all the processes behind it.

This phenomenon tells us some things: one, what’s on the surface can often hide mind-numbing complexity, even, and sometimes especially if it seems user-friendly on the surface; two, you don’t need to actually simplify everything about a government, just the interface that the average person, or the small business owner, might use; and, if you notice how things actually work with programs, there are constant updates, bugs, crashes, and hacker exploits that indicate to us that this complexity under the surface of seemingly simple programs can have profound consequences, if the complexity isn’t properly dealt with.

I don’t think resolving the problems of complexity is conservative, and I don’t know why you think that. I think conservatives have real trouble dealing with society’s complexity, because they apply models that were formulated before people really understood complexity in the real world. The assumption that elites pass on the wealth they’re given, is one bad model. So’s the assumption that the market succeeds in shaming people out of misbehavior. Instead, corporations often launch persuasive efforts to normalize tolerance of bad behavior, or firewall the ugly side of their business, the one that might alarm people, away from the notice of investors who might balk at the risk or the dishonesty. By the time the market intervenes, a lot of bad crap has gone down.

Also, it’s not just the government that creates the complexity in the laws, or in society. Bureaucracy is a quality of corporations as well, especially when you’re trying to get them to do something that might cost them some money, like honor a warranty or honor an insurance claim. It is not always, from a businessman’s point of view, a good idea to make things simpler and more efficient.

Your interactions with the government are not the only potential sources of trouble and complication in your life. The law and our government should reflect that. It’s not an easy or simple thing to optimize a society as a whole, but here would be my simple point: I don’t think you get such simplification for free if you just unleash the free market on the problem.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 30, 2011 1:05 PM
Comment #332550

SD writes; “The framers deliberately gave us a government we could change to suit our needs, within the framework of our constitution.”

True, and the framework of our constitution specifically enumerates the proper work, duties and powers of the federal government. What should be handled by the states is clearly specified as all those things and powers not given the federal government.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 30, 2011 4:47 PM
Comment #332554

Stephen Daugherty said:

“As for Operation Chaos? What extended the Democratic Party primary was Hillary Clinton’s unwillingness to concede defeat, not Limbaugh’s support. The fact that in the end, it did not succeed in peeling off Hillary voters in the general election makes Operation Chaos a complete exercise in futility.”

Tell me Mr. Daugherty; are you just stupid, or can’t you read? This is what I said about Operation Chaos:

“When Rush organized and started “Operation Chaos” in the Obama/Hillary primary, it was for the purpose of extending the Democratic Primary.”

Only a stupid person could get “peeling off Hillary votes in the general election” out of “extending the primary”. In fact Stephen, if you can find one place in my post where I mentioned “general election”, I will never post on WB again.

No, my suspicion is that YOU want to feel important and just say whatever comes into that pea brain of yours. You lied Stephen. I’m not going to ask for an apology from you because you would never give it.

STEPHEN DAUGHERTY IS A LIAR AND MISQUOTES PEOPLE JUST SO HE CAN FEEL IMPORTANT.

By the way SD, I asked you a question that you conviently forgot to answer:

“I would like for Mr. Daugherty to give me just one example of how he has agreed with a conservative. After 8 years of writing on WB, I’m sure he can think of at least one time when he wasn’t worshipping at the altar of liberalism, and actually agreed with a conservative.”

Posted by: Frank at November 28, 2011 10:54 PM

Posted by: Frank at November 30, 2011 5:23 PM
Comment #332572
Your philosophy is that of the French Revolution. Mine is more like that of the American. They look alike in many ways, but one is better.

Nope. Sorry. I know you like puffing yourself all up with the thought that your thinking and knowledge is far superior to mine, but this is just complete bunk. Rousseau was a very influential philosopher to quite a few of the founders, as well as to Robespierre, who was an instrumental figure to the French Revolution (no matter how far off the rails he ended up going during The Reign of Terror).

BTW

You don’t really believe Robespierre was an inspiration to Jefferson and Madison, do you? And you also understand the evolution of Jefferson’s thought and how Madison sometimes differed?

Well, the fact is, Jefferson never ceased defending the French Revolution during his lifetime. In his letters it is clear that it was linked in his mind with the American Revolution — and indeed, that all revolutions dedicated to totally destroying the rule of monarchy would be linked in spirit.

As for Robespierre, Jefferson never once criticized the actions he took when he was alive, even during the height of atrocities that were being committed during The Reign of Terror. In fact, he made no criticisms of Robespierre at all until after the man had actually been put to death — and by then this seemed like it was driven mostly by political expediency to finally denounce all that had happened after the fact. As far as inspiration goes, it was Rousseau’s philosophy that was influential (to both men), not a philosophy espoused exclusively by Robespierre.

And yet, the plain fact of the matter is this: Jefferson was never one to shrink from bloodshed during revolution, and it is a whitewashing of history if people claim that he denounced what happened during the French Revolution when it’s pretty clear that he was quite a tireless defender of it. Jefferson was no saint who shrank from all thought of violence. It’s clear that he had a much tougher edge to his thinking than many people seem to wish.

As proof of this I give you what he wrote to a man named William Short about the French Revolution.
No one can say that that is not a clear defense of what was done.

Also, does this sound like a man who differed all that greatly from the thinking of a man like Robespierre?:

If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. And what country can preserve its liberties, if it’s rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
Posted by: Adrienne at December 1, 2011 4:51 PM
Comment #332575

Hmm. My link didn’t work. Here it is again.
And if that doesn’t work, you can cut and paste this into your browser:
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/jeffworld.html

Posted by: Adrienne at December 1, 2011 5:14 PM
Comment #332579

Adrienne

Robespierre was responsible for the murder of thousands. Jefferson didn’t engage in any revolutionary violence. Jefferson did have a blind spot when it came to the French. It got him in trouble. But he wasn’t a murders.

You seem to be an admirer of Robespierre. Is that right.

Re my knowledge being far superior to yours. The knowledge is not the superior part. It is the analysis. You seem to have a fair amount of information.

I used to have ideas similar to yours. For example, I thought Marx made sense until I actually read Marx. The same was true of Rousseau. He turns a great phrase, but the big flaws are his ideas re the perfectibility of man and the idea of the noble savage.

I have also learned a little more nuance than I think you can handle. I find useful things in even the things I hate the most and find flaws even in things I love. I once had a pleasant dinner conversation with a man who I am pretty sure tried to kill me six months earlier.

I figure even you might come around, which is why I don’t respond in kind to all the names and insults you throw my way. For example, I might think that something is “Insanely Idiotic”, “Disgraceful, Inhumane, and for lack of a better word, utterly Dumbf*ck” but I have learned that it is not the best thing to call people that. I can think of better ways to make my point.

Stephen

The world is way to complex for us to understand in its entirely. But we can make our parts simple. It is simply true that you cannot expect a person to comply with a law he cannot understand.

Posted by: C&J at December 1, 2011 6:37 PM
Comment #332581
Robespierre was responsible for the murder of thousands. Jefferson didn’t engage in any revolutionary violence. Jefferson did have a blind spot when it came to the French. It got him in trouble. But he wasn’t a murders.

I guess you didn’t read my link. Jefferson defended the murder of thousands during Reign of Terror.
He said:

the liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest, and was ever such a prize won with as little innocent blood? my own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed I would have seen half the earth desolated. were there but an Adam & Eve left in every country, & left free, it would be better than as it now is.

You seem to be an admirer of Robespierre. Is that right.

I admire Robespierre before he went off the rails and began the Reign of Terror. I could never have defended or excused such atrocities the way that Jefferson chose to. I’m an admirer of Rousseau’s philosophy — as was Jefferson and many other of the founders of this nation. The guy you called a “revolutionary socialist” full of “nutty ideas.”

Re my knowledge being far superior to yours. The knowledge is not the superior part. It is the analysis. You seem to have a fair amount of information.

I have knowledge that informs my own analysis. You just don’t happen to agree, so you act as though you and your analysis is superior.

I used to have ideas similar to yours.
I have also learned a little more nuance than I think you can handle.

Yawn. You sound like an arrogant, closed minded old man — I have to be wrong simply because I don’t agree with you.

I figure even you might come around, which is why I don’t respond in kind to all the names and insults you throw my way. For example, I might think that something is “Insanely Idiotic”, “Disgraceful, Inhumane, and for lack of a better word, utterly Dumbf*ck” but I have learned that it is not the best thing to call people that. I can think of better ways to make my point.

Well, I felt you did deserve a little name calling for this post. Because it was intended to call out Stephen for his thinking as a liberal, and to claim that Rousseau’s philosophy was one that informed the thinking of “Hitler, Lenin and Mao”, when in fact his philosophy actually informed the thinking of quite a few of America’s founders.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 1, 2011 7:55 PM
Comment #332615

Adrienne

You know they called Jefferson the sphinx because he seemed to have so many contradictory thoughts and emotions, but the nice thing about Jefferson is that he could talk about lots of things but not really do them or even really advocate for them.

This in fact feeds into the next point about Robespierre. The great thing about the American revolution, as opposed to those blood debacles in France, Russia etc. , is that we didn’t go off the rails. We understood restraint and we were lucky not to have Robespierre. MOST revolutions end in bloody debacles because those involved either cannot or will not control the demons they release. That is why most revolutions produce more stirring rhetoric and music that actual progress.

Re nuance – I am an old man, although I bet I could still outrun (both intellectually and physically) many of you younger folks. The nuance is important. There are more distinctions than I think you can recognize and a great deal of difference between what is said and what is done. I think it takes experience to recognize that, which is why if you are not a “revolutionary” when you are twenty, you have no heart, but if you are still one at 40 you have no brain.

I also understand that you feel that you should use profanity and personal insults in overt forms against people who disagree with you. I have learned that we should respect people, even when they disagree with us. That is why I make fun of your hatred instead of returning it.

I am sorry if you think that means that I think of myself as superior to you. I am sure that you are superior to me in some ways.

Posted by: C&J at December 2, 2011 6:24 PM
Comment #332637

Jack:

You know they called Jefferson the sphinx because he seemed to have so many contradictory thoughts and emotions, but the nice thing about Jefferson is that he could talk about lots of things but not really do them or even really advocate for them.

I think this only shows that you haven’t read Jefferson’s correspondence; because he was not a sphinx in regard to the French Revolution. He was the minister to France when the Revolution first began, and he advocated like crazy in support of it. Unfortunately, he did this long after he was aware that the Reign of Terror had begun.

if you are not a “revolutionary” when you are twenty, you have no heart, but if you are still one at 40 you have no brain.

I’ve heard this repeated many times, and always thought it to be an incredibly empty platitude. Because the need for revolution can arise at any time in history. And people who won’t to step up and fight for what they know is right, no matter what their age happens to be, only show themselves to be the kind of person who refuses (for whatever reason) to use their heart OR their brain.

Btw, I’m glad George Washington didn’t heed such mindless platitudes, because he was 43 years old when he lead the American Revolution as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.

I also understand that you feel that you should use profanity and personal insults in overt forms against people who disagree with you.

Yes, but only where it seems deserving. And it never has anything to do with disagreement with my own views, it always has to do with my perception that people are spreading lies or misinformation. That is what you’re doing by bad mouthing Rousseau’s philosophy and claiming that it was the “precursor” to “Hitler, Lenin and Mao.”

I have learned that we should respect people, even when they disagree with us.

I don’t choose to show respect when people are clearly talking out of their ass. I want them to know that I know that this is what they’re doing, and that’s usually when I state it plainly and/or use profanity.

That is why I make fun of your hatred instead of returning it.

I don’t care who makes fun of me. Brutal honesty and frankness isn’t hatred.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 3, 2011 12:26 AM
Comment #332639

Adrienne

I don’t accuse you of not reading things. I would appreciate the same courtesy. I have been to Monticello at least seven times. My daughter is a UVA graduate. We essentially lived with Jefferson for four years. I have read Jefferson’s writings, since I was in HS. I mentioned the blind spot he had toward the French. It was one of his shames. I know Jefferson better than you do. If you want to talk ideas, that is fine. Criticize my ideas all you want. But I am getting sick of this overt personal stuff. Be a little cleverer in the way you state things.

As I tried to explain to you, Jefferson said lots of things but did not act on them when he had the chance. He may have praised revolutionary violence, but did not engage in any.

You really do need to work on your capacity for nuance. People are not black and white. Their ideas are often contradictory and they evolve over time. At least MOST of us have ideas that evolve over time and change with circumstances. I understand that you feel it a point of pride not to do that. It is far easier to react in anger and indignation.

You talk about violent revolution and fighting. I understand the need to struggle for what what it right and I have actually done that. But you don’t really understand what it is like to have people trying to kill you, to see people die and maybe even be responsible for it. There is a smell and a texture to it that is simply horrible. Revolutions are particularly violent and should be avoided when possible.

OUR revolution was one of the few successful ones. Mostly lots of people end up dead and despotism reasserts itself, often in a more deadly form. Evolutionary change is almost always better. The French and Russian would have been better off with a little more moderation. Fewer people would have died and they would have ended up better faster. And anybody who seriously thinks revolution is an answer in the today’s U.S. or Western Europe is a pea brain. (I don’t choose to show respect when people are clearly talking out of their ass.)

Re making fun of you. I make fun of your hatred. Hatred doesn’t come as easily to me as it does to you. Nobody makes fun of you. You inflict that on yourself.

Posted by: C&J at December 3, 2011 1:09 AM
Comment #332658

Adrienne

Oscar Wilde said that a gentleman is one who never insults anybody - unintentionally. I suspect I might have done that, and I apologize.

I don’t think you understand my method. This is not a criticism. You don’t know me. I like to try out ideas and I don’t much care about their provenance. It is pragmatic approach. It works very well in practice, but it is “ideologically impure”. I assemble them as works best.

You like to trace things back in kinds of lineages and a pure form. I just don’t do that well. What matters to me is not the “original idea” or the intent but rather what it breaks down into in a practical sense.

My observation with people like Robespierre or Rousseau is that their pure idea break down into a poisonous mixture when translated into real scenarios.

Rousseau’s ideas about the nature of man (especially the perfectibility), property (considered even earned wealth subordinate to political will) etc inspired the terror of the French Revolution and were picked up by Marx and other totalitarians. We don’t “blame” him for the acts of others, but you have to consider what ideology becomes, not what it says it is in textbooks.

Very often I think that you are arguing the ideology in itself, while I am pointing out its corruptions. We can both be right but the conclusions will be very different.

For example, there are those who say that communism has never been tried. I say it has and failed. The “true” communism is completely unsuited to reality. We can compare pure communism to pure capitalism, but such things are mere academic exercises.

Posted by: C&J at December 3, 2011 2:02 PM
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