I’m Not a Conservative…


Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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316 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Have you ever gone to a family reunion thinking that you might find a date?

    Do you find a bug zapper and a six pack to be decent Friday night entertainment?

    Do you have at least one Christmas Ornament made out of a spent shotgun shell?Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      No, no, no. These are liberals. Let’s try this:

      1. When was the last time you condemned Stalin? If it’s been longer than a year, will you now take the opportunity and do so?

      2. The individual broccoli mandate: for or against?

      3. The last time you bought coffee, was it fair trade? If not, why not? Justify your answer using Rawls’ difference principle.

      And so on. Caricature is easy, isn’t it?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Oh, I was running with questions for Conservatives that did a better job of communicating the assumptions of the asker.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. says:

          Another true story- I can’t remember why, but I was on Frontpage dot com (I think) and said something vaguely liberal and was immediately asked if I had loudly and publicly denounced Pol Pot. I suppose the “silence” was “deafening”.Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:


        Anyone who says no to those questions simply isn’t dealing with reality. (Not you questions by the way.)

        Why should people bother reading them other than entertainment?

        You questions are different because
        1) This is a silly cheap shot that certainly doesn’t have a large following of democrats office holders and non supporting stalin

        2) Actual policy question(sort of). I’ll answer Constitutional but I’m still against it.

        3) Another silly cheap shot. I don’t drink coffee.

        The balloon juice questions are important and huge swaths of the conservative movement are dedicated to getting the answer wrong to both.

        When at least half of a parties presidential candidates raise their hands to indicate that they either don’t understand science or feel the need to pander to people who don’t that is a problem.

        Someone who doesn’t believe evolutionary theory can’t call themselves educated.Report

      • Avatar eyelessgame says:

        Wait. It is condescending to ask a libertarian if he believes in anthropogenic global warming? When did that happen?

        I will take you at your word, I am insensately cheered. You’ll stop supporting politicians who don’t believe in global warming – or who believe in creationism – since you consider those positions the equivalent of Stalinism. Right?

        I’d expect you also to oppose Stalinist politicians. Of course, you’d have to recognize who is and isn’t one, first. Any liberal starts advocating mass murder of citizens, you let me know and I’ll condemn them with you. Until then, they’re clearly the lesser evil. Right?Report

        • Avatar eyelessgame says:

          oh, never mind, I realize I’m trolling. It’s just – your worldview is so distant from what I understand that I can’t even make the connection between DougJ’s questions and yours. Go ahead and delete my email. It’s not worth it.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          Wait. It is condescending to ask a libertarian if he believes in anthropogenic global warming? When did that happen?

          It’s condescending to ask me, particularly when I’ve often written in this very space that I do. It’s sort of like asking moderate Muslims why they don’t just condemn terrorism, right after their repeated declarations to that effect.Report

      • Avatar Pseudonym says:

        I don’t see how DougJ’s questions are a mere caricature; I think that there’s evidence indicating a substantial portion of self-identified conservatives would say no to both of his questions. If the commenters here generally say yes, I’d consider that a point in this blog’s favor. I doubt that a significant portion of self-identified liberals would voice any support for Stalin. There’s hardly condemnation because there’s hardly any consideration of him at all in politics these days, Glenn Beck excepted. I haven’t heard the details of the individual broccoli mandate, but it doesn’t sound very promising to me, other than as a band name. I confess to not having bought fair trade coffee though, but in my defense I haven’t been able to get the civets to eat it yet.Report

      • Avatar jayackroyd says:

        Not so easy, no. Can you come up with two real questions?

        Or are you saying that it is not the case that some Republican, self identified conservative, elected officials would answer “no” to both those questions? Are you saying that conservative media stars, whose ideas serve are foundational for millions of people, have not answered these questions, particularly the climate question, publicly, and to the contrary?

        Can you offer an equivalent pair of questions?Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          There certainly are such folk. Not at the League, however, and I’d thought we were fairly clear about this already, and clear in our condemnations of the Republican mainstream.

          I’m not sure how much louder we’d have to be, but it’s really no fun being DougJ’s puppet like this.Report

          • Jason, I don’t know much about the League of Ordinary Gentlemen, but you wear a Cato hat, and I know enough about Cato to say that their lean towards the party of the evolution and global warming deniers is pretty blatant.

            How much louder would Cato have to be? It would have to stop siding with the idiots.Report

          • Avatar jayackroyd says:

            Maybe I’ve lost the thread here, but DO you have questions that would sort out liberals from libtards? I mean, I cannot say how either of DougJ’s questions are patronizing. You can say, I suppose, that you and your friends here on this blog are not like those crazy wingnuts. And you can also say, I suppose, that it is cruel, and even superfluous, of DougJ to point that out.

            But it does mean something that the people who would self-identify as reasoned conservatives view themselves as out of the mainstream of the Republican party. I wasn’t so clear on that before this discussion.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              The easiest way to sort out Liberals from Libtards, (speaking as a Liberal) is this: ask them if Bush43 was a Conservative.

              If they answer Yes, they don’t understand the difference between a Conservative and a Neocon. Orrin Hatch is a Conservative. Lindsey Graham is a Conservative. Bush43 was not.Report

              • Avatar jayackroyd says:

                Lindsay Graham is a neocon, hand in hand with Lieberman. I don’t get you here.

                IAC, that’s neither a policy question, nor a core belief in the nature of the world. As I mention below, there is deep denial on the part of pretty much everybody on the degree of change necessary to have a meaningful impact on climate change.

                For example, Juan Cole spoke on Monday about the nature of the US enterprise in the middle east. While what he said is in Jay Rosen’s Sphere of Deviance, it’s pretty much on the money. I claim it is hard to find mainstream liberal views of the world that are inconsistent with reality, and that even the “fringe” views, like Juan’s on the Middle East or Marcy Wheeler’s on torture, are pretty much reality-based.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                I’ll partially stipulate to your claims for Lindsey Graham being a Neocon, but my taxonomy of homo neoconensis starts with Podhoretz the Pinko. Lindsey Graham is from a completely different clade.

                Climate change is pretty much a fact of life. I’ve got some friends doing shallow water archaeology. It seems a good deal of early humankind lived along the shorelines of Ice Age seas, now inundated. We will adapt, as we always have, once we’ve exhausted our options. I am no doomsayer: we will move along to new technologies as surely as diesel replaced coal in locomotives. The internal combustion engine was a triumph of metallurgy: before then, refiners flared off “gasoline”, believing it too flammable for safe use. Humankind only shits on its dinner plate once: China’s cleaning up its act and other regimes will too.

                The American Liberal tradition isn’t really very Liberal, in the larger scheme of things. Trade unions, the signature of a Liberal tradition, peeled off from the Liberal substrate around the time of the Vietnam War: their goals seemingly accomplished, they rested on their laurels in varying degrees of hubris and corruption. Reagan would destroy them and they have been in headlong retreat ever since. All that’s left are a few Clinton Progressives.Report

              • GWB wasn’t a conservative?? Oh, please.

                Look, if conservatives support practically everything you do, and you embrace them in turn, then you’re a conservative. That was the case with Chimpy.

                In eight years of his Presidency, only three issues really opened up any daylight between Shrub and those to the right of him. One was port security, another was immigration reform, and the third was that ridiculous woman whose name I forget that he nominated for the Supreme Court. That was pretty much it. They may not have been crazy about Medicare Part D, but they didn’t feel like going to the mats over it.

                Conservatives loved Bush, he loved them, they embraced him as one of their own, and they were on the same side with respect to practically everything. To say Shrubby wasn’t a conservative because of some abstruse philosophical categories you slice the world into is missing the forest for the groundcover.Report

              • At any rate, we’re looking for questions that usefully distinguish liberals from a radical fringe of anything near comparable size to the wingnut gallery on the right. Pretty much all liberals would take both conservatives and GWB at their word on this one, and describe Bush as a conservative.Report

          • Avatar jayackroyd says:

            As I consider this sheep/goats sorting question for self identified progressives, I find myself thinking about what are regarded by people like Rahm as effing retards. And it occurs to me that on something like half of those issues–Code Pink isolationism, ACLU liberties– there would be a meeting-up with folks regarded as on the rightwing fringe, as we saw yesterday:

            The other half, of course, involve disagreements over dealing with what economists call “market failure.” But on those issues, there aren’t very many “libtard” positions. Most reflect policies that are practiced, with success, in the rest of the OECD, such as a substantial government role in the delivery of health care services.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Have you ever defended Marxism-in-theory in a discussion about Communism-as-applied?

          Have you ever argued that someone who opposes Government Policy X is someone who opposes the goals you claim that Government Policy X will provide?

          Those are two off the top of my head.

          Cheaper questions:

          Have you ever asked why we didn’t just let the South secede in the first place?

          Have you ever mocked the cultural markers of poor people (e.g., “crocs” or “Wal-mart” or “Country Music”, etc)?Report

          • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

            Are you a 9/11 Troofer?

            Are Pharmaceutical companies engaged in a conspiracy to cover up natural cures?

            Is Big Oil covering up an invention that would dramatically increase gas mileage?

            I have more but I have to go to a meeting.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Are Pharmaceutical companies engaged in a conspiracy to cover up natural cures?

              The variant of this I’ve heard is that Pharmaceutical companies are engaged in a conspiracy to cover up that they’ve found the cure for herpes but there’s more money in selling five-pills-a-day than in selling the cure.Report

            • Are you a 9/11 Troofer?

              Are Pharmaceutical companies engaged in a conspiracy to cover up natural cures?

              Is Big Oil covering up an invention that would dramatically increase gas mileage?

              Again, the proportion of lefties who would respond in the affirmative to any of these three questions is vanishingly small. Hell, I haven’t heard the last question taken seriously in 25 years – fuel injection rendered the underpinnings of that ‘conspiracy’ obsolete.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Is Trig Palin the son of Sarah Palin?

            Is nuclear power replacing coal-fired plants a viable option to reduce greenhouse gases?

            Did the pro-life community do enough to repudiate the shooting of George Tiller?

            Are strings of lights on an evergreen outside of a courthouse a violation of the concept of “separation of church and state”?

            Was Raich v. Ashcroft decided correctly?

            Was Kelo v. New London decided correctly?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Do you support the right of evangelicals to abort babies found with the gay gene?Report

            • Avatar Citizen Alan says:

              Eh, I’m a raging liberal but I’ll bite on these:

              Is Trig Palin the son of Sarah Palin?

              I have no reason to doubt it. Is that a question commonly raised by liberals, as opposed to Andrew Sullivan?

              Is nuclear power replacing coal-fired plants a viable option to reduce greenhouse gases?

              Yes, provided that the nuclear plants are either government operated or else heavily regulated, since private corporations will run them as cheaply as possible and then demand a government bailout if there’s ever a meltdown.

              Did the pro-life community do enough to repudiate the shooting of George Tiller?\

              Frankly, I don’t recall the anti-abortion community (sorry, I refuse to use your misleading framing of “pro-life”) doing anything at all to repudiate the political assassination of George Tiller. Personally, I don’t consider mealy-mouthed statements that amounted to “we deplore violence, even when directed against baby-killing Hitlers like Tiller” to be a repudiation so much as an an insult to my intelligence.

              Are strings of lights on an evergreen outside of a courthouse a violation of the concept of “separation of church and state”?

              No, only creches and other purely sectarian decorations put up to show favoritism to a particular faith over all others violates “separation of church and state.” I’m not aware of anyone in the mainstream (or even radical) left who’s up in arms about secular Christmas symbols like Christmas trees.

              Was Raich v. Ashcroft decided correctly?
              No. It was an outrageous assault on state sovereignty that would never have been tolerated in any arena other than the “War on Drugs.”

              Was Kelo v. New London decided correctly?
              Yes. It was an outcome I didn’t like, but beyond requiring just compensation for any governmental takings, the U.S. Constitution is silent on eminent domain. Ergo, it is a matter for the states, many of which have already passed laws to prevent takings of the sort seen in this case.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Frankly, I don’t recall the anti-abortion community (sorry, I refuse to use your misleading framing of “pro-life”) doing anything at all to repudiate the political assassination of George Tiller. Personally, I don’t consider mealy-mouthed statements that amounted to “we deplore violence, even when directed against baby-killing Hitlers like Tiller” to be a repudiation so much as an an insult to my intelligence.

                Should Muslims have done more after 9/11?Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                I watched the whole Tiller thing unfold on the local news.
                Anyone that speaks of Tiller as St. George or describe it as a political assassination are completely out of touch with reality.
                That’s fact.Report

              • Avatar gregiank says:

                Why wouldn’t political assassination be a reasonable term for his murder?Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                How could it possibly be anything other than a wholesale dismissal of the facts of the case?Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                And I’ll say that I don’t deplore violence at all. I see it as a tool, the same as any other tool.
                For every loud-mouthed sob that gets a knuckle sandwich, our society becomes a more civil place.
                Fight fire with fire.

                As far as Tiller goes, this is the supremacy of natural law.
                Where the statutes fail, where common law fails, natural law is to be observed.
                It’s just the same as if Tiller had sent out a written letter of request.Report

              • Avatar Citizen Alan says:

                So the proper response to the domestic terrorism activities that have been used by the fetus worshipers of the forced-birth lobby is to fight fire with fire? Maybe burn down the church that Scott Roeder attended? Or put a bullet in the head of Randall Terry?

                I sure hope that your wife or daughter never has an ectopic pregnancy. It sure would be a pity if she bled out on an operating table in the seventh month of pregnancy because fetus-fetishists like you bullied her out of having the late term abortion that might have saved her life.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                You don’t know a damn thing about me.
                You can <a href='http://clinicquotes.com/site/images/news/thumbs/ks-07.jpg&#039;look here and see the food items stored with biomedical waste.
                That’s what the people saw on the local news, before everyone from out-of-town started coming in with an axe to grind.

                Forced birth?
                So, this is rape we’re talking about right?
                Or is this immaculate conception?

                Or does the adjective “Forced” merely imply a level of convenience or inconvenience?Report

              • Avatar Citizen Alan says:

                Name some Muslims living in this country who regularly demonized Americans the way the forced-birth lobby has demonized abortion providers for the last 40 years. Name some Muslims living in this country who flirted around with calls of violence against non-Muslims, always being careful to stop just short of officially calling for assassinations while still plainly communicating to their terrorist minions who they wanted to see killed.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Is that a “no”?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Yes. It was an outcome I didn’t like, but beyond requiring just compensation for any governmental takings, the U.S. Constitution is silent on eminent domain.

                The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

                Ergo, it is a matter for the states, many of which have already passed laws to prevent takings of the sort seen in this case.

                The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. (Emphasis added)

                In any case, I don’t really see the confiscation of private property in order to hand it over to a private company as a “government taking”, per se.

                To be perfectly honest, I tend to boggle at the idea that it’s cool for the government to collude with big business to steal from the citizenry.

                But, then again, I’m a Libertarian Nutball and not “a raging liberal”.Report

          • I actually have defended Marxism in theory several times, and I’m not a liberal at all unless you mean in the classical sense. Marx the scholar has an undeserved bad reputation because so many people did violence in his name.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Perhaps I ought to have phrased it thusly:

              In any conversation that features V.I. Lenin, Josef Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Ho Chi Minh Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Mengistu, Che Guevara, or Fidel Castro, have you gone to great lengths to make distinctions between “Marxism” and “Communism-as-practiced”?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                In any discussion that features Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, J. Edgar Hoover, Henry Kissinger and the CIA, would you go to Great Lengths to distinguish “Democracy” from “Anticommunism-as-practiced?”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You probably would not believe the lengths to which I believe a “Right to Privacy” applies.

                Penumbras, emanations, so on.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Not since the passage of the PATRIOT Act, anyway. You’re with us or against us, we were told.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It’s in order to keep our children safe.

                You may think it’s better to give our children free health care after they get bombed but I’d prefer to not have to!

                So take your shirt off.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Ah, well. If it’s for the children, that pretty much settles it in my mind. Other, pettier concerns pale in significance when the issue of Our Preshus Chilluns is brought to bear on any given issue.

                Shirt, pants, socks, skivvies, anything for those Preshus Chilluns.Report

          • Have you ever defended Marxism-in-theory in a discussion about Communism-as-applied?

            Have you ever argued that someone who opposes Government Policy X is someone who opposes the goals you claim that Government Policy X will provide?

            Those are two off the top of my head.

            That first question would separate a fringe of about .07% of radicals from the rest of liberalism. The crux of the second question is whether Government Policy X actually does what it’s set up to do. If you oppose Social Security, for instance, then you really do favor the notion that most elderly should either live in poverty, or work until they drop in their tracks. So it’s a pretty useless and silly question generically.

            Cheaper questions:

            Have you ever asked why we didn’t just let the South secede in the first place?

            Have you ever mocked the cultural markers of poor people (e.g., “crocs” or “Wal-mart” or “Country Music”, etc)?

            Country music is big business, and Wal-Mart is the biggest corporate behemoth on the planet. Mainstream liberals can and do mock them for reasons having nothing to do with their clientele. And crocs…they’re a kind of footwear, right?

            As for the question about why we didn’t just let the South secede in the first place, (a) there are obvious reasons once you think about it for five seconds, and (b) where’s the liberal v. radical split on this one?

            So as questions that would distinguish liberals from a nontrivial number of ‘libtards,’ these fail.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:


        The answer to the 3rd question may be a lot more interesting than previously supposed.

        Well since I didnt bother to check whether my coffee is fair trade (I’m not sure they have fair trade labeling in Singapore), I will for the moment assume that it is not. Not buying fairtrade coffee can be justified because it secures the jobs and livelihoods of the worst off.

        Compare: Countries where fairtrade coffee is produced often have robust pro labour policies (in fact may necessarily do so). This requires a background of institutions that are very supportive of the worker there (or at least puport to be). On the other hand, in countries without fair trade provisions, the workers’ jobs are much more at risk. They would really need our help. Therefore, we must buy non-fairtrade coffee.Report

  2. Avatar gregiank says:

    Come on Jason, while these questions may seem patronizing to you, what kind of answers would to these would be had on Redstate or Fox or the other big con/R blogs. Really. If there has anything that has come to define a strong subset of R voters is antipathy to Evo and climate science. Do you remember the R primary debates? I’m also betting 100 quatloos that a few people will chime in with the bog standard answer to question 2 that Al Gore is fat and rich.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      Agreed, but I hadn’t thought these gotchas applied to the League, or to Outside the Beltway. These were the only two sources he called out by name. No others. And I see now that James Joyner has already replied in essentially the same way I did.Report

      • Avatar gregiank says:

        His point is naming OTB and the LOOG was that he sees them as better quality blogs with “reasonable Conservatives.” He, you and i know what kind of responses these questions would get on mainstream, red meat blogs. There are no caricatures involved in these questions regarding a lot of the R blogsphere.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Allow me to quote the man hisself:

          I’m not sure how to go about doing this, but I’m trying to get as many people who write or comment there and on other conservative blogs to answer the following two questions:

          I’ll note that you haven’t answered the questions either, Greg.

          Hiding something?Report

          • Avatar gregiank says:

            Global warming -yes

            So how about you Jay?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:


              More like EquiVOcation!!!!Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                God created Adam and Eve, not Evo and Fatso!Report

              • Avatar gregiank says:

                Actually i remember you as being in the Global warming is all a conspiracy group, but i guess i’ve evolved past that.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                No, I’m in the “Global Warming is a problem on a scale where we’d be better off pouring resources into Global Warming Management rather than Global Warming Prevention” conspiracy group along with a serious helping of “If the people who crow loudest about Global Warming do such things as drive more and bigger cars than I, fly more than I, burn more for heat/electricity than I, but brag about how much they care more than I, then it’s probably not really about Global Warming as much as it’s something analogous to Evangelical Christianity” conspiracy group.

                I have noticed that many Global Warming Credulists tend to lump us all together, though.

                Not terribly nuanced, they.Report

              • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

                This response is termed the Al Gore is Fat camp.

                Since Al Gore is a huge asshole we’ll just ignore the science and do nothing. This is why I gave up trying. Why bother when nothing I do will change anything.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:


                We are a one car family because we specifically purchased our house to allow one of us to walk (!) to work.
                We pay the extra money to recycle.
                We purchase the “green” energy from the electric company rather than the less expensive “other” energy they have available.
                We purchased a new home with new home insulation technology rather than an older, cheaper one.
                I like to keep the house at a brisk 62 degrees in winter (though Maribou prefers 66) and we use fuzzy pants, fuzzy sweaters, fuzzy blankets, and fuzzy cats rather than the thermostat to make ourselves comfortable.
                We do not fly to a destination when we can drive there reasonably (I haven’t gotten on a plane in years).

                I like to think that we are not “doing nothing”.

                As a matter of fact, I daresay that we are doing more than many Global Warming Credulists (I don’t know of many other one-car families who specifically bought a house in walking distance from work for one of the two partners).

                You’ll forgive me if I make distinctions between my answers and the “Al Gore Is Fat” camp.

                What’s the car/adult ratio in your household, Pirate?Report

              • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

                Your certainly emitting less than me but our little individual uncoordinated actions are not going to do jack.

                We need something that makes carbon-emitting more expensive. So that other energy resources get used.

                I’m personally actually doing nothing as I figure that we are already screwed thanks to the James Inhofe’s of the world delaying for so long. That combined with the tea party nutters getting congress really makes even thinking about the issue nothing but a trip into sadness.

                Because I can read polls and they look bad.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                The likelihood of either of you solving this problem, or even contributing to the solution (or the problem) meaningfully, is within epsilon of zero.

                We can argue about who is pissing on the grass in the Commons, but the real question is what we’re going to do when the lava field advances over our pretty, pretty Commons.

                I suspect that answer is not susceptible to easy prediction.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Your certainly emitting less than me but our little individual uncoordinated actions are not going to do jack.

                You’ll forgive me if I find that people unwilling to do even as little as I have done are more serious about this than me based on the things they are willing to say.

                Just like Evangelicals.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Er, *DON’T* find.

                This conversation always pisses me off and makes me type bad.Report

              • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

                Actually I will forgive you that.

                We are still boned though. Looking at the politics there isn’t a damned thing we can do either.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Jay, dude, I love it when you are forced into the “I’m a better librul than you clowns.” This thread is an example of how libruls eat their own and I must confess to have snorked my coffee about half way down. So keep it up, this is better than TV, PBS or otherwise.
                BTW, Algore is a fatass with a ‘carbon’ footprint bigger than everyone on this blog’s. And, GW is as scientistic hoax…have yous people looked outside lately?
                And, yes I think ‘some’ people are descended from apes.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’m *NOT* a better liberal than most liberals.

                Maribou is, though (it’s the Canadian thing, I think).

                As someone who is *NOT* inclined to do these things, I am impressed by how easy they are in practice.

                If the people who want the government to mandate that more people live like Maribou and I do are not willing to do the things that Maribou and I do, this tells me that something else *ENTIRELY* is going on.

                “Communication” strikes me as second most-likely explanation.

                The whole “your righteousness is as filthy rags” points that get brought up subsequent to my chest-beating just drills the whole Evangelical thing home.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                “If the people who want the government to mandate that more people live like Maribou and I do are not willing to do the things that Maribou and I do, this tells me that something else *ENTIRELY* is going on.”

                I gotta be honest; the only thing this tells me is something I already know.

                Most fat people know they need to lose weight but they still don’t exercise until they have the first heart attack.

                Most smokers know they need to quit but they don’t until someone they know is dying of lung cancer (even if that lung cancer isn’t caused by smoking).

                Most blog commentators know they ought to get off the damn Internet and get some more work done, but their jobs enable them to work in off-hours and there IS SOMETHING WRONG ON THE INTERNET.

                People can have rock solid belief in God, they still steal and sleep around on their wives and forget to call their mother and watch porn on Sunday.

                I could go on. A person can be rational. People, however, aren’t. You’re only going to think something else is going on in this case if you expect them to be.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                But we’re not talking about smokers who want to quit.

                We’re talking about smokers who are lecturing me about not telling other people to quit (even though I’ve quit) BETWEEN PUFFS.

                We’re not talking about fat people who think they ought to diet. We’re talking about fat persons who are telling me, a skinny person*, that I ought to berate fat people into exercising more while they eat Twinkies.

                We’re not talking about “people”.

                We’re talking about the persons who are telling me that I need to be forced to live the way that I am living even as they are unwilling to make the minuscule changes to live the way that my wife and I live.

                There is something else going on here.

                (*Note: I am chubby.)Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                > We’re talking about the persons
                > who are telling me that I need
                > to be forced to live the way that
                > I am living even as they are
                > unwilling to make the minuscule
                > changes to live the way that
                > my wife and I live.

                Okay, fair enough distinction.

                > There is something else going on
                > here.

                Still don’t think so 🙂

                Every organized religion has done this, in the history of man, to a greater or lesser degree (depending upon religion and period of history). Taking religion out of it – there are plenty of other examples – there’s a simple explanation.

                People like to tell other people what to do. They often have actual rational reasons for this. People also like to do whatever the hell they want. They will with great eagerness rationalize the hell out of this to make it seem like what they’re doing is perfectly rational. You point this out yourself, all the time.

                Take that together with the fact that everybody’s willing to pay the piper as long as we’re talking about paying the piper tomorrow, not right now.

                These are pretty common human characteristics.Report

              • Avatar Trumwill says:

                We’re talking about smokers who are lecturing me about not telling other people to quit (even though I’ve quit) BETWEEN PUFFS.

                You’d be surprised (or maybe, as a quitter, you just need reminding?) how often, on the smoking dock, smokers say that smoking should be illegal. In between puffs. There is a certain dissonance to it all, for sure (a portion of every pack they buy goes towards advertising geared towards getting more people addicted), but it’s not entirely insincere.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You’d be surprised (or maybe, as a quitter, you just need reminding?) how often, on the smoking dock, smokers say that smoking should be illegal.

                This doesn’t bug me that much.

                It’s a variant of “Oh, I shouldn’t have ever been allowed to make my own decisions!”

                I guess that if people reach that conclusion then they’ve reached that conclusion.

                It’s the “Therefore Jaybird needs to do more to make other people not be allowed to make their own decisions” that pisses me off.

                Hell, I’m even (somewhat) okay with them railing about how the government should have done more to prevent them from making decisions. (I think they’re wrong, of course… but they’ve reached the conclusions they’ve reached and I argue against them without much rancor.)

                It’s when they yell at me that I ought to do more yelling that I get really irritated.

                I am pleased that I was allowed to make my own decisions, thank you very much. I hope that others will be similarly allowed to do so.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Not only do Jesus, and Bob love ya, but so does Joel Osteen and Ernest Angley…man I love those guys!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Joel Osteen reminds me of Ted Haggard.
                Ernest Angley reminds me of Benny Hinn.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                My favorite hymn: “I’ll Be a Millionaire for Jesus.”Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                So you *can* be bought!Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                FZ’s wonderful tune “Heavenly Bank Account” comes to mind.

                It is best in cases like this
                to pretend you are stupid.

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Ernest Angley reminds me of Benny Hinn.

                I’m disappointed to learn there is a Benny Hinn, since at first I thought you’d mistyped “Benny Hill”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, would that there were more men that reminded me of Benny Hill.

                Remember the old guy? When I was a kid, we all told each other that he was Benny’s dad. It was with great disappointment that I found out that they weren’t related.

                Little Jackie Wright. We hardly knew thee.Report

              • Avatar Jeremy B says:

                This is a metaphor that’s closer to the truth:
                1) Those guys who denied for years that there was any connection between tobacco and cancer? They’re in charge.
                2) Not only are cigarettes NOT illegal, but they’re subsidized by the government, which has created an elaborate infrastructure to facilitate smoking.
                3) When some of us say “Gee, maybe we should all quit smoking,” we’re accused of beeing doomsters, nanny-staters, and/or socialist powergrabbers who just want any excuse to set up a one-world-government.

                THAT’S what’s going on, metaphorically speaking…Report

      • Avatar DougJ says:

        I “called you out” as a reasonable conservative blog that I don’t mind reading.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          How surprised were you by the answers you’ve seen so far?

          More surprised than when you found out that Stalin killed millions in a forced famine?

          Less surprised?Report

          • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

            Don’t take Jaybird entirely seriously, he was dropped on the head as a child.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              I don’t mind that you insulted me but if you’re going to insult me to DougJ, could you respond to his post rather than mine?

              It always embarrasses me when someone insults me while screwing up basic mechanics, you see.


          • Avatar DougJ says:

            I wasn’t sure what answers I would see, but I expected a few global-warming-deniers here, yes.Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

              DougJ, dude, if you take Algore seriously I’m pretty sure there’s a gummint grant you can get for relief. My guess is you just need someone to talk to.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Gore may be a strange, bumptious man, much-given to hyperbole, but I do take him seriously.

                Though everyone laughs at Gore’s claim to have invented the Internet, the truth is, the Internet we know today had two fathers: Gore and Bush41. Gore proposed the legislation and Bush41 signed it.

                Lesser-known is Gore’s finishing the map of the world. True story. The last blank spot on the map was the floor of the Arctic Ocean. Both the US Navy and the USSR’s navy had perfectly adequate maps of the Arctic but both sets of maps remained classified until Gore proposed a cartography conference with delegates from both navies.

                Gore’s strangest and most elegant proposal was an earth-facing satellite at Lagrange Point 1, beaming back a constant image of the planet in sunlight. Say what you want to about him, the scope of Gore’s vision is immense.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                BP, dude, minus two points!Report

              • Avatar Heidegger says:

                Bob–I share/feel your pain. My brother is a Ph.D. Johns Hopkins grad–can you even begin to imagine the unpleasantness and verbal warfare that goes on between us? And even worse–his Ph. D. is in Political Science– OUCH! The relentless, unending indoctrination he must have received at that institution is just unfathomable. God knows, I’ve tried to “get his mind right”, but nothing has even begun to work. I asked him once how long he’s been on bin Laden’s payroll, and he completely snapped-must tread carefully from now on. Hey, he’s my brother and
                I love him dearly, but it’s just a damn shame that liberals and leftists have ruined such a good mind. I sometimes think some kind of
                ‘Stockholm Syndrome” is at play here–you know, abduction, fall in love with captors, then it’s off to the University of Hanoi for finishing school. Oh well…Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                You do know where I earned my doctorate, right?Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Yea, my eye doctor has a daughter who teaches Marxists studies at Syracuse, I believe. ONe can never understand how the pathology spreads…must be the human condition.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                You do know where I earned my doctorate, right?

                I didn’t. Did you know Hilzoy there?Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I didn’t meet her while I was there, although I was a fan of her online writing. We met on several occasions afterward, though.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to the real Al Gore. I’ve been around long enough to see him traverse the entire political spectrum and amend almost every position he’s ever taken.

                Gore is a visionary, in every meaning of that odd word. You may not like his current incarnation much, but he’s used to being attacked for the positions he’s taken.

                I am not sure you are old enough to have been subject to the Vietnam-era draft. Al Gore enlisted in the Army in 1969 and returned to Harvard in uniform to catcalls and jeers. Tommy Lee Jones, who lived with Gore at the time, said Gore enlisted because even if he’d found some fancy way out, someone else would have taken his place.

                Nixon paid close attention to Al Gore Jr.’s enlistment and diddled his Vietnam orders until his father had lost the election. It was fairly big news at the time, to those of us who were not Fortunate Sons.

                If Al Gore has been reduced to political caricature, it was mostly a self-inflicted injury. He allowed himself to become the creature of his handlers, as have most politicians, dumbed-down by marketing weasels. Unique among American politicians, the issues he championed were his own, a man of science in a world of transient political causes now long-relegated to the circular file of history.

                Laugh at the caricature if you will, it’s about as relevant as a 1975 Sears Roebuck catalog now. Al Gore’s long since past politics and those who continue to fire cheap shots at him aren’t fit to polish his shoes.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                BP, dude, I do appreciate that you’ve taken to defending a political hack that even libruls find distasteful. As far as a man of science, I don’t want to be uncharitable but methinks Algore is mentally impaired, rich as hell, but suffering from any number of psychopathologies. I dealt with the asshole myself back in the early 90’s.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Do tell. I was at Bell Labs Indian Hill Main the night the first Internet connections were made to the civilian world. You may thank Al Gore and Vint Cerf you are not on some hideous variant of AOL or Compuserve dialup. To see how it might have played out, consider the parlous state of American cell phone service.

                Nobody now seriously questions global warming or ocean acidification… do you? Didn’t think so. Following Swift’s maxim, “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign…”

                I’m sure you’re educated enough to finish that maxim without my assistance.Report

              • Avatar Simon K says:

                This may be the first occasion on which I’ve agreed with Bob’s opinion on a political figure …Report

              • It’s an unprovable claim, but the world would be a better place I think if Gore had defeated Bush in 2000.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Have the answers you’ve seen caused you to re-evaluate any assumptions?Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      Sure, but he asked us and Outside the Beltway, so Jason answered.

      For the record, I also believe in both evolution and man-made climate change and I write here too, but everyone knows I’m a commie-dem.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        but everyone knows I’m a commie-dem.

        Collaboration is collaboration.Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

          …all commie-dems need our help but that doesn’t mean we don’t like them! Hell, I gotta brother that’s one of YOU PEOPLE!Report

          • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

            There’s one in every family, Bob. I’ve got a holocaust denier in mine (not at that level of the family tree, thank goodness). Whaddya gonna do, you’re stuck with your relatives, they’re God’s gift to teach you about the fallibility of the rest of humanity when you’re young and you can still learn that lesson.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        Interestingly enough, I had two (maybe three) readers at my old blog and lost one of them over a post in which I explained what skepticism entails and made fun of climate change ‘skeptics’ over how many things they’re remarkably gullible about.Report

  3. Avatar Will says:

    Dear G-d, we should not be dignifying this bullshit with a response.Report

  4. Avatar Simon K says:

    That’s some really remarkable tone deafness if he can’t tell the difference between the League’s regulars and folks who don’t believe in evolution. But then if he thinks the League in general is conservative he’s got some funny filters on to begin with.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      Well, sometimes we write about the same things that conservatives care about- the role of tradition in individual life, religion, the literary canon, problems with health care reform, etc. So maybe there’s some common ground…Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        I think that’s where he was going with that. As people who see the merit in some conservative ideas, how do we feel about these things that many conservatives- well, Republicans really- believe?Report

      • I think it’s more that there isn’t isn’t enough mindless sabre-rattling here against social conservatives, the religious, and other “obvious” morons, when clearly the contract we all signed when we entered the culture war stipulates that there must be.Report

  5. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    OMG, DougJ said yous guys was ‘conservatives!’ Or tended toward, or leaned toward.
    I’ve thought yous guys was radical Leftists…or many were. I must really be outta whas happenin’ now.
    Balloon Juice is for deranged Middle Schoolers.Report

  6. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    What, exactly, is a Conservative, anymore? The USA doesn’t have a Conservative Party, so it would seem reasonable people are reduced to using Conservative as an adjective.

    Who or what might be used as a yardstick? Burke? I used to bicycle past Toad Hall Books in St Charles IL. An earnest young man got into a discussion with me. He was an up and comer in the local GOP, bright kid, genuinely likable. I said “Put one book in my hand that lays out modern Conservative principles, and I will buy it on your recommendation alone.”

    He gave me Robert Bork’s Slouching Toward Gomorrah. A stranger jeremiad I have never read. It was not so much a statement of Conservative principles as a hateful misrepresentation of everything Liberal.

    Is this is what passes for modern Conservative principles? I don’t believe it. Maybe I’m in denial. In this era of self-service identity, we can no longer afford these vicious shibboleths and idiotic litmus tests.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      Nah, Toad Hall was in Wheaton. Town House Books is what I was thinking of….Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      The USA doesn’t have a Conservative Party, so it would seem reasonable people are reduced to using Conservative as an adjective.

      Somewhat less reasonable people use it as a pejorative.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        There’s no Liberal Party, either, heh.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:


          There are all *KINDS* of spectacularly nutty ones, though.

          I miss Natural Law. We need a political party that understands the importance of Trancendental Meditation!Report

          • Avatar Trumwill says:

            Back when they were around, every “Which Political Party Do You Belong To” online quiz put me in the Natural Law Party. Every single one.

            A while back some family members on Facebook added me as friends. I changed my political designation on there to NLP to keep my head low.Report

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

      I’ll be damned if I’m giving up my ‘vicious shibboleths and idiotic litmus tests!’Report

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

      …as a Paleocon I look to the virtues, tenets, and principles of the olde Republic as the ground of my political beliefs primarily because the republic offers the best hope for us to exist in the condition God intended.Report

  7. Avatar North says:

    Hmm well based on the Liberal and Conservative Blogosphere’s relative positions I think the League is continuing to chart a stable course down the middle. Encouraging.Report

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

      Are you saying that me, Tom, H-man, Mike, et al are balancing the conversation, or are we a hinderance to those who want a librul love-in?Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Bob, I read National Review, Volokh, Cato(and Unbound), Mike’s site, your articles and almost everything Maggie Gallagher ever writes to leaven my more liberal reading. Actually, it’s more likely that my reading diet is suffering a deficit of left wing sources. So yes, I definitely consider you all ballast (though some of you I like very much, others less so).

        Though I confess there’s a tiny element of self preservation to it as well. If I ever have need to pack up my husband and make a break for the Canadian border I’d prefer to see it coming so I can make the appropriate preparations.Report

  8. Avatar North says:

    Oh and I suppose I should throw my two cents in on the question of the day.

    1) I’ve judged the theory of evolution to be one with the most explanatory power, predictive application and the least falsifications of the theories on hand. So I do consider it true.

    2) I have judged the scientific evidence in favor of the increasing of global temperatures to be solid and the evidence indicating human causes to be weaker but still persuasive. So yes*.
    * A caveat: I am appalled by the economic and political thinking involved. I’m unconvinced that the “solutions” to global warming proffered by the AGW crowd are superior to the problems they purport to solve. I also find their dogma and hostility to some fields of technology (nuclear) incomprehensible if they actually consider the problem as dire as they purport. Frankly the gaps between actions and beliefs and the contradictions within the belief structures of the AGW crowd put them only a few rungs over politically active religionists in my book. I wish it were otherwise.Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

      There is definitely some serious daylight between the quality of the science and the quality of the activists. Especially the anti-nuke ones. I’d love to swap out coal plants for nuke plants etc.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        And I think that is very big and honest of you to conceed and applaud you for it.Report

        • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

          Well it isn’t as big or honest as you think.

          I identify as Scientific Skeptic way before I identify as a liberal. I run screaming from what I perceive as a conservatism ruled by ant-science nutters.

          I carefully and suspiciously circle the liberals. If you want to see me get really dismissive put me next to an alt-med booster/ or 9/11 troother.Report

      • Avatar Aaron W says:

        As far as I know, most scientists support using more nuclear power as one of many potential solutions to AGW.

        The activists can be quite annoying to scientists at times, too.Report

        • Avatar Jeremy B says:

          I’d support nuclear power if we had scientists in charge.

          The problem has always been that it’s been run by an industry that is used to socializing risk… and therefor has consistently cut corners and failed to take a long-term view. While playing with VERY dangerous stuff….Report

  9. Avatar tom van dyke says:

    A conservative blog would mention “Pelosi” more than a half-dozen times in the past year. And NOT approvingly.

    These Balloon Juice fellas really know their stuff.Report

    • Avatar Heidegger says:

      Tom, Daniel Pipes has some very interesting and brilliant questions to ask a Muslim in an effort to discern whether that Muslim is indeed “moderate”, or an “extremist.” (I can hear the bellowing already–Heidegger you are despicable, ignorant, racist, bigot, who just can’t die soon enough!)

      The politically correct weenies will no doubt be howling in pain at the effrontery of such a biased line of questioning. So be it. Reality, at times, can be so difficult to be realized.

      •Violence: Do you condone or condemn the Palestinians, Chechens, and Kashmiris who give up their lives to kill enemy civilians? Will you condemn by name as terrorist groups such organizations as Abu Sayyaf, Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Groupe Islamique Armée, Hamas, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and al-Qaida?
      •Modernity: Should Muslim women have equal rights with men (for example, in inheritance shares or court testimony)? Is jihad, meaning a form of warfare, acceptable in today’s world? Do you accept the validity of other religions? Do Muslims have anything to learn from the West?
      •Secularism: Should non-Muslims enjoy completely equal civil rights with Muslims? May Muslims convert to other religions? May Muslim women marry non-Muslim men? Do you accept the laws of a majority non-Muslim government and unreservedly pledge allegiance to that government? Should the state impose religious observance, such as banning food service during Ramadan? When Islamic customs conflict with secular laws (e.g., covering the face for drivers’ license pictures), which should give way?
      •Islamic pluralism: Are Sufis and Shi’ites fully legitimate Muslims? Do you see Muslims who disagree with you as having fallen into unbelief? Is takfir (condemning fellow Muslims with whom one has disagreements as unbelievers) an acceptable practice?
      •Self-criticism: Do you accept the legitimacy of scholarly inquiry into the origins of Islam? Who was responsible for the 9/11 suicide hijackings?
      •Defense against militant Islam: Do you accept enhanced security measures to fight militant Islam, even if this means extra scrutiny of yourself (for example, at airline security)? Do you agree that institutions accused of funding terrorism should be shut down, or do you see this a symptom of bias?
      •Goals in the West: Do you accept that Western countries are majority-Christian and secular or do you seek to transform them into majority-Muslim countries ruled by Islamic law?
      It is ideal if these questions are posed publicly – in the media or in front of an audience – thereby reducing the scope for dissimulation.

      No single reply establishes a militant Islamic disposition (plenty of non-Muslim Europeans believe the Bush administration itself carried out the 9/11 attacks); and pretence is always a possibility, but these questionsReport

      • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

        As a non-Muslim, let me provide my answers for establishing a baseline.

        > Violence: Do you condone or condemn (anybody) who
        > give up their lives to kill enemy civilians?

        I point it out when we do it, so I certainly don’t condone it. On the other hand, I don’t do everything I could to stop it, either.

        > Will you condemn by name as terrorist groups…

        I will. I don’t know that I’d ask the same thing of someone who might live in the same neighborhood as members of those groups, or might have lost family members to speaking out.

        > Should Muslim women have equal rights with men

        Sure. But then I believe in income equality, too, and I’m not sure all Americans do.

        > Is jihad, meaning a form of warfare, acceptable in
        > today’s world?

        No warfare is ever justified except direct defense of the homeland against invaders.

        > Do you accept the validity of other religions?

        I assume by this you mean they should have a right to practice? Yes, within certain limits.

        > Do Muslims have anything to learn from the West?

        Dr. Ahmed Zewail grew up in Egypt and he certainly knows a lot about chemistry. There’s no reason to suppose there’s a lot to learn from anyplace outside of Egypt, either.

        > Should non-Muslims enjoy completely equal civil
        > rights with Muslims?


        > May Muslims convert to other religions?


        > May Muslim women marry non-Muslim men?


        > Do you accept the laws of a majority non-Muslim
        > government and unreservedly pledge allegiance
        > to that government?

        I don’t unreservedly pledge allegiance to this government, I’m certainly not going to ask anyone else to, either.

        > Should the state impose religious observance, such
        > as banning food service during Ramadan?

        No. When are we slacker Americans going to get on our own jurisdictions about beer and alcohol sales on Sunday? I’m looking at you, Texas.

        > When customs conflict with secular laws
        > (e.g., covering the face for drivers’ license pictures),
        > which should give way?

        The custom.

        > Are Sufis and Shi’ites fully legitimate Muslims?

        Are Catholics fully legitimate Christians? How about those renegade heretic Protestants?

        > Do you see Muslims who disagree with you as
        > having fallen into unbelief?

        I’ll cede the normalization on this one to the U.S. religious community.

        > Is takfir (condemning fellow Muslims with
        > whom one has disagreements as unbelievers)
        > an acceptable practice?


        > Do you accept the legitimacy of scholarly inquiry
        > into the origins of Islam?

        Sure, just like biblical historians.

        > Who was responsible for the 9/11 suicide hijackings?

        Directly? Osama Bin Laden.

        > Do you accept enhanced security measures to
        > fight militant Islam, even if this means extra
        > scrutiny of yourself (for example, at airline
        > security)?

        Hell no.

        > Do you agree that institutions accused of funding
        > terrorism should be shut down, or do you see
        > this a symptom of bias?

        I don’t believe “punishment on accusation” is part of Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

        > Do you accept that Western countries are majority-
        > Christian and secular or do you seek to transform
        > them into majority-Muslim countries ruled by
        > Islamic law?

        I’d be happy if religious leaders of all stripes would stick to compelling observation of their dogma from the pulpit and keep their noses out of the legislative process.

        I’m also kinda chuckling at the “secular” bit. Whoo lord.Report

        • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

          This needs clarification, before E.D. points out that I spoke too quickly:

          > When customs conflict with secular laws
          > (e.g., covering the face for drivers’ license pictures),
          > which should give way?

          The custom, assuming the secular law is based upon a real need.

          If the secular law is directly or indirectly passed in order to challenge the custom, as opposed to meet a real need, the secular law needs to go take a goddamn hike.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      No we’re not conservatives because nobody here has posted about hating Nancy Pelosi, which has been the backbone of conservatism straight back to Edmund Burke. BUT, I’d point out that Jason works for Cato and the philosophical foundation of liberalism is hating the Koch Brothers, and I don’t think anyone here has posted about hating them. So it sort of evens out.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        I’d point out that Jason works for Cato and the philosophical foundation of liberalism is hating the Koch Brothers, and I don’t think anyone here has posted about hating them.

        Here I’d dared to hope that only conservatism was so philosophically impoverished.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. says:

          Jason, I was just trying to be funny. I don’t really think conservatism or liberalism are particularly impoverished- I think Tom was parodying tribalism and I was sort of joining along with that.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        The Koch brothers, well, David anyway, funds PBS NOVA, the science program. What he does with his money is his business: as a Progressive Democrat, I don’t see him as a bad guy. So what? He funds political activities.

        Now if we could get some other people to quit frothing and gibbering and throwing feces from the tops of the trees like so many guenon monkeys who saw a leopard when the name George Soros comes up.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            It’s such a tiresome rhetorical tactic, this business of demonizing specific persons in lieu of making substantive attacks on their positions. All these ninnies bleating “Oooh, we can’t quote Mediamatters because George Soros funds it.” “Ooh, the Tea Parties are bad because the Koch brothers fund them.”

            What the hell does democracy mean, if not the freedom of conscience? I don’t agree with the Tea Parties, but I find their smackdown of the PATRIOT Act the other day entirely commendable. Whooda thunk? Well, I did, because the Tea Parties were yelling about government intrusions into our lives and anyone who didn’t expect them to act this way wasn’t listening to them.

            See, in the market of ideas, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at a bad one, nobody’s going to buy it. I still contend Progressive ideals aren’t partisan of necessity: anyone’s good idea is a still a good idea. As Progressives peeled away from the hidebound Democratic Party which screwed them, the Tea Parties are in open rebellion against the GOP. If anything, Progressives like me ought to take a lesson from the Tea Parties and tell the Democratic leadership to take a hike. Their time is finished: they had their chance to act on our principles.

            It is the bitterest of ironies to now see the Tea Parties slap down PATRIOT Act. While we Progressives were demanding the same from our own leadership, we were told to STFU and play ball.Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke says:

        Rufus, I would think libertarians would hate Pelosi’s project. That she was seldom mentioned in the past year, and largely approvingly, is a head-scratcher for some.

        As for “hating,” it’s the conservative figures who come in for routine scorn. The culture is quite left-leaning, with all its attendant snottiness. Which is fine, but it obliges the blog to restrict itself from discussing most day-to-day reality.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. says:

          Tom, I’m not a libertarian, but isn’t it possible that people here have disagreed with her project, whatever that is, without being too concerned about her?

          I know people don’t much care for people who are “politically uninformed”, but I’ve got to come out of the closet. I’m not nearly as much of a news junkie as the others here- I could probably tell you more about Euripides’s project than Nancy Pelosi’s. Actually, I was trying to be funny about the Koch brothers (I thought you were making a joke too) I hadn’t heard of the Koch Brothers until people started hassling Jason about them. Similarly, I have only recently learned of George Soros. I still don’t know which of them controls the brainwashing ray. As for Nancy Pelosi, it’s sort of embarassing, but I don’t think I could name one of her projects, much less anything she’s ever said. I could identify her in a police lineup, but that’s about it.

          I’m open to the idea that we’re too scornful of right-wing figures here, given that the goal really should be to debate ideas rather than personalities. So, I’ll stop doing that. Point taken. Sorry Mr Beck. Still, if we stick to debating issues, I guarantee we’re not going to be as party line as you, or the commenters at Balloon Juice think we are. Which means that you’re going to keep posting that we need to stop being dishonest about our liberalism and they’re going to say that we need to just admit that we’re conservatives.Report

          • Avatar tom van dyke says:

            I agree with much of that, Rufus, except the facile comparison of my observations to Balloon Juice’s. In fact, I rather thought highlighting the Balloon Juice attack [from the far left] was more used as cover for the prevailing left-leaning culture and a claim to even-handedness, under which clearly the blog operates.

            Like Alex Reiger said about being a cab driver, I’m a conservative and I don’t mind. Compared to some other conservatives, I’m practically a liberal, but that doesn’t make me one.

            As for the blog barely mentioning Pelosi over the past year, her name would invariably come up in a discussion of reality. If one were to go by the amount of criticism dispensed hereabouts, one would think Bush were still president. [And no, any criticism of Obama that Glenn Greenwald would share doesn’t count. That’s window-dressing. Sean Hannity criticized Dubya continuously about the overspending, but that doth not make him liberal or even a centrist.]Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. says:

              Tom, you make the same case here on a nearly-daily basis. Basically, you think the site sucks because we pretend to be openminded, but we’re really ideologically-blinded by our bone-deep liberalism. Also, most of the time, you illustrate this by pointing out something that people haven’t written about here, that, if they weren’t all liberals, they would have written about.

              So, write about it. Write a guest post. I still am not the person to answer this because, in spite of being (I think) grounded in reality, I literally know three things about Nancy Pelosi: 1. She was Speaker of the House, 2. Republicans hate her, 3. Democrats like her. Now, again, acknowledging I know so little about her on a blog full of political junkies is about like if I went to the head of my department and said, “Incidentally, I can’t read”. So give me some credit for being honest about being uninformed.

              And, seriously, write up what it is about the Pelosi project that is so offensive and pitch it as a guest post. Maybe people would agree or disagree. I don’t read enough Glenn Greenwald to know what he agrees with. I can’t say for the other people here.

              To be honest, I do wish we had more religious conservatives writing here, because they were interesting, but you can’t make people post at a blog where they don’t get paid.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Oh, Rufus, my comment was completely germane to the OP as well as a number of recent posts here.

                Now I notice DougJ has given the League the Balloon Juice Clean Bill of Mental Health, that any resemblance to Red State com is in reading the “nuts” in the comments sections.

                Much to the relief of the League, I’m sure, and of course supporting my original contention, that here, seldom is heard a discouraging word, except those directed at the right. 😉

                So let’s not tempt fate and the wrath of the leftosphere—perhaps some day I’ll take you up on yr kind offer to guest-post, but we wouldn’t want my ilk fouling the LoOG mainpage and seeing a repeat of this unfortunate incident.

                And no, the blog doesn’t suck, it’s full of intelligent and erudite people. That I’m a denizen is more a reflection of my preference for lion’s dens over echo chambers for my own POV.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                I’m not the official voice here, but I think if you write something cogent that we can argue about, it’d be a fine guest post.

                As for the clean bill of health, I’m pretty sure Doug and the Balloon Juice community just think we’re assholes:

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                Actually, Dan is apparently the official voice here!Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Wow, Rufus, what a hatchet job by DougJ, even worse from the Balloon Juice commenters, especially “Poopyman.”

                But if Mark’s very nice post for a bit of religious tolerance could get you that much heat, one from me would positively make you pariahs. Although it’s hard to see how anything could make the LoOG sink any lower in Poopyman’s eyes…

                [And a tip o’the bowler brim to Mr. Thompson again, for what I read as a defense of religious belief of the sort that he himself does not hold. On and of such stuff rests the future of civilization.]

                [Oh, BTW, in the comments at BJ, someone named “Morzer” writes:

                “I’ve got an alter ego working on getting banned right now. So far, he’s caused some enjoyable conniptions among the Libertarian Little Leaguers.”


              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                I just thought it was funny. I wouldn’t worry too much about getting a pariah status in the blogosohere. I’m pretty sure that climate scientists have proven that the blogosphere is that part of the earth’s atmosphere with the least amount of oxygen.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Tell you what, Tom, why don’t you run over there and start explaining to them how we’re all a bunch of liberals.

                See how it goes over.

                Wow I’m sick of this petty tribalism.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Hell no, Jason, I’m not getting in between liberals and leftists. You treat each other even worse than you treat normal people.


              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Far as I’m concerned, it’s put up or shut up. Either you take your from-the-right critique over there — where it can do some good — or you stop pushing it on us. At least over there it might unsettle some people. Here it merely annoys.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                Oh my, Jason, I admit I was wrong. You treat normal people worse. And after you proved your bona fides to them and everything, what with being non-Judeo-Christian and accepting AGW and everything, they treat you like shit where I come to your and the League’s defense.

                Adam Smith sure knew his humans, I reckon. My actions are right, indeed solidaristic, but my motives are wrongwrongwrong, and so, even with all the patent nonsense that passes through here without comment, ’tis I who get the brown end of your stick.

                But out of solidarity, I will indeed set foot over there in your defense–clearly, being accused of conservatism troubles you greatly [rather reinforcing my point]— although it’s not so much a lion’s den over there as a sewer. [The former I enter willingly, as with the LoOG; the latter, like your erstwhile colleague’s Dispatches, I abandon all hope at the gate.]Report

  10. Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

    I found the other questions in the comment thread amusing, and I’m busy waiting for machines to ask me to hit “next”, so:

    * Do you believe in evolution?

    I believe that the theory of evolution with natural selection is the currently most accurate model for describing the characteristics of the biosphere, taking into account time.

    * Do you believe that the average temperature on earth has increased over the past 30 years?

    Adequate direct data exists to imply that this is likely. There is also sufficient secondary data that provides additional corroboration. Further, there exists sufficient data to support the contention that this is largely due to human activity, and insufficient data to support the contention that there is another cause.

    * Do you believe that lowering marginal tax rates increases government tax revenue?

    Sometimes. I also believe that raising the marginal tax rate increases government tax revenues (sometimes). The question is difficult to empirically measure as duration is a factor and choosing endpoints for your measurements poorly can lead to a very colored representation of the underlying truth. Generally, I believe that it is likely that changing a tax rate by a low amount has no discernible negative or positive impact on the overall economy, while it can have a measurable impact on revenue.

    * Do you believe that lowering government support for the poor will help the poor?

    Sometimes. This is a question that is very susceptible to semantics. Practically speaking, if we lower government subsidies for the persistently economically disadvantaged, it is obviously unlikely that we will help those particular people who are currently classified as such. However, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that if we increase support for the poor, it is likewise unlikely that we will help reduce the overall rate of poverty. So what problem are you actually trying to solve?

    * Do you think that government purchases (defense etc) should have a strong “Buy American” component?

    Sometimes. There is an overall national advantage to having a leading position in certain types of economic (technological) activities. There is no discernible benefit to having a leading position in certain other types of economic activities. Subsidizing research and development by native institutions vs. foreign ones may have a benefit; this is very context-dependent.

    * Did Reagan raise taxes?

    Yes. He also lowered taxes. Compared to what?

    * What is the Y intercept of the Laffer curve?

    I think a much better question is, “Why is every representation of the Laffer Curve a bell curve with one maxima?”

    * Can our military ever be too big?


    * Is homosexuality a moral issue?

    Only in the sense that it has societal ramifications for those who self-identify as such, and thus has consequences.

    * Did Gandhi go to hell because he didn’t accept Jesus as his personal savior?

    I cannot presume to know if Gandhi went to hell, as I’m not entirely certain that the location exists. However, if he did go to hell and he went there because he didn’t accept Jesus as his personal savior, this says quite a bit about the charitable nature of the savior.

    * Is the age of the earth to be measured in thousands, millions or billions of years?

    Generally, roughly 4.5 billion years is a reasonable estimate for the age of the planet itself, under most definitions of “the earth”. The elements that composed it are certainly older, by any reasonable definition of the term “older”. In a purely pedantic sense, since matter cannot be created or destroyed, one can argue that the earth itself is the same age as the Universe.Report

  11. Avatar Ben JB says:

    I think gregiank hits the nail on the head here–the questions aren’t patronizing, they’re a litmus test for differentiating American political conservatism today (which is the Republican Party, the Tea Party movement, the Fox news cohort, the Drudge-Instapundit-etc. blogosphere–though we could argue about all of those) from something DougJ is calling “reasonable conservatism.”

    But since you’re not a self-identified conservative, these questions are meaningless for you. Aren’t you libertarian (of some sort)? So a more useful question for you would be something like, “Given (a) the human causes of global warming and (b) the fact that global warming is external to the market (i.e., if you buy something that causes global warming and I don’t, I still get cooked), are there any libertarian solutions that you can think of to this problem?”

    I’m a liberal, and I honestly wouldn’t mind hearing the litmus test questions that would help me figure out if I’m a reasonable liberal or a DFH.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      I’ve indicated previously that I’m amenable to a carbon tax.

      I wish there were more libertarian solutions, but I’m not persuaded that any real-world implementation of pollution trading system would be much better. A revenue-neutral phase-out of the corporate income tax and phase-in of a replacement carbon tax might be the way to go.Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

        I honestly think that for all the disagreements I’ve had with you that if the republicans were like you. The country would be better off. Even if it meant democrats didn’t exist anymore. Maybe more so.

        Sadly, we are now governed by men who consider the science to be a socialist plot.


        • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

          You’ll note that the anti-vax crowd has a large swath of liberal-identifying members. As do the believers in homeopathy, crystal healing, Scientology, astrology, feng shui…

          We are now governed by people who consider science to be interesting when it gives them a bludgeon with which to ridicule the other side.Report

          • Avatar Aaron says:

            While that’s certainly true, I think it’s a category error to compare the anti-vaccine crowd with people who don’t believe in evolution. One is way, way more mainstream an opinion, and way more identified with one particular party.Report

            • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:


              Not sure that this is telling because of party affiliation, though. This can definitely be more of a correlation than a causation sort of deal.

              Note, though, that I’m less inclined to be annoyed by people who discount empiricism in favor of belief than I am to be annoyed by people who pick and choose when to be empiricists.

              I know where I stand with Young Earth Creationists. I’m never really certain when the crystal healing person is going to reveal some other odd belief in Woo that I’m going to have to contend with.Report

            • Avatar Simon K says:

              I dunno. I’m constantly appalled by the number of people who think there’s some valid controversy about whether vaccines cause autism. Even medical professionals and very educated people who should know better. Its extraordinary how much damage one flawed study and a few (understandably) very distressed but sadly misinformed parents can do. I never quite know what to do – I want to cite chapter and verse and people, but its not a very good persuasion strategy. But no, its not politically biased as far as I can tell.Report

              • Avatar Loneoak says:

                Anti-vaccination beliefs have a long history in the US, starting with mandatory vaccination programs in the early 20th Century. One batch of polio vaccine was bad and caused a lot of harm. For quite awhile, anti-vaxers were conservative in the rural-heartland sense, if not actually partisan. It’s only in recent history that the autism crap came to be associated with liberals via the granola-crunchy camp and Hollywood morons. But there are certainly plenty of politically conservatives folks that refuse vaccines for their children.

                The wikipedia entry on vaccine controversy is decent enough for an intro.

                First time commenter here, longtime commenter at BJ. I’ll be back, too.Report

          • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

            Don’t get me started on those bastards.

            The difference is that none of those stupid position are defacto democratic platforms.Report

          • I just want to add here that certain elements of traditional Chinese medicine have some empirical support. Given 3,000 years of record-keeping and a civilization that stretches through several biomes, this shouldn’t be all that surprising. The Chinese were practicing inoculation several hundred if not thousands of years before Westerners, and quinine was derived from a traditional Chinese prophylaxis for malaria.

            The real difference between Western and Eastern remedies is not so much empirical as it is rational: we have identified chemical pathways for specific drugs. Given the facts that traditional Chinese medicine often puts the emphasis on prevention rather than treatment and our limited understanding of all the chemical pathways, it would be a bit premature to group it with crystal healing, not that you’re doing that here, but I thought I’d add my two-cents anyways!Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              Chinese medicine is directly responsible for some of the worst depredations on endangered species, especially the tiger and bear. It bears about as much resemblance to scientific medicine as alchemy does to chemistry. Which isn’t to say it’s completely without value, but Chinese medicine never mastered the antibiotic or anaesthetic. It never did proper anatomical studies via dissection and therefore never mastered surgery. Furthermore, Chinese medicine’s understanding of neurology was completely wrong.Report

            • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

              There’s a whole national institute of alternative medicine (http://nccam.nih.gov/).

              To date, they really haven’t found much in the way of significant effects (beyond placebo) for most tested alternative medicine remedies, although to be utterly fair most of the studies are preliminary and aren’t close to “last word” status.

              Apparently ginger root has some decent backing going for it, though.Report

      • Jason, just out of curiosity, did you read John Medaille’s Toward a Truly Free Market? I’ve been dying to get my hands on a copy, but circumstances makes this difficult. If you’ve read it, do you think any of his ideas could be applied to carbon control? Do you think Ostrom and the institutionalist economists’s ideas are better for this?Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          I have not read it. Institutionalist economics suggests to my mind more pitfalls than ways forward. Not that this is unimportant work, but I don’t immediately see a constructive solution coming from that camp.Report

          • Why is that, do you think? Are there too many unentitled parties or is it too difficult to gain consensus?Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              I think the people who will best understand the practical working of any system we enact will be precisely those who want to subvert it. Unfortunately, of course, and this should certainly not be taken as a plea for inaction.Report

  12. Avatar trizzlor says:

    I have to say I thought these questions were much more interesting. Particularly, would you torture Jesus to save the world; and would you go back in time to abort Osama Bin Laden.Report

  13. Avatar trizzlor says:

    Also, and I realize this conversation started off quite petty, but I think it would be very useful for blogs from different ends of the right/left spectrum to identify some first principles that they have in common and align around those instead of the traditional labels. I think it would go a long way to rid us of the “no true Scotsman” and the “both sides do it” tactics that are getting damn near pervasive.Report

  14. Avatar MFarmer says:

    1) Do you believe in evolution?

    I believe it’s a conspiracy cooked up by relativists to undermine people like myself who possess absolute knowledge.

    2) Do you believe that the average temperature on earth has increased over the past 30 years?

    I believe this is a conspiracy cooked up by environmentalists to undermine people like me who love smokestacks.Report

  15. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    On aid to the poor:

    Practically speaking, if we lower government subsidies for the persistently economically disadvantaged, it is obviously unlikely that we will help those particular people who are currently classified as such. However, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that if we increase support for the poor, it is likewise unlikely that we will help reduce the overall rate of poverty. So what problem are you actually trying to solve?

    Government assistance exists to alleviate the suffering of those who are poor. They’re often still poor even after receiving assistance. So governent assistance is in no way in intended to reduce the poverty rate. That is done via overall economic policy (pursuing full employment, minimum wages [which are in tension, I realize], etc.).

    It is an entirely legitimate social and policy concern whether too-available or too-generous government assistance actually causes poverty to be more persistent or pervasive than it would otherwise be, and it is legitimate to advocate that policy be made in reference to evidence on such question. But it isn’t right to frame that advocacy in terms that suggest that, by extending real economic poverty, government assistance fails to do what it seeks to do. That is because it does still achieve what it seeks to achieve: it alleviate the severity of the experience of poverty in the immediate term for those families who are going through it now.Report

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

      That’s what many people do in fact seek to have it achieve. I’m not arguing that point, or am I arguing the legitimacy or lack thereof of that goal as a proper goal of government, to be clear.

      However, I’m certain that government assistance to the poor (or any government program, really) has been characterized as lots of things by supporters. Many of those characterizations have probably turned out to be inaccurate. So it behooves us to be clear about what we’re trying to do. And I’m dead certain that some people have passed assistance to the poor legislation under a banner of a “war on poverty”. They deserve to be called to account for that characterization, and to correct the perception of what they’re doing, and why.

      Otherwise, we’re never going to get rid of stuff that actually doesn’t do what we want it to do, and we’ll continue to do some things because lots of people believe it does something else in addition to what it ought to do… when it doesn’t do that something else, at all.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Some people just want poor people to not attack them.

        If that’s all we want it to do, it seems to be working for the most part.Report

        • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

          I’m honest and pragmatic enough to admit both that this is true, and that (in a limited sense) I’m one of those people.

          I mean, on the face of it, I’d like everybody to live better lives. If I can’t enable that, at the very least, I’d like them all to live lives that are good enough that they don’t shoot me in front of my family and take my stuff. Not (just) because that would be bad for me or my family, but because you don’t have a very stable society when a whole class of people are willing to resort to violence (or see no other alternative) to alleviate their present circumstance.

          So yes, there are pragmatic and not entirely selfless reasons to want to provide that safety net.Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

          …well the crime rate in the hood is very high as is poverty after we’ve transferred over $5 trillion dollars to the poor and we still have the poor. Now something in the librul project is screwed up….?Report

          • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

            IIRC, crime rates have been trending down for years, Bob, while poverty has been going up.

            In an absolute sense they might both be “high”, but mapping those two together seems to belie that things are getting *worse*.Report

            • Avatar Simon K says:

              In what sense is poverty going up?Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

              Pat, what have the crime rates in the ‘hood’ been doing?
              Black on Black crime seems to be dreadfully high. My point is that while LBJ et al dumped trillions on the ‘war on poverty’ we still have poverty and accordingly the librul project is screwed up and doesn’t address human nature…now does it?Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                > Pat, what have the crime rates in the ‘hood’
                > been doing?

                Now, Bob, you’re mixing up apples and oranges in the bin again. How are we going to keep them straight and make pie?

                If we’re talking about crime rates in “the hood”, we’d have to talk about poverty rates also only in “the hood”, and we’d have to talk about which government assistance programs were designed specifically to address “the hood” as opposed to society at large.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                I like to ‘mix.’ The point is the transfer of wealth to the tune of $5-7 trillion dollars and there’s no end to poverty…I don’t count that as anywhere near a ‘successful’ gummint program for the reason stated.
                Well, guys how much do we have to transfer before you believe me? $10 trillion/$100 trillion, and then how ya going to pay for it?Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                > The point is the transfer of wealth to
                > the tune of $5-7 trillion dollars

                Got a citation for that, old bean?

                I’m curious as to the background.Report

              • Avatar Simon K says:

                We have less poverty. You can actually see the War on Poverty in Pat’s graph if I’m not mistaken. There’s a big drop in the poverty rate between 1965 and 1970, which flattens out thereafter. I don’t see what’s screwed up about that.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke says:

                “There’s a big drop in the poverty rate between 1965 and 1970”

                Yes, credit to LBJ where it’s due.Report

              • Avatar Jeremy B says:

                There was a reason for that.
                Nixon dismantled the economic opportunity/job training aspects of the Great Society. Welfare kept folks from starving, but without training there was no way out of the hole….Report

  16. Avatar Trumwill says:

    I don’t have a whole lot to add to this conversation, but I did want to say a couple of things. First, it’s threads like this (and the library one) that make me love this site. Just when my mind tries to pigeonhole various commenters (it’s a human instinct to categorize), additional layers of thought are revealed.

    Second, whether I qualify as a conservative depends largely on who you ask, but my answers to both questions are Yes and Yes. However, this is not due to an objective analysis of the facts at hand and a careful reading of the arguments for and against. It’s because people tell me so.

    The truth is, I dislike science. My least favorite subject ever. And these two subjects touch on my least favorite parts of science. So I thank the good lord that there are people that are interested in science and, because they devote their life to something that I have little personal interest in, I believe what they tell me (more or less).

    This is a lot more common than we often recognize. The vast majority of people right and left fall into this category. I am more educated (and I think, thoughtful) than most, but it’s all rather complicated to me. When I read opposing points of view, I can’t really argue. I could simply repeat what someone else told me, but I leave that to people with genuine knowledge.

    The main difference between me and a whole lot of people that answer “no” to one question or the both is not that I am particularly thoughtful or knowledgeable. It’s that we’re listening to different people. They believe what their pastor says. I believe what the people in white coats say. I’m not going to say that it’s not wiser to listen to the people I listen to (if I didn’t think that true, I wouldn’t listen to them), but I also can’t claim much in the way of intellectual superiority. The difference, to me, isn’t so much that one side of the debate cares about the facts while the other doesn’t. It’s that one side has better counsel.Report

  17. Avatar Loneoak says:

    I said this on Balloon Juice, so I’ll say it here, too. I think DougJ’s questions are misleading in the sense that they actually do not sort conservatives from liberals in a fashion that illustrates ideological or policy differences. Those questions only sort between reasonable and unreasonable. It just so happens that the conservative party in the US at the moment has a platform that often takes the entirely unreasonable position on both those questions.Report

  18. Avatar Will H. says:

    I understand exactly which group it is that DougJ is identifying as “conservative.”
    And it’s because they have that name that I prefer to self-identify as a RINO.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      People use the term “conservative” the way that I use the term “theocon”. Hell, they even think that “social conservative” and “theocon” have 1:1 overlap.

      This is the equivalent of assuming that everyone who self-identifies as “progressive” wears Che t-shirts.Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        I thought it was only progressives that don’t bathe very much that wore the Che t-shirts.
        Then there’s the Birkenstock progressives….Report

        • Avatar Jeremy B says:

          But fighting real people and ideas is HARD!

          It’s ever so much easier to fight straw men….Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            I have no interest in fighting people as a group. Maybe a few of them out of the group I’d like to take out back, but the majority of them I would rather just tune out.
            Most ideas I really have no interest in fighting. But that’s mostly because I believe that most people are a lost cause anyway.
            But at the same time, I’m really not interested in hearing a person that is obviously aberrated telling me that I’m wrong.
            Case in point: Mr. Chemist.
            Mr. Chemist thought that he knew high school chemistry. Could be. But it doesn’t count for much out in the field.
            You see, chemists are called on to specialize very shortly after entering the field. So, when I went from the coal plant in Iowa (working AQCS) to the “agribusiness” division of a chemical plant, I was talking to the chemists at that plant about the new emissions systems. They don’t know about it. Ask them anything about organic chemistry, and they can give you either a very detailed answer or some general information. But they don’t know diddly squat about emissions. Theirs are set, and they bring someone in from the outside if something needs done there.
            Now, I was talking to one chemist, and another chemist came up to us, and the first chemist explained to him what we were talking about. It was incomprehensible to me, this chemist-speak. But it was very efficient, as he related a 5-minute conversation in about two sentences.
            But any chemist worth his salt isn’t going to give an opinion on something he knows nothing about. From a real chemist out in the field, you get either a statement of interest or a statement of possibilities.
            Now, were I the field engineer on the AQCS (one of the positions I hold from time to time) and I had to calculate the needed minimum volume of a tank to ensure that the system remained within specs, I would probably lose my job if I did not take into account that carbon is removed from the system by scooping up ash out of the burn chamber.
            But in high school, that’s ok.
            Ergo, the best place for progressivism, the one place where it works best, is any place other than in the field.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              Let’s examine that proposition. I don’t see how Progressives are anything like you’ve described.

              I’m a consultant. I’m also a Progressive. I have the luxury of walking into my engagements and blithely informing my client I require a complete run-down on everything. For several weeks, I examine what’s already there. I get to know the person who handles all the tough problems, usually some harried, overworked clerk who’s been there for many years.

              I rewrite the system around that person, encapsulating what that person has learned over a whole career. It doesn’t take years, it takes weeks. I don’t have to learn everything. I only have to learn who does know.

              There is another school of consulting, the vertical market bozos who will replace everything, screwing things up even worse than they were. We have seen what happened since the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and we know who set this Free Market idiocy in motion. It was not the Progressives.

              Progressives do not ask for a long enough lever to move the world. That would be the Conservatives over the last decade or so. Having wrecked the world economy and set two wars alight with their High School Chemistry Set, I have no patience for their recent Road to Damascus conversion to Fiscal Rectitude and Prudent Foreign Policy.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                I do have some reservations about the Congressional crowd, but David Stockman, Peter G. Peterson, and Bruce Bartlett are definitely conservatives.
                Dedicated conservatives.

                But that’s one of the things that I do at conservative sites, is to remind people that monetarism and the Chicago School exist, and in the midst of a lot of whining about Keynesian policies.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Yeah, points taken. Economics, like philosophy and theology, seems to be a reactive process, a pushing-back against received wisdom. Consider why Keynes reached the conclusions he did: neoclassical economics hadn’t behaved as predicted. Turned out some government controls weren’t such a bad idea. When Keynes said the gold standard was a bad idea, everyone thought he was a nut.

                But even Keynes admitted neoclassical economics had its virtues, it was just a little wrong about the relationship between Supply and Demand.

                For all the people who complain about Keynesian policies, it’s amazing how few people have any idea of what Keynes actually wrote. Keynes was an astute observer of his times. Where governments paid him any heed, things went reasonably well. Where they didn’t, well…..

                Which isn’t to say Keynes is entirely appropriate to our times, any more than last year’s weather report for 9 Feb 2011. Just because Keynes was right about deficit spending to prise open the cleft stick of the 1940s doesn’t justify all deficit spending. In this, the Conservatives ought to be given credence.Report

      • Oh hey, by the way, the wife picked up a Mao hat for me at a nearby flea market last weekend for four bucks! I’ve been wearing it to my classes.Report

        • Avatar Will H. says:

          You can have a laugh, and that’s all good.
          I’ve heard so much conjecture on this-and-that of why, why, why conservatives would believe this-or-that, when the real reason comes down to paranoia.
          And I understand completely.
          It scares the hell out of me to think that people that all think like Rush Limbaugh might one day run the show.
          But it’s even more scary to think that the front-pagers at Kos might get that shot.
          In times of uncertainty, fear and expectation increase. It’s as simple as that, really.

          But if I’m sitting over here, and I recognize that Rush is one scary bastard, then am I not already one step ahead of those progressives that just don’t get that Kos scares the hell out of some people. (I actually like most of what Kos writes; it’s most of the others there that I take issue with.)

          As a side note, I will say that this is one of the reasons that I believe that Obama is doing a pretty good job: both Rush and Kos are really pissed at the guy.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            No one of consequence takes the Kos front-pagers seriously. Congressmen have to apologize for mentioning that Rush is not a serious thinker. Whom does it make more sense to be scared about: kossacks or dittoheads?Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              Dittoheads, I think. Here’s why:

              ‘Memba back whe Michael Steele had the temerity to refer to Rush Limbaugh, using the unfortunate words “entertainer” and “incendiary”?

              Lo and behold, not one day later, there’s Michael Steele kneeling in the snow like Henry IV, gone to Canossa to kiss the Pope’s ring.

              Kos might get a few minutes with Barry, along with the other fluffy-headed blogger puppies of a Librul Stripe, a sop for all the hard work they did back when they believed he might actually shut down Gitmo. More important closed-door meetings on the Health Care Debate were reserved for Karen Ignagni, a dog who could actually bite down hard.Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              Yeah, Congressmen have apologized because they said Rush is not a thinker, which he’s not. I don’t know about you, but that makes me worry more about Rush. If speaking the truth, and it can’t be said enough that it is the truth, is so dangerous because an individual wields enough influence to make it dangerous, that’s much more frightening than bloggers who had some influence on Howard Dean voters in 2004.Report

          • Kos and Breitbart should just have a barbed wire match and be done with it. Rush can play the role of Jerry the King Lawlor.Report

            • Avatar Will H. says:

              No, because that means that Rush will interfere with the match and Breitbart will win.
              Kos needs a tag-team partner to go into that one.Report

  19. I think I just got ’em pretty good, fellas.Report

  20. Avatar jayackroyd says:

    On the theme of liberals talk a lot about climate change but aren’t willing to live their lives in a sustainable way, or, in fact, are actually willing to support government policy that is sufficiently draconian to have a significant effect on climate change, it IS true that almost nobody is willing to live their individual lives that way, and even fewer are willing to publicly advocate such policies.

    The reaction to James Fallows’ coal article (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/12/dirty-coal-clean-future/8307/) in the Atlantic is illustrative. That there is “no such thing as clean coal” may well be true. But it is also true that no amount of innovation in non-carbon energy sources is going to actually make much of a difference if the underlying trend is that many many more people are going to live lives of energy consumption that approach the OECD’s. That is, the energy future will be largely dominated by coal. If you won’t take that as a starting point, you are not being “reality-based.” The cognitive dissonance that Fallows generated by making (and largely proving) this claim was very instructive, and depressing.

    The larger point of DougJ’s questions is to ask whether your view of the world is grounded in reality, or grounded in something else, something I tend to call “tribalism” or, worse (if you’re selling, rather than buying) “hucksterism.” I think that really is a fair question, and that much of the reaction in this thread is an attempt to dodge the fact that many self identified conservatives prefer tribal to real.*

    However, just as it’s fair game for me to laugh and point at the guy climbing into his fossil fueled vehicle to drive to his young earth discussion group meeting, it seems to me that it is fair game to note that doing anything that really will affect climate change requires radical changes in OECD lifestyles, radical changes that are not on the table, nor will ever be. At least, not until Gaea lays them there in no uncertain terms.

    That said, pointing that out–saying “Hell yeah, I know I am ruining the world for my great^n grandchildren (n determined by how old you are), and I am doing it with my eyes open, not fooling myself like you hypocritical libtards.”–isn’t quite as compelling an argument as you might think.


    *What I found interesting in the DKos wingnuts are crazy polls (yes, they were R2K scams and therefore were not actually accurate or reliable to any degree of precision, but what I am about to say here doesn’t rely on precision) was the large number of self identified conservatives who took the won’t answer option to some of the sillier conservative canards, like Obama being a Muslim, or his not having a birth certificate. Those people knew what the reality-based answer was, and knew what the tribal answer was–and chose neither.Report

    • Avatar MFarmer says:

      I thought the Left liked tribes. In the 60s and early 70s, I joined several. We smoked peace bongs…I mean, pipes…and everything.Report

    • Avatar Simon K says:

      it seems to me that it is fair game to note that doing anything that really will affect climate change requires radical changes in OECD lifestyles

      See, I don’t think that’s true. I think that’s an article of faith right there. Its not easy to do something, but it also doesn’t require “radical changes to OECD lifestyles”. Some people would like it to, but thats a whole different thing.

      If you switch to nuclear power to replace coal for the base load, or solar thermal if you really want to be radical about it, and renewables and gas for everything else, then get everyone in electric cars, and property insulated, better designed (or at least retrofitted) houses outfitted with appliances that don’t chew power even in their standby modes, and you’ve got a humungous reduction in emissions. Certainly enough to get way below the Kyoto targets. Now of course this won’t happen – coal is still too cheap, and there just isn’t the will to do it – but it could be done, and it has nothing to do with “radical changes to OECD lifestyles”.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        I’m not sure nuclear power is as tough a hurdle to cross as some would have it. The USA’s problem is standardizing on a reactor. Curiously, we have an almost-ideal reactor design, safely utilized for many years by the US Navy since the era of Hyman Rickover.

        In my quixotic scheme, the US Navy would take over the operation of all nuclear power in the USA. Nonconforming reactors would be closed. All new reactors would be built and operated to SUBSAFE standards. It’s pointless to quarrel with the NIMBYs; if safety is their big issue, tens of thousands of qualified nuclear techs have come through the Navy’s training. Furthermore, those reactors are an ideal destination for reprocessed nuclear weapons. Something’s got to be done with them.Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

          BP, I thought I read somewhere, years ago, that the nuke design for Navy subs wasn’t sufficient or it was deficient for nuke power plants? Whas up wid dat?Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            Navy reactor capabilities and megawatt output are classified. Suffice it to say one is capable of powering a fair-size city, in the ballpark of 500 megawatts. The Navy uses pressurized water reactors with a reactor lifespan of 50 years, requiring a small addition of fuel every 10 years. They’re very efficient, using burnable poison in the core.

            The problem is scale. Lost in the debate about power generation is transmission line loss. We build these enormous plants out in the middle of nowhere, pushing the power over great distances. Smaller plants, closer to town are the way to go.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              Ack! my tag got lost.Report

            • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

              Distributed power generation is actually a very good idea. It’s hard to manage, so the power companies don’t like it.

              To be fair, I wouldn’t like it either if every Tom, Dick, and Harry in my customer base was generating somewhere between 1 and 20 kilowatt-hours and pushing it back into the grid.Report

            • Avatar Will H. says:

              I knew some of the guys that worked on the Columbia River project for KBR, and I don’t have a very high opinion of it from what I’ve heard.
              But I’m wondering, is the science behind it sound?
              The last I heard about it, they had rolled back the start-up. I don’t even know if it was ever operational.
              But it would be a big benefit if it was.

              The other aspect of nuclear is the price of uranium.
              It spiked to about 10 times its historical price in 2007, and it’s sitting at about half of that peak now.
              Nuclear is not going to be a cheaper alternative.
              Nuclear is the cornerstone of China & India’s energy development plans, which ensures that demand will be high well into the future.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                All entirely reasonable points. Yet consider: we’re currently sitting on a metric buttload of nuclear warheads which gotta go somewhere, centuries worth of nuclear fuel. I say repurpose ’em and stuff ’em in a well-run reactor.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Will H, the uranium spikes in prices can be worrisome, I agree but considering the fractious history of nuclear power development the supply chains are as deep or as well developed as for other fuel sources. Also, thorium represents a significant fuel source and supplies of thorium are astronomically greater than supplies of uranium. They also burn cleaner. Amusing fact; back in the 50’s the US government chose to sideline thorium reactors in favor of uranium ones because thorium reactors didn’t produce enough fissile byproducts to make bombs.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                err that is to say the supply chains ~aren’t~ as well developed etc…Report

        • Avatar Trumwill says:

          Neither here nor there except involving nuclear power and the Navy, but has anyone here read the book Idaho Falls? It was fascinating, even to a science-illiterate like me.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            Yeah. It’s kinda sensational and got quite a bit wrong. Tell you what went wrong out there: a bunch of Army cowboys decided they knew better than the engineers who designed it. The Navy, especially Rickover, learned a whole lot from it.

            Here’s the deal with Idaho Falls. It was a teeny little reactor which used light water as a moderator. Problem is, when you pull the control rods out too far (in this case, it was only one) the reactor produces exponentially-more neutrons and the reactor went Prompt Critical in milliseconds, which is also what happened at Chernobyl.Report

      • Avatar gregiank says:

        Another point is that OECD lifestyles are going change as oil gets harder to get at and more expensive. At some point we are going to be making a transition from such an oil dependent world. That may be 100 years from now or we may have to make drastic changes in 25 years,but it is coming.Report

        • Avatar Simon K says:

          How is that Greg? As I said above, you can live almost exactly the same lifestyle most of us do now without using fossil fuels as fuels. We don’t, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. So where does the lifestyle change come from?Report

          • Avatar Trumwill says:

            Bear with my relative ignorance here. It seems that a lot changes when you have to start factoring in different prices. I assume that (with the exception of nuclear power, where the concerns are environmental) we use what we use because it is cheaper than the alternatives. As energy costs go up, calculations change.Report

            • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

              Case in point: you used to be able to get biodiesel for free just by driving up to your local fast food joint. Now there’s actually a market for it.Report

            • Avatar Simon K says:

              Sure, but the basic thing you need – a different power source – is pretty well understood. A commitment to nuclear power on a scale sufficient to get past the regulatory obstacles would remove coal’s competitive advantage. Reactors are complicated, much more complicated than coal furnaces, but making 200 isn’t much harder than making 1. We just need to actually get to the point of wanting 200 …Report

              • Avatar Trumwill says:

                What about the prices of uranium, mentioned by Will H above?Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                Currently there are 436 nuclear reactors operating. 53 are under construction. 142 are planned. 327 have been proposed….

                There are currently 104 nuclear reactors on line [in the United States]. These reactors require 43.1 million pounds annually. Currently the miners in the United States only produce 3.2 million pounds.


                And right here is a current production table.

                Really, I think the introduction of the new boiler systems have made the coal-burners advance beyond where the nukes are at, but they should be able to catch up.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                I sure wish we could implement some better CO2 recapture system for coal fired plants. Carbonic acid is awfully useful in a variety of chemical processes. So are the other elements found in fly ash.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                We can, and the technology is there already.
                They’re not going to do it until they have targets; ie, they need some manner of regulation passed down from on high before they get up off their duffs and do something.
                No one in their right mind would undertake designing a system without a specific target.
                And this is a really big thing.
                Raw materials for the AQCS are brought in and milled on-site to produce the materials used. (The last mill that I worked on was a ball mill that was shipped from Australia; water pumps from Finland.)
                (They can produce ammonia on-site too these days, and I have to wonder about why people aren’t more concerned about not having big tankers filled with ammonia rolling through their neighborhoods.)
                With the number of outbuildings that these emissions require, it’s pretty much an economic necessity that the generators share emissions systems.
                I don’t know if it will come out as carbonic acid (although I seriously doubt it), but I am fairly confident that there will be significant acidity in the solution, and that the pH will be rigorously monitored to renew the solution.
                And it’s likely to be two solutions used in combination at different stages.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                I’ll rely on your experience and expertise. One of the most interesting things about blogging is the expertise I meet along the way.

                See, if I was working this problem, with my primitive orgo chem at work, I’d look at some iron-based variant of Fisher-Tropsch, but sulfates are valuable and as I’m given to understand, we can get all we need from coal-fired plants. There’s got to be smarter ways of extracting clean hydrogen and I’m sure we’ll find it. You can hydrogenate slurries as simple as lithium or magnesium on a mineral oil base and boil off the hydrogen later, which would be great for fuel cells, but it’s got to be absolutely pure. No free lunch though, you’d have to deoxygenate the slurry, which you could do with the waste heat from the coal firing itself.

                There’s no excuse for just wringing our hands and moaning about coal. There’s treasure in those smokestacks.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                I’m still learning myself, so my expertise is limited.
                My experience is more in refineries and chemical plants. I had always hated coal. I was on the job for 3 months on that first coal-burner before they moved me over to AQCS, and I started to learn what was going on there.

                You touch on the other aspect of this, that the expense will be offset by the production of materials.
                The sulfur emissions from the plant mentioned above end up as gypsum used in drywall.
                Headwaters (HW) is one company that I know of that specializes in reclaimed resources from emissions. I’m sure there are others.Report

  21. Avatar LJK says:

    These questions seem to have legs, so as a biologist I feel inclined to respond. You can’t believe in evolution or global warming. Belief implies a lack of evidence. You can either accept or reject either based on evidence.

    If someone mentions “belief” and “evolution” in the same sentence they are wasting your time.Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

      Ljk this is very silly.

      Believe does not imply you have no evidence. It means that you think it is true or accurate. In science particullary it means that you think it best matches the evidence.


      Seem the first definition. Accepting something as true.Report

    • Avatar Will H. says:

      I understand what you’re saying here, and I think it’s an important distinction.
      But there is that third possibility of accepting/rejecting in part.
      I believe that’s how Darwinism became neo-Darwinism and Keynesian economics became neo-Keynesian.
      There’s always something more to be discovered.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer says:

        The better question is whether one accepts scientific facts as established by accepted scientific methods. There’s always the possibility that new knowledge can change how facts are understood, but the question is does one accept the scientific facts discovered so far. This removes any political influence, because if you accept scientfic methods as valid, then the politics or the particular issue don’t matter. If science says we know X amount about global warming, then it’s not a matter of belief, it’s a matter of accepting what is known so far using the accepted scientific method. If you don’t accept the scientific methods, then you either have to prove why they are not valid, or you aren’t a serious part of the conversation. Otherwise, it’s just a sohisticated guessing game, or a matter of faith.Report

        • Avatar MFarmer says:

          Coming to conclusions, such as global warming being caused by the actions of humans to a point of crisis requiring remedies, based on a set of incomplete facts is not scientific, it’s more of a belief, and therefore anyone’s guess, although someone informed might be able to guess a little better than someone with less information, but if it’s not proven conclusively by the facts, then there’s legitimate controversy.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            Ocean and lake acidification is considerably less controversial and beyond any scientific doubt.Report

            • Avatar MFarmer says:

              A scientific fact established by the scientific method is what it is, yes – no controversy. And?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Yeah, just a fact, nothing to get upset about. Every spring, you’ll see those dump trucks full of limestone out on the roads of every fishing lake in the Northeast, you see them in Wisconsin too now, dumping them into the lake like so much Alka-Seltzer, dealing with the acid rain that fell all winter.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                I didn’t say it was nothing to get upset about, I was asking what it had to with what I had stated.Report

          • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

            > based on a set of incomplete facts is not scientific,
            > it’s more of a belief

            Non sequitur. There are no complete sets of facts. Every scientific theory is an incomplete model of the physical universe. The best we can say about a theory is that it is the current best explanation.

            The current best explanation for global warming is that it’s something we’re doing to the atmosphere. Because the alternative explanations (the Sun is sending more heat our way, the planet is exotherming more heat from the core, whatever) have no evidence in support of theory. Whereas carbon and methane are known greenhouse gases (basic chemistry experiments can show you this), and we pump a lot of them into the atmosphere that would otherwise not be generated by the biosphere.

            Let me rephrase: what evidence would be sufficient to convince you that you are wrong? What is your alternative proposed source of warming, and what evidence do you have to support this theory?Report

            • Avatar MFarmer says:

              I meant a set of facts, complete enough to make a conclusion, and I also said in the conclusion above — cause significant enough to demand remedies — like cap and trade for instance. It’s debatable that we have enough facts to justify drastic action. But don’t start putting words in my mouth or thinkng I’ve made a claim — I’m just talking about the questions objectively.

              This is the problem, it’s become a faith and any who questons is automatically assumed to be a denier who wants to poison the water — scientific investigation means you ask all the questions.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                anyone who questionsReport

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                The liberalism is intensifying here — hell, DougJ is even performing an Inquisition. Let’s get the heretics!Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

                > If it’s not proven conclusively by the facts,
                > then there’s legitimate controversy.

                Mike, there is no “proven conclusively” in science. Not ever. Science is not an axiomatic system, there ain’t no Q.E.D. If you’re looking for “proven conclusively”, you need to stick to theoretical mathematics.

                Having read about a thousand times more philosophy of science than the average scientist, my idea of a legitimate controversy occurs when two proposed theories with descriptive power over a phenomena represent a conflict because they have mutually exclusive baseline suppositions.

                There is no “legitimate controversy” over AGW because there is no second descriptive theory. On the one hand we have a theory with a reasonably plausible causal mechanism and a fairly substantial amount of primary, secondary, and now tertiary observations to support that theory. In addition, we have a collection of modeling techniques that are imperfect but show a wide variety of negative predictive results. These are imperfect, admittedly, but if you look at the actual construction of the models, you’d see that many potential negative contributors are actually *excluded* from the model (based upon an inability to project). So, uh, yeah… actually, the global warming models are probably wrong, but it’s very, very likely that they’re wrong by being overly conservative.

                On the other hand, we have a “that’s not it, it’s something else, but we don’t know what it is” contention, which is getting progressively more wild as the secondary and tertiary observations are included.

                That’s not a scientific theory. In the marketplace of ideas, that’s an “idea” vs. a “not-idea”.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer says:

                “Mike, there is no “proven conclusively” in science. Not ever. Science is not an axiomatic system, there ain’t no Q.E.D. If you’re looking for “proven conclusively”, you need to stick to theoretical mathematics.”

                Sure there is. You just need to think about it clearly. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise in a real world — perhaps in a philosophical world you can say that nothing is proven conclusively, but if you acted on that you might get hurt, like perhaps this time fire won’t burn as you run naked into a burning building (or even with clothes on)Report

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

      What is ‘evolution?’Report

      • Avatar Simon K says:

        1. Common descent of all known lifeforms from one ancestor
        2. Modification through random mutation and sexual recombination.
        3. Selection for fitness by differences in survival and reproduction.Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

          Hey, don’t I need a ‘missing link’ or something? I mean dude, Africanus Austrolipiouss-sp looks a lot like a Silver Back!Report

          • Avatar Simon K says:

            More like a chimpanzee. It was too small to be a gorilla. The specifics of human descent are a specific set of theories within the framework of evolutionary theory. We could find conclusive proof tomorrow that humans are actually descended from a walrus, or that they were put here by space aliens a million years ago, or that they were created in approximately 3000BC by a supernatural entity with a poor sense of humor, and evolutionary theory as such would be completely unaffected – it would just change how and whether it applied to humans.Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        It’s a movie from the Underworld series.
        It’s pretty good.
        I believe in it.
        I really do.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        1. Ric Flair
        2. Triple H
        3. Randy Orton
        4. Dave BatistaReport

      • Avatar Fish says:

        1. Baseball
        2. Football
        3. FutbolReport

  22. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Here’s where I’m at- I understand the ideas behind the various political ideologies, but I’ve never been entirely able to make them “work” in my head. Sorry if this is pompous or abstract or airy-fairy (I prefer the term “semi-autistic”):

    Liberalism: There are two ideas here that don’t seem to mesh for me: 1. The belief that humans should be free from all coercion to do whatever they wish, provided it does not violate the rights of others (see Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen #4); 2. A vision of progress (unidirectional, inevitable, forever ongoing, beneficial, and a matter of universal education) that is, it seems to me, uniquely given to coercion! I can’t square the circle. How do you support freedom and also foster social progress without coercion? Why does progress so often seem to be top-down if it’s in keeping with human nature? Honestly, I tend to be much more secure with the idea of pluralistic and multiple freedoms than with the idea of progress. But, I guess I’m too skeptical that we know where we’re going to be a full liberal.

    Conservatism: Ah, yes. Again, there are two ideas that I can’t reconcile: 1. A belief that culture, unmoored from tradition, centers of cultural authority, and a sense of limits, is in decline, and that decline has ill effects on our political discussion; and 2. A full-throated defense of the free market consumer capitalism whose ethos is strongly opposed to anything enduring, traditional, or limiting! The noted cultural conservative Karl Marx made the same point about capitalism being the solvent of all cultural traditions, and ten minutes in a suburban shopping mall will convinve you that’s at least woth considering. Conservatves today? They don’t think it’s worth considering. Simple as that. They’d rather ignore the contradictions and blame cultural decline on little known professors from the 60s. I can’t square the circle here either. I am happy with the free market, but I have no fantasy that it will eventually lead us back to the high values of “traditional culture”. Ask an immigrant from a traditional culture how they feel about American consumer capitalism and what effects it’s had on the values their children hold. So, I guess I’m not a conservative. Or, at least, I think modern conservatism doesn’t make any more sense than modern liberalism.

    Libertarianism: Sorry everybody! Here I can’t quite reconcile: 1. A defense of the rights of the individual against all forms of coercion, with 2. By that, we just mean state coercion. I still don’t understand how libertarianism intends to defend my rights against private powers, or if it even believes forces outside the state are capable of violating my rights. I suspect the answer, if we really push the question, is that the most honest sort of libertarianism looks more like…

    Anarchism: I have to admire the fact that anarchists have committed fully to the idea of freedom and aren’t just limiting themselves to defending freedom against the state. But, alas, I’ve always been at odds with the “No Gods, No Masters” idea, since people seem to be really good at worshipping and I can’t see a way to do away with gods that isn’t coercive. Does cultural authority have benefits that outweigh the ill effects?

    Marxism: Ask a Marxist what they, as an individual, believe and 9 times out of 10, they’ll respond, “Well, we believe…” The bigger problem I have is with historical materialism- It amounts to magical thinking in my opinion. Even worse, it makes the magical forces of historical change responsible for sweeping away all of the people who get in the way of those changes.

    Did I forget anybody?

    Okay, so none of these problems is easily resolved in my opinion. (Trust me- I’ve asked the questions long enough to have heard several variations on, “no, you just need to read more of ____ to understand this.”) Frankly, democracies are always going to struggle with the basic tension between liberty and authority. Most individuals will struggle with this tension as well. In at least one of those tenets it seems to me that each political theory is totally spot on. Not all problems require a hammer. Finally, I feel like the best I can do, and I don’t generally do it very well, is to look at each individual public issue and come to the conclusion that best balances logic, empathy, and a measure of prudence.

    But, really, I’m a commie-dem.Report

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

      Congrats, you discovered that all frameworks are limited, and all political theories are frameworks 🙂

      Anarchism would actually be the best theory, if power imbalances were impossible or everyone was invincible. Libertarianism would be the best theory, if individuals wouldn’t transfer power to organizations freely. Conservativism would be the best theory, if they could defend culture as what it is at this moment, instead of what they imagine it to have been 20 years ago. Liberalism would be the best theory, if only they could acknowledge that aggregating power is *always* going to draw the power mongers, thus limiting the long-term beneficial use of aggregated power. Oh, and Communism would rock out if everybody wasn’t human.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        Pat, that’s exactly it. The Balloon Juice posts seemed to be arguing along the lines of, “You guys sometimes agree with conservatives, and so you need to account for the fact that movement conservatives say X and Y”, which you know isn’t a terrible question; it’s just that I think there are a lot of us, here especially, who agree with the conservatives on some things, liberals on some things, libertarians on some things, and so on down the line. All I’m saying is that, if one of those frameworks was right 100% of the time, I’d be one of them; but so would everyone else and elections would be all within one party. Instead, most of us think “Okay, I agree with them on this and not on that” about pretty much all of them.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          The problem that I have with Balloon Juice’s political culture is that it begins by taking sides. You’re either a conservative or a liberal, fundamentally, and that’s the very first thing that matters about you.

          After that, you’re permitted to reason, but whatever reasoning you do must always be either to conservative or liberal ends. None others are permitted, and whatever reasoning you may offer, it must of necessity refer back to your pre-chosen conservativeness or liberalness.

          So when I said that evolution doesn’t explain the origin of life — but that it’s preposterous to think the Bible could do it either — I’m called a conservative. Because that’s a smear on science. Never mind that PZ Myers, a liberal’s liberal and an evolutionist’s evolutionist, says exactly the same.

          When I say it, it’s a smear on science. Because I’ve already been determined to be a conservative, and all of my reasoning must be to a conservative end.Report

          • Avatar stillwater says:

            This is just silly. PZ Myers says that evolution can’t account for the origins of life because evolution is a theory which presupposes living things! I mean, neuroscience can’t account for the origins of life either, but I don’t see people trying to debunk it on those grounds.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Two things:

      1) My personal Libertarianism is founded on the premise of “is this my business?” and if the answer is no, it’s not any of my business, I don’t see how it’s the business of the government. Is two dudes sleeping together my business? Nope. Is a dude smoking a bowl in the basement whilst watching Quantum Leap my business? Nope. Is a group of people holding signs and shouting about abortion/Mumia my business? Nope.

      I don’t see how the government magically gets the power to interfere and meddle with things that I know are not my business (and, by extension, not your business). (Note: There are things that are my business that are not your business and things that are your business that are not my business but these things are mostly analogous to each other.)

      (Note: someone pouring chemicals into the river? My business. Someone engaging in violence? My business. Someone threatening another? My business. I understand how the government ought to be involved with such things.)

      2) Marxism: Ask a Marxist what they, as an individual, believe and 9 times out of 10, they’ll respond, “Well, we believe…”

      This got a low whistle of appreciation from me. Scathing.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        I’ve actually had coversations with Marxists in which I asked them that question repeatedly, “No, no, I mean what do you believe?” and couldn’t get an answer after several tries.

        Now, I understand your libertarianism, but especially this part:
        (Note: someone pouring chemicals into the river? My business. Someone engaging in violence? My business. Someone threatening another? My business. I understand how the government ought to be involved with such things.)

        Do you remember me trying to discuss this question with the Angry Libertarian here a month or so ago? I can’t remember why I was supposed to be a moron who needs to read more Hayek exactly, but part of it was thinking that I have a right not to be poisoned by polluted groundwater. Do I own the land? If so, I have property rights, but if not, sorry buddy!

        I think, in general, the libertarians who are okay with me being prevented from being poisoned or killed on the job- if at all possible- are the ones I agree most with.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          The problem is, of course, that you can argue that more or less anything is analogous to pouring chemicals into a stream.

          Two guys holding hands at the mall?
          Hey! I’m trying to keep my kids safe without having to worry about explaining things to them! Hold hands behind closed curtains!

          And then you get into issues about what is and what is not a legitimate complaint… is 7ppm an acceptable amount of vinyl chloride? How about 4ppm?

          I don’t know, exactly, what the answers are but it seems quite obvious that the argument that “it is none of your business” does not take into account what invasions of privacy are and are not.

          10ppm? That is, in fact, an invasion of my privacy. We are now talking about “my business”.Report