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Extremists Beware: The New Moderate Is Back!

September 6, 2013

You may have noticed that I’ve been unusually quiet this year. In fact, you’re reading my first new post since the Newtown massacre last December. I’m fine, really. I didn’t suffer a debilitating stroke or a nine-month writer’s block. I simply needed a break. A long break.

Burned out on politics and exhausted from reasoning with disciples of Ayn Rand, I decided that life had more to offer than endless debates over how a republic should or shouldn’t be governed. After all, I’m in the September of my years. The days grow short — why should I fill them with pointless wrangling over airy, abstract, wretched ideas when there’s music and ice cream to be enjoyed?

I never announced that The New Moderate was going on hiatus, because I had no idea whether it would be temporary or permanent. Until now.

Like the Roman satirist Juvenal, I’ve concluded that it’s harder not to comment on the current scene — even with the infinitesimal prospect of fame or riches as a reward for my labors. As lefties and righties traded insults during the George Zimmerman trial, I was beginning to feel like a muzzled hound on a fox hunt.

So here I am, back at the helm, ready once again to fight for fairness and scour the seas in hot pursuit of wanton extremists. I probably won’t be writing as regularly as in the past, and I definitely won’t be jumping into the ensuing “Comments” free-for-all with my accustomed fervor. But I’ll be here, and I’ll be spouting my “radical moderate” opinions whenever I feel moved to spout them.

More than ever, America needs to hear from its opinionated moderates. If, like me, you feel passionately about the need for righteous balance and common sense in politics and culture, I hope you’ll join me.

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. September 6, 2013 6:14 pm

    Good to see you back, buddy. Let’s start light: should we bomb the crap out of Syria or work through the UN?

    • September 7, 2013 10:08 pm

      Hey there, old friend. You were the first person to greet me on my return, and I appreciate it. (No sign of Dave yet.) Chances are we’ll never see eye to eye on the economy, but I think we’re a little closer on social and cultural issues. This time around I’ll be trying to look at both sides of an argument as often as possible. Wish me luck!

    • September 7, 2013 10:37 pm

      Ah… forgot to answer your question on Syria. No simple solution there: some of the rebels seem to be at least as evil as Assad. Did you hear that one rebel chieftain ate the heart of a government officer he killed? We’re dealing with medieval lunatics. Our upcoming air raid (announced almost like the coming attractions for a new Steven Spielberg movie) is just a token punishment for the use of chemical weapons — sort of like taking a bad boy to the woodshed to teach him a lesson.

      I agree with Obama there: what’s the point of banning chemical weapons if nobody is willing to punish the people who use them? But we won’t accomplish much with our tactical strikes, and we probably shouldn’t try to do more. Depose Assad, and the fanatics will take over. Let him stay in power, and thousands more Syrians will die. As for the UN, it’s as impotent as a 90-year-old retired librarian — and I’m probably insulting 90-year-old retired librarians.

      The only long-term solution is for a long-overdue Reformation movement to end the petty factional squabbling in the Muslim world and introduce a less fanatical form of Islam… call it Islam 2.0. But I’m not holding my breath. I thought the Arab Spring was the first step in that direction, but the cool heads seem to have lost out to the zealots.

      • September 8, 2013 8:21 am

        I am content to wait for Islam 2.0 IF we remove ourselves from the mid east intoto. Isreal is another issue and we would need (IMHO) to deal with their concerns about being abandoned and attacked by their neighbors.

        In fact, if I were POTUS, I would attempt to put together a different form of the coalition of the willing. This one would be dedicated to forming a trading and development block aimed at energy production and exchange. The one rule would be: No countries located in the ME or with unstable governments need apply. I can’t believe that countries like the UK, Canada, Australia, Norway, Japan etc. wouldn’t want to join.

        I believe the data shows that there is an abundance of total energy supplies outside the sandpit called the mid east.

        What do you think Rick?

      • September 8, 2013 6:12 pm

        Maybe while we’re waiting for Islam 2.0, we could actually try to facilitate and expedite some real humanitarian assistance to the 2 million+ Syrian refugees in Jordan and Turkey. Conditions in the refugee camps are horrendous, doctors and medicine are in short supply, and there are millions more Syrians, at least half of them children, trying to escape the bloodshed and death that we will worsen with any military intervention.

        Calling for allies to halt the shipment of arms and chemical components (at least 2 British companies have shipped to Syria large quantities of the chemical necessary to produce sarin) might have some impact as well….

      • September 8, 2013 6:20 pm

        Good suggestions, Priscilla. If we want to make use of “soft power” (sic) why don’t we try suggestions like yours instead of drawing red lines that no one seems to want to enforce.

        Why not try to gain some agreement amongs our so-called foes that neither side make the situation worse by “backing” one side of the other?

        Just a thought.

  2. Dan permalink
    September 6, 2013 6:57 pm

    Also a, good to see you back! I just discovered the New Moderate and was beginning to think that I missed the boat. Look forward to your posts.

    • September 7, 2013 10:14 pm

      Dan: I saw your supportive comments and was meaning to tell you, with some regret, that I was on an indefinite hiatus… but I’m happy that it won’t be necessary. Glad you’ve joined the crew! (And yes, I modified my views on lobbying… at least to the point where I don’t automatically favor giving them all the boot.)

  3. September 7, 2013 12:52 am

    Count me in! I believe the the bell curve remains true to form and the moderate middle outnumbers the extreme views…we’re generally more polite and less confrontational. I’m not sure that’s really working.

    • September 7, 2013 10:47 pm

      Bill: Good to have you aboard. Concerned moderates face an uphill struggle because 1) the majority of moderates tend to be relatively apathetic, and 2) extremist ideas seem to carry more of an electrical charge that attracts adherents. (Moderate ideas are more nuanced and take effort to figure out.)

      I was often pretty confrontational (by moderate standards at least) in my first go-round here. But this time I’m aiming to be more of a reconciler. At least that’s my intention; we’ll see how it plays out. We’re so divided as a nation right now that I really fear for our future… and that’s one of the reasons I decided to jump back into the mud-wrestling ring of political blogging. I’ll try to stay clean.

  4. September 7, 2013 8:08 am

    The beautiful and much needed message you attempt with this site is beyond laudable, Rick, though I hadn’t been attending for a long time myself. Part of that was life getting in the way, but I also share the attrition of the seemingly fruitless battles with ideologues (that’s leftists, rightists, AND libertarians). It truly can wear you down. Like with all forums, the comments here so often bloated to ridiculous numbers, and so very many of them did nothing more than make me roll my eyes. It’s a soul crusher. However, despite politics being inherently simplistic and woefully reductive, it ultimately IS about morality and whatever form it takes with the individual. Moral people just can’t ignore these things. If you’re willing to try again, then so am I. Let’s exercise our rights and our patience.

    • September 7, 2013 11:01 pm

      sicklygreyfoot (I’ll call you SGF): Well said… and great to hear from you again! You were one of my staunchest supporters during the early days of The New Moderate. So it seems that you suffered from political burnout, too. But you’re right: if we have any moral backbone and a dollop of self-respect, we can’t stay silent too long.

      Chances are that I’ll preserve my energy by not getting as deeply involved in the comments following my posts. We were running to several hundred comments per column toward the end of last year, as you undoubtedly noticed — a nice tribute to the provocative power of my writing, I guess, but kind of exhausting to deal with week after week.

    • dhlii permalink
      April 19, 2014 3:14 pm

      We do not all agree on what morality is.

      I see no possible scheme of morality that is not rooted in individual freedom.

      How can Actions that are not chosen freely have any moral measure ?

      If your actions are not free what distinguishes you from a slave or a machine ?

      How can an ideology no matter how laudable its ends, be moral if it is to be accomplished by forcing others to accomplish that end ? Does the use of force on others become moral if 51% of us agree to it ?

      • April 19, 2014 3:24 pm

        Well, as a libertarian, I find it funny that I have to insert at least one “but” in this statement of yours. It is not moral for you to exercise your freedom by killing my wife (for example). Save some threat to your own life, this would be considered immoral in most cultures that I know of (save perhaps, Islam, where they seem to justify killing in any number of situations).

        Make sense?

  5. September 7, 2013 10:00 am

    “Patience is a virtue, as long as its not overdone!”

  6. September 7, 2013 6:31 pm

    Really glad to see you back at it, Rick.

    • September 7, 2013 11:03 pm

      RP: Thanks. I was starting to chomp at the bit during moments of high controversy, like the Zimmerman trial and the Snowden case. That was a sign to me that I needed to un-retire myself.

  7. Hallie permalink
    September 8, 2013 12:24 am

    The moderate is back!!!! Hell yeah! Screw Assad and the “trouble in the Middle East” (a headline since before Christ was born… it’s soooo cliche’ and boooooring.) Let’s all twerk and do shots of jager in celebration of the resurrection New Moderate! woo hoo! Seriously, glad to see you back. Cheers my friend!

  8. September 8, 2013 7:25 am

    Welcome back, Rick!

  9. September 8, 2013 8:22 am

    Priscilla,

    Love the rose.

  10. Dan permalink
    September 10, 2013 8:25 pm

    Rick, I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know when I say that, taking the helm is a daunting task to say the least. It not only requires knowing the destination, but also the intimate details of the route needed to get there. And a little luck along the way never hurts.

  11. Pat Riot permalink
    September 21, 2013 10:50 pm

    Welcome back to the helm, Rick! Plot a course for open-minded rationality over myopic ideology!

    You had created the “Wild Card Debate” space for when debates went way off on a tangent. I hope people use it and allow the discourse to stay on topic at TNM!

  12. asmith permalink
    April 19, 2014 3:06 pm

    Welcome back

  13. April 19, 2014 3:24 pm

    My .02 on syria, the mideast etc.

    Overall I think the Arab spring is a good thing. Replacing an aged tyrant and totalitarian, with some new tyranny is a positive step. The new leaders in Libya and Egypt, and those who may win elsewhere well know they are more easily removed as those they replace.

    Even small steps towards less tyranny and greater freedom tend to cascade.

    The mideast is more chaotic. It is more dangerous. More evil is bubbling to the surface,
    but so is more good. Ultimately the people of Libya, Syria, Eqypt or wherever must decide for themselves how they wish to live. Hopefully they will not make choices that we find repugnant. But our role absent their acting violently to their neighbors is to speakout about both the good and the bad. But no more. Our recent experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq should make it clear – we can not impose freedom or government of our choice on others.

    • April 19, 2014 3:32 pm

      In Egypt, the army is in control and was under Mubarak. What has changed, other than the outlawing of the MB?

      I do agree with you regarding your conclusion however. We cannot impose freedom on others. We have a hard enough time holding onto our own freedom with the despots in the WH right now.

  14. April 19, 2014 3:25 pm

    “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And…
    moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”

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