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Reflections on a Summer Night Before the Fall

August 21, 2011

Last evening, after watching the satisfying conclusion of a Phillies game (a game that was considerably less satisfying for Washington Nationals fans), I innocently switched to the news. Big mistake. The lengthy segment on strip mining induced a drowsiness that made it impossible for me to extricate myself from the couch. Within minutes I was adrift in slumberland.

When I awoke at 2:30 in the morning and finally pulled myself to bed, there was no going back: my brain had reactivated itself and I knew I’d be awake for the duration. You must know the feeling. You can lie in bed and listen to the singing of the crickets — a pleasant late-summer diversion that begins to lose its charm after half an hour — or you can rouse yourself and make productive use of your insomnia. I opted for the latter course, and here I am.

At this moment President Obama is probably asleep in his summer villa on Martha’s Vineyard, dreaming fitfully of the Republicans who have conspired to thwart the beautiful promise of his presidency. Where did it all go, that lofty missionary zeal for hope and change? Campaigning stirred his blood and inspired soaring sentiments; governing turned out to be a joyless grind, a series of petty, soul-battering tussles with implacable opponents. There was no appeasing them, though he tried hard — too hard, his critics on the left would add — and failed. He tries to summon his inner FDR, his inner Truman, his inner LBJ… but he can’t even summon his inner Obama.

And now the nation, its wealth, its workers and its future — his future, too — appear to be slip-sliding toward some unseen void, still obscured by mist. The mist disperses, a terrifying chasm appears, and over the edge we go — down, down, down, until the president jolts himself awake, tosses restlessly for a few seconds, and settles back to sleep. No sweat. There would be games of golf and the company of liberal celebrity friends to console him in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, somewhere out on the plains, the slumbering Rick Perry dreams of glory. He’s gained the loyalty of millions who admire his thick thatch of dark hair and his craggy all-American good looks — both indispensable qualities in a prospective president. He makes the equally handsome Mitt Romney look like a department store mannequin with a bad dye job. Romney is an empty suit who will tailor his utterances to his audience of the moment; Perry ripples with the vitality of a holy warrior who can lead the faithful against the godless progressive-centrist-RINO foe. He dreams ambitious dreams.

Not even his predecessor George W. Bush, that Ivy League patrician in Texas boots, ever pulled off a coup like this one: Rick Perry, preacher-in-chief, summons Jesus Himself down from the heavens to stump on his behalf. No renegade hippie rabbi, this Republican Jesus comes down clearly on the side of lower taxes for the rich, unrestricted gun ownership, and capital punishment for mentally retarded murderers. Perry smiles serenely and hugs his pillow.

Up in Wasilla, Sarah Palin dreams of entering the race. She sees Michele Bachmann out in front, her long legs making long strides, her mane of luxuriant brown hair trailing behind her. Darn it, Sarah rages… she stole my act! That was supposed to be me up there in the lead, but the smartypants mainstream media and Tina Fey made a laughing-stock out of me. Darn it! Double darn it! Michele makes even more goofball mistakes than I ever did, and let’s face it, she needs a lot of mascara to draw attention away from that wrinkly neck of hers. I’m still the fairest in the land…  fairest in the land… 

Now her dream shifts to a wild landscape somewhere in the great Alaskan North. Sarah spots a prize moose that looks uncannily like Michele Bachmann (the mascara is a dead giveaway) and takes aim. She squeezes the trigger… she fires… but her once-trusty rifle emits only a little white flag that reads “TOO LATE.”

The sky grows lighter now, though the crickets are still singing. In a few hours they’ll yield to a bubbling chorus of cicadas. Late August is a climactic time of year: the great surge of spring and summer life begins to retreat; the nights are cooler and longer.

I have to wonder if America has reached the late August of its existence, poised at the brink of fall — a word that assumes an ominous shade of meaning this year as we struggle to ward off the demons of self-destruction. Fall… our fall… a fall from glory and wealth and even relevance.

But I’m growing drowsy again…. I need to drag myself back to bed and catch a few more hours of sleep. Maybe I’ll dream that we’ve slipped not over a cliff but into a warm green meadow bisected by a rippling stream. A peaceful place, graced by a chorus of birdsongs. I see groups of people gathered to the left and right of the stream… left and right…

No, not THAT dream again! I could use a break. Seriously. We all could.

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55 Comments leave one →
  1. AMAC permalink
    August 21, 2011 2:38 pm

    Rick,
    Good article. I do some of my best work at the strangest hours as well. As the optimist of the group, I will say that it was a little depressing! I am always amazed at the candidates for our nations top political positions. My personal experience with congressmen at the state and national levels have not been the most positive. As I have stated, while working for the large company that I did, I was very involved with our company’s political action committee (not by choice). My experience is limited to less than 10 congressmen from both parties. I can say that I have never fealt very satisfied when leaving a meeting with them. It may be that I have met with bad examples of “public servants”, but from my experience, they only serve themselves and a few powerful constituents. Personally I have never been able to meet with these congressmen, but when I used the title of my company’s political action committe, they were alway happy to meet with constituents! As was the case towards the downfall of Athens, so is it with our politicians. The “greater good” is the least of concerns. Why do politicians pay so close attention to opinion research and polls? Is it so they can represent their electors or so they can get re-elected? As Ian has pointed out, and as most educated people know, the general public does not always know what is best for the future of our country. If the politicians were interested in doing what is right, they would make unpopular decisions more often than not. I am throwing no stones at one party, rather at both. More term limits, less PAC accessibility, more true public servants. As a parent, most of the decisions I make are not popular with my children, but I make them because I know what is best for them. Sorry so long.

    • August 22, 2011 8:57 pm

      AMAC: So you were an actual lobbyist? Or did you just go to Washington for special meetings with the representatives? You probably have some interesting tales to tell.

      You raise an intriguing point about whether representatives should make unpopular decisions. I agree in prinicple — their first priority should be doing what they believe is right — but then they open themselves to charges of ignoring the will of their constituents. So it’s not just a re-election issue, it’s a representation issue.

      • AMAC permalink
        August 22, 2011 9:36 pm

        Rick,
        I don’t want to make myself sound more involved than I was. I was charged with face to face meeting with congressman in the districts in which the operations I ran resided in. My company has a PAC with its own lobbyists, but once you rise to a certain level in this company, you have to participate and follow up after various votes. We would sometimes meet with the lobbyists to provide information of the meetings, etc. I agree with representing constituents, but there is a point where you have to do what is right and educate your constituents on the reason and logic going into that decision. My point was that the constituents that are most commonly represented were the constituents that provided the money, not the votes, to the elections. The truth is that money wins elections. And often, where there is money there is corruption.

  2. August 21, 2011 4:59 pm

    i love your comments…i use them in the middle of the night to put me back to slumber…seriously, good stuff…

    • AMAC permalink
      August 21, 2011 11:31 pm

      Thanks Roberta. My wife and I are math teachers, so putting people to sleep is our specialty!

    • August 22, 2011 8:51 pm

      Roberta: You mean my Facebook comments? I do have fun there. Glad I can serve a practical purpose, too. I just wish my comments could put ME to sleep after I wake up on the den couch in the middle of the night… but then I never would have written this piece. Sometimes insomnia is a good thing.

  3. Pat Riot permalink
    August 22, 2011 12:02 am

    Rick, Wow! Some gems in there: “He tries to summon his inner FDR, his inner Truman, his inner LBJ… but he can’t even summon his inner Obama.” Nice!

    “makes…Romney look like a department store mannequin…” Youch! The truth hurts. Poor stiff Romney in his starched white shirts…one can almost see the strings going up to the balcony…

    Palin saying she’s still the fairest in the land–too funny

    Imagining Obama experiencing that archetypal dream of falling off a cliff–good writing,man!

    Don’t despair! Look away from the car wreck that is our partisan, inept, overspending government, and look instead at all those other drivers on the road who are maintaining a safe driving distance, staying in their lanes, paying attention, going to work and home, making changes, waking up…300 million Americans, give or take..Yes, there’s going to be some pain and suffereing for awhile, but renovations are underway…

    • August 22, 2011 8:48 pm

      Pat Riot: I appreciate the appreciation. You’re right that observing the scene too closely can make it look as if our entire country is slipping off that cliff. But the sun still rises and the sky is still full of stars (as long as you don’t live in a major city).

  4. Priscilla permalink
    August 22, 2011 11:38 am

    Really fine post, Rick!

    • August 22, 2011 8:45 pm

      Thanks, Priscilla. Maybe I should do more of my writing in the middle of the night, as long as I don’t turn into a vampire. Maybe I’m more of an owl.

  5. August 24, 2011 9:02 am

    I will as usual be the contrarian.

    Obama has failed because government is the problem and we are the answer.

    I actually do believe that the people eventually get most things right – but they get them right on their own in their own lives, not through their politicians.

    Most of you here do not like my views on limited government.
    You want to believe that somehow sometime in the future voters who you have no faith in will somehow elect a dream team of leaders who will know what needs to be done and do it nearly effortlessly.

    Accepting for the sake of argument that government can somehow be a force for good.
    I hear constantly from the left that voters are just not smart enough to elect the right people – so what is your alternative ? The basic choices are elected leaders, real direct democracy or some form of totalitarianism. As you do not trust voters to elect their leaders, I can not imagine you would trust them to run government directly, which leaves some form of totalitarianism.
    When you bemoan the poor choices of voters like it or not you are asking for a strong leader to take over. Obama echoed this more recently when he said something to the effect that he could step in and fix everything himself, but that is not the way our system works.
    Benign tyrants are still tyrants.

    We are left with the government we have – a representative republic. Like it or not that is the best that you can do.

    The better government necessary for bigger government to work is not achievable – for many many reasons. But prominent among these is that government will be made of people, at best it will be made of the best people we can elect. In reality the political system is self selecting for the wrong people.

    You used LBJ as an example. Whatever good you think he may have done – setting LBJ up as a democratic idol, would be like republicans deifying Nixon.

    Progressives have controlled our education system for more than 3/4 of a century. Yet voters are still recalcitrant.

    This is just one of many many reasons expansive government must fail – even if you somehow managed to get the perfect set of leaders the task is still impossible. Still this is a reason moderates should grasp. As circumstances change we vacillate between bad democratic government and bad republican government. We do not really get good government ever – because we can not. We get government that is better than that of kings and Fuhrer’s. That is the best we can hope for, and we must be constantly on the lookout because everyone seeks to harness the power of government to their ends.

    As Lord Acton noted, “Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts, Absolutely”. That is a truism. A real moderate who was honest with themselves might consider that a government with less power would be less corrupt.

    • Priscilla permalink
      August 24, 2011 3:39 pm

      It seems that the whole concept of limited government that derives its power from the people has become archaic. I think that, as Washington DC has become more and more dominated by career politicians, entrenched interest groups and elite media and academic types, the whole idea that “the people” out here in “the country” could possibly know what is good for them is viewed with scorn. How else to describe the utter hatred toward the tea party?

      Isn’t the real crime of the tea party the fact that it is a movement that unseated dozens of incumbents in the last election, and has the potential to sweep out a whole bunch more in the next?

      I mean, it isn’t even a “party,” in any real sense…..it has no leader, no organization, no platform. It is certainly more influencial within the GOP than within the Dem party, but certainly even establishment Republicans would like it to go away, because it threatens to make them accountable for their leadership- or lack thereof – in a way that says “do what we want, or we will vote you out of office.”

      I agree, Dave, that big government is ultimately tyrannical. I’m not saying that our American government is a tyranny, but I think that it has grown in a way that is becoming antithetical to the American spirit and many people who were never really concerned with government in the past, just taking it for granted, and going about their lives, have become engaged in the political process because the government has started to intrude a bit too much in their lives.

      By the way, kind of related to all of this is something I read last week. Detroit schools will now provide the free lunch program to ALL students, regardless of family income. So that even rich kids (if there are any rich kids left in Detroit!) will get free lunch, paid for by the US Dept of Agriculture. The reason – to not to make poor kids feel “stigmatized” by being part of the free lunch program. Tax dollars to provide free meals for wealthy kids. This is the kind of thing that makes people demand smaller government…..

      • AMAC permalink
        August 24, 2011 8:11 pm

        dhlii,
        You are an intelligent person. Don’t start conversations telling people what they think. You also try to form discussions based on giving people alternatives and acting as if they are the only alternatives possible. I don not agree that if this system does not work, we have 3 or 4 other options and that is it. You begin your proof with and incorrect premise. You seem to be on here to try and change peoples ideas (not a bad thing). You could do a lot better by not playing the victim defending sanity and try not to be so confrontational.

  6. Ian Robertson permalink
    August 25, 2011 4:43 pm

    A race between Republican candidates who are either unlikely to win their party’s nomination or are right-wing extremists and a badly wounded and not very inspiring incumbent. All at a time when we face such serious economic choices. The only outcome that I can see that would be palatable to me is Romney and a Democratic Congress.

    Obama could have been a decent president in a different and less polarized era, in which he was not handed an economic melt down with no end in sight. This was not the time for him. Between Obama and one of the ultra-conservative Republicans I’ll take Obama in a heartbeat. Between Obama and Romney, I’d probably take Romney, especially if it looks like congress were likely to be in Democratic hands after the election.

    Can moderates change anything this time around? I’d like to think so.

    If there really are such people as Republican moderates I sure hope that they will get off their tuckases and vote en mass in the primaries for the most moderate republican candidates. I will do so myself.

    • AMAC permalink
      August 25, 2011 6:41 pm

      Ian
      I have been researching John Huntsman. I think you should give him a look. I am between Romney, Huntsman, and Obama (not in that order). I like what he did in Utah with their economy. I am not naive in that I think he did it alone, but he at least presided over a decent economy. Believe it or not, he did it by increasing spending by an average of 10% a year. He also did manage to cut taxes by a significant amount. I also like his pro-science stance. He was raised by billionaires like most candidates, but upon researching his background more, it appears as though he is pretty well grounded. He has also worked very well with both parties. The thing that bothers me with Romney is that he has changed a few views to position himself further to the right to appease the party and its base. This might be the first republican president I vote for in quite some time. I agree that Obama has been caught up at a bad time. I really like him but will more likely than not vote otherwise. I look at the presidency like I would look at a CEO or NFL coach/gm. Sometimes the guy or gal can be really sharp and mean well, but not get the results. I have voted for so few republicans of late, it is nice to see some positioning more to the center for once. Let me know what you think, I am continuing to research with primaries coming up.

      • Ian Robertson permalink
        August 25, 2011 7:09 pm

        I’d be all for Huntsman if he is still alive when our primary comes. I hear he is out, low numbers, because he is not a fundamentalist crank.. Imagine, a republican who lectures his party on Global warming. Brave.

    • August 25, 2011 8:33 pm

      Ian;
      Pres. Obama appears to be a decent person. But his major problem is not circumstances or partisanship. It is that his choices have failed.
      I will be happy to shovel blame onto Bush as well as the democrats and republicans in congress during his tenure. If you wish we can entirely agree to place blame for creating this mess with them.
      But Obama chose to run for president. He would have lost nearly as decisively as he won but for the financial crisis. He owes his presidency to this mess.
      Having been elected, with his party in total control of congress, he and they chose for two years the policies they pursued. And they bear the responsibility for those policies.
      He has pursued economic stimulus that would have made every Keynesian save Krugman happy. It has not worked – it never did in the past, and Basiat who died 100 years before Keynes wrote his general theory, explained why.

      Some economic downturns last longer than others – and there are reasons why. Some of those reasons have to do with the nature of the bubble that burst – and there are few bubbles that could be worse than a long term asset bubble (housing) driven by a credit bubble.
      But the nature of the downturn is not the primary factor in its duration. In many many ways conditions in the late 70’s/early eighties were substantially worse. The economic mess that Reagan ended was the culmination of atleast one and probably three decades of increasingly bad economic policy. It is broadly excepted that the stagflation of the 1970’s devastates Keynesian economics. Will still pursue it because it appeals to politicians who desperately want it to work. In hindsight the Reagan policies, that resulted in recovery and boom seem obvious. At the time they were heretical. There are constant quotes from noted economists from the Reagan era decrying current republican polices. Most of Reagan’s economic staff was telling him that he was wrong too.

      Pres. Obama had the opportunity after the 2008 election to exterminate the republican party. All that was necessary was to restore prosperity. We do not have the ability to replay the past with different policies in place. But we do have the ability to look back on history.
      We are almost perfectly following the same kind of policies that Hoover and Roosevelt did during the depression. The major difference is that Benanke’s monetary policies are distinct from Mellon’s.
      We are fairly closely following the policies of Japan during her now two decade long lost decade.

      Obama has not failed because of Partisanship, not only did he have two years to do as he pleased, but the economy right now, is the consequence of those policies he chose.
      He has failed because regardless of how eloquently he has presented his case, and how nice a guy he his, his policies are wrong.

      Unless we are willing to look critically and dispassionately at what has worked and what has failed we are not going to learn and we aren’t going to do better. If we do not have a double dip and even if we do, there will be a recovery – because recovery does not come from government. It comes from us. But that recovery will be weak and protracted so long as government is in the way.
      Businesses small and large are not investing, banks and businesses are hoarding money, and paying down debt – those greedy evil businessmen – they are doing the same thing facing uncertainty as we are. How dare they ?
      The investment necessary to create jobs and prosperity will come when investors beleive that they have a reasonable chance of benefiting from the risks they take.
      We have tried the Keynesian demand and consumption side stimulus and it has failed. Can we bury it for good now ?

  7. August 25, 2011 7:10 pm

    There is nothing wrong with debating the role of government. I am willing to listen to arguments in favor of big government. Top down solutions have an appeal to all of us. But after listening it is likely I am going to argue that top-down does not work. Regardless, the debate is legitimate. Just as those of everyone else here, the tea party, democrats and republicans are.
    I repeatedly hear condemnation of the right for some form of scornful rhetoric.
    Yet the very same people who were ranting about “targeting” a political opponent are calling those who disagree hostage takers and terrorists.

    Even here remarks about republicans are almost always preceded by some deprecatory adjective. AMAC called me out for over generalizing with respect to what others are thinking. While he is correct, much of the thoughts I placed into others minds have been openly expressed here by many of you. Further although I was trying to show how those views are self contradictory, I was not defaming anyone.

    Yet, there are numerous posts here that slur the right, that openly proclaim nefarious motives. I often strongly disagree with republicans. I do not beleive they are evil, stupid, …
    Certainly they engage in spin and political subterfuge – though I would note they are abysmally bad at it in comparision to democrats, and I would use the fact that many posters on this blog seem to accept that it is irrational to have to live within our means, and that government can expand infinitely.

  8. August 25, 2011 7:24 pm

    AMAC;

    If you beleive I have artificially limited the options, and you want me to accept that – then tell me what the other alternatives are ?

    If my premises are wrong – identify their errors.

    Rationality and logic are the dominant traits of libertarians – I am not saying no one else is rational or logical. I am saying that rationality and logic are core values to libertarians – which leaves all of us arguing about anarcho-capitolism, minarchism, and all kinds of permutations of how small can we make government – when in the real world we are never getting close to any of that.

    Regardless, if you find a real logical flaw in an argument I make – you can be certain I will seriously re-examine my thoughts. But the flaws have to be logical – most of the argument of the left is an appeal to sentiment.

    The only way that I feel victimized here – is in being lumped in with conservatives, etc. There is a presumption there are only two ideologies – the left and right, and that moderates make up the un-ideological center. I have taken to defend conservatives on occasion – primarily to point out the double standard that is being casually accepted. As well as to defend conservative proposals – such as Ryan’s plan – when they appear to be the lessor of all possible evils. And when we are pretending that there is a vast gulf between the GOP and democrats, when their proposals only differ in minor details and are all insufficient.

    Regardless, I am not looking to play victim. I think most everyone will agree that I can stand up for myself – whether you agree or not.

  9. August 25, 2011 8:42 pm

    There are several comments concerning specific candidates. I am going to ignore the specific candidates because they are not what matters.

    It is important for each of us to honestly decide for ourselves what caused this mess as well as what we beleive needs to be done. What policies will work and which have failed – because the choice of what policies we wish to see pursued is more important and determinative of who we should elect.

    If you are making excuses for Obama’s failure to fix this, how does that distinguish you from those blinding themselves to Bush’s responsibility in causing this ?
    Decide what you really think needs done, and then vote for those you beleive will do it.

  10. August 25, 2011 9:13 pm

    Does increasing taxes on investment cause economic harm ?
    Some anecdotal evidence.
    http://www.boortz.com/weblogs/nealz-nuze/2011/aug/25/illinois-increases-taxes-loses-jobs/

  11. AMAC permalink
    August 26, 2011 12:36 am

    Dhlii
    You are an intelligent guy. I cannot always tell which comments are really directed towards my posts within your replies. I am not trying to make you look bad here. I just don’t appreaciate being told if I don’t like this, you have options A, B, etc. I also don’t like being told where I lie on the political spectrum. I am not going to copy and paste specifics, but I think you know what I am getting at. I don’t disagree with all your opinions and I don’t agree with them all. I enjoy many of your posts. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I don’t mind people voicing their disagreement and offering counter points. In fact I appreaciate that. As a moderate, I am constantly called a lefty by those on the right and a neo-con by the left. Maybe I am just a little over sensative.

    • August 27, 2011 9:28 pm

      AMAC;

      If I have implied you should accept anything I have said because I said it – I apologise.
      I deliberately do not say “in my opinion” or “I beleive” – because anything I say is always my opinion. You are always free to disagree.

      At the same time I am bothered that you are taking aim at me on this.
      While this is not Daily Kos, Think Progress or Talking Points Memo, where I expect to be personally maligned by ten comentors, for each on that only maligns my views, and only get rational discussion from the rare poster, still there are plenty of comments here that strongly often with invective, and often without evidence state opinions as if they are facts.

      This blog calls itself “The New Moderate”. I think it is legitimate to debate what “Moderate” is. That inevitably involves disagreement. Many here see what I will call (now you have me violating my own rules) fiscal sanity, ultra conservative. (I do not beleive) you can be moderate, without some conception of limits on taxes and spending, or on the power of government. You do not have to accept mine, but if you can not elucidate a principle defining limits – and I am not looking for bright lines, then (I beleive) you are on the left – possibly the far left, certainly not moderate. If you hold a different view – make your case.

      Yes, I think you are over sensitive. We are debating politics. I have complained about the rhetoric labeling others as terrorists, hostage takers, fiscal jihad, …. My real complaint is not about the invective – it is that it is one sided. Rick and most other commentors struggle to make wimpy criticisms of the left to appear balanced. Then criticises the right with passion and relish. I think that shows where your heart and mind really is. I have no problem maligning the right – though on fiscal issues my complaint would be that there economic restraint is new found and for the majority of elected republicans insincere. Both the right and the left are after my freedom – though on different issues. Both beleive government is the answer – they just have different questions. Both are wrong – for much the same reasons.

      But I am in a small minority in willingness to actually attack the views of the left.
      That strongly suggests that whatever moderate is it is to the right of “The New Moderate”

      Yes, I am positioning comentors here on the political spectrum. I think that is a legitimate debate. If you do not like my arguments or may way of defining political identity – argue your own.

      • AMAC permalink
        August 27, 2011 9:48 pm

        Dhlii

        I am to the left of you, I agree. But I am certainly not an extreme leftist. I do not need to make my argument to you or anyone. You challenge me to prove you wrong on that, but I don’t posess enough time or the ability to change your mind. You are so convinced that government as evil, that any opinion about government spending will place me to the extreme left (in your opinion). I am against wasteful spending, but what I call wasteful spending is not the same as you. I have not openly critisized either side, as I think that the blame game is a waste of time and unproductive towards progress. But because you haven’t seen me critisize the left, I am clearly a lefty? I haven’t critisized the right so can you then deduce that I am on the right? You take limited information to jump to illogical conclusions and then ask me to prove you wrong? I will not engage any longer with trying to clear my name, as I have done nothing wrong. I believe we have the greatest government in the history of the world, but it can be so much better. I look forward to continuing to read your comments but will not engage in correcting your incorrect assumptions about my beliefs and values.

  12. Priscilla permalink
    August 26, 2011 12:41 am

    Neither FDR nor Reagan were moderates, but they were extremely effective chief executives who led the country through difficult times. Both were able to effectively translate their vision for America into a coherent and achieveable agenda and both were able to build coalitions within Congress that included the opposition party.

    I think that Obama’s main problem is not that he inherited a bad economy,but that he is just not a very capable executive. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad person, but it doesn’t make for a good president.

  13. AMAC permalink
    August 26, 2011 8:50 am

    Priscilla
    I think that the presidancy is one of those jobs that is judged solely on results. As Steve Jobs said, the higher you go, the less excuses matter. I know from my experience this is true. I have always tried to judge the President based on results. Without some serious improvements, I will have a hard time voting for Obama (again). Having been an executive, I know personally they can be judged very harshly and unfairly. They can be unsuccesful in one situation and very succesful in a different situation. But as I said, it is the nature of the position. I try to be very unbiased on my judgement of people, so I will not say he is stupid, bad president, or etc. I have not said that about any president we have had in my lifetime. It may be because of my experiene, but I don’t feel that I am qualified to make those labels. But I am qualified enough to make a personal decision on whom I will vote for. I hope I do vote to re-elect Obama, because that will mean I believe the country is on the right path and significantly improving.

    • Priscilla permalink
      August 26, 2011 9:31 am

      AMAC, I am in complete agreement with your comment. All executives have to make decisions which are second-guessed and analyzed by people who have the advantage of hindsight. I also agree that calling any president stupid is just a lazy and judgmental way to express disapproval. I do think that executive experience, as you have had, can develop the skill set that is needed to be an effective president – and I think Obama was elected as our chief executive long before he had had an opportunity to adequately develop that skill set.

      I also agree that it would be a great thing to be able to say that this president turned things around and earned a shot at a second term. I have to say that, in the past, I have confidently declared that I would “never” vote for someone who I later voted for…..so, I don’t say that anymore.

      Let’s hope that we either get some positive results from this administration, or that the Republicans nominate someone who can effectively get things moving in the right direction.

    • August 27, 2011 9:51 pm

      AMAC;

      You will find me in agreement.

      Once elected I had high hopes for Pres. Obama. There are many issues he campaigned on I could have unequivocally supported him on – almost everyone of those he has either abandoned, or reversed.

      I am not a pacifist. We were justified in going into Afghanistan and obliterating the government that aided and protected those who attacked us. Destroying the Taliban did not obligate or even permit us to chose what government took its place. That is the job of the Afghani people. So long as they do not use force to harm us or directly aide those who do they may have whatever government they chose, and they will get crap for government until the afghani people themselves are willing to fight for the government they want.

      I could care less about whether there were WMD’s in Iraq. I was greatly disturbed by the doctrine of pre-emptive war we used in going in. We should not have invaded Iraq. Having done so we were obligated to repair the damage we created, and then get out.

      We are still in Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya. I will be happy to see Ghadafi gone. But even if the results prove to be good our actions were wrong. We are not the world’s policemen.

      We were supposed to be seeing the most transparent and open government in history. Instead we are seeing the most secretive.

      On those issues I disagreed with Pres. Obama from the start, I would be happy to have discovered that everything I beleive is wrong. That he was right. That spending trillions of dollars would restore the economy, that bailing things out was essential, that taxing the crap out of the rich will make government and the economy work better, ………

      I want freedom and prosperity for the entire country, for all of us. For myself and for those at the bottom. If progressive ideas can deliver on that – I will be happy to convert.

      But my prayers were not answered. What I believed proved to be true, not what I prayed for.

      Pres. Obama is a nice guy. I like him. I am glad we finally elected a minority president. I beleive he is sincere in his beliefs.

      But he had his chance and he was wrong.
      Yes, he inherited a mess – though I would point out that the mess was made by politicians on the left and the right including himself, that believed government was the answer rather than the problem.

      His failures are not because he is an ineffective leader. Nor because of the magnitude of the problem he inherited. Reagan inherited a far worse economy.

      His failure is because he was wrong – as we were to elect him. We are paying for that mistake, and in the next election it is likely so will he.

      • AMAC permalink
        August 27, 2011 11:21 pm

        Dhlii
        I agree. My family has a tradition of service to our country. I am certainly not against war when I believe it is called for. I don’t want our country threatened or attacked, but could not understand why we went into Iraq. If we went to war with everyone who verbally threatened us, we would always be at war. I hate to boil this down to money, but I believe we shouldn’t be remodeling other houses when ours is in such need of repair. Certain presidents are suited to certain situations. Some are good in times of crises, some in time of war, and so on. I think that Obama could have (but still might be, not writing off just yet) in different circumstances. I was very good at taking over operations that were miserable financial performers. I was admittingly, not as good at taking over and operating operations that were already performing well. My talents were making decisive changes and quickly measuring their output. I don’t know if it was my mindset, or my abilities, but that is what I was best at. I was very succesful in bad circumstances (which led to many relocations unfortunately). I was not sucessful in “good” circumstances. I think this would be the case as a president as well. I have seen good and great execs. fired because of bad results, but go on with great success in other fields or industries. I think this is the case of Obama. To me, he is intelligent and talented. Bottom line, the results are not there. I would also say the same for congress. I hate to be the “scrap them all” guy, but the legislative branch must also share the burden of the results. As in so many cases in elections though, it will come down to what are my options. I really am beginning to like Huntsman. He lowered taxes, increased spending, but still managed a surplus. He has a unique background. I am interested.

  14. Ian Robertson permalink
    August 26, 2011 10:30 am

    I’m obviously not very good at not rising to the bait and I have been trying very hard to disengage from a discussion that is not at all about moderation and all about conservative ideas. But I will make an excuse for myself here, there is a teachable moment here for moderates in your postings. To be clear, I do not dislike either you or Priscilla, although I strongly dislike many of the principles you both support. But…

    This is the New Moderate, what kind of thing is that? To my thinking, political moderation is based on resisting falling into ideologies and economic religions, its an attempt to be objective and do what is best in something like an actually scientific manner, to try to weigh evidence and try to reject ideas that have bad track records. But, sigh, this is the field of social science, not molecular biology (the field in which I received my doctorate) and not physics, so everything gets very muddy, and since economic and social conditions constantly change and are not repeated without changes in a huge number of their variables, no one can ever win an economic or political argument because no one can ever, it seems, draw an absolutely firm conclusion from any experiment, say supply side economics or Keynsian ones.

    I am trying now to understand what possible combination of economic policies would take us out of, first, our short-term problems with severe unemployment and a contracting economy and then our long-term ones with debt and unsustainable medical costs. I am reading Rajan’s book “Fault Lines” and Stiglitz’s “Freefall,” both men were correctly predicting the crisis long before it occurred, and thus are worth listening too, as Churchill was worth listening to in 1941 when he was the one who was correct in his assessment of affairs. I understand that these men are left-leaning economists. I wish to avoid the trap you have fallen into, that of giving my heart and soul over to one, potentially extreme, economic religion.

    How am I, a self-styled moderate, different from you, a partisan and an true believer in an economic ideology? Lets look at you (much nicer to me than looking at me!) You claim to look at things in a more or less unemotional way. From my perspective, that claim is false. You are as emotional as they come, you are nearly hysterically opposed to anything that is not the pure free market, and to most of the roles of government. No one ever sat down and put the effort you put into writing your mega-lengthy diatribes against government and regulation with out a huge emotional impetus. Your hard work comes from fear, fear of harm to people like yourself. You are however unemotional, logical and dispassionate about the situations of the poor, the unemployed, and the victims of predatory lending who republicans and bankers have a huge responsibility for, as they opposed every attempt to regulate the Go-Go banking disaster. No, I don’t think you are a bad person, but you sure do support bad things, destructive things, with all your force which is based on your very emotional response of fear of harm to yourself from the government.

    Since you do not even recognize that your decisions are very emotional there is no possibility that you will be able to make a corrections in your thinking.

    You also claim to be simply working from logic. Sorry to have say it, but your posts are rife with logical errors, mostly that one of making conclusions that are not directly connected to the facts you present, Micheal Moore does the same thing, wild leaps of faith between unconnected data points.

    Why don’t I give you examples of these logical errors? Because experience in discussing these things with you has shown that you are not able to ever give an inch, when challenged you thrown in a (very-well written) huge pile of supporting facts. It’s the fear response again, a squid throws ink, you throw facts.

    The problem is that you cannot see facts that do not support your side, you are blind to them. Here I will give an example because it was so startling to me.

    “Open Public debate of issues is a good thing. It is the name calling that is unproductive – and to me that has been pretty lopsided. I do not recall a Republican claiming the president was a terrorist, hostage taker, …”

    This is why it is pointless to talk to you, only a truly blind partisan could be so unable to see the utterly vile level that many conservative republican commentators and posters have fallen to, and with the strong approval of millions of “ditto heads.” You are lost to us Dave, hard facts that do not support your worldview are invisible to you and you cannot see them. So, it is not possible for you to come up with an objective assessment of the situation. Why should anyone try to reason with a person who is logic proof? You write very well, you could be (or maybe are) a successful author and an inspiration to those who share your ultra-conservative economic religion. But never to me.

    To put it as simply as I can, in spite of your obvious talents and basic civility, which put you in a separate class from the vast majority of other conservatives I encounter, (and I do have close conservative friends, even politically influential ones) you are an example of exactly the problem that I hope that a moderate political movement will be able to blunt.

    • August 28, 2011 2:51 am

      Do we reject evolution because it is not the conclusion of a hard science ? Is the entirety of the social sciences just whimsy ? Is it not possible to draw empircle conclusions about anything because the world is too muddy ?

      If accuracy in forecasting makes someone worth listening too, you should be reading Hayek and Mises, and voting for Ron Paul or Peter Schiff (I am not advocating either, just pointing out that they have an excellent forecasting record).

      I am irrational, emotional, hysterical, religious, partisan, apparently ultra-conservative and I am not worth logical argument, because when challenged I fearfully squirt out facts ?

      If moderate means being unwilling to confront facts – then I am not a moderate.

  15. sicklygreyfoot permalink
    August 26, 2011 2:37 pm

    “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up
    In the kind of world where we belong?”
    –The Beach Boys

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world without borders, where human beings could exchange ideas and materials without government interference?

    Wouldn’t it be nice if Brooke Burke were MY girlfriend?

    Sure it would. But these things don’t happen.

    I’ve come to the rueful conclusion that Libertarianism is the most infallibly ideological political philosophy existing today. dhlii’s eloquent but ultimately fanciful explications of a “free” Utopia are proof.

    This conclusion is rueful because I’ve tried so hard to see Libertarianism as this more-or-less moderate penumbra between the rabid leftists and rightists. But since the only real aspiration of Libertarians is to cut almost all of government back in a sweeping “Let’s Give Peace A Chance” mantra, I can only deem them irresponsible.

    The EXTREME complexity of human interaction in a densely populated society (as all of them are now) prevents human conflict from “fixing itself” most of the time. ALL of the major strides made in human civilization happened because of the will of a central government. People who actually wish to accomplish something will quibble over just how far a government should expand (and the difference there will only be by the smallest degrees) or precisely where, but they won’t argue, without incurring specious rhetoric, about whether it should be expanded. Libertarians deny the inevitable.

    Rand Paul, Libertarian extraordinaire, issued that the Civil Rights Act was wrong, that businesses should have the right to choose their patron based on ANY criteria they please. This view is in strict accordance with Libertarianism. “But I don’t agree with THAT particular view,” dhlii or any other Libertarian MIGHT say. However, if you don’t follow that central tenet, then why dub yourself a Libertarian at all?

    This is the inescapable problem with ideology, and Libertarianism is currently the worst example. No friend to extreme leftism or rightism, I see nowhere near enough evidence of the middle ground that Libertarians purport, nor do I see the wisdom in this “radical” (every ideologue thinks himself a stalwart maverick) no-government society.

    The power of choice has STILL not yet been stripped from Americans. Informed or not, every person CHOOSES whom to vote for. But human beings are collectivists by nature. Were we not, we’d not have survived. Every platoon needs a Lieutenant, every film needs a director, and we voters will vote for whom we think is best.

    dhlii wants to ignore specific candidates, wants to decapitate the whole system, one which he feels is self-defeating. But focusing on specific candidates means that one is focusing on specific issues, and that’s what a “real moderate” ought to be doing.

    • Ian Robertson permalink
      August 26, 2011 3:46 pm

      Oh, bless you, you take over, I’m pooped.

      I agree with you 100%, SGF, at the New Moderate we should be focusing on specific issues from a moderate perspective. Dhlii and Priscilla are great at sparking a fascinating discussion but its not Our discussion, the moderate discussion. Can we keep the same high interest up when we have to do something constructive, define moderate policies and try to make moderate plans to change things? We will see.

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 27, 2011 11:05 am

        While you are busy “defining moderate policies and making plans to change things,” and rejecting those ideas that don’t fit “Our discussion, the moderate discussion,” keep in mind that intellectual closure and rigid orthodoxy are the very defining characteristics of the partisans that you claim to disdain.

        Ideologues believe that that they are always right, and the other side is always wrong….moderates generally analyze issues based on their merits, rather than on a rigid ideology. So, almost by definition, not all moderates are going to view things the same way, but they are all going to approach an issue using reason and intellect. On many issues, moderates will draw from both sides, but – and this is important – not necessarily EQUALLY from both sides. If being “moderate” meant always having to take exactly half a position from the left and half a position from the right, then it would be….well, just stupid. And I think that you would agree with that.

        I am not a libertarian…in fact, I have huge problems with libertarian views, particularly those that advocate anarchy and geoism. But I see a lot of intellectual and pragmatic value in some of the classical liberal and capitalist ideas that libertarians such as Dave promote ( I have yet to see him espouse the “decapitiation of our system.”) and I think that those ideas add to, not distract from the debate on economics.

        So, to answer your question (which, I realize was not posed to me, but to sgf, but I’m gonna answer anyway),” can we keep the same high interest when we have to define moderate policies and try to make moderate plans to change things?” Well, if the discussion is closed to certain reasonable arguments and ideas from the right or the left, or if the very mention of those arguments sparks a knee-jerk response of “ultra-conservative partisan”……well, then, no.

      • August 28, 2011 3:40 am

        Ian;

        I have repeatedly asked you to define “Moderate policies”.
        I do not expect that moderate will mean the same thing for everyone,
        but the sense i get of far too many on this blog is modertate is pretty far to the left of the political center of this country.
        Even that is not all that important.

        I eventually managed to get you to put forth a few “moderate” proposals to address our current problems – and I was happy to agree with most of them.
        My primary objection being they were small and our problems are large.

        In the long run I expect to win the argument for more limited government – not through the power of my arguments, but because we have more government than we can afford.

        We already must start making choices. Your faith in the value of government makes those choices painful. I share some of that pain – but only because we have made promises to people we had no right to make, they depended on them and now it turns out we have lied. I value integrity. I expect people to trust the promises I have made. I try very hard not to make promises I might not be able to keep. Those are not values I find in politicians of either party. Our government is no better than the people we elect.

    • August 28, 2011 3:26 am

      You demand a reasoned discussion, but will not engage in one.
      Rather than fixate on little or no government, why not seriously consider less government ?

      I do not ask you to convert to the “libertarian religion”. I ask you to grasp that if you can not express a single limit to government, you are not moderate.

      You do not have to be a libertarian to grasp that Keynes has failed.

      You do not have to be a libertarian to understand that without some change social security and Medicare will bankrupt us.

      You do not have to be a libertarian to see that if there ever was a time to increase taxes on investment it is not while the economy is in the dumps.

      You do not have to be a libertarian to beleive that a federal government that is 25% of the economy is too large.

      You do not have to be a libertarian to want children to be able to operate lemonade stands without a business license.

      ………

      • Ian Robertson permalink
        August 28, 2011 3:14 pm

        Dhlii, All across the world these days at any given moment the internet has hooked up participants in ideological debates, which are mostly bitter and insulting and not terribly enlightening in my experience. I don’t want to be one of those protagonists, I don’t WANT to make a futile attempt to utterly devastate your worldview, I have more urgent matters. But this debate has at least been mostly intelligent and civil and sometimes I need a good little distraction from my paying work. So… You have conveniently ignored the most serious criticism I made of your writings ( I’ll take it that I obviously scored well on my other targets, particularly your claim to be unemotional, but we can let that be here), which is that you ignore all facts that don’t agree with your extreme theories.

        As an example of your denial of all opposing facts method of arguing: You may have heard of the clever schoolboy who wanted to make a point: he wrote a lengthy paper on the hazards of dihydrogen oxide, a very hazardous chemical in need of tighter regulation: this substance is composed of two explosive gases, hydrogen and oxygen, one of its components (oxygen) is so reactive and toxic to the cell that cells sequester it, etc. Everything he said was factually correct and he convinced his class and teacher that the substance, water, ought to be banned. He just left out everything that would have helped his audience understand the situation, he did not lie.

        Likewise with the 911 truthers led by my old favorite Michael Moore, who is a master of weaving completely true facts into highly misleading fictions, these stories just leave out every fact that would let a listener reach a more reasonable conclusion. This scheme is old as the hills; it works well on gullible people. It’s a (the?) main element of your style.

        Denial, it ain’t just dat river in Egypt! Somewhere in our long argument I noted the contribution of the deregulation of banking under Clinton (here free market fundamentalist Larry Summers played his role) to the crisis. you responded: There had been no deregulation of anything since Carter deregulated the railroads and that was successful. Its Remarkable! Every other author I have consulted, liberal or conservative, agrees that several critical acts of banking deregulation HAVE taken place under Reagan and Clinton, they simply argue what effect they had, good or bad. So, you are, as Henry Higgens once said of Alfred P. Dolittle, a most original moral philosopher; there is no inconvenient fact you cannot simply make, Poof, disappear.

        You set yourself up for these things, you come in with a sort of chip on your shoulder and make absolute arguments, “I am correct, I am purely logical, I am unemotional, unlike you liberals, the free market always works, government intervention in economic activities is always bad ( or words to that effect). If I am wrong, prove it to me, I am listening.” Well, of course, with such extreme positions it would only take one good counter example to prove your absolutism wrong, and I provided one, European socialized medicine, which costs much less than the American system and provides better results as measured by the standard metrics such as infant mortality rate and life span. Oh well, not good enough, you denied it, there was another fact cloud, and you escaped. If you stay true to form you will provide yet another dense cloud of all the supporting facts to show that the Europeans have it all wrong on providing health care and that the free market would do it best.

        Don’t worry, you will retire undefeated, no one will ever prove you are wrong. Have you noticed that the converse is also true?

  16. August 28, 2011 3:44 am

    Priscilla;

    Thank you.

  17. Ian Robertson permalink
    August 28, 2011 1:30 pm

    You may be an ultraconservative if you think that:

    David Stockman is a “liberal critic”;

    The country has been moving steadily leftward since the 70s,

    High tax rates on those making $200,000 + are a huge problem;

    Increasing income disparity favoring the rich is a GOOD thing:

    Social Security is a Ponzi scheme;

    Obama is a socialist;

    The Ryan Path to Prosperity is a moderate plan;

    Conservatives thinkers are intellectually superior to liberal ones.

    Other clues to ultra-conservative status:

    You think that Rick went way too far in criticizing conservatives and not nearly far enough in criticizing liberals in his two pieces on the subjects;

    At a time when tens of millions have lost their jobs, millions have lost their homes, and the federal budget deficit has a reached historical level, you complain repeatedly of the sad plight of the $200,000 + households, think they need a huge tax break and never mention any concern for the foreclosed victims of predatory lending or the unemployed;

    You claim to be an independent because you are disgusted with the Democratic and Republican parties, since they both favor “Big Government”;

    You think that the one untouchable part of the federal budget is defense spending;

    You want a Senate supermajority to pass tax increases.

    You think the Tea party consists mainly of nice rational people and sympathize with their demands;

    You think that still more deregulation is called for even after its contribution to the crisis;

    You troll on liberal and moderate sites and try to pass off conservative ideas as moderate ones;

    Note: I distinguish ultra-conservatives from their nastier cousins, the far right, who add a tendency towards white supremacy and gay bashing, as well as a longing to put Christ back where he belongs, in the US government policies.

    • August 28, 2011 3:32 pm

      Bravo, Ian! That comment should receive a special New Moderate badge of honor. I commend you for your intellectual stamina in dealing with Dave’s voluminous posts; I just don’t have the time or energy (and I don’t know how he does it).

      I appreciate everyone’s contributions to the debate (I’m especially glad to see Sicklygreyfoot back in action), but I can’t respond individually to all the comments. Let me just sum up my position on some of the topics you guys have been discussing here:

      1. None of us is completely unbiased, even yours truly. (Yes, I confess a bias toward the middle class, liberal arts education, moderation, and a sense of national identity trumping special interests.) We all bring our own peculiar biases to the conversation because we see the world through our own unique lenses and filters. We just have to be perceptive enough to admit that we’re biased.

      2. Libertarians are NOT moderates. Ayn Rand was not a moderate. Rand Paul is not a moderate. People who are conservative on fiscal matters and liberal on social issues might believe that somehow it all “averages out” to a position in the center, but in fact they’re simply conservative on some issues and liberal on others. The traditional left-right spectrum doesn’t really have a place for libertarians; you’d have to use one of those square grids that plot your authoritarian vs. libertarian tendencies along with your political position.

      3. Government is not the enemy. We need police, infrastructure, national parks, the military, a safety net for the poor, and other services too numerous to mention. I think we can all agree on that much. Government has the potential to be the enemy when it tramples on individual rights or actively favors the plutocracy, but as long as we can vote it has the potential to be corrected.

      4. Moderates don’t need a hidebound ideology. One of our saving graces is our freedom from rigid second-hand opinions. We can sift through ideas from the right and left, approving some and rejecting others… but our ideas shouldn’t simply be a Frankenstein monster of stitched-together ideological body parts. For me, the essence of moderate thinking is to make sure that the government favors no one class of people over any other class of people. Think of an old-fashioned doctor’s scale with movable weights. Right now, even under Obama, the government is making it far too easy for the upper class to expand its dominion at the expense of the middle class. We need regulations and taxes that tip the scale back toward the center. In intellectual life, the scale has tilted left for decades; again, it needs to be tilted back to the center.

      5. When it becomes clear that nothing is tipping the scale back to the center, we moderates shouldn’t rule out becoming radicals to tip it back ourselves. It’s a difficult challenge, but it’s not impossible (or I wouldn’t be running this blog).

      6. A certain amount of internal squabbling is inevitable (and even fun, occasionally), but let’s not overdo it.

      That’s all I have to say for now (it’s enough, I think.)

      • Priscilla permalink
        August 28, 2011 4:12 pm

        Whoa, Rick. Ian’s post was adirected at me. And it was a bunch of nonsense. So, are you saying I really am in the wrong place here? That would surprise me, frankly, but maybe I am.

      • August 29, 2011 4:13 am

        You do not grasp how offensive Ian’s post is.
        It is one long ad hominem Attack.
        Truth is irrelevant. Facts are irrelevant, Either you reject the despised beliefs of the group or you are an “ultra-conservative” – just slightly better than pond scum, white-supremicists, nea-nazi’s – I guess no one here grasps that the Nazi’s were Socialists.

        Essentially it is hate speech.

        And I am done.

      • August 29, 2011 4:30 pm

        It seems as if I’m the only one who saw Ian’s post as an impersonal satirical dig at ultraconservatives in the same vein as Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck if…” Ian was attacking ideas, not people… no reason to take his post personally. And he was careful to differentiate between ultraconservatives and the fanatics to their right.

        For the record, I don’t think either Priscilla or Dave are ultraconservatives. (I like to think of Priscilla as a Peggy Noonan conservative with moderate tendencies; Dave is a libertarian, of course.) But both have defended positions that I might label ultraconservative, only because they overlap ideas that are espoused by today’s Tea Party right.

        I don’t have a lot of faith in labeling these days; it all seems to be relative. I think I’m an upstanding example of a moderate (albeit one who’s angry at the excesses of the priviligentsia and their refusal to surrender any of those privileges during a borderline depression). From a right-wing perspective I’m a leftist; from a left-wing perspective I’m a conservative. That, to me, is the mark (and the sad fate) of a true moderate.

        And yes, Dave, the Nazis were socialists and statists… but they were also extreme nationalists and cultural conservatives. So where do we put them on the left-right scale? As in your case, there’s simply no place for them on a linear spectrum… you need a grid or something more elaborate: maybe a cylinder, a sphere or a dodecahedron.

  18. sicklygreyfoot permalink
    August 28, 2011 3:11 pm

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear, for which I should be ascribed the blame. A lack of clarity is so often the bane of social and political discourse. But then, perhaps I was clear, and was simply not heeded. Not sure.

    Either way, I’ll make one last attempt on THIS particular thread.

    Priscilla,

    dhlii: “In reality the political system is self selecting for the wrong people.” You’re trying to tell me, Priscilla, that that doesn’t denote a desire to decapitate the system? That statement proceeds the pedantic view that government can only work properly if the “best people” are elected. And mirroring dhlii’s position that the political term “moderate” must be debated, so too would we need to debate “best.” What is dhlii’s “best?” What is yours, Priscilla? “But I meant that only for BIG government,” Libertarians might retort. Problem is, at the risk of sounding vaultingly relativisitic, that “big government” is ambiguous, too. When John Adams and Thomas Jefferson quarreled about the size of government, America’s was seemingly a tiny fraction of what it is now. Or WAS it? Jefferson’s purported desire for small government didn’t appear to bleed into his westward expansion policies, now did it? Nor his famous Embargo Act. Did Jefferson support Western Imperialism? Would he have sided with the Confederacy against Lincoln, as a major impetus for Southern secession was economic freedom? OF COURSE Libertarians have SOME good ideas; any political philosophy can. But even the most vilified and infamous historical figures have had SOME good ideas.

    dhlii,

    Firstly, NOW you say Libertarianism isn’t required. NOW you issue that practical governance doesn’t HAVE to entail strict adherence to an ideology. This, AFTER my (obvious) admonition of ideological fervor. But your previous posts showed no less than an inextricable relationship between your PARTICULAR ideas and the Libertarian philosophy, a philosophy that, by example of those posts, sees utterly free trade of materials as the foremost important aspect to governing a liberated society. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Fiscal responsibility should never be ignored, and any honest person agrees that it has been for sometime now, but social conflict, which exists apart from money, plays every bit the significant role in how our society governs itself. Irrational as human sentiment can be, it can’t and shouldn’t be ignored either.

    Secondly, you do not have to be an extreme left-wing liberal to see the impracticality and even paradox in opposing abortion rights and then cutting government aid to needy children—including education, health and foster care; to see that restricting law-abiding, tax-paying citizens from marrying based upon their choice of partner is wrong; to see the hypocrisy in tax-exempt religious institutions. But you also don’t have to be an extreme right-wing conservative to see that nations have borders and rules to cross those borders and therefore have the right to enforce those rules; to see that the social sciences (and even some hard sciences) have largely been subverted by overly simplistic ideology; to see that ethnocentrism provides no credible excuse for destructive behavior.

    Thirdly, I do indeed find some of your musings laudable. Most especially that our government is US, the people. We still have the power of choice (as I already said), and it is our responsibility to make the most informed and logical choices. But let’s not ignore reality here. Liberty opens up the possibility, nay, the LIKELIHOOD, of a significant amount of bad choices. And often when these choices are made, significant remedies become unrealistic. George Will, whom I typically admire, STILL thinks that the past sixty years can be swept away and we can return to the time before FDR’s New Deal. Just like that. Has said it for years. And this is the failure of rightists and libertarians alike to see, due to both choice AND inevitability, that America (and the world) is a completely different creature than that time they so nostalgically dream of. Did leftists go too far? Damn skippy they did. But to reacquire the self-sufficiency that our culture has largely lost requires a recognition of human complexity and A LOT of patience. And I’ve seen little evidence of such from current Libertarians.

    My initial post was to decry blind ideology, as I often do. If anyone seeks to fire back with “But your moderation is ideological too,” I’ll direct such individuals to my other posts depicting my adherence to particular issues and not to philosophies. Again, dhlii, this is why you DON’T ignore the particular candidates. In a free society, focus is everything. Sometimes moderation is NOT called for. A lot of the time it is, though. And since thus far the best place for logic and sensibility has been, for the most part, in politically moderate forums, that is where I’ll remain until it changes.

  19. Priscilla permalink
    August 28, 2011 3:56 pm

    sgf, I didn’t say that your moderation was ideological. I said that ideologues and moderates were not the same, and I think I said that pretty clearly. So please refrain from twisting my words to mean something that I did not say. Secondly, I was clearly responding to Ian who, quite frequently in his recent posts, has declared that he would ignore my comments, because I was an ultra-conservative partisan, despite the fact that I have never written anything that could be construed as such, except by an ideologue. He has continued by claiming that my “ultra-conservative” – and dhlii’s – views are keeping the “True Moderates” like him from important moderate discussions, and implied that I should stop commenting on a moderate site such as this.

    This all started over the Ryan plan discussion,and in point of fact, I have consistently and repeatedly stated that my admiration for Paul Ryan and his plan was specifically in regard to the political courage that it took to address the core problems of our economy in a detailed way (I believe that I used the term “the devil is in the details” at least 2 or 3 times, lol). I clearly called it a serious and reasonable proposal, similar to that of a moderate writer to whom Ian had linked, but one WHICH SHOULD BE MATCHED AND CHALLENGED BY THE DEMOCRATS (I used caps because there is no other way to emphasize a point in these comments, sorry for “yelling”). I do not think you can find anything that I wrote which would indicate that I am for ending any of the main entitlements, only that they need serious reform. I also indicated my admiration for the Simpson-Bowles commision report which was Obama’s own freakin’ commission, for heaven’s sake! So the accusation that I have been trying to drag the discussion to some extreme rightwing platform is not only untrue but ironic,
    and perhaps a little comical.

    Ian, I am afraid that your absolute insistence on labeling me as an ultra-conseervative (actually quite ridiculous, if you knew me and my background at all) and your repeated misrepresentation of my words has made it impossible for us to have any kind of rational debate. Literally, almost all of garbage that you itemized in your little “Priscilla is an ultra-conservative” checklist is flat out untrue: I never even mentioned David Stockman,I never said anything about deregulation (deregulation of what!?), I specifically said that Obama was NOT a socialist, I never said that conservative thinkers were intellectully superior, only somewhat less emotional, I never said that defense spending was untouchable etc etc. It’s all a bunch of crap, frankly. And please do not dare try and make me into one of Rick’s “critics,” simply because he and I disagree. We also agree…..occasionally 😉 And more importantly, I value his opinions enormously.

    So, Ian, you go right ahead and continue believing in what you believe in. I have said in the past that I admire your obvious intensity and willingness to “dive in” to a debate. And, by all means, disagree with what I write and come back with reasoned arguments of your own. But stop with the labeling, miscontruction of my words, and namecalling, ok. There is no place for that here.

    • Priscilla permalink
      August 28, 2011 4:08 pm

      In short….enough, already, can we get back to discussing posts and issues?

  20. Ian Robertson permalink
    August 28, 2011 4:37 pm

    Actually Priscilla, every word came from things you have said in your own posts, except for the one about income disparity favoring the rich being a GOOD thing, that was one of Dhlii’s older claims.

    You ought to read more of what you write.

    You asked me to read the Ryan plan, which I did, as well as David Stockman’s commentary, the OMB report, and the analysis of some housing think tank. You responded to my great efforts by telling me to please read Ryan and not third party liberals critics of it. I was quite amused that anyone would be so far to the right that they believe the David Stockman is a third party liberal critic.

    Watcha seem to want here on the New Moderate Priscilla is support for your wish cut in your taxes at a time when a great many people don’t even have a job and have lost their homes thanks to go-go banking that was protected by the GOP you constantly defend. The attitude is a pretty sad one in my book, my sympathy is not with you, its with the victims of conservative policies.

    Good luck to ya.

  21. Ian Robertson permalink
    August 28, 2011 5:47 pm

    I should add that my post WAS directed at both our resident conservatives, but Priscilla perceived it as directed at her. Mainly those were Priscilla’s comments but a few may be more related to dhlii. When I have the time I will pull down all their statements I based my post on. Oh, its garbage, its crap, but sadly its true. I’m tired of being tag teamed by Ryan planners on the New Moderate. I’m just sick to death of conservatives period.

    At the top of the page you will see Ricks founding statement: “Too long have we been tyranniz’d by the militant dogmatizing of Right and Left. Let the Rebellion of the Middle commence here!” Let the right and the left go the $#@% somewhere else, this is a moderate venue.

    I did a lot of really active things that were no small deal and had an impact to go after the left when I was in Grad school, I was sick to death of the left and I acted on it. As of now I am quite sick to death of the right and all the irresponsible destruction and tragedy they have caused and wish to continue with. The streets were filled with the homeless under Reagan and massive foreclosures have been the consequence and Bush II and insufficiently regulated go-go banking. Damn deregulation, Damn Wall street greed, the people who brought us down and then received their Billions in bonuses while we bailed them out and then in complete ingratitude consume the ultra-conservative rantings of the WSJ. Damn predatory lenders; Bush II made rewarded the billionaire founder of super-predator Ameriquest with an ambassadorship, Netherlands I believe. Yes the ‘invisible hand” of Adam Smithites is at work, its continually redistributing from the poor to the rich, and I would like to get my hands on it.

    Conservatives, ultra-conservatives, and the far right have appeared in every nook and cranny of the online space and I am not going to just quietly pretend that I cannot tell Sh%# from Shinola. Moderate and Idiot both end with the t sound, but the resemblance stops there.

    • May 30, 2012 10:29 pm

      I used to work every summer at a chrediln’s camp as animator and I really loved it…so much fun, great friends, even greater memories:)I wish I was a couple years younger and I could continue doing it!

  22. Priscilla permalink
    August 28, 2011 11:02 pm

    I look forward to your quoting me,chapter and verse, on things that I never wrote :).

    If you find that, in fact, you have mischaracterized and misquoted me, I am sure that you will acknowledge that

    • Priscilla permalink
      August 29, 2011 10:08 am

      Ian, It seems that you want me to self-identify as a conservative, so that you can dismiss my opinions as those of a right wing extremist. Ok, then. We can do that…but first:

      Simply being conservative does not warrant being called an extremist, just as being a liberal does not warrant being called an left wing radical. And, for that matter, being a libertarian does not necessarily warrant being called anti-government.

      In any case, do I have conservative opinions? Absolutely. As I get older, I lean further right, especially when it comes to fiscal issues. And I clearly lean further right than you do. So, if it will make you happy to have me self-identify as a “moderate conservative,” well, then, ok, you’ve got it.

      But, good heavens man, does that mean that I condone “Wall street greed, the people who brought us down and then received their Billions in bonuses while we bailed them out”? Absolutely not. I’m as angry as you are about that. I don’t restrict my anger to one political party, because I think that both are at fault, and that the solutions are more complicated than raising taxes on those greedy bastards. Because, under our current system, they wouldn’t pay them anyway.

      I guess maybe I see this blog as more of a forum for exploring what the moderate position might be and why, the better to choose candidates and agendas to support. You appear to see it more as an activist site for those who already have a clear agenda and are looking to strategize ways to pursue it. I kinda think it could be both, as long as we are all clear on why we are here.

      • Ian Robertson permalink
        August 29, 2011 11:11 am

        Priscilla,

        I’m really not trying to be rude to either you or dhlii, and I hope I have not crossed any line. If so, I apologise.

        You self identified already, Personally, I think you are a lot more conservative than you realize. As well, I think you may be a bit naive, (like most people and like I was a month or so ago before I started digging) as to how radical the GOP and the right have gotten and how huge a change we may face if they get their hands on total power after the election. They may destroy quite of lot of our institutions from the new deal.

        My opinions are only my own (although Rick and I do seem to have nearly an exact fit of somewhat left of center, but still moderate, anger).

        I put the time in that I do here because I strongly believe that only a totally new political awareness on the part of intelligent and informed moderates can save us from the partisans. I have high hopes that moderates are going to wake up and form a coalition and I have a dream that sites like this may be able to help catalyze that.

        The endless shifting of the discussion here to what I see as the radically conservative and even right wing agenda of the tea party seems to me like a great diversion, albeit one that has been very educational for me. I’d really wish we could shift from conservative-libertarian turf back to moderate turf. thats what I’ve been trying to say.

        Its awfully easy for me to criticize the right, the posts write themselves, what is much much harder to do is to formulate the moderate approach. Every distraction just makes this that much harder.

  23. sicklygreyfoot permalink
    August 30, 2011 5:24 pm

    I said my last post’d be my last on this thread, but I must use what I promise will be THE last one to apologize to Priscilla.

    You had referenced the “decapitation of our system,” Priscilla, and that was an image I had used in my first post. I hadn’t seen that metaphor in Ian’s posts, but perhaps it was there and I had missed it. While I hold to my position in the response, your intentions were indeed spelled out in your posts, and the false assumptions were mine.

    My bad.

    • Priscilla permalink
      August 31, 2011 6:45 pm

      No problem, sgf…. Thanks.

  24. November 6, 2011 8:28 am

    Hi!
    Re-twit you post: to my @abroujbq twitter

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