October 09, 2003

California's De-Alignment

Christopher Hitchens once said the Washington Post is a great newspaper because you never know on which page youíll find the front-page story.

Its opinion page is also unpredictable. Today a conservative columnist boos Arnold Schwarzenegger, but a liberal columnist likes him.

Here is George Will:

[T]his exercise in "direct democracy" -- precisely what America's Founders devised institutions to prevent -- has ended with voters full of self-pity and indignationÖ.
Oh lighten up, Will. This is America. Sneering about democracy may be acceptable to a certain kind of conservative, but itís also un-American. This ainít the 18th Century, baby. So what if the Founding Fathers saw direct-democracy as ďmob rule.Ē Brilliant and radical and visionary as they were, they didnít allow us to elect our own senators, they refused the rights of women to vote at all, and they kept African slaves in their chains. They are not the final authorities on democracy. The word may make you itch, but we have progressed since then.
The odor [emphasis mine] of what some so-called conservatives were indispensable to producing will eventually arouse them from their swoons over Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In other words, citizen activism smells. It smells bad to George Will even when it defeats his crappy opponents. At least he is sincere in his loathing.
Then they can inventory the damage they have done by seizing an office that just 11 months ago they proved incapable of winning in a proper election under ideal conditions.
There is a reason conservatives canít win a proper election in California. Itís an overwhelmingly liberal state, and the local Republican Party wallows in right-wing kookery. No moderate can win the primary, so no Republican is electable.

But enough with George Will. His liberal colleague Richard Cohen gets it. Same paper, same page, same day.

As with Ronald Reagan before him [Arnold], I may abhor some of his policies but I can't help liking the guy.

This is the most valuable quality a politician can have nowadays -- sheer likability -- and it is one that Gray Davis sorely lacks. The more Davis campaigned -- and the more he pandered to his liberal base -- the more he cemented antipathy. He would have done better just staying in bed. He looked dour, a scold -- no fun. Californians canceled his show.

Indeed they did, just as I cancelled my fisking of George Will. And for the exact same reason.

I like Arnold, too. It isn't a left versus right deal. Roughly half of Californiaís Republicans voted against him, and roughly half the Democrats voted for him. Left-wing and right-wing reactionaries are united in their disgust, and the moderates of both sides are united in their support.

Richard Cohen is right. This is about personality at least as much as it's about ideas. Maybe thatís shallow, but itís also reality. The divide here is partly between those who know how to lighten up, and those who donít. Between those who have a sense of humor and cool, and those who would rather heckle and scowl and complain. Between those who support what works, and those who would rather martyr themselves on the cross again.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 9, 2003 07:25 PM
Comments

It is a question of staying in order. New factions entering the fray are ill behaved, make glaring mistakes, and are easily manipulated by the pros. The old factions show up reliably, make consistent deals, and are identifiable. Please note that this has nothing to do with the value of the ideas presented or the capacity of the team to produce results.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at October 9, 2003 10:20 PM

Michael,

I know about a half dozen democrats who voted like I did; no on the recall and yes to Arnold.

While Jefferson may have had a point about a little revolution being a good thing every now and then, thats not why we voted as we did.

Our votes were split into three parts, a mild protest against the recall, a repudiation of the hacks that run the California democratic party and a vote for hope that an outsider can break the structural straightjacket that is the reality of governance in California.

Posted by: Matthew King at October 9, 2003 10:51 PM

George Will always did have a rod up his butt.

Posted by: Yehudit at October 10, 2003 01:31 AM

Michael,

but it’s also un-American

You better not accuse people of being un-American. That would be uncivil and you might have to ban yourself from your own blog!

Posted by: HA at October 10, 2003 04:45 AM

Michael,

Speaking of uncivility, you take the following swipe at conservative Christians in your link to Patrick Laswell:

Between those who support what works, and those who would rather martyr themselves on the cross again.

By linking to him, I can only assume you endorse his view. But take a moment to consider this simply stunning and self-contradicting statement by Patrick:

Pushing them [ed. conservative Christians] out of politics is striking a blow for liberty and rational liberalism everywhere.

Please explain to me how pushing anybody out of politics is striking a blow for liberty? And Patrick has the balls to call anybody else a nutbar? You can't possibly defend Patrick's statement can you? The best you could achieve is that he didn't really mean what he explicitly stated. If you ask me, he passionately means what he said. Nevermind that this liberal republic was founded by people who were deeply religious.

Here is a counter-opinion in case you are interested. I suspect Dennis Prager's opinions don't go down easily with you, but he makes a good point that is worth considering:

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/dp20031007.shtml

Here is one point from Prager's article:

Virtually all the non-religious supporters of President Bush's war on the Islamist threat to liberty have a deep faith in the United States and in its mission to preserve liberty.

So here we have Prager saying that you don't have to be religious to believe in liberty. But then you have Laswell saying that you can't achieve liberty without marginalizing conservative Christians. So which side recognizes the humanity of the other? Which side is the nutbar?

I think your shot at George Will is a bulls-eye. But your swipe at conservative christians was a gratuitous effort to demonstrate to the left that you haven't completely sold out to Bushitler.

Posted by: HA at October 10, 2003 05:51 AM

But your swipe at conservative christians was a gratuitous effort to demonstrate to the left that you haven't completely sold out to Bushitler.

Of course he hasn't sold out to the Bushies - he's already sold himself to Likud! You can only be a part of one conspiracy at a time; otherwise, you cause all sorts of problems with payroll.

Posted by: George at October 10, 2003 06:09 AM

You really are a fool micheal if you think that people have progressed to the point that democracy CAN'T be a danger. Human beings are still human beings, and the mob can be vicious.

That being said I think that populism and democracy can be a good thing on a case by case basis, but your slam of Mr. Will of being anti-"progressive" shows an utopian arrogence that belogs in the last bloody-tearful century.

You have a lot to understand about conservatives if you truly want to be a centrist. I would suggest actually reading and understanding their source materials (Kirk, Burke, etc) before dismissing their points outright.

Posted by: Mr. Conservative at October 10, 2003 06:13 AM

Michael,

I think you skewed your numbers a little on the voting patterns for Arnold.

According to exit poll data I've seen, here is the breakdown -

Of those who call themselves "Very Conservative":
Arnold - 65% -

Of those who call themselves "Somewhat Liberal":
Arnold - 24%
McClintock - 7%

Demographically, it works out roughly the same way - assuming the usual Republican/Democratic split among blacks and hispanics.

Black:
Arnold - 17%
McClintock - 6%

Hispanic -
Arnold - 32%
McClintock - 9%

I got this data from a "spin" article on the Wall Street Journal editorial page - which reached its own conclusions, but I'm assuming the raw numbers aren't lies. Do you have reason to believe they are?

If the data is real, then your 50-50 split argument is rather off.

I've been more interested in the Arnold story from a "how it changes the parties" perspective. The Republicans contain several factions - the moralizers, the free market libertarians, the big plutocrats. George W has a smattering of all three groups in his administration - he wants to win, doesn't he?

The democrats also have their factions: civil libertarians, progressive socialists, environmentalists.

It would be my guess that Arnold took a majority of Republicans leaving many pure moralists behind, plus peeled off the civil liberties types from the Democrats. The progressive socialists couldn't vote for Arnold any more than the moralizers could.

I think that the future of American politics could possibly rearrange these factions, with one of these parties ending up with a mix of some from each party. When that happens, we will still have parties and they will still be powerfull - the nature of our voting rules dictate that - but the debate of a what it means to be 'conservative' or a 'liberal' may change.

James

Posted by: James Becker at October 10, 2003 06:41 AM

Frankly, I agree with George Will on this one. Michael, on foreign policy matters you're often right on the mark. In this case, I didn't see you fisking anything; instead, you were just sniping at his wording.

My interpretation of Will's central arguments is:

  1. Pro-recall Republicans were motivated primarily by a desire to elect a Republican governor, rather than as a response to any exceptional emergency. Conservatives rejoicing over Schwarzenegger have lost sight of the fact that for most people his main attractions are that he looks great on TV and doesn't seem to be a conservative.
  2. The recall could also, as a political tactic, become a regular weapon in the arsenal of both parties. The moment a politician takes an unpopular stand or asks people to endure brief hardship for a larger good, he'll face a recall effort. [To that I'd add, as the novelty of recalls fades, you'll see voter turnout drop drastically, which could lead to radicalized candidates who are friendly to their base.]
  3. The recall fuels democratic attacks on the President's legitimacy. [I'm not sure if I buy this one, either. Most people who think Bush somehow faked the election are hard-line liberals unlikely to have ever voted for him.]
  4. While Republicans think a sitting governor will help Bush win California in 2004, Will finds this unlikely.
  5. Will feels that California's crisis cannot be solved by eliminating 'waste, fraud and abuse'. Instead, a hard spending vs taxes question has to be tackled. Davis created the situation by spending temporary dot com revenues on permanent, continuing expansions of government. So with the dot-com era over, do they cancel the spending? Or try to find that revenue somewhere else?
  6. Gov. Schwarzenegger's only two budgetary specifics are to repeal the 4 billion dollar car tax, and to no cut education (a massive part of the budget). Will sees this as impossible: in other words, taking a politician that promised the impossible (Davis) and couldn't deliver and replacing him with another from the other party (Schwarzenegger), who is doing the same thing.
  7. In other words, normally, representative democracy forces people to make realistic choices and tradeoffs, because they are stuck with whomever they elect. With the recall, we now have a system to take any politician making a hard choice and replace him, midstream, with someone who promises the moon.
  8. Oh, and this highlights the hypocrisy of conservatives who support Schwarzenegger despite the groping allegations, but said that 'character counts' in 1992 and 1996. [To that I'd add it shows liberal hypocrisy, too, but Will is scolding conservatives in this article.]
To me, this seems to pretty much summarize the problems with the recall. His point about direct democracy is more oblique than in other articles he has written, so when he talks about 'odor', I think he's just talking about the tone of debate.

Overall, what's not to like about this article? It's mainly scolding California conservatives who Will thinks are deluding themselves. But it also provides a peek at just how difficult the budgetary crisis really is.

What alarms me is that california still hasn't grokked the fiscal emergency. That they recalled Davis mainly because he's boring and unlikeable. That they elected Schwarzenegger mainly because he sounds good on TV.

Look, I like having enteraining, likeable politicians on my TV. But I'd trade it in a second for character, leadership, good knowledge of the issues, and sound judgement about policy. Personality gets you elected. It is useful when you're drumming up popular support for your agenda. That's it.

If I want to be entertained, I'll watch Sports Night. If I want good policy, I'll read the Economist. It is deadly to confuse the two.

Posted by: Rob at October 10, 2003 07:08 AM

I like Arnold, too. It isn't a left versus right deal. Roughly half of California’s Republicans voted against him, and roughly half the Democrats voted for him. Left-wing and right-wing reactionaries are united in their disgust, and the moderates of both sides are united in their support.

I'm not sure I fit into any of your categories here, Michael. I like to think of myself as a non-scowling moderate-left kind of guy can lighten up with the best of them. But had I lived in California, even I would have had a problem voting for a guy who promises to not raise taxes, to cut the car tax, to improve public education and to balance the state budget, all the while proclaiming that nobody really know what's going on in the budget anyway.

Still I admit it will be fun in a way to see how Arnold deals with all this-- probably more so if you're not a Californian.

Posted by: Gene at October 10, 2003 07:28 AM

Mike - I like Arnold too. But aren't you concerned he has zilch, zero, nada relevant experience? How would you feel if, say, Bruce springsteen ran for governor of Jersey? At the very least, it should raise the question of who Arnold's advisors will be, since they will be running the show.

Posted by: Markus Rose at October 10, 2003 08:15 AM

James: Okay, thanks for clearing up the polling data.

HA: Calm down about Patrick. He's not an anti-Christian bigot. He himself is a Christian.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 10, 2003 09:16 AM

HA wrote:

Please explain to me how pushing anybody out of politics is striking a blow for liberty? And Patrick has the balls to call anybody else a nutbar? You can't possibly defend Patrick's statement can you?

I'll defend it. Lasswell's subject was that Arnold owed nothing to the Christian right. Clearly, when Lasswell wrote "pushing them out of politics," he did not mean denying anybody the right to vote, he meant that Arnold doesn't have to give the nutbar wing any political power in his administration.

Since many of the nutbars want to use the government to regulate my personal life (I'll refrain from oral sex jokes), then yes, keeping them from taking control is absolutely a blow for liberty and rational liberalism.

Now, if Patrick meant that any Christian who is "conservative" (whatever that means) is a nutbar, he's going way overboard. But I assume he knows there's a big difference between conservatives who happen to be Christians and the religious nuts who think everything will be okay if only we stop teaching evolution.

Posted by: Oberon at October 10, 2003 09:48 AM

The "Experience" argument means nothing. Or maybe everything.

Gray Davis had 'experience' and look what that got California--ergo Bustamante and McClintock.

The 'experience' argument doesn't fly because it caters to all those frigging gerrymandered incumbents.

However, Arnold has the experience of a successful immigrant to go on---I'm willing to bet that is more 'relevant' now.

Posted by: eric at October 10, 2003 10:31 AM

I second James Becker. Michael, based on this link...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/replacementballotexitpoll.html

...no less than 70% of Republicans voted for Arnold.

I do agree that the CA Republican Party tilts hard to the right. What I disagree with is that the state generally is overwhelmingly liberal. Look at numbers on political ideology within the poll: it's pretty much split up into liberal, conservative and moderate thirds.

Yes, this is only one poll, and for that matter, it's a poll based on outrageously unusual circumstances (i.e. the recall). And yes, the state is home to some of the major U.S. epicenters of liberalism (San Francisco, Berkeley).

But from what I'm told, other exit polls illustrate pretty much the same numbers.

The point is that Arnold is indicative of what it takes for either party to win not just California, but the presidency: successfully reaching out to centrists. Dean is doing a bang-up job of reaching out to hard-core leftists (peaceniks and gays, as Dick Morris puts it), which largely amounts to preaching to the choir.

And if Dean isn't stupid (I don't believe he is), you can expect him to break to the right sometime in March or April. The anti-war college kids are going to howl in anguish, but that's what it will take for Dean to have a prayer of winning.

Posted by: Ryan at October 10, 2003 10:47 AM

Say what you please Will and the rest. The "direct-democracy" option operated just as it should--the record 70% turnout says so. It's a political option which functions very like the relief valve on a steam boiler, and for the same reason. Rarely does it blow but always of necessity.

Posted by: Stephen at October 10, 2003 12:34 PM

Oberon,

Your interpretation is what I had in mind. The theocracy minded christians have locked up the process for rational dissent in California and elsewhere. I have close family friends in California who are both christian and nutbar leftists. I have many close personal friends in California who are both christian and intelligently moderate. I have close family in California who are both christian and uncomfortably far right. Oddly enough, Arnold owes nothing to the nutbar christian right or left.

HA,

I don't know. I could easily see isolating Islamic Fundamentalists, former dictators, violent anarchists, absolute capitalists, royalists, theocrats of all stripes, and many incumbent Senators from the democratic process as striking a blow for liberty. If you cannot, perhaps your vision of democracy could use a touch of practicality instead of an endless sea of illusory plattitudes.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at October 10, 2003 12:54 PM

Oberon,

Thank you for spelling my name correctly. It seems such a small thing, but it implies at least some concern for who I am.

Michael,

Interesting to be seen as anti-christian. That might cause some of my nutbar pagan acquaintences to think...if anything can.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at October 10, 2003 01:30 PM

Michael,
so it's all about personality, is it? Christ, that ain't gonna help California get out of the horrible mess it's in. Will is right; the recall, not direct representation, destroyed legitimate governance. And Ah-nold represents the worst choice, Republican or Democrat, to lead that state out of its hole. see here

Posted by: Dan at October 10, 2003 01:34 PM

Dan,

No, it's not all about personality. It's partly about that. And I mean voter personality as well as Arnold's.

Same goes for Clinton and Bush. People like or dislike them for who they are as much as for what they believe.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 10, 2003 01:50 PM

Democracy means the people ruling (i.e. people making laws).

A Republic means the Rule of Law (people can make new laws but they cannot easily overturn long and established laws)

The California Recall was the fruit of the Republic philosophy, not of any 'Democracy'. The California constitution allows a recall effort.

George Will doesn't make this distinction which is why he is wrong.

Michael, if people read their federalist papers, their Constitutional Debate, and the same works the framers did (like Montesquieu), there would be much more understanding on this subject then the bumper sticker arguments that surround it.

Sneering at Democracy is 'un-american'? Michael, I'm sorry if this offends you, but this is a very stupid comment. It is the Rule of Law that makes America work, not this pseudo-religion of 'Democracy'.

It is the Republic that freed the slaves, it is Democracy that put them in chains.

It is the Republic that extended voting rights to all people, including women. It was Democracy that put barriers to people to vote.

It is the Republic that businesses and inventors can develop and prosper knowing that property and freedom are secure. It is Democracy that causes the riots, the rebellions, and the unsecurity of property as found in many third world countries.

It is the Republic that keeps no man from declaring himself 'king'. It is the Democracy that keeps wanting some type of 'king'.

It is the Republic that keeps elections free and valid. It is Democracy that turns elections into wild courtroom battles.

It is the Republic that keeps highly populous states like California, New York, and Texas from telling low populous states like Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho of how to run their state (and vice versa!).

It is the Republic that will make Iraq free and prosperous with a Constitution and Rule of Law, it is Democracy that would degenerate Iraq into a world of factions.

Democracy, throughout history, does not last. Michael, saying that 'this isn't the 18th century anymore' is missing the forest for the trees.

UNDENIABLE: The framers were better read, had a better grasp of history, could write better, definately had more courage, then any blog writer or politician today. They are the MEN that kept America from repeating the errors of Europe.

Shakespeare has a theme in that when his characters condemn, they end up condemning themselves. This is true with Human Nature. Often, the best way to identify someone is not what he/she praises but what he/she condemns.

The 'Seperation between Church and State' is valid BOTH ways. We know full well that the Church should not operate as a state. But do not forget that there is real and present danger in the state of becoming a church.

The president becomes a pope, the senators bishops, the congressmen priests, the constitution and Supreme Court cases become 'Holy Scripture', JFK, Kennedy, Lincoln become saintly 'martyrs', election day becomes a holy day of obligation, 'dialogue' and voting become sacraments, and the capitols become chapels of democracy.

It is this THEOCRATIC sense of Democracy that seriously undermines the Rule of Law.

To the contrary, DEMOCRACY is what is unamerican along with KINGS, OLIGARCHIES, and so on. Above every poiltician and citizen hangs the Rule of Law which keeps them in check. No one in America MAKES the law (like a King, Democracy, or Oligarchy would), no one can simply overturn the Constitution and her amendments. However, a process exists for change to occur.

If this is not to enough to persuade you of the superiority of a Rule of Law to any theocratic 'Democracy', recall the most infamous case of Democracy. Hear the choice of Pontius Pilate choosing Democracy before the Rule of Law. Hear the chants of Democracy in the shouts of, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

Posted by: Jonathan at October 10, 2003 01:58 PM

Jonathan,

Democracy and Republicanism are not mutually exclusive, but you write as though they are.

It is the Republic that extended voting rights to all people, including women. It was Democracy that put barriers to people to vote.

Sorry, but that doesn't make a bit of sense. Democracy and voting barriers are mutually exclusive.

It is the Republic that keeps no man from declaring himself 'king'. It is the Democracy that keeps wanting some type of 'king'.

Here you are confusing democracy with monarchy.

It is the Republic that keeps highly populous states like California, New York, and Texas from telling low populous states like Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho of how to run their state (and vice versa!).

Here you are confusing Republicanism with Federalism.

It is the Republic that will make Iraq free and prosperous with a Constitution and Rule of Law, it is Democracy that would degenerate Iraq into a world of factions.

War and liberation will make Iraq free, not some abstract concept called "the Republic." Democracy will not cause Iraqi factionalism. Iraq is already factionalized, yet has never been democratic.

Democracy, throughout history, does not last.

It is dictatorships which do not last. Democracy is the only long-term stable form of government in the modern world because it provides the mechanism for "regime change" without war or revolution.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 10, 2003 02:19 PM

Fish. Barrel. Bang.

Posted by: Van der Leun at October 10, 2003 02:30 PM

[Aside to Jonathan: CapsLock is not your friend.]

I'm glad to see Will taking a few hits here. All you need to know about him is that he is determined to keep the stuffed-shirt franchises of America alive into the 22nd century.

He's have new ideas but then he'd have to learn to write all over again.

He's one of these folks who has got his chip set to Read Only.

Posted by: Van der Leun at October 10, 2003 02:33 PM

He's one of these folks who has got his chip set to Read Only.

Ha!

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 10, 2003 02:40 PM

Michael Totten interprets George Will as saying: "... citizen activism smells. It smells bad to George Will even when it defeats his crappy opponents. At least he is sincere in his loathing."

Direct democracy and citizen activism are two very different things.

I was amused to read about the surprise and concern of some who noted that most of the recall petition-gatherers were paid. Paid. Why, can you imagine?

Californians, wise up: just about every petition you've ever signed was being held out to you by someone making between 25 cents and 75 cents per signature. I know, because I actually supported myself briefly in this line of work. "Direct democracy"? Oh, boy -- is this ever taking political input from the wrong end of the body politic. When I was gathering signatures, I was appalled at how ignorant of the issues the average signer was. Of course, I was delighted to converse with intelligent people I met this way, about all sides of the issue at hand. But there was one problem with that: while I was engaged in what felt like meaningful discourse, dozens of potential signature-gathering "direct democracy" piecework opportunities were streaming past me, to and from the supermarket entrance.

Real citizen activism, including such tedious and unfashionable practices as "thinking for more than 10 seconds about an issue before making up your mind" ... now that's something to contemplate. But it is not necessarily what's being reflected when someone applies ink to a petition, or punches a chad in a recall election. Not if California is any guide. Quite the contrary, I believe.

Posted by: Michael Turner at October 10, 2003 07:29 PM

[i]It is dictatorships which do not last. Democracy is the only long-term stable form of government in the modern world because it provides the mechanism for "regime change" without war or revolution.[/i]

Michael, I don't believe you understand what a Democracy is or a Republic. You are using it in a floaty abstract way. The above is appropriate for 3rd graders, not adults. These are the 'bumper sticker' sayings I keep hearing.

You are making the George Will mistake of not differentiating betwen the LAW and ELECTED OFFICIALS. We elect new representatives at each election. We do NOT recreate the government.

To recreate the government is not replacing the president or a senator or a congressman. Those are people. No, the government is the system, the Constitution. We are still in the same government (although modified) as was created centuries ago.

Let us define Democracy right now. Democracy is rule of the people, in other words, the law being formed and made directly by the people.

Oligarchy, of course, is a few. Monarchy is one person creating law. ("I am the state".)

Democracy places people above and beyond law. People easily transform and alter law. [i]In a Democracy, there is no supreme law.[/i]

A Republic already has a system in place. Laws can be altered but there is a process and it is not easily done. In a Republic, the law is above and beyond the people. If Americans wanted to throw out the Constitution, well, it would take much much more then a mere majority.

Let us say an election occurred and the results are very close. The losing side demands, under the religious zealotry known as [i]democracy[/i], that improperly done votes and such be counted (to heck with any election law). And the two parties go to court.

It is the notion of Democracy that turns such an election into disarray because Democracy does not hold the Rule of Law as its absolute. By holding people's will as the absolute, hell breaks loose because there are infinite ways to define a 'person's will'.

In a Republic, the Rule of Law is enforced. You cannot change the rules in the middle of the game.

This is exactly what occurred in Florida in 2000. The Florida Supreme Court, embraced the democracy zealotry and ignored election law, was rightly spanked by the Supreme Court.

Free elections are not a panacea. They must be founded on solid rule of law due to close elections and other squabbles. If California's election was close, it would have gone to the courts where people would, with religious fever, cry out that someone's vote, somewhere, somehow wasn't counted or was thrown out because it was done improperly.

[i]Sorry, but that doesn't make a bit of sense. Democracy and voting barriers are mutually exclusive.[/i]

It makes perfect sense. It was the Republic Rule of Law that established equality in law and in voting.

Michael, you are talking of Democracy in an abstract 'religious' sense. You do not speak of Democracy as a government but as a social crusade. If you're going to do that, use the word [i]freedom[/i] or [i]liberty[/i], when you use [i]democracy[/i] you just look silly.

[i]Here you are confusing democracy with monarchy.[/i]

Michael, if the people determine All Law, and if there is a successful general that everyone loves, what is to stop him from becoming king?

In a Republic, the Rule of Law forbids such an action. But in Democracy, people are above law and can easily remake it.

An example is Schwarzenegger. He cannot become President unless we change the Constitution.

Democracy would say, "To hell with that. We, the people, demand it and to hell with any law."

This is often why Democracy doesn't last long. I believe Aristotle says it quickly turns into oligarchy or monarchy. I know John Adams says "Democracies waste and exhaust themselves." Madison's Federalist 10 wasn't too kind with Democracy either.

[i]Here you are confusing Republicanism with Federalism.[/i]

You need to get out of looking at things in 'atmospheres'. The point is saying that, because there is no Rule of Law, the people can do whatever they want.

If there was a world government, Indians and Chinese would rule over us all. It is the same idea.

This is why I think it was grossly wrong to dismiss the founders as being 'products of the 18th century'. These men dealt with hard ideas. It is like your descendants dismissing all your essays because, "Michael Totten lived in the TWENTY FIRST century. Who cares what he wrote?" People who generally change the world have the habit of NOT being products of their environment.

[i]War and liberation will make Iraq free, not some abstract concept called "the Republic." Democracy will not cause Iraqi factionalism. Iraq is already factionalized, yet has never been democratic.[/i]

Come on, Michael, you know you heard the same media 'chatter' as I did that generally says: 'One good thing about Saddam was that he kept Iraq united. Now with Saddam gone, everything will fall apart! No!' (followed by more media temper tantrums)

Look up what the Bush Administration is doing in Iraq. Their priority is not to set up 'free elections', anyone can do that. The priority is to create a Rule of Law of some sort. The United States and England insist to the UN that the UN can take no direction until an Iraq Constitution is formed.

The Rule of Law is very 'precise', nothing like the 'abstraction' you speak of. [i]Democracy[/i] is the abstraction. People speak of Democracy in some type of religious tone, [i]as if they mean Democracy and society are the same.[/i]

They are not. To say that government and society are one is un-american. Proof? Read the very first line of Thomas Paine's [i]Common Sense[/i].

I don't see why you make such a big fuss over acknoledging that our government is a Republic, not a Democracy (it obviously has democratic parts). The only way I can see it is if you view Democracy in the religious sense as many see it. The reaction I get sometimes is very similiar as if I offended their religion!

History is against you. The framers all agree with me.

The Constitution is against you. The Constitutional Debate slammed Democracy in ways I've never seen.

The judges are against you. Say to a judge, "The majority of people support me!" and watch him laugh.

Democracy creates the most stable governments? Well, modern governments are only 150 years old and most of them are English speaking countries. What are they going to fight about, their accents? But Democracy imposes itself on Natural Society, politicizing it out of existence. Speech codes (no more male pronouns!), thought codes, destabilizing massive amounts of capital, these are all products of Democracy.

The evil in the world is not dictators. The evil in the world are intellectuals who try to recreat society. Just as a gardener uses shears or hooks to alter his plants, so does an intellectual reach for laws, regulations, and such. Communism, Nazism, practically every error in all the nations have the root of intellectuals recreating society. This was why Thomas Paine wrote so much on that government and society are seperate. This was the soul and substance of the American Independence.

Might we say the pledge together?

"I pledge allegience, to the American flag of the United States of America. And for the [i]Republic[/i] for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisable, with liberty and Justice for all."

Posted by: Jonathan at October 10, 2003 08:11 PM

Jonathan,

I knew already that a certain faction of the right believes democracy equals the mob. Thanks for the reminder.

Sigh. I'll say it again. Democracy and Republicanism are not mutually exclusive. The United States is a democratic Republic.

From www.dictionary.com

democracy

1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.

2. A political or social unit that has such a government.

3. The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.

4. Majority rule.

5. The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.

1, 2, 3, and 5 apply perfectly to the United States. 4 applies, also, but is limited by the Rule of Law and the Republican system.

Fair enough?

If not, we'll add this.

Republic

1. a) A political order whose head of state is not a monarch and in modern times is usually a president.

b) A nation that has such a political order.

2. a) A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them.

b) A nation that has such a political order.

Number 1 applies to the Baathist state of Iraq, as well as to the United States. It is a weak definition. (Saddam was the "president," but not a hereditary king.)

Number 2 applies to the United States, and fits nicely with the definition of democracy. See above.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 10, 2003 11:48 PM

James Becker,

progressive socialists

What the hell is a "progressive" socialist? Socialism is a regressive, statist anti-Liberal philosophy. There is nothing progressive about socialism. Your phrase makes a fine oxymoron though.

Posted by: HA at October 11, 2003 08:24 AM

Michael,

Calm down about Patrick. He's not an anti-Christian bigot.

I didn't accuse him of being anti-Christian. I accused him of using uncivil and inflammatory rhetoric. And I contrasted his rhetoric with Prager's to illustrate the point. I thought the left were masters of subtety and nuance. Perhaps I give you too much credit.

The left cries for civility while characterizing the right as McArthyists, theocrats, racists and sexists. Where is the civility?

I'm not calling for the left to tone down its rhetoric. I would like them to define what they mean by these terms and who these terms apply to. Right now, they use these terms as blanket smears against anyone they disagree with. I have no proglem with this rhetoric if it is accurate. But when used as a blanket condemnation, it is mere demagoguery.

Posted by: HA at October 11, 2003 08:40 AM

Patrick,

If you cannot, perhaps your vision of democracy could use a touch of practicality instead of an endless sea of illusory plattitudes.

Let's see if we can nail your "illusory" position down a little more. Here is a list of conservative Christians roughly in order of increasing conservatism:

Andrew Sullivan
George Bush
Rick Santorum
Franklin Graham
Pat Robertson

Which one of these individuals marks the boundary between acceptable conservatism and dangerous theocracy? Based on the boundary you demarcate, what proportion of the electorate do you deem must be marginalized to safeguard liberty?

Now if you're worried about liberty, you should take a hard look at left's positions.

First we have flagrant abuses of private property rights:

http://www.reason.com/0302/fe.ss.wrecking.shtml
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/09/26/60minutes/main575343.shtml

Next we have flagrant abuses of free speech:

http://www.thefire.org/index.php

Next we have flagrant abuses of equal protection:

http://www.cfif.org/htdocs/legal_issues/legal_updates/us_supreme_court/equal_protection_clause.htm

Next we have flagrant abuses of gun rights:

http://www.saf.org/

So which side is a threat to liberty, the right or left?

Maybe you would prefer I be more "illusory."

Posted by: HA at October 11, 2003 09:06 AM

Jonathan,

Excellent arguments all.

Another advantage of our federal republican system is that it allows peaceful coexistance and common cause among otherwise incompatible outlooks. The moral values prevelant in Alabama are completely different from those in Oregon. The conservative values of Alabama should not be imposed on Oregon, and the libertine values of Oregon should not be imposed on Alabama.

The greatest danger to liberty is not that the conservative values of Alabama will be imposed nationwide. There is no chance of that. The greatest danger to liberty is that the secular nihilists will impose their agenda nationwide. We are well down that road.

The only time the federal government should interfere in states rights is when the states fail to protect individual rights or fail to enforce the law. This was the case during the civil rights era and it was the case in Florida in 2000.

Posted by: HA at October 11, 2003 09:38 AM

HA,

Good post. I guess I think both the left and right can be a threat. The eminent domain issue is not left/right, but greed driven.

Also the right will continue to mess with progressive individual rights when they conflict with traditional 'family values'.

If you want to see where we may be headed regarding the 2nd amendment and the 9th Circuit, look to England, where people are arrested for atempting to defend themselves with such mundane items as umbrellas.

http://daddywarblogs.blogspot.com/2003_10_01_daddywarblogs_archive.html#106536982488605959

"The most obvious issue is, of course, self-defence. The right of self-defence - arguably the most important of all our rights, since upon it they all ultimately depend - has been progressively eroded over the years, tipping the balance of power ever more toward would-be muggers, rapists and burglars."

Posted by: jdwill at October 11, 2003 10:30 AM

HA,

As much as I dislike the culture at the State Department, it really has to be said that Pat Robertson crossed the border into the land of the nutbars when he stated that any right thinking American would proudly go forth and emplace a nuclear device in the basement hoping to catch them all.

Having said that, I still must strongly disagree with the notion of placing individuals as dots on a line. People's choices and beliefs exist in multi-dimensional space that changes and grows over time if they are interested and have intelligence and integrity. Between September 10th and October 10th two years ago, George W. Bush changed his views and positions dramatically. He expanded his positions and the story of that growth will likely be told for generations. What most strongly marks the condition of abberant political behavior that I refer to as being a nutbar is the abstraction from rational change and the adherence to a set of positions not affected by meaningful influences. Nutbars are like rootbound plants conforming to every aspect of a too small pot and dying by degrees.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at October 11, 2003 03:16 PM

Patrick,

Pat Robertson crossed the line into nutbar territory long ago. Here are some of his fun quotes.

They [the radical left] have kept us in submission because they have talked about separation of church and state. There is no such thing as separation of church and state in the Constitution. It is a lie of the Left and we are not going to take it anymore.

Here he is again.

If Christian people work together, they can succeed during this decade in winning back control of the institutions that have been taken from them over the past 70 years. Expect confrontations that will be not only unpleasant but at times physically bloody.

He ran for president in 1988, and this is the sort of thing he hoped to accomplish.

The silly so-called intellectuals of academia will find themselves considered first irrelevant and then expendable when the real power begins to operate.

Of course, advocating the nuclear destruction of the State Department, and hench all of Washington, is even more preposterous.

He is, as HA likes to say, a treasonous fucking bastard.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 11, 2003 04:14 PM

jdwill,

guess I think both the left and right can be a threat. The eminent domain issue is not left/right, but greed driven.

You are correct that both parties greedily abuse eminent domain. Eminent domain may be a necessary evil in rare cases to create a public asset such as a road, bridge, port, etc. But when it is abused to transfer private property from one party to another, the justification is usually that it will grow the tax base. In other words, the justification is that the transfer of private property will result in sucking more wealth from the private sector to the public sector. That is statism (i.e. leftism) regardless of which side of the aisle the abusers stand.

The fact that both sides grossly abuse eminent domain is more indication of the deficiency of the political labels we use.

look to England, where people are arrested for atempting to defend themselves with such mundane items as umbrellas

You are correct about gun rights in England. Merry old England now has higher violent crime rates than the US due to the fact that they have essentially outlawed the right to self-defense:

http://reason.com/0211/fe.jm.gun.shtml

Don't worry, the state knows best. It will protect you. Won't it?

Posted by: HA at October 12, 2003 06:02 AM

Patrick,

Having said that, I still must strongly disagree with the notion of placing individuals as dots on a line.

What a cop out. You just don't have the courage to pin down who you are talking about. Quit being so "illusory."

I'll give you (and Michael) a little credit for going out on a limb and grabbing the low-hanging fruit of Pat Robertson. Almost everybody knows he's a nut. At least you admit you want marginalize the "senile-widows-sending-their-life-savings-to-CBN" demographic.

Posted by: HA at October 12, 2003 06:22 AM

HA,

I'd wondered where you ran off to. Coming from you, this is priceless:
I'm not calling for the left to tone down its rhetoric. I would like them to define what they mean by these terms and who these terms apply to. Right now, they use these terms as blanket smears against anyone they disagree with. I have no proglem with this rhetoric if it is accurate. But when used as a blanket condemnation, it is mere demagoguery.
I'll assume that you've quit accusing people you disagree with of treason, then? But it's not like that's as bad as calling someone a "McArthyite" (sic), right?

Again, your ability to substitute citations for arguments never ceases to fascinate me. I find it amusing that you try to cite the abuse of eminent domain as a "position" of the hard left. Would that be the same socialist concept of eminent domain that our esteemed President used to claim private land to build a new stadium for the Texas Rangers? Boy, is he some kinda wacko anti-American crook or what?

jdwill,
If you want to see where we may be headed regarding the 2nd amendment and the 9th Circuit, look to England.
You mean we're heading for a 25-fold reduction in per-capita gun-related deaths? That would be terrible.

Jonathon,
Nice posts. Your reasoning is very oxycontinesque (Thanks Michael Turner). But could you please stop SHOUTING. It's fucking ANNOYING. BTW, those who make statements like this: Let us define Democracy right now. Democracy is rule of the people, in other words, the law being formed and made directly by the people should not accuse their opponents of "bumper-sticker arguments." I'm just sayin'

Posted by: Smokey at October 12, 2003 06:31 AM

Michael,

Pat Robertson? That's it? What about Santorum? Many people on the left would even select Bush. I don't think most would pick Sullivan since his homosexual sanity compensates for his conservative nuttiness. But some would.

He is, as HA likes to say, a treasonous fucking bastard

Since you brought it up, I'll repeat the definition of treason from dictionary.com:

1. Violation of allegiance toward one's country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one's country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.
2. A betrayal of trust or confidence.

Note the use of the word "especially". It doesn't say "limited to". And even if it said "limited to", the word would fit certain people among the left.

The people I refer to are those who are engaged in the bold-faced smear campaign against the President. The purpose of this smear campaign is to weaken our resolve so that we fail in Iraq and in our failure we will subordinate our national sovereignty to transnational organizations/agreements like the UN, Kyoto and the ICC.

Groups like MoveOn are "consciously and purposely acting to aid" our enemies. The reason for this is Bin Laden, Saddam and groups like MoveOn share a common enemy which is a America as a free and sovereign nation-state.

I continue to stand by my characterization of certain elements of the left as being treasonous. And these elements are well-positioned to get their man Dean nominated. The treasonous element of the left forms the base rather than the fringe of the Democratic party.

I'll give credit to Clinton for one thing. He recognized the danger a Dean nomination would pose and had Clark installed as front-runner.

Posted by: HA at October 12, 2003 06:49 AM

Smokey,

I'll assume that you've quit accusing people you disagree with of treason, then?

It looks like our posts crossed in the ether.

Would that be the same socialist concept of eminent domain that our esteemed President used to claim private land to build a new stadium for the Texas Rangers?

Yes. That's one reason I didn't vote for him. I voted for Gore. And I voted for Clinton twice. How are you going to get my vote back?

Again, our posts crossed in the ether. Abuse of eminent domain is a bipartisan problem. Since this problem is bipartisan (even if philosophicaly statist and therefore leftist), it fails as a differentiator between parties.

So I'll stick with the party that wants to reclaim our national sovereignty rather than the party whose foreign policy is based on transnational socialism. That is why the Democrats won't be getting my vote back and I'm switching to the Republican party.

Posted by: HA at October 12, 2003 07:05 AM

HA,

Dictionary.com offers a general, very broad definition of treason. The definition as it pertains to the US is what we are interested in. Scroll down and you would see this line:In the United States, treason is confined to the actual levying of war against the United States, or to an adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

And another definition:
Treason. A breach of allegiance to one's government, usually committed through levying war against such government or by giving aid or comfort to the enemy. The offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance; or of betraying the state into the hands of a foreign power. Treason consists of two elements: adherence to the enemy, and rendering him aid and comfort. Cramer v. U. S., U.S.N.Y., 325 U.S. l, 65 S.Ct. 918, 9327 89 L.Ed. 1441. See 18 U.S.C.A. § 2381. A person can be convicted of treason only on the testimony of two witnesses, or confession in open court. Art. III, Sec. 3, U.S. Constitution.
Constructive treason. Treason imputed to a person by law from his conduct or course of actions, though his deeds taken severally do not amount to actual treason. This doctrine is not known in the United States.
Treasonable. Having the nature or guilt of treason.

SOURCE: Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition

It is not enough that certain of ones goals might coincide with those of an enemy (e.g. an American withdrawal from Iraq), there must also be adherence to the enemy, the active support of their cause and objectives in opposition to those of one's nation. It is simply insufficient that you think their actions have or could result in a consequence against the public interest. You must demonstrate that this is their intent. That is the difference between treason and legitimate dissent, which you seem either unable or unwilling to grasp.

HAGroups like MoveOn are "consciously and purposely acting to aid" our enemies. The reason for this is Bin Laden, Saddam and groups like MoveOn share a common enemy which is a America as a free and sovereign nation-state.
This is exactly the kind of crap I'm talking about. Rather than being patriotic Americans participating in their democracy, the entire 2 million or so members of MoveOn are slandered as Fifth Columnist traitors. Where are the intercepted emails declaring their love of Baathism? Their hopes for Jihad and the glorious martyrdom it will bring? The policy statements advocating our surrender of sovereignty to some international Al-Quaeda/Baathist/UN/SPECTRE alliance? Without some evidence of their "adherence to the enemy", your allegations are just indefensible.

Posted by: Smokey at October 12, 2003 08:30 AM

HA! Your overwhelming logic has smashed my traitorous facade! You're right -- we traitorous elements are having our man Dean nominated so that he'll weaken national defense, thereby allowing Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein to invade, thereby giving Dean the excuse to abolish democracy (or is it abolishing the republic? I get confused) and invite the United Nations to take control. By January 2005 this ex-country will be a socialist dystopia run by the Jews, and homosexuals will take over the Boy Scouts.

Reliable sources have told me that Bush's foreign policy team conspired with Osama to destroy the World Trade Center, causing Bush to invade Iraq to give its oil to Israel, which in turn will cause the Islamists to attack the Dean-weakened U.S. And just to be sure, Saddam Hussein is in Dean's basement, waiting to be nominated for Vice-President. (Osama will be Secretary of State.)

Only Al Sharpton can save us from the secular nihilists and their allies, the Islamic terrorists, Chinese dictators, and librarians who subvert the Patriot Act.

Posted by: Oberon at October 12, 2003 09:40 AM

Follow up to my previous post:

HA, don't confuse the secular nihilists with the transnational socialists. They hate each other.

Posted by: Oberon at October 12, 2003 09:43 AM

Crikey, I come into the office on Sunday and end up screwing around on the internet. Re: jdwilll comment about England

where people are arrested for atempting to defend themselves with such mundane items as umbrellas.

Okay, I read the daddy warblogs link, searched Google under "umbrella self-defense England" and similar keywords -- nothing about anybody being arrested, babe. (Closest I got was the story of Georgi Markov assassinated with ricin-tipped umbrella by KGB, which (a) did not appear to be self-defense by the assassin, and (b) did not result in any arrest).

More paranoid bull**** from the far right.

I'll get started on the loony left-wing after I finish work.

Posted by: Oberon at October 12, 2003 10:22 AM

HA,

Yes, Santorum too. You can read my take on him here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 12, 2003 10:48 AM

HA: The treasonous element of the left forms the base rather than the fringe of the Democratic party.

You don't know very many Democrats, do you? The vast majority supported the invasion of Afghanistan, half supported the invasion of Iraq, and at least half who opposed the invasion of Iraq had honorable (though I think misguided and foolish) reasons for doing so.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 12, 2003 10:50 AM

HA,

I have to admit being a bit shocked by this:
I voted for Gore. And I voted for Clinton twice.

Some quotes from you on this blog:
[I]f you support the Democratic agenda you are not a liberal, but a socialist.

If you want to be sure that [Army] retention and recruitment collapse, elect a Democratic president...

Nuclear proliferation exploded as a direct result of Clinton’s appeasement policies. Iran’s, NK’s, Pakistan’s and India’s all started under the Clinton era. If Clinton had the balls to do something about these problems, they wouldn’t have all simultaneously fallen on Bush’s lap.

The real truth is that left is the BASTION of racism in this country.

It is the Democrats that opposed abolition. It is the Democrats that gave us Jim Crow...No party has done more to destory African-Americans than the Democrats.

When Democrats embraced civil rights for the FIRST time back in the 60's, they also embraced cultural nihilism.

The treasonous element of the left forms the base rather than the fringe of the Democratic party.

Well, I can certainly understand why you voted for them, then. But why, pray tell, have you had such a drastic change of heart in the past three years? Did the dangerous slide toward socialism during the Clinton years suddenly become clear to you? Hmmm, probably not. The unrelieved economic and military successes of the Bush administration have swayed you to the Republicans? No, that can't be it. Very belated disgust at Jim Crow policies? Unlikely. A lack of intellectual consistency combined with a love of jingoistic rhetoric and McCarthyite tendencies? Yeah, that sounds about right.

http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/000101.html
http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/000025.html

Posted by: Smokey at October 12, 2003 11:41 AM

But when an initiative is bankrolled by one person alone, is that really in the spirit of direct democracy? Or is that the same-old-same-old, in which whoever has the money gets what he wants? Shouldn't there be limits on single contributions to ballot initiatives, to prevent one person from steamrolling something through that doesn't have real support? None of this is to say that the recall lacked support. But it was initially bankrolled by one person, and many would say that this violates the spirit of direct democracy. Just something to consider, before breaking out the rose-colored sunglasses . . .

Posted by: K at October 12, 2003 01:30 PM

K,

It's true that it was initially bankrolled by one person, but it would have gone nowhere if he was the only one who wanted it. Lots of California governors had recall petitions circulated, but this is the only one that took off. It took off because most people, even most Democrats, despised Gray Davis.

Billionare George Soros bankrolled initiatives in California for medical marijuana, and no one on the left got mad at him for that. They thanked him.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 12, 2003 01:56 PM

Michael Totten,

I'm not sure that George Soros' funding of medical marijuana initiatives is comparable with Darrell Issa's support of the recall. After all, unless Soros was secretly a marijuana farmer, he did not stand to benefit from the success of the initiative he funded. Issa certainly did, or at least thought he did. Also, citizen initiatives allow for a vote on an issue which otherwise might never appear on a ballot. Gubernatorial elections already do appear on a ballot, and in fact had just done so less than a year ago.

Whether or not the recall was democratic seems to me beside the point. While the recall may have produced a result in accordance with democratic principles, its origin was as a naked power grab. Any properly conducted election will have a democratic result, but does that really mean we should hold them anytime someone scrapes up the money and signatures to force one? Isn't the permanent campaign of modern politics bad enough already?

Posted by: Smokey at October 12, 2003 04:07 PM

Smokey,

You make good points. But remember that Bustamante could have won that election, which would have been quite the opposite result Issa hoped for. He could help an election occur, but he couldn't determine its outcome.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 12, 2003 06:49 PM

If Davis had won the election, Issa would still have gotten something he wanted, which was the total derailment of the Davis Administration for six months. This was a win/win for Issa.

Posted by: Kimmitt at October 12, 2003 09:06 PM

Michael Totten,

He could help an election occur, but he couldn't determine its outcome.
Maybe he couldn't determine the outcome, strictly speaking, but he certainly influenced it. The calling of a recall by itself puts a burden on the incumbent. Whether it originates from a true groundswell of public resentment or from partisan opportunism, a recall carries a veneer of populism, and will be seen as the electorate as a vote of no confidence, biasing the outcome against him. Davis' favorability ratings were at 45% in September 2002. In November he won reelection with a nearly identical percentage of the vote. The recall movement began in February and picked up speed in March. By April Davis' favorables had nosedived to 27%. Now there's some degree of chicken-or-the-egg here, but I think it's at least arguable that the recall movement itself had a negative effect on his image, and thus his chances of surviving a recall. Polling drops of that magnitude generally require some precipitating event, and I can't think of any between the election and April other than the recall movement itself and the attendant publicity. I'm not saying the recall was entirely to blame for his low numbers (he's also kind of a jerk, and the economy stank), but it was certainly a galvanizing event. So being able to force a recall vote does give you a good deal of influence on the results, at least in the first phase.

Posted by: Smokey at October 12, 2003 10:12 PM

Michael, I think you should look at the WSJ article on how Sudan is under reported. The evangelical Christians have been very active, but the WSJ claims there is little coverage because it's pretty positive and it's Christians doing it.

The Left seems more unreasonably fanatic than most Christians, though the most fanatic Christians (like Pat) are pretty bad. Today the gay issues are important, and will be for awhile -- even after (if?) gay-marriage is legalized. But abortion, the killing of an unwanted human fetus (by choice of its mother, who in most cases got pregnant for sexual pleasure), is a huge and continuing issue in the culture wars. I read a report that 18-30 year girls are now, by a small majority, opposed to abortion (though not yet supporting making it illegal).

In many ways, the Dems suffer from an unwillingness to accept uncomfortable truths: that "pro-choice" means pro-abortion; that blacks are getting terrible education in gov't schools; that big gov't solutions mean, over time, big gov't support for selected (often rich) groups.

So, "conservative" means Christians wanting traditional anti-gay laws to remain; or opposing new pro-gay laws; they also oppose abortion and want society to oppose it--on that issue they are "progressive" (it is more likely that future US progress will restrict abortion rather than expand it). It also means, today, that formerly progressive liberals, having won and become the establishment, now oppose many such changes as school vouchers, or ending partial-birth abortions, or ending Saddam's stable dictatorship.

The recall and moderate Arnie's victory is a good opportunity to review some of these interesting trends. But please remember more selfless good for other people in the world is being done by believers with faith, than either secular nihilists or transnational socialists (and who says the secularists hate the tranzis?) or other Leftists or crony capitalists (corporate statists).

Posted by: Tom Grey at October 13, 2003 02:03 AM

Oberon,

All very funny. Non-responsive, but funny.

Maybe you haven't noticed that there is a real experiment going on in a far-away place called Europe. Have you heard of it? Here's the deal. They have a bunch of nations over there who have perpetrated some really stupid ideas, fought a bunch of terrible wars and generally screwed up anything thing they've ever touched. Now they've come up with this great new idea that will solve all ills. All those independent nations will voluntarily give up their national sovereignty to an unelected transnational socialist bureaucracy and utopian peace and harmony will bless the land!

Now those crazy Europeans think their idea is so great that it would be good for the whole world! All their other ideas worked out great didn't they? Well this one will be even better!

Now back here in America, there are obscure groups that inexplicably think that Europeans are a more intelligent life-form. Maybe you've heard of these groups. They're the academic elite, the media, Hollywood and the Democrats. If you spent just a few minutes on google, I'm sure you could get a lot of useful information about them.

Posted by: HA at October 13, 2003 03:54 AM

Michael,

Yes, Santorum too.

You may not like Santorum and I admit he gives you plenty of ammunition. But don't forget that he was elected several times by the good people of the State of Pennsylvannia (not Saudi Arabia) precisely because of the views he holds.

Who are you to say that your views are superior to theirs? Why do you insist in imposing your morality on Pennsylannians?

Its a good thing we live in a republic rather than a democracy. Otherwise, the theocratic mob in the Quaker State might already have their Saudi style theocracy. They even had oil there one time.

Posted by: HA at October 13, 2003 04:08 AM

Smokey,

But why, pray tell, have you had such a drastic change of heart in the past three years?

Because I used to trust them and they betrayed that trust. I've always been a DLC Democrat, or what some call a Reagan Democrat. I never bought into the Republican line that the left was un-patriotic. I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they just had alternative solutions to problems, but ultimately wanted what was best for the country just like Republicans do.

Initially, my leaning towards the Republicans in the aftermath of 9/11 was due to the indisputable weakness of the Democrats on the issue of national defense. But after watching the Democratic primary and seeing Dean rise to the top of the pack by pandering to the Vichy wing of the Democratc party, I realized that the treasonous base of the party is not a fringe. And now we have the Big Smear campaign against Bush to top it all off. My change of heart is driven by the Democrats betrayal of my trust that they would act in the interest of the nation before the party or some transnational socialist agenda.

If I still believed in the Democrats, I would attack the Republicans with all the rhetorical ferver that I now attack the Democrats.

If Dean wins in 2004, it will be because he pandered to the Vichy wing of the party. And the Vichy wing will want something to show for their support.

Posted by: HA at October 13, 2003 04:28 AM

Smokey,

Whether or not the recall was democratic seems to me beside the point.

There's a shocker. Smokey thinks democracy is irrelevent. And you scoff at Hayek?

Posted by: HA at October 13, 2003 04:31 AM

Tom Grey,

The Left seems more unreasonably fanatic than most Christians, though the most fanatic Christians (like Pat) are pretty bad.
And how many influential lefties have advocated blowing up a major government agency? What lefties went on national tv and said that Americans brought 9/11 upon themselves? Do you have any evidence of this increased "fanaticism" other than the fact that you are on the right, and thus the positions of the left seem more extreme relative to your own?

by choice of its mother, who in most cases got pregnant for sexual pleasure
Sexual pleasure? Well, we can't be having that. Everyone knows sex is only for procreation.

I read a report that 18-30 year girls are now, by a small majority, opposed to abortion (though not yet supporting making it illegal).
What does this mean? Is there anyone out there who supports abortion itself, rather than the right to have one legally? Were the majority of "girls" 18-30 formerly all atwitter at the prospect of an abortion (all the cool kids are doing it!)?

In many ways, the Dems suffer from an unwillingness to accept uncomfortable truths: that "pro-choice" means pro-abortion; that blacks are getting terrible education in gov't schools; that big gov't solutions mean, over time, big gov't support for selected (often rich) groups.
Bwahahahaha. "Pro-choice" means "pro-abortion"? Are choice and abortion now synonymous? I must need a new dictionary. Mine has quite different definitions of the two words. Although I do agree, all those fat cats out there getting richer through Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security really chaps my hide. Greedy bastards. Damn those big government liberals! Just wait until we get a Republican president who will shrink spending, stop the flow of government money to wealthy interest groups, and adequately fund our nation's schools! Oh, hold on...

So, "conservative" means Christians wanting traditional anti-gay laws to remain; or opposing new pro-gay laws
"Anti-gay" and "pro-gay" laws? Funny, I thought it was a matter of pro-discrimination versus anti-discrimination. Or is the Civil Rights Act "pro-black"?

It also means, today, that formerly progressive liberals, having won and become the establishment, now oppose many such changes as school vouchers, or ending partial-birth abortions, or ending Saddam's stable dictatorship.
Yes, now that we've won control of the Presidenc...uh, the Hous...uh, the Senat...I mean the, um, nothing, we are the establishment. Just another example of the Man tryin to keep you down,right?

Posted by: Smokey at October 13, 2003 05:34 AM

HA,

All those independent nations will voluntarily give up their national sovereignty to an unelected transnational socialist bureaucracy and utopian peace and harmony will bless the land!
Your grasp of international politics is truly breathtaking. Are you sure you're not a professional scholar or diplomat? Really, what's your point here? Are you suggesting that the left secretly wants us to join the European Union? Apart from the obvious geographical problems, I don't think they really want us.

Don't you support our rebuilding of Iraqi government and society in a more western-friendly form? Your own arguments would seem to mitigate against it.
Who are you to say that your views are superior to theirs? Why do you insist in imposing your morality on [Iraq]?
Everyone thinks their views are superior. A far as Santorum, what matters is whether you think he can impose those views upon others against their wishes, elected or not. Ever heard of a little thing we like to call "the tyranny of the majority"?

Initially, my leaning towards the Republicans in the aftermath of 9/11 was due to the indisputable weakness of the Democrats on the issue of national defense.
Once again, the mere assertion of indisputability unfortunately does not make it so. What "indisputable evidence" of weakness in the last three years are you referring to? As Democrats have not been in power for those three years, I'm curious about how they could have even demonstrated this weakness. By voting for the Afghanistan invasion? By voting for the Iraq war? By not questioning the president on anything of substance, and certainly not anything regarding defense, until about six months ago? But I suppose I should be impressed by your change of heart. After all, changing your political affiliation, embracing so fully the conservatarian Weltansicht in less than a year. Wow. That must take incredible flexibility. Or something.

There's a shocker. Smokey thinks democracy is irrelevent.
There's a shocker. HA thinks taking remarks out of context and blatantly mistating his opponent's position is the same as argument. Was Ann Coulter assigned reading in the New Republicanz orientation classes?

Posted by: Smokey at October 13, 2003 06:17 AM

But after watching the Democratic primary and seeing Dean rise to the top of the pack by pandering to the Vichy wing of the Democratc party,

At no point has any Democratic candidate advocated full cooperation and collaboration with an occupying fascist power.

You may believe that we are in a globe-spanning war which must be fought and won; you may think that this is 1939 and it's time for us to get involved early; you may even believe that we are at Munich and the Sudentenland is being discussed. But no candidate has proposed, under any circumstances, that the US knuckle under and fight alongside an occupying power.

You, and people like you, are the reason that the Left views the Right as unreasoning savages who must be shouted down at every opportunity and who are incapable of rational debate. You poison our body politic with your endless, baseless cries of treason.

Posted by: Kimmitt at October 13, 2003 12:42 PM

Smokey,

conservatarian Weltansicht

Very impressive. You've carried the Bushitler concept to new elitist rhetorical heights.

Posted by: HA at October 13, 2003 05:58 PM

Kimmitt,

You, and people like you, are the reason that the Left views the Right as unreasoning savages who must be shouted down at every opportunity and who are incapable of rational debate. You poison our body politic with your endless, baseless cries of treason.

Its not all fun and games anymore, is it Kimmitt?

Posted by: HA at October 13, 2003 06:25 PM

Kimmitt and HA,

I really don't want to babysit the comments. So take a deep breath before crucifying each other on my blog. Thanks.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 13, 2003 07:13 PM

HA,

Is this post supposed to mean anything?

Very impressive. You've carried the Bushitler concept to new elitist rhetorical heights.

Have I once compared Bush to Hitler? Do you in your troubled little mind think I'm trying to by using the word Weltansicht? Or is your point that by using a German word I'm engaging in treason? Or is it simply that, unable to come up with an intelligent thought, you've resorted to just spouting random sentences that have nothing to do with, apparently, anything? Enquiring minds want to know.

Very impressive. You've reached new heights of incoherence.

Posted by: Smokey at October 13, 2003 07:49 PM

Smokey,

Don't be coy. By associating conservativism with the German world view you are no different than than the mindless Bushitler Dean fedeyeen.

Posted by: HA at October 14, 2003 04:27 AM

Michael,

As I've said before, if you want me to leave just say so. Until then I'll speak my mind. I have no interest in participating if you insist on me censoring myself.

If people like Smokey and Kimmitt find what I say offensive, that is their problem. All I'm doing is triggering the dissonance they so obviously have. If they are offended, perhaps they should reconsider their dissonance inducing anti-liberal beliefs.

Posted by: HA at October 14, 2003 05:15 AM

Michael,

As I've said before, if you want me to leave just say so. Until then I'll speak my mind. I have no interest in participating if you insist on me censoring myself.

If people like Smokey and Kimmitt find what I say offensive, that is their problem. All I'm doing is triggering the dissonance they so obviously have. If they are offended, perhaps they should reconsider their dissonance inducing anti-liberal beliefs.

Posted by: HA at October 14, 2003 05:16 AM

HA,

I have been mocking your mental competency for a while now (with ample justification), but now I must begin to seriously doubt your sanity.

By associating conservativism with the German world view you are no different than than the mindless Bushitler Dean fedeyeen.

Please, do a google search for the word Weltansicht. I suspect you may even find a few uses of it that are not meant to be allusions to Hitler. Are you truly so paranoid as to believe that? I speak German, you arschloch, and I've lived there in the past. But somehow in your mind my usage of a word from that language is presumed to mean that I am one of the "Bushitler Dean fedayeen," whatever they are. Just because you engage in baseless smears by comparing those with whom you disagree to Saddam loyalists and the Vichy French does not mean everyone here is so vacuous.

Seriously, did anyone else think I was trying to compare Bush or conservatives in general to Hitler by using Weltansicht?

And speaking of cognitive dissonance, I notice that you are the only one on this thread using the term "Bushitler." If anyone is drawing that parallel, it is you.

Posted by: Smokey at October 14, 2003 07:48 AM

Smokey,

Do you have any idea how easily provoked you are? Its really quite amusing.

Posted by: HA at October 14, 2003 05:48 PM

Its not all fun and games anymore, is it Kimmitt?

It never was. It has been, for some little time now, a struggle against those who are uncomfortable with American freedoms and seek to undermine them.

Posted by: Kimmitt at October 15, 2003 01:15 AM

Kimmitt,

If only you felt so passionate about true enemies of freedom like Saddam.

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