August 2011 Republican Debate

The Republicans had their second debate of the campaign cycle in Iowa a few days ago. Most of them had plenty of good things to say, most of them wisely refrained from too much Obama bashing, one is an obvious crazy person, and two of them came out less than they went in. By now you've probably seen plenty of analysis, commentary, and bloviating on who scored what points. I'm not going to go into that here, I'm going to do something slightly different.

Given history, we already know one of these people is going to win. Obama won't be able to shake the Carter image he's acquired for himself. Not after ballooning the deficit to 5x its size when Bush left office and more than doubling the size of the National Debt over all, along with more or less destroying the stock market. Inflation is on the rise, despite the official figures. Unemployment is rampant, more than double the officially reported figures. He's *NOT* getting re-elected folks.

Anyway, with that in mind, here's what I would do with the ones who don't make the ticket:

Rick Santorum: Um. There's got to be something we can do with the guy. A lot of what he said was good stuff, until he got to the abortion thing. I know it's a hotbutton issue among most people. My personal opinion is that it's murder, plain and simple. The only problem is, even murder has a justification defense when someone else's life is threatened if someone doesn't act. Santorum doesn't want there to be an exception even in the cases where an abortion is the only way to save the mother's life. Could well be best to leave him out entirely, but he's got some good solid policy stances elsewhere, especially in energy. So let's make him Secretary of Energy.

Herman Cain: My personal front runner for president right now, but assuming he doesn't win, his economic and tax policies are by far the most sane of anyone on the stage. It may therefore seem prudent to put him in charge of the Treasury Department, but no, his unwillingness to comment on the Federal Reserve makes him more useful to us as Secretary of Commerce. His business savvy would serve him very well here, where he'd be sufficiently out of the way of the Fed.

Ron Paul: Crazy, lunatic fringe fanatic of the Republican party. Devout isolationist, and all around utterly clueless moron when it comes to foreign policy. So we can't stick him somewhere that would risk an international incident because he's being stupid. He is however a very sharp guy when it comes to economics, and is especially harsh on the Federal Reserve. It's my feeling that he'd make an excellent Secretary of the Treasury. The Fed is in serious need of a full scale audit, and he's the only one on stage who vowed to do this. He's got zero chance of becoming president.

Mitt Romney: He's the current front runner according to the polls, but I'm not entirely in line with him on the economy. He's the only other one on stage who actually held a position in the private sector economy before going into politics. He comes across with a very professional demeanor, but I don't like the fact that he was responsible for what's known as "Romney-care". Basically the model that Obama used to craft Obamacare. Romney explained his reasoning and I agree, it probably was right for Massachusetts. It just isn't right for the country. I'd still rather avoid putting him in charge of anything health related, but he's got huge success in the job growth arena, so I think he'd make good material for Secretary of Labor.

Michele Bachmann: Thus far the only woman formally in the race, she's been a staunch leader in the fight against raising the debt ceiling and the fight to reduce the deficit and government spending in general. Unfortunately, she did more harm to herself than good by spending too much time sniping back and forth with Tim Pawlenty. She also spent far too much time focusing on how bad Obama is vs what she'd actually do for us. Her main area of experience has always been in local and domestic issues, along with intelligence. Since there's not really one specific agency that handles that sort of thing, Homeland Security would seem like a good fit since it deals with enough of her areas of expertise.

Tim Pawlenty: He spent far too much time attacking everyone else and not on what he'd actually do, aside from spewing forth talking points. Blah blah blah. One thing he does have going for him though is that he's a staunch supporter of the military at every turn. Given the sorry shape of our Veterans' services these days, I think he'd make a good pick for Secretary of Veterans Affairs. I'd rather not stick him in the Dept. of Defense though, because I'm not sure how much foreign policy experience the guy has.

Jon Huntsman: I know next to nothing about him other than that he's governor of Utah, and that his family founded the Huntsman Cancer Institute, which is a world renowned cancer hospital. Without knowing more about the guy, I'll slot him for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Newt Gingrich: Well, what can you say? The guy who mustered the Republicans to take over Congress under Clinton has tons going for him. He's generally seen as the Republican Attack Dog, and for good reason. He doesn't put up with anyone's crap, including the media, and he wasn't afraid to show it at the debate. If being the head of the Whitehouse Press Corp were on the list of cabinet positions, I'd stick him there in a heartbeat to keep the media in check at press events. I wouldn't give him control of the EPA since he's bought into the whole Global Warming scam. His past ability to get a balanced budget forced through Congress and his take no crap attitude would make him equally fitting for Director of the Office of Management and Budget, or for White House Chief of Staff.

Of note, Rick Perry announced his candidacy today and will be at the next debate in September. His record of growth for Texas is unmatched, so clearly he knows what he's doing. Once I've seen him go up against the other candidates, we can revisit where to stick him in this grand scheme of things.

Sarah Palin is also the other wildcard out there. She hasn't made any sort of announcement yet, but she's definitely been doing the campaign trail thing, so it's pretty obvious she'll be declaring at some point. For now, I'm loving every minute of how she's trolling the media.
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

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Posted on Aug 13, 2011 5:52 pm by Samson in: | 86 comment(s) [Closed]
And for anyone who cares, Michele Bachmann won today's Iwoa Straw Poll. Bit surprising really, but that's politics for you.

I made it through about 75% of that before throwing my hands up in despair and uttering something like "Jesus Christ. Seriously?"

Real winners of that debate were the moderators for asking pretty good questions.

As to the candidates, well, I guess you can pretty much pick your crazy. I'm not sure what it says when Rick Santorum of all the damn people is coming across as the most reasonable guy on the stage. Also, I knew Ron Paul was crazy, and we've been over that, but was he actually foaming at the mouth at one point? Dude be whack.

Yes, seriously. I cannot fathom for one second how anyone can even begin to think Obama is seriously getting re-elected or even how his policies are remotely good for this country's future. Sure, SOME of the folks up on the debate stage didn't have their shit together yet, but those who do were sounding very much ready to take him on and win.

As I said, I'm personally behind Herman Cain since our biggest issue right now is crippling economic regulations and taxation and he's the only one putting serious solutions on the table for solving that particular problem so we can get ourselves out of this mess Obama and the Democrats have plunged us into.

I don't know who you listened to to come to the conclusion that Rick Santorum was the most reasonable. For that, honestly, I'd lean toward Romney but only if you were approaching this from a who's saying what they want to hear perspective. Perhaps Romney and Cain, now that would be quite the ticket.

Even better still, Cain and Gingrich. I know you don't like Gingrich much, if at all, but we need people like him right now who won't stand for the crap the media is throwing around. The media is half of how we got to where we're at now with their flagrant support for Obama.

Yes, Ron Paul may well have been foaming at the mouth. Hearing that man speak about anything remotely related to the military, defense, and foreign policy scares the shit out of me. Scarier still, several news stations out here reported him as the debate winner. WTF people, are you all higher than California hippies? I guess it's his anti-war stance they're all in love with. It's not just anti-war though. He's full fledged xenophobia in action. As in seal us in a box and never speak to anyone outside our borders xenophobic.

No doubt the moderators did ask good questions, and the candidates DID give good answers, though I don't expect you to see past your biases to realize this :P The one where Wallace tried to blindside Gingrich was uncalled for though, and I was openly cheering when Newt took the guy to task over it. Wallace was NOT happy about being put in his place.

Opinions differ, shall we say on Obama, but, ok. Quick rundown:

- Santorum was saying relatively sane things about things like compromise, and pretty much took Paul to task on Iran, but other than that I pretty much fall into the Dan Savage camp on the man based on past performance.

- Cain, eh. He at least escapes the "Wow, that's fucking whack" camp into the "I disagree with every utterance out of your mouth" camp, which isn't saying a lot. Perhaps the best of a poor bunch.

- Paul is...I don't even know what. At one point I expected him to start talking about crucifying mankind on a cross of greenbacks, and the rest of it he was rocking it like Neville Chamberlain. I mean, any of that would be at least a little crazy, but it's all in one big giant ball of WTF.

But of course he's got cranky old dude cred and anti-war cred, so he gets cheers.

- Romney actually did really well, all things considered, but the thing about Romney is that Romney doesn't even know what Romney believes, and he'll say just about anything. So, yeah, good answers, but he's the dude who always finds the dodge.

- Bachmann could say any damn thing in the world and I'd still think she was a lunatic, but as it was she was saying things that weren't just lunatic, some of them I also knew to be flat out not true, which is about par for the course for her. Unrelated to the debate, her husband goes in for some pretty odious stuff, and she apparently does the same, so.

- Pawlenty did a good job on smacking down Bachmann, who well deserved it, Other than that, I couldn't help but think his entire performance wasn't about anything other than ditching once and for all the media narrative about him being weak and just trying way too hard.

- Huntsman had a really good response to the whole "But you were Obama's ambassador to China!" thing, but otherwise didn't really seem all that ready for prime time. He may or may not actually be relatively competent or not.

- Gingrich is scum. Not just that, he's self-aggrandizing and pretty much incoherent. I haven't forgiven him for the 90s, and I'd just as soon he stayed there. As to the Wallace question, that was the one where he asked about Gingrich's entire team bailing? Yeah, I think that was a fair question, as fair as any of the others.

In hindsight, I kind of long for the days of McCain.

Also, re: the crowd, I noticed that they pretty much just wanted to see blood, and cheered whenever somebody went all attack dog on whoever, from Wallace to Romney to anybody.

So what would you prefer? Another 4 years of completely destructive failed policies at the hands of Obama? You *WANT* to see us descend into oblivion in the same manner or worse than what happened under Carter? I'm sorry, but I can no longer accept that you're being even the slightest bit objective about any of this considering that the objective evidence conclusively demonstrates that Obama and the Democrats are utterly clueless idiots with regard to the economy. It's like they're all going out of their way to see to it every decision they make has the most disastrous outcome possible.

Bachmann a lunatic? No way. Not even close. Said things that were flat out untrue? Proof, please. Nothing she said was shown to be false. I don't give a flying shit about her husband, he's not running for office.

Pawlenty came across as a child with a chip on his shoulder and was looking for a target. He found one in Bachmann. Bad form, that.

Ah yes, Huntsman being Obama's former ambassador to China doesn't fill me with confidence in him.

Gingrich is scum? Sure, sure. Pointing out the plain truth about how the Democrats have utterly failed makes him scum. Ok. You go right on believing the lies the media has fed you, you've definitely bought into it 100% if you think any of what you just said about him is the least bit true. I suppose Clinton was an absolute saint despite committing an actual prosecutable crime while in office. If anyone should have stayed in the 90s it was HIM.

Yes, that question about "Gee, Newt, tell us, why did your whole staff bail on you?" That was entirely uncalled for. Shit happens in campaigns, and I'm GLAD Newt put the guy in his place on it because even the other candidates were visibly pissed by the question. You'll notice Wallace got no help from his fellow moderators either, which indicates to me THEY knew he'd gone too far. At this point I'm hoping he gets nominated, just so you all have to put up with him shooting you down at every turn and stoking the conservative base into a well deserved frenzy.

Yep, crowd just wanted a fight. I don't think they cared much about who it was between either. Tends to happen when you involve universities in stuff like this.

McCain certainly wasn't an ideal choice, but I can guarantee you his presidency would not have been the disaster Obama's is.

Well, crowd? Did you miss your "Samson and Dwip Argue Politics" entertainment? :P

So, ok:

- I'm not sure I was ever pretending to be objective in the slightest here. I haven't made a really huge secret about the fact that I think Republican fiscal policy, insofar as it's even coherent, is disastrous and designed to return us to the Gilded Age. We've been around on that particular point several times now.

- Which is to say that while I disagree with Obama on several issues, I believe he's done the best he could do with the hand he's been given. Frankly, he's bent over backwards to attempt to appease the Republicans to not only scant effect but negative effect. After this whole default bullshit, I don't have a lot of use for Republicans at all, and basically wish Obama could sit down and spank all of Congress for acting like immature little shits.

And I'm being nice. You should hear my mother.

- As far as Bachmann goes, man where do I even start, but the bit about torture getting OBL is false. Also, this, and that's before getting into the really objectionable things like the anti-gay stuff or the fundieism. Stuff like this, say. It does go on, but that's probably enough for my tastes if not yours.

The vibes I'm getting in Australia at the moment is that either way the USA going to hell and all this is going to decide whether Obama or a Republican leader ultimately gets to wear the blame for pushing America into the grave and dragging down the rest of the world with it (economically speaking).

So. You think that actually balancing the budget and living within our means as a nation is incoherent, disastrous, and will return us to the Gilded Age? And you actually think I'm supposed to take you seriously in any future discussion involving fiscal policy? Ok.

Obama? Bending over backward to appease Republicans? That doesn't even dignify more than a roaring belly laugh from me, so that's all you're getting. Just picture it.

As far as the default, I think we should have stuck to our guns the same way we did in the 1990s and forced the issue. Either the House holds the purse strings or it doesn't. You can't have it both ways, and the jackasses in the Senate were directly responsible for letting things continue to deteriorate by flat out refusing to accept anything we sent them. Seriously? Ok. Going by what I'm seeing here you should be marching in the streets demanding Obama's impeachment based on nothing more than the pack of lies even they document. By comparison, they've got next to nothing over all one way or the other regarding Bachmann.

You already know I'd be all in favor of seeing Intelligent Design taught in schools, so her saying the same thing is hardly likely to get me to agree with you that she's crazy. No, it's more likely to get me to agree with HER that Darwinism is being wrongly shoved down everyone's throats even though it's a bullshit theory with no evidence to back it up. Universities claim to foster academic freedom and diversity, but in reality that's only as long as you agree with what they support. More or less the same as "Free speech, only if you agree with me."

@Prettyfly: Yes, we're going to hell. As long as we have to try and penetrate the stubbornness and dangerous mindset of liberalism, we're fucked. Plain and simple.

Well, the straw poll in Iowa has already claimed its first victim. Tim Pawlenty has dropped out of the race. IMO, this can only be a good thing since the media was referring to him as an establishment Republican. Bleh.

Apologies for the intrusion. I must own up to having been a lurker for some months since discovering your site via another mod hosting site where you are perhaps, not held in too high esteem. I have been reluctamt to comment in the past because of my limited understanding of American politics but I have always enjoyed the ebb and flow of your debates and the manner in which they are conducted. Anyway here goes, I am a little confused:-

Samson - I don't understand your comment regarding "the stubbornness and dangerous mindset of liberalism". As I understand it, liberalism, that included the conception of laissez faire government, was the catalyst that led to treason and insurrection (War of Independence?). If this comment is a sign that you regret this breakaway from English rule I would urge you to take a look at the state we English are in. Can I take it that Liberalism has somehow been usurped in the U.S. To me both US parties are Liberal though one promotes a form of Liberalism that is, in this country, preceded by the word Welfare. It is a useful addition that alerts us to the impending bill. American politics seems to me to be a debate within Liberalism.

In addition I don't understand why Darwin's theory should necessarily conflict with intelligent design that seems capable of accommodating evolutionary theory. Is it because Darwin's theory is scientific and therefore cannot claim to be indubitable, being open to refutation by further empirical evidence, in contrast to intelligent design which allows no such doubt.

P.S. Thanks for all the mods, I should have said so before!

To preempt Samson slightly -

- Speaking for the commenting classes, welcome to the blog. Hardly an intrusion.

- Samson's probably going to have a much more caustic defintion of liberalism than I am, but put shortly (long version here, the liberal vs. conservative divide in US politics is primarily over the degree of government intervention in the economy and social policies. Liberals (or progressives, as you like), who we can pretty much all lump in with the Democratic Party, generally favor greater government regulation over the economy - historically things like FDR's New Deal slate of programs (of which there were many) and Johnson's Great Society slate of programs (welfare, etc). Add in support for labor unions, and environmentalism and a few other things. Our host is pretty much going to call this communism, suffice it to say I take a more nuanced approach.

Contrast this with conservatives as manifested in the Republican Party, who favor various amounts of destruction of the existing regulatory state we now have (barring defense programs, which are quite popular among conservatives), general lowering of taxes, and generally allowing the market free reign. Proponents of the scheme, counting Samson, believe that this will generally help out the economy and lead to greater prosperity, while opponents such as myself think that the unbridled market will lead us into a new Gilded Age and destroy any semblance of the rights of workers and ultimately destroy the economy through unchecked greed.

Socially, things are a lot more mixed and a lot more dependent on what state/area of the country you live in, but generally liberals tend to be much more heavily multicultural, favor immigration, international institutions, military action outside said institutions, humanitarian intervention, and the like. They also tend to be pro-choice if not necessarily pro-abortion, favor gay marriage and related rights, and a few other things. Conservatives tend to distrust the multicultural half of what I just laid out (hence the illegal immigration debate, and the Republican fixation on sharia, and don't get Samson started on the UN), and they also tend to be heavily Christianist, which means an anti-abortion and anti-gay rights (often anti-gay in general) stance, among other things. They also tend to favor a slate of First Amendment issues revolving around things like prayer in schools, teaching creationism, and the like. Conservatives tend to take a pretty hard line on Second Amendment issues, and are very what one might call pro-gun. Liberals, by contrast, are much more heavily secular (though not always - a lot of Catholics are historically Democratic voting block), and favor stricter gun control. Drug policy is much more non-partisan, though the legalization faction tends to be liberal (law enforcement not necessarily included), while the drug war faction tends to be more heavily conservative (but with hefty liberal support)

This is all rather fraught with localism - Urban centers (with higher crime, poverty, etc) tend to be more liberal and vote Democratic, while rural areas tend to be more conservative and vote Republican, and under the party umbrellas there are a variety of thoughts on various matters. To take myself for an example, I'm generally a liberal (but not a registered Democrat) who broadly favors government regulation, multiculturalism to a certain degree, and international alliances like NATO, but I'm also much more hawkish than the liberal norm on defense matters (I was in favor of the Iraq war, for instance), dislike the UN only marginally less than Samson, and while I'm generally socially liberal I like owning guns just fine, thanks, and think a lot of the old gun control legislation was deeply silly on many levels. To put my comments on the urban/rural split into context, I'm from rural Oregon (town of 600 people), while Samson's in the heart of metropolitan California. Milage varies on a lot of things.

I could go on, but I think that does it. Samson will have probably already weighed in with his perspective, but this should give you an alternative to go off of.

Also, to shortly reply to Samson:

- I'm all for balanced budgets and living within our means and all that, but there's very clearly a time and a place for running a deficit, and wars and recessions are two of those times. As I've said many times before, I think even a cursory examination of history bears that out. That having been said, I do agree that both our tax structure and government need some reform, but I am not willing to take an axe to it as the Republicans seem to wish, nor am I willing to rule out tax increases, especially on the rich. Bush tax cuts were a disaster and all that.

Which, as I've said before, we already had a time in this country with ineffective limited government, minimal taxes, no social welfare net, almost no regulation, and a strong social agenda. Worked out great for dudes like Rockefeller and Carnegie. Your Triangle Shirtwaist folks, your company store coal miners, your child laborers, and the like maybe not so much.

- Obama, well, I dunno. I see any number of debates where the dude starts with positions that would have been perfectly acceptable to Republicans five or ten years ago, only to see said Republicans call that communism? I'd say that's bending over backwards. Pretty long stretches of time where he could have passed any damn thing he wanted, and yet he's pretty well gone out of his way to try to get Republicans on board to negotiate. See also the entire health care bill fiasco. You may think otherwise, but your opinion doesn't fit the facts of the matter.

- So, by "stuck to your guns and forced the issue" I assume you mean allow the default? Yeah, that would have really helped the economy. Because definitely that whole narrow aversion thing? Also totally helped. Thanks for the stock market beatdown and the credit downgrade, Republicans!

Fiscally conservative this is not.

- I imagine (2) likewise isn't going to be good enough for you, so, eh, whatever. I'm not even as crazy about her as some people, but, you know. She did the crazy ass birther thing, she did the death panel thing, she was for that racist family pledge thing before she was only sort of for it, she's got a questionable relationship with the truth, and oh yeah, she's doing the crazy creationist evangelical thing.

And that's before you get into the whole "has less experience than Barack Obama" thing.

I mean, where's the upside here?

- As to the whole creationism thing, well, I think it's pretty crazy on the one hand (and I could go on, here), it's fairly obviously contrary to the First Amendment and has no place in the public curriculum. Nor, for that matter, does the entire Christianist agenda, which I tend to think differs from sharia only by degree, but that's somewhat besides the point to that particular issue.

Obviously, my eight years in academia are at great contrast to your own experiences there.

Alas, poor T-Paw. We barely knew you.

I wonder at what point I'm going to give up pretending that I reply "shortly" to anything whatsoever.

First off, Dwip, you sly ninja you. Posting while I was busy with other stuff, tsk tsk!

Welcome aboard, Akrasia. Always nice to see new people pop up.

"Stubbornness and dangerous mindset of liberalism". Well, ok. As Dwip says, I'm pretty harsh on this. He is generally right in that it's more or less about a difference of opinion on the size of government and it's role in intruding into our lives. More specifically though, the Federal government.

Liberals/Progressives in the US tend to favor heavy handed taxation on all levels, to the point of specifically targeting the so-called "rich" for ridiculously unfair burdens, without regard for the impact that has on investment. They pass laws across the board on both social and economic issues that are a gross intrusion into the private lives of citizens. Programs such as FDR's New Deal and Johnson's Great Society, none of which are sustainable, are their main area of focus. Their basic economic philosophy is that they haven't met a tax they didn't like. The more radical ones among them, like Barack Obama, are genuine hardcore Marxists in that they believe that redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor is the answer to society's woes and the only way to level the playing field, as well as make up for perceived injustices that were resolved decades ago. They believe in running huge deficits and think that government spending is the answer to everything. Their policies do nothing but promote the inevitable repeat of a Great Depression. As it stands, we're just about back there now.

They tend to also have a complete lack of understanding of foreign policy, preferring diplomacy and even appeasement to engaging an enemy when the time comes. Much like England back prior to the start of WWII. They think we should provide civil protections to all terrorists, regardless of what they've done and where they were caught, despite the fact that the Geneva Conventions don't apply to them. The ludicrous end of this being that they want to try then in US civilian courts, where the only thing that would be accomplished is giving them a forum to spread their propaganda. They prefer endless negotiation with obvious madmen like Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il.

Nearly all "pro-choice" liberals are in fact pro-abortion, because choice implies they think keeping the unborn baby is actually an option. Most of them don't. I haven't met a single liberal yet, anywhere, who thinks we should have the right to own guns, much less actually carry them openly. They also seem infatuated with the idea of allowing laws outside the country to have meaning here, such as Sharia and in general court rulings of all stripes from lots of places.

In short, yes, hugely Communist. I don't see how you could come to any other logical conclusion based on the facts.

Conservatives/Libertarians (there's quite a bit of overlap here) are nearly polar opposites. At least as far as the US is concerned. I realize most of you out there in the wider world think we're all just being silly and you get a good laugh out of it.

We tend to favor more relaxed regulation at the federal level, not this mythical destruction of all regulation Dwip just conjured up. If you find someone claiming to be conservative who tells you they want unrestricted capitalism, that person is crazy and should be ignored. That said, we favor lower taxes, generally dislike income tax in any form, and many of us advocate more fair systems to replace it such as a national sales tax or a flat tax rate. Free Enterprise is one of the greatest systems ever conceived, and the market should be given as wide a berth as possible, which means the government shouldn't be stealing money from corporations to give to welfare leeches who refuse to work. It has been proven time and time again that relaxed regulations and lower taxes leads to economic boom periods such as the one under Reagan and the one under G.W. Bush. It isn't going to result in some catastrophic return to the Gilded Age. We are generally against the formation of workers' unions but genuine conservatives and libertarians will not oppose it so long as said union is consented to by the workers and continues to operate FOR the workers and not the interests of their leadership.

National security is a big issue among us. A strong military is the only credible deterrent you have against enemies who may seek to bring you harm. Of all the things the federal government spend money on, national defense is one of the few that's actually mandated in the Constitution. There is no provision of any sort for any of the nanny state programs the liberals love so much, yet they insist on spending trillions on them. We believe strongly in the sovereign right of a country to exist, and to conduct its laws in accordance with its own beliefs. So yeah, I happen to think the UN is a worthless organization that does nothing beneficial for members who are free societies. If it were up to me, the US would cease all funding for the organization AND kick them out of the country. The rest of the world wants it, they can pay for it themselves and host it in their own territory.

Dwip is deliberately twisting our view on the First Amendment btw (shame on you, you know better). We believe in what the Founders intended - that individuals be allowed to express themselves without fear of reprisal from the government, and yes, that includes the right to engage in prayer in schools if that is what the local officials deem appropriate. I also do not see anything at all wrong with teaching creationism. Darwinism has not been proven to be the One True Religion yet, and yes, I mean religion. Darwinism is NOT sound science and requires at least as much faith to accept as Creationism does. Creationism also has the only viable answer for the origins of life, Darwinism only seeks to try and explain it PAST that point, conveniently dodging the origins issue all together. Not even Intelligent Design theory - which is realistically a mix of the two - proposes to identify the actual origins of life, only that the systems as they exist could not have come together by random chance. This is an entirely valid theory which has been actively suppressed by liberals/progressives in this country. Conservatives believe in true academic freedom, not the shackled version of it we've got now.

Yes, we are in fact very much "pro-gun", we don't hide behind a false label the way "pro-choice" does. The Second Amendment was added as a specific means to ensure that the populace retained their right to throw off the reigns of a tyrannical government. After all, we had just done exactly that. As a by-product, it also greatly enhances our national security because a foreign invader would have to face not only an organized standing army, but local militias (now the National Guard) as well as armed civilians. So we view any attempt to repress these rights as bad, but it isn't fair to say we favor zero control either. You don't put the guns in the hands of crazy people for instance, or in the hands of convicted felons. But as long as you are an upstanding, sane, law abiding citizen, the government (State or Federal) has no right to bar you from purchasing a gun.

Which brings me to one of the big core principals. Conservatives believe in States' rights, as outlined in the 10th Amendment. This basically means that the Federal government is supposed to be limited in scope, has certain specific duties that it has been given. National defense, border control, interstate commerce, standard weights and measures (btw, yeah, we utterly dropped the ball here by not going metric), and foreign affairs. instead, what we have now is a massive centralized authority that has been steadily eroding this principal for ~120 years. They've assumed powers they were never delegated, and unfortunately too many of us sat by and watched it happen. Frog in a boiling pot as it were.

We do not in fact dislike immigration or other cultures. That is a bald faced lie. What we dislike is illegal immigration. The word illegal very often gets conveniently dropped when liberals discuss the issue, preferring to spin it as though there is no difference between the two. Conservatism has a very strong belief in the rule of law, which is why illegals get such strong opposition from us. We happily welcome those who come here using the proper procedures, and contrary to the lies the liberal media tells you, we are not in fact racists. We do not believe that the color of your skin should make the slightest amount of difference, instead preferring (shocking, I know) to judge you by your character and your qualifications. In sharp contrast, liberals have this guilt thing going where they think we have to give minorities huge amounts of special treatment, such as affirmative action programs, just because they're minorities.

Conservatives do differ sharply from Libertarians on drug policy. Conservatives tend to be in favor of blanket laws to outlaw the hard stuff, cocaine, meth, hash, etc. They also tend to be pretty strongly opposed to marijuana as well, along with alcohol too. Libertarians are more or less of a mind that if you want to poison yourself with that stuff, go right ahead, but if you hurt someone as a result of using it, you're screwed. Myself, I tend to lies somewhere in the middle. Some things have no place being legal, others I could care less as long as you're not doing it in my house or infringing on my right to be free of their influence.

As for my personal stances on things (since Dwip laid his out):

I favor national sales tax. Abolishment of income taxes, inheritance taxes, capital gains taxes, and all forms of corporate taxation.
I am a strong supporter of the military, and vehemently oppose any efforts to cut defense spending. I favored the war in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and though I am very much a hawk, I oppose our intervention in Libya based on the fact that Obama has defied the law in keeping us there.
The UN can suck my dick. They need to die in a fire.
I favor fully securing the southern border with a high, thick wall, manned 24/7 by the National Guard. I also favor granting more authority to states to deal with the issue on a more local level.
I am opposed to "sanctuary cities" who are in defiance of both federal and state laws on the matter, and support criminal charges against their mayors.
Probably goes without saying, but I consider abortion murder and oppose all uses of it short of rape, incest, or a direct threat to the life of the mother.
I am in favor of both concealed carry laws, and open carry laws where firearms are concerned.
Absolutely against the appalling legislation that is Obamacare.
In favor of Intelligent Design, and it's free discussion in science classes. I support overturning the misguided rulings of the 1960s which took the right to pray in school away from our students.
I strongly favor the complete dismantling of the Dept. of Education at the federal level.
Deeply supportive of the Patriot Act.
I favor Congress meeting in active session for no more than 6 months in the year, the 24/7/365 cycle they're on now is a huge part of our problem.
Congressmen and Senators should be paid NOTHING for their time in office. If you wish to serve, save up first. Goes hand in hand with the above.
I support the passage of a balanced budget amendment that would forbid any form of deficit spending, with criminal penalties imposed should government officials violate it.

I could probably go on, and I've probably laid out way more than you (or anyone else) were hoping for. Hopefully that gives you some idea of what we're all about around here.

An addendum to address a lie: No, the Bush tax cuts were not a disaster. They were what kept us from imploding after 9/11.

UGH, you devil you. NO!!!! NO NO NO! This mess we're in WAS NOT THE REPUBLICANS FAULT! God dammit I'm sick of seeing that flat out lie repeated as though it were undeniable fact. It's NOT A FACT, it's a total fabrication. It was Obama's congress that raised the debt ceiling to the level it's at now, DOUBLE what it was when Bush left office. It was his congress that quadrupled the deficit and brought us to the brink of disaster. We didn't get control away from him until it was already well past too late to do anything about it, so the Democrats were perfectly happy to to just that - NOTHING. Not a single penny in cuts was basically what Harry Reid said. It was the Senate's refusal to do what was necessary that brought us to the edge of default, and while I would have been perfectly happy to see Boehner stick to his guns, he proved beyond all doubt that the Senate was at fault for allowing it to get far enough along that S&P downgraded our credit rating.

Jesus Christ, if there's anything I can't stand about liberalism, it's this, the taking of every word the media spews forth as though it were the word of God.

Edited by Samson on Aug 15, 2011 7:26 pm
Re: Your bit there about the Creationist thing? You know this myth of "liberal tolerance" you guys like to throw around? I'd surely love to see some of that one of these days. You're just proving my entire point about the whole racism and intolerance thing.

Yea, "tolerance" is one of those words that magically changed meanings when it started being thrown around by American polititions. I really wish they'd quit changing the meaning of things for their own agendas. It makes having a civil conversation about the issues (and other stuff) rather difficult. Originally, "tolerance" meant "to put up with"; i.e. "I don't like you, but for the sake of the funeral, I'll show some tolerance." Now, it means "agree with". As in "Samson must demonstrate more tolerance for the crippling taxation on air because he uses more than his fair share of air." This definition often goes with "diversity"-which has also changed meanings, but since it wasn't an everyday word when the politicians started tossing it about like raggedy Ann, no one remembers what it originally meant. Now it means "enforced racial promotions".

Not only that, they think I should be more tolerant because I'm heating the air up first before using it :P


- :ninja: :devil:

- Notice that I didn't say conservatives were against ALL immigration. That said, I think it's relatively fair to say that you'll find more support on the liberal half of the aisle for things like amnesty as well as, generally speaking, broader levels of immigration. There's an awful lot of local politics mixed up in this particular debate, and an awful lot of variance between different people, though I do think it fair to say that at the national level the debate is primarily started and led by Republicans.

- I stand by my statements re: the gilded ages, and note that if conservatives aren't trying to pull the whole thing down, they're doing a very good job of fooling me.

- Likewise, I think my statements re: First Amendment are broadly correct (Texas textbook controversy among other things), though not all-inclusive (we could have a rousing discussion on things like obscenity laws and the like if we cared to).

- Re: liberalism is communism, I'll just note that by this same logic, Warren Buffett is a communist. As I say, there are significant differences of degree. I will decline to argue the deficit history just now.

- I don't disagree with the liberal foreign policy analysis TOO strongly, since I largely share the view, but I would note that A) isolationism and disengagement were also very popular in this country prior to WWII, B) there is also a certain conservative strain of isolationism as personified by Ron Paul, who you'll notice we both think is a lunatic. Also C) while broadly correct, the "what to do with terrorists" arguement is fairly complex, and who thinks what depends widely on the precise issue being discussed (what is waterboarding, how to try/deal with terrorists, is George W Bush a war criminal/hero, drone strikes, etc). Broadly speaking, liberals tend towards waterboarding as torture, civilian courts for terrorists (citing a long history of doing just that with them), Bush is a war criminal, and drone strikes are bad, with conservatives generally going the opposite route, but significant differences exist on both sides.

- Re: pro-choice/anti-gun/pro-sharia, I know plenty of liberals (in fact I am one myself) who believe in the availability of abortions, but would never actually choose to have one themselves (or, you know, their partner. I'm a guy, obviously). So, no. As far as the anti-gun thing, like I said, I'm pretty pro-gun personally, and out here in rural Oregon I can find you any number of people who like them just fine, thanks. OTOH, I know a fair number of conservatives who heavily dislike the things. As far as sharia goes, I have yet to hear anyone seriously claiming it should be imposed here, except for Republicans claiming that somebody somewhere is claiming it should be imposed. Take that as you will.

- Somewhat further, re: Second Amendment, I would say that A) funny fact - we actually have state militias beyond the National Guard (which I am given to understand is kind of like the UK's Territorial Army except with limited police and disaster relief functions within the state). You don't hear much about them, but they are there. Who knew, right? B) Speaking personally, I more or less agree with Samson, but note that I find the prohibitions on ownership of automatic and military-grade weapons generally correct, but it ought to be noted that there are a large number of liberals who have serious issues with firearms in general and handguns in particular for crime prevention reasons. In its worst form, this manifests itself as things like the Assault Weapons Ban. This is by no means a general feeling, however. Nor are all conservatives NRA members.

- As far as the state's rights arguement, I would note that historically the terms has been particularly loaded down with very serious racism, particularly when used before and during our Civil War in the 1860s, and again during desegregation and the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. One of the problems, and I think one of the main liberal critiques of the term (probably significantly overblown, but) is that it tends to attract people who are neo-Confederates and racists, who then cast the rest of the people who are not those things in a very bad light.

This is sort of how your Greenpeace types and your WTO protestor types get mistaken for being the entire left, when such is not the case.

Suffice it also to say that Tenth Amendment issues get particularly devisive and fractuous (the Bill of Rights tends to be, as they say, a divider not a uniter), and that there are more substantial liberal arguments to the states' rights stuff, but I'll spare you for the moment.

- As far as conservative alcohol prohibition goes, I have yet to meet a conservative where this statement wasn't held to be in some way truth, but YMMV. Too, I think that alcohol prohibition has been pretty widely discredited since the 30s, if not tobacco prohibition. Drunk driving laws and drinking age laws aside, which aren't really the same thing. Also worth noting that most of the fight revolves around the legalization of marijuana. It's prohibited at the Federal level, but a lot of states have decriminalized it. Not many people who aren't libertarians are talking about legalizing meth or heroin (and in fact there's been a crackdown on meth in the last ten years).

Re: position statements, since you've got that handy list:

- I'm essentially the opposite of Samson with respect to taxes. I prefer income taxes to sales taxes (I abhor sales taxes), and I'm pretty much ok with inheritance, capital gains, and corporate taxes. I do think we need significant tax code reform to deal with loopholes and to make sure the rich pay their share, and I'm further uncomfortable with Congress attempting to incentivize things in the tax code. Milage varies here, and I don't view mine as being mainstream liberal.

- As far as defense, I'm in favor of relatively high levels of defense spending (with the thought that better American hegemony than some others I could name or worse still nobody), but I'm pretty critical of an awful lot of defense programs over the last ten years (F-35, LCS, V-22, and a few other things), and think we need some very serious acquisition reform. I supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though I am very uncomfortable with the way both have gone essentially since they started. I'm relatively displeased with the Libyan intervention because I think it's being done in a half-assed manner by everyone involved, and though I don't love Qadaffi, I'm not sure the rebels will do any better. Likewise, I think Obama's stand re: the War Powers Act was foolish and not a stand he needed to take. This again is not particularly liberal of me, most of whom would like to see us get out of the intervention business entirely, and probably pare us down to a pretty small military. I do not find the arguement persuasive.

- I'm not sure I think the UN needs to die in a fire, but I do think it is a corrupt and failed experiment, and one has to look no further than its 20-year history in Iraq to see why that is. I am relatively comfortable with various other international treaties and organizations the US is a part of, such as NATO. Again, I don't pretend to think that's anything like liberal orthodoxy, rather the opposite.

- I don't have a lot of dog in the immigration fight, though I do believe the border fence is a boondoggle, and the National Guard has better things to be doing. That said, our immigration policy has some issues.

- I've already outlined my views on abortion.

- I'm fine with both concealed and open carry, but mostly I (and, IMHO, most gun owners) believe in responsible carry. Again, I'm not really liberal on that.

- I supported the health care bill, and quite frankly would rather we move to something single payer. As somebody who's been uninsured for a fairly long time, I find the way the health care industry in this country runs to be problematic if not criminal. In this I am certainly in the liberal mainstream.

- Creationism, and its ilk, have no place in schools because they're violations of the First Amendment (and, as an agnostic, I think also my rights). Evolution is accepted theory, quite well proven to my satisfaction, and should keep its place. For that matter, I'm actually less vocal on the subject than most liberals.

- I don't have a lot of strong feelings on the DOE, but certainly laws like No Child Left Behind have their troubles, and I find a lot of the Federal (read: Congressional) debate on education to be at best incoherent. That said, I also have trouble with a system where Texas and California practically write the textbooks for the entire country. As we've seen in Texas, it's relatively easy for a small band of demogogues to gain disproportionate influence. Again, there are a lot of liberals with extremely large and loud dogs in this particular fight, but I ain't one of em.

- I have a certain amount of trouble with the Patriot Act and the national security state in general, but accept that some level of it is necessary. That said, I think the TSA as a whole is a bridge very much too far, with very serious problems that are hurting the country. I'm somewhat to the right of many on the left about the subject.

- I'm not sure I think one way or other on the Congressional stuff (though Congress needs some reform, but I'd start with pension over pay), but I think the balanced budget amendment is absolutely insane.

I'll let that little adendum Samson added stand, except to say that, you know, I DO listen to the words that come out of these people's mouths on the several occasions, and I DO generally attempt to get direct statements and the like. I don't read or watch a whole lot of news in that sense, and you know it.

Also, I think your position there is wrong. :P

(no, not relitigating the entire last ten years of the economy right now. I have delicious, delicious food to be eating)

Liberalism claims to be about personal freedom, yes?

How then does one reconcile inheritance taxation? Do I or do I not have the right to earn money, and then pass that along to my children (general sense, I have none)? That money was already taxed, inheritance taxation is evil because it's double taxation.

Do I not have the right to sell something at a profit over what I paid for it? What right does the government have to stick it's hand in my pocket to steal 30% of the profit from that? Again, double taxation, that money was already taxed.

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms should be a store where the before mentioned are readily available not a government agency restricting their use.

These people are morons. There, you've met a conservative who thinks this is insanity. They're either genuine morons, or very good trolls who have well and truly fooled you into thinking this is where we stand. Hint: This should be for the states to decide. Regulation of firearms is not one of the apportioned powers granted to the Feds. In fact, one could correctly argue the Second Amendment actively encourages one and all to possess them.

Yes, I'm aware we have local militias, but for all intents and purposes, the National Guard has stepped into that role on a more organized level.

Re: Taxes. The rich already pay MORE than their FAIR share, while below a certain level, some people pay nothing at all yet delight in pointing fingers at corporations they claim pay nothing - which is a lie.

Alliance treaties such as NATO actually have tangible benefit. I see the UN having nothing of the sort unless you think a forum for appeasers to appease is useful. While making dirty deals with folks like Saddam and rewarding people like Qaddafi with posts on the human rights board is legit. So yeah, die in a fire? That was me being mild. At the risk of being grossly insensitive, not a single fuck would have been given by many if the 9/11 hijackers had instead flown empty planes into the UN building. Were I to have been in NYC to see this, I'd fill the fire trucks with gasoline. Yeah, I hate the UN that much.

No, the fence is not a boondoggle. The only people I ever hear saying that are liberal media pundits. The governors of Arizona and Texas could show you a thing or two for the National Guard to do on the border as well. And they do not in fact have anything better to do with their time.

I'm not the least bit surprised you're in favor of single payer government run health care. Who knew a liberal supported such things? :P I on the other hand would much rather see meaningful reform of the system we already have, which is still the best in the world despite its flaws. We don't need 3,000 pages of legislation to introduce an entirely new system. Fortunately it looks as though we won't have to deal with it much longer now that it's once again been ruled unconstitutional.

Creationism, and its ilk, have no place in schools because they're violations of the First Amendment

Uh, no, sorry guy, but you're dead wrong there. History degree or not, someone fucked up badly if they left you with this impression. The First Amendment was not about preventing religion from encroaching on the State, it was about preventing the Sate from encroaching on religion. Guess what the State has spent the last 100 years doing? Encroaching on religion, with activist judges on the Supreme Court happily helping them do it.

Evolution is accepted theory, quite well proven to my satisfaction

Nice qualifier. Had you left it out, you'd be dead wrong again, because it is most certainly not well proven. It requires at least as much faith to accept as truth as Creationism. Especially interesting to me that Darwin himself renounced Evolution when he died. I don't have the link handy, but it shouldn't be hard to find the proof of it.

That said, Intelligent Design is a legitimate scientific theory with accredited scientists who back it. The only reason it's not more widely taught/discussed is because numerous universities will fire you at the drop of a hat for daring to even bring it up as a point of discussion. Yes, I'm aware that astroturfing liberals have seen to it people think it's a propaganda film about some crazy conspiracy theory, but the truth is, it's not, and universities should be ashamed of themselves for claiming to support academic freedom when they're actively suppressing a differing viewpoint. "Tolerance? No sir, you don't agree with me!" <--- the kind of tolerance liberals display.

Wait. You think a balanced budget amendment is insane? One with actual teeth? You know damn well if it has no teeth it'll get raped six ways to Sunday. Let me ask you this. Will your credit card company allow you to keep getting credit line increases if you have no ability to pay off what you've already maxed out on the card? If you answer yes to that, either your credit card company is a fool, or we REALLY shouldn't bother engaging each other in economic discussions any more.

My position where is wrong? That statement was separated from where it probably belonged.

Thanks to you both for the comprehensive explanations I now see the difference in terminology So I take it that the Republican and Democratic Parties offer different political and economic (the two areas seem almost interchangeable) perspectives from within which potential presidential candidates offer their own particular manifesto. Thus it seems the individual has more chance of finding a set of policies that are in accord with their own than in the UK where the choice is realistically only between the manifestos of the two major parties.Since both parties now occupy the middle ground our choice is somewhat restricted. I shall enjoy selecting who I would like to be the next president, I've already decided on a couple of candidates I would not like to see in power. Please tell me that Palin has no realistic chance.

In Europe there is a growing consensus that recent policies concerning multiculturalism have failed and should be abandoned. I agree wholeheartedly with Samson's view in this regard. It would seem to be irrational for anyone in the US to be against multiculturalism since it would seem to define the US population and further to be the source of US prosperity. Government interference in this area has gone too far in Britain. While legislation is appropriate to prohibit discrimination in areas such as employment recent attempts to engage in social engineering is not. Cultural differences are reconciled or accommodated over time not through crude attempts to change opinions. Certainly the multicultural agenda has to some extent inhibited debate on immigration.

I think I am politically pretty much in line with Dwip, I believe we have gone too far down the line of globalization for there to be any possibility of individual countries to, as it were, go it alone. I am not though satisfied with the current plethora of global institutions including the UN World Bank and the IMF. I put great store in the increased interaction between individuals as exemplified by this site that promote not only discussion but also the opportunity to discover that we have many aspirations in common. This will I hope be reflected in International Politics. I am somewhat of an idealist and would rather political policies were based upon how we would like the world to be rather than how it was in the past.

With regard to recent military action my view differs from yours, perhaps because I am viewing it from a different perspective. I was against the invasion of Iraq because I did not feel that Britain was threatened by WMD and of course subsequently we found that such claims were a fabrication. For me Blair's lies to both the House of Commons and the British people places him alongside Nixon. I am also against a British presence in Afghanistan since it seemed doomed to failure based upon the various failed historical attempts to exercise control of the country. Most of all I am against these actions because they clearly failed to achieve the avowed intention of making the British people safer and arguably made us less safe. The action in Libya is a further example of the British Government acting for dubious reasons. I would like Britain to adopt a foreign policy that is more in line with our position in the world order, that is take a minor role involving discourse rather than force,a commodity that we do not have in abundance.

Your insights into American Politics reveal the difficulty finding a candidate who reflects our views adequately in our respective electoral systems. Perhaps the promotion of democracy as being the answer to the unrest in many countries should come with a health warning. Who knows one day we may adopt a truly democratic system of government in this country.

Edited by Akrasia on Aug 15, 2011 10:41 pm
Yes, each party has a general set of beliefs that most members conform to - we refer to that as the party platform. Individual differences within that party platform are often called "planks" and are usually associated with differing flavors of whichever party someone is running for. What we're discussing right now is what's known as a primary election - a contest that is taking place within one party to determine who they want to have run against the other party. For the Republicans, there's a pretty broad and diverse field of people involved. Yes, Sarah Palin is in fact a viable candidate, should she choose to run. She DOES have a realistic chance, considering who she'd be running against. So would John McCain, who is at the other end of the spectrum within the Republican party. Right now it's a question of who gets nominated as the candidate, and Palin may not have as much of a chance to win that depending on who you ask.

In the end though, like England, our for-real presidential races usually come down to the Democrat or the Republican. We have numerous other smaller parties, and on occasion they mount good campaigns, but as long as I've been alive they've never done anything more than disrupt the chances of one of the two main ones. The most recent example being when Ross Perot nuked George Bush Sr.'s chances at re-election in 1992, giving us Bill Clinton in stead. That was caused by splitting the Republican votes too much to mount an effective defense against the Democrats.

Multiculturalism as usually defined by the liberals almost always means ending up with ethnic pockets around the country. Regions where you get lots of Mexicans (California, Arizona, etc.), Cubans in Florida, to areas where you get lots of Vietnamese or Chinese or whatever. They would tend to remain in those pockets and never bother to assimilate into the larger society. The end result is often a confusing array of several different languages spoken or written. California is especially bad for this because many of our official documents are printed in 18 different languages, and yes, we have that many and more pockets of ethnicities here.

So while I am fully in favor of immigrants coming here for a better life, I do believe they need to make an effort to learn our language and customs and integrate themselves smoothly into our society so that we all become greater than the sum of our parts. There's nothing wrong with them celebrating their heritage or anything like that, but when it rises to a level where they are now insisting we have to celebrate it with them at the expense of our own, that's wrong. This attitude is especially strong among illegals, and I suspect you guys over in Europe are realizing the same thing - especially with regard to Muslims.

Dwip and I are not actually that far apart on the globalization front. I just happen to think we should be doing it without the interventionist tactics of the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, World Court, etc. To hell with all these "one world government" things. I don't know how strongly he feels about it but I suspect he also has a healthy respect for our national sovereignty. I just happen to have a much stronger respect for it I think. Definitely patriotic, not sure if you could call me nationalistic, but possibly close to it.

On the subject of Iraq - I've said this before a zillion times, and I'll keep saying it until people quit it with the "he lied" thing. Nobody lied. Bush and Blair both were acting on intelligence that had been gathered and confirmed by no less than 15 different international agencies, including the CIA, MI5, and the remnants of the KGB. All signs pointed to Saddam actively seeking to restart his nuclear weapons program that everyone and his uncle knew he had until the Israelis blew it up. When you spend years dick-waving and making threats, then follow up on them by kicking out weapons inspectors (because you bribed the UN with oil) then you should expect that someone is going to come along and kick your ass for it. We did. End of story. Turns out, by the time we actually got there, the WMDs had either been destroyed or moved to Syria. So the intelligence was off.

Nixon got a bad rap, and his story isn't anywhere close to the lies the media has successfully spread around about him. That's a subject worthy of an entire blog post all on its own though, so we can save it for later.

Obviously we will differ on Afghanistan. Clearly we were justified in going in to blast the Taliban into dust for attacking us. You guys in Britain didn't have to come, unless it was part of the NATO treaty obligations. I never really looked into it that closely. The problem is, here we are some 8-9 years later with Obama cutting troop levels and not listening to his commanders on the ground, and it's any wonder we're starting to have problems? It doesn't help that Karzai is a corrupt lunatic looking to re-establish the opium trade. Further, now that Osama bin Laden is dead, do we really need to stay? Why don't we do what we did in Iraq and begin handing over control to Afghan forces. Provided they're not just going to flee at the first sign of the Taliban coming back.

Libya is a mess, no doubt. Two whole threads on the subject here covering that. Noble intentions, but badly executed. Especially with Obama claiming he's above the War Powers Act. If ever there was an impeachable offense for engaging in an illegal war, this is it.

Diplomacy is great, when it works. I submit that Diplomacy doesn't work in countries with fanatical theocratic governments whose citizens are convinced that martyring themselves for the cause will deliver them to heaven with 72 virgins waiting. There is no reasoning with people like that. Sometimes the only answer is to meet force with force. Childish as it may sound, they started it 250 years ago. Barbary Pirates. Look it up.

Democracy, actual true democracy, is a very bad thing. Mob rule. The Founders were very explicit in their intent NOT to form such a thing here after we broke away from England. That's why they forged us a representative republic. They knew a true democracy would never survive.

Personal freedoms, hopefully also responsibilities to society. Little things like that.

- No, not much issue with inheritance tax or capital gains tax. Frankly I don't really care much either way on inheritance, and insofar as it only kicks in over something like a million bucks, it's not even a big deal unless you're rich. Capital gains, well. Anything to deincentivize the stock market, I suppose. Neither of these hills are ones I'm particularly interested in fighting, much less dying on.

Samson said:

These people are morons. There, you've met a conservative who thinks this is insanity. They're either genuine morons, or very good trolls who have well and truly fooled you into thinking this is where we stand.

And yet I hear things like it out of the mouths of conservatives all the time. People I know even.

That said, you're aware that statement is in favor of guns and liquor for everyone, right? Not its regulation by the Feds? Because you seem to have the opposite impression.

All that said, I'm fairly comfortable with the idea that certain classes of weapons be restricted on the Federal level. Joe Smith doesn't particularly need to go out in the woods and light off a few AT-4s or cruise about in a Bradley IFV. Beyond that, I personally don't have much of an issue.

Samson said:

Re: Taxes. The rich already pay MORE than their FAIR share, while below a certain level, some people pay nothing at all yet delight in pointing fingers at corporations they claim pay nothing - which is a lie.

You have to go pretty damn low to not pay taxes, which is to say that, making somewhat less than $15k a year, which I do, which incidentally is barely enough to live on, my actual taxes are pretty crippling. The last time I paid no taxes, I was making somewhere south of 10k a year, maybe even less. So I call bullshit on that whole argument.

Samson said:

No, the fence is not a boondoggle. The only people I ever hear saying that are liberal media pundits. The governors of Arizona and Texas could show you a thing or two for the National Guard to do on the border as well. And they do not in fact have anything better to do with their time.

Funnily enough, I was just reading a bunch of Obama-hating conservative military vet types say pretty much that the other day, though you're right, mostly that's a liberal thing. Does all of jack as far as I can tell, so. As to the National Guard, I don't know, how about their civilian jobs instead of deployments to the AZ border for the rest of time?

Samson said:

Uh, no, sorry guy, but you're dead wrong there. History degree or not, someone fucked up badly if they left you with this impression. The First Amendment was not about preventing religion from encroaching on the State, it was about preventing the Sate from encroaching on religion. Guess what the State has spent the last 100 years doing? Encroaching on religion, with activist judges on the Supreme Court happily helping them do it.

Yeah, I dunno about you, but if I had to learn some Christian dogma in school, and let's not kid ourselves because that's what this whole creationist thing is, I'd feel pretty god damned infringed upon. The First Amendment is supposed to PREVENT theocratic bullshit, not ENCOURAGE it. Likewise, I'm not particularly anxious about being forced to pray in school.

You want religion? Go to church. School ain't the place.

Samson said:

Nice qualifier. Had you left it out, you'd be dead wrong again, because it is most certainly not well proven. It requires at least as much faith to accept as truth as Creationism. Especially interesting to me that Darwin himself renounced Evolution when he died. I don't have the link handy, but it shouldn't be hard to find the proof of it.

I'm not really interested in having this argument with you, because I could line up chimp skulls for days and it wouldn't matter a bit, but I've had entire classes on the subject. Suffice it to say that it's a far more compelling theory to me than Genesis. As to the Darwin thing, rather easily verifiably false. But don't take my word for it. Ask these creationists over here and they'll tell you.

In other exciting news, dinosaurs not actually coexistant with humans. Earth also older than 4,000 BC.

..Ben Stein. Seriously? What, should I start quoting Michael Moore at you now? I hope not, I hate that guy.

Re: balanced budget amendment, what part of "sometimes" in "sometimes deficits are necessary" did we not get? Also, it should surprise nobody that nations operate under a somewhat different set of rules than I do. Nobody's letting me issue bonds or print money, either. Clearly the goal of the government should be to run in the black, but sometimes you can't do that (wars, depressions), and we should recognize that.

The your position is wrong thing was in reference to your whole THE REPUBLICANS ARE BLAMELESS thing.

@Akrasia -

As far as freedom of choice, I'd say yes and no. Local and state elections (including the various representatives to the Federal Congress), certainly. My understanding of how the UK parties do it is they pick some guy to run in a certain spot regardless of if he lives there or not, yes? Here, there's pretty much always some sort of residency requirement. You also get a lot of variation at the national level purely based on local politicals. At the presidential level, though, you have a lot more compromises going on as various regional power groups interact in various ways. Also based to some extent on who can pull in the most cash, etc. Which is all to say that the major parties do have manifestos, but there are pretty significant deviations from them by individuals. As far as the parties themselves, yeah, I know a lot of people don't see a lot of difference between the two, but Americans certainly do.

I'd be pretty surprised if Palin (if she runs, she's not in the race and may never be) or Bachmann gets the Republican nomination. Odds are on Perry or Romney for various reasons. Most of the people in the running right now aren't wholly serious candidates, and they'll be weeded out fairly regularly as time goes on.

I think the main place European and American multiculturalism differs, and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but in Europe the minorities tend to be pretty large and pretty homogenous, whereas over here we have any number of different minority populations, none of whom exert anything like the same level of influence nationally (though as Samson will tell you, the Hispanic lobby in the border states is pretty strong). Too, my understanding is that Britain in particular has bent over backwards on the subject, whereas Muslims in particular here tend to tread pretty lightly, and you never even hear much about the Koreans or Chinese or whoever.

Although we do get, per capita, the best restaurant scene ever, though I do kind of miss the preponderance of really great Indian places from when I was in England. Perhaps a slightly different thing, though.

Re: Iraq, what you're saying is pretty much what people over there were telling me when I was there in '04. To expand on my own view a little (long version here, sort of, my view at the time was that the WMD were there, we had a clear history throughout the 90s that they were, and in the event, there was really only one way that the US/UK air war over Iraq that took place in the 90s was going to end was in an invasion. Besides that, between Saddam, the UN, and the sanctions, we were doing a number on the Iraqi people. Of course, what I didn't expect was for the thing to be botched so terribly. I've spent an awful lot of time researching and thinking on our war in Vietnam, and I had expected that our military leaders at least would have done the same. Not so much, alas.

There are lessons to be drawn there in terms of when and when not to intervene, but given Libya I don't have any great hope that they've actually been learned by anybody who needed to do the learning.

Oh, I got Samson ninja'd. You see how it is around here.

Samson said:

In the end though, like England, our for-real presidential races usually come down to the Democrat or the Republican. We have numerous other smaller parties, and on occasion they mount good campaigns, but as long as I've been alive they've never done anything more than disrupt the chances of one of the two main ones. The most recent example being when Ross Perot nuked George Bush Sr.'s chances at re-election in 1992, giving us Bill Clinton in stead. That was caused by splitting the Republican votes too much to mount an effective defense against the Democrats.

I think, offhand, that the last time a third party was really viable in this country was sometime around the turn of last century. The last successful one was before the Civil War. These days they are, as the man says, mostly just spoilers. Nader in 2000 and 2004 also comes to mind, but Perot was the last really big one.

Samson said:

Multiculturalism as usually defined by the liberals almost always means ending up with ethnic pockets around the country. Regions where you get lots of Mexicans (California, Arizona, etc.), Cubans in Florida, to areas where you get lots of Vietnamese or Chinese or whatever. They would tend to remain in those pockets and never bother to assimilate into the larger society. The end result is often a confusing array of several different languages spoken or written. California is especially bad for this because many of our official documents are printed in 18 different languages, and yes, we have that many and more pockets of ethnicities here.

Worth noting, I think, that this is true as far back as the immigration waves from Germany/Italy/Ireland in the 19th century. Foreign language newspapers and what have you. By and large though, and see this with all groups, is that usually by the second generation they're pretty assimilated (certainly the Vietnamese I've known are, and the Chinese. I think there are a couple exceptions, like the Hmong, but I may be wrong there). The big difference with Hispanic immigration, I think, is that those other waves by and large ended, whereas this one is big, and it isn't going to end. Also exacerbated by the fact that most immigrants show up and really try to make a go of it as you say, but the nature of being illegal means you can't do that.

I have yet to see an official document in anything other than English/Spanish, for the record, which I think is probably fair. CA does tend to exist in its own little ecosystem.

Samson said:

Dwip and I are not actually that far apart on the globalization front. I just happen to think we should be doing it without the interventionist tactics of the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, World Court, etc. To hell with all these "one world government" things. I don't know how strongly he feels about it but I suspect he also has a healthy respect for our national sovereignty. I just happen to have a much stronger respect for it I think. Definitely patriotic, not sure if you could call me nationalistic, but possibly close to it.

Yeah, we're not that far apart. I tend to view the UN as a useful tool more than anything legitimate these days, something we go to because its important to other people. The IMF/World Bank don't give a lot of trouble and have been relatively useful by my understanding in the Third World, so I don't much issue with them. I'm pretty skeptical about the various international courts, and I think they've by and large overstepped their bounds. Nor do I think they're particularly effective, when you get right down to it.

Which I think makes us both nationalists of a certain stripe, though not the America uber alles lebnsraum type (or the Manifest Destiny type, to bring it closer to home).

Nixon, just to get my hat in the ring there, was a bad, bad dude surrounded by bad, bad dudes, but he was also a pretty effective bad, bad dude, so there's that, anyway. OTOH, Agnew was just a bad, bad dude.

Joe Smith doesn't particularly need to go out in the woods and light off a few AT-4s or cruise about in a Bradley IFV.

This is so not a valid argument. For one thing, even staunch NRA supporters recognize that only crazy fringe militia types are interested in amassing that kind of firepower and they HAVE been known to rat out their fellow gun owners for stocking up on too many of them. You always tell me you're not paying attention to the mass media, then you trot out the liberal talking points like this and expect me not to call you out? :P

So I call bullshit on that whole argument.

Yeah, go right on living in the bubble then, because your argument is bullshit, not mine. The rich in this country are paying slightly over half of the total tax burden, with the super rich footing the largest chunk. I'm not for once second going to support making them pay even more than they already are, because they WITHOUT FAIL react by firing people and causing unemployment to rise. Oh, like now. FWIW, last time I didn't pay actual income taxes on something I was making just shy of $20K/yr and doing well enough that I wasn't in danger of being tossed out on the street for not making rent. Sure, I wasn't living like Rockafellar, but then I wasn't doing his job either so I didn't even once feel entitled to his money.

The First Amendment is supposed to PREVENT theocratic bullshit, not ENCOURAGE it.

Not quite. That's not what the founders had in mind at all. They weren't worried about religion suddenly rising to create a theocracy. They were worried about quite the opposite - another "Church of England" that was officially sponsored by the government. Remember, back when this country was founded, the government wasn't even involved in the education of our children.

Like it or not, Creationism and Intelligent Design are both legitimate counter points to the religious dogma our children ARE being taught, and that may parents DO vehemently object to: Darwinism. Yes, I know, I'm oversimplifying things, but you've merely exchanged the Christian God for the Atheist God in schools and wonder why suddenly the Christians are raising objections to their First Amendment rights being trampled. I am *GLAD* I never had to endure having Darwinism shoved down my throat as though it were a proven indisputable fact. It was presented exactly as it should have been - one possible explanation for life. Yes, ID was also given equal time, yes, it was in defiance of supposed "separation of church and state", but they did it anyway because they were basically unwilling to compromise the scientific integrity of the school. ID is an entirely valid theory, with plenty of actual observable evidence to back it up. You say you won't have this argument with me, that's fine, but I hear that line from every last Darwinist zealot I've ever spoken to about it. I don't know what they told you, but I. Did. Not. Evolve. From. Chimps. Also, I've seen the supposed refutations of the Lady Hope story several times. You don't want to argue it though, so I will spare myself the bother of finding the links proving she was in fact telling the truth - she should know having been there and these other people not. Noe of which invalidates ID as a valid theory - and no, ID does not require a belief in a divine creator.

That you've had entire classes on the subject does not surprise me. And yes, Ben Stein. You hate him because he dared expose the truth many of us already know. I'm glad you had fun in your higher education, those of us who do not swallow the dogma being served did not and did not appreciate the attitude of those there when we would not accept their words at face value.

Yeah, ok, so maybe I got a bit too absolutist on the balanced budget thing. The only exception I would ever be willing to entertain though is time of war for defense spending. This whole bullshit of using depressions as an excuse to create more debt - which leads to larger depressions in the future - just doesn't cut it with me. Any more than it does with VISA or Mastercard if I tell them to suck it and give me more credit.

As far as Obama's fiscal policy? Yes. The Republicans ARE blameless. Not having control of Congress will do that to you. We cannot reasonably be held accountable for policies that Pelosi, Reid, and Obama rammed through that resulted in the current crisis.

Ninjas. :ninja: Ninjas everywhere. :ninja: Not much more to respond to this time though

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