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February 17, 2007 06:15 PM UTC

Conservative/Liberal Values

  • by: Gecko

(Since Gecko took the time to write a diary, we HAD to promote it. – promoted by Colorado Pols)

We all must admit that we love to argue in a friendly way. Otherwise we would not bother to post our opinions here.

But there is one thing that has baffled me for the past couple years since I discovered this blog. I have a hard time understanding the value system of the common liberal. Maybe you all can help me.

Here are my core values which many of you already know. Please counter as to why you feel they are wrong.

#1: Abortion. Being agnostic I have no religious push towards my belief but I do think that abortions should be on an emergency basis only, when the women has been raped or her health is in danger. Abortion for convenience is wrong. We are talking about itty bitty babies here. Girls that make stupid mistakes should have to own up to them and bring the babies to term and then adopt them. The people that are waiting to adopt can pay fees toward the pre-natal care of the infants (like a health insurance pool) if she can not afford to. We could discuss a small tax to cover the cost of “a before/or after pill” for those that can’t afford it too.

#2: Social programs. I believe we have way too many. Nobody wants to send a mentally handicapped person out in the street and I don’t propose that we do. But we all need to stand up and take care of ourselves. The liberal viewpoint in my eyes takes away self reliance and installs “nannyism” instead. Having been brought up in a sink or swim childhood, I am proud to say I never have used any of these services that are so available. I see so many people that have learned that if they indeed want to be lazy, that is fine as daddy government will take care of all their needs. This is a value that I despise.

#3: Healthcare. We have a perfectly fine healthcare system now. Anyone that wants insurance simply buys it. End of story. But liberals and some conservatives want me and you to pay for insurance for EVERYONE. Why? I pay for my own thanks anyway. I don’t ask you to help me. If you want to develop a universal healthcare system, why can’t you come up with one that leaves those of us that already have coverage alone? Come up with a plan that is user paid. You want the insurance, you buy it. If the however many millions of people that aren’t insured pool their money into this plan, they could have their very own insurance. And you will not be having to ask me to pay for it.

#4: Taxes. We all pay more than our fair share of taxes. I posted a diary about this last year. I also have no problem paying them, but so many of you still want more. Why? Why do you want to keep taking more and more money out of my pocket so I have less and less food on my table. It seems that to you liberals, there is NEVER enough taxes being paid from the working stiff. I find this offensive.

#5: Schools. The K-12 system of public schools we have now is broken. The teachers unions have so much clout that it will never be repaired. There is NO incentive for the schools or teachers to succeed. Therefore bad teachers and good teachers are lumped into the same bag and paid equally. The students are the ones that suffer. Vouchers would help give competition and force the treachers to weed out the bad apples and the kids would be the ones to benefit.

#6: College. Simple, pay for it yourself. My kid works full time and pays for his college himself. What is so wrong with that?

#7: Gays. Again simple. Don’t force your lifestyle on others and we will not force ours on you. I firmly believe that marriage is sacred and should be left as is. But I also believe that if gays want to have a legal binding union, go for it. It should be legal for them to do so, just call it a legal union, or whatever else. Not marriage.

#8: Immigrants. Nothing wrong with immigrants coming here. Just do it LEGALLY. I also think that they should learn to speak our language, not the other way around.

OK all you Gecko haters, lay it on me.
I have to go put more moeny down on my new Harley so I’ll be back later tonight to take my lumps.


184 thoughts on “Conservative/Liberal Values

  1.   If that’s true (and there are respectable people who sincerely believe that), why the except for rape? 
      That “itty bitty baby” may have been conceived under reprehensible conditions, but doesn’t he or she have a right to live just as much as the one conceived by the happily married couple who want and are trying to start a family?

    1. Knowing that such exceptions are more like to pass the legislature and (as to the safety of the woman) the courts’ scrutiny.  Why make the perfect the enemy of the good, and all that….

    2. as a religious fundamentalist.  Only, instead of “itty bitty baby,” I’d prefer to substitute “person created in the image of God,” which status I believe to be the authentic basis for valuing each individual person.  Every single person.  That’s how I am valuable, and you, too.  Even if you don’t believe as I do.  Which is why my brand of fundamentalists are not supposed to hate any person.  “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” along those lines. 

    3. What the F**K.  Did “girls” make the babies by their selves?  If men such as Strom Thurman would be men and stand up for the “mistakes” they made, we may not have so many unwanted pregnancies.  Rape is an interesting concept.  Throughout history men have been taking advantage of their power, whether that power was financial, physical or social.  To force a woman to carry to term a baby is just trash.  What about the social backlash she will endure by going to 11th grade pregnant?  Is the boy treated as bad for his “mistake”? What about the girl who will not name the father or call it rape because the child is her father’s baby. Should she be forced into the humiliation of the next nine months?  And who are you to decide that sometimes a baby is just inconvenient.  Yeah, you don’t like to hear that, but is that your call to make?

      Women can not get pregnant without the carelessness of men not wearing a condom.  Although, now we want to pretend that teenagers are not going to have sex and not teach prevention to them.  This is just even more stupid.

      You want no unwanted pregnancies and you do not want to teach prevention?  That my friend is just beyond retarded!!! And lastly, if you force me to have a baby, who is going to pay for it? Prenatal care is expensive and God forbid the baby is not blond-haired and blue eyed. In America, the opportunity to be adopted if you are not White is less than 20%. Who is going to pay for the care and education of those children?

      Grow up Gecko!

      1. The cabinet proposed a curfew for all women. Gloda Mier pointed out that the problem wasn’t the women, it was the men and proposed that the curfew instead be for all men.

        The cabinet then decided it was a bad idea and dropped it. Funny how it works that way…

      2. in full support of any law that would require the biological father of a child to be held financially responsible for it.  We already have laws and programs in place to obtain money from men who owe child support from former marriages, how hard would it be to expand it?  Perhaps an Americorp type of organization to give the fathers a job, roof over their head, food and a small stipend.  The rest is used for the care and raising of the child.  Maybe not a complete answer but we could start there.

        It used to be that a man could be held responsible for paternity, for some reason we have gotten away from holding the men responsible for their actions.  Changing that would be a positive movement in our society.

    1. Your have a fantastically keen eye for things.  I was about to post the EXACT same thing!

      Anyway, well done, Gecko.  I agree absolutely with with on everything.  You honestly laid out what it is that conservatives believe.

      Here’s what you need to know about the liberal character and value system…

      1.) Liberals believe in progress in the sense that over time events and changes in human society are necessarily good.  That time will iron out all flaws in humanity and that the today is better than 50 or 500 years ago.  Conservatives are inherently skeptical about so-called “human progress.”  Edmund Burke, one of conservativism’s forefathers, believed, to quote George Will, “that the past is prescriptive because tradition is a repository of moral wisdom.”  That is, conservatives suspect that change over time is too suceptible to dumping tradition over-board.

      2.) Liberals believe that human nature is basically good.  That is why so many liberals point to the poverty in the Middle East as a foundation for Islamic terror.  Or take crime, where liberals believe that it must be outside factors, like poverty or a poor childhood, that causes an individual to take on a life of crime.  Conservatives take their cue from Burke, Adam Smith, and others whose philosophies accepted the Christian notion that human nature is evil and therefore necessary to control with a great variety of social pressures.  So an individual’s criminal activity–or terrorism–is a result of poor character rathern than environmental concerns like poverty or lack of health care.

      This is foundational to how both groups approach public policy.  Conservatives believe that if you use institutions like family, schools, and family to smooth and chip away at a child’s nature, you can produce a decent human being that will have little predilection to crime and violence.  Liberals believe that, because children are basically good, they should be given free-expression rather than suppressive morals and regulations.

      You can see why conservatives are so weary of government control.  They believe that as much power as possible should be put in the hands of society’s core institutions: family, church, community.  Power is a zero-sum game–if the government has control over education, charity, or anything else it means there is less control for communities.  We see this in Europe where the governments have basically usurped the private citizen’s capacity for charity by taking taxes out of his wages to provide for the poor.  Notice how liberals are much more suspicious of institions like church, community, and family.  The Left has worked to “deconstruct” the family institution through sexual liberation and feminism(remember “open marriages?”).  Liberals want to privatize institutions of faith, which have traditionally been at the center of an individual’s life.  Faith has always been a very public “good” that is woven through the ethos of Western Man’s life…until recently.  Finally, through big government measures like No Child Left Behind or Welfare, the government has taken power and control away from local communities and put it into the hands of federal bureaucrats.

      Hope that helps! 

      1. Dobson, your first two points are correct and describe the liberal value system well.  I disagree with your thoughts on how you describe the liberal’s take on the social fabric of society. 

        I don’t know any parents that believe their children “should be given free-expression rather than suppressive morals and regulations.” You describe liberal political thought well, but are wrong to associate a ‘liberal’ social agenda into what you described in points 1 and 2.

        How about this.  Conservatives can focus on smaller government and fiscal responsibility (like they used to), while the liberals can focus on stronger government and a better world (like they used to) – and let’s leave all the other stuff, church and family to the communities.

        Think we could work together then?

        1. But social ideas are core to conservative thinking.  Conservatism believes that because people are born selfish or wild, only institutions like church and family–which are directly involved in shaping character and passing on values–can form good people.  What you describe is libertarianism.  Libertarianism is conservatism stripped of Russel Kirk and Edmund Burke.  In other words, for libertarians the individual is the center of society and the market will regulate human longings and desires.  Conservatives don’t easily accept that.  Tradition (which is best imparted by faith) and family what conservatives value most.

          But libertarians can live with conservatism because both groups fundamentally favor local control and smaller government.  A big government is antithetical to both value systems.  But if you take the traditionalism out of conservatism you may have the body and mind of conservatism, but you don’t have the soul and for conservatives you may as well have nothing.  And most libertarians, except for, maybe Ayn Rand and a few other radicals, also accept family and community as core units of society. 

          What makes us different is how that idea plays out legislatively.  Libertarians are more reticent to use legislation to help families and faith.  But in philosophy, libertarians believe, like conservatives, that faith, family, and tradition should be foundational.

          I overstated the whole free-expression business.  I certainly don’t mean that liberals would let their kids grow their hair long and run naked through the streets.  But I mean that conservatives believe in a very narrow shaping of young minds and behavior while liberals believe that a child should be given over to HARMLESS experimentation.  So sex and minor drugs are a lot less of a big deal to liberals (again, I’m not talking about legalization.  Many conservatives favor making marijuana legal.  I’m just talking about philosophies).  And tradition–often religious–has more bearing on a conservative upbringing than a liberal’s.

          And of course this is all very general.  There are some people who don’t fit snuggly into either category.  I’m only trying to clarify the basics and moral centers of both value systems.  The TYPICAL liberal or conservative’s values system is endemic of the two principles I listed above.

          There is a fantastic and comprehensive quiz at

          that puts you into a multi-dimensional grid.  Try it out.

          1. level:

            Waht people call conservative (now) is a basic tenet that the system of government does not create value – it can create certain structures that enable individuals to create value, but the system has no part in the value created;

            Most liberals believe that the system by its very existence creates value.

            My problem is that I agree with the liberal position (just look at the US ability to create value versus the European ability to create value) but disagree with the liberal next step: how much value and the belief that enough value is created to solve all the problems they want to solve.

          2. (As this was a well-reasoned post by DDHGLQ I’m responding.) You said:

            Conservatism believes that because people are born selfish or wild, only institutions like church and family–which are directly involved in shaping character and passing on values–can form good people.

            If this was true, then Australia, which was colonized almost entirely by criminals for the first couple of generations, would have been a center of sin and lawbreaking.

            However, the follow-on generation was one of the most law-abiding places on earth. Society can influence people – but it can’t force people to act against their basic tenants. Ted Haggard is proof of that.

            – dave

            1. My understanding is that Australia was not colonized by criminals, but by British elites who brought the criminals along with them and kept them in jail.  If you keep the bad guys in prison while you build a culture based on faith and tradition you won’t feel the affects of the lawless underbelly.  Maybe you can tell me more about Australia…

              1. THe ebst book I have read on Australia is The Fatal Shore. Does a great job on the history.

                No they didn’t lock them up. If they did that it would have been cheaper to keep them in jails in England. And they needed every person working to avoid starving to death – it was touch and go at first.

                With rare exceptions, prisoners were not even locked up at night. If they ran away into the bush they would die. So they had to stay in the camps for food and shelter.

                And they worked off their sentances. Most cases were N years of prison labor and they were then free. In other cases it was get certain jobs done (like building a highway) and they were free.

                The British officers and civil servants were a very small minority in the country and most of them were there as bachelors and returned to England as they did not want to live with criminals.

                Australia was started almost entirely by criminals. And by ones that drew long prision terms. I think it was a sentance of 8 years or more required to ship you to Australia. And there was no upper limit – murderers, rapists, you name it – they were sent there.

                It was probably the biggest experiment ever (not on purpose) to see if criminality is heriditary. It isn’t.

                Or as C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity – it is God inside us that makes us do the right thing. (I’m paraphrasing – I read that years ago.)

                1. Very informative!  I’ll have to check that book out.  I’m taking my family to Australia in June (I’m not looking forward to that long flight with a baby!) and while I love John Howard I really know very little about the place and I always like to know a little bit about every place I visit.

                  You’re right that criminality is not heritary.  I certainly don’t believe that just because your dad steals cars that you’re doomed to theft.  But I do believe that the very urge–the impetus–that drove the dad lives within the son.  Human nature is a nasty business and it takes the rugged, tough grinder that is tradition to curb this nature.  And you’re also right that neither society nor government can ultimately compell human behavior.  Certainly both government and society can provide underlying support for right behavior but it no guarantee.  CS Lewis liked to talk about “men with chests.”  Right behavior and human decency are not something natural.  It take moral courage to be decent…and a healthy dose of grace, too!

                  1. Right behavior and human decency are not something natural.  It take moral courage to be decent…and a healthy dose of grace, too!

                    In that case Austrialia should have been a much worse society than England. It wasn’t.

                  2. check if you can get a bulkhead seat and they have a “bassinet”. SwissAir had them when we flew a 7 week old to Europe (long time ago) and that meant that from thirty minutes after takeoff to thirty minutes before take off their was a bassinet hung on the wall in front of us. It was much cheaper than buying a seat for a car seat and much nicer than carrying in the lap. Don’t know if they still have them but it was a lifesaver.

                    1. until we hit turbulence on a flight to Tokyo and there was no way to strap my daughter in as she did not have a seat. From then on we always bought a seat and put their car seat in it.

                    2. I’m taking Continental so I’ll have to give them a call.  We’ve flown to Europe with my little girls before when they were younger and it was really no big deal.  They were each a tad bit fussy but they slept and it was all really uneventful.  But this Australia trip–from here to LA to Honolulu to Australia–is going to be a killer for my wife and I let alone our three kids.  We’ve planned the flight times and layover times just so that my kids can have maximum nappy time and leg-stretching time.  My girls are old enough now to be able to handle it, but I don’t know how the baby will do.  At least they’ve got the in flight entertainment for my girls.  And once we’re there I’m sure it will be worth it.

          3. Took the quiz – am right where I thought I would be – in the center (actually called Centerville on the site – sounds boring as hell).

            I was being facetious in my last comment regarding the parties like they used to be – more a nostalgia for the old days than a wish for libertarian values.

            In regards to what you say about tradition, I still don’t understand why conservatives believe it is the responsibility of government to create strong tradition in our society.  You call traditionalism the soul of conservatism – I respectfully disagree. 

            What you call traditionalism, from my liberal point of view, is what we do already as a community.  Parents already raise their children under `religious’ guidelines, whether they have faith in a god or not.  I teach my boys not to hurt others. To not steal, lie – to treat others with respect… 

            More than 70% of Americans call themselves Christian.  In my mind this says they believe the rules Jesus Christ laid down should be followed.  Does the definition of traditionalism discount the Christian traditions already present in our society or does it hold the majority of Americans hypocrites? Why does the soul of the conservative movement feel so threatened in today’s day and age that they feel conservatives would be lost if not for this ‘traditional’ conservative base?  Why must traditionalism, which in your words is best imparted by faith, be instilled as part of a political party platform when the vast majority of Americans already practice traditional values?

            1. And I don’t think that we disagree nearly as much as you think we do.  Here’s the ideal: government is there to provide basic infrastructure and national security.  Communities, families, and institutions of faith provide charity and moral support.  In that sense, conservatism is fundamentally libertarian.  But here’s the problem: what if the culture has become so degraded that it is actually making the country, the government, the citizens weaker?  At that point conservatives don’t mind using the government–minimally–to help out the common good. 

              Here’s a few examples:

              1.) Janet Jackson’s breast.  When people start showing their breasts on television it is important for the government to step in.  The government has a vested interest in having a moral, decent, and self-disciplined citizenry and when our primary cultural institutions become base and degraded the government MUST step in.  Same with pornography.  We know that pornography hurts families and makes people morally weaker.  Because the influence of traditional moral supporter like Christianity and family has waned, the government is the last resort.

              There’s a fantastic story about Thomas Jefferson.  He was walking to church on the Lord’s Day with a little red hymnal in his arm and a friend came out astonished at the sight.  The friend remarked to Jefferson, why is a man of reason going to church?  Jefferson replied that while he was no flaming evangelical, he believed that it was vitally important that America had a religious, devout citizenry to allow for his libertarian ideal to work.  Only faith can best teach the self-discipline and decency necessary in a free-market system.  And what message would it send if the country’s top dog took a pass on church? 

              “The Christian religion, when divested of the rags in which they [the clergy] have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity and simplicity of it’s benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind,” noted Jefferson. 

              2.) Marriage and children and churches: the government provides tax benefits to married couples with children precisely because the familial institution is so beneficial to the country.  Churches are tax-exempt for the same reason.

              So the government is there to strengthen the institutions at the core of a strong America: family, community, and faith.  Because the government rightly sees these institutions as so vital they have a real interest in building them up–through tax breaks or legislation.

              The government’s primary role is to safeguard the common good–a secure, educated, and morally good populace.  That’s why I’m also not entirely opposed to some environmental regulations.  If you’ve got morally defunct corporations, I think the government should incentivize morally responsible corporate behavior through tax breaks and subsidies.  That’s probably a more socailly conservative position than, say, the average conservatives.

              And by the way, I took the test and I’m in the northeast quadrant of centerville right next to President Bush 🙂

              1. You can have the government force-feed religion down people’s throats. But by definition that is not a person of faith as they don’t believe. It does no good in this case.

                As to porn – if it’s so wrong why does it sell so well? And where do you draw the line? 100 years ago they would be aghast at what people wear on the beach today. But people today would be aghast at the open sexuality of the late middle ages.

                As to marriage & it being for children – ok, then you support the proposed law that if a married couple does not have children in 3 years the marriage is annuled? Because they are violating it’s purpose.

                The government’s primary role is to safeguard the common good–a secure, educated, and morally good populace.

                I thought the fundamental conservative point was to safeguard life & property? What I have a major problem with is a “morally good populace.” Because your morally good requires me to live my life as you think I should live it.

                I have 3 daughters who are kind, caring, intelligent, productive, and hard workers. They have never been in church as I’m agnostic and my wife hasn’t gone to church since she was a child. I think we’re doing just fine. You would have us all marched into church every Sunday at the point of a gun.

                One of the fundamental tenents of this country is we each live our own life. We each find our own way. Yes we have a common culture but if we had to point to one thing as our common touchstone, it would probably be the Decleration of Independence. That I will fight and die for.

                1. Well that’s not really what I want!

                  I’m with you, let’s not force religion–any religion–upon anybody.  But that doesn’t mean that government shouldn’t encourage religious activity and involvement.  Your daughters seem to all be lovely, civic-minded young ladies and cheers to you for your fine job as a father.  But you certainly cannot dispute that fact that religious institutions, as their raison d’etre is moral and societal betterment, are not one of the best things to shape a nation’s character.  Who wouldn’t want a society that prefers that drug-use, sexual promiscuity, and vulgarity be marginalized?  Most liberals can agree that these societal ills should be discouraged.

                  I’m a freedom guy.  I think you should have a maximum amount of freedom.  So I certainly would not be one to have your family marched into church every Sunday.  But I think your family and any family should be absolutely encouraged to go to church simply because churches to a fine job of building character and imparting values.  We should also encourage the forming of families as we know that these are also fantastic organs for imparting values and character. 

                  You raise an interesting point, though, when you ask, well, what values should the government be encouraging or legislating?  We’re a diverse group of people in a huge country and it’s not fair or right to make any values preference that will offend so many people…

                  Fair enough.  But I believe, as I’m sure do most people, that our country has a vested interest in encouraging the traditional values of the West: pluralism, liberty, democracy, self-control, faith, fairness.  You may disagree but I’ll simply invoke Thomas Jefferson in the quote in my last post where Jefferson says that good there is nothing better for science, reason, and civilization than good Christianity.  Families function as mini-societies where children can learn to share, debate, and live in community.  Churches do much the same thing.  The West was indisputably founded upon Christian values among other things, and the West is so great, so truly progressive, and so prosperous precisely because of these Christian values.  You can be quite secular like Thomas Jefferson and still see the inherent value of churches.

                  Finally, about the banning of pornography and homosexuality and the rest of it…

                  Conservatives generally lean towards liberty and that’s true in this case.  I probably wouldn’t want to ban pornography.  But I would certainly regulate it heavily and publicly fund pornography addiction programs much like we do alcohol.  The problem now is that our culture is saturated in dangerous, degrading smut.  And while you need a bit of censureship, the best solution is the market.  Sooner or later the media moguls will realize that movies like Narnia and the upcoming Amazing Grace are a lot more profitable than the quixotic Basic Instinct.

                  1. When I was young I had to go to Sunday School every Sunday. Episcopal church in the San Fernando valley and then in Hawaii (yes my parents are old-time Republicans).

                    I found it to be rote study and a set approach that was imposed on everyone. Repeat and believe. Would someone who followed this be a positive influence in society – absolutely.

                    But church as I experienced it, and the Episcopal church is one of the more laid back denominations, did not teach you to think and question and discover. It did the opposite.

                    So my view is that teaching kids to make the world a better place, and help them find the way that works best for them – without the restrictions a religion places – to be a much better approach.

                    But you certainly cannot dispute that fact that religious institutions, as their raison d’etre is moral and societal betterment, are not one of the best things to shape a nation’s character.

                    I do not think that is their raison d’etre. Read your history. While the church has produced many selfless individuals, it has also produced many who used it as a means of enrichment and advancement. Martin Luther did not nails the Banns on the church door to refine a saintly catholic church. He did it because he saw extensive corruption and self-interest.

                    I could go on from the inquisition to the excommunication of Galileo. Step after step after step the church takes that retards progress and consigns more people to death and misery.

                    Or take today with the fight against teaching evolution. Unquestionably that fight has led some students to not go for a career in Biology or Medicine – either because they were taught less, it was watered down, or their parents or pastor spoke out against it.

                    And who knows, one of those could have been the one to find the cure for cancer. They definitely would have helped. But instead we have the forces of bigotry and close-mindedness fighting to surpress clear facts.

                    I think churches can do amazing things. I think it was individuals religious faith that got the civil rights workers through that fight. And the black churches were their infrastructure.

                    I think the Salvation Army does incredible good and that their faith is a critical component of that. And the same holds for many many other organizations.

                    But the blanket statement that churches improve things and that we would be better if we all had faith – I don’t see that in history. From the historical perspective the church is just one more interest group.

                    And for the future, religion is in trouble. Up until about 100 years ago people did not see scientific progress occur in their lifetime. Religion provided as good an explination as science.

                    But now people see science bettering their life daily. They get answers and improvements from science. Religion can’t compete on those grounds anymore. So all that is left is faith and that faith now mostly concerns the afterlife.

              2. I thought that item #1 was a joke.

                Then realized that it wasn’t.

                Then I realized it is.  Amazing how otherwise intelligent people can think something like that is important.

      2. WTF? Institutions of faith are already private.

        Those of you who enjoy making public expressions of faith are welcome, under our Constitution, to do so. Those of us who would rather “go into our closets to pray” are entitled to communicate with God as we choose.

        Perhaps because of this, too many people on the right believe the canard that “liberals are much more suspicious of institutions like church, community and family.” As a flaming liberal churchgoing parent of two, I object.

        1. Like I said, modern liberalism seeks to make faith a solely PRIVATE institution whereas conservatism seeks to make it a public institution which is inseperable from modern man’s life.  The Enlightment sought to make faith a private investment whereas the public square should be dominated by reason and science and the rest of it.  Conservatism says that without a voice for faith in the PUBLIC square, a society will lose the bonds of tradition that are so essential.  You may be a churchgoer, but by privatizing faith and thereby giving the government more power over the public square and individual who live therein, you are actually hacking away at the power of the church.

        2.   Traditionally, that was true but with things like Shrub’s faith-based initiative, we’ve seem the government getting into the act of financially supporting specific “approved” denominations.

  2. #1: Abortion: I’m for the right to choose. A woman has the right to an abortion if she wants (with limits). I’ve seen too many girls get pregnant and substitute a baby’s love for the lack of love in their own lives. I’ve also seen too many girls on welfare having kids (see #2). If someone is on welfare, there should be mandatory birth control. Abortion should not be birth control, but having a child is a heavy price to pay for the mistake of unprotected sex.  I believe if men were able to have babies as well, abotion wouldn’t be an issue.

    #2: Social Programs: Not too many social programs, too much government intervention and too many strings attached to the money (at least in the nonprofit sector).  I agree that people need to know how to work hard, earn you money, live within your means and pull yourself up; however, there are and always will be those who are unable.  The government’s job is to care for those who are unable.  Does it do a good job at this? I think it got better under Clinton with Welfare to Work. I think we still have a ways to go. I don’t believe the free market will help those who have three children, no car, no skills and no support.

    #3: Healthcare: If you can buy it, you should. If you can’t the government should help you or provide it. The main reason I say this is it saves money if people are insured and able to get treatment, rather than unisured and going to emergency rooms.

    #4: Taxes: I pay taxes because I know they go towards providing services I need (trash, police, fire, education…). We should raise the taxes rich and super rich, why?, because they don’t pay the same percentage that you and I pay. They’re able to protect their money through loopholes and investments so their tax rate is probably lower than ours.  I do not believe that tax cuts benefit the country because the money doesn’t trickle down to benefit the middle and lower classes. 

    #5: Education: I agree with everything you say, except vouchers.  I’m not ready to give up on public education.  There are ways to address the problems we face, but since traditionally Dems are the education party and they get money from the teachers’ unions, there won’t be the kind of changes we need to see.  That doesn’t mean we need to give up on public ed though.

    #6: College: Agreed. Although I think scholarships, work/study programs and student loan programs should continue. I’m concerned about the rising costs of higher education, and know there is more we could do to improve our community colleges and trade schools.

    #7: Agreed: In the same line of reasoning, I don’t want government to legislate Christian values on me.  I don’t have a problem with gays marrying, doesn’t affect me, couldn’t care less.

    #8: Immigration: Agreed.  Although I think learning another language never hurt anybody.

    1. #1 Support a woman’s right to choose in 1st trimester.  Have no idea how to enforce illegal 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions. Wish the AMA would take the stand that aborting viable fetuses violated their Hippocratic oath, making it a licensing issue and not a legal one. (PS: I can’t see any way to make birth control mandatory.)

      #2  You are sooo right.  There isn’t too much money being spent on social programs, just too much red tape and accountability BS that syphons money away from children, families, disabled, etc.

      #3 Agreed.

      #4  Keep the percentages the same, tighten up loopholes so they really are the same.

      #5  Agreed

      #6 Agreed

      #7 Put the government in charge of the licensing requirements for all “Civil Unions” (gay and straight), let couples decide what they want to call it.

      #8 Dramatically increase work visas for immigrants with a clean background check (no felonies) and proof of job or job offer.  Make it a quick, relatively easy and affordable process. (Tall order for a government program)

      1. Everyone talks about the “cost” – look, folks, the reality is that we spend way less than we used to. I remember very well my elementary school years in the 50s and 60s. My next door neighbor rode the “short bus” to school. He went to a room with one “attendant” and was warehoused. All of his therapy and other activities came from the state social services, not the schools. I would be surprised if more than 1% of our local school budget went to special ed. Now, most school districts spend over 10% of there budget on the same kids they used to spend 1% on. Not saying its a bad thing – just saying it is a federal requirement to spend that money. And total fed dollars are less than 2% of the district school budget. That is less than 1/5th of the cost of just the special ed – not all the other fed requirements.

        I agree wholeheartedly that we have changed schools and they aren’t as stringent. but let’s face it – I was in AP math and was doing stuff that my kid will do in his Junior year now. The content has gotten much more involved and the resources are being driven elsewhere.

        I will support vouchers the day that:

        1. There is a money back guarantee from the education provider if they fail to perform (I would suggest a bonding requirement just like other providers).

        2. The voucher school must accept any special needs student and provide the same level of care as required by the ADA as a public school does.

        3. The private company complies with all student testing reporting requirements the school districts have to. (Simple, just make the voucher schools comply with NCLB).

        Then I will start saying “let’s go vouchers”. Until then I have no way of knowing whether my money is any better spent than at public schools.

        1. YOu can’t make the public schools provide services to handicapped individuals and let the private schools off of the hook. The only reason the vouchers for private schools work is two fold: The typical teacher is not certified and receives a lower salary than in the public sector, and, said schools need not provied education for those who are high cost.

          1. Private schools can fire teachers. That is a giant advantage they have.

            The better ones tend to get better teachers because good teachers, like most any profession, will work for less pay if they can be more effective and have less BS to put up with.

            Your points are good too. But it’s more than just that.

              1. The vast majority of parents in a private school are engaged and that makes a tremendous difference. TO a large degree that holds for public schools in upper middle class districts too – and it helps there a lot too.

                Parent/Teacher night at Fairview is a zoo – all of South Boulder is there. In the schools out in the poorer areas some teachers never meet the parents of some of their students.

      1. many professional assassins prefer the .22, it’s the top choice because it is the only one that can be effectively silenced.  In the hands of a skilled murderer, the .22 can do useful work.  Personally, however, for close-in work, I prefer the flame thrower.

            1. is that all those tanks are awfully hard to conceal under your jacket, no matter how loose the tailor cuts it.  What’s the point of a concealed carry permit if you can’t conceal it.  Plus, with the price of petroleum where it is today, the flame thrower can be expensive.  But a good second amendment man don’t back down for nothin’.

              1. Not that I use them or anything.  My yuppie ass couldn’t fire a squirt gun let alone a veritable beast like a flame-thrower.  But I think that the flame thrower could quite simply be one of my favorite things in the universe.  It’s actually a bit of a joke with between my mates and me.  They aren’t legal, are they?

  3. First let me say that I am impressed. You presented your ideas in a coherent, reasonable manner. I appreciate your candor.

    Now for the thumping.

    1) I am pro-choice. It is the woman’s decision in all cases and at all times. Im tired of hearing that it is the woman’s fault. Im tired of people thinking that abortion is done as a matter of convenience. Essentially, what you are advocating is a suspension of a woman’s freedom, and I can not accept that. I find your option for disadvantaged women interesting, but again it sets an unreasonable burden on the mother. Is she to kowtow to what the adoptive parents wants? If you could flesh it out, I would be intereted to read it.

    2) I disagree. I going to make an assumption, and not meaning to offend, I think many people can use examples that they hear in the media of a person that is using the system and then stratify that it applies to every or almost every person in that program. Everybody gets outraged when they hear about a person that abuses the system, but that happens at all levels of income. The bad apples spoil the bunch, and I bet at a subconscious level, for many people, not you necessarily, race plays a factor.

    3) Health care is monstrously expensive. I cant just buy it, because I cant afford it. The crap insurance I get through the school is ridiculously expensive if i get sick or injured. Edwards health plan, if I remember correctly, allows for an individual to opt out, but I need to double check it. Universal provides a safety net for society, because people without insurance are a greater drain than a society where everybody does.

    4) Taxes are essential to government. If you feel you are paying too much that is a subjective opinion. Didnt you just buy a new truck? Seems to me that your priorities are out of whack if you prefer trucks to food. OR, your analagoy that you are putting less food on your table is red herring. You realize that the Bush’s tax cut does not affect you in the least. Nor, probably would a tax increase. Im sorry Gecko, but I dont believe that you make over 200k a year, although you might. How about we increase taxes on capital gains, eliminate farm subsidies for farms with greater than 100 head of cattle (or similar varient), eliminate corporate subsidies for multinational companies? There are three ideas that will increase your personal bottom line, and have zero effect on you.

    5) Vouchers are a terrible idea. Schools are not business and should not be run as such. I know many quality teachers that choose to work in underperforming schools. They get no support from parents or the general public because the students dont understand the material and teachers only have a finite amount of time to teach. Add in overcrowding, lack of funding for proper facilities and books, and a need to teach to the test so scores will improve, yeah the system is broken. But NCLB is not helping, and neither are CSAPs.

    6) Im sorry, but it is not that simple. I paid for my undergrad, and I am paying off the loans of law school and paying for my grad school. It is a shitload of money. When I am done my amount of debt will be obscene. Government backed loans help, and thank christ for the dem congress decreasing the interest rate, because at a previous 8% it is a struggle. Your son goes to a public university so everyone helps keep the cost down.

    7) If every single right that is extended to marriage is extended to legal unions fine, but if not I have a big problem with it. I know a decent amount of gay people, and they are not forcing their lifestyle onto others. Look at the history of marriage and you will find that it is not sacred. Historically, it has been a means to an economic end.

    8) Learning to speak another language is not easy. Christ, I took spanish for three years and cant speak it worth a damn. I encourage them to learn english, but we need to be reasonable. Culturation does not occur overnight.

  4. As above, I appreciate the opportunity to put flesh on the bones of the ancient liberal/conservative argument. I’m curious whether Gecko’s mind is changed at all by what he reads here. Mine has been — I think we’re closer on many of these issues than the “conventional wisdom” would indicate.

    1) Abortion: Mostly agree with Gecko. Should be safe, legal and rare. Most second- and third-trimester abortions take place for medical reasons, which are none of our collective business. Girls AND BOYS make stupid mistakes, and the urge to procreate is strong, which is why we should preach celibacy to kids while making birth control widely available. I hope my kids decide to wait until marriage, but despite parental advice, I sure didn’t. Therefore, I advise purity but acknowledge reality.

    2) Social programs: Agree with Lauren. Many programs are good but not efficiently managed. There’s a business case for a lot of social programs: spend a little money now, save tons of money later. Cf. the homeless housing program underway in Denver and other cities, which keeps people out of expensive stays in detox and the ER.

    3) Healthcare: There’s a business case for single-payer health care too. There’s also an existing, well-run, extremely successful American example in Medicare. I would much rather deal with one government bureaucracy than the myriad of private ones we currently have. Most of us pay way too much and get way too little; doctors are quitting, employers are suffering and the insurance companies are ripping everybody off. We have the best health care delivery system in the world. We need health care funding to match.

    4. Taxes: Colorado has one of the lowest per capita tax burdens in the country. Go talk to somebody in Massachusetts or Maryland before you whine about what we pay here.

    5. Schools: Man, I am tired of the “public schools are broken” argument. It’s another canard — I have never heard this from an actual current public school parent. I have two kids in Jeffco schools. THEY ROCK. Free public education is a cornerstone of our democracy, founded in the subversive idea that all children should be taught to think for themselves. Some public schools are broken and should be fixed. Leave the rest of them alone.

    6. College: Do you want a university education to be strictly the province of kids whose parents can afford $200,000 in cash or debt?

    7. Gays: Agreed. Your marriage (to whomever, doing whatever) does not threaten my marriage unless you hit on my spouse.

    8. Immigrants: Agreed with both Gecko and Car31. Learning another language never hurt anybody. Also with Toodles: it’s hard. 

    Sign me, Registered Democrat Free Market Capitalist

    1. You mean they’re falling faster than a rock through water…

      I went to Jeffco schools, and though my kids are too young, I assume they’ll be going to Jeffco schools.  But the quality of the education varies widely depending on where you are.  Primary education is 50/50 and the only middle and high schools that are halfway decent are in the poshest areas.  Fortunately, I’m in a nice enough area to get a decent education.  But for many Jeffco residents that simply not the case.  What’s more, as demographic changes in Jeffco broaden and lots of wealthier Jeffco families move into DougCo or Arapahoe/Littleton schools, you’ll see Jeffco plummet.

      I’m curious why you think free public education should be the cornerstone of our democracy…

      If it was really THAT important, shouldn’t our founders have slipped that into the Constitution?  Answer: No.  Because they believed, quite rightly, that PARENTS should be the primary educators.  Back in the gaslamp days they certainly had schools.  But they were loose-knit groups rather than uber-bureaucratic behemoths that we have today.  You can’t possibly look at our achievement scors and such in America measured up against most other countries and say that everything here is sunny.  It’s rather foggy.

      What’s more, as a self-proclaimed free-market Democrat, you should have no problem with vouchers.  Vouchers are simply the best way to give educational control to parents.  But the problem is that liberals relish their unified and universal control over our education system are are reluctant to give it up.  It’s too bad, really, because we know from Milwaukee, Cleveland, and on-again-off-again program here, that school systems are a whole lot better when parents are in control of their child’s education.

      1. Vouchers only provide choices for parents with perfectly normal kids and enough money to make up the balance of the tuition.

        The program is meant to destroy the public education system, according to one of its early proponents, John Andrews. And replace it with what? That’s always been my question. How would anyone benefit from returning to a society where only children of privilege get educated? What’s the point?

        One of my children is high-functioning autistic (138 IQ, plenty weird) and nobody but the public schools would have anything to do with him. Not the private schools, not the charter schools, not the religious schools. It has taken all of us (teachers, administrators, various private therapists, parents and the kid) working like crazy, but he is in regular college prep classes and doing very well.

        So don’t bother me with the party line about union teachers, parental involvement or Jeffco schools. I live it every day. I know it better than you.

        Our schools of choice: Hackberry Hill, Moore and Pomona, before you ask.

        1. I live in Boulder and my kids got to Fairview High School which has the second highest average SAT scores in the state – including private schools. It is about as good as it gets for a public school and that is very good.

          Yet the BVSD has a lot less success when the kids are poor and/or minorities. It is failing those kids where it is a major effort to get the children to graduate high school. I believe that 40% never do. And for many that do graduate, they are not prepared for college.

          If the parents of the kids are uppper middle class, the public school does great. It still has problems but it does great.

          But for the poor – it is a disgrace and a disaster and a failure.

          1. Why is it that we as a country seem to have this perpetual problem with getting poorer students to succeed?  It’s partially in the school funding system, which in most areas is designed to disadvantage the disadvantaged.  It’s partially due to hardships at home, and partially due to lack of proper nutrition…

            But none of those things are going to be solved with vouchers.  In fact, just the opposite is true: the proper funding of schools through the state and national budgets is what can distribute the appropriate funds to those schools in need.

            1. nothing will change. 

              I lived by Manual High, although I never had a child there.  I remember when the forced bussing was ending, Manual had a parents meeting, the first of several.  Only a few dozen parents showed up. 

              The Denver Post, on writing about this, tread as delicately as they could to tell the readers that none of those parents were black. Like my neighbors, who had plenty of money to buy many dozens of videos,and alchol and pot, but there wasn’t a book in the house. 

              Unless I am very wide of the mark, don’t all schools within a system get the same funding per student?  A concerned parent can make up for a lot of the lack of money or even inferior teachers.  It seems that no matter what school Asian kids go to, they excel.

              1. I’m not sure I’m right here, but I think Colorado is like many states in that public school funding is dependent on property taxes.  So higher-valued homes get more money (Cherry Creek) per student than low-valued homes (Manual).  It’s also the case that wealthier districts can vote for mill levies, or do community fundraising, to provide supplies, arts funding, buy band equipment, computers, or sports equipment.  Obviously, that’s beyond the reach of poor neighborhoods.  Jonathan Kozol wrote a very good book, Savage Inequalities, documenting the inequities in the public schools in terms of per-student spending.

                I’m not disputing your central point, that parents do matter.  (I also wonder about the work schedules and commitments of the parents who didn’t go to Manual meetings; I suspect many of them may not have had 9 to 5 office jobs.)  But one of Kozol’s more trenchant critiques was that as soon as people start talking about spending more to shrink class sizes or update textbooks, those who don’t want to fork over start saying that money doesn’t matter and parental values are the only thing that counts.  Clearly, both are important. 

              2. The Feds and State provide a base amount of cash on a per-student basis to each and every school district.  But above and beyond that, here in Colorado each district raises its own taxes based on property values.  Districts with lots of rich people can raise a lot of money to support their school with relative ease; districts with lots of poor people can’t raise a lot of money no matter what the tax rate – you can’t get blood from a stone, after all.

                There is some amount of sense to this, in that it usually costs more to live where property values are higher.  But that doesn’t account for the full value of the revenues in those districts, most of which is used to provide quality and quantity of things that poorer districts can’t afford.

                1. has over a $10 million budget and a little more than $200,000 or just over 2% comes from the feds. So, Fed funding isn’t worth talking about.

              3. Individual schools can raise money to buy the extras…library books, music instruments, etc. in DPS.  The schools with affluent parents raise a hell of a lot of money and are far better equipped thank schools with poor parents.

                1. supporting the school. Isn’t it sad that we are really saying is – I recognize we need more money for schools but I only want to support my kids, not anybody elses. So, lower my tax payments for education and I will take that money and give it to my school.” It’s that rgeat spirit of American cooperation.

        2. We have friends with the same kind of kid. They worked with him all through k-12. He graduated from the U. of Chicago and is doing very well in his professional life. Keep going and good luck.

          1. His kindergarten teacher, who figured him out right away (and had him reading before Labor Day), told us, “He’s going to have a tough childhood, but he’ll be the coolest adult.” So far she’s been right about the former, and the latter is looking pretty good these days.

    2. With my recent experience with the State of Connecticut I found higher State taxes, a ridiculously low threshold for having to pay Estate taxes, higher inheritance taxes, higher court costs, higher fees, higher property taxes, the list goes on.  This is the point though, I don’t want to pay Connecticut taxes, I like mine here. Low and reasonable. I appreciate our low tax rates and fear becoming like Connecticut. Is this a bad thing?

      1. It happens to be the wealthiest state in the union and so they hack away at the Greenwich and southern Connecticut residents to give to inner-city New Haven, Waterbury, and Hartford folks.  The northeast is losing population and businesses to the west and south precisely because people–even millionaires (ESPECIALLY millionaires) get tired of subsidizing the incomes of poor inner-city people.  Colorado is so attractive to newcomers and businesses because our tax rates are so low and manageable.  In turn, the growth helps our economy.  I simply see no reason to hike taxes and scare away vitally important growth.

          1. and continual push/pull from both sides is so important.  It keeps us from becoming like Mass. or Ct., while funding important programs and services.

            See, you need us!  (and visa versa)

  5. I’m breaking these out item bu item. First off, great post Gecko – love it.

    I don’t think abortion is a liberal/conservative value. I think it is a deeply personal moral judgement that each person makes.

    And I don’t think it is one that is open to factual discussion. I think science can tell us when a fetus will feel pain, when it has some self awareness, when it is viable outside of the womb.

    But science cannot tell us when it becomes human. When it has a soul. When it starts to think and feel.

    Yes liberals tend to support abortion and conservatives tend to oppose it. But there are very liberal people who view any abortion as murder. And there are very conservative people who accept each individual’s right to choose.

    The key question for each person is not is it ok – I think very few people view any abortion as no big deal. The key question is when do most people view it as an acceptable alternative – the least bad choice of several bad alternatives.

    And because it is a personal moral decision, Roe v Wade was a horrible intrusion of the judicial branch into a decision that absolutely belongs in the legislative branch. This is one of the core issues we should be discussing and having our legislature then implement laws that meet the concensus we in this state arrive at.

    So not liberal vs conservative on this issue. Rather personal introspection of each of us.

    My view. First, we need to do a much better job of teaching teens about birth control. They are going to have sex no matter what we do. Let’s at least protect them from pregnacy and STDs. I do think it is not logical for people to both oppose sex education and oppose abortion.

    Second, I think it should be legal for the first trimester only. I am quesy about the second trimester and am very opposed to the third trimester being allowed for abortions.

    But more than anything, I think as a state we should discuss this issue and come to a decision about what most of us find as an acceptable compromise via the legislature.

    And with that decision also respect those who view abortion at any step as murder because it is a resonable moral position. I don’t share it, but I respect it.

    thanks – dave

    1. then people who feel very strongly about it could move to where the laws comport with their beliefs.

      I could still visit California, New York or Colorado, but I’d have to move to Utah or Idaho.

      1. As an aside, except for Lauren B. and Emma Jones, this entire discussion on abortion has been apparently conducted by men.  Does that strike anyone as odd?

        Right now, the right to abortion (without restriction in the first trimester and with varying restrictions thereafter) is a civil right belonging exclusively to women.  As a citizen of the United States, a woman has a right to privacy under the 4th and 9th amendment to the US Constitution.  She may make her own decision on abortion and even ask the federal courts to protect the decision.  The first 10 amendments to the Constitution confer rights on individuals, independent of the action of the majority in either Congress or various state and local legislatures. It is a fundamental part of being a citizien.

        So let me ask those of you who want this to be decided by the states, instead of a protected civil right.  What other civil rights should be turned over to the states?  What about “equal protection of the law?”  Should states determine what that means…separate but equal? What about resegregating the public schools?  What about getting rid of the Miranda warning?  What about posting the Protestant version of the Ten Commandments in public schools, if the state legislature mandates that?  Tell me, what else should go?  Any why?  What rights do we retain as United State citizens?

          1. Sooner or later, people give clues to their gender and I appreciate your identification.  However, I went back over the abortion posting and if you gave an opinion, I couldn’t find it. What did I miss?

            1. Pasted from above.

              1) Abortion: Mostly agree with Gecko. Should be safe, legal and rare. Most second- and third-trimester abortions take place for medical reasons, which are none of our collective business. Girls AND BOYS make stupid mistakes, and the urge to procreate is strong, which is why we should preach celibacy to kids while making birth control widely available. I hope my kids decide to wait until marriage, but despite parental advice, I sure didn’t. Therefore, I advise purity but acknowledge reality.

              I respect people who oppose abortion for deeply felt personal reasons of faith, but suspect there’s a lot of woman-bashing lurking around the edges of the pro-life movement.

              1. Just be sure to also discuss how it works and be honest about your own decisions. Kids don’t need mixed messages, that’s how they end up getting in trouble and making their own mistakes.

        1. It has been fascinating to read this discussion. Now on the issue of abortion, let us take it a bit further.  Suppose Roe is overturned and the states decide on abortion policy. Should a state have a right to mandate abortion?  What about deciding that no woman receiving public assistance could remain pregnant? What about mandatory prenatal testing and a state law mandating abortion for certain severe and expensive birth defects? Spinal bifida? Downs Syndrome?  What about a  state ruling that  because a father has a financial obligation, that abortion would be his decision alone?

          Suppose a state decided that certain religions should be limited in the number of children a family has?  Suppose a state decided that benefits would only be extended to two children per family…..medical insurance, public education, etc?

          Suppose a state decided that retarded women would not be allowed to reproduce?  Suppose, as was mentioned here a while back, that all rape victims who became pregnant would have to have abortions to prevent the “spawn” of the rapist from entering the world?

        2. on this thread is no more odd than predominately male legislatures and male-dominated Congress debating the issue.

          I’m pro-choice. I think the debate on abortion is something of a red herring that is precipitated by the Roe decision. The issue, Roe aside, is unintended pregnancy. Abortion is a result of unintended pregnancy. We won’t solve the issue of unintended pregnancy if we keep the argument focused on abortion. The discussion should be focused on prevention, a can of worms that has already been opened for discussion on this thread.

          I don’t hold out hope that we’ll find common ground on prevention either because the discussion always goes back to abstinence versus birth control. It’s all intended to keep the loyalists engaged but without ever reaching consensus.

    2. and it didn’t work – which was the whole point of Roe v Wade.

      David, I appreciate your post – it’s thought-provoking and totally reasonable. I wish the discussion on abortion could stay this reasonable. And I agree 100% that the way to avoid even getting into the discussion is by giving people the information they need and access to birth control. I liked your comment about dealing with reality as a parent 🙂

      Pre-Roe, abortion was legal in a few places, but illegal in most of the country.  The whole idea of Roe was that a Constitutional right – in this case, the right to  privacy – is not subjugated to local control or local laws. 

      Roe was based on Griswold v Connecticut, which established the right to privacy precedent.  The state of Connecticut had been regulating (or banning, somebody smarter than me please remind me) access to birth control, even for married couples, and the Court said the Constitutional right to privacy overrode the state’s interest.

      There’s been discussion that Roe, rather than being argued on the penumbra of the right to privacy, should have argued on the grounds that banning abortion automatically violates the equal protection clause of the 5th amendment since it only applies to women.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg, among others, has made this argument.  I think a legal precedent on enumerated rights would probably have withstood the post-Roe scrutiny, but since Griswold was the most immediate precedent Sarah Weddington et al went with that one rather than making new arguments.

      So, reverting to legislative rule – a state by state decision – on abortion means overturning Roe v Wade.

      Which goes back to my previous points – we  are not a nation of majority rules, and the Constitution protects the rights of the minority from the oppression of the majority. Constitutional rights do not change depending on what state you’re in. The 1964 Civil Rights Act would never have passed a Gallup poll, and most of the speech protected by the 1st amendment is wildly unpopular.

      I think it’s reasonable to be queasy about second and third trimester abortions. But, my problem is that many of them are medically necessary – I had a friend who had one.  Without going into the gruesome details, she had a “non-viable fetus.” Fortunately, it was before the late-term abortion ban – and that ban would have forced her to go through hours of labor rather than a relatively short medical procedure.

      Like I said, these are difficult questions, and ones that most of us have to decide for ourselves.

      1. I agree that the constitution is supreme. And that courst do need to step in and enforce it. And that those rights are important.

        But I don’t buy the argument that there is a right to privacy in the constitution (the word is never mentioned). And that even if that right was spelled out, that it made abortion a constitutional right.

        Most any lawyer will tell you that Roe is a totally hack of the law – it was a lame excuse to let the court find this right.

        I drop back to we should be a nation of laws, not whatever 5 people on the court think we should have for laws.

        – dave

        1. One of the rights granted in the Bill of Rights is that the Constitution does not enumerate all rights, and the precedent is well established for the courts to accept “new” rights; it is a common fallacy that the lack of any explicit declaration of a right within the Constitution or its Amendments is an affirmative offense against that right.

          I have a hard time conceiving any sense of the word “rights” that does not include the right of a person to consult with their doctor (or any other person) on procedures they would like to have performed on themselves, unless the doctor is found to be incompetent or fraudulent.  In that sense, Roe is not as much a hack as it seems.

          You have no problem with abortions as defined, except that you might personally want the time period shortened.  That’s all well and good, but I will say that the court system is in a much better place to hear the arguments about viability, etc. than you are as a person – and that’s the system we have now.  But as for those with religious reasons (and those who believe in carrying to term as “just desserts” for an irresponsible person), no legal rationale can hold sway.  I may personally be against abortions, but I do not believe I have any legal grounds on which to base my objections.

          1. You are correct that “the lack of any explicit declaration of a right within the Constitution or its Amendments is an affirmative offense against that right.” But that does not mean the converse – that the right is granted.

            The bottom line is that there is nothing in the constitution that provides that right. And while you believe that it is a natural right, why should your opinion have the rule of law?

            As to the courts determining viability, I’m fine with that if a law is passed putting that in the hands of the courts. But the courts should not reach out and grab that even if there is no law.

            I come back to we must be a nation of laws. If not, then if there are 5 DDHGLQ’s on the supreme court, imagine the rulings it would pass if it did not find itself bound by law.

              1. Originally you had to be white, male, and a property holder to vote. And Amendments 15, 19, & 26 say you cannot use race/gender/age 18+ to discriminate on who can vote. But even those do not say who can vote.

                The law says who can vote (and not vote), not the constitution.

            1. The Miranda rights.  These have been established absent an actual law; the Supreme Court has ruled that such rights are, according to the Bill of Rights, “natural rights” – inherent in the act of being.  And so they have done with the Right of Privacy (such as they’ve defined it, anyway) and, building on that, the right to an abortion.  It is not given to the Congress and President alone to define the concept of a Constitutional right – the Supreme Court is, after all, the legal arbiter of the Constitution.

      2. I am not smarter than you, just probably older.  Connecticut had banned the sale of all contraceptives, including the sale to married couples.  The decision in Griswald v. CT held that the law was unconstitutional because it violated the right of privacy.

        There is no ban on late term abortions, although I think the Supreme Court did agree to consider one and will rule in June.  The late term abortion bans, both state and federal, are enjoined by various courts because they do not meet the guidelines set forth in Roe which mandates an exception be made for the health of the mother.

        Thank you for pointing out the necessity of protecting individual rights from the majority.

  6. I know there is a large chunk of liberals who take the view that the government should insure equality of outcomes. All teams win the state playoffs. All students got a 4.0. All families have an upper middle-class income.

    There is a large chunk that think everyone should live as they say (which I have noticed tends to differ from how those actually do live). We have a lot of this in Boulder. How dare anyone have a McMansion. How dare anyone drive to work instead of take the bus. How dare anyone…

    There is a large chunk that thinks the government should insure that the “important” jobs (ie their jobs) pay moare than they do.

    But the above is not most liberals. Most liberals, including me, view social programs as providing one of two key functions.

    1 Equality of opportunity. A child with a crappy education has no real chance in life to be successful. A child who is malnourished has no chance to learn even in a good school. A parent with no job skills cannot provide for their family. Yes each should work hard and be paid based on the value of that work. But we need to give them the ability, the possibility, to live the American dream.

    2 A safety net. To say that in this country no one will starve. That no one will die of a disease that can be cured. That when the economy turns South and you can’t find a job for 6 months or more, you do not lose everything. You and your family do not end up on the street, your kids leavinf school and their friends.

    How much to do for the above is a hard question. And how to do it most effectively is constanly argued. But for most liberals, the above two items are the basic goals.

    This is not nanny-ism. And this is not welfare dependancy (although if someone is willing to live at the bar minimum, the safety net is this). It is enabling the American dream for everyone.

    And don’t forget, it was Clinton who finally pushed through welfare reform. It’s not perfect, but it sure is a lot better and much more closely maps to the two items I listed above.

    – dave

  7. In this country we pay twice per capita than any other first world country and our healthcare is worse by almost any measure (number of children dying int he first 5 years, average number of years lived after a heart attack, etc.)

    Now for a lot of things we can ignore that kind of tradeoff. If we paid twice the price for soda pop and enjoyed it less – well every economy is imperfect.

    But healthcare costs are a gigantic part of the economy. And they are growing at about double the rate of inflation and have been doing so for years. This must be answered or this problem will destroy our economy.

    And that requires the government to address it. Just as the government funded the railroads, the interstate highway system, and the airline infrastructure because transportation was critical to the economy.

    That was the conservative argument for the government getting involved – that the economy is at risk. Now for the liberal one.

    The healthcare system we have is out of reach for a large segment of our population. There are people who cannot buy it either because it is too big a chunk of their salary or it is not available at any price (pre-existing condition).

    There are people who cannot leave their job or have individual insurance and can never switch because they have a pre-existing condition and if they switch, they lose their coverage. For those getting it through their job, they are tied to that job as if they were an indentured servant.

    And there are people who can afford the insurance, but it is a tremendous hit on their income. It basically sucks up every spare penny they have. And as something that really is a necessity, not an option, they have no choice.

    And as liberals, we look at this mess and we say, it is unnecessary. Yes single-payer has inefficiencies and downsides. Yes mandated insurance also has inefficiencies and downsides. Yes every other liberal proposal has it’s problems.

    But all of those plans, all of those government interventions share a couple of very positive points.

    1. They cost less for our country than our present system.
    2. They provide better medical care, on average, much better than our present system.
    3. They cover everyone.
    4. They do not take very last bit of income from the working poor. And they do not make industries like car manufacturers totally uncompetitive.

    So yes, as a liberal I see it as essential to have the government step in on health care. But as a conservative, I’m surprised you don’t see a need too.

    And I am hopeful that this will be worked out like welfare reform, where between the liberals and conservatives, in the art of the compromise we will find a better way than that found in the rest of the first world. And that we will find a way to bring market pressures to bear on the health industry (because it sure doesn’t face market pressures today).

    – dave

    1. Proponents of nationalized, socialized medicine keep repeating the big lies about health care costs and outcomes in America.

      That health care costs more in America is true, but the context of the statement is a lie. Same goes for outcomes.

      Here are some reasons.

      Health care costs more here because we pay providers more. And even with all the technology and drugs, health care is a very labor intensive business that uses the skills of very smart, educated and highly-paid professionals.

      This is why there is no way to contain health care cost increases with price controls or government payment schemes. Health care professionals have the smarts and clout to maintain their living standards. If they can’t maintain those living standards, they will quit. Ask rural Colorado.

      And with the aging of the population and the use of technology that requires even more skilled people in ever more bureaucratic environments, more high-paid people will be needed. Costs will continue to rise and anyone who promises otherwise is lying. Everyone in health care and all the politicians know this.

      No country is as wealthy as the U.S. The wealthier a country or community is, the more it spends on health care. Health care is a service that people will buy regardless of the cost so long as they can afford it. In this country, we can aford more health care than people with lower per capita incomes can afford in other countries. Bottomline is that we’re lucky we can spend what we do on health care, that we can have access to the technology and smart professionals who care for us, because no other country is so lucky at so many income levels.

      Comparing treatment and diagnostic outomes in America with the rest of the world began back in the 1970s and 1980s, and every study I’ve read has been flawed.

      The studies are flawed because they are comparing apples with oranges. What makes much more sense is comparing outcomes in high cost states like MA, NY, CA and NJ with outcomes in Utah, CO and lower cost states. Compare Boulder’s outcomes with those in Denver, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs and you might learn something. You’ll learn that outcomes and variations in the practice of medicine reflect the norms of the schools and hospitals where professionals were educated and trained as well as those of the physicians who lead hospital medical staffs and departmental medical staffs. While evidence-based medicine is gaining adherents, it only applies to about 50% of medical practice, meaning, there will be no Joy of Cooking for oncologists.

      International comparisons of outcomes are misleading because of the huge cultural differences among countries and sections of countries and even states and cities. Cultural differences affect patients’ compliance and adherence to doctors’ orders, and that affects outcomes big time.

      Our huge country’s geographic and demographic differences are unequaled by any other country. Try comparing the health care outcomes for similar demographic groups (cohorts) in different countries, states, cities and hospitals. You’ll get a much better feel for the relative quality of outcomes. There are good reasons that affluent foreigners to come to the U.S. for health care. I don’t know any affluent Americans who go to Canada, the U.K., France, Germany or Italy for medical care. Yes, some are going to India at the behest of cost conscious employers (the dishonest brokers in health insurance markets) and insurers, but they sure aren’t going for the quality. That they assume the quality will be good is scary.

      Is health care perfect in the U.S., Colorado, the Front Range or elsewhere in the world? Nope. Health care is delivered by people, and humans ain’t perfect. Governments are run by politicians, and they are among the least perfect humans on the planet, especially when it comes to running health care industries. Ask the Russians, the kids attending our broken schools and Denver’s voters.

      1. The studies (latest one by UNICEF, e.g.) all compensate costs based on the per-capita income of the people living in the various countries.  Furthermore, I would suggest that the Japanese have a more diverse economic scale (Tokyo vs. rural areas) than does the United States.  And finally, more and more people are going overseas for their advanced healthcare needs; I have seen very few breakthrough operations being performed in the U.S. lately, and people cross the Canadian border all the time to get their drugs now.

        Perhaps instead of asking the Russians, the kids attending our broken schools, and Denver’s voters, I should be asking the employees of Enron, the insured of U.S. Healthcare, or the depositors of Silverado S&L.  No system is perfect; put some balance into it…

  8. Marriage is only sacred because we, as a society, have confused and intermingled “sacred marriage”–i.e., marriage sanctified by a private religious denomination–with the civil, contractual institution also (unfortunately) known as “marriage.”  There is nothing whatsoever “sacred” about a government-issued “marriage license.”  The ENTIRE problem could be solved by banning ALL  marriage (civil, contractual version) and instead substituting “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships” for all couples.  Churches could obviously still conduct sacred marriage ceremonies, and determine who could and could not take part in such ceremonies.  But, the “marriage license” issued by the government would be no more.  In its place would be government-issued “domestic partnership license” which would confer identical benefits on all couples, whether opposite- or same-sex.  Or, you could call it something else–just don’t use “marriage.”  That way, NOBODY gets a “marriage license” from the government, but EVERYBODY could get a “domestic partnership” license.  Churches, however, would be free to deny same-sex couples the privilege of a “marriage” within the church.

    The entire debate over same-sex marriage is fomented by the unnecessary use of a sacred term (marriage) by the government in conferring the benefits of a contractual relationship (domestic partnership) on couples who wish to enter into such a relationship.

    1. in the event that there is an inherent qualitative difference between a hetero relationship and a homosexual one, your ideas are silly. 

      Jason, I believe that society has an interest in promoting families, and, I also believe that “man” and “woman” are authentic, distinct sexualities. 

      I don’t want to prevent you from loving or being in relationship with whomever you choose.  Not my bizness.  But we are created as either boys or girls, and we grow into either men or women.  I know that, as evidenced by anatomy and physiology, we were intentionally created to mate heterosexually.  I will not bother trying to convince you of my religious beliefs; you have the right to believe otherwise. 

      But society is made up of lots of people, most of whom recognize the same “facts” I post here.  We believe homosexuality to be a disorder.  If you use “disorder” the same way I do, then you will agree.  And we want our children to live harmonious lives, and therefore want them to be hetero. 

      So, to us, there is a state interest in promoting hetero marriage, and for reserving the word “marriage” for hetero relationships. 

      Some of my best friends, over my lifetime, were homosexual.  I have had the VERY uncomfortable experience of finding out a male friend of long standing had fallen in love with me, or something like that.  I’m a gentle person.  I loved him as a brother.  But I abandoned the friendship when I realized that he didn’t understand who I was at the core. 

      I’ve been deeply hurt when homosexual friends suffered discrimination.  But I understand it, and I have occasionally exhibited that discrimination myself.  That, too, is my right, within certain bounds. 
      I have stepped up forcefully to stop bashing of homosexuals among subordinates at work. 

      You have every right to be who you are, but I have the right to work against your efforts to make governmental institutional values contradict societal values. 

      1.   Indeed…..I’ve yet to see or hear of a shotgun civil union ceremony in any of the three states that allow them, nor have there been any reported shotgun gay marriages in Massachusetts over the last four years. 
          How many hetero marriages take place with the in laws holding the shotgun (usually metaphorically) because their daughter is “with child,” the happy couple stay together for the good of the kids, and once the youngest is off to college, the happy couple get their long awaited divorce. 
          Most, if not all, gay couples are together because they love one another and are committed to one another.  They aren’t together because third and foruth parties have pushed them together.

        1. I had something else in mind, but you are thinking way faster than me. 

          I suspect a large fraction of hetero marriages stay together because of fear of social pressure, wanting to fit in.  I expect gay unions are more likely to split when the love is gone, because people in those relationships rise above those social pressures more easily. 

          Sometimes those social pressures are good and serve as the glue holding society together, but not always.  Homosexual relationships may, on average, be less hypocritical due to this sort of thing. 

          1. If so, I assume you will champion the state interest in promoting the qualitatively better coupling, i.e. the (“on average”) “less hypocritical” homos?

      2. Who determines whether there is an inherent qualitative difference between a hetero relationship and a homosexual relationship?  What if that same group of people decided that there was an inherent qualitative difference between a “same-race” marriage and a “mixed-race” marriage?  What if they even couched said difference in seemingly benevolent terminology–“it’s easier for kids who are non-mixed-race to grow up and prosper in our society than it is for mixed-race kids; so, to facilitate an easier childhood for all kids, we will work for governmental policies promoting “same-race” marriages…”  Sounds an awful lot like a rationalization for miscegenation legislation, doesn’t it?  Since your god created people with different colors of skin, that must mean that he intended only for those with the same color of skin to mate? 

        The same rationalization might be used to deny marriage to heterosexual couples who can’t, or don’t, want to have kids.  Maybe that’s ok with you also, as no doubt your god intentionally created man and woman to mate heterosexually so that they could be fruitful and multiply.

        I’m sure that qualitative difference is what makes 90%…er, 70%…whoops, about 55% of all heterosexual marriages avoid ending up in divorce. By the way, how DO you use the term “disorder?”

  9. I want low taxes too. But I know we have to pay for what we provide. At the state level TABOR is a mess because of it’s rachet effect. And it doesn’t work well with the economic cycle.

    But I think most people in Colorado are pretty much in concensus that state and local taxes are about where they want them. THey would like lower taxes and more services but the compromise is where we are.

    Liberals will always want to bring in a few more programs, and that means higher taxes. Conservatives will always want to lower taxes a little and that means a bit less for programs.

    But that tension is good. That is exactly what the legislature is for. And you will not see your state taxes go up (or down) significantly. In Boulder it’s a different story – they’ll raise taxes for anything here – most of it stupid. But that’s Boulder…

    On the federal side however, it’s a much bigger problem. If you take the entire federal budget outside of the military, social security, medicare, and medicaid – everything. Take out the entire Department of Justice, the Coast Guard, the FAA, the research labs, the CDC, farm subsidies (please do remove those), NPR, the NEA – remove all of it. And we still have a deficit.

    Yes the military has inefficiencies and programs that are unnecessary. But it is definitely not overfunded for the job it has today. It is near breaking point with Iraq and we can’t just stop all of that tomorrow no matter what we choose to do. So that expense remains for the near future.

    Medicare & medicaid? See my post on healthcare. Until we address healthcare, these costs stay and they are growing. Yes stuff can be done on the edges but if we don’t want more people dying from lack of care, this will continue to increase.

    Social security? It’s actually in the best shape fo the big 4. Very well run and it gets direct funding that covers it. We do need to address it between continuing to advance the retirement age and adding means testing. But social security is here to stay – that was made very clear across the country when Bush came up with his vague dumb plan to change it.

    And for us liberals Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is providing a basic safety net for the old and the very poor. Because we don’t want to see the old living on the street and eating dog food. ANd we don’t want to see the old or the poor dying from lack of medical care.

    This goes to the root of what we want as a society. And we want one that has limits – that will take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. That will say life may be plain and sparse if you don’t have much – but it won’t be awful.

    – dave

    1. What amazes me is that shear number of Conservatives who push for lower taxes while at the same time pushing spending, yet will say that they want a balanced budget. As it is, the servicing of the deficits of Reagan and W. were worse than the  Depression and WWII deficits. Even using percentage of budget or GDP arguments, you have the following:

      Year % of Budget % of GDP

      1948 14.6 1.7

      1960 7.5 1.2

      1968 6.2 1.3

      1976 7.2 1.5

      1980 8.9 1.9

      1988 14.3 3.0

      1992 14.4 3.2

      2000 12.3 2.3

      One of the problems with this is that with our increasing deficits, we will have no choice but to raise the interest rate to attract more out of country money which will cause the above percentages to jump in a huge way (note the jump in 1980? That was caused by Carter’s Greenspan increasing the interest rate to stop the inflation that the nation suffered from the energy crisis and the policies of the early 70’s).
      Until we balance the budget AND pay down the deficit, we should not be doing irresponsible lowering of taxes. As it is, the irresponsible spending habits of politicians pretty much mean that we are heading for bankruptcy. In fact, a number of economist are now arguing that the policies of the last 6 years have already sunk us.

  10. I agree 100% that public schools are broken. And a lot of private ones aren’t much better.

    But I will admit this is one issue where liberals are not doing a good job. An awful lot toe the line that schools should be left alone, teachers should not be evaluated, and there should never be anyone fired.

    I personally don’t think vouchers is the best solution. But I agree with you, liberals by and large have failed to step up and demand competence from our public schools.

    And that has given conservatives a giant opening both as an issue and to provide the “only” solution with vouchers.

    – dave

    1. We have not done enough to innovate our schools back to health.  The DPS agreement is a much-needed start in conversing about changes to the way we manage our school system, but it is only a start.

      Privatized education is not the answer; that much has been proven around the country regarding charter and private schools.  (Colorado is the only state in the nation with a marginally successful charter school program, and that mostly because they fall under the state’s testing guidelines…)

      But a simple change in schooling may not be sufficient.  Environment, drive, and “moral values” play a part as well.  We do not value education as a society; the pressure to be something other than a geek or nerd is immense.  Our President is an anti-intellectual, and was elected partially because he was “a common man”.  How do we expect our children to value their lessons if we promote stereotypes that go against that learning?

  11. When this country first started, a formal education did not make much difference in a person’s opportunities. Lincoln was famously self taught as a lawyer.

    Then as the economy developed up to the 1960’s the rule of thumb was that you needed a high school education to get ahead. A college education helped more and opened up more doors – but the American dream was there if you got your high school diploma, worked hard, and applied yourself.

    But could anyone be president today without a college education? Could anyone have a good shot at the American dream without it?

    And equally important, can our country, our economy, our society, continue to lead in the world if we do not have more college graduates?

    Liberals look at college education as both an essential part of giving everyone an opportunity at a good life and as a critical and necessary investment in the future of our country.

    And just as we made K-12 education free (and required) when all workers needed a high school education, we should make college free now that all workers need a college education.

    This issue is supported by the fundamental basis of liberalism – providing opportunity and investing in a better future. Issues like this make me proud to be a liberal.

    – dave

    1. Thurman Rehberg, may he rest in peace, got through 8th grade in Michigan rural schools.  So did his wife.  It was good enough for the Army in WWII, good enough for learning TV repair on the GI bill, and good enough for him to become a postal carrier.

      He could read and write better than most of today’s “smart” kids, carry on good discussions about the political scene, and be a productive member of society.

      I once had a Cal State student work for me part time.  He was smart as anyone, but his writing and related skills were terrible.  My father-in-law probably surpassed him around grade four. That was 25 years ago.

      We need to remember that at one time anything past 8th grade was considered high falutin’.  We need to extend that brave decision of public education to 12th grade to a bachelor’s degree or a solid vocational education. 

      This is not the 19th century.

  12. Yes they should come here legally. But that requires having the job demand match the open slots.

    The first point most of us liberals make is that illegal immigrants don’t take jobs American’s won’t take. Illegal immigrants take hourly wages American’s won’t take. As unions are gutted and wages halved, Americans leave jobs and illegal immigrants take them. Slaughterhouses are a good example of this.

    The answer here is to return these jobs to Americans. Yes we can let all jobs find their “market” rate, but then we decimate the middle class in this country and that only benefits the few at the very top. The logical end result of that plan is we end up like Brazil.

    The second point is we want to turn these people into citizens. And this gets in to the hot point – most immigrants are “different” from our culture. Yes they are. But where many conservatives fear that difference, most liberals embrace it.

    We are a country of immigrants. And each successive wave has been “different” from the previous ones. In the early 1900’s the big fear was Asians. We could not allow them in.

    And what is their status now? They have a higher average income than whites. They contribute mightly to our country both culturally and economiclly. And we are not speaking Chinese or Japanese.

    And those immigrating illegally will have poor to no English skills. But their children will be fluent in English and their grandkids won’t speak Spanish at all (much to the consternation of the grandparents).

    Again, this goes to a fundamental tenent of liberalism, we embrace change that brings vigor and dynacism to this country. We do not try to lock things down the way they were yesterday. (And yesterday was pretty boring – no Internet, ipods, etc).

    1. I think that is a very impressively detailed issue-by-issue summary of liberal opinions and reasons. Way to go. I would like to add my two cents here on a core liberal-conservative value difference, Gecko you can take it for what you will.

      It seems to me that one of the aspects of a liberal mindset is the recognition and acceptance of the plurality and complexity of the problems that we find in our communities, our societies, our nation, and our world. For liberals, issues do not present themselves in black-and-white terms. Yes there are serious problems with public education as it stands, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be completely scrapped — vouchers may be able to provide quality education for a few, but we haven’t given up on quality education for everyone. Yes, universal health care and social programs cost a great deal, both in tax dollars and administration, but it’s not simply because the people too lazy to work — the causes of poverty are widespread and diverse, as are the people who receive these benefits — the elderly, the disabled, war veterans, and yes, even the lazy bums. It’s not that taxes are simply too high, and that lowering them will spark the economy to sweeping new heights; economic stagnation or slow-down comes from a variety of sources on local, national, and international levels. Sometimes certain tax cuts will help with this — increasing individual investment and such, but other times they will prevent the country from managing its assets effectively and fulfilling any role whatsoever — at least fulfilling it well. With a nation as immense, diverse, and complex as the United States is, the solutions to our nation’s problems can be nothing but equally intricate and far-reaching.

      When conservatives disregard this complexity and plurality of which our country is composed, liberals believe that it will lead to answers that are both inefficient, improbable to succeed without infringing about our natural rights and the Bill of Rights. They would claim that “solution A (say government programs to distribute clean needles in order to combat AIDS and STDs) is wrong, and solution B (making the criminal penalties for drug use and even for carrying needles more harsh) is right, in part because A promotes behavior and actions that are simply wrong (in this example, illegal drug use).” Illegal drug use is certainly a problem, but solution B disregards the fact that needle exchange (solution A) costs $9,000 for every infection stopped, and that treating someone with HIV costs $200,000. Simply labeling clean needle programs as wrong disregards a whole other side to a very complex issue.

      It might be nice if our country was simple and straightforward, with clearly identifiable causes and solutions, but it’s not. And liberals recognize that. They see that, in a variable society such as the U.S.A., absolute rights or absolute wrongs rarely exist — and no one solution will solve every problem.

      I just wanted to point that out.

      1. I have with that. We are in violent agreement about the truth that simple solutions to complex problems lead to a multiplicity of more complex problems – not a solution. The Gordian knot solution is a good one but only if there is only one knot – otherwise, all you’ve done is cut a support rope.

        The disagreement is that I believe there are absolute rights and absolute wrongs. The problem is that getting there with imperfect people is impossible. I think the most frightening thing to many conservatives (and others ) is the statement “They see that, in a variable society such as the U.S.A., absolute rights or absolute wrongs rarely exist” – that is moral relativism. It is an absolute wrong to kill people – that is an absolute wrong. But people do kill people – that is a fact. It is reconiling the two that is the problem.

        Or, let’s go to a toughy. Drug addiction is an absolute wrong in my mind. It rots a person from the inside out and lets the personal demons take control. It dehumanizes a person. Drugs, per se, are not wrong – it is the combination of the drug and an addictive personality that destroys.

        But, the decision to use a drug is a personal decision. It is something a person may not know before the attempt. But, here is the question, how many times do I have to pay for rehab. One time, maybe two, I can see. But at some point where does the personal inability to resist become my problem to pay for? If I can not impose a whole lot of restraints on a person because I am paying for their choices, why should I pay? I am personally very in favor of drug decriminalization and making “felony drug” laws for crimes committed while using drugs – and addiction would be prima facia evidence of such crime. And addicts in prison get medical care for the withdrawal impacts but they go cold turkey. Possession of drugs in a prison could, in my personal viewpoint, then be a death penalty crime because it is “dealing and consuming death”.

        A little extreme but I don’t really have a problem with it.

          1. certain addictive drugs in prison as “felonious murder” assuming you are willing to go along with the government argument that, for example, crack is a deadly drug. Isn’t assault with a deadly weapon in jail punishable by death?

            1. but if it is, that goes too far, just as the death penalty for possession or sale of drugs in prison goes too far.  I personally object to the death penalty, not because some people don’t deserve it, but because 1. the fear of killing an innocent person and 2. We, as in Society, are supposed to be the sane rational ones.  When we premeditate to kill another human being, we are acting like the people we are killing. I don’t think we should lower ourselves to that standard. It is sad that we haven’t evolved beyond “an eye for an eye”.

              Regardless, if we have to lower ourselves to that level, it should only be reserved for murderers.

              1. Other than maybe Scalia and Thomas, I don’t think the pro capital punishment people could possible get the current Supreme Court to consider changing that rule to allow executions of defendants convicted of anything short of murder in the first degree.

        1. In a society of more than one person there can be no absolute right and wrongs. Because those absolutes will come in to conflict between two people.

          It comes up in the “make my day” law – is it murder or self defense? One person killed another but there is no absolute right/wrong in many of these cases.

          As to drug rehab, I used to have a viewpoint similiar to yours. But when I went through cancer treatment they had me on 5 painkillers at one point in time incuding marinol (marijuana in pill form). I spent 6 months high.

          For every painkiller but one dropping it was no big deal. Most I dropped on my own or asked the Dr. and then stopped.

          But one had me hooked. To this day (it is 4+ years since I have had it) I still remember how good it felt. And it wasn’t even that powerful – it is a vicoden derivitive. But something in my body loved it.

          I can understand how hard it can be for people to break an addiction. And it never leaves you – you just don’t fulfill it – day after day after day.

          And I have a feeling my addicition is mild. So I don’t know what the answer is – put I don’t think prison is the answer.

          1. necessary (self-defense) or even understandable (death penalty). Sometimes, your choice is between two wrongs (I kill him or he kills me) but it still is wrong. That’s the problem – too many people want to make anything allowable “OK” – it may be wrong and not “OK” but still be allowable. Making things that are “wrong” stigma-less is what lots of people see as degrading values.

                1. And it usually comes from my freshmen.  Lots and lots of people say they don’t believe in absolute moral values.  But in practice nobody acts or thinks that way.  Liberals twist themselves up in moral relativism (which most of my liberal colleagues find–wisely!–utterly sophomoric) and find themselves unable to declare anything simply, flat-out, wrong no matter how obviously *bad* it is.  But these same freshman and moral relativists believe that Iraq, poverty, intolerance, the religious right, etc is ABSOLUTELY WRONG!  No and, ifs, or buts about it…

                  And there’s no doubt you’re a RINO.  In fact, you’re such a RINO I’d probably drop the ‘R’ part.  But you also happen to be a thoughtful guy and your last post was spot-on and reflected, I think, the wisdom gained from spending a while on earth.  You’re probably a lot older than I am, and while I certainly pretend like I know absolutely everything, that’s more a symptom of my youth than reality (though surely I know CLOSE to everything!).  I pretend like the values and ideas I’ve arrived at are simply cut and dry and that anyone with half a brain could come to the same conclusions.  But as you get older you realize the complexity, difficulty, and greyness of politics and ideology and worldview.  And that precious realization I’m afraid will be something only time–and the Lord Almighty–will grace me with…

                  And I really appreciate your baby-flying tip.  How did you keep your baby even marginally quiet for so long?  Special tips or tricks?  If it was just the baby it wouldn’t be such a big deal.  But when you’ve got two little girls (though remarkably well-behaved *chuckle* *chuckle*) to take care of it can get a bit hairy.  I was thinking toys, books, all the techonological firepower we can muster, and lots of and lots of treats.  But that’ll just work ’em up–which may still be better than crying.  I can deal with anything but my wife is freaking out so anything I can bring to her that will give her some serenity before the trip would be MUCH appreciated…

                  1. If you don’t find yourself evaluating and reconsidering your thoughts and beliefs over time, check your pulse.  You are either dead or your brain has turned to concrete.  You are too bright for that, and I’m happy to see your acknowledgment and openness.

            1. Good point that it is still wrong. Necessary but wrong.

              But when it comes to the law – the grimy business of government – there we have to legislate. And we can’t just say killing is illegal, your absolute rule. We have to determine when it allowable.

              That was my point – that politics can’t have absolutes.

            2. If something is allowable, especially if it’s necessary, how can it be wrong?  What is the definition of “wrong” here? 

              “You had no choice but to choose X, or choosing X was better than choosing Y (your only other choice), but nonetheless your choice was wrong.”  Say what?

              By “wrong,” do you mean merely: “not a great result”?

              1. This happened in Plano. Gunman held a bank president’s family hostage so he would go to the bank, remove money from the vault, bring it home, and give to the gunmen.

                What he did was wrong – he stole. It was also absolutely the right thing to do.

                You hit this in war too. WWII killed millions of civilians. But it was the only way to win ans bombing was horribly inaccurate.

        2. I don’t know if you’ll read this, but just to clarify — the point of that post was not to argue whether or not absolute right or wrongs exist (although that is a debate I’m more than willing to have) but merely to illustrate that this argument is one of the fundamental differences between liberals and conservatives, as you eloquently proved with your responding posts, which was what I believe that Gecko was asking for with this diary entry.

          1. liberals seeing the plurality and multiplicity while conservatives see simple solutions. Accept that there are a number of conservatices who see the issue differently – that there are many incredibly complex problems but that some are unsolvable and, therefore, it may be futile for the government to attempt to solve them. For example, I agree whole heartedly that equality of opportunity is a touchstone of our society. I firmly believe that equality of result isn’t even close. Now I differ from many (but not all) of the other conservatives on here in that I believe it is the American system, not just the individual, that figures into those results and therefore am willing to state that those that get better results have a greater obligation to support the system.

            That being said, I rarely see the type of hard choice – saying I really feel for your problem but it is not society’s obligation to fix. The debate should be on providing an equality of opportunity for all that American society can afford to provide.

            Though I will state that I believe the moral center regarding money has been lost in America. Just as many individuals believe that they are entitled to keep everything they do because it was all them and not the system (try starting home based businesses in Mexico and see how much you get to compete), so do many managers believe corporate success is all due to them (many of whom couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag – I know, I’ve consulted to some who were incompetent to run their company, let alone pull down a high 7 figure income) not their corporate system.

            Until this country goes back to its fundamental roots of shared sacrifice, shared success  with a personal drive not to take a handout from anyone we will flounder. And it has to come from the top – too many people have seen the “I’m in it for me” to trust the top of the food chain anymore, sad to say.

            1. I’m going to print this thread out and frame it because I’m afraid our warm agreement is a rarity…

              I agree that an insidious selfishness has worked its way into Western culture–not just American culture.  You advocate “going back to our fundamental roots of shared sacririce, shared success, with a personal drive not to take a handout from anyone…”  Well said, but just how do you propose we do that?  You know as well as I do that using the government to redistribute wealth only builds dependency amongst the lower class and resentment against the middle and upper classes.  Europe may be more economically equitable, but it’s nothing like your vision for the American good ol’ days.  In fact, Europe, culturally and economically, has been wrecked by their redistributionist welfare system.

              I’d say you need to help build the very institutions in society that promote both self-reliance and charitable redistribtion–faith and family.  We know that if you grow up in a two parent family you very unlikely to live below the poverty line in adulthood.  Family necessarily builds self-reliance and self-discipline.  And Christians give roughly twice as much private charity as non-church attenders.  Charity is an inseperable part of Christian living.  I’m a big redistibutionist, really.  I just happen to think that the government is not the right body to be doing the redistributing.  Charity builds a civil society, it gives the receivers of charity trust and faith in their society, and it clearly betters the givers.

                1. Instead of just touching a raw nerve, it looks like I cut the entire nervous system out.

                  I was busy all weekend so I did not get to counter any bashes to my character, but from what I’ve read, we are all fairly close to being the same, libs and cons.

                  I guess I am just a tiny bit farther right than most, eh?

              1. it is easy to create cohesion when people need each other for community. The American West, Europe after the plague were both periods where population pressure was such that we needed everyone. Religion is a way to create community in a group but when the external group is transient that cohesion has little impact on the overall community. The problem most “values” conservatives have is that the transience makes the government the only universal authority and, as history has proved, governments are a lousy basis for the spreading of religion.

                Faith is much more individualistic and, therefore, much less authority driven. So, unfortunately, I think the be fruitful and multiply is – in the current overpopulation – the major impediment to shared values. A stable, nuclear community can self enforce values in a non-legalistic manner – the only way moral values actually are enforceable in a community.

                And that same issue falls over into the issue of opportunity. When labor becomes, as I believe it has, oversupplied on a global basis, then capitalistic societies (which I believe are the best as they most closely mirror evolutionary processes) intelligently react to lower the compensation to labor and increase the compensation for capital until such time as the supply of labor (read people) decreases. Ouch on that because I don’t see that happening. The top of the pyramid has every interest in maintaining an oversupply as long as the oversupply has no cost to them. That ties a lot fo things together.

                Church based charity – in my observation – frequently has an underlying message of “as long as you join our community and adopt our beliefs”. That is fine but if it becomes the primary source of assistance in such an environment in becomes a de facto selection of erpsonal choice or survival. in the end, that driver corrupts the religious community – IMHO – because the choice can be seen as being made under duress.

                I can accept that some of that charitable giving through religious entities will be done “open hands” with no ties – just not all of it. But still, the scenario I describe above, in the end, eats up all sources of giving and still the need grows. And that basic need for survival, in the end, swamps all ethics and morality. So, I see contraception as a preservation of faith, not a condemnation.

      2. I think many conservatives do see at least some of the complexities but they fall back to their fundamentals of right & wrong for the “correct” solution.

        And they do have a point that drug use is illegal and a needle program sends a bit of a message that it’s ok.

        Maybe another way to look at it is that conservatives tend to fall back to right & wrong while liberals tend to fall back to what helps people the most.

  13. Gecko’s diary and courage…laying it out. But I am leary of his framing the debate in such truncated terms. David speaks quite well for me….but beyond that…there are spiritual, environmental, personal, familial and political considerations that I cannot respond to in such a format.

    Stay tuned.

  14. Liberals tend to the Wikipedia philosophy, everyone can jump in, contribute, and truth will out.  Yes, there are some factual errors, but over time those will be minimial.

    Conservatives revere authority.  They are comfortable with the EB, not he messy style of wiki. If new knowledge comes along before the next edition, so what?

    A research project recently showed that insofar as scientific articles, Wikipedia did as well as traditional sources.  Said equivalency may not apply for topics less readily objectified, but it shows that the model works.

    BTW, I loved encyclopedias as a kid.  We had Compton’s in the house, and after I graduated from college, bought the EB.  Great bathroom reading,just pick a volume and head for the can!

      1. have an encyclopedia in their home?  Doing so not only provides a reference for homework or whatever, but sends the message that education is important.

        Having said that, with the world changing at the speed of light, I’m not sure if encyclopedias are a wise investment, especially if funds are tight. 

          1. Wikipedia. Another interesting education tool in that it teaches them a little healthy skepticism when the information forum acknowledges people attempt to distort data. Makes for much better critical readers.

          2. about a month ago.  I wanted a definitive, uh, definition of a the use of a word I saw in print.  I thought it was wrong, but it wasn’t.

            Sits right up here by my computer with the thesaurus, which of course, WordPerfect has one built in….

            Both volumes are pre-computer, so’s to speak. Used them a lot in the 80’s.

  15. I find it interesting that anybody would think that a woman’s life and or rights is worth less than a single cell or even a minor collection of cells. If somebody is going to argue against abortion at this stage, then logically (and morally), they would have to push to make masturbation illegal (sadly, there are a more than a few wingnut righties who would try to do that for everybody, but themselves). Afterall, this is not a life, but a potential to be a life. To arbitrarily decide that an embryo is worth less than sperm or an egg is illogical.

    Years ago, I used to be a pure pro-choice believing that a women’s rights come before a child’s. But a student of mine (from hp colorado springs) had asked an interesting question of me. We not define life as the opposite of death? Right now, we use the brain as the measure of life. That would mean that once the brain is developed enough, then the child would be considered alive. Where does that occur? Somewhere late in the 1 trimester, beginning of the 2’nd. The problem is that there is no definitive day. But it seems to me that the edge must be given to the women. By that approach, 2’nd and 3rd trimester abortions should be under harsh conditions (mom life, raped by family member, etc). Of course, the issue will be that a larger number of children will be born with defects. Is our society ready to deal with that?

    If Ritter were to push for a law that that defined life as the opposite of death, I would actually support that. But given the choice of government telling a women that her rights and life are worth less then a single  cell or even in a collection of cells in various stages (zygote,  blastula, gastula, neurula, etc), is another insane attack by the govs on our rights and freedoms.

    1. but I don’t think the technology exists today to determine that a sperm has penetrated an egg within a woman.  I think our detection technology, the EPT, depends on a fairly complex entity adhering to the uterus lining.  I think that, by the time a pregnancy is detectable, it is at least a couple of weeks along.  I think that, by the time it is detectable, there is already the basic outline of a human something.

      I’m a religious fundamentalist.  I don’t believe that the complexity of the organism, or the viability, or the detectable brain activity (which must follow by some appreciable period the time when undetectable brain activity commences) determines the humanity of the organism.  I think its humanity is defined by having been created by God. 

      You surely disagree, but you should also recognize the prevalence of my view. 

      1. You last statement is this: windbourne, you disagree, but since my view has greater backing you are wrong. I recognize the prevalence of your view but I reject its reasoning. In that your reasoning is based on a belief that you hold. A belief that others may hold as well, but that doesnt mean that it is right. Nor does it have a foundation in science or logic. It is purely your feeling.

        1. and that Windbourne is wrong, but I didn’t mean to assert that.  I’m just trying to explain myself.

          There’s a bit of a gulf between pure conservatism and pure christian fundamentalism.  Since this blog is exploring what conservatism means, and since a lot of local conservatives (I’m from CD-05) are impure, contaminated with sometimes conflicting christian values, which generally trend more to the liberal than the conservative, I’m just trying to put a marker up there for people to consider, debate, whatever. 

      2. First, EPT operates by detecting an increase in a hormone that indicates that pregnancy has occurred and causes uterine lining to thicken. The detection does occur typically at about 2-4 weeks (depends on sensitivity of the test; since I am 25 years out of date, it could be much more sensitive).

        OK, so you say that this is caused by God. Cool. But several thoughts. By your Logic, then we should not go to war, nor should we have the death penalty. After all, that is left up to God (and says so in the bible). More importantly, as I pointed out, you should be pushing for masturbation and recreational sex should be made illegal. The simple fact is, that you may have expended sperm that was to be used by God to make the next Jesus (hence you are a killer). Finally, all those that incapable of children should be prevented from marrage to those that can have children.

        I do want to note that this country was not founded by fundamentalist, and many such as my self will fight against it. I would not be surprised to see more terrorism on the rise here, but it will come not just from the fundies (who are murdering those that they disagree with or will suggest that the gov should murder others such as roberts wanting USA to murder Chavez) but those that will fight to preserve our rights. i.e. we are heading for a civil war. again.

        1. Jesus taught humility.  Pat Robertson does not seem to have picked up on that.  It would be very hard for me to defend what appears to be a very hateful world view that he seems to hold.  He has every right, as much as me, to claim to be a follower of Jesus.  But if he doesn’t accept the basic teachings of Jesus, it would be very hard for me to even understand where he is coming from, let alone explain it. 

          James Dobson appears to have a better grasp of that humility thing.  I only hear him sporadically on the radio, so I can’t say for sure.  But when he is attacking easy access to abortion, or claiming that homosexuality can be cured, it really sounds to me like he is coming at these issues from a position of loving and caring about the consequences for the people involved.  He may be wrong on many issues, I happen to think he is mostly right, but I have the impression that he is doing his darndest to be loving as Jesus commanded. 

          It is my sense that Jesus is against war and the death penalty, as well as all abortions, masturbation and recreational sex.  But I think he commands his followers to teach, encourage, chastize, whatever, to get people to do the right thing, but not FORCE people to do the right thing.  An important part of the Jesus message, which built on the Hebrew value system, is that we are all free to choose.  That is fundamental.  That is a piece of christian fundamentalism that made it into the Declaration of Independence. 

          So what does a christ-follower want legislated, and what do we leave up to people to choose without threat of state punishment ?  I agree with how our US government has outlawed all but defensive war, but what good did that do concerning Iraq ?  I agree with outlawing all abortions, but believe our judicial system ought to be flexible enough to be able to accomodate those rare situations where Jesus would agree that an abortion is the best course of action. 

          I do not think that recreatonal sex between consenting adults should be a crime, assuming there is no adultery or other complication involved.  The participants suffer enough from their separation from the Grace of God through that conduct.  Even if they don’t know it, they cause themselves grievous harm.  This is another area where it is up to christ-followers to help folks understand the spiritual consequences of their actions.  And, despite what the Jewish Bible says, I think masturbation is less serious a sin than the recreational sex. 

          I cannot fathom where that stuff about preventing infertile people from marrying comes from.  There is a story from Jewish culture about how Sarah, wife of Abrahm, was barren to the age of 90 or so, then bore Isaac, which started the Hebrew line.  He also started the other Semitic line, the Arabs, by fathering Ishmael by Hagar, so the story goes. 
          At Catholic “marriages,” the priest asks if the couple is open to letting God work through them to create children.  That is required for a matrimony to be spiritually valid.  From that point on, its up to God. 

          1. Time was, and I don’t know the current policies, when a medical diagnosis of sterility or infertility was an impediment to a valid Catholic marriage.  The couple had to seek a dispensation.  Perhaps that varied by diocese (sp) but it certainly was a concern.  The Church was consistent, if cruel.

      3. I believe that there are blood tests available which can determine if conception has occured about 24 hours after conception.  The tests are expensive and not available OTC.

  16. thanks to ColPols for posting this diary, and all of you bloggers for answering it.
    I don’t know that I will or can change my mind on any of these issues but I appreciate your honest answers.
    Hope it was fun for ya’ll too.

  17. Hi Gecko,

    I guess I take exception to the theory that there is a “common liberal”.  That’s why there is the famous Will Rogers quote: “I don’t belong to an organized political party, I’m a Democrat”, and “Getting Democrats to agree on anything is like herding cats”.  All I can say is that I am a Democrat, but I don’t even relate to the word “liberal” as the word has been framed by the GOP.

    My core values include my anti-authoritarianism. In someways I am very Libertarian.

    But, I also believe that we have a solemn duty to care about the welfare of others. In this way, I do approve of regulations pertaining to the air I breathe, the water I drink, the foods I consume, but not just for me.  I am a Golden Rule Democrat.  I believe it is right to protect others from harm.  I don’t believe we should let profit get in the way of health.  Just because a company can produce toxic waste, doesn’t mean they should be able to dump their crap into the Public Domain.

    #1: Abortion. It just isn’t Government’s business. It is a private medical decision. MYOB.

    #2: Social programs. Society shouldn’t be judged only by how the most prosperous are doing, buy by the way those at the bottom are doing. We have a duty to provide rungs in that ladder of success. Manufacturing is no longer the basis of the American Economic Engine.  People have been downsized, outsourced and off-shored through no inherent personality flaw or tendency to laziness.
    We need to provide a way to become re-employed, and that means new pathways to education.
    If Joe Brown is now 50 years old and has worked faithfully at the Ace Rubber Company, which just closed, and there are no other factory jobs to move to because Widget Plastics just closed too, he’s going to need to get through the tough times. Job retraining now costs money he doesn’t have because he just lost his job. A compassionate society wants people to succeed.
    Compassion used to be considered a Virtue.  The GOP has turned that upside down and inside out.
    Joe shouldn’t now lose his home and his life savings just because “shit happens”.  We should care about what happens to Joe and his kids, and his wife.

    #3: Healthcare. “We have a perfectly fine healthcare system now. Anyone that wants insurance simply buys it. ” 
    Eh, hem…..Joe again didn’t suddenly become an evil, lazy, criminal.  He simply cannot afford the $600 to $1000 a month to buy it.  Joe lost his job, and now he’s trying to keep up with his mortgage, and pay Excel, which just raised the rates again!!!  Food would be nice.

    #4: Taxes. Roads, Schools, Police, Firemen, Services for the Elderly, the Disabled, the Displaced Worker.  All Very Good things.

    #5: Schools. Bad Teachers you cry.  That is so lame.  Schools should be run like businesses is the mantra….
    What crap.  A Business controls its raw material. Schools don’t.
    Some kids come from prosperity others…not so much.

    #6: College. Again, Joe just lost his job.

    #7: Gays. Simple MYOB. Marriage is a religious institution.  Government should enforce only domestic partnerships, and get out of the Marriage business altogether. But, that is my RADICAL idea that it is none of Government’s business beyond enforcement of contract law.  If you want to be married, go to a religious institution.

    #8: Immigrants. “Nothing wrong with immigrants coming here. Just do it LEGALLY”. DITTO. But, I would add that there is a supply and demand thing going on here.  If Employers supply the jobs to illegals, the demand for a job is there.  Employers must face a huge financial disincentive for hiring them.  If they think they are going to save money and increase profits by hiring illegals and refusing to pay Americans, the prevailing wage then hit ’em where it hurts.  NO PROFIT FOR YOU!


    1. the answer you have only looks at the economic incentive to hire. There is an even more compelling economic driver – the drive to survive for many poor Central Americans. If Iraq was a threat because of terrorism, what of Central American governments that pillage their people and thereby release their excess population to the US? Let’s face it, if Central and South American countries had opportunities for their population, would people suffer the hardship and risks to get here? no way, no how. In this case, like drugs, the demand is for the opportunity to survive – the immigrants are the junkies, America is selling the drug of hope. There will always be someone to seel the drug. Cutting off the demand – and I don’t mean the employers – is the only solution. All we are doing is creating the next unwinnable “war ont” to sink money into.

  18. This is what happens when I go away for a while – a really worthwhile debate about values which I love discussing, but at this point what can I add? Nothing, except congrats to Gecko for getting so many posts to his diary (but probably also thanks to Pols for promoting it).

    Well, there is one thing I can add. I wonder what Gecko (or anyone else) considers to be a “forcing” of the “gay lifestyle” (using quotes since I don’t think many straight conservatives have an accurate idea what that means) on us means. If you mean orgies in the street, well, we have laws against it and they apply equally regardless of whether gay or straight sex is involved. If you mean tongue kissing, that’s taboo for straights too. If you mean obnoxious (but non-sexual) behavior like what you might see in a gay rights parade, well, people at sporting events and music concerts can be pretty damn obnoxious too – it’s just what happens when you gather hundreds or thousands of people with shared values in one spot.

    But if you mean simple hand holding or public displays of affection – minor ones, like chaste kisses or hugs – well, you just gotta deal with it. I know it’s an adjustment for some. I grew up in the 80s and while homophobia wasn’t instilled in me at home I did learn it at school, calling people “fag” and all that, and I remember actually being shocked when I saw a gay couple holding hands when I was walking around Capitol Hill one night. But I learned better and I got used to it. You can too.

    Way up above, CJ made an excellent point about “marriage” and the confusion between the civil contract and the spiritual sacrament. Just want to say I couldn’t agree more.

      1. I don’t have time to come on and post like I used to so I’ll probably just be an occasional poster. I’m sure many a polster will weep at that news but that’s the way it has to be. 😉

  19. Funny how when many of us whom are labeled ‘liberal’ claim instead to be ‘progressive’ we get flack from ‘conservatives’ who think that such a term is just a dodge.  Well, I appreciate Gecko’s diary.  It’s always good for folks to post their thoughts.  But, I disagree with many of his thoughts about what ‘liberals’ are.  We can all discuss political philosophy, in which case liberalism sounds more like libertarianism in many cases, and many GOP might agree: rights limited only by where they impinge on another’s, the swinging arm hitting another’s nose theory.  On the other hand, embracing fundamental American values like freedom to choose; liberty; the right of a person to be free and secure in their person, property, possessions; the foundational right to  dissent (even–no, especially–in times of war); etc., are something many ‘liberals’ heartily endorse.  Thus these ‘liberals’ want to embrace what is ‘traditional.’  Another flaw in this ivory-tower academic neat divisions view of our political situation is that very nature:  it is far too abstract and does not account for the complexities of our situation.  Perhaps people are both good and bad?  Neither fundamentally evil nor fundamentally good.  Indeed, I would hold that we are each capable of both.  Nurturing and encouraging the growth of the good aspects–through things such as ensuring proper health, housing, education and employment–seems like a wise thing to do.  Encouraging our more base instincts–through manipulating fear, embracing war as a solution to foreign affairs (rather than as only defense), and imposing a “I got mine now you get yours” ethic–is the wrong way to go.  Call me ‘liberal,’ call me ‘conservative,’ call me ‘progressive.’  I don’t care.  I am interested in results not labels.

    1. I think your description applies to many of us here in the West.  We look at the political parties differently here – not in terms of strict platforms, but in terms of what is necessary to acheive results.

      I wonder if this diary was posted on another state political website (IowaPols or NewYorkPols…) if we would see a sharper distinction of what conservative and liberal values are.

  20. The problem of “not understanding liberal values” suggests that the conservative values you describe are dictated by reason, and the liberal values you don’t understand are arbitrary. Let me make a couple of reasonable arguments that reverse that depiction.

    First, abortion. Let’s start with immediately after conception. The fetus at that point is a small cluster of cells with the DNA code of the human being it may eventually become, and as such, by one argument, is already a human being. But the same could be said for the skin cells you routinely kill every time you take a shower. Of course, left to nature, skin cells do not develop into human beings, and embryos do. But all human cells are indeed potential human beings, since they all contain the complete DNA code for that individual. Removing religious mysticism, and an arbitrary distinction between “natural” and “technologically assisted” (since humans are always a part of nature, and, in the absolute sense, so is everything they do), there is no practical difference between killing skin cells while bathing and killing embryonic cells in an abortion. That may sound cold, but reason is described as “cold” for a, well, reason. The sanctions against murder developed to protect people from each other. A cluster of cells that may eventually become a  person simply is not a person by any common-sense definition (it doesn’t have a brain, it doesn’t have senses, it doesn’t have emotional responses, it doesn’t have any of the actual equipment that a person has). I find the outrage toward abortion especially hypocritical among meat eaters (of which, by the way, I am one): Slaughtering a cow actually causes pain, terror, and suffering in the slaughtered creature, and as such, is far more similar to murder than is “slaughtering” a first-trimester fetus.

    Second, gay marriage. As a historian and social scientist, I can tell you that the definitions of marriage and family have gone through many changes even in our own culture, and have come in many, quite functional, varieties throughout the world and throughout history. The notion that changes in these definitions are destructive to the fabric of society is bizarrely ahistorical. Human existance is full of change, constantly and beautifully, some for the better, some for the worse, some a little of both. It is not coincidental that many of the arguments against gay marriage, and even many of the state laws mobilized against it, are identical to those that were mobilized against interracial marriage. Interracial marriage was going to destroy a sacred institution, etc., etc. “I don’t have anything against Blacks, mind you, but let whites marrry whites and blacks marry blacks….” Same darn thing! Of course it is an attack on individual liberty. Of course it is an expression of prejudice! Oh, sure, it’s quite enlightened of you to offer “civil unions” that carry all the benefits of marriage, as long as you don’t call it marriage. But why the semantic shell game? If you believe that gay marriage should be permissable in all but name, why refuse to call it what it is? How is that “the reasonable position,” and just letting people pursue their lives in whatever ways they choose, as long as they are not interfering with others’ rights to do the same, not the reasonable position?

    There are conservatives who make well-reasoned arguments, and whose positions I do not consider arbitrary. You’re just not one of them.

    1. I didn’t wade in here, because what Gecko stated above don’t seem to me to state his core values as much as the “Two Bombs Weren’t Enough” bumper sticker on his motorcycle.  Not a thinker.

      1. That coming from a couch.
        I really don’t care what you think or say for that matter. What I said on the initial diary are my personal opinions.
        If you don’t agree, too bad. I do not lie to look good, and since nobody here knows who each of us really are, why would anyone lie? To make friends?
        Not hardly.
        I do infact have said stickers on my bikes, and cars. And I do think it is true. America has let Japan take over and most people like you think that is just hunky dory.
        Plus since Japan has had so much success in doing so, that China, Korea, India, and many others are following suit.
        Hence the “give the world away” attitude so many liberals have.

        Man, I don’t think I can sleep tonight. I was told off by a couch.

        You probably would hate seeing my many confederate flags, stickers, patches, and tattoos then too huh?

        1. I’m pretty sure in reality you are a banker, who drives a mid-size BMW, wear $800 suits and play golf at the Broadmoor on weekends. 

          Thanks for the diary – even though we agree on very little, I get a kick out of trying to understand the other side.

          1. Naw, I’m an estimator for a glazing company. I only go to the Broadmoor when we are doing jobs there. I don’t think they would want me riding up there on my Titan in my cut off T shirt, with rebel flag and skull tattoos showing.
            Not their “cup ‘o tea” ya know.

            Although I have nothing against BMW’s, if I was to drive a foreign car it would be a Mercedes. In fact I used to have one……..a classic 1969 280SL convertible/hardtop. I bought it from my dad and then sold it a couple years later. Too expensive to maintain.

        2. Gecko- Are you for real, or do you really believe the things you say? First of all, what makes you think the world was ever ours to give away? Second, do you really believe that the best path into the future for humanity is for anyone with bombs (guns, handgrenades, missiles, etc.) to blow up as many potentially threatening others as possible whenever the opportunity arises? Third, do you understand anything about economics? Here’s a crash course for you: The rich get richer when as many others as possible get richer too, because then there are more people with more money to spend. Japan’s (and Western Europe’s) prosperity were intentional policy goals of the Marshal Plan, and they have served out interests enormously well. Life on earth is not a zero-sum game, in which we can only win by making sure that others lose. Quite the contrary, we can only win, in the long run, if everyone wins along with us, both because our prosperity depends on growing prosperity elsewhere, and because polarization of wealth and poverty creates untenable tensions which end up hurting the wealthy as well as the poor. And, while everyone may have opinions, not everyone bothers informing their opinions with a combination of evidence and logic. Wouldn’t that be a good place to start?

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