Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Open Thread Discussion

The following discussion broke out down thread and I thought I'd move it up to the top so everyone can read along and jump in if they are interested.Blogger I hope you don't mind, Randy.

Randall said...

So I actually know one of these people personally, how interesting. This will be an interesting experience if you are open to a dialogue on these questions. If so you will challenge my presumption that the left is interested primarily in silencing dissent.

I am not going to explore this question in great depth at this time, but I am going to plant the seed with this. Skousen outlines the difference between the United Order, and Socialism. This subject is a large topic and moves beyond the scope of this communication. In summary, however, any act of benevolence ( effective or ineffective which most of the welfare state is ) must, must, MUST not be compulsory. The act of forcibly removing resources from one person and transferring them to another is, to put it in simple terms, Satan's plan. It is Satan's plan whenever someone makes lofty speeches about being generous and compassionate with someone else's money. At the moment when resources are forced from the hand of the giver he robs from the giver the opportunity to be generous, turns the benefactor into a thief, and the agent of the transfer an extorsionist.

I look forward to your future elucidations. I hope you have the courage to have them challenged.

Randy Lewis

April 11, 2009 9:32 PM

Blogger Jacob S. said...


I'm always glad to debate the issues and I never debate with a closed mind. I don't think it has anything to do with courage, just hashing out our ideas and beliefs.

I addressed the Democrats-as-Satanists issue here:


The upshot, though, is that in a democracy the majority can decide (or, has the agency to decide) to spend its tax dollars in any way it thinks is best for the society in general. Your agency comes at the ballot box. Since majority rules this means that if I am in the minority I will necessarily have to do, or refrain from doing, some things that I want. My agency is therefore limited because of the consequences attached. But that is the nature of democracy.

I don't recall Mormon liberals complaining that conservatives were espousing Satan's plan because they used my tax dollars to fund an unjustified war that I opposed, for instance. We didn't like it, we protested, and we convinced a large majority of Americans we were right and, as a result, we exercised our agency to change the country's direction.

In any case, Satan became Satan and was cast out because he wanted to take away our ability to genuinely progress spiritually and he wanted God's glory and position, which have little or nothing to do with our country's tax system.

April 13, 2009 2:08 PM

Blogger Randall said...

Money Speech

"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears not all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor--your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money, Is this what you consider evil?

"Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions--and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.

"But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made--before it can be looted or mooched--made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced.'

"To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss--the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery--that you must offer them values, not wounds--that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best that your money can find. And when men live by trade--with reason, not force, as their final arbiter--it is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability--and the degree of a man's productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?

"But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires. Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality--the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.

"Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants: money will not give him a code of values, if he's evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he's evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

"Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth--the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him. But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money? Do not envy a worthless heir; his wealth is not yours and you would have done no better with it. Do not think that it should have been distributed among you; loading the world with fifty parasites instead of one, would not bring back the dead virtue which was the fortune. Money is a living power that dies without its root. Money will not serve the mind that cannot match it. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

"Money is your means of survival. The verdict you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men's vices or men's stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment's or a penny's worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you'll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred of money?

"Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money?

"Or did you say it's the love of money that's the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money--and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it.

"Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.

"Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another--their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.

"But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich--will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt--and of his life, as he deserves.

"Then you will see the rise of the men of the double standard--the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money--the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law--men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims--then money becomes its creators' avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.

"Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that is does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.

"Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men's protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked, 'Account overdrawn.'

"When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world? You are.

"You stand in the midst of the greatest achievements of the greatest productive civilization and you wonder why it's crumbling around you, while you're damning its life-blood--money. You look upon money as the savages did before you, and you wonder why the jungle is creeping back to the edge of your cities. Throughout men's history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, whose names changed, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, deprived of honor. That phrase about the evil of money, which you mouth with such righteous recklessness, comes from a time when wealth was produced by the labor of slaves--slaves who repeated the motions once discovered by somebody's mind and left unimproved for centuries. So long as production was ruled by force, and wealth was obtained by conquest, there was little to conquer, Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers--as industrialists.

"To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money--and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man's mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being--the self-made man--the American industrialist.

"If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose--because it contains all the others--the fact that they were the people who created the phrase 'to make money.' No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity--to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality.

"Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters' continents. Now the looters' credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide-- as, I think, he will.

"Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns--or dollars. Take your choice--there is no other--and your time is running out."

April 13, 2009 3:03 PM

Blogger Randall said...

It is simply true that in a democracy the majority can ennact any law it chooses and impose its will on the minority.

That fact does not excuse or free us from the debate about what the government should do, or what is the appropriate or even moral role of government.

Your example of the government funding a war that you do not support is an interesting one. Certainly not every person has supported every military ambition of the United States.

It is certainly in the charter of any nation to assemble an army and defend itself from its enemies. The question about whether that particular conflict was wise in interesting and irrelevant to the question of the role of government.

Government spending money on a war is a different action than transferring wealth from one party to distribute it to another. In the second case the government is acting in compassion, moving resources from one person to another.

The example is fails because it is not the same for a government to tax its people to support its military and its own expenses ( whether they be wise or not ) or to use its power to move resources away from some of its citizens and towards others.

The morality of using the power of the mob to take money from the few, must be argued on its own supposition.


April 13, 2009 3:51 PM

Blogger Randall said...

If were going to play, lets play.



April 13, 2009 3:55 PM

Blogger Jacob S. said...

I was responding to the notion that when the government uses my money for a purpose with which I disagree, that is tantamount to Satan's plan of removing my agency. It does not matter where the money is going, so long as I am not able to spend it how I please. It could be welfare, war, or infrastructure. And yet the argument only seems to surface when discussing welfare, when in reality any government spending of "my money" has the same result: I can't decide how to spend it myself.

My response was that we do have a choice and it is not an enactment Satan's plan. It does not follow that this gives free reign to the government to use tax money for any purpose, good or evil.

I would argue that any government spending, especially on wars, is still a redistribution of wealth. The car drivers pay taxes that are redistributed to the users of public transportation and vice versa. The childless pay taxes to support schools for those with children. The money spent on war goes to lucrative defense contracts. The money spent on Iraq was to keep the era of cheap oil going forward. Its all redistribution.

But if the amount of money a person makes is really an accurate barometer for measuring their worth to society, meaning that everyone has the exact amount of money they deserve, then whole system would be a fraud. But who is worth more to society: A derivatives trader or a public school teacher? A CEO of a failing car company or a garbage man? The latter both times. The market hasn't properly valued work and skill in our country, so we have the government come in. An imperfect choice, to be sure, but at least reactionary.

April 13, 2009 4:27 PM

Blogger Randall said...

At last we come to the point of essential disagreement. That last paragraph of yours could literally have been taken from the communist manifesto. That is not a crticisim, per se, but it is certainly an accurate represenation of your statement.

You state essentially

1. That all government spending is economic redistribution.
2. That the market is not a valid tool for determining compensation and that it is appropriate for the government to establish it.

That isn't even progressivism, its simple socialism.

If I printed your statement and gave it to 100 political science professors, 98 percent would describe it accordingly.

So there is no reason to dance around the question. This argument has been experimented with all through the 20th century. I would say the only thing it has succeeded at is in transferring power to the few arrogant people who proclaim themselves the arbiters of who should get what.

Classic animal farm again and again.

There are several concepts of "left" worthy of exploration.

1. Left as a description of twentieth century political American progressivism starting with Wilson through FDR and Johnson

2. Left as a partisan democrat

3. Left as intermational socialist

4. Left as the other side in the culture war of the secular humanists vs. the Christians. The intellectual movement which has at its foundation Darwin and which is at its core athiestic. The left of abortion, eugenics, the sexual revolution, and drug legalization.

I am curious which of these "left" connotations you are referring to in your reference.

This is a pleasant debate I hope it is for you as well.

Best Wishes,


April 13, 2009 10:50 PM

Blogger Jacob S. said...

So anyone that points out that the market does not perfectly compensate all members of society is now a communist? I find that type of sensationalism is what drives down political discourse in our country. I have never advocated complete income parity, dictatorships, or government control of all private property. So lets not start with the communism stuff. A progressive tax system and some social programs that attempt to lift parts of society out of poverty are hardly communist or socialist. Even conservative thinkers and leaders have advocated and enacted such policies for decades. American Liberalism is no more socialist/communist than American Conservatism is nationalistic/fascist.

So are you saying that you agree that a derivatives trader or stock broker should be making exponentially more money that school teachers or nurses? Has the market got that right?

Now, you know as well as I do that it is too simplistic to simply put up a list of political categories and ask which one describes a certain person. There is a long continuum of political thought and each person is just a point along that continuum. I think, generally, that anyone that blindly and wholeheartedly agrees with every plank of a political party's platform probably hasn't thought through the issues hard enough.

April 14, 2009 8:37 AM

Blogger Jacob S. said...

Oh, and I always enjoy this type of debate and one thing I never want to do is offend someone personally, so I hope to avoid that. But conversations like this is why I started this little blog in the first place.

April 14, 2009 8:39 AM



Andrew said...

I'm sorry, but comments like this are not meant to be "pleasant":

'There are several concepts of "left" worthy of exploration.

1. Left as a description of twentieth century political American progressivism starting with Wilson through FDR and Johnson

2. Left as a partisan democrat

3. Left as intermational socialist

4. Left as the other side in the culture war of the secular humanists vs. the Christians. The intellectual movement which has at its foundation Darwin and which is at its core athiestic. The left of abortion, eugenics, the sexual revolution, and drug legalization.

I am curious which of these "left" connotations you are referring to in your reference.

This is a pleasant debate I hope it is for you as well.'

While Socialist or even Communist aren't dirty words to me, they're not meant nicely when said by Conservatives. Those are loaded terms used for sanctioning violence against the people they describe. If it's not the godless Commies it's the godless Humanists, and we all know that the only good atheist is a dead atheist as far as Conservatives are concerned, right?

Josh said...

Well, Andrew, when you Liberals use the word conservatives, you are using it as if it is degrading. While I agree with you that Mr. Randy has definitely been on the offensive, I think several of your comments on this blog have been just as "loaded." Face it, the "left" and "right" are never going to join, no matter how many moderates we have.

Maybe, instead of jumping to the defensive, and attacking back, you should try to find something to add to the post.

Jake, I only have one question for you today, as far as welfare and its recipients goes. Where have you found factual evidence that the users/abusers are a minority among welfare recipients?

Jacob S. said...

I already showed that something like 70% of people stay on for less than two years, and 90% for less than three (maybe four? I can't remember exactly), and that less than half ever go back. There are a lot of abusers, but the majority are not.

As for the drug testing thing, of course I think it is wrong to just assume they are drug users until proven wrong, though I admit it would be satisfying to make sure people receiving public funds are not using. The big problem, however, is that pesky Constitution that we have that forbids unlawful searches and seizures.

Finally, as to Andrew's point, there is a difference between liberals using the word "conservative" in a derisive manner and conservatives calling liberals "communist" or, to a lesser extent, "socialist." Words matter, and the connotations to those latter words are much more loaded, violent, repellant, and mean-spirited than the connotations to the word "conservative."

Andrew said...

I can certainly add to the post, having been on welfare myself as a child. But considering the governor of Texas' remarks yesterday, it's important to remember that Conservatives have spent the last fifty years pushing for a defense-heavy budget, specifically with the purpose of defeating "Communism". That morphed into "terrorism" under GWB, but my point is when people use words like "Communist" there's a strong implication that those so associated are a national threat that must be exterminated at all cost.

Conservative is not a dirty word, I think most conservatives are misguided but not evil. The Church is a large enough institution now to have members who profess almost every political leaning under the sun, so it makes no sense to get too worked up over partisan identification.

Besides, I grew up pretty heavily Conservative myself (I used to read John Birch stuff and various defense-related books for fun) and I realize that, aside from some appeal to my teenage angst, the real issue was how I spent my time. Did I want to spend my time demonizing anyone and everyone who didn't agree with me? Did I want to contribute to global instability by supporting the mass production of weapons (at the time I wanted to be an aerospace engineer and design fighter jets)? I decided that, no, peace begins with me so I'd do better to learn the Gospel more thoroughly and focus on the spiritual well-being of myself and those around me through being faithful in my callings. Suddenly I wasn't so mad at the world anymore, or afraid of fuzzy threats posed by various classes of outsiders.

Anyways, I'm not one for mixing religion and politics. I don't think, for instance, that a fair amount of the Church's welfare system would translate well outside of the confines of Priesthood leadership. That doesn't mean the State can't do welfare, rather I think what will work in the world is different than what we sometimes think will work based on our collective experience in the Church.

The reality is that Capitalism poses too many threats to normal people to let it run amok without some safety nets to catch those it spits out. The pipe dream of a welfare-less society is just as foolish as the dream of a collective economic political order, and just as dangerous. Not dangerous because it poses present harm to us physically, but dangerous in that it sets up situations that can lead to institutional collapses like what we're experiencing now.

I'd say what we're going through is similar in scope to what happened in Russia after the fall of Communism, and it's important that the State assert itself to a degree to ensure that we don't become a thugocracy ruled by rich barons who can buy influence. They're already working on that with the "tea parties", but thankfully those are about as popular as tinfoil hats.

So I'm pretty content with facing our current reality -- the U.S. will always have some measure of social programs, and the real debate is more over how to make them more effective, not whether or not they should exist. As those who've fought and lost the gun issue know, there comes a time when you accept reality and move on.

peter said...

Using the data that Jake quoted before, which is somewhat obsolete coming before the 1996 welfare reform, 90% of people ever being on welfare will be off in under five years, however, 75% of people currently on welfare will be on longer than five years. Are all 75% of those abusers? Probably not, but the length of stay is indicative of a serious social problem if not abuse.

Now I have a couple of questions...not that I think a drug test would be possible, but how can a drug test requirement for a voluntary program be considered illegal search and seizure?

And, how is the label of socialist associated with violence and mean-spiritedness...isn't it just a government philosophy practiced by many european nations trying to achieve an equality of result by taking from those who have to give to those who have not?


Andrew said...

'And, how is the label of socialist associated with violence and mean-spiritedness...isn't it just a government philosophy practiced by many european nations trying to achieve an equality of result by taking from those who have to give to those who have not?'

Sure, if you don't buy into the framing being put forth by current Conservative leaders and the national Republican party. But that's the problem -- we're not talking about how a majority of people see the concept of "socialism", we're talking about how certain Conservatives view it.

It's the culmination, basically, of two trends. First, we spent a good 50 years or so recently arming our country to the teeth to fend off "Communists". Second, while that was happening Conservatives of various stripes worked hard to also tar "Socialists" with the same brush. The result is that some of today's Conservatives are hell-bent on eliminating anything that's "socialist", and have a tacit understanding that doing so violently is appropriate.

Now, never mind any actual distinctions between groups of "Communists" (nobody even tries to separate them into Marxists, Leninists, or Stalinists any more) or between Communists and Socialists. Those are not important in the Conservative's war of ideas. Rather, they'd like you to equate "San Fransciso values" with being so evil that you'll do anything to stop them, or sanction them doing anything to stop them. Spend some time (but not too much, you probably have better things to do) watching or listening to Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and especially Glenn Beck. You'll see that they're obsessed with themes and ideas shot through with a very strong militarism, and express their disagreements in very violent terms.

It's all part and parcel with the current Republican party's national strategy to demonize the Left (or what they'd like to define as the Left). It's a campaign that's been brewing for a long time, and I think the main aim is to assert tighter control over what's left of the Republican base. It certainly isn't convincing any independent voters and has no chance of persuading Democrats.

Thankfully there are some Conservatives (John Huntsman springs to mind) who see this for what it is and refuse to participate.

Andrew said...

...Adding, take a look at this to get a general sense of what's happening now:


And my apologies to Mr. Huntsman for misspelling his first name -- it should be "Jon", not "John".

peter said...


"Did I want to spend my time demonizing anyone and everyone who didn't agree with me?" So as we are generalizing, as a liberal you will now spend your time ridiculing anyone who doesn't agree with you. Depictions of conservatives as stupid, war-mongering, unfeeling neanderthals drive me nuts! (Which is what you just did as I'm sure you know.) Sure, there is probably a small percentage of people who identify with conservatives who might be able to be classified this way, but most of us are not. But I am glad you don't hate the world anymore...neither do I (and I never have.)

Sure, we will probably always have social programs and the debate is on how to make them more efficient, so let's have that debate! The current government seems so intent on expansion that it doesn't have time for efficient. That's what these tea parties are about and I hope they are a big success so that liberals will realize that though they won the election, their big-spending, big government ways are not as popular as they think. And that goes for Republicans that do the same thing. Obama ran on a centrist platform, but I think we can say that was a bunch of campaign baloney.

And as for capitalism, it has some problems, but it beats the alternative. Liberals like to forget that they had a big hand in the financial meltdown by deregulating mortgage lending requirements under Clinton because everyone is entitled to be in a single-family home. Banks were forced to give risky loans because they could be sued for not complying. When, in 2006, some republicans tried to get these measures repealed, they couldn't get it out of committee because it was opposed by democrats. And it's all those bad mortgages that led to the housing bubble and bust which help precipitate this financial crisis. Democrats definitely don't have their hands clean on this one as much as they like to credit the "past administration" for everything going wrong. Let's just not condemn capitalism based on a current financial crisis with roots in government interference.


peter said...

We keep cross posting...I've listened to some of those hosts you are talking about and I don't hear militaristic overtones, undertones, or anytones. Glenn Beck was saying just the other day that any protest needs to be peacefull just like Martin Luther King.

I think the left would like to portray conservatives in this way so that they are marginalized, just like they persist in ridiculing them in order to marginalize them.

I think the message of decreased government size and spending does resonate with independents and middle-or-the-road people. I think tripling the national debt in the first three months of a presidency has some people frustrated. Lower taxes are promised now, but how are they going to repay all that money without raising taxes later on?

peter said...

So the point of the strats-sphere blog was to point out a conservative plot or to underscore that they aren't considered a militaristic threat by the Department of Homeland Security? As Jake has said, people's ideologies can be found more on a continuum than being tossed into one of two buckets. To characterize either conservatives or liberals based on their talk show hosts (Keith Olberman, Rachel Maddow, etc. as well as the ones you mentioned) or by the people on the extremes serves no purpose other than to be divisive and promote a political agenda.

Andrew said...

Read this, and be honest:

"BECK: These bloodsucker vampires are not going to be satisfied with just sucking the blood out of GM's top guy, the AIG executives, or any other business, or business person. Their thirst for power and control is unquenchable. They will not stop. There's only two ways for this movie to end. Either the economy becomes like the walking dead, or you drive a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers."

What does that sound like to you? Perhaps some people are desensitized to violence in their media discourse, but that's pretty extreme in my opinion. When the governor of Texas goes on TV and stops just short of announcing secession, there's something very wrong with how public-facing Conservatives are framing their issues. I know this is more of a fringe thing, but take a look at this report from a gun show:


and the photo album:


And read the links to various manuals about starting militias and such. Do you want these folks to represent your political views? Their framing of issues is being adopted more and more by some of the more popular Republican media figures.

Andrew said...

"So the point of the strats-sphere blog was to point out a conservative plot or to underscore that they aren't considered a militaristic threat by the Department of Homeland Security?"

I think it shows several things. Strats-sphere seems to be a pretty conservative place itself, but they see that there's no threat posed to the Conservative movement by the DHS report about potential right-wing domestic terrorism. They may think the Obama administration is making political hay of the report, but that's a different issue. However, it's abundantly clear that they're fighting off the hordes, so to speak. I.e. their commentors and some of the posts/articles they link to sound pretty hysterical w.r.t. the report. Where does that paranoia come from? The concept must have been formed somewhere that the Obama administration is actively seeking to jail political dissidents, or wants to take away everyone's guns, or whatever.

Certainly nothing the administration has said or done publicly (aside from announcing various changes to the tax code and other relatively benign measures) could even be remotely construed to pose that sort of threat. So someone else is out there actively pushing the idea that Obama is coming for you (and possibly your children).

Josh said...

Andrew, wanting to enforce a gun ban, any kind of gun ban, is a threat to me. Especially when the only reasoning so far given is a skewed report of numbers of weapons going from the US to Mexico. Let me say this, I don't care about Mexico. Those idiots could blow their entire country off of the face of the world, and it would not affect me a bit - well, except I'd have to buy even more Chinese made crap at Walmart. Yes, this administration has said it will come after guns.

Another fact, DHS, whose domestic spying techniques were so condemned by liberals while the last administration was in office, is now spying on "right-wing extremists." In other words, people against abortion, over taxation, illegal immigration, bowing to the leaders of terrorist nations, and social reform. In other words, now the liberals are all for the DHS spying domestically, as long as it is only those crazy conservatives that they are watching.

Lastly, you think the changes to the tax code were benign? Then why were they so important that they had to be done? Benign? Read a freaking dictionary some time. And look up Socialism while you're at it, you don't seem to understand that concept either! Nevermind, I'll do the first one for you. Webwster says that benign is "gracious, favorable, wholesome, harmless." How can spending hundreds of billions of dollars fit that description? Even further, how can spending hundreds of billions of dollars...next election year, fit that description.

So, to summarize. My 2nd amendment rights are being challenged because of a drug war in another country. I am being spied on for expressing my 1st amendment rights and I will be soon taxed to death so I won't have to worry about what rights I've lost.

Jacob S. said...

They're not spying on conservatives. DHS issued a report gauging the threat of right wing extremists. As in, neo-Nazis, skinheads, and heavily armed nationalistic militias. I highly doubt (fingers crossed) that you are a member of any of these groups. Assessing a threat level and spying are not the same thing. There was a similar report issued a few years ago about extreme left wing groups. I should hope the government is keeping tabs on these groups to keep us safe. But they are not wiretapping just anyone who owns a gun or voted for McCain. No, they are wiretapping anyone who looks Arabic. Big difference.

peter said...

My honest opinion (and I don't think you'll agree): Though it appears that Beck chose an unfortunate analogy, his point was that we need to find a way to stop government interference in business and government growth in general. This was not a call to militia groups and it wasn't a call to assassinate Obama (he said plural bloodsuckers and did not name the president.) If President Bush made it through all the vitriolic hate speech of the commentators, media, and liberals during his presidency without some extremist taking it as a call to assassinate him, then I think President Obama is safe. I repeat again, conservative talk show hosts are not militia men or advocates of that way of thinking…don’t believe the politically motivated fear-mongering.

I would liken the liberal outcry over this event to conservative outcry over President Obama's bow to the Saudi King. Blown way out of proportion and not really important.

Now I'm not saying that Beck doesn't go overboard sometimes, but you really have to be looking for violent militarism to read so much into that analogy (and to ignore all the other passive things he’s said). And I don't see how the governor of Texas' speech about limiting the power of federal government can be taken as practically calling for succession. He was merely stating a rational idea (that has been argued from the beginning of this nation) about the appropriate size and scope of the federal government. And you can't deny that President Obama has made a massive power grab for the federal government during his first three months in office. If you don’t agree with policies being promoted by your government and you see them as harmful, you need to stand up and say something.

As for your gun show example, that is just fear-mongering, too. The writer does note in one brief sentence that thousands (the vast majority) were just there to shoot guns (not a crime or even out of the ordinary), but they aren’t interesting or sensational so he focused on the fringe element. The left wing has their share of nut jobs and I doubt you would characterize Keith Olberman as speaking for liberals (at least I hope not) but you probably agree with some of the things he says even if his crassness crosses the line. So I would say again, trying to brand a whole ideology based on the fringe (or believing people who are trying to do that) is ridiculous.

Andrew said...

"Andrew, wanting to enforce a gun ban, any kind of gun ban, is a threat to me. Especially when the only reasoning so far given is a skewed report of numbers of weapons going from the US to Mexico. Let me say this, I don't care about Mexico. Those idiots could blow their entire country off of the face of the world, and it would not affect me a bit - well, except I'd have to buy even more Chinese made crap at Walmart. Yes, this administration has said it will come after guns."

That speaks for itself, I think you've illustrated my point about being overly neurotic on the gun issue nicely.

As to Peter's comments, Gov. Perry continues onwards in his secession parade with various comments about the issue yesterday and today. He's being joined by others, too. When he spoke yesterday at a tea party rally the crowd loudly cheered him on, and Beck got a similar reception speaking in similar tones. Perry was specific about the idea that Texas only joined the Union in the first place on condition that it be able to withdraw at any time. I gotta hand it to those Texans, they sure know how to fulfill prophecy (see the last question. Incidentally, that whole "I have a question" is a great read).