Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
A twenty-one month long Presidential election campaign. If this is the pinnacle of human achievement in the twenty-first century, then God help us. You know what? I’d like to know who’s making the call about what gets invented next. I hear people wishing for alternative fuels, rocket-powered vests, a cure for AIDS…I’ve yet to hear of anyone dreaming wistfully of a freakin’ two-year-long election campaign. But it looks like we invented that lickety-split.
And lucky me, like everyone else, I’m stuck in the middle of one.
Which was not yet the case when I wrote What Is A Liberal? Part V or IV, or the first three chapters either. Now, the air is thick with liberal blatherings. I haven’t exactly been trying to escape them, but assuming that avenue was open to me, it doesn’t seem to me to be a wise plan. Being a liberal is all about coming up with ideas to solve problems, that aren’t necessarily so likely to solve the problem, as they are to change the lives of everyone in a way we can’t ignore once the ideas are put into effect. So this is the interesting thing about our liberals — you can ignore them today, you can ignore them tomorrow. Can’t do both. There’s a certain “pay the piper” overtone when it comes to paying attention to, or ignoring, liberals.
Kind of like the cute girl at work who’s sleeping with the boss. You know your attention would be far better spent on people who are more upstanding and virtuous. A whiff of questionable evidence that there’s pillow-talk going on, and you pretty much have to pay attention to her…some more solid evidence that there’s pillow-talk about you — and your options have been narrowed. Yes, that pretty much captures the situation. Pay attention to the slovenly, disreputable people whether you want to or not; now, or later.
Now I see a couple of things about liberals that creep me out. I mean, over & above all those other things that creep me out. New creepy things. I’ve checked the five previous “What Is A Liberal” installments to make sure they’re new…and yeah, I haven’t quite commented on these before.
Now there is widespread recognition that conservatives and liberals may disagree trivially about which among the bad things people do are really, really bad. Conservatives think it’s bad to rule over a socialist enclave, putting a ceiling over each consciousness residing therein, making sure nobody can ever have too much and therefore killing human ambition; we’re also not too fond of violent crime, like mugging, murder, liquor store robbery, etc. Liberals think it’s bad to partake in white collar crimes, or to stop an abortion from happening that would have otherwise happened. Or, of course, to leave too large of what’s called a “carbon footprint.” And more often than not, they care more about which specialized group of unfortunates might statistically be impacted by a wrong, than about what the wrong actually was…so to this list, we can add whatever will marginalize, oppress, abuse or simply insult: Women, homosexuals, and minorities (usually minus Asians).
Each side has an “umbra” of evil, which is to say each side has it’s preferences about which violations are absolutely, positively uber-bad. The curious thing about conservatives, I see, is that we particularly deplore things that would hurt poor people. Odd, isn’t it, since we aren’t supposed to care about them?
And each side shuffles it’s feet, hems & haws, and hastily changes the subject when it’s own leaders are caught engaging in shenanigans. The liberals question the practicality of inspecting President Clinton’s perjury before the grand jury and obstruction of justice, and naturally the marital indiscretions that led to all that. Conservatives are pretty much done discussing everything President Nixon ever did, thankewverymuch.
Thus far, all I’m talking about is politics. You’ve got an agenda, you’ve got a leader, the leader promotes your agenda, the leader is caught in some real or perceived wrong — you don’t want it discussed because it might hurt your agenda.
Here’s a difference between liberals and conservatives: The penumbral evil. Conservatives don’t have one. Of course it’s unrealistic to insist all evil will be punished. But when I first got involved in computer security a few years back we had a saying, “You know something you gotta do something.” And I think that summarizes the conservative viewpoint on wrongdoing.
It is said President Bush lied to get us into a war. Conservatives sneer at that, but what they’re sneering at is the perceived motive for saying such a thing. They think it’s purely political. They’re right. But I have never heard a conservative even begin to put forward the argument that if, after his presidency is done, it’s proven President Bush is guilty of these hijinks, he should avoid punishment simply because he was once the perceived leader of the conservative movement. And that isn’t just because George Bush’s conservative credentials are in significant question.
From what I’ve been able to read, and I’ve read more than a little — the conservative argument against impeachment is an argument dealing with evidence or lack thereof, and what motivates the opposition. It is not an argument that the conservative cause is so noble that it should elevate any of the key players above simple justice.
Contrast this with liberal arguments, when “simple justice” is somehow antithetical to what the liberal wants done. We could review the great wrongs, such as the crimes committed under the regime of Saddam Hussein, or the little ones like Al Gore flying around in a private jet right before he tells people they should change light bulbs and stop polluting the environment. Hussein is obviously worse than Gore, it is not my intention to put them both on the same level of wrongdoing. But in both cases, the indictments for the respective “crimes” are logically valid; and it is harmful to the liberal cause for anybody to think about them.
And so, rare is the liberal who will say (as a conservative will say about President Bush), “If Hussein/Gore is/was guilty as charged, then he should be held to account.” You can grow quite old waiting for such a thing. No, the liberal argument far more often tends to be, yes “we all agree” such-and-such was bad, but this other thing over here was far worse. And so your attention ought rightfully be focused on this other thing over here, and not on the such-and-such you brought up…which is evidence the evil Republicans are brainwashing you.
Conservatives will make a similar argument about the democrat party…if and when they take issue with established guilt. In other words, if their argument is that something ought still be regarded as a questionable possibility, and it has incorrectly been treated as something proven. I’ve yet to see a good example of a conservative arguing that a crime of any kind should be treated as “penumbral,” which is to say trivial…passing under the radar cone of punishment, even though it has been substantiated as having occurred, and defined beyond dispute as an awful thing.
Liberals embrace the concept of a penumbral evil — the grudging admission that a thing was wrong, fused inseparably to a pronouncement that no consequence should result. They’ll agree so-and-so did such-and-such…they’ll agree that this was “wrong”…and after that point, they have a “yes but” argument about why the entire issue should be dismissed, usually involving a distraction. Or, a motivation for committing the violation in the first place, usually involving someone’s rustic economic circumstances. Or, that party’s good intentions. But quite often, when both sides have agreed someone’s due for come-uppins, the liberal argument is going to be that all sides should un-know what they know and un-learn what they have learned. Liberals simply insist that penumbral evils don’t count. They have to because their cause is so righteous.
This gives me the willies.
The Fifty-Second Percent
From what I have been able to learn about the various stages of American history post-revolution, all of the various factions involved have been keen on the idea of acquiring power through the ballot box, and then ensuring the whims and desires of that faction are injected into a policy that will affect everyone. And so it can truly be said that American politics is all about marginalizing the opposition. There is a certain paradoxical foolishness involved in this, because some of our most surprising landslide elections have been decided in favor of the faction that was marginalized in this way previously.
I would cite as examples, Roosevelt’s election in 1932, and the Republican Revolution of 1994.
You would think, as a consequence, the phrase “common ground” would carry some meaning behind it. You gain power, you look ahead to when your term is up, and as a preventative measure you reach across to the opposition and implement some of their ideas in addition to your own. To let off steam. To prevent a counter-revolution. Both sides pay this a lot of lip-service, but it isn’t done in substance nearly as often as it’s cosmetically discussed. Politicians are politicians. They figure out in advance what they’re allowed to do…and even the experienced and knowledgeable ones, manage to do this with an accuracy best described as lackluster. And they do whatever they want within whatever boundary that is. If it helps their agendas to call this restraining force “common ground,” then that is what they will call it.
Look at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She’s not moving on pulling our troops out of Iraq and she’s not moving on impeaching President Bush. And…look, a dozen years ago, at President Clinton passing welfare reform. He figured he had to. It helped his agenda to call this “common ground” because immediately prior to that, he got his ass beat in the ’94 midterms. It is in this same spirit that Pelosi declares impeachment, to the blistering irritation of her constituency, to be “off the table.” If it helped her agenda to call this restraining device “common ground” then that is what she would call it. But it wouldn’t, so she doesn’t.
And that is the way it has always worked. Our politicians make a lot of noise about finding common ground because when they do this, it makes them look like the agent of finding the common ground. This makes them look very important…like, if they were to get sick or get run over by a bus, we’d lose the ability to find our common ground. But in reality they’re the agents of their own political survival and self-actuation, and whatever they’ll be able to get away with doing, they’ll do. Whatever they won’t, they won’t. They aren’t leading, they’re following.
But our liberals are a special case. In the notorious 2000 election, we saw how far they would go to win an election. Both sides slugged it out pretty hard, and when it was over the Republican candidate was sworn in as President. That stung a lot, and what was even worse was that the democrat challenger had won the popular vote. It was the electoral college that determined the outcome. Darn that United States Constitution.
The middle-of-the-road Americans, it seems to me, have been generously tolerating the resulting nastiness from the liberals over the last seven years under the presumption that if the tables were turned, the conservatives would be acting equally nasty. If that is what excuses the childishness we’ve seen all this time, I’m of the opinion that it should be reconsidered.
The nastiness, after all, is rooted in the supposition that Al Gore won more popular votes in 2000 than George Bush, and still lost the election. As noted above, American history is full of political factions that seek to win elections and then marginalize the opposition — but the way the liberals work with the popular will, is a curious, unique and perverted thing. Not a single liberal, within the length and breadth of my base of knowledge, has even pretended to be railing and wailing against the unfairness of the Electoral College before Election Day 2000. As far as I’ve been able to tell, if Bush won the popular vote and Gore got his magic 270 electoral votes, this would have suited our liberals just fine. This inconsistency is as American as apple pie. It’s their brazenness in admitting to it, or rather their lack of passion in mounting even an obligatory counter-argument to it, that I find peculiar.
Put another way, they talk about “counting every vote” as if it’s a guiding principle, but there are all these ways to demonstrate they just see vote-counting as a means toward a cynical end. There are many examples of this, but the military vote flap from 2000 is probably the best example.
Gov. George W. Bush’s campaign accused Democrats of conspiring to knock out as many ballots as possible from members of the military, who were expected to have voted mostly for Mr. Bush. The campaign issued a statement from retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who had campaigned for Mr. Bush, calling it “a very sad day in our country” when service members find that “because of some technicality out of their control they are denied the right to vote for the president of the United States, who will be their commander in chief.”
Democrats countered that Republicans set out to keep military ballots in the count even when they should have been thrown out. “I think that they wanted to get every military vote they could counted, regardless of the law,” said Bob Poe, chairman of the Florida Democratic Party. “They use the law when it suits their purposes, and ignore the law when it suits their purposes. There’s an amazing, tremendous inconsistency on their part.”
Democratic officials said that they were insisting on abiding by the rule that all ballots bear postmarks, and that the ballots most likely to lack postmarks were military ballots. But they denied that they were trying to systematically disenfranchise military voters.
Poor Bob Poe. Ever since the majority of electoral votes went to the opposition just a few weeks after he made his remarks, his party has been redefined according to “ignor[ing] the law when it suits their [democrats’] purposes.” Not just any law, but the United States Constitution that says our President is whoever won the greater number of electoral votes. Bet he wishes he could take those words back.
But the point is, the popular vote. This has been used according to an “amazing, tremendous inconsistency” if nothing else has. In 2005, President Bush won the popular vote that, in 2000, our liberals said was supposed to determine everything even if the Constitution went the other way. I haven’t heard of anyone swallowing their pride, pledging to work with the now-legitimate Leader of the Free World and his newly-won mantle of real legitimacy.
The Fifty-Second Percent problem is a continuation of this paradox, and this is the point where things get even more disturbing.
If liberals work at it long enough and hard enough, and get enough dimpled chads counted and enough military votes thrown out, they can eventually squeak through an election and get their guy elected. In modern times, a liberal has never achieved a Reagan/1984 like smashing landslide. The closest thing they’ve gotten to that, I think, is the 1974 midterms after the Watergate scandal. As for an equivalent Presidential-election example, we’d have to reach way back to Roosevelt’s victory in 1936 over Alf Landon.
That is the Fifty-Second Percent problem. A Roosevelt-Landon landslide, since…sometime…maybe those tumultuous 1968 events…is out of the question. It’s not only beyond the zenith of liberal potential, but beyond their vision for themselves, beyond their political goals. They want to win that all-important majority. They want like the dickens to get hold of that magic 51 percent. Anything beyond that doesn’t interest them. Oh, they’d like to be handed the fifty-second percent on a silver platter, with no strings attached…but they won’t sacrifice anything for it. Not with the 51st percent already in hand.
This is a first in American history. All of our most passionate and outspoken factions, have measured the overall mental health of the nation at large in terms of “does everybody in America agree with me.” The pollsters come back and tell the party bosses “forty-nine percent of the country agrees with you; if you sacrifice X as a party platform, fifty-one percent of the country will agree with you; if you sacrifice Y, two-thirds of the country will agree with you.” The party bosses, if we’re talking about conservatives, or whigs, or Jackson Democrats, or Jefferson Democratic-Republicans, or Adams Federalists — would all be just as willing to consider ejecting Y, as X. Not our modern day liberals.
They want to win that magic fifty-one percent, so they can tell the other forty-nine percent to go screw off. Not a care in the world about the counter-revolution that might ensue at the end of the next term. If some compromise could be reached so that additional converts could be won, further eroding the remaining 49% — they’re just not interested. They only want to win enough hearts and minds to make the rules. To achieve approval from a mere 51 percent, is just as meaningful a victory as winning unanimous, unconditional approval. Modern liberalism is the first political faction in our nation’s history that is dedicated to declaring people irrelevant, as a primary objective to be subordinated to none other.
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