July 19, 2005


Michael Totten, who is currently engaged in the launch of a centrist group blog called Donklephant (get it?) wonders why "conservatives" seem to tolerate centrists more than "liberals" do.

I don't have an answer, though the observation squares with my experience as a would-be centrist type in a world of normative far-leftism. I recognize that "environmental factors" such as living in Berkeley-Oakland influence this impression. Another influence: my contact with actual "conservatives" (as opposed to the caricatures of them that spring readily to the lips of practically everyone I know and which I generally reject as cartoons) is limited to those I've met through the blogosphere; these folks tend to be from the libertarian camp, which fetishizes tolerance as an important part of the ideology. (I guess people who think of themselves as Left fetishize "tolerance," too, but it's a different sort of tolerance, somehow. I mean, it doesn't tend to encompass tolerance of people who disagree with them on certain crucial matters. That's a caricature, too, perhaps, but it's one I see played out constantly in real life.)

Though I know conservatives through reading their blogs, I doubt I've ever actually met one in person. We just don't have them here. When you're born and raised in the Bay Area, the fact that a person might self-identify as a conservative and nevertheless not be some kind of sick monster can come as a total shock. I grew up thinking that Left was a synonym for Good, and that anything else was so far beneath contempt that I didn't want to know about it. In fact, a lot of conservatives turn out to be smart, nice people when you get to know them. Really. You could have knocked me down with a feather, honestly.

I'm sure there is an alternate-reality Dr. Frank, trying to be a centrist while living in Alabama or something, and I'm sure his results have varied.

Michael proposes a simple answer:

Perhaps the reason conservatives in general are more tolerant of centrists in general is because - for right now anyway - there are more former liberals around than there are former conservatives. It might not be any more complicated than that.

But he's from Portland, which is like Berkeley's affable Canadian cousin. He's swimming in the same lake, in other words.

Aside from the obvious fact that contemporary politics is increasingly difficult to fit into an analytical scheme inherited from Europe, c. 1848, I believe it's largely a cultural rather than a political matter. I mean, a great deal of the "liberal"/"conservative" snipe-a-thon has little actual political content. Long ago, when I used to have a job, I worked in a department where missing an episode of In Living Color was enough to brand you a racist. Being able to prove your familiarity with this show (and to a lesser degree, "Martin") was an important part of the job. It wasn't political. It was a way of demonstrating your good faith as a member of the club. Most your tribe vs. my tribe "political" discussion you see these days is in the same type of mold. The content doesn't matter all that much; it merely provides you with an opportunity to prove you belong. Those who feel like opting out of the whole scheme don't compute to the others. That's centrism, maybe.

So I've never liked being in clubs or having jobs. Plus, no one ever wanted to sponsor me or hire me.

UPDATE: I think this guy may have missed the point of my Shenene analogy... But I gotta say: if you can live in New York City and still manage to maintain an aggrieved sense of being held in "near-universal contempt" on account of your "liberalism," then you are doing a spectacular job of being true to your school. Incidentally, and to my slight surprise, the blog in question appears to be run by a former member of the Reverb Motherfuckers.

Posted by Dr. Frank at July 19, 2005 06:59 PM | TrackBack

Living in the heartland I'm surrounded by die hard Republicans. I align myself more with the Libertarians or Constitution party than the Republican side but definately am not in favor of the democratic side of things. With the democrats I know, they seem to think it's an all-or-nothing situation where you're either for them or you're an evil money mongering war-pig Republican. I HATE THAT WITH A PASSION. I think Bill Clinton was a good president, just an embarrassing buffoon. I think John Kerry would've weakened our country's military even further and been utterly lost in office and I think I'd move to Canada if Hillary ever won (It'll never happen), but I'm NOT a republican. Do I like Bush? Yes, but he's the opposite of Clinton. He's not embarrassing, but his policies are terrible. Neither Bush, Kerry nor Clinton would've been able to handle the Iraq, Osama situation well. I'm going to start right now campaigning for Jesse Ventura in 08 and before his 8 years are up I'll be lobbying for a change in the Constitution that'll allow Arnold to run!!!

Posted by: Zaphod at July 19, 2005 07:34 PM

Conservatives tolerant of centrists? That's a good one. What about John McCain, Colin Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and other centrist Republicans who will never, EVER stand a chance of winning their party's presidential primary, no matter how popular they may be among the general public? If the Constitution doesn't keep Schwarzenegger from being elected president, the GOP's own Mayberry ayatollahs will.

No Democrat has ever been ruled out of the primaries for being "too moderate." Hell, even Lieberman had a shot, if he hadn't been such a blah candidate in every way. Indeed, the Democratic voters' big problem is their obsessive quest for a centrist presidential candidate instead of a candidate whom they actually agree with. Hence Frankencandidates like Kerry and Dukakis, who are so "electable" nobody wants to actually elect them.

Posted by: Jason Toon at July 19, 2005 07:56 PM

In a college political science class, the professor was going over the differences between the two camps, and asking members of the class what they knew. (Freshman level class, mind.) After covering the basics, a kid in the front row asked, "Is it safe to say that conservatives are greedy?" I was kind of amazed that, in the middle of simple classification he let his political bias out, but his bias was his classification. Conservatives prefer this and this policy because they're greedy. There couldn't possibly be another explanation.

Living in Tennessee, where liberal would be a dirty word if it weren't for Bredesen, I find local liberals to be meek. They don't like to angrily spout their views, as they might in Berkely, but it's clear, when you talk to them, that, yes, they think conservatives are the devil.

I've heard the theory before that this occurs because liberalism is inherently self-important; that, because it assumes government intervention to solve most problems, it necessarily presupposes that the people who will carry out these policies - liberals - are smarter, better, whatever. (You've explored a quote or two pertaining to this train of thought in this blog not too long ago.)

I don't know if this is fair to say for a majority of liberals, but in terms of many of our politicians, I think it's justifiable. But then, one could argue that our conservative politicians are much the same way.

Martin was always a terrible show.

Posted by: Swimmy at July 19, 2005 08:06 PM

Well put, Frank. I'm a born and bred New Yorker, but I have also lived in Mississippi, so I have seen all sides of the spectrum.

I continue to observe people at extreme ends of any ideology will not be too tolerant of anything that disagrees with them. And you are absolutely correct - more often than not, people's views have little to do with the actual issues at stake.

Nothing fuels centrist attitude more than a repulsion to mass groupthink.

Posted by: Sam at July 19, 2005 08:10 PM

Jason: "Tolerant of" and "going to be picked for President" are not synonyms. (For that matter, one could argue [and many Conservatives have, lamenting it] that President Bush is himself a "centrist"; his actual policies are generally similar to those of President Clinton, likewise centrist.)

(And, er, people with "R" after their name don't like McCain because he's a spotlight-hogging twit, not because he's a "centrist".)

Lieberman had a shot? The Democrats I know dismissed him as "a Republican", and he never had a "shot", in any of the vote tallies or polls I saw. Blah? Well, yeah, not firing up the base with Republican-hate. Sounds like Centrists are disqualified for that very reason, no?

(Lieberman vs. Bush would have been a race where I'd have had to think a lot harder about my vote, than the Kerry vs. Bush race we had. That one, well, I didn't even have a moment of doubt. And, mind you, I voted for Clinton in 92, and Libertarian in 96, just to get the point across that I'm not a party-follower.)

I likewise don't know about the "electability" issue. I suspect very strongly that someone the base wanted and was no compromise would be more un-electable than a compromise candidate because he'd thoroughly alienate all the non-base voters. The Democrat base feels very strongly about various issues the mass of voters... don't.

The Democrats have that problem much worse than the Republicans because their base is far more fragmented and unrelated to itself, as near as I can tell.

Posted by: Sigivald at July 19, 2005 08:13 PM

Yeah, Jason; that's the dynamic of the national political parties at this time. McCain was outsmeared rather than out-conservatived, though; they were both trying to look "moderate." And I don't know anyone who actually believed Lieberman ever had a realistic shot.

I was talking about the lib/con divide as a matter of personal identity rather than as a reflection of the machinations of party politics. (That may change, by the way: Republicans were once the progressives, after all.) In my own experience, you can "get away" with disagreeing with "conservatives" way more often than you can get away with disagreeing with "liberals." I don't know why it is this way. I realize it may be different in St. Louis, though.

As for the personal ID, it's like the Gilbert & Sullivan line: you're born either a little Republican or a little Democrat. You have one opportunity to switch, when you're around 18. You usually choose the culture/party that is most prevalent wherever you go to college, if it's different from the tribe you were born into. After that, you are what you are, and forever. You can't believe the other half of the country is stupid enough to stick with the other half of the country. They do, though. It's weird. There are exceptions, but not many.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at July 19, 2005 08:26 PM

jason brings up some good points, though i agree with sigivald regarding the dilineation between party politics and personal culture. i am born and bred liberal, new york jew sub-genre, but increasingly find myself sucked toward the center in response to the shrill, smug and often uninformed yelp of the bay area's "progressives."

Posted by: lefty at July 19, 2005 10:49 PM

What's a centrist? Where can I find one? What exactly are their beliefs?

Posted by: Tim at July 20, 2005 12:49 AM

Let me weight in here on what a "centrist" is.

I think for all his faults, Bill Clinton was the closest thing we've seen to a centrist in a long time. In fact, Michael Moore called him (paraphrasing) the best Republican president the Democratic party ever had.

I think Bill captivated the country with his charm, wit and eloquence. Obviously he's a deeply flawed man, and I personally felt betrayed by his "is" b.s. (even though I think his personal life is none of our business).

In any event, our blog is centrist because we have voices close to the middle (from both sides) trying to figure out the issues of the day. Is it perfect? Hardly. But I think in the end we'll find that the discourse has been raised beyond the partisan back-biting of the blogosphere.


Posted by: Justin Gardner at July 20, 2005 07:34 AM

Excuse me...let me "weigh" in...


Posted by: Justin Gardner at July 20, 2005 07:36 AM

Excuse my grammar.

Let me "weigh" in...


Posted by: Justin Gardner at July 20, 2005 07:37 AM

My connection is acting up so I thought I didn't post the first one.


Posted by: Justin Gardner at July 20, 2005 07:42 AM

How bout this for some centrist views:

You wanna be gay, fine go ahead it is a free choice but when I say I'm married I don't want the next question to be; To a Man or Woman?

Saving the enviroment is a good thing, but people come first.

Welfare should be a temporary aid.

Some of my governmenat mandated retirement savings should be in my control.

Maybe not a tax cut, but can you at least spend less tax dollars?

Abortion? So what, you want one then get one. Nobody should be forced to have to give one though. Also it should be a last resort.

Schools should be accountable for the education they provide and more money is NOT the answer.

The Dems better get on the ball and DO SOMETHING!!!. Talk is cheap and hysteria is a turn off. Right now they have nothing on the get something done that's positive side of the ledger. There are a lot of good ideas that they should be championing and getting compromises on instead of obstructing. Social security reform is a great example. That issue will haunt them as it is the 40 and younger crowd who wants it. The baby boomers are getting smaller and smaller as a political group every year. There are other issues they could go after that are POSITIVE to most Americans but you don't hear about it.

The hatred towards Bush has grown old and doesn't resonate. Hatred has no substance, it is empty and does nothing so it ends up being a turn off. I know there was a lot of hatred towards Clinton, mainly on character issues, which is important to the right and not to the left, but that Clinton dislike was not like the Bush haters. For one it wasn't as open over all the medias. Two, it is revolting to hear the hard left politicians bad mouth our military. It is NOT A GOOD THING when something bad happens to our military or to attempt to make them look bad. That is not a reflection on Bush and most people are embarrased by it. Three, whether you like Clinton or not you gave him a certain amount of respect for winning elections. Remember that Ross Perot put Clinton in office and not the majority of the nation so Bush Jr did better on that point. Bush haters have no respect and it shows.

Another point is that Clinton, after his national health care debaucle, never took on a big issue again. It is easy to have high "approval" polls when you are avoiding major issue. The fact that Bush has held his popularity as high as it has been (49%) while fighting a war and trying to change Social Security is an outstanding achievemnt and really shows a lot of support for his ideals.

I guess it boils down to this. It looks like the main goal of the democrats, nationally, is to tear down Bush. That is an empty goal and certainly NOT a big tent. When the Republicans were attacking Clinton they were doing it with ideas also.

Love Billy

Posted by: Billy Noodle at July 20, 2005 08:05 AM

The way I see it, is like this: on most issues, conservatives only perceive black and white, while liberals only see nuance. This is both their strength and their weakness, depending on the issue. In domestic policy, liberals focus on the careful, granular, step-by-step construction of nuturance-- while conservatives tend to moralistically rail on about welfare cheats and the imminent destruction of the traditional family and so on. There, liberals are strongest. But in foreign policy, where issues really do on occasion resolve themselves into black-and-white, things get different. Some ruthless fanatics kill a few thousand innocent people, and conservatives are talking about smoking them out and getting them dead or alive-- while liberals are out there lining up their "Yes, buts", and draping nuance all over stone evil. There, conservatives seem strongest.

Me, I wish we had someone who could do nuance on all the small, domestic things, and do hardass moral clarity on the big, global epoch things. But maybe you only get an FDR or a Lincoln every hundred years.

Posted by: W. James Au at July 20, 2005 11:54 AM

"In my own experience, you can "get away" with disagreeing with "conservatives" way more often than you can get away with disagreeing with "liberals." "

I don't disagree with this. However, I would also say, in my own experience you can "get away" with disagreeing with Democrats more often than you can with Republicans (I'm from Virginia). If you throw out the Libertarians, who are an entirely different type of conservative than the Limbaugh variety, are on the whole the more tolerant sect and are less inclined to identify themselves as republicans or democrats, there are just as many hard-deaded conservatives as liberals, in my opinion.

Also, this question completely depends on how you define "conservative", "liberal", and "centrist."

Posted by: josh at July 20, 2005 01:41 PM

By the way, that Martin thing was completely true in my Junior High School, although probably for different reasons. That was a really weird time in this country. Even though my school was at least 65% white, people tried to identify witht the black culture to the point of being called "white" was actually an insult. "Man, you white as a mug," was a popular one (you can pressume they are referencing a white mug, if you don't mind making a press out of you and me). Anyway, Martin really sucked, but I still had my Shenene impression down pat. Oh my goodness. Damn Gina, I'm a man, I needs the punana. Tadao.

Posted by: josh at July 20, 2005 01:48 PM

Yeah, Josh: I bet you're sorry you weren't around to see *my* poor, awkward, half-hearted, and not very well-informed attempt at a Shenene impression. Everyone was required to give it a shot... I think it works pretty well as a metaphor for the political identity dynamic. The equivalent of the Shenene impression around here is the spirited Chimpy McHitler routine - if you can't do a good one, you're in social trouble. I guess in areas controlled by Republicans/"conservatives" the equivalent would be a kind of Ted Kennedy is drunk John Kerry looks like Lurch anti-blow job type of thing. (Though I really don't know about that - like I said, only an idiot would admit to being a Republican around here so my experience is limited.)

As for defining "conservative" and "liberal" I believe they still have literal meanings as adjectives (though even that is increasingly blurry), but these meanings don't correspond all that well to the political parties that are alleged to represent them. We've got a world where "conservatives" invoke John Stuart Mill and "liberals" are deeply skeptical about the redemptive power of democracy.

As terms of identity they have almost no real meaning. Still, people continue to self-identify and to be quite fervent and bitter about it. It's like how people from Wisconsin hate people from Illinois and vice versa, yet they look, sound and act exactly the same as each other from an outsider's point of view (except for superficial things like the fact that some of them may be wearing these weird cheese hats.)

Posted by: Dr. Frank at July 20, 2005 03:03 PM

I dunno...I felt more comfortable as a liberal during my first couple years in the military, than I do now as a conservative in the Boston area.

Posted by: Bobby at July 20, 2005 03:23 PM

Billy, you're my new hero.

Posted by: Zaphod at July 20, 2005 03:43 PM

I'm a conservative of the libertarian variety - although I would describe my fetishes differently than you did ;)

In my experience, the further away a person is, or understands themself to be, from the realm of politics, the more tolerant they are of opposing arguments and points-of-view. Those folks that have some personal investment in the outcome of the political process seem to me to be more partisan and intolerent. Which should be obvious now that I've written it down.

Generalizations, I know, but gleened from long experience of talking issues and politics with lots of different people. Oh, and I am a life-long resident of MA - hardly a place where I find myself surrounded by like-minded (conservative) folks. Of course, it may be that my friends and family are being condescendingly kind as it relates to my political views.

Posted by: too many steves at July 20, 2005 05:32 PM

I grew up in Orange County California (yeah, the OC) and it is a very red republican area. I don't recall anyone hating or seriously disparaging democrats or liberals (they got an eye roll here and there, but with a smile and we'd still be your friend). I am a conservative BTW and I was active in politics (so I'd get to hear whatever they'd say about democrats when none were around)...

I now live in the bay area (so yes, there is a conservative here) and liberals here are... ummm... what you said. I have had some bad experiences, even with people I've know for years, once they found out I was not part of their 'tribe'.

Posted by: Thomas at July 20, 2005 05:38 PM

Posted by: Jason Toon at July 19, 2005 07:56 PM

"Conservatives tolerant of centrists? That's a good one. What about John McCain, Colin Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and other centrist Republicans who will never, EVER stand a chance of winning their party's presidential primary, no matter how popular they may be among the general public? If the Constitution doesn't keep Schwarzenegger from being elected president, the GOP's own Mayberry ayatollahs will."

Nice spin. I wouldn't vote for the first two guys (I would for the next two) but that doesn't mean I want to run them out of the party. I can criticize them (re: disagree) without demonizing them. They're not evil or bad for not falling in the party line.

Posted by: Thomas at July 20, 2005 05:45 PM

I think things would be more civil if Americans could break the "Democrat" or "Republican" divide into purely economic distinctions. It seems to me that if you keep it along those lines, it’s much easier to tolerate the other party. I mean, as a Democrat, I believe that the government is a good thing and it can use our money to make everyone's life better off. As a Republican, someone else believes that the government is wasteful and that people's lives could be improved if funds were allocated according to the market. There you go, we can disagree, but nobody feels the need to get into a fistfight over that.

I believe that the problem with intolerance begins when people start fighting over their social agendas. It's very hard to have a rational discussion when one side thinks the other is destroying the indigenous cultures of the world, while the other side says their opponents are just a bunch of cry baby bleeding hearts. And this name calling goes on in both the right and the left. I’ve experienced college life in both Seattle and Kentucky and have seen how both sides can demonize their opponents.

Of course, I realize trying to separate economics and social beliefs is silly. I mean, it’s usually these hot button social issues that get people to identify politically in the first place. And I suppose in an “us” vs. “them” world, even economic discussions would cause some horrible behavior. I guess I'd just like to see people be less asshole-ish to each other. But good luck on that.

Also, I thought In Living Color was really funny in Jr. High. I have had the misfortune recently of seeing it re-run. Did I actually used to laugh at Jim Carey and the other lady pretending to be school kid nerds? Shame on me.

Posted by: The Pope of Chili Town at July 20, 2005 06:31 PM

I left out religion.

I believe a Centrist view would be one that is tolerant of religion AND religious expression.

The far right has pushed for legalized religious expression for a long time; i.e. school prayer, school vouchers, etc. The far left has pushed for the removal of religious expression in public; I.e. no public crosses, no public expression of god, etc. I think that most Americans are somewhere in between and get put off by both sides but of late have FEARED the assualts from the left, especially the ACLU.

At least the "christian right" tried to do it legislatively. They brought it up, people voted and that is that. Not so with the far left and ACLU who will take one particular person with one particular issue and sue in the attempt to establish a judicial precident. If the issues were truely defensive in nature it would be no big deal. But it is not, it is an assualt and I think it is the main reason why Bush won.

There are not many parents out there who want a religion not of thier choice to be taught to their children so school prayer is not supported. But this was accomplished via the legislature and a vote even if it was representative. Same with school vouchers, it is legislatively decided by governments whether or not tax dollars should go to private schools including religous schools. In some areas this has passed in other areas it hasn't put it was put to choice.

The ACLU on the other hand is attacking religious expression through judicial fiat. This is a BIG difference and strikes to the heart of a lot of religious people regardless of their political persuasion. The ACLU has gone after public religious displays all over the nation. At first this was tolerable in that maybe it is not a good thing to have government, not public, but governemnt areas to display overtly strong relgious beliefs. But it has gone further, the ACLU and others are attacking benign religious displays in all areas, public and private. There is a venon attached with this that is offensive. When you advocate the removal of a cross that has stood for 50 years and is a war memorial, that is not "government sponsored religion" but an attack on religious beliefs. When having to say "under God" in recitial of the pledge of alliegance is deemed offensive that is too far. When the attack goes to the Boy Scouts a, private organization, because of a clause that says they believe in God is deemed offensive that is too far. When organizations, because of long held and collective beliefs, are denied use of school grounds because of a hardly expressed belief in God and yet, gay and lesbian CHILDREN are permitted and encouraged that is too far.

This strikes to the core of religious people of all kinds, Christians, Jews, Muslims etc. This attempt to deny the right of religious expression ANY WHERE, ANYTIME is making people choose. People fear that a simple a Xmas tree showing in their window maybe viewed by someone walking by as offensive ad therefore restricted. People fear that a simple Star of David necklace may have to be removed in public, people fear that the cross on their church might have to come down because it is in public view then they are going to feel they have to make a choice between their religion and there politics. This political wedge that the ACLU and other hard core lefties are driving is killing the democratic party and turning people over.

The ACLU attacks would never fly in a legislative enviroment. Politicians know better because this country does not tolerate religious persecution and the removal of ANY religious symbol from public display IS persecution. The politicians get it. You saw Kerry try to turn "religious" to counter Bush's genuine belief in a religion. It is offensive to many that ONE person can claim offense to ONE Judge and the laws of the nation change.

If you want a Centrist position you need to account for people's religious views and simply LEAVE IT ALONE. Don't advocate and certainly don't agitate. It is OK for people to know you are religious, it is ACCEPTABLE to have religious expression in public. We will not persue a religious agenda, nor will we prosecute one. You are free to believe as you choose.

This a a BIG issue and one that does not get a lot coverage. The Right exploits these fears liberally and is winning. The left is afraid to address it for fear of the ACLU and so the nation drifts right because it is still a nation of religious people, not godless communists and, real or not, that appears to be the choice being put forth and it is a motivating force.

Love Billy

Posted by: Billy Noodle at July 20, 2005 06:45 PM

"Same with school vouchers, it is legislatively decided by governments whether or not tax dollars should go to private schools including religous schools. In some areas this has passed in other areas it hasn't put it was put to choice."

My girlfriend just wrote a law review not on this. The courts have played a huge role in the decision of whether voucher programs can be used for perochial schools and whether states that have voucher programs must include perochial schools. There was a recent case that decided the former question, but I can't remember about the latter. I was reading more for punctuation and grammatical errors than content.

Posted by: josh at July 20, 2005 07:47 PM

My take:

You might be a centrist if you believe Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were the two best presidents of the second half of the 20th century.

You might be a centrist if you believe Trent Lott and Jesse Jackson are both racists.

You might be a centrist if you think religion has no place in public schooling, but can't imagine how a Christmas pageant or bunch of kids praying around the flagpoll before school qualifies as 'religion in public schools'.

You might be a centrist if you think abortion should be legal early in pregnancy, but aborting a kid who would be viable outside the womb is just plain wrong. You might be a centrist if you think Roe v. Wade was morally right, but wrong constitutionally.

You might be a centrist if Judge Roy Moore and Michael Newdow both give you the heebee jeebees.

You might be a centrist if think the bloggers of the "reality-based community" are smug and self-righteous, but that Little Green Footballs' comment section is just scary.

You might be a centrist if you support 'civil unions' but not gay marriage. Or that affirmative action was a good idea, but isn't necessary anymore.

You might be a centrist if you think it is best if someone close stay home with a younger kid, but doesn't particularly think it needs to be the mom, and that once the kid is in school, having two working parents is fine.

You might be a centrist if you think we were right to invade Iraq, but that the mission was botched. Or that Hussein was a sponsor of terrorism who needed removing, by force if necessary, but wasn't particularly connected to Osama bin Laden. Or that Bush must have honestly believed Iraq had WMDs, because he isn't so stupid as to think he could get away with lying about it, and invading was probably the right thing to do given what we knew, even if, in hindsight, it looks like a mistake.

You might be a centrist if you are leery of 'universal health care', but think something needs to be done in that area, and that ANYTHING would be better than the status quo.

And you might be a centrist if you think that most of what Washington argues about is meaningless, and that, at the end of the day, whether Bush or Kerry won really didn't make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. And that is ok.

Posted by: rvman at July 20, 2005 08:06 PM

The point is that the voucher issue in general was decided by representation not interpretation.

In other it was done by choice and has consequences for elected officials as opposed to having a decision forced upon by someone who does not have to answer to the public.

Are you saying my grammar and punctuation need work?

Love Billy

Posted by: Billy Noodle at July 20, 2005 08:09 PM

Uh, flagpole, if YOU think the bloggers..., and don't particularly think it needs to be the mom. Me write no English no good today.

Posted by: rvman at July 20, 2005 08:12 PM

just a side note -- my editor at a political magazine i write for (in seattle), asked the following about a profile subject. this guy is super christian, but dislikes bush and is very anti-war:


impossible to be both xtian and liberal?

Posted by: lefty at July 20, 2005 10:45 PM


Posted by: melody chest at July 21, 2005 04:55 AM

I tried to post something but it was denied for "questionable content" - I reread it and the only thing it said that might offend someone is the word "greed" and maybe "intolerance" - why did that happen?

Posted by: melody chest at July 21, 2005 04:56 AM

"Are you saying my grammar and punctuation need work?"

No, just that the only time I read my girlfriends paper was for editing purposes, so I don't really remember the details.

Posted by: josh at July 21, 2005 02:08 PM

Ok Thanks,

I am a custom furniture maker, not a writer and it shows.

As for liberals and cristians, yes you can be both. You can be anything you choose. The subject as I understood it was to find a Centrist position. There are Christians on both sides of aisle but the trend is that they are rolling to the right and I tried to cite some reasons.

I feel it is important that any Centrist position must address the religious fears that the right is exploiting and the left is ignoring. There are times I listen to Radiio America, the "progressive mouthpiece" and you can plainly hear the derision of religion and religious people. This ridicule and attitude furthers the issues and confirms the belief that the far left is trying to get religion out of America.

I am not saying that this is true, only that it is an opinion that has been framed and exploited and it is an opinion that is growing.

By definition, a Centrist position would be one that includes the beliefs of the majority. Articulating such a position would give power to what ever political party can assume it. A position that makes people feel safe to express the religion has to part of that.

Religion seems to be a subject that the right is very comfortable with and the left tried to ignore. That is a major advantage to the right. Do you not know that there is a major religious revival occuring in our country?

A Centrist position cannot be afraid to incorporate religious people and it can be done through showing tolerance and respect.

An example would be an expression of support for civil unions along with the confirmation that the definition of marriage will not change. ANother example would be to make the point the "freedom of religion" is not the same as freedom FROM religion". Somewhere, somehow it has to be expressed that there is a comfort level with religious symbols being displayed in public. This does not mean that it needs to be encourage but it does mean a distance from the "anti-God" positions of the ACLU. It could be done by political leaders wearing articles of faith. By having photo-ops that have some religious symbols in the back ground. It could be a simple statement that acknowledges religion as an American culture. Maybe I am not getting my point across and and someone else has some better ideas but I feel it is not an issue that can be ignored.

Love Billy

Posted by: Billy Noodle at July 21, 2005 03:04 PM

REPUBICS? IN YOUR FACE? could those be the restricted terms? anyone else have this happen to them? frank? do you know why that happened?

Posted by: melody chest at July 21, 2005 04:21 PM

Religious displays in schools: No

Christmas Pageants: I feel a little icky about that, but I suppose it's alright if they get the Jewish kid (Kyle) to play Jesus.

Posted by: Tim at July 21, 2005 09:03 PM

Are guns still a devisive issue or have we given up on that?

FTR: I believe that shotguns and rifles are cool...and all deer should be shot (They're a freakin' nuisance around here as I've hit three in the past five years. Also, they're tasty.)

I also believe that only law enforcement personnel should carry handguns and only military servicemen should have automatic weapons.

Posted by: Tim again at July 21, 2005 09:08 PM

Melody, it's obviously the spam filter catching you. It's not perfect, and sometimes it rejects legitimate comments. You just have to tinker with your text by trial and error to avoid it, or choose not to bother with it and remain silent. I know it's a pain, but the alternative is thousands of spam messages, which eventually causes the host to shut down the comments altogether to protect their server.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at July 21, 2005 10:02 PM

THere are a lot of private business concerns that I feel should have the right to carry. Anyone who has to transport money, for example.

About the whole gun law thing. I think that before a platform concerning gun law CHANGES is to be discussed there should be a consensus on an even more basic question. That is what gun law changes will keep weapons out of the hands of criminals? Until that issue is effectively dealt with simply restricting gun ownership will be not only useless but divisive.

I mean what do you say to the owner of a liquor store who has been held up a gun point by a criminal who possession of said gun is illegal to begin with about not be able to be armed to protect not only himself but his and his families' livelyhood?

Though I do agree that. I see no need for people to own assualt rifles. The problem is that often the legal definitions of ban weapons are so inclusive or broad as to be limited in the intended effects.

You will not get guns out the hands of criminals by simply wishing them away.

Posted by: Billy Noodle at July 21, 2005 10:08 PM

Oh, a spam filter. Okay.

Hey, I estimate that I've spent over 18 days of my life listening to MTX songs (if you add all the time of each song up). If you would like to return the favor (in part) please go to www.myspace.com/melodychestandthenewupsetters and listen to our radical tunes. Zaphod, you too.

Posted by: meldoy chest at July 21, 2005 11:46 PM

I ain't talkin' 'bout wishing away criminal's guns. I'm talking about slowing down the flow hand guns and automatic weapons.

That liquor store owner could just as easily shoot a robber with his shotgun as he could with a handgun.

Or better yet, he can step back as the robbers take the money out of the register, allowing themselves to get filmed by his security system. Later, his insurance will cover the claim and the police will track down the bad guys and bring them to justice.

I've ruined everything. This was about centrists, right?

Posted by: Tim at July 22, 2005 01:27 AM

No not at all Tim, you have ruined nothing.

I was interested in hearing the reason for gun control and what the expected outcome is. I mentioned the liquor store owner as an example because I konw two of them personally and they are VERY concerned about being shot. There is no guarantee that doing nothing will keep them from harm nor is there any gaurantee that they can protect themselves with a gun. The problem is that either way you have no room for error and in thier opinion they would rather die trying something than nothing. It is a hot topic here as this last month there has been 3 liwour store robberies where the criminal shot the clerk after getting the money, non of them were armed and one died. As I said it is a hot topic here right now.

There are private citizens who have a legitmate need to carry. The most obvious ones are the Brinks guys and other money carriers. But there are also many small business people out there who for one reason or another carry large amounts of money and they have the right to protect themselves. I live in California, somewhat restrictive with guns, and yet permits to carry when you regularly transport money in the course of your business are not hard to get. BTW a shotugn is a very effective people killer but it is not something that used very well in a small place (like a car) or easily concealed from customers.

Advocating gun control with the sole purpose of making somewhere safer has not worked. One only has to look at Washington DC, the murder capital of the US to see that. Also there are a lot of people who won't agree with it. It, extreme gun control, has cost politicians elections, so I suggest treading carefully. The 2nd amendment is taken very seriously by a lot voters.

A good centrist position would be trying to limit the flow of handguns and automatic weapons as you said. That is an awesome political statement. SO how can it be done in a way that will be politically sucessfull?

Limit manufacturing?
Limit purchasing?
Tax the heck out of guns and ammo so as to make it very expensive?

I would hesitate to use the word "ban" as that makes the NRA freak out, but limiting, like having to buy tags, may have a better appeal. In game hunting, the goverment issues tags, permission to take game, based on the availibility of that game. Some years there are more tags some years less but every year there is a limit to each person, a maximum take. Maybe something like that could be done? State would have a limit on how many of certain weapons could be purchased in a year and a max on total purchase per person. That way it wouldn't be banned, only limited. Don't know if that would fly though.

Thanks for letting me ramble,
Love Billy

Posted by: Billy Noodle at July 22, 2005 03:43 AM

The most important aspect of the right to carry guns is not the ability of private citizens to protect themselves from other private citizens, but rather to ensure that we don't live in a world where "only law enforcement personnel should carry handguns and only military servicemen should have automatic weapons." It's meant as the ultimate check on governmental authority. Armed people are harder to opress than unarmed people.

Also, banning or taxing something for which healthy blakc-markets already exist is innfective (think The War on Drugs). The best way to prevent crime is to put a heavy tax (of sorts) on the output not the input. Increase the chances of being caught and the punishment if you are caught, and you will reduce crime. Taxing the input is a commmon mistake people make, because logcally one thinks it will have the desired result. From an economic perspective, it's best to tax the difference in outputs and let people best figure out how to best maximize their new restraints. A couple of examples of what I'm talking about; prisons receiving subsidies based on how many reading programs they institute rather than simply how many inmates they teach to read, politicians who want to subsidies hybrid cars to limit the use of petroleum rather than simply taxing the patroleum to the point where it forces people to use the desired amount of petroleum. In the former case, we are limiting the relative value of innovative solutions. If we ban guns rather than tax crime outputs, we are doing the same thing.

Posted by: josh at July 22, 2005 01:40 PM

Ex-reverb mofo dude sure spends a lot of time on center to conservative blogs. He rips a bunch of guys like Lileks who are fine writers and decent thinkers. The fact that he visits is a tribute to them and would be to him too, if he was more tolerant!

Posted by: slickdpdx at July 24, 2005 06:16 PM

"Donklephant"? I don't get it.

Posted by: beverley at July 25, 2005 06:28 PM

Scratch that. Strained the brain cells a little, and the meaning hit me

Posted by: beverley at July 25, 2005 06:50 PM
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