Thursday, October 27, 2011

An Open Letter to Liberal Americans

I wrote this over a year ago and forgot about it.  I think it still applies today... 

I am a conservative with pernicious libertarian tendencies who believes we should examine our politicians and probe their logic, not worship them.  We should be skeptical, very skeptical, of everything that proceeds from their loquacious gobs.  I also don't want any of them feeling too comfortable up there in the District of Criminals.

Thomas Jefferson said it best:
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
--Thomas Jefferson
I think George Bush was no conservative, but I believe he is a sincere and honest man, as politicians go.  He is not Hitler, he was not in on any 9/11 conspiracy, and VP Cheney didn't shoot holes in the New Orleans levees with his Halliburton cannon.  If you back me into a corner, I will reluctantly admit that Bill Clinton was a pretty good president, private peccadilloes aside.

I have a grudging respect for Hillary Clinton, although I disagree with her politics.  She's a hard worker and she does her homework. 

Conservatives and Liberals will never agree on many subjects, but here are three things I hope we can all agree upon:  1) Make the politicians prove it; 2) Listen to one another; 3) Dial it back.

Make Them Prove It
I will start by pleading guilty to not paying attention as George Bush and the GOP went wilding with our money.  My days of not standing up and questioning those I voted for are now over.

We are living in the age of rampant, naive credulity, and it needs to stop.  Our default position should be to disbelieve anything a politician says until she can prove it.  While we're at it, let's make them defend their big ideas in light of the US Constitution.

Taking this hyper-skeptical approach will keep them from tragically wasting our blood and our treasure.  There is a selfish partisan interest here as well.  By holding our own politicians and candidates' feet to the fire, and spitting them out when they're found to be full of crap, we preserve the reputation of our respective parties. 

No more letting them lie to us with a wink and a nod just to get elected.  The incinerator at the bottom of the memory hole has been extinguished.  With the internet, America's digital memory is now infinite.   Lying and political shape-shifting doesn't work in an age when I can sit in my underwear and research everything a politician has said since he was in grade school. 

I share no ideology with Dennis Kucinich or Bernie Sanders, but they are probably two of the most honest politicians in DC, and I can at least admire them for that.

Listen to One Another
Left and right are poles apart, by definition.  No one should have to listen to hysterical ideologues screaming insults, but we should lend an ear to reasoned voices on the other side.  You don't have to compromise your principles to do it, and you may learn something. 

Wanna know one area where the right has jumped on the lefty bandwagon?  Opposition to crony capitalism.  Conservative mistrust most likely springs from a different motive, but we've seen the light!  We agree with you that government should not be in bed with corporations and bankers.  No special favors!

Another area where the right has seen the light?  The primacy of the US Constitution.  A few years ago, only libertarians and liberal social activists referred to that venerable document.  Granted, the left narrowly focused in on the bill of rights, usually the 1st, 4th and 5th Amendments, but they could nonetheless claim to be bigger constitutionalists than their ideological adversaries on the right.

No more.  Our disillusion with traditional Country Club Republicanism stacked upon our distaste for postmodern liberalism has left us nowhere else to go.  So let's rally 'round the constitution and argue over what those words mean.  It is so much more productive than the tired bread and circuses of Republican team versus the Democratic team and "my politician is better than your politician."

Dial It Back
I have excoriated President Obama.  I got so mad once that I put red Mickey Mouse ears on him.  He's the president, so I should have more respect, as I thought the left should have shown President Bush.

I remember thinking at the time that George Bush did not make the case for invading Iraq.  But everybody this side of Russ Feingold was too scared to call him on it, so off we went.

I cut him too much slack because I liked him (I still do).  I blindly trusted him on everything from the Patriot Act to No Child Left Behind.  Some of that stuff needed to be done, but no one on the right seriously questioned him.  We did not have a critical debate.

You know what would have made it easier for me to part ways with Bush on some of these issues?  If foaming-at-the-mouth leftists had not been jumping all over him like a mob of diseased orangutans, vomiting insults and hysterical rage at him.  Had much of that legitimate criticism been well-stated and not couched in ad hominem, I would have found it much easier to jump on board.  I was in the military at the time, and it seriously seemed like it was President Bush and us against the world.

We're All Americans
We will never agree on abortion, gay marriage, or health care, but we should all agree that no politician gets a free pass.  We the People can also all agree on a few founding principles like a wall of separation between business and state, and a kick in the bum for crony capitalists and the corrupt political hogs who wallow with them.  Maybe we can even be friendly to those on the other side who are not spewing hatred our way.

Am I dreaming?  Probably, but I feel compelled to say this in the name of ideological ecumenism.

I'm Kurt Silverfiddle, and I approve of this message.

38 comments:

The Constitutional Insurgent said...

Awesome. Just awesome. You've said what I try to say...but you've said it better.

What I'd like now is for a companion piece from someone on the left.

Silverfiddle said...

Constitutional: That was my original plan; to do cross guest posts with a few liberal bloggers, but things turned sour so I just said "To hell with it."

I stumbled upon it yesterday and decided to post it.

Thanks for the kind words!

Ducky's here said...

Nothing new here. I think we've been in agreement on this for some time.

My take is that nothing happens until we get a responsible media. The current media is too firmly invested in milking this, often nonexistent, division.

tha malcontent said...

An awesome job my friend.

Jack Camwell said...

"Diseased orangutans" made me lol.

I applaud your message, as this is something I've been advocating.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great Jefferson quotation, SilverFiddle.

Here's another along the same lines:

"It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights: that confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism – free government is founded on jealousy, and not in confidence which prescribes limited constitutions . . . In questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."

~ Thomas Jefferson

I appreciate your conciliatory, fair-minded tone, but it's been my experience -- very sadly -- that whenever I've acknowledged merit in the argument of a liberal opponent he, she or it never sees fit to return the compliment.

In others words: "Give 'em an inch, and they'll take a mile."

I used to regard sincerity as a virtue, until I realized that people like the odious Bernie Sanders and the militant wimp, Dennis Kucinich, can be passionately, devotedly, sincerely wrong.

That Marxists, Liberals, Progressives, Socialists -- whatever you want to call them -- not only have no respect for the Constitution, but seem determined to discredit, undermine, subvert and eventually abolish it by any means fair or foul seems self-evident. That they consider their lack of respect and lack of principles to be a positive virtue frankly scares the hell out of me.

Do the ends ever justify the means? Apparently more and more are beginning to think so -- on both sides of the aisle.

Maybe they always have, but weren't so blatant about it in the past? The sainted Abraham Lincoln certainly believed that his will had to be done regardless of principle, regardless of the Constitution, regardless of the constraints the Supreme Court of his day tried to place on him. Lincoln assumed dictatorial powers and functioned as an absolute monarch. Not only did he get away with it, he's revered for it and considered by many to be the very greatest president we've had.

Go figger!

Maybe the concept of Situation Ethics made popular in the Sick-sties should be regarded as more enlightened than either Holy Writ or the US Constitution after all?

If it feels right, then it must be right, right?

~ FreeThinke

Infidel753 said...

Conservative mistrust most likely springs from a different motive, but we've seen the light! We agree with you that government should not be in bed with corporations and bankers. No special favors!

Everyone should be glad to hear this, but it begs a question -- which conservatives? There are rather obviously several factions on this. A lot of rank-and-file conservatives may have turned away from knee-jerk support for big financial interests, but the Republicans in Congress don't seem to have gotten the memo -- see the fanatical refusal to consider any tax increases, even to rates that would still be lower than those we had under Reagan, to alleviate service cuts that hurt the economic bottom 90% of society. (Some Democrats, of course, are also too cozy with the crony capitalists.)

If foaming-at-the-mouth leftists had not been jumping all over him like a mob of diseased orangutans, vomiting insults and hysterical rage

Complementary question -- which leftists? Please don't judge everyone by a fringe minority. I can remember having some arguments with those people during the Bush administration (over the "9/11 was an inside job" claims, for example). The same lunatic-fringe left is now vociferously bashing Obama, incidentally. And I see plenty of foaming-at-the-mouth hysteria against Obama on the right these days, even if it's not coming from everybody.

We will never agree on abortion, gay marriage, or health care,

On the first two at least, I'm more optimistic. Opposition to desegregation, to interracial marriage, and even to women having the vote, were considered respectable "conservative" positions decades ago, but are now confined to the lunatic fringe. Come back in ten or fifteen years and I suspect gay marriage will be a settled issue, with mainstream conservatives having moved on.

A liberal American

Anonymous said...

I lost confidence in Dubya the day he he said, "Islam is a religion of peace."

I voted for him twice, because the alternatives were impossible, but I did so reluctantly, and am not proud of it.

Infidel's remarks lend credibility to my frequent assertion tha the country has been moving steadily to the left for the past hundred years.

The laws against miscegenation had no foundation in logic, because so many slave holders -- and slave traders too no doubt -- had biological sons and daughters held in bondage and treated as chattel. If God had not wanted the races to interbreed, He would not have made it physically possible.

Abortion in my never humble opinion should never have entered the political arena. It should have remained a private issue to be resolved between a woman and her doctor, and between her conscience and her understanding of God.

Homosexual marriage like miscegenation has been a Fact of Life for a very long time -- so have the presence of gay men and women in the military. I can't prove it, but I imagine the vast majority of women who choose a military career must be lesbians.

Why the official recognition of long-established realities should be so problematic I don't know. Suffice it to say that large measures of both hypocrisy and denial seem necessary to the smooth functioning of any purpose driven social group.

Maybe it doesn't matter -- except to those who thrive on controversy and are unwilling simply to live and let live? No matter official policies hold sway you can be sure that most people are just going to go on doing what they want to do regardless.

Agitators are troublemakers and little else. They roil the surface, and get a lot of people angry and upset, but underneath the Eternal Status Quo continues undisturbed.

Frankly, I think it's much better to keep personal matters personal, instead of using them to create wedge issues that aid in the acquisition of political power.

Not everyone should have to know and be forced to accept everything. It's not possible anyway.

We must adjust to Reality. It never works the other way 'round.

~ FreeThinke

conservativesonfire said...

What you have described would be a much nicer place to be than where we are today. I think part of the reason we are so polarized today is 1.) the conservatives only recently woke up and realized how far our government had been restructured to the left over the last several decades and now they see no room for more compromise and 2.) the left see how close they are to achieving their final goal that they don't to give back an inch but instead want to make the final push to make America more like our European cousins. I guess what I am saying is, don't hold your breath.

Jersey McJones said...

This is why I was hoping beyond hope the Tea Party would get on board with the OWS movement. But no, they did not. Instead the TP excoriated them.

That was a terrible shame.

JMJ

Lisa said...

Leave it to Jersey. You would thing they would give the TP credit for paving the way for the OWS .
I recall how the media got on board with the TP as well . Like Pelosi said this is just AstroTurf whereas the OWS is what? Street Theater.
Good post SF sorry I muddied up with my comment but it' all Jersey's fault.

Anonymous said...

ConservativeOnFire,

I think you've got it!

By God, you've got it!

The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain!

Besides, if you believe your opposition serve the Satan -- as both sides surely do -- why would you ever want to compromise with the Devil? He'll beat you every time if you try.

~ FreeThinke

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey: OWS and the tea parties are in broad agreement on the ills, but disagree on the source and on the cure.

There are no shared goals between OWS and the tea parties.

Trestin said...

Jersey,
I actually have been on their forums and spoken with them. Most of them are decent people, the problem I had, they had no idea what it was all about. They kept saying things like this is historic. Lots of things are historic, 9/11 was historic, I need more information. I would ask if they were for auditing the Fed and one or two said yes, but most would not commit to that. If I'm going to go and protest something, I need to know what it is I'm protesting.

Mark Adams said...

Silver "OWS and the tea parties are in broad agreement on the ills, but disagree on the source and on the cure."
Nail on the head.

This whole left right divide is rooted on the basic foundation of the same goals,

Both wanting to lift those up, who are less fortunate, to a better prosperous life.

Fundamental different on how to achieve the common goal.
1. Through showing them the way to opportunities from one’s own initiative and determination.
Vs.
2.Empowering Government to force others to lift them up or provide the opportunity.

ecc102 said...

@Free Thinke,

Nice My Fair Lady reference! Classic!

Infidel de Manahatta said...

I used to oppose term limits but now I am all for them.

If for no other reason politicians must get used to the fact that they serve us and being elected to office is not a lifetime sinecure.

Jersey McJones said...

Do you guys remember that famous Deep Throat statement about Watergate, "follow the money?"

OWS realizes something the Tea Party and most conservatives do not: It is the moneyed interests who corrupt our government, not the other way around.

JMJ

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey: Any more banalities you'd like to share?

Of course it's the moneyed interests who corrupt government.

The answer lies not in attacking wall street and destroying capitalism, but in reforming DC.

Ducky's here said...

Not a banal observation at all, Silverfiddle.

You take the standard right wing response to the mortgage collapse and who do they blame - government (N.B. I am not referring to yourself).

The right wing conception of the CRA is painful.

Jersey is straight on. The message from the like of Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and other 19 year old Randoids is hard to miss.

Fredd said...

OWS and the Tea Party share a primary goal: both of these organizations want a better life for themselves and for their families.

Of course, their polar opposite solutions as to how best achieve a better life are the stuff of squabbles and much hollerin'...

Ducky's here said...

No, Fredd, we have much in common. Both sides are very troubled by the intersection of government and corporate power.

We need to work in that intersection and go from their. But until we get corporate influence out of government we're toast.

Gus said...

What never ceases to amaze me, is the level of stupidly those who follow Ron Paul . If you cannot see the guy is a nut. You are probably a nut yourself.

Silverfiddle said...

No, Ducky. From the venerable Paul Volker just this week:

THE other area that cries out for change, Mr. Volcker said, is the nation’s mortgage market, now controlled by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the taxpayer-owned mortgage giants.

“We simply should not countenance a residential mortgage market, the largest part of our capital market, dominated by so-called government-sponsored enterprises,” Mr. Volcker said in his speech.

“The financial breakdown was in fact triggered by extremely lax, government-tolerated underwriting standards, an important ingredient in the housing bubble.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/business/volckers-advice-for-more-financial-reform.html

brianduffy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"The financial breakdown was in fact triggered by extremely lax, government-tolerated underwriting standards, an important ingredient in the housing bubble.”

Thank you! Oh THANK you for posting that, SilverFiddle -- and from the New York Crimes yet!

Could it be that that gray-haired old Bolshevik Bitch has FINALLY got religion?

This may be the first time those slimy crypto- Communist bastards have printed the truth in fifty years or more.


WHOOPEE!


~ FreeThinke

liberaldude said...

The Tea Party was fine by me, even as a liberal when they began but lost it when Dick Armey and the Koch Brothers co-opted the movement with loons.

Crony capitalism is killing the country and the middle class. Our democracy has been influence by the billions of dollar by corporate lobbyists who demand of their politicians whom they own, to enact legislation which favors their policies, deregulation and screws the middle class. It killed Japan's economy 15 years ago and it's killing Russia right now.

Leticia said...

Absolutely spot-on!! And I especially love where you said that, "no politician gets a free pass." Amen to that!

Anonymous said...

FYI:

banal means trite, obvious, commonplace, hackneyed, jejune, mundane, pedestrian, prosaic, stale, threadbare, trite, unoriginal

Jersey's statement was distinctly banal.

~ FT

Ducky's here said...

Silverfiddle, the underwriting standards were subject to Fed regulation. Greenspan, the Randoids darling deserves a lot of the blame there.

My understanding of the issues at Fannie and Freddie is that Franklin Raines, a real bum, felt he could double the stock price in a short time by playing in the subprime market. So he went about trying to do that. He had a lot of competition however and when the crap finally went into the fan, Fannie/Freddie were underwriting a LOWER volume of the nation's mortgages.

However, they did serve their function when they were strictly government agencies and weren't out there to be manipulated in the "free" (LMAO) market.

Still, getting back to points of agreement. The government was lax in regulating. Very lax and Fannie/Freddie were big hits at the party.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: No disagreement here.

Also of note, back when they were strictly government-owned, we were still under Glass-Steagall. No doubt, we are living in an age of rampant greed, and it is fueled by government policy.

Liberal Dude: What do you mean by "...co-opted the movement with loons?"

I agree with you on the crony crapitalism. It is killing us.

Trestin said...

Gus,
People like you said the same thing about Reagan.

Finntann said...

First: "I can't prove it, but I imagine the vast majority of women who choose a military career must be lesbians."

I can assure you through widespread statistical sampling it just ain't true. ;)

There are two problems, at least from my perspective on the OWS movement.

First is that they have no coherent message. What is the saying? If you aren't part of the solution you are part of the problem? Okay, you want to tear down government and business... got it. Then what do you want to do?

The second problem, again as I see it, is you have 1% (if even) of the people protesting another 1% of the people and wanting their stuff. You can't point and scream at the 1% and claim they aren't paying their fair share or paying enough when you are part of the 45% not paying anything (and really I don't want to quibble over numbers...25, 35, 45% pick your favorite). That is really a problem when only 15% of us are living in poverty. A proportion approaching somewhere between a quarter and a half of us are being supported by the rest.

Fix that problem!

I don't particularly like Cain's 9/9/9 plan... because all he is really saying is most of you are going to pay 18% while some of you will be paying 27%. I don't like it, despite the fact that I can assure you I would be paying less under it.

We to stop delineating the size of government by the amount of funding we can obtain from the people and start defining it by how much we are willing to spend for a given level of service.

If a plumber came in your house, told you the trap in your sink needed replacing and it would cost you $3000, you'd throw him out on his ass. The government just sends us the bill.

On the subject of this post I leave you this from our first President on parties:

All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.

Cheers!

98ZJUSMC said...

This is why I was hoping beyond hope the Tea Party would get on board with the OWS movement. But no, they did not. Instead the TP excoriated them.

Tea Party getting on board with this?

http://pjmedia.com/zombie/2011/10/24/is-occupy-oakland-as-bad-as-they-say/

Go ahead. Have a gander.

Wake up.

..or not, makes me no nevermind.

98ZJUSMC said...

Liberal Dude: What do you mean by "...co-opted the movement with loons?"

SF: He means when Huff and Puff, dAiLYkOoKs and MSLSD started pulling things out of their rectums on a daily basis.

As they still do.

Ducky's here said...

Finntann, the message is perfectly obvious.
WE HAVE LOST POLITICAL POWER!
We have allowed ourselves to become freaking tools, let the oligarchy but the government while we sit around pulling our dicks and talking about the 9-9-9 plan. Is that a blunt enough message?

We do not begin to resolve this until we can restore an investigative media and get the oligarchy's money out of the system.

Now belive this is something only a retired marine would fail to support.

MK said...

"If you back me into a corner, I will reluctantly admit that Bill Clinton was a pretty good president, private peccadilloes aside."

I hope that's only after you've been beaten senseless, shot in both knees and offered medical treatment in exchange for those words for that oily sack of shit. ;)

Anonymous said...

MK is right, SF.

Go back and take a good look at No One Left To Lie To -- Christopher Hitchens' well-researched chronicle of contempt for the career of President Blow Job.

Of course The Bent One does look better in contrast to The Black Knight we have today.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Ducky, who do YOU think the oligarchs are -- or rather from what sector do they come, since we can't possibly know who they are individually? I agree we are controlled by such a group, but I wonder if we'd agree on their identity.

~ FreeThinke