Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Being an ideologue shouldn't warrant a scarlet letter.
Doesn't it stand to reason that a person's mind is - and ought to be - open during the time period in which they are searching for the conclusion? But then, upon finding an answer - or at least a formula with which to reach conclusions (i.e. an ideology) - there's no reason to be indecisive (i.e. "open-minded?) any more?
What those who mock ideology seem to be saying is that if you pick a side you're necessarily "closed-minded." Because if picking a side isn't "open-minded," then we're only left to conclude that it's "closed-minded." Why? Ever heard someone assert the euphemism that they pick sides on an issue by issue basis. Fine. Is that not then, itself, a formula? And why is it the case that simply because I am consistent with my picking of stances on issues (such that I continually find myself on the conservative side of the fence) that I - or any ideologue for that matter - must then necessarily be "closed-minded?"
Everyone's mind is open to the range of possible answers of a math or science question until they reach a verifiable and sound final answer. Why should political or social science be any different? Why can't it be the case that my mind was reasonably open during my younger years - when I'd yet to do my own research and form my own understanding? Why is it the case that because – after years of work in the field – I now have a formula for answering political and social science questions that works for me - one I've verified and re-verified with every single study or article I've ever done - that I (or any ideologue) must necessarily be "closed-minded" and ignorant and the indecisive and noncommittal “moderates” must necessarily be praised for their magnanimity?
Being closed-minded means being unreceptive to the facts and their context. It means forming an opinion on a specific issue before understanding that matter at hand. Those who are closed-minded are those who believe something, are unable to articulate why, and unwilling to consider/weigh other opinions. That's not what an ideologue is - that's what moderates and independents demonize ideologues and pundits to be because it makes them feel superior and more intellectually honest – which is, itself, intellectually dishonest. An ideologue is someone who has what they feel is a working formula to resolve the issues before them. My formula works. I've been pounding the intellectual and political pavement, crunching the numbers and the facts for about a decade now. I'm allowed to say, "Look, I've done a lot in this field. I use this formula because - time and again - I've seen it proven as valid and sound."
So, yes, I am unapologetically conservative. And while moderates and liberals may get a kick out of slapping each other on the back, pretending their superior to us - we're the ones weighing through hundreds of news articles and research studies every week to better understand the world around us. I never really saw my liberal peers in college taking the time and effort to consume the raw amount of political information I did. So to suggest that the antithesis of ideology (specifically conservative ideology) must be open-mindedness is, to be frank, insulting and completely without merit.
Look at it like this: in political science there are many formulas and schools of thought, amongst the two most broad are liberalism and conservatism. We take pleasure in noting the successes of the conservative formula and the failures of the liberal formula. We also take joy in proving wrong the frequently inaccurate assertions of liberals when they think they've identified a failure in the conservative formula.
And I might also note that it's not a "formula" because we mindlessly repeat its axioms with rigidity and ignorance. It's a formula - like any formula in math - because we can put variables into it and get predictable results – favorable results. It's a formula because it explicates a general relationship between quantities and qualities.
Formulas aren’t used when you portend to know all the answers - they're used precisely because you don't. So if anyone's closed-minded, it's the self-righteous, latte-sipping, holier-than-thou "independents" and "moderates" who use faux intellectualism as a means for ripping down the principled among us simply because we've found a formula that works and will admit to it. Ironically, moderation is – itself – a formula. So moderates aren’t just condescending when they rip on ideologues, they’re hypocrites.
Truly, "Liberals [and apparently independents] claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views." --William F. Buckley, Jr.
In other words - it's ok to think what you want and do what you want... insofar as you think and value the same things as the super kewl people on t.v. Otherwise, if you get a kick out of something like the Federalist Papers or Federalism or *gasp* Conservatism, you're a mindless, opinionated, arrogant, condescending, closed-minded ideologue who hasn't come to tout an ideology because you engaged political science and found it to be the soundest formula - OH NO! that couldn't be it! - but because you're just too stupid to be a liberal or moderate.
That's the difference between conservatives and moderates/liberals. We mock commies/statists/socialists/liberals because they’re wrong and we can - and regularly do - prove it. We get mocked because our value system is different from theirs.
I've said it time and again, I am perfectly content to let people differ in their valuation of the facts, but I'm primarily concerned with making sure the proper and accurate facts are being discussed. I think that's true of most conservatives. Liberals want homogeneous valuation of what they want to present as the facts, and then get infuriated when someone provides an alternative analysis (a la the way Fox News is treated... “lol Faux News, har har har”).
Moderates and Independents invariably have a value system that - truth be told - could place them on either the Left with Democrats or the Right with Republicans - but they enjoy the self-inflated superiority of being "above it all:" more sensible than the ideologues, they take issues on a "case by case basis." The implication, of course, is that everyone but them does not. Indeed, the euphemistic assertion that they are "moderates" necessarily implies that everyone else is "extreme." Oh the chutzpah.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Apparently former republican Massachusetts governor and presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney decided to endorse Karen Handel. This was a missed opportunity.
It's well known, that Romney has a conservative credential crisis. His time as a Massachusetts governor forced him to make some difficult decisions on social issues - decisions that forced him to choose between winning conservative approval nationwide (before he was even a national candidate) or appeasing his liberal constituency.
However, all of his actions as governor are justifiable in a conservative's eyes through federalism - that is, the belief that these issues ought to be decided on a local and state levels.
Insofar as Romney contends: "My votes regarding gay marriage, abortion and health care were based on my belief that - as a federalist - my primary responsibility as governor was to give the citizens of my state the services they wanted," he can easily oppose the liberal position on these issues at the national level by pointing out that what can and should be decided and applied at the state level does not work as one-size-fits-all national legislative mandate.
That's the beauty of federalism - that the government closest to the people governs best.
Which brings us back to the governor primary in Georgia. Romney can only use Federalism as an "out" to avoid being skewered by the massive base of Republican conservatives on social issues IF he remains disentangled from these issues OR if he takes the opportunity to bolster his conservative credentials by supporting social conservatives.
His endorsement of Handel accomplished neither of these.
The remaining days of jockeying before the Georgia GOP primary runoff will no doubt focus on Handel's associations with the Log Cabin Republicans and the fact that she was the only GOP gubernatorial candidate that Georgia Right to Life did not endorse. As a result, Romney's endorsement of her both re-entangles him in these social issues, and puts him on the side of the fence that will most assuredly cost him the presidential primary in this national political climate.
More Americans describe themselves as “pro-life” on abortion (51%) than “pro-choice” (42%) for the first time since Gallup began asking the question in 1995. It's not exactly the best time to be labeled as (or endorse) the "anti pro-life Republican" in a primary.
Republican support for gay marriage sits at just 35%. So, again, not the best political climate to be (or endorse) the Log Cabin Republican.
What's more... Deal has consistently polled the best against (D) Roy Barnes. So, it's not as if Romney simply went with the flow here and picked the sure thing...
More than any of that, Romney missed the Mt. McKinley of political opportunities by not juxtaposing Sarah Palin's endorsement of Handel. For a change, he'd find himself on the side of the far right, and Palin would be pigeon holed with the moderate alternative.
If nothing else, it would have provided him cannon fodder for presidential debates and interviews down the line. At best, he'd have had an opportunity to start whittling down the horde of social conservative republicans standing between him and the White House.
Here's another week's worth of numbers to help you win those political battles with your peers ;)
- Gallup: Only 12% of adults call themselves “progressives"
- PPP: 2012 POLL: Obama trails against Romney, Gingrich, Huckabee; tied with Palin
- White House Dossier: Obama has spent 200+ hours on golf course
- Fox News: Poll: Widespread opposition to DOJ suit against Arizona, 59/29
- ABC: 60% of gulf residents want to continue offshore drilling
- CBS: 74% either support Arizona law or think it doesn’t go far enough
- Yahoo!: 36 arrested in Medicare scams totaling $251M
- Science Daily: Study suggests that some people may end up voting for left of center parties because they hold the mistaken belief that they are left wing
- 11 Alive: Illegal Immigration Costs US $100B, Georgia $2.4B Per Year
- Gallup: Kagan set for confirmation with lowest support since polling began
- Gallup: Americans' satisfaction with the direction of the country continues to be meager in July: 21% are satisfied and 76% are dissatisfied
- AP: Brief for 9 states backs Arizona immigration law
- Gallup: 56% like Petraeus; 60% see Afghanistan mission going badly
- Gallup: U.S. Satisfaction with Direction of Country at 21%, Down Among Dems
- Gallup: Palin's 76% Favorable Among Republicans Tops Others in GOP
- Rasmussen: Generic Congressional Ballot: Republicans 44%, Democrats 38%
- Pew: Nearly half of Americans (47%) disapprove of the health care law while just 35% approve
- Georgia: Republicans out vote Democrats 5:3 in Georgia primaries
- Qunnipiac: Obama Approval Drops To Lowest Point Ever
- Advocate Acadiana Bureau: About 11,000 rally in Louisiana against drilling moratorium
- Pew: Just 41% have a favorable opinion of labor unions, lowest approval since 1985
- Rasmussen: Rand Paul up by 8 in Kentucky
- Gallup: Obama averages 47.3% approval in sixth quarter - seven points lower than the average 6th quarter for other presidents
- Rasmussen: 56% Support Offshore Drilling; 47% Favor Deepwater Drilling, Too
- Rasmussen: 61% Expect Rise in Health Care Costs Under New Law, 56% Favor Repeal
- Rasmussen: Just 27% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction
- RCP: Republicans up 2.9 in average of Generic Congressional Ballot
- Zogby: Obama Approval Rating Slips To 45%
- Torrent Freak: U.S. Government shuts down over 73,000 blogs
- LA Times: California Democrat paid $800,000 as city manager for 38,000 people
- Good Transparency: Which Governments Demand Google to Remove the Most Information?
- Good Transparency: Civil Rights issues outweigh matters of Federalism by almost 30:1 in Supreme Court cases
- Telegraph: The euro rocketed to a two-month high of $1.29 and sterling jumped two cents to almost $1.54 after the Fed confessed that the US economy may not recover for five or six years
- RedState: A chart of unemployment since 1995
- Hot Air: This month, the total employment gap has expanded to 11.2 million jobs
- CNBC: Dow May Crash to 7,500
- Gallup: -35 economic confidence rating is worst in a year
- Rasmussen: 56% Rate the Economy as Poor
- E&P Magazine: Obama drilling ban to cost $2.1 billion, 8,000 jobs and half a billion in lost wages after first six months
- American Action Forum: Stimulus (outlays and reductions in receipts) in 2009 was roughly $260 billion, meaning every $1 dollar the federal government spent resulted in (at best) just $1 of spending
- CBO: interest payments on the money borrowed by the federal government amount to $347 billion
- Bureau of Labor Statistics (as cited by GOP.gov): There have been 3.42 million gross jobs lost since the stimulus was passed, and 2.53 million net jobs lost
- Harvard Business School: Federal spending in states appears to cause local businesses to cut back rather than grow
- GOP.gov: 3.2 million private sector jobs have been lost and total private sector employment has decreased by 2.5 million jobs since the passage of the stimulus
- Bureau of Economic Statistics: GDP growth has averaged a lethargic 1.4 percent since the stimulus. In the ten quarters following the 1982 recession growth averaged 9.3 percent each quarter.
- National Federation of Independent Businesses: Confidence amongst small businesses fell in June 2010 at the sharpest level since October 2008
- Reuters: BP to Sell $1.7 Billion in Assets to Pay for Oil Spill
- Reuters: Cost of financial bailout raises to $3.7 trillion, up $700 billion in past year
- Gallup: 18.4% of Americans are underemployed, just 81.6% are employed at all
- Committee on Capital Markets Regulation (as cited by NRO) Sarbanes-Oxley bill cost business as much as $20 billion to comply in its first year of implementation
- Jerusalem Post: Just 10% of Israelis think Obama is pro-Israel
- Middle East Quarterly: Study's findings indicate that honor killings accelerated significantly between 1989 and 2009
- AFP: Muslim Attack on Christian Village in Nigeria Kills 8
- CNN: China overtook the U.S. last year to become the world's biggest energy user
- Gallup: 90 Million More Chinese Online at Home Now Than in 2007
Monday, July 12, 2010
Here's a week's worth of facts and figures to mull over as you start your week anew...
- GWPF: Global carbon emissions steady for first time since 1992
- CNBC: Dow Repeats Great Depression Pattern: Charts
- Rasmussen: 29% Say Stimulus Plan Helped the Economy, 43% Say It Hurt
- Rasmussen: 60% Still Support Offshore Drilling
- Real Clear Politics: Obama's average approval rating at +0
- Gallup: Underemployment at 18.3% in June, a 2010 Low
- Gallup: 68% say it's extremely or very important for the government to take steps this year to control U.S. borders to halt the flow of illegal immigrants
- Pew: Voting Intentions Even, Turnout Indicators Favor GOP
- Pew: 29% say Obama's economic policies have made conditions worse, and 38% say they have had no effect
- CNS News: June Was Deadliest Month for U.S. Troops in Nine-Year-Long War in Afghanistan
- CNS News: Federal Debt Could Reach 100% of America’s GDP by 2025, Says Congressional Budget Office
- Heritage: Obama’s 2011 budget request would increase total welfare spending to $953 billion, a 42% increase over welfare spending in 08
- Rasmussen: 60% of voters nationwide favor repeal of the recently passed health care law, including 49% who Strongly Favor repeal
- Rasmussen: Just 33% Believe U.S. Combat Role In Iraq Likely To End Next Month
- Gallup: 84% of Americans rank federal debt as "extremely serious" or "very serious" threat to the future well being of the United States, 64% say the same of illegal immigration
- Quinnipiac: New York City voters oppose 52 - 31 percent a proposal by a Muslim group to build a mosque and cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero
- Gallup: From the week of July 13–19 to the week July 20–26, Obama suffered a 7-point drop in support among Hispanics
- Zogby: Obama Approval Rating Steady at 46%, 60% of Voters Say Nation Headed in Wrong Direction
- e21: Social Security’s actuarial deficit is now projected to be 2.1% of covered workers’ taxable wages over the next 75 years, with program insolvency reached in 2037
- Science News: Stem cells from blood a 'huge' milestone: Advance may prove easier, cheaper and faster than other harvesting methods
- Economist: Obama at a 42% approval rating among all adults, with 49% disapproving
- Gallup: Obama Job Approval Rating Down to 38% Among Independents
- FAIR: Analysis of the latest Census data indicates that Arizona’s illegal immigrant population is costing the state’s taxpayers about $1.3 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration
- CNS News: ICE Releases Memo Showing Agency Has Resources to Remove Only 4% of Illegal Aliens A Year
- USA News: 62% of San Diego residents oppose Obama lawsuit against AZ
- USA Today: 130 U.S. minors were caught attempting to bring drugs through entry ports from Sonora into Arizona during fiscal 2009, an 83% increase from last year
- FOX News: Every legal household in US pays $1,117 for Illegals a year
- Rasmussen: 55% believe the Iraqi people are better off today because Hussein was removed from power
- USA Today: National debt soars to highest level since WWII
- Gallup: Republicans' midterm voting enthusiasm highest ever
- USA Today: Federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations
- Heritage: Salaries and benefits — for identical jobs — are 30 to 40 percent higher in the federal government than in the private sector
- Gallup: Republicans lead Democrats in the generic congressional ballot, 46-44%
- Rasmussen: 56% Oppose Justice Department Challenge of Arizona Law; 61% Favor Similar Law In Their State
- Rasmussen: 75% Blame Budget Problems on Politicians’ Unwillingness to Cut Spending
- GAO: The Department of the Treasury has paid out just $132.5 billion of the approved $787 billion in Recovery Act funds for use in states and localities
- Reuters: 30-yr mortgage rate drops to record low
- Washington Times: USA marks 3rd-largest, single-day debt increase - $166 billion jump
- Global Post: Female genital mutilation rates are as high as 73 percent among Kurdish women aged 14 and over
- Popular Mechanics: #1 energy myth: Nuclear energy isn't safe (During the first six decades of the nuclear age, fewer than 100 people have died as a result of nuclear power plant accidents)
- ABC: Labor Dept. Estimates $7.1 Billion in Overpayments to Unemployed
- NRO: 55% of likely voters think Obama is a socialist, 56% say he's too liberal
- The Weekly Standard: Obamacare forces 16 million into Medicaid – a program that denies care, has higher rates of infant mortality, and yields poorer health outcomes for patients
- UCLA (2004): FDR's policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate
- Americans Oppose Federal Suit Against Ariz. Immigration Law, by a 50% to 33% margin
- Federal Reserve: Consumer credit decreased at an annual rate of 4.5% in May 2010, revolving credit decreased at an annual rate of 10.5%, and nonrevolving credit decreased at an annual rate of 1.5%
- Chosun: 80% of Koreans Think Favorably of America
- WSJ: U.S. lags far behind other major economies in restoring jobs lost in the recession
- Reuters: Darfur violence kills 221 in June
- Gallup: Economic Confidence Index falls to -34, the lowest weekly average since last July
- Earth and Industry: Telecommuting Employees Save Companies $10K per Year... Each
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: The average unemployed worker has been out of work for 35.2 weeks
- Economic Policy Institute: There are five unemployed workers for every job opening
- Heritage: The previous extension of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits from 26 to 46 weeks increased the unemployment rate by 0.22 percentage points.
- Heritage: Roughly one-third of workers receiving UI benefits find work immediately once their benefits expire
- Heritage: Each 13 week extension of UI benefits increases the average length of time workers receiving benefits stay unemployed by approximately two weeks
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