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Rant. Muse. Eat. Sleep. Recycle.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Compromise, huh?

Welcome SmartySpark. Good entry shot. My personal rants, I hope, are backed up with some kind of action, but my reason for participating is a 'Man With 2 Brains' kind of thing. I am pointed in directions of thought that I might not have ventured towards. And, I know those other brains are pretty well-used so there is some depth to the suggestions, exhortations and threats. Plus, I am able to find some common ground with people (I just don't have to give them the satisfaction of telling them I found it).

Olive probably shares my political leanings most closely, while Renegade continually imparts bits of knowledge that send me scurrying to investigate further. CB, well CB is a damn library of conservative information. Names, dates, favorite colors. He is also the guy I have the least political overlap with -- but still have much respect for. While I will NEVER describe my nationalism as conservative, I do respect the notion and nation of America.

Sure, at this point in our history, idiots may drag a man to death because he's black, but there are no overt, government-sponsored hanging of boys simply because they are gay as there was in Iran. CB had an analogy about a restaurant where all the metaphoric nations of the world dine and and poor or enslaved patrons had horrible meals full of horrific gunk and the American Liberal complained because of an eyelash in his meal. Context is certainly important. And, I am a nationalist; not yet an enlightened citizen of the world. For instance, when I think of the death toll in Iraq, I first, (automatically and to my disgrace) think only of the U.S. soldiers who die.

So my carping about America is an eyelash in my soup, but it is an eyelash that can turn into something a lot nastier without diligent responses to bad behavior ala Bush and the gang. I remember a period in history when the U.S. government did overtly allow slaughter of its citizens -- its African American citizens. I am aware that the College of the Americas trains its students in torture. I am aware that Patrice Lumumbo and any number of foreign nationals were probably killed by our government. I ... hate that. I despise factions of a government that believe they have a right to kill human beings for no other reason than political expediency. I can't and won't support that.

Having said that, I've got to agree with Renegade that elements of the Arab world want to rid history of our existence. I believe we must resist that - vigorously.

Facts are that our U.S. leaders support one of the most totalitarian regimes in the world because we are beholden to the product they sell and the money they have invested in America. Hello Saudi Arabia. Hypocrisy. But, I know history has a long memory. When the oil runs out and all the oil super-barons have are gold bars and diamonds, there will be reprisals. But, those reprisals will mean just about as much to the descendants of those sheikhs as Muslims invoking the Crusades means to the average, 21st Century Christian.

I do know this: a lot of bad stuff is done in the name of religion and we are stockpiling that bad stuff in the Muslim and Judeo-Christian worlds.

CB holds a great deal of stock in well-reasoned arguments; he respects Mona Charen, Walt Williams; Shelby Steele and the like. But, well-reasoned arguments can mask a fundamental psychological principal: most of the time, we human beings fit our facts to our beliefs. Dr. William Shockley, Nobel Prize winning physicist and one of the inventors of the transistor could debate brilliantly. Yet, his pet project was arguing his belief that African Americans are mentally inferior to white people.

I have seen too many well-reasoned arguments that were really covers for a single sentiment: I don't like you and I want you dead. Still, they were brilliantly thought out and wonderfully presented -- especially by my ex-girlfriends. White Supremacist literature, for the most part, is drivel; but when it resonates with self-empowerment and pride-in-group and responsibility it channels the spirit of Dr. Shockley and can make a properly receptive heart sing.

The conversations we have here are pretty safe and we can actually poke and prod an exotic specimen to see if she really thinks the way she says she does. I am compelled to do just that because I see conservatism as a beard for all kinds of intolerance -- religious, sexual, racial, economic and many more. As Americans, we have too addictive a collective personality for such junk traits. We eat too much, watch too much TV, smoke too much self-medicate too much and pretty much live in a stupor. We are a junky natoin and the conservative movement doesn't want to cure us; it wants to pimp us [hyperbole alert].

That is why I really like Smarty Sparks' comments - getting past one's own shit can be liberating. When I try to think like a conservative, I understand how comfortable it can be to have issues that are black and white/right and wrong. It can be refreshing to take a 'viewpoint vaction' once in a while. But, unless you've got something a lot stronger than 'God wants it that way,' In'shalla, for our Muslim friends, it's always going to be a very short vacation for me.

link | posted by Jae at 1:49 PM |


Blogger Olive commented at 3:43 PM~  

Hey Smartyspark, I was wondering when you’d make your entrance. Welcome to the show. Lap dances this way….

I mostly agree with you about the blah, blah, blah. But I think that it is the absence of conversation that is partially responsible for the mess we’re in. The myth of the liberal media -- a blog entry unto itself – presumes there was some sort of opposing viewpoint being broadcast during the run up to the war. I think so called mainstream media offered little in the way of a debate… it pretty much echoed White House talking points. I turned away from CNN and its ilk and began putting together my own daily front page, gleaned from op-ed pages, blogs and on-line magazines.

I remember being told in soccer to ‘keep moving and a play will happen.’ This feels a little like that. Keep talking and a great idea will happen.

Blogger CB commented at 6:13 PM~  

Welcome Smartyspark!

You cut right through it, don't you! Guilty! But I'm on the 10 step program. For Jae, Olive and Renegade Eye. My conservative credentials are that I have failed forward. If you will allow some self disclosure, I think you will find my route to conservativism is non-traditional and as Smartyspark notes, not easily prone to labeling.

I grew up in a small University town, shy but a good basketball player. I had the advantage of both parents at home yet despite a Ph.D. father, I was a terrible, uninspired student. It was everyone else's fault, in my mind. Even in basketball, my talent was beyond my effort and heart. I won a scholarship to play at Indiana University and did so poorly in school, I was ineligible to play the second half of my freshman year; a year that my team won the National Championship. I was not there the night Reagan was shot and Indiana won the NCAA in Philly. I watched on a TV in the student union. But it wasn't my fault.

Following the season Coach Knight kicked me off the team. He shouldn't have done that, it wasn't my fault. Not because of my character, but because of my talent, I was offered a scholarship to play at Bradley University, where I got my first wife pregnant within a couple of months of being in Peoria. I suggested she have an abortion. She fortunately, did not. It wasn't my fault, but I had a child on the way so I left school and the team which went on to win the NIT that year. I joined the Navy.

The Navy took Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asians and every other ethnic group, but they didn't take American Express, nor did they take excuses. I fought it kicking and screaming, but with a child on the way and being in the military, I had to grow up...a little. Because of my basketball talent again, not my character, although it was slowly on the mend, I was approached by a coach at the Citadel to play basketball for them. I thanked them for their interest, but I had a commitment, I couldn't break with Uncle Sam.

Talent has its priveleges. Former Senator Fritz Hollings is a Citadel graduate and he spoke with Navy Secretary Lehman to get me an "early out." I was honorably discharged and made my way from San Diego to Charleston, SC. There I became a more serious student. Oh, I forgot, I was fired from 2 jobs, one while at Indiana (before school started) and one just before going into the military. I won't bother you with those details, but they were character issues again.

I finished school and things looked up. But I was a ho (unfaithful to my wife) and we had 3 children. So after essentially getting fired from 3 other professional positions and quitting 2 others and a divorce, remarriage and 2 more children, I decided to start a couple of businesses, where I learned it was more important to treat my clients right than to look out for my own interests. I learned that children and family and commitment are more important than self gratification. I learned that heart and effort and honor kick talent's ass 365/7. I learned that I needed God, not because I was holier than thou, I damn sure am not, but because I need forgiveness.

My youngest son has Cerebral Palsy and has difficulty walking. He is 6 and I have learned more from him about positive attitude, perserverance and raw, unfettered belief in God than I could be taught in any Tony Robbins seminar or T.D. Jakes sermon.

While we weren't wealthy by any means, I was a son of privelege, because I grew up with two parents who loved me, my sister and brother. I lived in section 8 housing, but learned not to let section 8 live in me. My children were fed with food stamps and WIC coupons. I have had 2 cars repossesed and 3 judgements. My oldest son ran away from home because he didn't feel loved.

Sounds pretty pathetic, but I am one of the most optimistic people I know. My oldest son is 23 now and lives away, but we look forward to talking and getting together. My oldest girls are the most beautiful, well adjusted and loving girls you will want to meet. My youngest daughter is full of energy and love and I've talked about my youngest son. My wife is the happiest person I have ever known, she's beautiful, smart and has good taste. My businesses will gross obscene profits this year and next.

I am funding a program with my church to take 30-45 "at risk" youth from school to our facility, where they are fed twice (before being returned home at 7:00 p.m.), do homework assignments and get tutoring in English, math and science. We have music instruction twice a week and expose them to professional settings (mostly hospitals at this point - we have a lot of physicians and health care professionals at my church). We allow them access to our recreation and sports facilities, which at this point is a gym and playground equipment. We are still trying to come up with programing (and funding) for a summer session, because I don't want to lose the progress made through the school year.

That was long but it helps you identify my brand. I lived the victim mentality and know its dangers. I lived in a housing project full of like minded victims and I know how that mentality can take over. I have also seen people in much worse circumstance and without the benefit of my family, raise themselves through desire and discipline. I was in the military and know the people there to be more honorable than in other parts of our society. I have seen the tyranny of other countries and the chaos and havoc their forms of government foist upon their people, up close. My economic theories are borne of study, observation and practice.

My heart is with you, but my experience and study tells me otherwise. D.C. is a cesspool. There is too much money floating around there. We the people, do much better with our own money (or lack thereof - if given the opportunity) than the elite ever will with their grand designs and schemes (acknowledgement to Smartyspark's point). I also know that what many desire is equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity. This outcome equality mentality misses an important fact of human nature, some people want more than others and some are content with less. Let everyone seek their own level. Help to the best of your ability. If the government would allow me to keep more of my own money I could help a lot more children for example. Certainly some will hoard it but that has nothing to do with me.

Finally, I know that not everyone means you well. This group of Baathists and bin Ladenists beliefs are incompatible with the lives we live. In Star Trek, The Next Generation, the Enterprise ran into a couple of things that just weren't compatible with coexistence, the "Crystiline Entity" and "The Borg." While the Crsytaline Entity was non communicative, the Borg could communicate but rarely uttered anthing other than, "We are borg, resistance is futile." Neither negotiated, you just had to destroy them. Islamo fascists message to us is "resistance is futile." Although I agree with Jae, that this relationship with the Saudis is troubling on many levels, we didn't create bin Laden's mentality, but we sure have to deal with it.

I may be the outsider in this group (from a political perspective) but I sure feel a lot more at home with you than with Baathists or islamo fascists, so in the immortal words of Rodney King "can't we all just get along?"

Blogger Renegade Eye commented at 10:56 PM~  

Welcome smarty.

I think neither liberals or conservatives, were honest during the Iraqi debate, before the war. Liberals suddenly believed US imperialism, acting unilaterally is a new concept, forgetting when Clinton bombed Iraq and Sudan. The Cuban embargo is unilateral. Conservatives knowlingly exagerated or made up WMD concepts, as nuclear weapons. This blog can only become more relevant. What will CB be saying, as Bush scales down the number of troops, maybe leaving Iraq to Zarqawi. How will Jae and Olive deal with the Democratic Leadership Council's program, will be the Democratic Party platform?

To Jae: Nationalism is obsolete. When a factory's chimney blows smoke in the air, in Northern, MN, it doesn't turn around at the Manitoba border. Problems need universal solutions. All of us, are being hit over the head, with the fact, Mexican workers low wages, effect us too!

I like blogging because of being able to meet people, in the middle of political struggles, all over the world. I talk to people struggling for democracy in Egypt, against Mugabe in Zimbabwe, or Cambodians rebuilding their society. Issues like these, which are revolutionary in nature, are being given more attention in conservative than liberal circles (not including this blog). CB might be the real revolutionist.

The thing that unites all of you, through my eyes, is I trust you 100% to be honest.

Blogger Olive commented at 12:54 PM~  

You’re right, Renegade. Amend my statement to read, “The absence of honest conversation… is partially responsible for the mess we’re in.”

I’d like to reiterate something I wrote many-a-blog-ago: I’m a secular humanist, a liberal, a progressive, a woman of average intelligence but (I like to think) above-average compassion, who hired the Democrats to push for things important to me. (Forgive all the self-labeling, Smarty -- it’s just political shorthand).

Fully aware that they are driven by personal ambition and beholden to a spiteful political machine, I get behind the politicians who look like they’ll have the best shot at being in a position to champion those causes that are important to me. And yes, I know what a pathetic-loser statement that is. This way means progress is agonizingly slow. This way means I trade my true desires for what I can live with (not the best use of the concept of compromise, eh?). But I think it’s better to get some of what you want (at least for now) than have everything you cherish destroyed.

Thomas Friedman wrote recently, “At a time when we are busy lecturing others about the need to adopt democratic systems, ours and many others seem to be hopelessly gridlocked - with neither the left nor the right able to generate a mandate to tackle hard problems. And it is the yawning gap between the huge problems our country faces today - Social Security reform, health care, education, climate change, energy - and the tiny, fragile mandates that our democracy seems able to generate to address these problems that is really worrying.”

To make matters worse, work on the liberal wish-list has been sidetracked by the more immediate problem of preventing the regression of those gains already made. So now, not only can’t we get what we want, we have to defend what we already have.

(Did anyone read the Minneapolis Star Tribune op/ed page today?

“Two of the world's best geneticists will leave the National Cancer Institute and move not to Stanford University, which had heavily recruited them, but to Singapore's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology. The reason is simple: They will face far fewer restrictions on their research, which involves stem cells.”)

But that doesn’t mean any Democrat will do. Renegade, you ask how will I react when I learn what the DLC has up its sleeve? I already disapprove of their Republican lite experiment and the list of Dems that ‘gotta go’ is long. I think it’s as important for liberals to reclaim the Democratic Party as it is for conservatives to reclaim the Republican Party.

Blogger CB commented at 3:18 PM~  


I often wrestle with the desire to put things out quickly (as they come to mind, even sans spell check) with the wisodom to gather all relevant information, document properly and edit. Olive you have hit on two of three works I have in progress and have given me an idea for a 4th. Like you, my distaste for career politicians is palpable. Choose your stripe, too often they are not working for the people who sent them to office, they are pandering to the least common denominator of their constituency to get re-elected. Their allegiance is not to a set of principles or even voters within their electorate, but to the preservation of their own power. This helps explain why even the President has higher approval ratings than Congress.

Conservative icon, Thomas Sowell, was interviewed by Weekly Standard editor, Fred Barnes, and the conversation was aired in two parts over last weekend. He and Thomas Friedman are poles apart in their thinking (as you might suspect, I fall solidly in the Sowell camp). Responding to Barnes' question about "liberal" policies and their efficacy, Sowell replied: "I ask 3 questions (when confronted with liberal policy suggestions) compared to what?, what data do you have to support your conclusion? and at what cost?"

Thomas Freidman is often a source of amusement, when I read his work, and frustration, when his suppositions go unchallenged by Tim Russert. Health care, Social Security, education, eneregy and even the pseudo science behind "climate change" could all be drastically improved with government significantly less involved, not more. I'll stop here because this is a series of books worth of material.

The DLC is a marketing/brand management tool, that wouldn't pass the "truth in labeling" standard. Bill Clinton campaigned to the center and governed left. Hillary Clinton's attempt to reinvent herself has nothing to do with how she feels or legislates. Her voting record is as liberal as Ted Kennedy's, but as we have seen, her rhetoric is more like John McCain's (another careerist I have to take Benadryl to listen to).

When I hear stem cell research, I hear Dr. Frankenstein, euthenasia, Sir Francis Galton, Margaret Sanger, Joseph Mengele. When I hear about scientists leaving America going to Singapore to be less restricted, I envision Auschwitz, Buchenwald. When I hear about "cures" I ask, like Sowell, at what cost. In Nazi Germany, the Jews weren't the first to die, it was those like my son who has CP. When I hear those who don't believe in God espouse the benefits of taking life to improve it, I understand why they don't acknowledge God, they want to play his part on TV.

Blogger CB commented at 3:23 PM~  

Renegade Eye,

I hope the President has the fortitude to stay the course. He did well today and picked up key support from Senator Lieberman. You should read his op-ed in the WSJ yesterday. Iraq is more important than mid-term elections or Republicans retaining control. It is an obligation not only to our own security, but to a people who have never known the liberty we enjoy.

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