obama equation update: liberal X conservative = progressive 145


This is what I am calling the Obama Equation.

Barack looked at the American political landscape and wrote Audacity of Hope as a response.  In that brilliant book, I believe he articulated the above equation as being the only way we can save ourselves from ourselves.  I also think what we are seeing, much to the consternation of our far right and far left brethren, is the Obama Administration putting those ideas into motion.

The Obama Equation will become as important to politics as E=MC2 was to physics.

There is another thing to be learned from the Obama Equation – that the notion of progress in America is not a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party to be shoved down the throats of all those who may agree with the theory but not with the practice.  Faith-based initiatives is a perfect example.  The theory, in this case, is many people in our society are in need of social services in some way, shape or form.  The “liberal” practice, at least as far as many “conservatives” are concerned, is to simply thrown government money at the problem until it goes away.  They don’t disagree that we must dedicate societal resources to those causes, just that government is always the best way to deliver them.  Like most caricatures, there is just enough truth in conservative views of “progressive” policy proscriptions as articulated on the left to completely derail the conversation away from finding compromise.

Oops.  I said compromise.  The new dirty word in politics.

It seems compromise has been conflated with capitulation in much the same way that idea and ideology have become synonymous.  In much the same way that liberal and progressive has become intertwined, leaving no room for moderates on the right to own “progress” as well.  If there is no room for ownership of an idea among all the stakeholders in a project, the chances that project will succeed go down dramatically.  Collaboration, not combativeness, leads to long-lasting success.  In the case of America, collaboration just might lead to sustainable and long-lasting progressive changes.

The Obama Equation begins to address a very fundamental flaw in our current system of politics and government.  I can’t wait to see the results.


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145 thoughts on “obama equation update: liberal X conservative = progressive

  • dijamo

    Jason: liberal + conservative does not equal progressive. It equals moderate. You can’t redefine a term like progressive because now your political views have changed. There are other people who stand by the progressive goals of a more just society on every level – economically, socially, equality – and think compromise with conservatives will weaken their ability to achieve them. They are entitled to a voice in the party too.

    Is it Obama’s pragmatism that you admire, or is this your own faith-based initiative? What could Obama compromise on that you would say is unacceptable, or is the Obama Equation (however he resolves it) always right?

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Your comment is exactly the type of paradigm I think Obama is trying to change. I am not redefining anything. In case you are fuzzy on the actual definition of progressive, here is a link: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/progressive. You’ll notice the word “liberal” or “democrat” isn’t used once.

      You assume, wrongly, because I point to Faith-based Initiatives as an example of a conservative progressive program that I am somehow religious. It is not “my” faith-based program. It is “our” faith-based program, and it is working to deliver real progress to real Americans.

      You also assume, wrongly, that my political views have changed. They haven’t. Not in any substantive way. The only thing that changed was the label I decided to take on as a way of highlighting the enormous hypocrisy of so-called liberals and how they treat their “enemies” on the right. So far, the experiment has been eye-opening and pretty much as I expected at the same time.

      The Constitution is a very progressive document. It was debated, written and signed as a compromise between our liberal idealism and conservative pragmatism. Liberal (or democrat) is not synonymous with progressive. In fact, most of this country’s progressives have been independents for years. Compromise in tactics doesn’t mean a compromise in strategy. It simply means we use different methods for different goals, some liberal and some conservative, but both with the same destination in mind.

      A distinction you seem reluctant to acknowledge.

      • dijamo

        Blind taste test, which description applies to Democarts and which to Republicans?

        Moving forward or onward : advancing

        Tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions.

        Labels are caricatures and are imperfect. Not all democrats are liberals. Not all liberals are progressive. Not all liberals or progressives are democrats. But we use them because they are an easy shortcut that everyone understands.

        So when you say liberal + conservative = progressive, that’s bananas to me because being progressive is on the most liberal outskirts of the democratic party. They are the ones puushing for gay marriage, while liberals are pushing for civil unions. Please don’t try to coopt the title progressive and make it mean middle-ground. It. is. not. Obama has a great PR team. Find a new word. Just leave progressive out of it.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Your example is a perfect illustration of my point. Civil Unions, something that could actually be supported by a majority of Americans, represents progress on the goal of equal rights, while “Gay Marriage” simply extends the culture war and ensures that nothing happens.

          Which solution represents moving forward and which one represents standing still?

          No matter which idea is the most liberal or the most conservative, the idea that actually solves the problem is the most progressive. If your “progressives” on the far left can’t get anything done because they refuse to alter their methods to meet the context of their times, just how much “progress” is actually being made?

          This isn’t about co-opting ideas but about changing the way we look at the entire conversation and acting accordingly. This is something Barack does very well and something that his more vocal critics on the left have never really mastered.

          Hence, no progress on a number of issues for at least the 30 years, if not longer.

          • dijamo

            Liberals will win on Civil Unions before Progressives win on gay marriage. But would people accept the compromise of civil unions if there was not a simultaneous push for gay marriage? And then once civil unions are established we say our work is done here? Don’t ask don’t tell wasn’t perfect for progressives, but it was a step forward that could be done at the time. We still have work to do. You need both the moderates and the progressives to make change, not just in the present but in the future.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I actually think you have it exactly backward.

            A progressive view of this says we should all have Civil Unions and take the word “marriage” out of the discussion. The liberal view says Gay Marriage or nothing.

            We will find a progressive, pragmatic compromise before we reach the liberal’s preferred “solution” to this problem.

          • dijamo

            I give. You just want the word progressive because it’s cool! Admit it. Liberals are more moderate than progressives. Get your own word moderates :o)

          • Jason Everett Miller

            We can agree to disagree on this one. I simply think that “liberals” get nothing done while “progressives” do. Whatever camp you fall into, getting things done or not, probably determines what way you self identify.

          • libgirl

            Jeez, lots of fighting over the use of two words that some believe means the same thing. Geoffrey Nunberg, in “Talking Right,” makes the persuasive case that “progressive” is a word liberals began using because they didn’t want to use the word “liberal” anymore, ceding to the MSM and the Right the notion that “liberal” was a bad word. Rather than defend the word, they let the tail wag the dog and repackaged it.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I agree that this is how the word morphed into its modern context, but that doesn’t mean it is simply a matter of semantics.

          • Nebton

            I think, by definition, if you’re arguing about the meaning of words, it is a question of semantics.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I guess what I mean is that semantics isn’t the only consideration when trying to redefine labels that have become so damaging to our body politic.

          • brantlamb

            Wrong again, Jason. What the liberal view says is, is that they are entitled to exactly the same rights as straights are, and if you think the conservatives haven’t fought that tooth and nail for the last 30 years, and that it isn’t their fault, you would be plainly wrong.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            You obviously didn’t read what I wrote.

            The liberal view, as you ably demonstrate, is: “It’s all the “conservatives” fault that homosexuals don’t have the same rights as straights.”

            A progressive view might be: “Both liberals and conservatives have apposed these measures in the past, so what can we do to move past the road block? Oh, the hang-up is the word marriage? Let’s take that out of the conversation and begin again.”

            If every marriage in the country was legally considered a “civil union” then the problem is solved without blaming anyone. Unlike many of my counterparts on the left, I am not interested in blaming anyone. I am interested in solving our many problems and I don’t care who gets the credit. Seems I heard a president-elect say the same thing during the campaign.

            We will fix this country through implementation of ideas independent of ideology. Anything else is doomed to the same failure as these last 30 years you cite.

  • dickday

    Slavery would never have been abolished without abolitionists and they were bible thumping fundamentalists. The Civil Rights Revolution would never have occurred with the ministers and priests who walked the talk.

    Obama has tried to reframe the issues. The Reps have succeeded because of issue framing. Or else they never would have had the successes they have have had over the last four decades without this talent.

    Everybody hates abortion. Nobody gets up in the morning as says, lets do what we can to kill more fetuses. So Barack says, what can we do to cut down the number of abortions without taking away the woman’s right to choose or throwing doctors and mothers into prison.

    We may not be able to get the minimum wage to $15.00/hour but through health insurance programs, negative income taxes, government oversight into corporate abuses, making available good day care and schools, creating a bill of workers’ rights, etc…we might reach a similar level of economic security for the workers on the lowest rungs.

    If you keep your eyes on certain goals, you might find a number of different ways to reach those goals. I do not care a whit whether the individual coming up with plan that works is liberal or progressive or a socialist or a conservative.

    Barack has said he wants every child to have access to the internet. Newt said this fifteen years ago. Let us get it done.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. You certainly added a layer of nuance to my 10,000 foot view of what’s going on this year. I think you get it exactly.

      This is the same change in tactics that I see in Obama and what I was trying to articulate in this blog. I suspect Barack will be very successful with his efforts as we see them blossom over the next few years.

      I am hopeful we’ll see the positive affects of his presidency long after he leaves the Oval Office.

    • The Old Grouch

      While Gingrich did indeed talk about internet access some time ago, I’d much prefer the implementation of an Obama-style vision of the future. Almost everything else Gingrich said, let alone did, was repellent enough to taint his version of that vision beyond repair for me.

      Now back to our regularly scheduled interruptions.

      • Jason Everett Miller

        Gingrich was a total tool. He continues to be a total tool, though his rhetoric has calmed somewhat.

        Had he actually lived up to his end of the Contract with America or had an ounce of his proclaimed ethical standards, Baby Bush would have never been elected and the republican party wouldn’t be going down in flames.

        Ideologues can kill progress on the right just as surely as they can kill it on the left.

    • Jormungand

      Kudos for the statement about abortion. Somehow the intense strawman has arisen that Pro-Choice individuals love abortions and want more of them to happen. This is hardly true – everybody hates them. Some citizens just think that they should be available legally for a variety of reasons.

    • Slouch

      Nobody gets up in the morning as says, lets do what we can to kill more fetuses.

      Actually, I gotta disagree with you there, because I recently found these guys:

      “Every aspect of the deepening global environmental crisis, including climate change, poisoning of the water and atmosphere, reduction of biodiversity, and topsoil erosion, directly results from the over-abundance of a single species: homo sapiens.”

      (snip)

      “Even a major war or epidemic hardly dents the rate of growth, and modern wars have tremendous environmental consequences. It is for these practical reasons, as well as moral ones, that Euthanasians support only voluntary forms of population reduction, including suicide, free abortion, and sodomy, which they define as any sexual act not intended for procreation. They are also fiercely vegetarian, and support cannibalism for those who insist on eating flesh.”

      I’m not seriously disagreeing, I just think this church is a pretty interesting concept.

  • cire32

    This diary is simplistic.

    As you said the left-wing and right-wing both believe in progress, but its not accurate to say that both have the same definitions of progress and the only difference is tactics and method. That’s not true.
    The right-wing and left-wing frequently have different goals, concerns and philosophical principals, that contradict each other and that cannot always be reconciled.

    Go take a political science class.

    People who are to the left of Obama have the right to be critical of him.

    And don’t say centrism or third-way politics is ‘The Obama Equation’. He didn’t invent it nor is he the first to use it.

    Bill Clinton was doing it way before Obama.

    • Frog Leg

      The Obama way is not the same as the Clinton way. Clinton’s way was to mish-mash liberal and conservative issues into a bill that could pass. Obama’s way is to take whatever path leads towards non-ideological goals. There’s a means/ends distinction between the two.

      There are certainly different principles on the Left and Right, but there is also much in common in terms of goals. Obama’s approach is intrinsically pragmatic and non-ideological, using whichever means can match the ends which we all want.

      • The Old Grouch

        Perhaps more simply stated, Obama prefers to set a goal and find a way to reach it, rather than to devise and micromanage a process to the extent that reaching any goal becomes secondary.

      • Jason Everett Miller

        You got it. Obama is sacrificing “liberal” methodology in the interests of making “progressive” changes. He learned the lesson of not allowing ideology (all republicans are evil and need to be crushed) to get in the way of actually getting something done.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      That is why I speak of a changing paradigm, represented by Obama’s tactics, rather than rehashing the ideological war we have been stuck with these last 40 years with all the attendant baggage in tow. I am speaking of allowing our conservative-liberal dichotomy to work for us instead of against us.

      In order for this country to make any progress, we need to find a common language for what progress looks like and then seek our own way to achieve it. In some cases, it will mean inventing a new language to speak of those things that have confounded us for so long, like abortion and health care and poverty. In others, it won’t be nearly as dramatic or problematic, but will still require pragmatism and compromise to achieve lasting results.

      The people to left of Obama can be as critical as they want, hyper or otherwise, but it certainly won’t help achieve their stated goal, which is progressive change for this country.

      • cire32

        Nobody said it was wrong to be an independent.

        I’m saying that becoming an independent may be a better alternative for Miller and yourself then joining a ideologically left-wing party and blog and scolding its ideologically left-wing membership for not being non-ideological.

        Its like joining a right-wing party and blog and and scolding its right-wing membership for not be non-ideological.

        Liberals want liberal change. If they feel Obama isn’t doing that then they will criticize him for it and push him to be more liberal.

        If you think being non-ideological is better then being liberal, fine, but don’t join a blog and political party created for left-wing ideologies and complain that their views and policies positions are left-wing.

        Go find a centrist or independent party/blog and praise Obama’s centrism and independence.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Now who is trying to create a bubble independent of constructive criticism? The whole point of blogs and blogging is to put forth ideas that might not be in line with the mainstream. Why would I go to a right wing site and waste my breath? They aren’t going to change anytime soon.

          Moderates on the right and left, however, seem to be willing to do just that. Those people aren’t going to “centrist” blogs. Mainly because they don’t exist. Most moderates of whatever party are blogging or commenting on sites where the topics of discussion are meaningful.

          I feel like I have found the Rosetta Stone to help liberals and conservatives start speaking each others language. It isn’t always successful, as many of my blogs will show, but I have made some headway with people in my life of both affiliations.

          I’ll keep coming here and tilting at windmills until I see enough growth on the right side of the fence to do the same. I think if “liberals” or “lefties” or whatever you want to call them follow Barack’s example rather than Barney Frank and Dennis Kucinich, then getting those “liberal” ideas into action will be much more likely.

          It’s called persuasion and not annihilation.

          • cire32

            I don’t think you even know that what you mean anymore other then left=bad right=bad center=good.

            Don’t be shocked if you get criticized for this idea on a left-wing blog.

            And if you aren’t left or right then why are you a member of either party? Go being an independent and go vote for your perfect mix centrism that way.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Actually, I would amend that to left is great ideas with piss-poor execution while the right equals piss-poor ideas with great execution. The center marries good ideas with good execution.

            That is where Obama finds himself, as do the vast majority of Americans who occupy the center you seem to hold in such little esteem. Being an independent in a two party system simply means your voice will never be heard and you will never truly take a stand to make something better than how you found it.

            I think I explained why I am on left-leaning blogs as well as I need to.

        • artappraiser

          Go find a centrist or independent party/blog and praise Obama’s centrism and independence.

          Hmmm, I think it is you that might reconsider that you have wandered onto the wrong blog?

          ….Josh Micah Marshall, longtime favorite blogger of the center-left crowd, has opened up a new spin-off discussion site for his eminently popular Talking Points Memo, which has long been lacking for open yammering from the peanut gallery….

          posted by kaibutsu on Jun 1, 2005

          http://www.metafilter.com/tags/JoshMarshall

          ….Joshua Micah Marshall, the thirty-eight-year-old founder and editor of TPM, who has grown the operation from a tiny center-left political blog that he began at the end of 2000…

          September / October 2007

          http://www.cjr.org/feature/the_josh_marshall_plan.php

          • Jason Everett Miller

            The sniper appears and gets off an awesome, 1000-yard shot with a headwind. Thanks for the assist.

          • artappraiser

            More:

            …As someone whose politics are on the center-left….

            By Josh Marshall 03.20.06

            http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/153151.php

            Though I might have chosen differently in one or two cases, overall, I’d say I’m very pleased with the announced or prospective nominees so far from Barack Obama….unless and until I see policies that don’t square with the platform he ran on (which I don’t expect) I see no reason to revise that judgment.

            By Josh Marshall 11.26.08

            http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/245921.php

            That’s not to say that all political viewpoints are not welcome here, just the opposite, he has stated it many many times that conservatives as well as lefties should not only be allowed but should be made to feel welcome. “All political points of view welcome” is rule #1 in the comment policy here, and he has elaborated on that many times in the past.

            But Marshall has never shied away from defining this site as one with a “center left” or centrist Democrat slant and has never disagreed with those who describe it that way. Indeed, many of the initial invited contributors to do Cafe posts were former DLC or liberal hawks–as I recall, Nathan Newman was the one sort of token liberal or lefty.

            Yes, I would say if you think this site is not slanted towards Obama-style-centrism, you are very mistaken. Matter of fact, I would say it was Obama/Clinton/”third way”-oriented site way before Obama was a national figure.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Your very smart comments are beginning to make me see the Clinton years in a different, more tragic light. His tactics were sound but his strategy could have been more progressive. Governing from the center is not an easy task and I am sure Bill wished he was more successful in pursuing a truly progressive agenda. Just wanted to say thanks for the enlightenment.

          • cire32

            Center-left= left of the center

            Centrist=not left of the center

            jason everett miller= centrist

            jason everett miller= NOT center-left.

            Try again, please.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            My policy proscriptions are way left of center. In fact, if you bothered to read any of my policy-related blogs you would see that. My candidate of choice before Barack was Dennis Kucinich if that helps.

            My chosen methodology is right of center, which is why I decided to practice politics from within the Republican Party now. The only I agree with the Democratic Party is broad goals, but I think their methodology has been singularly ineffective insofar as achieving their stated goals.

            I am not likely to change the liberals’ methods, but there already seems to be a movement to change policy goals with moderate conservatives. That is enough for me to make the GOP my home for now while they sort things out.

            Not sure where you get “centrist” from, but I hang around here because I value rational discussion.

            For the most part, that is what I find.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I was a registered independent for years because of the noise and bluster found on the left. I decided it was a useless designation in a two-party system.

      I joined the republican party this last August because I found myself in agreement with many of their moderates with regards to method, if not goals. Goals can be changed to suit the times, but the methods are unlikely to change as well.

      To me, being conservative means using the existing systems to affect change rather than tearing down the whole edifice and building up something new from scratch. We have neither the time nor the resources to make that work.

      I look at it as Evolution versus Revolution.

  • brantlamb

    Jason, you say a number of things that make sense. This post, however, is thin on sense. First of all you’re melding the actual results the parties get with what you consider the ideology of the parties to be in ways that ignore some of the results and some of the ideologies in a way that fits your argument.

    And compromise would work fine, if the current goddam Republicans in Congress were actually willing to compromise on anything, which their 126 votes against cloture (they have at least this many in this session, it got them the record, but they may be past it now) show that this isn’t true. They’ve set it up to be their way, or it’s war.

    When the Republicans disagreed with the war in Bosnia, nobody called them traitors, their patriotism wasn’t called into question. The sheer vitriol and lock-step behavior of the Republicans in office is what’s causing this stuff.

    And Obama has the response. He pulls the rhetorical judo on them that is very gracious, shows that he’s considered what their saying, and then reasonably and effectively answers their points. He often concedes minor points that they are wrong about in any significant way (earmarks, anyone?) and then overpowers them with reasonable arguments anyway. He has had the grace in arguments, not to beat them BY MUCH, just enough.

    The problem with the Republican Party leadership (and much of the rank and file) is that they have let their platform become an ossified set of goals (small government, less taxes, less regulation, less government regulations of anything [read that as “less regulation-squared”], when the world has moved past these things (as they define/accentuate them) being BENEFICIAL.

    One of my favorite sayings about the conservatives is, if they’d had their way, humans would still be living in caves, wearing animal skins and avoiding the use of fire like the plague. It’s hyperbole, but not by enough for ME to be comfortable with conservatives, at least.

    In the other hand, the liberals may jettison things that work well enough in favor of something new. That’s a fair argument. But at least the liberals respond to a new problem with an abiding willingness to change their approach, the conservatives (at least in this country) seldom are.

    And a whole bunch of what conservatives say that liberals are for is bullshit. Liberals aren’t for minorities getting rights in excess of anybody else’s, their in favor of them getting exactly the same rights as everyone else. Liberals in favor of big government? Please! They want it big enough to do the job efficiently and cost-effectively. Liberals would rather spend money on Head Start than prisons. DUH! If it really turns out to be an either/or proposition, wouldn’t you?

    I think that liberals are perfectly willing to compromise with conservatives, but the conservatives haven’t been willing to compromise in a long time. 10 years, at least.

    Liberals don’t have a problem with “faith based initiatives”, they have a problem with “faith based initiatives” that are paid for with government money and then are allowed to discriminate in any way based on religion (or anything else, really). And the people that have a problem with that liberal attitude, are at base, intellectually dishonest, I believe.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Again, I am speaking of Obama’s methods changing the way all Americans act moving forward, not looking back at what has been three decades of devolution. None of what you write is wrong, for the most part, but notice that Obama lets none of those very real PAST mistakes keep him from allowing the right to change moving forward.

      He is giving them room to change their paradigm, while his supporters on the left are doing everything they can to ensure he does nothing of the sort.

      Clinton created the Prison Industrial Complex, so don’t tell me “liberals” would rather fund Head Start than prisons. Both democrats and republicans have been throwing people in prison as a means of “rehabilitation” for decades. This country has a bi-partisan fascination with prison instead of education. The same could be said of deregulation and shady politics and every other evil that besets our nation.

      Further, “liberals” screamed bloody-murder over Faith-based Initiatives, even as Barack pledged to modify the program to make it more effective. “Liberals” can be every bit as intractable and hide-bound as their “conservative” counterparts, which might explain a complete lack of progress in this country on any one of a dozen issues that most of the country could probably agree on, despite whatever their party affiliation happens to be, if the method was to be revised.

      What I am saying is that if you take “conservative” out of the Obama Equation, what political group in America could be inserted to make the equation work? I submit that there isn’t one. We have been a country with competing halves since the very beginning.

      The very word “conservative” has become as much if a pejorative on the left as “liberal” is on the right. With so much of the country identifying as either “conservative” or “moderate”, our only way toward progress that will be sustainable is by bringing our divergent mindsets together. That is what I see Barack doing moving forward. His biggest challenge will be convincing his fellow democrats of the efficacy of his strategy and tactics.

      Otherwise, it will be another four years of trench warfare.

  • clearthinker

    JEM,

    All due respect, but if you equate a social science “equation” to E=mc2 (of all things!), it reveals you don’t understand E=mc2.

    You can’t even equate economics models against E=mc2.

    This is not a nit — it is meant to remind people that there are things that are provable, testable, and have been proven and tested many times, and can be stated in a precise, rigorous way.

    There is nothing in politics that even begins to approach this standard. Even with literary license.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I wasn’t equating the Obama Equation with Einstein’s work, just the nominal impact that each has on their respective fields.

      If Barack is able to heal this country’s deep and festering wounds (as evidenced by the comments on this very blog) he will indeed have the same impact on American politics and government that Einstein did on science.

      Sorry, but this comment really is a nit as well as a non sequitor.

      • clearthinker

        Einstein changed our views of the universe for all time.

        The clock hasn’t started even ticking on Obama and already you are hyperbolic beyond belief! I wouldn’t even equate Lincoln with Einstein.

        Again, to equate the two shows a decided lack of understanding of Einstein’s work. Politics is never about fundamental truth. It’s about expediency and getting disparate agendas to align for as long as you can hold them together. It’s necessary for organizing society, to be sure, but it’s about the here and now, not about the universal and timeless.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          It’s called potential not hyperbole. Fixing the rift in our country has the potential of making Obama one of greatest presidents. Einstein hadn’t changed a thing when he was putting bubbles in beer.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          PS: Most of Einstein’s work is still theoretical and not proven. By the time we figure out what is really going on, whenever that occurs, even his ground-breaking theories could be seen as simplistic and naive. As Einstein himself said of the underlying science of his own work:

          As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.

          • clearthinker

            PS: Most of Einstein’s work is still theoretical and not proven.

            Completely dead WRONG.

            All due respect, you are extraordinarily ignorant on this topic:

            a) special relativity? CONFIRMED (theory explained previously observed phenomena)

            b) brownian motion? CONFIRMED (theory explained previously observed phenomena)

            c) light as photons? CONFIRMED (theory explained previously observed phenomena), not to mention lasers, etc.

            d) Bose-Einstein condensate? CONFIRMED

            e) general relativity? CONFIRMED: light bending around stars, redshifts, time dilation in gravitational fields

            Why the hell do you think physicists rate him so high?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Confirmed as far as we know. Did you even read the quote I provided? I am sure your list doesn’t even cover a tenth of the man’s life-long thinking. The man you venerate never had so high opinion of either himself or the ultimate truth of the things he came up with.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            PS: I will stipulate that you know far more about Einstein than I do, so you can stop being condescending, though I know it is your favorite tone. You took an allusion as a comparison. The comprehension difficulty in this situation doesn’t lie with my limited knowledge of Einstein or the impact his work had on our current understanding of the Universe and Everything In It.

          • Nebton

            Special relativity is no more confirmed than the ideal gas law. It only applies to situations where gravity does not exist at all. Despite this, it’s still an excellent approximation in a lot of situations.

            General relativity is not compatible with quantum mechanics, on a variety of levels. Even E=mc² is only approximately correct. (Some like to say that although energy is not conserved and mass is not conserved, Einstein showed that mass-energy is conserved, but even that is not exactly true, thanks to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which can be written as ΔEΔt ≥ ½ħ.)

            That said, his theories are more “correct” than Newton’s were. He moved physics forward in a way that is unlikely to ever be undone (just like Newton). Of course, Einstein new his new theories were only approximations themselves (if better ones), which is why he made the statement that Jason referenced.

            Bonus Einstein fun fact: His Nobel Prize in Physics was for the photoelectric effect, and many prominent scientists still did not accept his theory of relativity in 1922 (which is the year he won the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics).

          • Jason Everett Miller

            This is a much better reasoned response than mine, mostly due to a more in-depth knowledge of the subject. Many thanks!

  • brantlamb

    Obama works because he speaks common sense without letting anybody tie him to their red-flag buzz words, not because his principles aren’t in line with the Democratic Party. He is, for all intents and purposes (as measured currently in this country) a liberal pragmatist.

    I actually think you want to like him, and that you’re just talking yourself around to it.

    And no, liberals didn’t “scream bloody murder” about “faith-based initiatives”, what they did was say that any “faith-based initiatives” that were being paid for by the federal government needed to conform to non-descrimination laws. Did a few “liberals” “scream bloody murder”? Sure? This is a big country. A few people in this country say that pizza is a Geneva Convention crime, for Christ’s sake. Get over your tender feelings.

    Look, for the most part, what you and I are doing here is just flapping our gums. I wouldn’t continue to disagree with you if I thought that (what I feel is) your misdescription of what Obama’s doing would make no difference to someone who was trying to read what you’ve written , and mimic Obama’s methods to reiteratively model Obama’s success. But what you’re describing isn’t really what he’s doing, and won’t lead to the same success.

    He brings a real world, non-inflammatory, brass-tacks argument to the table, and presents it as the common sense fait accompli that it is, and since he’s really thought this stuff through, he’s able to convince a significant portion of the people (many who have come to the table with either pre-conceived bias or an agenda) and convinces people that his approach is workable.

    He is, without a doubt, the least confrontational politician that I have ever seen that avoid being a doormat.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      You have obviously not read Obama’s books or you would refrain from insisting he is liberal, at least as it has come to be defined in our modern context.

      I supported and donated to Kucinich before I switched to Obama, so don’t tell me I am talking myself around liking the guy. I joined the republican party in August in order to support his efforts from inside an organization I despise in in its current form. I can name the republican leaders I agree with on one hand. I identify with using conservative methodology to attaining progressive goals.

      Why?

      Because if we leave it up to liberals nothing will ever get done. Just like the last 30 years. Barack will be successful because he is progressive, as evidenced by his campaign platform, and he is pragmatic, as evidenced by his transition so far. It is why republicans are supporting him in roughly the same fashion as democrats supported Reagan.

      That environment is ripe for change on the right, indeed the entire country, despite your insistence on the contrary. To deliver on that change, however, the left needs to get on board with Obama’s new tone.

      Since the very beginning of this campaign, “liberals” have been claiming Obama to be too conservative. That he was selling out on all sorts of things from the Faith stuff to FISA. They are the same critics who claim his cabinet picks are too conservative and not liberal enough. The far left of the democratic party makes up the “base” of the party.

      Moderate democrats have no problem with what I am saying.

  • bluebell

    Seems to me Jason you spend about 90% of your time trashing liberals but regardless your argument is shallow. Principles do matter. It matters what you think. It matters what you do. It matters what you do to who. Brainlessly doing is a disaster. Bush was the decider after all. He got things done. He took action. He just did the wrong things, enabled by centrist mush who wanted to appear to be doing something rather than that boring old thinking before doing that would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I didn’t trash a single liberal, but I am not suprised that you think so nor I am I shocked that OGD agrees with you.

      Birds of a feather and all that.

      I pointed out that liberal methods have been ineffective and Barack will be largely successful by understanding most of this country resides somewhere in the middle. Your mocking tone aside, the substance of my argument only pisses far left liberals off, the far left variety who see compromise as capitulation. I am in good company given your criticism of Barack’s choices so far.

      As long as Obama continues to piss you guys off, I think the country will be just fine. Barack won’t become the liberal equivalent of the Bush Decider, mainly because he is all about uniting the country rather than dividing it further by holding to extreme left ideology.

      Too bad some of his supporters over there on the left don’t care enough to do the same.

      • OldenGoldenDecoy

        .

        Hmmmm . . .

        Does anyone have a clue who these “you guys” are?

        It’s starting to sound like the infamous words of that overbearing blustery windbag on the ol’ radio…

        Ya’ know, the guy who likes to say, “You people.”

        ~OGD~

        • Jason Everett Miller

          You guys means you.

          Self-proclaimed “liberals” who can’t seem to put down their rhetorical weapons long enough to realize the people they hate are their fellow Americans. Who don’t have enough sense to realize that continued partisan battles will ensure we get nothing done. People who are reactionary and illogical and unable to have a civil debate without using pejoratives or insults or ad hominem attacks.

          People like you.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            That’s Weird . . .

            Sounds like you’ve pretty much covered your very own MO…

            Is there anything else you wish to tell us about your blustery self?

            ~OGD~

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            Well . . .

            Let’s see here.

            If “I’m rubber and you’re glue. . .” is this fella’s childish rhetoric to describe his own propensity to project his own MO of labeling others, I guess this fella would be correct. And that does end the discussion.

            Paddling on . . .

            ~OGD~

          • Jason Everett Miller

            You can’t even carry on a real conversation. It’s like you’re talking to yourself. I was describing your comment to me in a language that seemed easier for you to understand, given your extreme inability to comprehend the tone and tenor of your writing on these pages.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            Finally . . .

            Let’s see here again: Mr Overly Verbose has labeled me a “…quite immature…” “…strangely paranoid” and “…self-proclaimed far left liberal…???

            So this blustery one who seems to enjoy laying labels on those who he doesn’t see eye-to-eye wonders why I wouldn’t directly address him? Like I said previously, I’m not into pissing up a wet rope or spitting into the wind.

            Sheesh . . .

            ~OGD~

  • OldenGoldenDecoy

    .

    Dee doo dee doo dee doo dee doo . . .

    The underlying nature and wide ranging extent of our current national state of affairs, as well as its causes and cures, are the subject of intense political discussions. I offer this comment as a contribution to that discussion and debate in hopes of helping to begin a course of careful, planned, and coordinated action. But first, let us review the errors in Jason Everett Miller’s rules of engagement on conducting a discussion.

    First, There can be no doubt that Miller is dead set on defending his position come hell or high water against what anyone else regardless of what others have to say. This raises the question: Why does he have to be such a party pooper? I wish I had a lot more time to answer that question, but unfortunately, the following comment will have to suffice: Miller wants to blow the thickest smoke possible to keep people from discussing their own personal thoughts. Personally, I think that’s a bunch of bull. Personally, I prefer freedom to think and speak what’s on ones own mind mind. I’m sure there are many others here who feel the same.

    If you also prefer freedom to think and speak what’s on your mind don’t be surprised if it doesn’t get ya’ anywhere with this guy. That is, unless you enjoy being address by this blowhard in a condescending manner as if everybody on earth who doesn’t agree eye-to-eye with his ramblings are all some kind of dunderheads. It’s reminiscent of that old Navy cliché; “Why bother pissing up a wet rope?”

    And speaking of the Navy: I can only speculate as to why this fella became a field producer with the Navy combat camera group after serving as a Navy assistant ship’s journalist and a deck seaman. Nobody aboard ship would wish to bother being bored senseless by his longwinded and pointless answer when questioned with, “What’s the longest line aboard ship?”

    YoHo Yo Ho … a sailor’s life for me.

    ~OGD~

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Instead of explaining why I am in error, you throw out insults and innuendo. Then you go on to say something derogtatory about my ten years in the military, though I couldn’t figure out what that is. Good thing I am not a democrat or I might be offended.

      You make huge assumptions based on nothing more than my party affiliation and some months old blog post that you misunderstood because you don’t know anything about technology. I am not sure how you negotiate a computer with this comment and your last blog post as evidence of your reasoning ability.

      So, perhaps you could add something to the conversation or offer some sort of specifics as to why you think Obama really isn’t being respectful of the opposition party and offering rank and file republicans the room to change.

      Offer a different interpretation of the available facts and I will be happy to agree with you if I agree or debate with you if I don’t.

      Otherwise, STFU.

      • OldenGoldenDecoy

        .

        Hey . . .

        Dear Mr. Beyond Verbose.

        You can’t read very well. I say that because you clearly failed to notice that I wasn’t speaking to you. I was speaking about you to those who may come through this thread.

        Now if you don’t like that, take your own advice and you STFU . . .

        Dee doo dee doo dee doo dee doo . . .

        ~OGD~

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            Geez . . .

            Dear Mr. Beyond Verbose

            You’re asking yourself what got into your own head?

            I can’t see why you would ask such a rhetorical question with answering yourself. You seem to have all the correct answers to everything else in the known universe.

            Oh well . . .

            ~OGD~

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            Oh Good Gawd . . .

            Dear Mr. Overly Verbose:

            Now I’m “…strangely paranoid” ?

            Right genius. You’re a shrink too? Where do ya’ hang your shingle?

            Boy o’boy … You have all the bases covered.

            What’s next on your label list?

            Always try and keep what’s real near . . .

            Hahahahahaha . . .

            ~OGD~

            *Just being a duck in the Café since June 2005″

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Read your own blog again and then tell me you’re not paranoid when claiming that someone is “censoring” your comments. I wasn’t the only one who found that response to a system quirk odd.

            PS: Your little shtick is not only tired and not terribly entertaining but it’s quite immature as well.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            And now . . .

            The labeling expands to: I am a “…quite immature…” “…self-proclaimed far left liberal… and “…strangely paranoid” ???

            Boy o’boy … This guy has more bases to cover than I thought.

            And next on his labeling list? Who cares?

            Always try and keep what’s real near… If what’s real makes you feel secure.”

            Hahahahahaha . . .

            Paddling on . . .

            ~OGD~

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            Ah Hah . . .

            Ol’ Tank must be sticking it up this guys ol’ asteroid-orifice and breaking it off too…

            Well looky here:

            As to labels and such, the comment I replied to begins with the words “These are also the same people…” Perhaps you might employ a mirror to glimpse someone who needs to step away from the label-wielding ideological divide.Posted by Tankard2 in reply to a comment from jason everett miller December 10, 2008 9:33 PM

            Wow! Same strokes from different folks.

            Oh well… I’m sure I just notice that same propensity of the blustery one as Tankard presented and agree with it although Mr Overly Verbose’s incorrect assumption would be, Birds of a feather and all that….” ya’ know.

            Like water off a duck’s back . . .

            ~OGD~

            *Calling out the bottom-feeders in the Café since June 2005*

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Wow, same way of speaking and the same inability to actually read what was written. Go figure.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            Still hanging on . . .

            Funny how some poor folks can never change their habits. I hear it’s an actual hardwired condition.

            Back when I served in the U.S. Navy as a SERE School instructor training fellow sailors and Marines in the art of maintaining their sanity in captivity I recall learning this invaluable trait about humans:

            Many people never learn the art of processing information systematically, which requires taking the time to figure out what is being requested, what the evidence is that’s presented, and if contrary views are presented, or even dealt with in the first place. People have a propensity to take short cuts, and only slightly process the information. Meaning: They only hear what they wish to hear.

            This adventure with the blustery one has really re-enforced my belief in the above knowledge.

            YoHo YoHo … a sailors life for me.

            ~OGD~

          • Jason Everett Miller

            You started out by commenting on my supposed inability to hear contradictory views without ever having presented one. The fact that you were a SERE instructor speaks volumes, however.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            Dee Doo Dee Doo . . .

            Wow…

            What a team player this empty hat must have been during his Navy service. Is there some type of problem with a SERE instructor? After all it is job that was designed to assist people to stay alive instead of being killed.

            I was professionally trained to respect every job in the Navy as being important as the next. Even pushing a pen, swabbing a deck, or shooting film instead of the enemy is as important as the next job. This blustery guy would probably go on for hours about the fact that I also voluntarily served six years (’65-’71) as a conscientious objector.

            My job was to keep people alive. But this guy doesn’t believe in a team concept. It’s been shown throughout his diatribes in this thread.

            I wouldn’t be surprised if his favorite team sport is solitaire.

            ~OGD~

          • Jason Everett Miller

            There you go again with casting aspersions that you are guilty of yourself. “I know you are, but what I am I?” seems to be the extent of your debating ability.

            There were two types of SERE instructors when I went through the program – sociopaths who got off on beating our asses during the prison camp portion of our week in hell and the ones that wanted to help us survive.

            Based on your continued diatribes on my blog, I have a hard time believing you were one of the latter.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            Well well . . .

            From the track record of all the previous blustery babbling and incoherent mis-categorizing of others that has been uttered out of the pie-hole of this empty hat it wouldn’t surprise me one scintilla that if someone was to introduce him to his own elbow he’d swear it was his asteroid-orifice.

            Just saying … Ya’ know…

            ~OGD~

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Blah, blustery, blah, blah, blah. You sound like a broken record, tracing the same tired groove. Must be a generational thing.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            Huh?

            If this blustery fella wishes to play the victim card for some unknown reason due to his age, I guess there’s absolutely nothing that could change that.

            ~OGD~

  • haaz

    Knowing that this may be easily taken in the wrong direction, let me say that one very good example of liberal + conservative was the Milwaukee Socialist Party. The Milwaukee Socialists had the mayor’s office for a better part of the twentieth century, and even if later mayors were not Socialists themselves, they did continue one tradition of the Milwaukee Socialists: fiscal conservatism. The Milwaukee Socialists were very tight with money, which is not to say that they did not help the people. Quite the opposite. Mayor Daniel W. Hoan set up and ran a city food buying program during the Great Depression to ensure that people were not getting pinched when they bought food. Any profits he made were donated to charity, but Hoan did not keep a penny to himself. He was the kind of a socialist who put the people of the city first. Not a revolutionary Marxist, but one concerned for his city and its people.

    In the time of the Socialist mayors, Milwaukee won many accolades, including “Healthiest City” and maintained a AAA municipal bond rating. It may now be down to just AA, which is still very good, considering the massive deindustrialization and job loss that has occurred. To this day, our mayors run a tight ship. Graft has spread since the Socialists’ day, especially on the county level.

    I am very socially liberal, but relatively fiscally conservative. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to spend money on anything. I do want to have good, effective programs in place, such as drug rehabilitation, a super-low-interest microloan program for city residents to start small businesses, and victory gardens in every back yard. Those would take time, and money. But they are still well within the rubric of good, socially liberal programs that can help make a difference. Perhaps that is what my fellow Jason, Mr. Miller, is referring to when he combines liberal + conservative. I believe that is the sort of thing Mr. Obama will be leading us toward as well.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks for the comment and that is indeed what I refer to as being a possible consequence of Obama’s presidency – social liberalism combined with pragmatic common sense.

      Sounds like as good a description of the mayors you describe as well. I think Obama has an opportunity to turn moderate conservatives into a common sense oriented faction in the GOP. From there, he can build support for his programs on the right as well as the left.

      As your story indicates, progressive changes made from the middle of the spectrum can really stand the test of time. It also pretty well describes how any lasting change in this country has been accomplished, by republican and democratic presidents alike.

      We just haven’t seen a real republicans since Ike.

  • Yva

    I agree with your take on how “progressive” has been removed beyond the purview of reasonable conservatives.

    Still, I have to say, I think and generally find “progressive” to be a silly word. I mean — who’s ever going to say they are not for progress or not for freedom, or not for justice or not for equality or not for Democracy or not for being a Republic? The importance is where one stand to define it and and therefore who lays claim to those words.

    The truth is that those words are claimed from across the spectrum. Just look at the words the former USSR claimed like — the word “Republic,” and it was hardly that. Or the Republic of Zimbabwe which is hardly a Republic. And look at the Congo — the words Democratic and Republic appear in its national naming and it’s hardly either. And lets not overlook the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea which is neither Democratic or a Republic in govt., and finally lets not overlook the People’s Republic of China which may just experience another “peoples” rev., if they are not careful and mindful, but is hardly a Republic.

    So people may claim “progressive” and I am not buying it. It is a silly word. It implies a privileging which really has to be claimed with a quietude, me thinks instead of as a tool of warfare. It’s like porn. One knows it when one sees it. Claiming it is not only banal but egotistical.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Good point. I, too, find most semantical arguments to be ridiculous and rarely capable of moving us toward a solution. Just look at the fire storm that can be created for daring to use conservative and progressive in the same sentence.

  • stillidealistic

    I was here back in August when Jason made the move to the Republican Party. I was a pissed off Republican and had made the decision to change my affiliation to Democrat. He was an independent who felt like if a two party system was going to work, people had to start bringing some sense into the Republican Party. He suggested that I stay Republican, and he’d join me and we could could work to change the party from the the inside. While I was mulling it over, McCain chose Palin as his running mate, and that pushed me over the edge, I re-registered as a Democrat, and Jason, although voting for Obama, re-registered Republican.

    We are still of different parties, but have very similar views. I despise the fighting and name calling and polarization. I am as angry at the left as I am the right. If we want to continue to stagnate as a country we can all hold onto our principles and stay just where we are with nothing being accomplished, or we can COMPROMISE.

    I recognize that many of you find that attitude hard to comprehend…principles are everything, you say…well what good does it do to have principles if it is an all or nothing proposition? That means that every time the party that doesn’t share your principles is in power, you lose everything…isn’t it better try and find common ground? So it’s not perfect, but at least it’s better.

    Never, no how, no way is everyone going to get everything they want. Why is admitting that and working towards getting as much as can of what we want, and letting the other guy have some of what he wants such a bad thing?

    • eds

      Why COMPROMISE one’s principles? That seems to be the obvious consequence. But it’s unnecessary, or it confuses principles with tactics and strategies. It may be hard for some ideologues to do this at first:

      As I get Obama’s way, it is to find a way for many values to join in on the tactics and strategy of running a country, to find and expand common ground for nominally competing values to not only coexist but thrive. I vaguely recall something from one of his books about this, and I saw a TPM blog quoting Sunstein, which cast it similarly.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks for the shout out. Seems like memories are about an inch long sometimes in this country. You were actually what made me convinced that most of the republican party was filled with good, decent people who needed a new direction.

      I actually don’t think we have to compromise principles as much as we have to compromise with ourselves. Can we give ourselves enough room to accept a solution that might be far from perfect but as far as it will go.

      As you said, all or nothing rarely gets anything done. When that is the choice, Americans have been more than willing to take nothing rather than compromise. We can’t take that sort of thing any more.

  • eds

    So jason, you think the core essence of Obama is Progressive?

    O(liberal) + O(conservative) = progressive

    But I’d like to suggest that what’s truly going on is less like addition and more like vector cross product:

    L x C = P

    which maps two tired old dimensions of political understanding into a new one which doesn’t reduce to either old one even as it couldn’t exist without both.

    Good luck moving the conservatives, you’ll need it.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I like your modification. Two tired philosophies being combined in such a way as to produce much more than they could alone. Awesome! Probably explains why I was never a math wiz.

      As far as changing the republican party, that is going to be a multi-generational effort. I am less an activist for that happening quickly as I am someone who doesn’t much care what I am called, so why not be republican?

      I’ve been called worse.

      • eds

        I’m glad you like it. It’s based on a very broad and deep principle of synthesis.

        It will be good to have you supporting Obama’s good stuff from the Republican camp, and bringing more people into the “light”! 🙂

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I just read the Wikipedia article on synthesis and that is it exactly – Combining two or more existing elements resulting in the formation of something new. In this case, the “something new” is redefining an existing term, but close enough for government work.

          • eds

            Yes, but not redefining, rather selecting a particular part of the definition set which already exists in common usage. Focusing on a particular aspect of traditional “progressive” and leaving aside some of the common connotations such as “progressives are radical lefties” which some might apply to the term.

            I’m not sure that “progressive” is the best term for Obama, but I do believe he believes in progress and will try to make progress out of some current messes brought to us in part by very liberal conservatives! 🙂 And I do believe that tweaking people’s assumptions about language can be a good thing.

            I like Visionary Minimalist, as a label for Obama, as mentioned elsewhere at TPM and perhaps coined for O. by Sunstein earlier this year.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Another great clarification. I, too, think that many of our current labels aren’t up to the task of taking us where we need to go, but they are all we have to work with right now. Perhaps a new lexicon will emerge to replace the old.

  • acanuck

    Perhaps this is not a contribution to the debate, but I find this whole “issue” oddly unsettling.
    Why the perceived importance of either claiming ownership of a label, or assigning it to political opponents?
    I see post after post on TPM that routinely assert, as if describing reality, that “liberals,” “progressives” or “leftists” are guilty of, or deserve credit for, X or Y.
    There’s a parallel set of claims about “conservatives,” “neo-cons,” “the far right,” “wingnuts,” etc.
    I’m guilty of using some of these terms myself. But surely we all know this is shorthand, not real categories into which everyone can be fitted.
    In Canada, the two main parties are called Liberals and Conservatives.
    Those are just official party names; within each, you find a broad range of political philosophies.
    For many years, the effective leadership of the Conservatives fell to “red Tories” — red meaning left, as in revolutionary or at the very least progressive.
    Up until recently, in fact, the party’s official name was “Progressive Conservative.”
    People everywhere vote according to their priorities of the moment; nobody fits neatly into the discrete boxes pundits and bloggers lay out for them.

    • OldenGoldenDecoy

      .

      Hey Hey . . .

      Acunuck, you asked. . .

      Why the perceived importance of either claiming ownership of a label, or assigning it to political opponents?

      Well from my vantage point — apparently for some folks it works as a fulcrum from which to shove their personal agenda about Obama’s perceived actions to come down other’s throats whether they agree or disagree.

      ~OGD~

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Great points, canuck.

      This was really the underlying theory of why I joined the republican party this year, hoping to add to the moderate’s ranks. That I could push far left “liberals” like OGD into screaming fits of blubbering incoherency is just a bonus as far as I am concerned.

      The moderates in the democratic party are actually reasonable and easy to talk to.

      • Frog Leg

        As someone who was a former Republican, I say good luck, you’re going to need it. There are many viruses within the Republican brand; some have been around for a few years, others for several decades (not that the Democratic Party doesn’t contain contagions of its own).

        I think it will take at least a decade of defeats for the Republicans to come out of the place they are now (that’s about how long it’s taken the British Conservatives to do the same).

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I agree, otherwise there would have been some movement toward sanity this year. After so long as a party run by their more vocal fringe elements, I suspect you are right that it will be at least a decade before new leaders will emerge to usher the party into the 21st century as Obama did for the democrats this year.

    • OldenGoldenDecoy

      .

      Ha ha ha ha . . .

      Hey Acunuck:

      It’s apparent this guy has never met a fellow confrontationalist that he hasn’t attempted to label.

      Republican rule book: You can’t have an enemy if you can’t label them.

      Maybe he should try again . . .

      ~OGD~

      • Jason Everett Miller

        Actually, me entire contention is that considering the “other side” the enemy is stupid beyond belief and ensures we never get anything done.

  • Karl the Marxist

    An ill-advised attempt to hijack an already ill-advised term, Mr. Miller.

    The only sense in which your argument can be considered accurate is in that to enact liberal–not “progressive”–agenda, typically co-operation with conservatives is required. This is, however, not because of some virtue to conservative ideals but merely the requirement to convert or compromise a competing ideology in order to advance yours.

    The sooner we get rid of this ridiculous “middle road is best” notion the better.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks for the reply. I guess my only response would be: What does “middle of the road” really mean if not that place where the most number of people can agree on the most number of things?

      We have just lived through 30+ years of shoving a far right extreme down the throats of the American people. Shoving a far left extreme down our throats for the next thirty won’t be any more successful. This country can’t take such extremes any longer. We have whiplash.

      I use progressive as short-hand for sustainable and meaningful change based on common sense and not ideology. I think that combines liberal ideals with conservative methods. Conservative in the true sense of the word and as embodied by a long line of pragmatic leaders prior to the insane neo-conservative crew that took over the party with the rise of Nixon and Reagan.

      I find that Obama is really changing the hearts and minds of conservatives and not simply looking for a way to get their cooperation.

      • Karl the Marxist

        There is no “middle of the road” that is any different from the rest of the road. It all goes to the same place.

        There are multiple roads. Most go to different places, some to the same.

        I agree that the country, as it is, certainly cannot survive the “far left extreme.” It does not correctly map to where the country still mentally is. Overcoming decades of brainwashing will take decades. When “far left extremism” has gained sufficient mindshare, it is by far the most sustainable of the main political ideologies*.

        The one fallacy I would like for you to shed is that somehow “conservative” == “common sense” (and by implication “liberal” != “common sense.”)

        In addition to this, being clearer about what you think is the political ideal and how to get there would be very helpful. I think your post addressed the latter?

        For my part, let me clarify in case:

        1) I think effecting gradual change is the wisest course of action, “changing hearts and minds” in your terms;

        2) I am a communist and view this as the best;

        And, incidentally,

        3) A communist society is an eventuality in the sense that without taking the road leading there (if you like the quantum superposition model of the universe), we will cause the end of human civilization whether by weapons, pollution or something else.

        To further explain you the perspective I am coming from:

        * An initial communist society should be based on a few factors, from which it will grow to some unknown future form (I think my ideals are close to the term anarcho-syndicalism):

        – Direct democracy by units of nested smaller units with some necessary “executive” positions filled for term by random selection;

        – Individuality**, whether mundane in that there is no “national uniform” or more involved in that everyone is fostered to find and fulfill their potential in whichever area appeals to them;

        – Absence of currency or “wealth”, replaced by direct exchange of labour;

        – Ownership in the sense that no-one is going to just move to your house or exchange clothes with you on the way to work

        ** This is, incidentally, the most common misconception of Marx’s ideas: that communism means everybody being a nameless cog in the machinery. Nothing could be further from what he wrote–I would be happy to go in detail if anyone is interested.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I think true communism would be a great idea. Just like true capitalism. Except that neither work in the real world because they don’t account for the human element of the equation.

          Having said that, I agree that our move toward some sort sustainable future will of necessity incorporate many tenants of true communism (as well as localism, which you mention as well) in order for us to stop killing the planet and ourselves.

          Much food for thought in this comment. Thanks!

          PS: I think the “middle of the road” changes based on the personal and spiritual enlightenment of a given people. The “middle” of the American road has existed at the extremes for far too long.

  • AmericanDreamer

    There are worthwhile compromises and others that aren’t, that are just incoherent Rube Goldberg-like (google it if you need to–you won’t be disappointed) agglomerations of the stickiest sticking points among whomever the players happen to be at that moment in time.

    I suppose that a case could be made even for incoherent compromise which leaves a matter no worse off because it at least leaves the matter and the players in a different place, which could lead to stepwise breaking of some specific policy logjam.

    Re political party and philosophy labels, yes, the ideas that stand the best chance of being adopted are those that have advocates in multiple party and philosophical camps. I don’t know as I accept a view that implies that this is something Obama has a brilliant, blinding, unique insight into. If he is more effective than most in practicing it we may see some substantial movement for the better.

    As a mathematical analogy, the number 3 (standing in for some desirable policy) is equivalent to 7 minus 4. It is also equivalent to 2 + 1 and -4 plus 7. Lots of ways to get there. Most good policies can be seen, and therefore described, as embodying and fostering values and objectives that can be derived from multiple political party, public policy and philosophical traditions.

    Part of the trick of being effective in politics is talking about proposals in ways that make it easier for people coming from multiple points of reference to see them as consistent with, if not mandated by, their strongly held values about the way the world should be. Occasionally, in certain contexts, it can also help to choose a narrowly defined enemy or adversary well.

    Those who can make the case of their interlocutor better than their interlocutor is making it are more likely to be both effective and persuasive when they are trying to influence a decision or point of view.

    Amity Shlaies has written a history of the Great Depression and the New Deal called The Forgotten Man. It has many who believe or want to believe the New Deal was overrated excited, as the prospect of a possible New New Deal looms on the horizon.

    Paul Krugman is scheduled to talk here at the cafe about his book The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008, soon. It would be beneficial if Amity Shlaies could be recruited to engage him. I’ve suggested this to Lila. If this happens, those who, like me, believe we need a New New Deal, tailored to our problems and times, will get to hear the best criticisms of the first New Deal, and probably learn something. Being aware of those and taking them seriously seems like one of the best ways to try to learn from our nation’s experience and avoid making the same mistakes, or just missing out on opportunities to do better, this time around.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Great comment with lots of food for thought.

      I did look up Goldberg and think I understand the allusion to politics, though I think it could be extended to government as well. Our government’s policies become this hodgepodge of competing solutions that sometimes deliver the required result, but usually at a cost that is too high to bear.

      I will look for the Krugman talk. Is it true that his problems with the original New Deal was that it wasn’t bold enough. That FDR should have actually gone bigger and invested more resources. I think he also had the political capital (but not the political will) to usher in more substantial civil rights that wouldn’t see the light of day until the 60s.

      There is no better time to make huge, systemic and societal changes than during a time of shared misery.

      • OldenGoldenDecoy

        .

        Very interesting . . .

        The following statement by AmericanDreamer was very well made:

        Most good policies can be seen, and therefore described, as embodying and fostering values and objectives that can be derived from multiple political party, public policy and philosophical traditions.Part of the trick of being effective in politics is talking about proposals in ways that make it easier for people coming from multiple points of reference to see them as consistent with, if not mandated by, their strongly held values about the way the world should be. Occasionally, in certain contexts, it can also help to choose a narrowly defined enemy or adversary well.

        Although there can be a large BUT

        And that but would be if one was to incorrectly assume the philosophical differences or traditional values of another. By incorrectly assuming those differences of others then the whole analogy of selling proposals in ways that make it easier for people coming from multiple points of reference to come together is for naught.

        It’s best to assume nothing about others, and ask before labeling or making assumptions out of thin air.

        All roads lead to the same destination… Ya’ know…

        ~OGD~

        • Jason Everett Miller

          This comment makes no sense if you are somehow trying to claim a philosophical misunderstanding based on what you have written on this blog.

          You started on the attack from word one, taking overly-dramatic offense at some supposed insult I had made to liberals when this blog had nothing to do with liberals or the left, except as far as they have been singularly ineffective at delivering lasting, progressive change over the last 40 years or so.

          If you want to be understood, perhaps it is better to understand first.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            O’my O’my . . .

            As my Great Grandfather Admiral Jonah D. Wail once said when hearing a street preacher who was standing on a corner in Norfolk, Virginia jabbering in some kind of incoherent gibberish . . .

            “That guy is as full of stuffin’ as a Christmas Goose.”

            Apropos . . .

            ~OGD~

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            I have a funny feeling . . .

            … that the blustery one … sıɥʇ pɐǝʇ oʇ ƃuıʇdɯǝʇʇɐ pɐǝɥ sıɥ uo ƃuıpuɐʇs ʎןןɐnʇɔɐ sı

            Ha ha ha ha ha ha . . .

            Well? I said I had a funny feeling.

            ~OGD~

            ps: What do you think, artappraiser?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Blah, blah, blustery, blah. Get a new line and perhaps we can really heat this thing up.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            A small poem . . .

            I have a sinking suspicion that… The blustery fella wearing the empty hat… Has turned a light shade glowing red… And not from standing on his head.

            – – – – –

            In closing: Enough of you and your tendency to mis-categorize and incorrectly stereotype and label others.

            Good God and Good-bye!

            ~OGD~

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Always accusing your “enemy” of the tactics you employ. Classic ideologue debate style.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      That one kind of surprised me. I figured there would be much more to take exception to in this blog than a toss-off allusion to rather famous equation.

      • Lux Umbra Dei

        Jason, I missed out on this thread somehow, but “better late than never”. Just a few remarks.

        I think your whole project rests on a misunderstanding. Correct me if I am wrong.

        Your assumption seems to be that there are two political ideologies at war, which neutralizing each other, lead to stalemate and that only by strengthening the center can we get out of the impasse. I hope that’s a fairminded restatement of your recurring theme.

        I believe you are wrong here. There are two forces at work in American Policy (not to be confused with American Politics): one supports consistently and with great effectiveness the commercial interests of this country and increasingly abroad; the other is tied to idealistic projects centered around increasing freedoms and economic bargaining power of the people. Both impulses have numerous NGOs, think tanks and yes, each partially owns a political party.

        The rise of the progressive/populist/liberal political impulse was like the formation of antibodies in a healthy body to the incursion of a virus. The virus was the accumulation of real and political power in the hands of business interests. The latter impulse didn’t arise in reaction to the ppl- indeed it tried to neutralize them as an intolerable nuisance…

        Like an HIV virus…it tried to knock out the body’s immune system.

        The New Deal was the body’s great moment of routing the virus, but it couldn’t suppress it entirely. With time, the subtle virus managed to coax the body into turning off its own defenses and actually repudiating and marginalizing its own immune system! With results we are now seeing.

        You argue as if we were in a simple world of citizens arraigned against citizens in a purely political disagreement. The reality is so much more complex than that, and dooms your project from the start. Indeed, your attempts to get us to repudiate the liberal/populist/progressive impulse as too “extreme” falls neatly into line with the virus’s mode of operation.

        You must know full well that Dennis Kucinich’s ideas were fundamentally correct. Why else would you support him? But you say leftist ideas are great but with poor execution. Why would that be? Lack of adequate (business)funding? Lack of a compliant platform in the media? Lack of the duplicity to gull voters with nativist hot button issues? Too much morality, mayhaps? And how would your defection to the Republicans help that execution? You probably think like many of their voters, that the GOP is a political party. It is so much more than that. It is a business front organization that works through influencing the society as a whole, the judicial system, and the political branches.

        The issue is not a fight between two political ideologies, for almost every American would be liberal/populist/progessive if we could strain out all the cultural issues and brainwashing the master marketeers of the right have bamboozled them with over the years. We don’t need to compromise our immune response to a virus that will kill us ultimately if it has its way…and is coming damn close this time.

        It is a fight against a powerful force that uses political processes only because, at this time, it is still forced to. If it had its way it would neutralize our government altogether and during the last eight years came close to its dream, leaving it bankrupted and bereft of regulators, and filled with corporatist moles.

        And you would voluntarily JOIN that force? Please reconsider, and while frequenting here at TPM where all are welcome, please at least spend some times at republican forums preaching your gospel and urging THEM to moderate. Do you do that?

        Stop thinking that US politics is like a simple townhall with 20 conservatives and 20 liberals and 10 moderates and you are going to break the impasse. It is power struggle on a very uneven playing field, you are joining Power, and I doubt you trying to get us weaklings on the left to relax our principles is going to tilt the field toward the even.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I fully respect and appreciate your thoughts on this. We agree more than we disagree on most issues. I do disagree with your framing of my position in this particular case, but I think you are essentially correct with regards to the two competing ideologies at work in this country for at least the last forty years. An ideological minefield that has been created by both democratic and republican politicians.

            My main point is that although liberal ideals are clearly the best for our country, liberal methods have been mostly ineffective at getting that change implemented. This despite the clear advantage liberal positions have for the common man.

            I am not joining power. I will dedicate no time or energy or money to a republican candidate who isn’t also progressive in nature. That they mostly don’t exist right now is no hindrance to me. I will support whatever candidate speaks to the issues that I find important. I suspect that republicans will emerge in the primaries as the expectations of their voters change.

            I am joining those embattled conservatives toward the center of the GOP who voted for Barack and are working to change the party. Those like my best friend and sister. Those like still idealistic who left the party and those like myself who joined it. I am joining Barack Obama who has never framed his coming presidency other than as an opportunity for all of us to work together.

            I supported Kucinich because of the same impulse that made me join the republican party. He was every bit the pariah in the democratic party as I I am in the republican party today. He has never held a leadership position nor has his many bills gotten out of committee most times. I donated to his soapbox, but had no illusions about his chances. Obama’s consistently conservative take on progressive change was the other thing that made me join the republicans. He would need more conservatives who believe in progressive over party.

            Nostly, I joined the republicans because I consider my natural tendency to be conservative in nature. Evolution versus revolution. I think some of the most effective democrats have been deeply conservative in their methods. Some might argue too conservative. I also didn’t think it made sense to leave one of two major political parties in the hands of zealots and staying an independent seemed a weak response to what I consider a huge deal. Why should I let assholes alone lay claim to the party of Ike and Abe and Teddy? What better time to work toward a substantive change than when an organization is going down in flames?

            Should the republicans be allowed to maintain the same stance as they have taken these last forty years, I fear Barack will never accomplish all the enormously important things he needs to get done.

            Despite your fear that war against republicans is the only answer to the “impasse’ we are in, the lines aren’t so neatly drawn. As you said yourself, the environment is much more complex than that. The reason I come to these pages is to appeal to the empathy and sympathy of liberals such as yourself. I come to suggest that perhaps Barack’s framing of all of us coming together makes more sense than anything that would keep us apart.

            When smart people use incendiary language I see that as a missed opportunity to move past the things that keep us from getting anything truly progressive done. I don’t believe you framing our current struggles as some sort of war with Barack’s 53% on one side and McCain’s 47% on the other sounds like a very liberal position to me. It sounds like continuation of the last 8 years with a left hook instead of a right.

            I am not telling anyone to reign in their liberal;/progressive/human tendancies or impulses. I am actually hoping that they use that moral center to develop the methods by which they would implement their policies in a sustainable fashion. I am more than happy to support a democratic party who allows itself to be guided by the very astute Obama and push my republican representative to do the same. I am also happy to ensure republicans get through the primaries who are more willing to work toward a progressive future, albeit using conservative methodologies.

            That being said, I am also more than happy to engage in some partisan sparing if it somehow points a mirror at “liberals” who can sometimes be anything but.

          • Lux Umbra Dei

            Well-written and well-reasoned! I expected no less.

            This is my fear. I believe that the GOP and the Dems are no longer political parties in the 19th century sense of the term.

            Recall the dark days of 2007 when the Republicans although now in minorities seemed to have their way against strangely passive Democrat leadership in both houses of Congress. How we progressives railed against “our” leadership! How could they be so inept, so spineless, so curiously inert?

            I think we discovered then that there was a shell game going on, that our leadership while notionally assenting to our concerns was not going to do anything substantive to back it.

            The Republican value voters were experiencing the same frustration for the previous 6 years.

            I don’t believe honestly that direct voter outrage input any longer effectively changes legislation. It does not stop it, it cannot initiate it.

            This is equally true on the right.

            To test this proposition, lets look at FISA II, the MCA, the Patriot II act, the Bankruptcy Bill. All very odious pieces of legislation on their own face and unanimously hated by the democratic party rank and file.

            Now we have the White House and both houses of Congress- will those bills be repealed or modified? I have my guess.

            So does the Democratic Party respond to its rank and file? Only in a very limited fashion. Same too with the Republicans.

            We may be both doomed to irrelevance Jason, even though we vote like crazy. I am putting what remains of my dwindling hopes on Obama.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            So we agree. The best we can hope for is irrelevance with regards to what we really hold dear yet will continue to argue for a better tomorrow.

            I suspect that much of what has transpired in the past could be laid to rest if we turned out in the same numbers for primaries that we do for the general. Even that much of a change could bring huge dividends in citizen engagement. I hope for one of those generational shifts that allows us to simply move forward, the past cast aside as chains.

            I will tilt at windmills as long as I have the words. I don’t think that will be a problem. :O)

          • stillidealistic

            Thanks for a very good discussion, Jason.

            A side note: I was actually shocked to hear how few people in the United States vote. Even w/ the increases seen this year, the numbers are small, something like 61% of people eligible to vote actually cast ballots? Where are these people who don’t vote? Who are they? I think we need to have a major push in the high schools to educate these soon-to-be-adults about the need to participate in the process.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Great questions. I know I used to be one of them up until 2004. Not proud of the fact, but I can certainly speak from experience of how easy it is not to be involved.

            I think the enthusiasm for Obama might have actually helped with that effort to educate kids to vote. I wouldn’t be surprised in coming years if the youth end up being the most reliable voting block.

  • Lux Umbra Dei

    six days and this thread is still going. Congrats Jason.

    I still don’t think joining the Republicans is a good idea, but if you are sincere, then more power to you.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks, Lux, and thanks again for the contributions.

      Nothing like someone trolling a thread to keep it going way past its due date. OGD doesn’t seem to want me to have the last word on my own blog. I can appreciate the impulse as I rarely am able to do likewise.

      One point of clarification, I am less about joining the republicans as I am about making a statement about the lack of our political affiliations to truly define our political necessities any longer. I don’t anticipate seeing a republican on the national scene that I could vote for in good conscious for quite some time.

      Oh well, I am nothing if not willing and able to take the long view on things.

      • OldenGoldenDecoy

        .

        Gee willikers . . .

        This empty hat accuses others of not reading what’s written? That’s not my quote I linked.

        Anyone with at least a high school education and an online degree should easily be able to decipher that that quote is my Great Grandfather Admiral Jonah D. Wail’s quote.

        Quack! Quack!

        ~OGD~

        • Jason Everett Miller

          You are quoting a character you made up as a literary device because you are unable to actually comment as a real, rational and reasonable human being. So, you are saying that you didn’t graduate high school? That explains the tone and tenor (not to mention the grammar and syntax) of your comments.

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            Word?

            Nope … Actually it’s been 6,061 words of yours…

            obama equation update: liberal X conservative = progressive This is what I am calling the Obama Equation. Barack looked at the American political landscape and wrote Audacity of Hope as a response. In that brilliant book, I believe he articulated the above equation as being the only way we can save ourselves from ourselves. I also think what we are seeing, much to the consternation of our far right and far left brethren, is the Obama Administration putting those ideas into motion. The Obama Equation will become as important to politics as E=MC2 was to physics. There is another thing to be learned from the Obama Equation – that the notion of progress in America is not a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party to be shoved down the throats of all those who may agree with the theory but not with the practice. Faith-based initiatives is a perfect example. The theory, in this case, is many people in our society are in need of social services in some way, shape or form. The “liberal” practice, at least as far as many “conservatives” are concerned, is to simply thrown government money at the problem until it goes away. They don’t disagree that we must dedicate societal resources to those causes, just that government is always the best way to deliver them. Like most caricatures, there is just enough truth in conservative views of “progressive” policy proscriptions as articulated on the left to completely derail the conversation away from finding compromise. Oops. I said compromise. The new dirty word in politics. It seems compromise has been conflated with capitulation in much the same way that idea and ideology have become synonymous. In much the same way that liberal and progressive has become intertwined, leaving no room for moderates on the right to own “progress” as well. If there is no room for ownership of an idea among all the stakeholders in a project, the chances that project will succeed go down dramatically. Collaboration, not combativeness, leads to long-lasting success. In the case of America, collaboration just might lead to sustainable and long-lasting progressive changes. The Obama Equation begins to address a very fundamental flaw in our current system of politics and government. I can’t wait to see the results. Your comment is exactly the type of paradigm I think Obama is trying to change. I am not redefining anything. In case you are fuzzy on the actual definition of progressive, here is a link: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/progressive. You’ll notice the word “liberal” or “democrat” isn’t used once. You assume, wrongly, because I point to Faith-based Initiatives as an example of a conservative progressive program that I am somehow religious. It is not “my” faith-based program. It is “our” faith-based program, and it is working to deliver real progress to real Americans. You also assume, wrongly, that my political views have changed. They haven’t. Not in any substantive way. The only thing that changed was the label I decided to take on as a way of highlighting the enormous hypocrisy of so-called liberals and how they treat their “enemies” on the right. So far, the experiment has been eye-opening and pretty much as I expected at the same time. The Constitution is a very progressive document. It was debated, written and signed as a compromise between our liberal idealism and conservative pragmatism. Liberal (or democrat) is not synonymous with progressive. In fact, most of this country’s progressives have been independents for years. Compromise in tactics doesn’t mean a compromise in strategy. It simply means we use different methods for different goals, some liberal and some conservative, but both with the same destination in mind. A distinction you seem reluctant to acknowledge. Your example is a perfect illustration of my point. Civil Unions, something that could actually be supported by a majority of Americans, represents progress on the goal of equal rights, while “Gay Marriage” simply extends the culture war and ensures that nothing happens. Which solution represents moving forward and which one represents standing still? No matter which idea is the most liberal or the most conservative, the idea that actually solves the problem is the most progressive. If your “progressives” on the far left can’t get anything done because they refuse to alter their methods to meet the context of their times, just how much “progress” is actually being made? This isn’t about co-opting ideas but about changing the way we look at the entire conversation and acting accordingly. This is something Barack does very well and something that his more vocal critics on the left have never really mastered. Hence, no progress on a number of issues for at least the 30 years, if not longer. I actually think you have it exactly backward. A progressive view of this says we should all have Civil Unions and take the word “marriage” out of the discussion. The liberal view says Gay Marriage or nothing. We will find a progressive, pragmatic compromise before we reach the liberal’s preferred “solution” to this problem. We can agree to disagree on this one. I simply think that “liberals” get nothing done while “progressives” do. Whatever camp you fall into, getting things done or not, probably determines what way you self identify. I agree that this is how the word morphed into its modern context, but that doesn’t mean it is simply a matter of semantics. I guess what I mean is that semantics isn’t the only consideration when trying to redefine labels that have become so damaging to our body politic. You obviously didn’t read what I wrote. The liberal view, as you ably demonstrate, is: “It’s all the “conservatives” fault that homosexuals don’t have the same rights as straights.” A progressive view might be: “Both liberals and conservatives have apposed these measures in the past, so what can we do to move past the road block? Oh, the hang-up is the word marriage? Let’s take that out of the conversation and begin again.” If every marriage in the country was legally considered a “civil union” then the problem is solved without blaming anyone. Unlike many of my counterparts on the left, I am not interested in blaming anyone. I am interested in solving our many problems and I don’t care who gets the credit. Seems I heard a president-elect say the same thing during the campaign. We will fix this country through implementation of ideas independent of ideology. Anything else is doomed to the same failure as these last 30 years you cite. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. You certainly added a layer of nuance to my 10,000 foot view of what’s going on this year. I think you get it exactly. This is the same change in tactics that I see in Obama and what I was trying to articulate in this blog. I suspect Barack will be very successful with his efforts as we see them blossom over the next few years. I am hopeful we’ll see the positive affects of his presidency long after he leaves the Oval Office. Gingrich was a total tool. He continues to be a total tool, though his rhetoric has calmed somewhat. Had he actually lived up to his end of the Contract with America or had an ounce of his proclaimed ethical standards, Baby Bush would have never been elected and the republican party wouldn’t be going down in flames. Ideologues can kill progress on the right just as surely as they can kill it on the left. You got it. Obama is sacrificing “liberal” methodology in the interests of making “progressive” changes. He learned the lesson of not allowing ideology (all republicans are evil and need to be crushed) to get in the way of actually getting something done. That is why I speak of a changing paradigm, represented by Obama’s tactics, rather than rehashing the ideological war we have been stuck with these last 40 years with all the attendant baggage in tow. I am speaking of allowing our conservative-liberal dichotomy to work for us instead of against us. In order for this country to make any progress, we need to find a common language for what progress loo

            ks like and then seek our own way to achieve it. In some cases, it will mean inventing a new language to speak of those things that have confounded us for so long, like abortion and health care and poverty. In others, it won’t be nearly as dramatic or problematic, but will still require pragmatism and compromise to achieve lasting results. The people to left of Obama can be as critical as they want, hyper or otherwise, but it certainly won’t help achieve their stated goal, which is progressive change for this country. Now who is trying to create a bubble independent of constructive criticism? The whole point of blogs and blogging is to put forth ideas that might not be in line with the mainstream. Why would I go to a right wing site and waste my breath? They aren’t going to change anytime soon. Moderates on the right and left, however, seem to be willing to do just that. Those people aren’t going to “centrist” blogs. Mainly because they don’t exist. Most moderates of whatever party are blogging or commenting on sites where the topics of discussion are meaningful. I feel like I have found the Rosetta Stone to help liberals and conservatives start speaking each others language. It isn’t always successful, as many of my blogs will show, but I have made some headway with people in my life of both affiliations. I’ll keep coming here and tilting at windmills until I see enough growth on the right side of the fence to do the same. I think if “liberals” or “lefties” or whatever you want to call them follow Barack’s example rather than Barney Frank and Dennis Kucinich, then getting those “liberal” ideas into action will be much more likely. It’s called persuasion and not annihilation. Actually, I would amend that to left is great ideas with piss-poor execution while the right equals piss-poor ideas with great execution. The center marries good ideas with good execution. That is where Obama finds himself, as do the vast majority of Americans who occupy the center you seem to hold in such little esteem. Being an independent in a two party system simply means your voice will never be heard and you will never truly take a stand to make something better than how you found it. I think I explained why I am on left-leaning blogs as well as I need to. Your very smart comments are beginning to make me see the Clinton years in a different, more tragic light. His tactics were sound but his strategy could have been more progressive. Governing from the center is not an easy task and I am sure Bill wished he was more successful in pursuing a truly progressive agenda. Just wanted to say thanks for the enlightenment. My policy proscriptions are way left of center. In fact, if you bothered to read any of my policy-related blogs you would see that. My candidate of choice before Barack was Dennis Kucinich if that helps. My chosen methodology is right of center, which is why I decided to practice politics from within the Republican Party now. The only I agree with the Democratic Party is broad goals, but I think their methodology has been singularly ineffective insofar as achieving their stated goals. I am not likely to change the liberals’ methods, but there already seems to be a movement to change policy goals with moderate conservatives. That is enough for me to make the GOP my home for now while they sort things out. Not sure where you get “centrist” from, but I hang around here because I value rational discussion. For the most part, that is what I find. I was a registered independent for years because of the noise and bluster found on the left. I decided it was a useless designation in a two-party system. I joined the republican party this last August because I found myself in agreement with many of their moderates with regards to method, if not goals. Goals can be changed to suit the times, but the methods are unlikely to change as well. To me, being conservative means using the existing systems to affect change rather than tearing down the whole edifice and building up something new from scratch. We have neither the time nor the resources to make that work. I look at it as Evolution versus Revolution. Again, I am speaking of Obama’s methods changing the way all Americans act moving forward, not looking back at what has been three decades of devolution. None of what you write is wrong, for the most part, but notice that Obama lets none of those very real PAST mistakes keep him from allowing the right to change moving forward. He is giving them room to change their paradigm, while his supporters on the left are doing everything they can to ensure he does nothing of the sort. Clinton created the Prison Industrial Complex, so don’t tell me “liberals” would rather fund Head Start than prisons. Both democrats and republicans have been throwing people in prison as a means of “rehabilitation” for decades. This country has a bi-partisan fascination with prison instead of education. The same could be said of deregulation and shady politics and every other evil that besets our nation. Further, “liberals” screamed bloody-murder over Faith-based Initiatives, even as Barack pledged to modify the program to make it more effective. “Liberals” can be every bit as intractable and hide-bound as their “conservative” counterparts, which might explain a complete lack of progress in this country on any one of a dozen issues that most of the country could probably agree on, despite whatever their party affiliation happens to be, if the method was to be revised. What I am saying is that if you take “conservative” out of the Obama Equation, what political group in America could be inserted to make the equation work? I submit that there isn’t one. We have been a country with competing halves since the very beginning. The very word “conservative” has become as much if a pejorative on the left as “liberal” is on the right. With so much of the country identifying as either “conservative” or “moderate”, our only way toward progress that will be sustainable is by bringing our divergent mindsets together. That is what I see Barack doing moving forward. His biggest challenge will be convincing his fellow democrats of the efficacy of his strategy and tactics. Otherwise, it will be another four years of trench warfare. I wasn’t equating the Obama Equation with Einstein’s work, just the nominal impact that each has on their respective fields. If Barack is able to heal this country’s deep and festering wounds (as evidenced by the comments on this very blog) he will indeed have the same impact on American politics and government that Einstein did on science. Sorry, but this comment really is a nit as well as a non sequitor. It’s called potential not hyperbole. Fixing the rift in our country has the potential of making Obama one of greatest presidents. Einstein hadn’t changed a thing when he was putting bubbles in beer. PS: Most of Einstein’s work is still theoretical and not proven. By the time we figure out what is really going on, whenever that occurs, even his ground-breaking theories could be seen as simplistic and naive. As Einstein himself said of the underlying science of his own work: Confirmed as far as we know. Did you even read the quote I provided? I am sure your list doesn’t even cover a tenth of the man’s life-long thinking. The man you venerate never had so high opinion of either himself or the ultimate truth of the things he came up with. PS: I will stipulate that you know far more about Einstein than I do, so you can stop being condescending, though I know it is your favorite tone. You took an allusion as a comparison. The comprehension difficulty in this situation doesn’t lie with my limited knowledge of Einstein or the impact his work had on our current understanding of the Universe and Everything In It. This is a much better reasoned response than mine, mostly due to a more in-depth knowledge of the subject. Many thanks! You have obviously not read Obama’s books or you would refrain from insisting he is liberal, at least as it has come to be defined in our modern context. I supported and donated to Kucinich before I switched to Obama, so don’t tell me I am talking myself aroun

            d liking the guy. I joined the republican party in August in order to support his efforts from inside an organization I despise in in its current form. I can name the republican leaders I agree with on one hand. I identify with using conservative methodology to attaining progressive goals. Why? Because if we leave it up to liberals nothing will ever get done. Just like the last 30 years. Barack will be successful because he is progressive, as evidenced by his campaign platform, and he is pragmatic, as evidenced by his transition so far. It is why republicans are supporting him in roughly the same fashion as democrats supported Reagan. That environment is ripe for change on the right, indeed the entire country, despite your insistence on the contrary. To deliver on that change, however, the left needs to get on board with Obama’s new tone. Since the very beginning of this campaign, “liberals” have been claiming Obama to be too conservative. That he was selling out on all sorts of things from the Faith stuff to FISA. They are the same critics who claim his cabinet picks are too conservative and not liberal enough. The far left of the democratic party makes up the “base” of the party. Moderate democrats have no problem with what I am saying. I didn’t trash a single liberal, but I am not suprised that you think so nor I am I shocked that OGD agrees with you. Birds of a feather and all that. I pointed out that liberal methods have been ineffective and Barack will be largely successful by understanding most of this country resides somewhere in the middle. Your mocking tone aside, the substance of my argument only pisses far left liberals off, the far left variety who see compromise as capitulation. I am in good company given your criticism of Barack’s choices so far. As long as Obama continues to piss you guys off, I think the country will be just fine. Barack won’t become the liberal equivalent of the Bush Decider, mainly because he is all about uniting the country rather than dividing it further by holding to extreme left ideology. Too bad some of his supporters over there on the left don’t care enough to do the same. You guys means you. Self-proclaimed “liberals” who can’t seem to put down their rhetorical weapons long enough to realize the people they hate are their fellow Americans. Who don’t have enough sense to realize that continued partisan battles will ensure we get nothing done. People who are reactionary and illogical and unable to have a civil debate without using pejoratives or insults or ad hominem attacks. People like you. And there ends the discussion: I’m rubber and you’re glue. Brilliant! You can’t even carry on a real conversation. It’s like you’re talking to yourself. I was describing your comment to me in a language that seemed easier for you to understand, given your extreme inability to comprehend the tone and tenor of your writing on these pages. Instead of explaining why I am in error, you throw out insults and innuendo. Then you go on to say something derogtatory about my ten years in the military, though I couldn’t figure out what that is. Good thing I am not a democrat or I might be offended. You make huge assumptions based on nothing more than my party affiliation and some months old blog post that you misunderstood because you don’t know anything about technology. I am not sure how you negotiate a computer with this comment and your last blog post as evidence of your reasoning ability. So, perhaps you could add something to the conversation or offer some sort of specifics as to why you think Obama really isn’t being respectful of the opposition party and offering rank and file republicans the room to change. Offer a different interpretation of the available facts and I will be happy to agree with you if I agree or debate with you if I don’t. Otherwise, STFU. You’re right. I should refrain from responding to attacks on my own blog. What got into my head? No wonder you have such a hard time following the conversation. It seems you don’t understand basic syntax. I was clearly addressing you up above. I wrote a blog all about your style of debate. Much better than the one you cited in this strangely paranoid blog. Read your own blog again and then tell me you’re not paranoid when claiming that someone is “censoring” your comments. I wasn’t the only one who found that response to a system quirk odd. PS: Your little shtick is not only tired and not terribly entertaining but it’s quite immature as well. Thanks for the feedback, tankard. Wow, same way of speaking and the same inability to actually read what was written. Go figure. You started out by commenting on my supposed inability to hear contradictory views without ever having presented one. The fact that you were a SERE instructor speaks volumes, however. There you go again with casting aspersions that you are guilty of yourself. “I know you are, but what I am I?” seems to be the extent of your debating ability. There were two types of SERE instructors when I went through the program – sociopaths who got off on beating our asses during the prison camp portion of our week in hell and the ones that wanted to help us survive. Based on your continued diatribes on my blog, I have a hard time believing you were one of the latter. Blah, blustery, blah, blah, blah. You sound like a broken record, tracing the same tired groove. Must be a generational thing. As I suspected, your hate is generational. Thanks for the comment and that is indeed what I refer to as being a possible consequence of Obama’s presidency – social liberalism combined with pragmatic common sense. Sounds like as good a description of the mayors you describe as well. I think Obama has an opportunity to turn moderate conservatives into a common sense oriented faction in the GOP. From there, he can build support for his programs on the right as well as the left. As your story indicates, progressive changes made from the middle of the spectrum can really stand the test of time. It also pretty well describes how any lasting change in this country has been accomplished, by republican and democratic presidents alike. We just haven’t seen a real republicans since Ike. Good point. I, too, find most semantical arguments to be ridiculous and rarely capable of moving us toward a solution. Just look at the fire storm that can be created for daring to use conservative and progressive in the same sentence. Thanks for the shout out. Seems like memories are about an inch long sometimes in this country. You were actually what made me convinced that most of the republican party was filled with good, decent people who needed a new direction. I actually don’t think we have to compromise principles as much as we have to compromise with ourselves. Can we give ourselves enough room to accept a solution that might be far from perfect but as far as it will go. As you said, all or nothing rarely gets anything done. When that is the choice, Americans have been more than willing to take nothing rather than compromise. We can’t take that sort of thing any more. I like your modification. Two tired philosophies being combined in such a way as to produce much more than they could alone. Awesome! Probably explains why I was never a math wiz. As far as changing the republican party, that is going to be a multi-generational effort. I am less an activist for that happening quickly as I am someone who doesn’t much care what I am called, so why not be republican? I’ve been called worse. I just read the Wikipedia article on synthesis and that is it exactly – Combining two or more existing elements resulting in the formation of something new. In this case, the “something new” is redefining an existing term, but close enough for government work. Another great clarification. I, too, think that many of our current labels aren’t up to the task of taking us where we need to go, but they are all we have to work with right now. Perhaps a new lexicon will emerge to replace the old. Great points, canuck. This was really the underlying theory of why I joined the republican party this year, hoping to add to the moderate’s ranks. That I could push far lef

            t “liberals” like OGD into screaming fits of blubbering incoherency is just a bonus as far as I am concerned. The moderates in the democratic party are actually reasonable and easy to talk to. I agree, otherwise there would have been some movement toward sanity this year. After so long as a party run by their more vocal fringe elements, I suspect you are right that it will be at least a decade before new leaders will emerge to usher the party into the 21st century as Obama did for the democrats this year. Actually, me entire contention is that considering the “other side” the enemy is stupid beyond belief and ensures we never get anything done. Thanks for the reply. I guess my only response would be: What does “middle of the road” really mean if not that place where the most number of people can agree on the most number of things? We have just lived through 30+ years of shoving a far right extreme down the throats of the American people. Shoving a far left extreme down our throats for the next thirty won’t be any more successful. This country can’t take such extremes any longer. We have whiplash. I use progressive as short-hand for sustainable and meaningful change based on common sense and not ideology. I think that combines liberal ideals with conservative methods. Conservative in the true sense of the word and as embodied by a long line of pragmatic leaders prior to the insane neo-conservative crew that took over the party with the rise of Nixon and Reagan. I find that Obama is really changing the hearts and minds of conservatives and not simply looking for a way to get their cooperation. I think true communism would be a great idea. Just like true capitalism. Except that neither work in the real world because they don’t account for the human element of the equation. Having said that, I agree that our move toward some sort sustainable future will of necessity incorporate many tenants of true communism (as well as localism, which you mention as well) in order for us to stop killing the planet and ourselves. Much food for thought in this comment. Thanks! PS: I think the “middle of the road” changes based on the personal and spiritual enlightenment of a given people. The “middle” of the American road has existed at the extremes for far too long. Great comment with lots of food for thought. I did look up Goldberg and think I understand the allusion to politics, though I think it could be extended to government as well. Our government’s policies become this hodgepodge of competing solutions that sometimes deliver the required result, but usually at a cost that is too high to bear. I will look for the Krugman talk. Is it true that his problems with the original New Deal was that it wasn’t bold enough. That FDR should have actually gone bigger and invested more resources. I think he also had the political capital (but not the political will) to usher in more substantial civil rights that wouldn’t see the light of day until the 60s. There is no better time to make huge, systemic and societal changes than during a time of shared misery. This comment makes no sense if you are somehow trying to claim a philosophical misunderstanding based on what you have written on this blog. You started on the attack from word one, taking overly-dramatic offense at some supposed insult I had made to liberals when this blog had nothing to do with liberals or the left, except as far as they have been singularly ineffective at delivering lasting, progressive change over the last 40 years or so. If you want to be understood, perhaps it is better to understand first. Again with the nonsense. Being understood is obviously not high on your priority list. Blah, blah, blustery, blah. Get a new line and perhaps we can really heat this thing up. Always accusing your “enemy” of the tactics you employ. Classic ideologue debate style. I fully respect and appreciate your thoughts on this. We agree more than we disagree on most issues. I do disagree with your framing of my position in this particular case, but I think you are essentially correct with regards to the two competing ideologies at work in this country for at least the last forty years. An ideological minefield that has been created by both democratic and republican politicians. My main point is that although liberal ideals are clearly the best for our country, liberal methods have been mostly ineffective at getting that change implemented. This despite the clear advantage liberal positions have for the common man. I am not joining power. I will dedicate no time or energy or money to a republican candidate who isn’t also progressive in nature. That they mostly don’t exist right now is no hindrance to me. I will support whatever candidate speaks to the issues that I find important. I suspect that republicans will emerge in the primaries as the expectations of their voters change. I am joining those embattled conservatives toward the center of the GOP who voted for Barack and are working to change the party. Those like my best friend and sister. Those like still idealistic who left the party and those like myself who joined it. I am joining Barack Obama who has never framed his coming presidency other than as an opportunity for all of us to work together. I supported Kucinich because of the same impulse that made me join the republican party. He was every bit the pariah in the democratic party as I I am in the republican party today. He has never held a leadership position nor has his many bills gotten out of committee most times. I donated to his soapbox, but had no illusions about his chances. Obama’s consistently conservative take on progressive change was the other thing that made me join the republicans. He would need more conservatives who believe in progressive over party. Nostly, I joined the republicans because I consider my natural tendency to be conservative in nature. Evolution versus revolution. I think some of the most effective democrats have been deeply conservative in their methods. Some might argue too conservative. I also didn’t think it made sense to leave one of two major political parties in the hands of zealots and staying an independent seemed a weak response to what I consider a huge deal. Why should I let assholes alone lay claim to the party of Ike and Abe and Teddy? What better time to work toward a substantive change than when an organization is going down in flames? Should the republicans be allowed to maintain the same stance as they have taken these last forty years, I fear Barack will never accomplish all the enormously important things he needs to get done. Despite your fear that war against republicans is the only answer to the “impasse’ we are in, the lines aren’t so neatly drawn. As you said yourself, the environment is much more complex than that. The reason I come to these pages is to appeal to the empathy and sympathy of liberals such as yourself. I come to suggest that perhaps Barack’s framing of all of us coming together makes more sense than anything that would keep us apart. When smart people use incendiary language I see that as a missed opportunity to move past the things that keep us from getting anything truly progressive done. I don’t believe you framing our current struggles as some sort of war with Barack’s 53% on one side and McCain’s 47% on the other sounds like a very liberal position to me. It sounds like continuation of the last 8 years with a left hook instead of a right. I am not telling anyone to reign in their liberal;/progressive/human tendancies or impulses. I am actually hoping that they use that moral center to develop the methods by which they would implement their policies in a sustainable fashion. I am more than happy to support a democratic party who allows itself to be guided by the very astute Obama and push my republican representative to do the same. I am also happy to ensure republicans get through the primaries who are more willing to work toward a progressive future, albeit using conservative methodologies. That being said, I am also more than happy to engage in some partisan sparing if it somehow points a mirror at “liberals” who can someti

            mes be anything but. So we agree. The best we can hope for is irrelevance with regards to what we really hold dear yet will continue to argue for a better tomorrow. I suspect that much of what has transpired in the past could be laid to rest if we turned out in the same numbers for primaries that we do for the general. Even that much of a change could bring huge dividends in citizen engagement. I hope for one of those generational shifts that allows us to simply move forward, the past cast aside as chains. I will tilt at windmills as long as I have the words. I don’t think that will be a problem. :O) Great questions. I know I used to be one of them up until 2004. Not proud of the fact, but I can certainly speak from experience of how easy it is not to be involved. I think the enthusiasm for Obama might have actually helped with that effort to educate kids to vote. I wouldn’t be surprised in coming years if the youth end up being the most reliable voting block. Thanks, Lux, and thanks again for the contributions. Nothing like someone trolling a thread to keep it going way past its due date. OGD doesn’t seem to want me to have the last word on my own blog. I can appreciate the impulse as I rarely am able to do likewise. One point of clarification, I am less about joining the republicans as I am about making a statement about the lack of our political affiliations to truly define our political necessities any longer. I don’t anticipate seeing a republican on the national scene that I could vote for in good conscious for quite some time. Oh well, I am nothing if not willing and able to take the long view on things. You make absolutely no sense. Though your ego seems firmly in charge as you link to your own quotes. Brilliant! You are quoting a character you made up as a literary device because you are unable to actually comment as a real, rational and reasonable human being. So, you are saying that you didn’t graduate high school? That explains the tone and tenor (not to mention the grammar and syntax) of your comments. Word.

            And I’m sure there’s a lot more from where that come from…

            O’ blustery one…

            ~OGD~

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            .

            Oops . . .

            Make that 6,065 words of of gibber-jabber . . .

            obama equation update: liberal X conservative = progressive This is what I am calling the Obama Equation. Barack looked at the American political landscape and wrote Audacity of Hope as a response. In that brilliant book, I believe he articulated the above equation as being the only way we can save ourselves from ourselves. I also think what we are seeing, much to the consternation of our far right and far left brethren, is the Obama Administration putting those ideas into motion. The Obama Equation will become as important to politics as E=MC2 was to physics. There is another thing to be learned from the Obama Equation – that the notion of progress in America is not a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party to be shoved down the throats of all those who may agree with the theory but not with the practice. Faith-based initiatives is a perfect example. The theory, in this case, is many people in our society are in need of social services in some way, shape or form. The “liberal” practice, at least as far as many “conservatives” are concerned, is to simply thrown government money at the problem until it goes away. They don’t disagree that we must dedicate societal resources to those causes, just that government is always the best way to deliver them. Like most caricatures, there is just enough truth in conservative views of “progressive” policy proscriptions as articulated on the left to completely derail the conversation away from finding compromise. Oops. I said compromise. The new dirty word in politics. It seems compromise has been conflated with capitulation in much the same way that idea and ideology have become synonymous. In much the same way that liberal and progressive has become intertwined, leaving no room for moderates on the right to own “progress” as well. If there is no room for ownership of an idea among all the stakeholders in a project, the chances that project will succeed go down dramatically. Collaboration, not combativeness, leads to long-lasting success. In the case of America, collaboration just might lead to sustainable and long-lasting progressive changes. The Obama Equation begins to address a very fundamental flaw in our current system of politics and government. I can’t wait to see the results. Your comment is exactly the type of paradigm I think Obama is trying to change. I am not redefining anything. In case you are fuzzy on the actual definition of progressive, here is a link: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/progressive. You’ll notice the word “liberal” or “democrat” isn’t used once. You assume, wrongly, because I point to Faith-based Initiatives as an example of a conservative progressive program that I am somehow religious. It is not “my” faith-based program. It is “our” faith-based program, and it is working to deliver real progress to real Americans. You also assume, wrongly, that my political views have changed. They haven’t. Not in any substantive way. The only thing that changed was the label I decided to take on as a way of highlighting the enormous hypocrisy of so-called liberals and how they treat their “enemies” on the right. So far, the experiment has been eye-opening and pretty much as I expected at the same time. The Constitution is a very progressive document. It was debated, written and signed as a compromise between our liberal idealism and conservative pragmatism. Liberal (or democrat) is not synonymous with progressive. In fact, most of this country’s progressives have been independents for years. Compromise in tactics doesn’t mean a compromise in strategy. It simply means we use different methods for different goals, some liberal and some conservative, but both with the same destination in mind. A distinction you seem reluctant to acknowledge. Your example is a perfect illustration of my point. Civil Unions, something that could actually be supported by a majority of Americans, represents progress on the goal of equal rights, while “Gay Marriage” simply extends the culture war and ensures that nothing happens. Which solution represents moving forward and which one represents standing still? No matter which idea is the most liberal or the most conservative, the idea that actually solves the problem is the most progressive. If your “progressives” on the far left can’t get anything done because they refuse to alter their methods to meet the context of their times, just how much “progress” is actually being made? This isn’t about co-opting ideas but about changing the way we look at the entire conversation and acting accordingly. This is something Barack does very well and something that his more vocal critics on the left have never really mastered. Hence, no progress on a number of issues for at least the 30 years, if not longer. I actually think you have it exactly backward. A progressive view of this says we should all have Civil Unions and take the word “marriage” out of the discussion. The liberal view says Gay Marriage or nothing. We will find a progressive, pragmatic compromise before we reach the liberal’s preferred “solution” to this problem. We can agree to disagree on this one. I simply think that “liberals” get nothing done while “progressives” do. Whatever camp you fall into, getting things done or not, probably determines what way you self identify. I agree that this is how the word morphed into its modern context, but that doesn’t mean it is simply a matter of semantics. I guess what I mean is that semantics isn’t the only consideration when trying to redefine labels that have become so damaging to our body politic. You obviously didn’t read what I wrote. The liberal view, as you ably demonstrate, is: “It’s all the “conservatives” fault that homosexuals don’t have the same rights as straights.” A progressive view might be: “Both liberals and conservatives have apposed these measures in the past, so what can we do to move past the road block? Oh, the hang-up is the word marriage? Let’s take that out of the conversation and begin again.” If every marriage in the country was legally considered a “civil union” then the problem is solved without blaming anyone. Unlike many of my counterparts on the left, I am not interested in blaming anyone. I am interested in solving our many problems and I don’t care who gets the credit. Seems I heard a president-elect say the same thing during the campaign. We will fix this country through implementation of ideas independent of ideology. Anything else is doomed to the same failure as these last 30 years you cite. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. You certainly added a layer of nuance to my 10,000 foot view of what’s going on this year. I think you get it exactly. This is the same change in tactics that I see in Obama and what I was trying to articulate in this blog. I suspect Barack will be very successful with his efforts as we see them blossom over the next few years. I am hopeful we’ll see the positive affects of his presidency long after he leaves the Oval Office. Gingrich was a total tool. He continues to be a total tool, though his rhetoric has calmed somewhat. Had he actually lived up to his end of the Contract with America or had an ounce of his proclaimed ethical standards, Baby Bush would have never been elected and the republican party wouldn’t be going down in flames. Ideologues can kill progress on the right just as surely as they can kill it on the left. You got it. Obama is sacrificing “liberal” methodology in the interests of making “progressive” changes. He learned the lesson of not allowing ideology (all republicans are evil and need to be crushed) to get in the way of actually getting something done. That is why I speak of a changing paradigm, represented by Obama’s tactics, rather than rehashing the ideological war we have been stuck with these last 40 years with all the attendant baggage in tow. I am speaking of allowing our conservative-liberal dichotomy to work for us instead of against us. In order for this country to make any progress, we need to find a common language for what progress looks like and the

            n seek our own way to achieve it. In some cases, it will mean inventing a new language to speak of those things that have confounded us for so long, like abortion and health care and poverty. In others, it won’t be nearly as dramatic or problematic, but will still require pragmatism and compromise to achieve lasting results. The people to left of Obama can be as critical as they want, hyper or otherwise, but it certainly won’t help achieve their stated goal, which is progressive change for this country. Now who is trying to create a bubble independent of constructive criticism? The whole point of blogs and blogging is to put forth ideas that might not be in line with the mainstream. Why would I go to a right wing site and waste my breath? They aren’t going to change anytime soon. Moderates on the right and left, however, seem to be willing to do just that. Those people aren’t going to “centrist” blogs. Mainly because they don’t exist. Most moderates of whatever party are blogging or commenting on sites where the topics of discussion are meaningful. I feel like I have found the Rosetta Stone to help liberals and conservatives start speaking each others language. It isn’t always successful, as many of my blogs will show, but I have made some headway with people in my life of both affiliations. I’ll keep coming here and tilting at windmills until I see enough growth on the right side of the fence to do the same. I think if “liberals” or “lefties” or whatever you want to call them follow Barack’s example rather than Barney Frank and Dennis Kucinich, then getting those “liberal” ideas into action will be much more likely. It’s called persuasion and not annihilation. Actually, I would amend that to left is great ideas with piss-poor execution while the right equals piss-poor ideas with great execution. The center marries good ideas with good execution. That is where Obama finds himself, as do the vast majority of Americans who occupy the center you seem to hold in such little esteem. Being an independent in a two party system simply means your voice will never be heard and you will never truly take a stand to make something better than how you found it. I think I explained why I am on left-leaning blogs as well as I need to. Your very smart comments are beginning to make me see the Clinton years in a different, more tragic light. His tactics were sound but his strategy could have been more progressive. Governing from the center is not an easy task and I am sure Bill wished he was more successful in pursuing a truly progressive agenda. Just wanted to say thanks for the enlightenment. My policy proscriptions are way left of center. In fact, if you bothered to read any of my policy-related blogs you would see that. My candidate of choice before Barack was Dennis Kucinich if that helps. My chosen methodology is right of center, which is why I decided to practice politics from within the Republican Party now. The only I agree with the Democratic Party is broad goals, but I think their methodology has been singularly ineffective insofar as achieving their stated goals. I am not likely to change the liberals’ methods, but there already seems to be a movement to change policy goals with moderate conservatives. That is enough for me to make the GOP my home for now while they sort things out. Not sure where you get “centrist” from, but I hang around here because I value rational discussion. For the most part, that is what I find. I was a registered independent for years because of the noise and bluster found on the left. I decided it was a useless designation in a two-party system. I joined the republican party this last August because I found myself in agreement with many of their moderates with regards to method, if not goals. Goals can be changed to suit the times, but the methods are unlikely to change as well. To me, being conservative means using the existing systems to affect change rather than tearing down the whole edifice and building up something new from scratch. We have neither the time nor the resources to make that work. I look at it as Evolution versus Revolution. Again, I am speaking of Obama’s methods changing the way all Americans act moving forward, not looking back at what has been three decades of devolution. None of what you write is wrong, for the most part, but notice that Obama lets none of those very real PAST mistakes keep him from allowing the right to change moving forward. He is giving them room to change their paradigm, while his supporters on the left are doing everything they can to ensure he does nothing of the sort. Clinton created the Prison Industrial Complex, so don’t tell me “liberals” would rather fund Head Start than prisons. Both democrats and republicans have been throwing people in prison as a means of “rehabilitation” for decades. This country has a bi-partisan fascination with prison instead of education. The same could be said of deregulation and shady politics and every other evil that besets our nation. Further, “liberals” screamed bloody-murder over Faith-based Initiatives, even as Barack pledged to modify the program to make it more effective. “Liberals” can be every bit as intractable and hide-bound as their “conservative” counterparts, which might explain a complete lack of progress in this country on any one of a dozen issues that most of the country could probably agree on, despite whatever their party affiliation happens to be, if the method was to be revised. What I am saying is that if you take “conservative” out of the Obama Equation, what political group in America could be inserted to make the equation work? I submit that there isn’t one. We have been a country with competing halves since the very beginning. The very word “conservative” has become as much if a pejorative on the left as “liberal” is on the right. With so much of the country identifying as either “conservative” or “moderate”, our only way toward progress that will be sustainable is by bringing our divergent mindsets together. That is what I see Barack doing moving forward. His biggest challenge will be convincing his fellow democrats of the efficacy of his strategy and tactics. Otherwise, it will be another four years of trench warfare. I wasn’t equating the Obama Equation with Einstein’s work, just the nominal impact that each has on their respective fields. If Barack is able to heal this country’s deep and festering wounds (as evidenced by the comments on this very blog) he will indeed have the same impact on American politics and government that Einstein did on science. Sorry, but this comment really is a nit as well as a non sequitor. It’s called potential not hyperbole. Fixing the rift in our country has the potential of making Obama one of greatest presidents. Einstein hadn’t changed a thing when he was putting bubbles in beer. PS: Most of Einstein’s work is still theoretical and not proven. By the time we figure out what is really going on, whenever that occurs, even his ground-breaking theories could be seen as simplistic and naive. As Einstein himself said of the underlying science of his own work: Confirmed as far as we know. Did you even read the quote I provided? I am sure your list doesn’t even cover a tenth of the man’s life-long thinking. The man you venerate never had so high opinion of either himself or the ultimate truth of the things he came up with. PS: I will stipulate that you know far more about Einstein than I do, so you can stop being condescending, though I know it is your favorite tone. You took an allusion as a comparison. The comprehension difficulty in this situation doesn’t lie with my limited knowledge of Einstein or the impact his work had on our current understanding of the Universe and Everything In It. This is a much better reasoned response than mine, mostly due to a more in-depth knowledge of the subject. Many thanks! You have obviously not read Obama’s books or you would refrain from insisting he is liberal, at least as it has come to be defined in our modern context. I supported and donated to Kucinich before I switched to Obama, so don’t tell me I am talking myself around liking the gu

            y. I joined the republican party in August in order to support his efforts from inside an organization I despise in in its current form. I can name the republican leaders I agree with on one hand. I identify with using conservative methodology to attaining progressive goals. Why? Because if we leave it up to liberals nothing will ever get done. Just like the last 30 years. Barack will be successful because he is progressive, as evidenced by his campaign platform, and he is pragmatic, as evidenced by his transition so far. It is why republicans are supporting him in roughly the same fashion as democrats supported Reagan. That environment is ripe for change on the right, indeed the entire country, despite your insistence on the contrary. To deliver on that change, however, the left needs to get on board with Obama’s new tone. Since the very beginning of this campaign, “liberals” have been claiming Obama to be too conservative. That he was selling out on all sorts of things from the Faith stuff to FISA. They are the same critics who claim his cabinet picks are too conservative and not liberal enough. The far left of the democratic party makes up the “base” of the party. Moderate democrats have no problem with what I am saying. I didn’t trash a single liberal, but I am not suprised that you think so nor I am I shocked that OGD agrees with you. Birds of a feather and all that. I pointed out that liberal methods have been ineffective and Barack will be largely successful by understanding most of this country resides somewhere in the middle. Your mocking tone aside, the substance of my argument only pisses far left liberals off, the far left variety who see compromise as capitulation. I am in good company given your criticism of Barack’s choices so far. As long as Obama continues to piss you guys off, I think the country will be just fine. Barack won’t become the liberal equivalent of the Bush Decider, mainly because he is all about uniting the country rather than dividing it further by holding to extreme left ideology. Too bad some of his supporters over there on the left don’t care enough to do the same. You guys means you. Self-proclaimed “liberals” who can’t seem to put down their rhetorical weapons long enough to realize the people they hate are their fellow Americans. Who don’t have enough sense to realize that continued partisan battles will ensure we get nothing done. People who are reactionary and illogical and unable to have a civil debate without using pejoratives or insults or ad hominem attacks. People like you. And there ends the discussion: I’m rubber and you’re glue. Brilliant! You can’t even carry on a real conversation. It’s like you’re talking to yourself. I was describing your comment to me in a language that seemed easier for you to understand, given your extreme inability to comprehend the tone and tenor of your writing on these pages. Instead of explaining why I am in error, you throw out insults and innuendo. Then you go on to say something derogtatory about my ten years in the military, though I couldn’t figure out what that is. Good thing I am not a democrat or I might be offended. You make huge assumptions based on nothing more than my party affiliation and some months old blog post that you misunderstood because you don’t know anything about technology. I am not sure how you negotiate a computer with this comment and your last blog post as evidence of your reasoning ability. So, perhaps you could add something to the conversation or offer some sort of specifics as to why you think Obama really isn’t being respectful of the opposition party and offering rank and file republicans the room to change. Offer a different interpretation of the available facts and I will be happy to agree with you if I agree or debate with you if I don’t. Otherwise, STFU. You’re right. I should refrain from responding to attacks on my own blog. What got into my head? No wonder you have such a hard time following the conversation. It seems you don’t understand basic syntax. I was clearly addressing you up above. I wrote a blog all about your style of debate. Much better than the one you cited in this strangely paranoid blog. Read your own blog again and then tell me you’re not paranoid when claiming that someone is “censoring” your comments. I wasn’t the only one who found that response to a system quirk odd. PS: Your little shtick is not only tired and not terribly entertaining but it’s quite immature as well. Thanks for the feedback, tankard. Wow, same way of speaking and the same inability to actually read what was written. Go figure. You started out by commenting on my supposed inability to hear contradictory views without ever having presented one. The fact that you were a SERE instructor speaks volumes, however. There you go again with casting aspersions that you are guilty of yourself. “I know you are, but what I am I?” seems to be the extent of your debating ability. There were two types of SERE instructors when I went through the program – sociopaths who got off on beating our asses during the prison camp portion of our week in hell and the ones that wanted to help us survive. Based on your continued diatribes on my blog, I have a hard time believing you were one of the latter. Blah, blustery, blah, blah, blah. You sound like a broken record, tracing the same tired groove. Must be a generational thing. As I suspected, your hate is generational. Thanks for the comment and that is indeed what I refer to as being a possible consequence of Obama’s presidency – social liberalism combined with pragmatic common sense. Sounds like as good a description of the mayors you describe as well. I think Obama has an opportunity to turn moderate conservatives into a common sense oriented faction in the GOP. From there, he can build support for his programs on the right as well as the left. As your story indicates, progressive changes made from the middle of the spectrum can really stand the test of time. It also pretty well describes how any lasting change in this country has been accomplished, by republican and democratic presidents alike. We just haven’t seen a real republicans since Ike. Good point. I, too, find most semantical arguments to be ridiculous and rarely capable of moving us toward a solution. Just look at the fire storm that can be created for daring to use conservative and progressive in the same sentence. Thanks for the shout out. Seems like memories are about an inch long sometimes in this country. You were actually what made me convinced that most of the republican party was filled with good, decent people who needed a new direction. I actually don’t think we have to compromise principles as much as we have to compromise with ourselves. Can we give ourselves enough room to accept a solution that might be far from perfect but as far as it will go. As you said, all or nothing rarely gets anything done. When that is the choice, Americans have been more than willing to take nothing rather than compromise. We can’t take that sort of thing any more. I like your modification. Two tired philosophies being combined in such a way as to produce much more than they could alone. Awesome! Probably explains why I was never a math wiz. As far as changing the republican party, that is going to be a multi-generational effort. I am less an activist for that happening quickly as I am someone who doesn’t much care what I am called, so why not be republican? I’ve been called worse. I just read the Wikipedia article on synthesis and that is it exactly – Combining two or more existing elements resulting in the formation of something new. In this case, the “something new” is redefining an existing term, but close enough for government work. Another great clarification. I, too, think that many of our current labels aren’t up to the task of taking us where we need to go, but they are all we have to work with right now. Perhaps a new lexicon will emerge to replace the old. Great points, canuck. This was really the underlying theory of why I joined the republican party this year, hoping to add to the moderate’s ranks. That I could push far left “liberals” li

            ke OGD into screaming fits of blubbering incoherency is just a bonus as far as I am concerned. The moderates in the democratic party are actually reasonable and easy to talk to. I agree, otherwise there would have been some movement toward sanity this year. After so long as a party run by their more vocal fringe elements, I suspect you are right that it will be at least a decade before new leaders will emerge to usher the party into the 21st century as Obama did for the democrats this year. Actually, me entire contention is that considering the “other side” the enemy is stupid beyond belief and ensures we never get anything done. Thanks for the reply. I guess my only response would be: What does “middle of the road” really mean if not that place where the most number of people can agree on the most number of things? We have just lived through 30+ years of shoving a far right extreme down the throats of the American people. Shoving a far left extreme down our throats for the next thirty won’t be any more successful. This country can’t take such extremes any longer. We have whiplash. I use progressive as short-hand for sustainable and meaningful change based on common sense and not ideology. I think that combines liberal ideals with conservative methods. Conservative in the true sense of the word and as embodied by a long line of pragmatic leaders prior to the insane neo-conservative crew that took over the party with the rise of Nixon and Reagan. I find that Obama is really changing the hearts and minds of conservatives and not simply looking for a way to get their cooperation. I think true communism would be a great idea. Just like true capitalism. Except that neither work in the real world because they don’t account for the human element of the equation. Having said that, I agree that our move toward some sort sustainable future will of necessity incorporate many tenants of true communism (as well as localism, which you mention as well) in order for us to stop killing the planet and ourselves. Much food for thought in this comment. Thanks! PS: I think the “middle of the road” changes based on the personal and spiritual enlightenment of a given people. The “middle” of the American road has existed at the extremes for far too long. Great comment with lots of food for thought. I did look up Goldberg and think I understand the allusion to politics, though I think it could be extended to government as well. Our government’s policies become this hodgepodge of competing solutions that sometimes deliver the required result, but usually at a cost that is too high to bear. I will look for the Krugman talk. Is it true that his problems with the original New Deal was that it wasn’t bold enough. That FDR should have actually gone bigger and invested more resources. I think he also had the political capital (but not the political will) to usher in more substantial civil rights that wouldn’t see the light of day until the 60s. There is no better time to make huge, systemic and societal changes than during a time of shared misery. This comment makes no sense if you are somehow trying to claim a philosophical misunderstanding based on what you have written on this blog. You started on the attack from word one, taking overly-dramatic offense at some supposed insult I had made to liberals when this blog had nothing to do with liberals or the left, except as far as they have been singularly ineffective at delivering lasting, progressive change over the last 40 years or so. If you want to be understood, perhaps it is better to understand first. Again with the nonsense. Being understood is obviously not high on your priority list. Blah, blah, blustery, blah. Get a new line and perhaps we can really heat this thing up. Always accusing your “enemy” of the tactics you employ. Classic ideologue debate style. I fully respect and appreciate your thoughts on this. We agree more than we disagree on most issues. I do disagree with your framing of my position in this particular case, but I think you are essentially correct with regards to the two competing ideologies at work in this country for at least the last forty years. An ideological minefield that has been created by both democratic and republican politicians. My main point is that although liberal ideals are clearly the best for our country, liberal methods have been mostly ineffective at getting that change implemented. This despite the clear advantage liberal positions have for the common man. I am not joining power. I will dedicate no time or energy or money to a republican candidate who isn’t also progressive in nature. That they mostly don’t exist right now is no hindrance to me. I will support whatever candidate speaks to the issues that I find important. I suspect that republicans will emerge in the primaries as the expectations of their voters change. I am joining those embattled conservatives toward the center of the GOP who voted for Barack and are working to change the party. Those like my best friend and sister. Those like still idealistic who left the party and those like myself who joined it. I am joining Barack Obama who has never framed his coming presidency other than as an opportunity for all of us to work together. I supported Kucinich because of the same impulse that made me join the republican party. He was every bit the pariah in the democratic party as I I am in the republican party today. He has never held a leadership position nor has his many bills gotten out of committee most times. I donated to his soapbox, but had no illusions about his chances. Obama’s consistently conservative take on progressive change was the other thing that made me join the republicans. He would need more conservatives who believe in progressive over party. Nostly, I joined the republicans because I consider my natural tendency to be conservative in nature. Evolution versus revolution. I think some of the most effective democrats have been deeply conservative in their methods. Some might argue too conservative. I also didn’t think it made sense to leave one of two major political parties in the hands of zealots and staying an independent seemed a weak response to what I consider a huge deal. Why should I let assholes alone lay claim to the party of Ike and Abe and Teddy? What better time to work toward a substantive change than when an organization is going down in flames? Should the republicans be allowed to maintain the same stance as they have taken these last forty years, I fear Barack will never accomplish all the enormously important things he needs to get done. Despite your fear that war against republicans is the only answer to the “impasse’ we are in, the lines aren’t so neatly drawn. As you said yourself, the environment is much more complex than that. The reason I come to these pages is to appeal to the empathy and sympathy of liberals such as yourself. I come to suggest that perhaps Barack’s framing of all of us coming together makes more sense than anything that would keep us apart. When smart people use incendiary language I see that as a missed opportunity to move past the things that keep us from getting anything truly progressive done. I don’t believe you framing our current struggles as some sort of war with Barack’s 53% on one side and McCain’s 47% on the other sounds like a very liberal position to me. It sounds like continuation of the last 8 years with a left hook instead of a right. I am not telling anyone to reign in their liberal;/progressive/human tendancies or impulses. I am actually hoping that they use that moral center to develop the methods by which they would implement their policies in a sustainable fashion. I am more than happy to support a democratic party who allows itself to be guided by the very astute Obama and push my republican representative to do the same. I am also happy to ensure republicans get through the primaries who are more willing to work toward a progressive future, albeit using conservative methodologies. That being said, I am also more than happy to engage in some partisan sparing if it somehow points a mirror at “liberals” who can sometimes be anything

            but. So we agree. The best we can hope for is irrelevance with regards to what we really hold dear yet will continue to argue for a better tomorrow. I suspect that much of what has transpired in the past could be laid to rest if we turned out in the same numbers for primaries that we do for the general. Even that much of a change could bring huge dividends in citizen engagement. I hope for one of those generational shifts that allows us to simply move forward, the past cast aside as chains. I will tilt at windmills as long as I have the words. I don’t think that will be a problem. :O) Great questions. I know I used to be one of them up until 2004. Not proud of the fact, but I can certainly speak from experience of how easy it is not to be involved. I think the enthusiasm for Obama might have actually helped with that effort to educate kids to vote. I wouldn’t be surprised in coming years if the youth end up being the most reliable voting block. Thanks, Lux, and thanks again for the contributions. Nothing like someone trolling a thread to keep it going way past its due date. OGD doesn’t seem to want me to have the last word on my own blog. I can appreciate the impulse as I rarely am able to do likewise. One point of clarification, I am less about joining the republicans as I am about making a statement about the lack of our political affiliations to truly define our political necessities any longer. I don’t anticipate seeing a republican on the national scene that I could vote for in good conscious for quite some time. Oh well, I am nothing if not willing and able to take the long view on things. You make absolutely no sense. Though your ego seems firmly in charge as you link to your own quotes. Brilliant! You are quoting a character you made up as a literary device because you are unable to actually comment as a real, rational and reasonable human being. So, you are saying that you didn’t graduate high school? That explains the tone and tenor (not to mention the grammar and syntax) of your comments. Word. That about covers it.

            And I’m sure there’s going to be more from where that comes from…

            O’ blustery one…M/i>

            ~OGD~

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Interesting tactic for trying to get the last word. You really do have no sense of propriety or civil regard for someone who has a different take on things. Now go ahead and cut and paste this comment in as your last “word” in this series. I consider my work to expose yet one more ideologue to be complete with the period following this sentence.