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March 12, 2009

Res Ipsa Loquitur

Blogging is a strange occupation.

The morning search for blog fodder often finds the Princess zipping and darting about the Intertubes, following an erratic breadcrumb trail that fails to result in one of her now-legendary attacks of logorrhea. One such journey began with what may be the only known portrait of Shakespeare.

Clicking on the link provided led to a discussion of modern art and ultimately to this image which reminded her of two things. Steve Martin, and the Law of Identity:

In 2002 Jonathon Keats held a petition drive to pass 'A = A' as statutory law in Berkeley, California. Specifically, the proposed law stated that, "every entity shall be identical to itself". Any entity caught being unidentical to itself was to be subject to a fine of up to one tenth of a cent.

As some wag once noted, "The mind is a terrible thing."

Posted by Cassandra at March 12, 2009 08:40 AM

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Yes, they are. Terrible things, that it. So, does that 'splain why ID theft is up? Because no one wants to be themselves any more? The grass or money is greener and all that?

Posted by: Cricket at March 12, 2009 10:49 AM

I don't get Keats' point. Nevertheless, if enough american people support it, then so must I so that Republicans can win elections. Dumb ideas can no longer be called idiocy, because that might hurt our shiny new big tent and cost us votes. Yay, Keats!

Posted by: a former european at March 12, 2009 12:27 PM

Tell me, afe... just out of curiosity.

Is every idea you don't agree with, "dumb"?

Have you ever noted a political party (that wasn't composed of brainwashed individuals) in which everyone was in perfect agreement with 100% of the party platform?

The Keats thing was a joke.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2009 12:32 PM

And again, as I have said before (and never gotten a response) What part of moderating rhetoric but not stances don't you understand?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 01:37 PM

I mean, you've made it pretty clear: Working with and convincing 50% + 1 of your fellow citizens isn't your thing. How, exactly, then do you propose to enact your policy preferences?

Military takeover and the founding of the USofAFE? :-)

Or do you just like losing?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 02:24 PM

I don't want to beat afe over the head, here.

We just disagree as to tactics, but he's an old friend and a good one.

And besides, I don't want Comrade Oleg whacking me over the head with the daily beet ration :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2009 04:51 PM

Well, my intent isn't to beat him over the head. I remember AFE from back at scrappleface and have enjoyed his comments since. Well, at least until his attitude turned to self-defeating whining, anyway.

A self-destructive AFE is not a fun AFE. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 12, 2009 06:12 PM

I was trying to be humorous too, in a dry way, but obviously failed.

I have said many times before that I am just not built to throw away principle in order to get "victory". I know that everyone is not me, nor may share my outlook. My viewpoint is probably woefully outdated and archaic, but it remains mine. I have reached my views based upon a personal sense of honor, justice, and integrity. I understand these concepts are now considered as fashionable as a top hat and tails. Being fashionable means nothing to me, though. Being true to myself and my principles means everything. Popularity is as ephemeral as the wind, IMHO.

Leonidas could have saved his men and himself by "compromising" with Xerxes at Thermopylae, and gained most of what he wanted. Hector could have chosen not to face Achilles and certain death, but honor would not allow him to run from that fight.

Moses could have seen that "the people" overwhelmingly desired to worship the golden calf, instead of God, and simply put away the 10 Commandments and remained "popular".

George Washington could have acceded to the "will of the people" by becoming the first american monarch, instead of preserving the Constitution. Patrick Henry could have saved his life by denouncing his principles, but is remembered for his stirring words "Give me liberty, or give me death".

Finally, Ronald Reagan didn't change who he was or compromise his principles in order to win popularity. He had to accept legislative compromises and defeats to his political agenda from time to time, but he never "toned down the rhetoric". He was very clear on his core principles. He had a conservative vision for America and LED our nation forward. The people ultimately came around to his way of thinking, not vice versa.

I am deeply saddened that so many fellow conservatives have given up the notion of standing on our honor and conservative principles, and instead should compromise our beliefs simply to get elected. Given the incredibly corrupt ingrained culture in Washington, how can such men or women remain committed to us, the people, without principle or moral integrity to resist blandishments and personal avarice? They already gave up their principles just to get to Washington, so don't expect strong moral fiber now.

Making the Republicans the "Democrat-lite" (i.e. just like the Democrats but now with %20 less taxes and spending!)Party is a losing proposition. You may pick up a few moderates, but I expect you will lose just as many, if not more, rock-ribbed conservatives like me.

At this point, I have really stopped caring. There are so few Republicans that sound like me, and hold the same principles I do, that maybe there really is no place for my kind in the Party any more. For the last few years I have been disgusted, on an almost daily basis, with the behavior of elected Republicans in Washington. I expect that sort of low, unethical action by the Democrats because, they loudly proclaim themselves to be the Party of immorality and hedonism. I thought we were better than that, though. The fact that %40 of the earmarks in latest budget were from Republicans is inexcusable, IMO.

Call this "whining" if it makes you feel better. Call me an unreconstructed dinosaur, too. I feel a little sad for those of you who feel the need to be blown to and fro by the changing political winds or current popular fashion. I have many faults, but overall I am happy with who I am and what I believe. My core principles will not change. For now, I guess I am a former Republican as well as a former european. I'm okay with that.

Posted by: a former european at March 13, 2009 02:29 AM

I feel a little sad for those of you who feel the need to be blown to and fro by the changing political winds or current popular fashion.

afe, my friend, there is a vast difference between "being blown to and fro by changing political winds" and recognizing that in a pluralistic society where you have to persuade your fellow citizens rather than coercing them, you won't get far by being inflexible.

There is nothing wrong with having strong principles.

But I think you are being a bit unfair to imply that those who disagree with you as to political tactics don't have strong principles because they are willing to compromise in order to achieve their most important priorities.

Barack Obama is in office today, ruining the country and violating every single one of your principles, in part because a number of conservatives who (according to their principles) should hate everything he stands for preferred to stay home rather than vote for a man who may not have embodied 100% of their views, but would not have taken us down the road we're headed down today.

The fact is, the election wasn't that close. If conservatives had rallied solidly around John McCain (as I did, and he was FAR from being my choice), I think we could have won this election.

And the fact is, unless you're sitting in the White House and/or controlling Congress, your principles have NO voice.

None. You cite Reagan as an exemplar of principle and inflexibility. I will reply to that in a post, because I believe the single most damaging meme in conservative circles is that Reagan didn't compromise. That destructive (and completely false) image is leading us away from electoral success.

I respect your beliefs. I just don't agree with your assessment of how to win elections. You state:

There are so few Republicans that sound like me, and hold the same principles I do, that maybe there really is no place for my kind in the Party any more.

And yet more moderate Republicans are not asking you to leave. In fact, we don't WANT you to leave.

We are just asking you to recognize the truth of what you just admitted: that you are too few to win an election by yourself. And yet many hard-liners are openly calling for us to make our numbers FEWER by purging the party of anyone who doesn't numbly fall in line with their agenda.

You'll have to pardon me for not understanding how fewer voters translates to winning elections, and that's a point you still have never addressed. What you seem to be saying is that you'd rather lose elections (and consequently have NO chance of enacting your policy preferences) than win an election with a candidate who won't enact ALL of your policy preferences.

Given that there is no coalition of voters who share that many policy preferences, that's a recipe for never winning an election again. And that means ceding the country to the Barack Obamas of this world.

That's not acceptable to me, and it's also not a better outcome for anyone.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 13, 2009 04:30 AM

No one here is suggesting you change your principles.

The example I used elsewhere is that I don't believe that you should have to beg and bribe the gov't to excercize a Constitutional right. But that's exactly what we do with Handgun Carry Permits.

No one would support an application process to vote. No one would support having to pass a test to vote. No one would support paying $150 to vote.

But we do all of those things for the second amendment.

Yet, I support expanding CCW laws.

Have I compromised my principles. Not at all. I just accept the reality that Illinois isn't going to go from a complete ban on handgun carry to Vermont Style carry (Your carry permit is the Constitution) all at once. it's just not gonna happen.

So I'll offer the sleeves off my vest to make things better.

Now the SNBIs (Those who "refuse to compromise" and whose prefered method of persuasion is yelling "SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED" at people) view me as a heretic just like you do. I have compromised my beliefs and 'legitimized' licensing a right.

I don't see it that way, but I gather you would. This difference between us is that *I* have gotten results. My side has seen Carry rights expanded in many states, My side has seen multiple states pass Castle Doctrine laws. My side has seen a complete ban on handguns overturned by SCOTUS. Are we done? Not by a long shot. We still have a long way to go before Vermont style carry becomes the National standard like it's meant to be.

But what have the SNBIs done? Nothing exept strain their vocal cords from all the yelling and piss people off.

If we had used their tactics we likely would have had a national handgun ban and the Brady Bunch would be lobbying for a ban on everything except muzzle loading smooth bore muskets. The SNBIs view this as a preferred outcome as it will hasten the comming of the second American Revolution. You of all people should see the horror that lies down that road.

Forgive me if I see the current outcome as better. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 13, 2009 10:41 AM

To sum up:

I will ally with those who desire to license a right when it means gaining a right that is not currently protected.

I will not ally with those who desire to license a right when it means losing a right that you already have.

My core beliefs didn't change. If they had, I would have had to support the second scenario as well.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 13, 2009 10:50 AM

Either you all haven't been listening to my older posts or, more likely, I haven't explained myself well. I never said one couldn't compromise on passing legislation. That is, after all, the essence of the legislature.

My position was addressed to the idea of "toning down the rhetoric" or trying to pass off our positions as something other than conservative in order to win votes. There is a big difference, in my mind.

Of course Reagan compromised on numerous pieces of legislation! How else could he have gotten anything accomplished with a Democrat-controlled Congress? He was willing to take a half-step to accomplish his goals and see his principles fulfilled when a full step was not available. He did NOT, however, compromise on those principles or on what he ultimately hoped to achieve, notwithstanding the necessity of compromise at the moment.

His rhetoric was never toned down. He was often criticized for calling the Soviet Union the "evil empire" or demanding that they tear down the Berlin Wall. He frequently challenged the Democrats in Congress to end their profligate ways and reduce the size of government to enhance the liberty of the people. He had to compromise with those same democrats to get what he could of his agenda passed, but he never flinched or backed away from his principles of limited govt/reduced spending/fighting the Soviets or urging others to join him in that march for liberty.

What I have heard others suggest is not an acceptance of incrementalism in the achievement of bedrock principles, but an abandonment of principles to make us more "palatable" to moderates and others. The former is entirely different from the latter.

Posted by: a former european at March 13, 2009 04:48 PM

The "toning down the rhetoric" doesn't mean being wishy-washy. It means that you pitch gun rights as an issue of equity (an armed 98lb grandmother becomes equal to the 225lb thug whose trying to rape her, 'urban' gun bans are really racist attempts at disarming blacks, etc.) as opposed to shouting "SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED" at them.

The latter may be the Constitutional principle, but I don't care if they support the Constitutioan for libertarian reasons or for liberal reasons or for conservative reasons or for Zombie Apocolypse reasons. As long as they support the policy.

As long as you support the "What" I could care less about the "Why".

You seem to want those who could be convinced to agree with the "what" but not the "why" to go kiss your a$$.

That is a losing strategy.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 13, 2009 05:36 PM

afe, you persistently characterize pitching conservative principles in a way that will have broader appeal (IOW, effective communication) as somehow dishonest or dishonorable. Also as a moral capitulation.

This is not only deeply insulting, but deeply unfair.

As Yu-Ain stated, not everyone has the exact same reasons for voting the way they do. The argument which convinces you may fall on deaf ears when used on someone else who is quite amenable to seeing the merits of conservative ideas.

But you seem to see politics as some sort of "my way or the highway" endeavor.

That's no way to persuade more moderate voters our ideas are better. Explaining a principle in a way that appeals to a different interest or value isn't dishonest. It's smart.

Politicians are in the business of selling: themselves, their ideas, issues. If you only have one argument in your back of tricks, you're a poor salesman. Likewise, if you're trying to maximize the number of people you convince to vote for your party, it's probably not such a great idea to pound home a selling point that actually turns a large number of voters off - especially when it's a settled issue like Roe v. Wade.

The president isn't going to overturn Roe. He can't, and to say he can WOULD be dishonest. But according to you, if he doesn't promise something he has no power to deliver, he's dishonorable and a coward?

He can, however, promise to appoint conservative judges who are faithful to the Constitution. It's just another way of saying the exact same thing, and it's even more honest than what the far right keep asking candidates to do (which is stupid). Simply picking up a copy of the Constitution will quickly set people straight as to which branch does what.

Last time I checked, the Executive branch doesn't overturn judicial decisions but maybe that's just me. Neither does the legislature when it's a Constitutional issue. Arguably they could, but they won't because winning support for a Constitutionally dubious bill is too hard and there are too many other things to do. Reagan signed an abortion bill rather than veto it: the most liberal abortion bill in the nation at the time.

So much for principle. You should condemn him for that.

I'd need to know more about why he did it first, because I don't see everything in stark terms. To me that seems an obvious compromise of a core principle when he could have defended conservative values by vetoing it.

But what do I know? And I won't even go into amnesty.

Posted by: Cass at March 13, 2009 06:07 PM