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Three score and ten or more

Monday, January 23, 2006



When I first jumped into this blog thing I got into political stuff every once in awhile. I waxed most emphatic during the early days of the Katrina mess, when, it seemed to me, that everyone, the local residents, the local government (particularly in Louisiana) and the federal government were dropping the ball, and trying to shove things through a clogged bureaucracy, (some what like trying to force dry pinto beans through a tea strainer). Since that time, I haven’t expressed myself very forcefully on my blog, (though I have been a little intense in the commentary on other blogs).

I know that most of the folks to whom I have given comment will never see this post, but I think it is necessary for folks to see where I’m coming from in order to get my ideas.

First: I am a conservative. I think a real conservative is one who resists radical change; someone who wants to know why we should build a bridge before the bridge is built, and that we should try to “forsee” the obvious unforeseen consequences that are likely to come from the building of the bridge. I also think that conservatism is patriotic and wants to see the ideals around which the country was built sustained.

Second: I would not want the world to be made up of “me’s”. I think stark conservatism is a recipe for stagnation. George Bernard Shaw made a definition of liberals which was often quoted by Bobby Kennedy (I have written about this before) which goes “Some people see things as they are and scream “WHY”? I see things as they ought to be and say “WHY NOT”? Without some accommodation of this attitude the world would get stagnant, but without someone to grab hold of the liberal coat-tails and scream “wait a minute, let’s think about this for a minute” that liberal attitude would corrupt society completely. The problem is that not everybody “sees things as they ought to be” the same way. I think that the greatest things in our society have come about from the dialectic between these two sides (not dialogue, not even cooperation, but dialectic, and if you don’t know the word it is time for a good dictionary, preferably the Oxford English Dictionary, but Merriam Webster and Random House will do)

Third: One of the things that concerns me most about what is happening today in our discourse. It has become shrill, filled with invective, and perfectly intelligent people have reached the stage where all they can do is scream at each other. The words “fascist”, “moonbats” ," commies", and sometimes much more forceful epithets are thrown around willy-nilly. I lived in Finland right after world war two, and I saw what fascism could do, and how it was done (Finland allied itself with Germany for a while, and then had to drive the Nazis out as they retreated with a scorched earth policy) and I watched as real Communists marched in the streets on May day, and I had a lot of interaction with them. What are called fascists in some blogs, don’t even come close, and calling Liberal a commie, well, I know commies, and those aint them. Sceaming invective is a little like masturbation. I can give you a lot of pleasure, but no one else really gets anything out of it--or wants to.

Now I don’t propose to try to influence my friends in the blogiverse , to change their patterns. I just want you to know why you won’t see invective coming from me on either side. The problem with the language of that type is that it prevents dialectic. Those on both sides get so passionate that reasonable argument, listening to each other, using clear logic with FACTUAL evidence rather than second hand biased opinions, gets to be impossible. We get into the stuff that speech scientists and psychologists call ' the monologue or dialogue (depending on who you study) of the deaf'. It simply mean that we limit our listening to, or reading of those with whom we may disagree, to looking for points to attack, to support our previously held points of view. Liberals sometimes have good ideas, conservatives the same, and if the level of invective went down a little we might be each able to quit defending ourselves against the maddened hordes long enough to hear them.

I may be ostracized by the conservatives as a group, but I think social security was a good idea. Putting the social security funds into the general fund with a promise to pay it back was pretty stupid, but the overall concept is all right, and I get really ticked with Limbaugh when he goes on his rant that social security is welfare, because I keep track, and it will be at least five more years before I receive one more dime than I have paid into the FICA pot. Figured for inflation, it will be longer than that, and frankly I don’t expect to live much beyond that date. When I say that, some of my conservative friends nearly froth at the mouth, but I believe it, just as I believe that if we don’t do what Bush has proposed in a partial privatization that social security will nearly bankrupt the nation fairly soon.

Any way, if you see me commenting on your blog, for you, or against you, it will be because I believe in both dialectic and dialogue, but I will be critical of poor evidence, I will blast you on lousy logic and argumentation, and I will love you for the stuff that, if listened to and analyzed might solve some of our social, national, political, and even interpersonal problems. I even hope to read that stuff a few times before I die. If I go off on a tear it will be after I have done some serious thinking, and about something that seems outrageous to me.

Well, now you know (as if you even cared).


At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Kathleen said...

I care. You have a wonderful gift for writing. I look forward to your blog each day. I also feel enlightened by your thoughtful posts on that other blog where you occasionally see me. In fact, I am very appreciative to read your well informed and honest thoughts.

Finally, I especially enjoyed this post. I will be giving it some more thought and consider how I can open myself a little more too some different thoughts and new ideas.

Thanks for another delightful post.

At 10:04 PM, Blogger Fish said...

Very well said slightly older than I. There have been a few blogs I've just stopped reading because they are over the top on hostility and name calling (both liberal and conservative). Somewhere in the middle there is room for honest debate.

At 5:49 AM, Blogger Ed Abbey said...

As a conservative (by your definition and mine) I have been labeled a commie and moonbat recently on a blog of one of your other readers and even banned from another.

I find it sad that politics has become so polarized and nasty. I read some of these blogs and the word brainwashed comes to mind but I continue to read them anyway to get a full perspective. A judge wouldn't sentence someone based solely on the prosecution's evidence and I think it very unpatriotic to make a political decision by only listening to like minded individuals or as you said, "a world made of me's."

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:21 AM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

01 24 06

Wow Richard: You have really been putting down some cool stuff lately. I agree with you here and have found myself using terms like communazi and moonbat and those are pejorative terms!However, I do like to dialog and hear other perspectives and think it is necessary, esp when living in a pluralistic society. The polarization along political lines is astounding and racial issues also come into play. When people close their mind to new ideas, everything is stagnant and there is no growth. To see what I mean, There is this article in Physics Today Magazine about how physics isn't producing geniouses on the order of Einstein and why. One reason was too narrow a focus and there you have it; we must broaden ourselves!!! And so I will stop rambling now. I sure do love reading your posts, even if I don't always comment. The truth is that sometimes, my comment would take too much space! :)

At 9:46 AM, Blogger The Red Queen said...

Richard, In the land of the Red Queen we are always interested in hearing about what others are passionate about. The Queen loves her Steelers but that does not allow true meaness on her part toward others who do not feel the same.

I enjoyed your post today and I see that excluding a superbowl game we have similar tastes and ideals. Thanks for stopping by.

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Miladysa said...

Through blogging I have been introduced to the politics of other nations from the perspective of the person rather than the media for the first time.

What has surprised me is how often a fellow blogger will define their person solely through the political party they support or the religion they practice.

I can support ideas (if they are good ones of course) no matter which political party proposes them or which religion they may come from. I am amazed how many people are unable to do this.

Excellent post and very thought provoking :)

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

A two-fer. I'm sure glad that I did not have to live through initiations - well, the kind you describe. I can't describe my kind but they were not as tedious as yours sound.

As for this post - I'm guilty on all counts. Judging from what I know of you (where you've lived etc) you have not yet been exposed to sophisticated urban "liberals." I call them commies and worse because of what I had to live with in San Fran for 25 years. Out here in the sticks they're different and I get on with them fine.

It's also different in the blogiverse (as you call it.) The blog "liberals" are just as sophisticated as the urban ones and sometimes even more so. And internet anonymity provides plenty of really deceitful and weaselly folk with a lot of armor. They're probably wimps in real life but anonymity gives them balls. And you have to develop a certain kind of street-smart savviness to deal with their manipulations and deceit - especially if they call themselves "independent" which basically means they like to keep changing the rules of the game - have their cake and eat it too.

But, having said that, I am also very unhappy with the raving religious right-wingnuts and I have attracted my fair share of them because of the "born again" part of my nick.

I put "liberal" in quotes for many reasons - mostly because most Americans are liberal in the classical sense. In fact most American conservatives really are true liberals. Those two words to me describe the middle. The loony right I call reactionaries (who are totally against any change.) The loony left call themselves progressive but I call them commies because, if you scratch them hard enough, you will find that they a mostly freedon-hating misanthropes.

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Patrick, I hope you know that I am not trying to convert YOU into changing your blog style. As I stated, I sometimes think that with as many good things to say as you have to say, you would be more effective without the perjoratives, but it's your blog. I just wanted people to understand why I approach things the way I do.

At 7:10 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

Beautiful. Absolutely brilliant. Funny, I wrote about the same things today. Sort of. I think you'll agree.

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

You're right, Richard. Unfortunately the clown part of me usually gets the better of the more serious side.

At 2:04 PM, Blogger Ranando said...

I must say, that was a great post.

At 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and I am just trying to teach Patrick that perjoratives can have unintended outcomes

Prof maybe you can lift the topic up a couple of rungs

At 6:41 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

3 Score & 10, I responded to your last comment in my blog. No hard feelings! I already knew where you were coming from, no surprises for me. I'm just happy to enjoy you - we don't have to always agree. ;o)

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Thotman said...

I think anyone who relishes good logic and clear thinking will appreciate your angle on things...too, I imagine that there are those who havent paid in more than they are taking out of social security...and if it be welfare, oh well, when it runs out, or 4 people are supporting one retiree and they revolt at that horrendous burden...we'll deal with it then...or will we?...I dont believe in your two definitions of liberal and conservative other than generally, most liberals I know havent said why not in their lives, other than to ask why not impeach Bush ...because they disagree with his politics...

Nice to know that you plan to read well into the future...its always nice to have good neighbors who make good conversation.

At 9:36 PM, Blogger sandy said...

I really enjoyed your "potato" post. Growing up in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, I've had some similar experiences. Hard work on the farms didn't do me harm and it probably would help the young kids today.

Thanks for dropping by my blog.

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Gayle said...

I am guilty as well of some perjoratives such as "moonbat", but it's because I honestly do feel that way about most liberals. I didn't when I first began blogging, but they came in with so many insults and degrading comments I finally felt I had to go into defensive mode. I have banned people from commenting on my blogs who cannot express their point of view without being horribly insulting. And I will ban anyone without any regret whatsoever who disparages our troops!

I really think this is an excellent post, and now you will have to admit you are wrong when you say "as if you even cared." As you can see by the many wonderful comments here, many people, including myself, truly do care! So there! :)

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Ranando said...

Galye writes, "And I will ban anyone without any regret whatsoever who disparages our troops!"

When you go to Gayle's blog and ask her a question like, "Does that mean all soldiers or just Republican Soldiers?"

Deos that include, "Murtha, Kerry?"

WOW, your banned ASAP, questions like this are not allowed on many blogs over on her side of the World.

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Ranando,If you want to argue with Gayle, take it elsewhere (to Gayles, if possible, if not, on your own blog), I have enough problems of my own and I don't want to bother with commentary that doesn't relate to my original post.

At 10:43 PM, Blogger Zorro said...

3Score, that post was brilliant reflection of the type of conservatism that we need. Ironically in Australia we call conservatives liberals and the major conservative party is called the Liberal Party.


At 10:46 AM, Blogger Jenn said...

I don't want to get into politics on my blog, but I really enjoy reading what other people are saying.

It is refreshing to find a lot of blogs that put thought and logic into their position and take time to listen to other people instead of just name calling.

At 9:46 AM, Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I thought I'd stop by to offer a firm handhshake of mutual respect born from agreeing to disagree and the fact you're an actor.


At 10:39 AM, Blogger Dumb Plumber said...

Richard, Thanks for the comments on Dumbplumber. I hope you understand--as many haven't-- that I am not opposed to Medicare, Medicade, Medical, etc. What I am trying to point out is that there is not just abuse, but prolific abuse of these (and other) entitlement programs, which left unchecked, will probably end in anarchy.

My wifey, Dustbunny, reset Dumbplumber on Blogspot, so that we would get feedback. I, on the otherhand, don't care if I get feedback or not. These are my observations and resultant opinions, meant more for venting steam than eliciting reaction.

Thank you for your comments, as I was a 'D' student in English and just hated composition. The Dumbplumber


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