Competing Definitions of Freedom

I'm "for" freedom. I'm sure you're "for" freedom. We know George W. Bush is "for" freedom. So are the freepers. Geez, Al Qaeda is probably "for" freedom, or at least they would say they are. I don't really think there are many people in the world who aren't "for" freedom and they're even fewer who "hate freedom." But what KIND of freedom are we talking about? Freedom undefined becomes a meaningless talking point. And this, ultimately, I think gets to the bottom of our trouble as liberals as coming up with a "bumper sticker" definition of our positions - while conservatives generally understand what they mean when they say they are "for" freedom, liberals do much less. When liberals better understand what it exactly they endorse when they say they are "for" freedom, the "elevator pitch" will come much easier.

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On Pragmatism, and Why Ideas Matter

I know some of my views are "minority" views in this country - or at least as is defined by MSM framing. As such, I recognize that I cannot - in the near future - expect a major political party to adopt my views wholeheartedly on, say, Hugo Chavez's legitimacy (don't mess with a democratically elected leader), drug legalization (yes), the abolition of the death penalty (yes), or gay marriage (yes). Thus, I allow candidates I support a fair degree of lee-way - a FAIR DEGREE, mind you. What does this mean, however? I suppose it means that I want you to be someone who fundamentally believes in the inherent improvability of humans through societal reform.

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Liberal Foreign Policy, Continued

To continue on from my below essay. Again, what I am doing is a philosophical exercise, not necessarily a recipe for what the Democratic Party or any other political organization who purports to be a vehicle for liberalism should advocate. However, I think it is crucial for liberals and those sympathetic to liberal goals to understand, on a basic and philosophic level, what it is they believe and why they believe it. Only then can one begin to win arguments. It is my belief that coservatives are so rhetorically effective - or at least more rhetorically effective than liberals, in the main - because even their "basest" of talking heads has more of an idea why they are arguing what they arguing than liberals do. Thus, discussions such as these help to clarify our thinking, so that even if we aren't politicians or "talking heads," we can win day to day arguments - because ultimately, it is day to day arguments that win the political debate. It is my belief that IDEAS MATTER, at EVERY LEVEL of political debate.

Anyway, on to the issue at hand. Why do I think that liberalism sits uncomfortably with hawkery?

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Still Have Doubts About Contemporary Conservatives?

Back in November and December, I wrote extensively about how conservatism should be viewed as our main obstacle and enemy. I also claimed that the South was so conservative that it would be nearly impossible for any non-conservative Democratic Presidential nominee to win there (except in MO, VA and FL) anytime soon. Some people didn't like these conclusions. This post is for those people.

One Alabama conservative:

After the ruling, Moore said he was not surprised by the decision and that he was being removed from office because he "acknowledged God."

Moore read comments by Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor in 1997 that defended his display of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom when he was a state circuit court judge.

Pryor filed the ethics charges after Moore refused to remove the monument.

"God has chosen this time and this place so we can save our country and save our courts for our children," Moore said.

Another Alabama conservative: Enter Alabama's Republican Gov. Bob Riley, a staunchly conservative former congressman of the Newt Gingrich school who hosts Bible classes at the state Capitol in Montgomery. Confronted with a $675 million budget deficit, Riley revolted. Cutting that deeply, he feared, would trigger a "catastrophic failure of government" in a state already in the national cellar of per-capita spending for education and other basic services.

But Riley went a lot further than suggesting tax hikes to cover the deficit. He recommended a massive "tax and accountability" plan increasing taxes by $1.2 billion over five years, eight times the largest increase ever before enacted in Alabama. Many of the new funds would be targeted to habitually underfunded and underperforming public schools, accompanied by measures to thin out incompetent teachers and better prepare Alabama residents for a competitive 21st-century economy.

But in the process Riley proposed giving the poor a huge break -- no income taxes at all below $20,000 in income.

"I've spent a lot of time reading the New Testament," said Riley, "and it has three philosophies: Love God, love each other, and take care of the least among you. It is immoral to charge somebody making $5,000 a year an income tax."

Under Riley's proposal, just the top third of income earners, plus corporations and large farm and timber operations, would pay more taxes. The state's lowest-in-the-nation property taxes would rise moderately. Alabama would rise from 50th to 44th in total state and local per-capita taxes.

Now, guess which one conservatives in Alabama prefer? MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- A new poll shows Roy Moore with a lead over Gov. Bob Riley in the race for the 2006 Republican gubernatorial nomination, a potential boost for the former chief justice should he decide to run for the office.

A Mobile Register-University of South Alabama poll of likely Republican primary voters shows Moore with a lead of 8 percentage points over Riley in a hypothetical primary matchup. Moore drew support from 43 percent of respondents, while the governor garnered 35 percent.

The statewide survey, published Sunday and conducted last Monday through Thursday, included responses from 400 adults who identified themselves as likely voters in the GOP primary. The results are supposed to be accurate to within plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Ousted from the Alabama Supreme Court over his refusal to follow a federal judge's order to remove a Ten Commandments office from the court building, Moore has been traveling the country speaking to conservative organizations and religious groups.

The poll found that Moore had a favorable rating of 72 percent -- a number University of Alabama political scientist William Stewart described as potentially "intimidating to the governor."

Yeah. There is a real good chance "modern" conservatives will vote Democratic.

Is "Liberal Hawkery" Oxymoronic?

I write this as a means of cutting through much of the muck that passes itself of as a "blueprint for a liberal foreign policy" by the likes of Peter Beinert, Thomas Friedman, and co, whose dunderheadedness clearly shows little understanding of what liberalism is and has been, philosophically. If I hear another person say that Bush is a foreign policy liberal or that Blair is "Gladstonian," I will scream, because neither are either, not by a long shot. Here's why. UPDATE: To clarify: 1) The function of this essay is largely polemic and is to some extent written as a devil's advocate to suggest: 2) Why people in the world don't like the US. You want to know why? Its the rank hypocrisy. Our foreign policy is, and has, ALWAYS BEEN first and foremost about our own national interest. As perhaps it should be. It is NOT liberal: it is only been so incidentally. Not to say that US foreign policy hasn't done good things, because it has. But it has done a lot of destruction also. But the fundamental point is that what this country professes it is doing for public consumption is not what it is really doing, and pretty much everybody in the world sees this - this is the centerpiece of my essay, and it is what I would most like to trigger discussion. 3) The foreign policy I outline is what, to my mind, would be a PHILOSOPHICALLY LIBERAL foreign policy. Disagree - indeed I welcome disagreement. but bring understand that my point is philosophical, not "realistic." 4) To people who say "oh, the nation-state is fading as an institution." Well, this is probably true, but it hasn't yet. Do you think that the US still has a right to its own internal politics, even if they be illiberal, without, say, Spain interfering because they don't like the death penalty? The nation-state may be in decline, but it is still the centerpiece of the international system.

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