Is the Tea Party Real?

Is the Tea Party Real? The reason that I ask this question is because I was doing research on the Web to get a better understanding of who and what the Tea Party was and what it stands for and found things that seemed inconsistent. For one, according to a Gallup poll conducted on April 5, 2010, the “Tea Partiers Are Fairly Mainstream in Their Demographics.” This seemed odd to me because the rhetoric that I heard coming from those said by the media to be most associated with the Tea Party, namely Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul and Dick Armey, many times expressed that particular segments of the US population were the sources of our ills.


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Do liberal/conservative cities feel liberal/conservative?

If you live in a liberal city, how much do you feel the liberalism in the culture and in your day-to-day interactions? If you live in a conservative city, to what degree does your city feel conservative? And how much do you notice conservative political leanings in your fellow city dwellers? Read on and comment...



“Liberals” in Communist Countries

In American parlance, the word liberal generally carries a left-wing connotation. Liberals favor an philosophy which has some fairly familiar elements: a greater role for  government, lessened inequality, social “liberalism” etc. This contrasts with conservatism, which favors a lesser role for government, places more trust in the workings of the market, and believes in “family values.”

The most extreme element of liberalism is communism; in contrast, the most extreme element of conservatism is monarchy and fascism. Communism is an unabashedly left-wing philosophy, with its focus on uplifting the working class, commitment to enforcing social equality, deep distrust of capitalism, etc. This is something almost everybody agrees with.

It is interesting, however, to note that Communist leaders are almost never called “liberals” – despite a philosophy based upon an extreme form of liberalism. History books never bestow the description “liberal” on the most famous Communists, men such as Fidel Castro, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Vladimir Lenin, etc.

Instead, in relation to communist countries “liberals” are generally those who oppose the system. They are dissidents such as Andrey Sakarov. When Deng Xiaoping changed China’s economic system to follow a more market-oriented policy (i.e. to be more economically conservative), people say that he “liberalized” the system.

In these cases liberalism is not used in the sense of changing the system. After all, Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, and Vladimir Lenin all “liberalized” their countries in the sense that they brought massive change to the countries they governed. Yet when historians talk about these individuals that way, they say the men were “revolutionaries” rather than liberals.

Instead, the word liberalism here reflects an older, more fundamental philosophy: classical liberalism. The people who opposed communism constituted liberals not by following left-wing ideals (what is more left-wing than communism?) or by advocating change (so did Lenin, after all). Rather they espoused a belief in the Enlightenment philosophy of human rights and liberty, which the French Revolution turned into an enduring ideology. That is the form which “liberalism” – a word with many different, even contradictory meanings – usually takes when one refers to communism.




When is a Nazi Not a Nazi?

When is a Nazi not a Nazi? Apparently after you parse your words closely enough to find a lame loophole to avoid what you said. Like Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Stupidville), for example.

It’s distressingly easy to find Democrats calling Republicans Nazis and Republicans calling Democrats both Nazis and socialists (Damn, I wish they’d get that straight). As expected, the recent calls for civility in the national discourse lasted about as long as it takes to call someone a Nazi or socialist.

Well, DUH.

I’m a believer in the George Carlin School of linguistics – they’re only words. If you’re a politician and you can’t overcome your rage at being called a name – which in this case are perfectly acceptable definitions of political ideology – then you shouldn’t be in politics.

How did these particular, common words end up being so offensive?

Because people use them with meaning that aren’t there. Obama is not a socialist. In fact, for a lot of people he isn’t even liberal. The Boehner Boys aren’t Nazis either (for one thing Nazis were efficient and took pride in being called Nazis). BTW, there are other code words  twisted into new meanings. “Liberal” is one of the worst epithets in the conservative insult arsenal. Dems prefer “tea baggers” with almost equal vigor.

It’s a basic tenet of communications theory that if you say something long enough, it becomes “true”. And boy, howdy these get tossed around like candy at a pedophile parade.

They’re almost always created as lies, or at least gross exaggerations of the truth. The problem is that people soak them up and begin to give the words their own off-topic narratives to “prove” their label fits. It’s a good political ploy – distract the great unwashed with some kernels of improperly named ideas and then step back and watch things roll. It’s one hell of a lot easier than actually offering alternatives or explaining your position when in fact, there isn’t one…you (insert epithet here).

It’d be useful if politicians didn’t do that and really great if the plebes called them out on it. But, I reckon that’s about as likely as the recent goofy “solutions” for preventing lunatics from shooting at people actually working.

America’s problem isn’t civility – it’s a willful refusal to own what you say.

First everyone buy a dictionary. It’s an invaluable tool here – that is if you can read.

Second, own what you say. If you proclaim someone a socialist, make sure Karl Marks would’ve used the word in the same way. And all you faux Nazi accusers, tell me Hitler wouldn’t have cheered on the continuance of his 1000-year Reich as the best thing since sliced brot.

But above all, stop parsing words to prove you didn’t say what you so obviously did. It’s unbecoming, divisive, and stupid.

Mr. Carlin, sorry we didn’t get your punchline. We’re a slow-learning bunch.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

Why Obama Was Never the Most Liberal Senator in the United States

A common charge of Republicans during the 2008 presidential campaign was at Senator Barack Obama's perceived liberalism. Republicans often stated that Mr. Obama was the most liberal senator in the United States, according to a ranking by the National Journal. The attack against Mr. Obama's liberalism has continued during his time in office.

The ranking by the National Journal, however, seems to be flawed in several ways. Take the 2004 rankings, for instance. Guess who was ranked the most liberal Senator in 2004.

If you answered John Kerry, that's right. The exact same claim was made against Mr. Kerry in 2004, based upon the exact same ranking. And check out how highly their Vice Presidential picks ranked: Senator Joe Biden was ranked the 3rd most liberal senator when he ran for Vice President, and Senator John Edwards was ranked the 4th most liberal senator during his campaign for the spot.

The high ranking of Mr. Edwards is particularly hard to believe. John Edwards, after all, represented North Carolina - certainly not the most liberal of states. He was elected senator with a less-than-five percent margin. Indeed, in the year before 2003 Mr. Edwards was ranked the 31st most liberal senator.

In reality, Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry were far from the most liberal senators in the United States. The reason they were ranked so is due to the many votes they missed while campaigning for president.

And there are certainly senators who are far more liberal than either Mr. Obama or Mr. Kerry. Take Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Mr. Sanders is not just your typical liberal - he's actually a bona-fide socialist. Republicans often attack Mr. Obama as espousing socialism, attacks which the Obama administration usually responds are ridiculous. But Mr. Sanders actually is a socialist, and a proud one at that.

There are other quite liberal senators out there. It is hard to believe that either Mr. Obama was more liberal than Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, or Senator Barbara Boxer of California. Then there's recently defeated Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, the only senator to vote against the initial Patriot Act.

There are about a dozen other Democratic senators who also were probably more liberal than Mr. Obama. Some of these are the people who hold the levers of power in the Democratic Party, like Senator Charles Schumer of New York or Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. Others are lesser-known senators who come from very liberal states, like Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island or Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii.

This is not to say that Mr. Obama was a liberal senator. He was, as a liberal-minded man representing a liberal-minded state. But to believe the conservative claim that Mr. Obama was the most liberal senator would be to believe that he was more to the left than an actual socialist. And, despite what some conservatives might believe, Mr. Obama certainly hasn't imposed socialism upon the United States





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