Sunday, May 31, 2009

Department Of Fear

T'was last week when the big O stated that after 9/11 certain decisions were made in fear rather than in foresight. He said this with the usual implications that his administration is far more intelligent, nuanced, and in general more sober and cooly collected than those knuckle-draggers in the previous administration. All too predictable but it set me to thinking about how the word and concept "fear" is in such bad odor these days.

FDR averred, in what is arguably his most famous quote "All we have to fear, is fear itself". I have always thought this was a statement of truly breathtaking puerility. It is the null set, without meaning, and just plain stupid for there is one heck of lot out there in the world to which a response of fear is entirely warranted. Lately though progressives, and even some conservatives (although to a far lesser extent), have rendered "fear" into one of those inchoate pejoratives that are used to bash an opposing opinion. Any expression of serious concern, about any subject, is portrayed as "fear-mongering" as if fear is somehow now an emotion unworthy of serious intelligent people, such as themselves of course.

The "fear" in FDR's case was the public unease over seemingly intractable decline of economic activity in the country despite, or because of, Franklin's alphabet-soup programmatic ministrations. This is not entirely an unwarranted view since economies can easily be severely affected by the investing public's emotional state which can make a small market downturn into a panicked selling spree that perversely achieves what an ordinary small downturn may well not have portended. The Big O, and countless others, have extended this metaphoric chestnut to include, well, just about everything else.

There was, after 9/11, and there still is to put it very mildly, a great whacking lot of things about which extreme concern, or fear if you will, was entirely appropriate. A rundown is not necessary but to aver that we should not have then and should not now be "afraid" of, say, Islamist fanaticism is to engage in willful ignorance and/or over reliance on multi-culty feely-goody we-are-the-world modern progressive pieties.

Just as there was plenty to fear from the Third Reich and Japanese Empire in 1942 there is plenty to fear about today's irrational nuclear bomb toting thugocrats in North Korea and Iran not to mention a grubby parade of both state and non-state actors who threaten peace and freedom around the globe. Now naturally it is possible to overreact to such threats but to say that fear of them is an illegitimate basis for policy is childish political posturing.

It is waggishly said that the modern progressive's idea of an enemy is someone to which we have not yet sufficiently apologized. In other words there is no hatred of the U.S. which cannot be ameliorated by official mea culpas of sufficient intensity and finesse. This seems to be one of the defining attributes of what is called "soft power" these days. Since this implies a nearly complete eschewing of what used to the epitome of "hard" power, the threat of the employment of the U.S military Big Stick, it is sure to turn out that soft power is only a Planck length away from no power at all. Soft power may thrill the European Union but will only receive sneering laughter from the likes of Ahmedinejad and Kim Jung Il. It will also signal further cultural weakness deserving of renewed vigor from the likes of Al Queda and Hamas.

I can just imagine the response of the hip, evolved, nuanced O-Team to the events of 9/11-----

After the obligatory wringing of hands the administration leaped into action by seating a "Blue-Ribbon" commission, composed of experts across the political spectrum from hard left to slightly left of center, to study the causes of the attack. After three years of cogitation a report was issued which recommended the immediate deployment of a task force with two main objectives.

First our Military Airlift Command was to be used to fly in several battalions of diplomats and PTSD therapists to the relevant Middle-Eastern precincts. The job of the diplomats was to locate and personally apologize to the relatives of the brave pilots of the aircraft who were driven to such unsavory extremes by the long history of U.S. policies that have oppressed Arab peoples and given support to the reviled Zionist Entity.

Brigades of PTSD experts attempted to help the relatives "process" their feelings of grief and shock over the unfortunate loss of their loved ones by using the full armamentarium of modern psychotherapy. Free personal and group sessions for a period of at least twenty years were offered by the U.S. government in atonement for its manifest crimes against the Umma.

The second objective of the task force was to transport, with full logistical support, several thousand specially trained legal experts to help distraught relatives file class-action suits against Boeing Corp. for being criminally negligent in building commercial airliners which would unaccountably burst into massive fireballs when inadvertently flown into skyscrapers. Settlement of the suits resulted in the establishment of a Fund Of National Apology which was financed by a ten million dollar tax per aircraft built by Boeing, and of course all other aircraft firms whose products failed the crucial safety test of being able to impact large buildings at 400 knots with no loss of life.

This fund, eventually totaling 500 billion dollars, is now responsible for a full .0001% of Saudi Arabia's GNP. Terrorism is now effectively managed and minimized by the requirement than any terrorist wishing harm to U.S. interests, and to achieve subsequent qualification for FONA disbursements, must be thoroughly vetted by the departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Openness before permission is granted to target selected right-wing hate groups. Targeting of other than approved extremist conservative organizations will result in automatic disqualification from the program.

The Middle-East loves America now.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Red Meanies

Just read Krugman's Monday NYT editorial wherein he laments the parlous state of California's huge budget deficit and finds that the main villains in the state's massive budget deficit emergency are, surprise surprise, Republicans. Presented as damning evidence of this turpitude is the passage of Prop 13 three decades ago that restricted and capped tax rates which of course is seen as the lovechild of stingy heartless conservatives. Nowhere to be found in this perfervid condemnation is any mention of the Democratically controlled legislature's grandiloquent spending proclivities. Apparently in the progressive weltanshauung the only responsibility that conservatives, and the public, have is to move whatever mountains necessary to fund whatever spending initiatives that happen to bemuse the political class at any given time. Any unwillingness to increase tax rates, and to tax whatever the heck will stand still for it, to pay for whatever the lege has decreed can only be seen as gross fiscal dereliction.

Of course when any new monies are spent by government, new programs instituted or new agencies created funding is of course needed. When this funding is spent the effect is, always, to create not merely an agency or program but a constituency of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of persons whose lives, livelihoods, and votes become an automatic self-interested brake on efforts to dis-establish or reduce funding for those programs. This is precisely why new programs and initiatives should be subjected to extremely rigorous cost/benefit analysis studies because once a program is funded and becomes entrenched in the overall bureaucratic scheme of things the chances of getting it defunded, even in the plain face of abject failure, are microscopic.

Progressive legislatures seem to have no awareness whatever of the law of unintended consequences that mitigates so heavily against grandiose spending plans with the goal of social engineering (or these days actual mechanical engineering) of one kind or another. So naturally the embedded constituency consequence is of no more concern than any other. Naturally when the budget crunch comes and cuts loom these constituencies scream murder most foul as well they might when so many lives have been rearranged in response to the initial funding effort. That this problem might be mitigated on the front end never ever ever intrudes on the thought processes the progressive social engineer.

Additionally in the past couple of decades a disheartening percentage of those of putative conservative bent have been convinced to go along with these plans. In the conservatives' case this is at least partly due to the unwillingness of some to be inevitably painted by editorialists, pundits, and the mainstream media as grumpy skinflints who do not "care" about whatever problem a given legislative initiative is purported to address.

Progressives seem to think that "caring" about a problem, or the people troubled by it, is the sole arbiter of worthiness for any programmatic response. Caring trumps everything so consequently anyone grumping about the expense just doesn't care about the supposedly terrible problem. Further anyone with the temerity to care about a program's cost is painted as engaging in "War" whose forms include the War on the Middle Class, the War on Women, the War on the Poor, the War on Unions, etc. ad nauseum.

Everyone of any given political bent questions and occasionally ridicules the principles of its opposition but frequently it seems that progressives don't really think conservatives have principles but only a kind of organized meanness, a reflexive disdain for the tribulations of anyone but their rich patrons, and a inchoate hatred of any person of color. Consequently any resistance based on fiscal sanity can be conveniently ascribed to one or all of the above odious proclivities. The fever swamps of the right attempt to use the same rhetorical tactics but clearly have been far less successful in legislative terms than the equally fevered swamp denizens of the left. If this were not the case then state and federal budgets would fractions of their current bloated sizes.

So in effect any attempts at fiscal sanity by conservatives are tarred as gross moral malfeasance by progressives instead of anything as noble as principled opposition. How, they think, can opposition to increased taxes on the rich be seen as anything but haughty disdain of those who aren't? Well of course it can be seen as principled but one has to navigate away from the aforementioned swamps to the rather more erudite, and I hate to say it, nuanced, regions of the polisphere such as National Review, The Claremont Institute, and Commentary Magazine. In such places you will find reasoned analysis, appropriate historical context, and little or none of the ad-hoc name-calling and profanity laced frothings of both far left and right. As a not inconsiderable bonus you will also find good writing.

Look up and read these guys: Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, Thomas Sowell, Rich Lowry, Mark Steyn, John Derbyshire, Norman Podhoretz, Amir Taheri, Peggy Noonan, Heather MacDonald, Christopher Hitchens, Victor Davis Hanson, Hirsi Ali, Ramesh Ponnuru, Larry Kudlow, George Will, Kenneth Minogue, David Pryce-Jones, Arnold Kling, and last but hardly least, William F. Buckley, the only posthumous inclusion in this list which is woefully incomplete but as good a starting point as any. Principles in abundance, intelligently explicated and stoutly defended you will find and free of profanity and grubby name-calling. Enjoy, and learn.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hey You

Yeah you--youse guys who are so terribly concerned that we must at all costs avoid any man-made climate change. Are you serious? By that I do not mean "are you kidding?" but rather are you actually personally doing anything to advance this grand overarching agenda? Have you junked (not traded in) your old gas guzzler and bought the smallest most fuel efficient vehicle sold in this country? Do you bicycle at any and all possible opportunities to avoid using fuel? Have you quit driving across town to eat or see a movie or visit friends? Do you now forbear to drive/fly that 50/100/200/500 miles several times a year, to visit aunt Bessie or your parental units or your kid in college?

Have you moved out of your comfy 2500sq.ft. house and moved into a minimalist 400sq.ft. apartment in some hyper-efficient warren? Have you quit taking hot showers or using the oven or replaced everyone of your tungsten light bulbs with compact fluorescents or ceased your backyard grilling? Are you faithfully recycling every last scrap of anything remotely reusable? Do you check the box that ensures you will be provided only "green" or "renewable" electrical power at a substantial increase over what is charged for normal? If that is not available have you lobbied incessantly for access to this renewable goodness? Have you given up your cell phone, Ipod, computer, flat screen tv and turned your summertime thermostat up to 80 degrees?

Have you cut all saturated fats, sugar, simple carbohydrates, food preservatives, animal protein and dairy out of your diet? Do you only eat organic locally grown produce? Do you eschew all plastic bags at the grocery, or any other, store? Do you always compost all your organic waste?

Have you chosen not to do all, or a large percentage, of these things? Have you not made these choices because they almost all diminish your preferred quality of life? Do you think that all these things are good ideas but since not everyone will choose to do them are you hoping that a flood of governmental fiat will force everyone to act thusly and relieve you of any personal responsibility?

Is the threat of climate change not severe enough for you to do all these thing on your own in a gesture of planetary goodwill? If you have in fact done all those things are you resentful of those who have not and approve of sundry coercions to force them to do likewise? Do you approve of this coercion, of even yourself, in the name of climate change? Is not the dreaded specter of climate change enough for you to take all the aforementioned actions without being forced to do so? If not then why should governmental coercion be used to force actions upon others which you yourself will not contemplate without said coercion? Have you given any thought to what all this coercion might do to the commercial and cultural/intellectual fabric of society?

Do you acknowledge the concept of a cost/benefit ratio or do you hold that no price is too high and no coercion too severe to avoid deleterious climate change? How much of your income are you prepared to devote to the service of this campaign? Ten percent? Twenty? Fifty? Eighty? Do you think that, since you do not consider yourself so, that only the "rich" should have to pay for all of this? Do you think that there are enough rich people available to be converted into the un-rich in pursuit of climate change goals? Do you think that big increases in the tax rates on the well-to-do are not only necessary but vital for "economic justice"? Do you think that removing trillions of dollars from the private commercial sector and injecting them into the public sector will have only salutary effects on the world's economies?

Do you ever think about any of this at all or are you simply content to pull a lever in the voting booth and hope that your "betters" will "do the right thing"? Have you done any substantial personal independent research into any of these complex issues or are you content with environmental pressure groups, progressive politicians, public broadcasting, and vociferous celebrities doing all the heavy intellectual lifting?

Finally is the very concept of personal responsibility sinking into the quicksand of the all-encompassing embrace of the ever more intrusive national state? Probably. Wave bye-bye the truculence and chaos of unaffordable personal freedom and say hello and yum-yum to the socially nutritious nipple of the wet-nurse future. Ah but it'll be worth it. Won't it?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Schwarz Wie Ich

It is perhaps the most poignant irony of our curious and allegedly post-racial age. The election of our new chief executive understandably elicited panegyric joy in many quarters because of the historically tangled and oppressively sordid treatment of those of kindred skin color and cultural mien. All well and good and it seems to me that the country has been "ready" for a black president for a couple of decades but it has taken time for a personage of sufficient personal and rhetorical suitability to plow his/her way up through the tangle of local, state, and national politics to be in position to take advantage of this putative readiness.

Part one of our irony is of mild interest because Obama hails from the burgeoning black middle class and not the poorer underclass which although seemingly powerless nevertheless drives much of the cultural conversation these days. This should hardly be surprising. Few if any previous presidents sprang abruptly onto the national stage without either having relatively patrician roots ala FDR and Thomas Jefferson or having clawed their their way up the political ladder like Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman. So just as we are completely unlikely to elect a president who looks and sounds like Larry the Cable Guy we are equally unlikely to elect someone who looks and sounds like 50 Cent. No disrespect to either fellow but showbiz operates under vastly different rules than polbiz.

Any presidential candidate must be minimally presentable and articulate or he/she will not have the remotest chance of attracting a majority vote. This is a simple and uncontroversial statement of fact and to think otherwise is extremely foolish. Obama is considerably more than minimally presentable and articulate which led some grumps to kvetch that he was not authentically black enough, whatever the blistering devil that's supposed to mean. A patently absurd, not to mention grossly insulting, slur and in the end had no effect whatsoever thank goodness.

Irony part deux rears its head when attempting to puzzle out one of the central contradictions of our increasingly muddled cultural milieu. To wit: Countless billions of dollars and over a hundred fifty years of educational effort have been expended in the broad, overarching, and thoroughly reasonable project of convincing the white majority population that the not-white minority population is as worthy of respect and freedom from discrimination as anyone. It's been a long hard road to be sure but in large part that mission has been amply accomplished. Having just elected the first minority president should devalue most complaints that this mission has manifestly not been accomplished but of course that is too much for which to hope. Most amusing of all, and heart of the irony, is that after the herculean cultural labor of convincing everyone that blacks are not only just as good as anyone else, and in essence no different from anyone else, big chunks of the electorate have been convulsed with triumphalist satisfaction over the historic election of--someone just as good and no different from the rest of us.

I do not doubt that a goodly number of folks think minorities are in some way more deserving of the reins of power because of having, as a resourceful and determined subculture, found many ways to ultimately triumph over an oppressive historicity. Many think that the long struggle has perforce imbued minorities with a manifest elan vital, a more elemental self awareness, and a deeper attachment to the core of our humanity. Perhaps this is all true and perhaps Obama has benefited to some degree from these imbedded, if rather inchoate, tropes but that residue of perhaps guilt driven goodwill can not, and more importantly should not, last very far into his term of office.

For now is the time to president of all the people all of the time. He must be the leader of the United States of America, the Big Dog with the Big Stick, the stern defender of liberty and law in a chaotic world much of which will have little truck with either, and proprietor in chief of the world's most important economy. That residue of goodwill due to an oppressive history may grease the skids a bit in this country but will have close to zero resonance in the larger world. Obama is gravely misguided if he thinks that the rest of the world ultimately takes cognizance of any fact but that he is the President of the United States of America. Others will tolerate, love, or despise the country for their own reasons and will be entirely unimpressed by his historic ascension and even less by his soothing inclusionist Euro-centric we-are-the-world I'm way cooler, smarter, and nicer than Bush overseas stump rhetoric. All the toothy sharks in the world tank will not be much mollified by throwing Happy Meals in the water.

No soaring rhetoric, Obama's included, is sufficient to make the world universally love us much less universally cooperate with us. It is to be hoped that he realizes that even if the grasp of it rankles or even horrifies that the awesome Big Stick he holds must be seen as ready to be wielded as a backup for the blundering ineffectualities of the U.N. and much of the world's despots' sneering disregard of diplomacy however honeyed the language. So he should chill with the international mea culpas to start with and concentrate less on dancing with the progressives who brung him and more on being a firm responsible no-nonsense clear-eyed leader of the world's most powerful, richest, and yes despite all wailing to the contrary, nicest country.

Also it's the most desirable place to live as conclusively witnessed by the fact that we have a serious immigration problem and a non-existent emigration problem. In 2006 155,000 citizens emigrated from Germany, 200,000 from Britain, and 50,000 from Sweden. U.S-born citizens out-migrating that same year? Under 500-out of a population as large as all three of those countries combined. Unsurprisingly a large percentage of those Euro-emigrants headed here. If Obama is so enthralled by what Europeans think then perhaps he should restrain his impulses to recreate the U.S. in the image of what so many seem to be fleeing. Lastly I wonder if Obama has realized that however enlightened he considers Europe the odds of someone who, as he smugly quipped to a German audience, looks like him, getting elected as leader of any country there are exactly zero. Perhaps U.S. civil rights organizations, having slain most of the dragons here, should start overseas mission programs in Berlin, London, and Stockholm.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Numbers Racket

April car sales figures are in and are predictably dismal compared to '08 but there are some surprises.

Unsurprisingly the Big Three are down 30-40% but the shocker is Toyota down over 42%. Many small car makers are down more than this. Suzuki for instance is down a whopping 73.7% which is at the bottom and is a worse performance than even the reviled Hummer brand. Mitsubishi tanked at over 56% down but bottom-feeders Kia and Hyundai were in relative clover at only about 14% down. Mark ye well for further analysis--cheaper car brands in general lost less market share than more expensive ones. Not smaller just cheaper.

This absolutely and irrevocably proves the falsity of the proposition that Detroit is tanking because it does not make the small fuel efficient cars that "people want to buy". Utter rubbish. I actually yelled at the car radio the other day when an NPR reporter stated that Chrysler was in bankruptcy because they have had fewer small efficient cars for sale than many others. Tell that to Toyota and Suzuki. What the hell sort of self-inflicted blindness is it that makes journos so immune to the fact that a deep recession makes sales of big-ticket items like vehicles drop dramatically? This oft-repeated trope seems to be a version of what is called the Big Lie, that is something that upon even cursory examination can be shown to be entirely false but if it is repeated often enough most people will believe it.

It grows ever more tempting to succumb to the fevered allegations of a liberal media conspiracy but it is bloody hard to figure out what the devil this deliberately misleading reporting can possibly be expected to accomplish. If it isn't deliberate then it is merely complete stupidity but that's pretty hard to believe about NPR if not about mainstream media talking heads. NPR's credibility on this issue is now precisely zero and anything further they have to say on the subject will be automatically suspect.

Of course I have my suspicions about NPR motives but have had a difficult time believing they are that craven. Perhaps this is only because of 30 plus years of using them as an information touchstone and alternative to the NBC/CBS/ABC news hegemony of the 70s and 80s. Personalities such as Susan Stamberg would always give me the warm fuzzies even if I happened to personally know what they were saying was utter bilge and I was aware of little overt agenda advancement. Either I have become much more keenly aware of such tendencies or NPR/PBS have gotten far more unapologetically blatant than the were 20-30 years ago. Naturally I acknowledge the proposition, beloved by progressives who can't control it, that the internet can be a poison of the soul but the web is hardly the exclusive playground of conservatives-far from it. I don't credit talk radio because I listen to so little of it.

I am reluctantly forced to admit that the bulk of the broadcast evidence clearly demonstrates a progressive/liberal bias and NPR has now well and truly earned the snarky sobriquet of National Progressive Radio. Not so much because of what is said but because of what so often isn't which is any serious countervailing view. I am extremely nervous about stating such suspicions for fear of being lumped in with far more, er, lumpen conspiracists.

First of all the denizens of the publicly funded media are almost without exception reasonable sounding, sober, almost genteel folks who make a great show of bending over backwards to present more than one point of view. The nagging problem with this is that the opposing points of view usually range from very liberal to, at best, progressive-centrist. To wit: Every Friday E.J. Dionne and David Brooks are interviewed about events of the week. E.J of course is unapologetically progressive as befits an NYT true believer but the Grey Lady's tame house conservative Brooks is supposed to putatively represent his philosophical opposition.

They do in fact differ but this difference is equivalent to the gap between Nancy Pelosi and Joe Lieberman who are both Democrats, and generally progressively inclined, but one is rhetorically far to the left of the other. Only at NPR is David Brooks considered a serious conservative counter voice, a risible attitude in any remotely erudite conservative circles. Not that Brooks doesn't frequently have interesting things to say but it's just too bad, and emblematic of NPR, that this supposed diversity of opinion represents the distance from the middle of the sidewalk to the curb and falls far short of the rhetorical other side of the street. Considering the fact that NPR seems to swim gently in a warm comforting sea of Progressive pieties whilst incognizant of the world of contrarian air above perhaps we should be grateful for even this attempt at "diversity" of thought.

Getting back to my original subject the venality of the American auto industry seems without question to qualify as one of those given progressive tropes. This alleged venality has bloomed in the Progressive mind into a sordid combination of outright villainy and feckless incompetence because of Detroit's reluctance to fall on its sword to help advance the climate change agenda steamrollering through the progressive polity. Apparently the Big Three must be punished due to their roles as oppressors of the working man and heedless money-grubbing planetary assassins. They must meekly atone by designing the small fuel-efficient vehicles that "people want to buy" which is a course of action proven entirely without measurable result if the reported sales figures of all major automotive firms are to be believed.

In this case Bill Clinton's first campaign nailed it with the well remembered crack that "It's the economy stupid". A bad economy equals bad car sales--econ. 101. Unfortunately that course must not have been part of the core educational curriculum of journalism or political science majors. Or perhaps it was but is being ignored in a pursuit presumably more noble and holy than mere commercial trade, that of "saving" the planet. Rarely have such ambiguous ends justified such stupendously bone-headed and expensive means.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pillar To Ideological Post

Just watched author Chris Buckley on C-Span and was amused by his assertion that he, in response to a viewer question, considers himself in the oh so au courant and rarified ranks of the "post-ideological" and the "post-partisan". This presumably means that having had a patrician gut full of intractable conservative "ideology" he has moved on to a more "nuanced" position vis-a-vis his political zeitgeist. Christopher was on Book TV was to promote his latest tome 'Mum and Pup and Me', a love letter to pere and mere Buckley whom he greatly respects and admires despite their "flaws". The main flaw that fil Buckley seems to have inherited that he is entirely too eruditely full of himself (and I say this as a great lover of his pitch-perfect comic novels).

It has recently become the tactic of a few extremophobe conservative erudites to consider themselves as having epiphanically ascended from the grubby ranks of the God-fearin' country-lovin' illiberal foot-soldiery to the Olympian realms of the post-ideological pragmatist. Not for them the stubborn intransigence of sticking to long-held principles in the stark face of sweeping electoral rejection especially when the current Big Chair occupant is one that you'd be far more at ease having over for cocktails at the Bar Harbor Yacht Club than the alleged knuckle-dragger previously occupying said chair. Which is an irony of nuclear megatonage considering that the current chair sitter is a black Chicago ward-heeler and the previous sitter the holder of impeccable New England family credentials--but I digress.

This is a choice to which I have not the slightest objection but what I wonder is how this can any any fashion whatever not be an "idea". That is to say how is this non-ideological and how for that matter can having any strong opinion on any facet of politics, economics, or culture not be considered "ideological"? If you have an idea of how things should work then you have an ideology--period. You may dislike other ideologies but to claim that you have none is puerile sophistry at best and intellectual preening at worst.

I am not aware of any injunction that the inhabitants of any particular segment of the poli-sphere be best buddies. Ol' Bill B. his own self loathed such as Strom Thurmond and George Wallace but even he would never have characterized either as liberal or heaven forfend, progressive. Which only proves that the conservative "big tent" is a lot roomier than is haughtily averred by liberals/progressives. If Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Lieberman, Jesse Jackson, and even, urk, Janeane Garafolo can be considered to noisily occupy one tent then why may not another shelter William Buckley, Mark Steyn, Fred Thompson, Alan Keyes, Ron Paul and, urkier, Pat Buchanan?

Obviously it can and does and there may even be a few uncomfortable points of overlap. It's a perilous no-man's land in between the tents however and to attempt to occupy this political Alsace-Lorraine is trying, as I should know, at the best of times. It is true that my philosophical cotangency with progressives is far far slimmer than conservatives but as I've stated before I like to think that I've stood relatively still while the progressive tent has pseudopoded off in directions little to my liking while contrary to the wailings of many the conservative tent population distribution stands about where it has for many decades. The primary difference between now and say the 1950s is that due to our overwhelming information culture we hear a whole lot more about everything and that of course includes the fever swamps of the political landscape. So they tend to loom larger psychologically even if these swamps command the allegiance of no greater a percentage of the population than they ever did.

To this observer there seems to be more introspection and self-criticism inside the conservative tent as time goes on and less in the progressive/liberal tent. The C-tent may even be more "inclusive". One can consider himself a conservative and yet be off-put by conspiratical Paulists and completely revolted by hard-core Creationists. It is far more difficult to abide in the Prog/lib tent if one is for school choice, or anti-abortion, or queasy about same-sex marriage, or indeed to exhibit a similarly contrarian range of opinion that would not result in apostasy from conservative ranks. All that centrist grumping aside there is nothing whatever about any political position that is not manifestly ideological.

So declaiming oneself to have matured past ideology, and its meritricious handmaiden partisanship, is nothing more than using the terms as pure pejoratives divorced from any real meaning. Thus we see/hear that ideological=bad, partisan=bad, fascist=bad, reactionary=bad etc. This is what might be characterized as the Stewart/Olbermann/Maddow school of political analysis which is gaining currency at the same rate it is sinking out of sight of epistemological coherency.

Every one of every stripe, Commie, southern conservative, country-club Republican, fascist, socialist, Creationist, tree-hugger, Reparationist, Know-Nothing, feminist, deconstructionist, liberal, progressive, etc. etc. etc. is a flippin' ideologue. If you don't have ideas you're, well, dead, and have nothing further about which to trouble yourself. Even if you are a squish and have a metaphorical foot in several camps that constitutes an idea does it not? Which leads to the ultimate pejorative use of the word which is that if you are disinclined to change your position to sway reed-like in the political flow then you are an "Ideologue", i.e a bad person.

My bad.