Conservative and Libertarian Misconceptions of Liberal Viewpoints

I’ve quoted Will Wilkinson in several posts recently. We share some views in common and disagree in other areas. I generally tend to prefer this type of post as there is little point in liberal blogs which only quote liberals, conservatives only quoting conservatives, and libertarians only quoting libertarians.

In my case it is easier to find conservatives and libertarians to quote on some topics as there are areas where my views don’t always coincide with the consensus of the liberal blogosphere. I’ve also quoted Mathew Yglesias many times, both agreeing and disagreeing with him from time to time.

One of the topics I have frequently quoted Will Wilkinson on is his interest in liberal/libertarian fusionism. In general there are areas of overlap between the two on civil liberties issues, social issues (excluding the many libertarians who are far more conservative than libertarian), and the war. Wilkinson has supported more communication between liberals and libertarians because of these areas of agreement.

There is less disagreement in economic matters, although Wilkinson frequently does point out that some liberals are more market-friendly than others. Some of this disagreement is based upon true policy issues, but there does remain the problem of non-liberals having many misconceptions about liberal beliefs, often believing the stereotypes coming from the right wing noise machine.

All of this leads to this post by Mathew Yglesias which shows how many of the differences are based upon misconceptions about what liberals believe. He begins by saying, “Someone emailed me this Will Wilkinson post which I find interesting because his description of what progressives think about the economy has basically zero points of contact with what I think about the economy.”

Will Wilkinson pays far more attention to what liberals are saying than most conservatives and libertarians. If his writing prompts this comment of “zero points of contact with what I think” imagine how little relationship there is between the average conservative or libertarian blog post and liberal thought. Some conservatives and libertarians waste a tremendous amount of space for posts which amount to nothing more than straw men attacks, attacking beliefs which sound far more like those of the villains of Ayn Rand novels than any one’s actual beliefs.

The Economist Calls For Ending Drug War (Again)

The Economist calls for an end to the drug war:

Next week ministers from around the world gather in Vienna to set international drug policy for the next decade. Like first-world-war generals, many will claim that all that is needed is more of the same. In fact the war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world. By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless. That is why The Economist continues to believe that the least bad policy is to legalise drugs.

“Least bad” does not mean good. Legalisation, though clearly better for producer countries, would bring (different) risks to consumer countries. As we outline below, many vulnerable drug-takers would suffer. But in our view, more would gain.

The article proceeds to discuss the problems caused by the drug war, including increased crime and violence:

Indeed, far from reducing crime, prohibition has fostered gangsterism on a scale that the world has never seen before. According to the UN’s perhaps inflated estimate, the illegal drug industry is worth some $320 billion a year. In the West it makes criminals of otherwise law-abiding citizens (the current American president could easily have ended up in prison for his youthful experiments with “blow”). It also makes drugs more dangerous: addicts buy heavily adulterated cocaine and heroin; many use dirty needles to inject themselves, spreading HIV; the wretches who succumb to “crack” or “meth” are outside the law, with only their pushers to “treat” them. But it is countries in the emerging world that pay most of the price. Even a relatively developed democracy such as Mexico now finds itself in a life-or-death struggle against gangsters. American officials, including a former drug tsar, have publicly worried about having a “narco state” as their neighbour.

The failure of the drug war has led a few of its braver generals, especially from Europe and Latin America, to suggest shifting the focus from locking up people to public health and “harm reduction” (such as encouraging addicts to use clean needles). This approach would put more emphasis on public education and the treatment of addicts, and less on the harassment of peasants who grow coca and the punishment of consumers of “soft” drugs for personal use. That would be a step in the right direction. But it is unlikely to be adequately funded, and it does nothing to take organised crime out of the picture.

Legalisation would not only drive away the gangsters; it would transform drugs from a law-and-order problem into a public-health problem, which is how they ought to be treated. Governments would tax and regulate the drug trade, and use the funds raised (and the billions saved on law-enforcement) to educate the public about the risks of drug-taking and to treat addiction. The sale of drugs to minors should remain banned. Different drugs would command different levels of taxation and regulation. This system would be fiddly and imperfect, requiring constant monitoring and hard-to-measure trade-offs. Post-tax prices should be set at a level that would strike a balance between damping down use on the one hand, and discouraging a black market and the desperate acts of theft and prostitution to which addicts now resort to feed their habits.

This is not a radical change in position for The Economist. Actually it is not a change in position at all. They wrote about the problems with prohibition twenty years ago. Events over the past twenty years have shown that they were correct.

While many aspects of Obama’s policies will be an improvement over those of the Bush administration, as Andrew Sullivan points out, Obama still makes the mistake of sticking to a law enforcement approach to the drug problem.

Right Wing News Should Boost Traffic With Nude Obama and Palin Pics


It is always amusing to see what types of search words bring in people from search engines. Obviously there are always lots of mundane searches such as Obama’s position on Medicare Advantage plans, but it is the non-political searches which are most amusing to read. Via Memeorandum I see that Right Wing News should do very well in the search engines after some of their recent posts.

The internet is often described as the world’s greatest repository of porn, and even tamer material dealing with women, sex, or nudity brings in plenty of attention. Paris Hilton is always popular and there is a huge surge in searches for pictures of Tim Tebow’s girlfriend whenever he is playing in big games. (Come to think of it, huge and big often play a part in that search). Britney Spears’ appearance on Will and Grace led to searches for poodle balling which still continue. There was a brief burst in searches for this nude picture of Jenna Elfman last week.Years after their appearance on Survivor, Heidi and Jenna remain popular searches.

The searches terms become even more amusing when they are not for items actually on the blog. Google and the other search engines often provide hits based upon words in close proximity. Due to having Buck Naked Politics in the blog roll and/or sometimes even using the word naked in a post, there are frequent hits for a wide variety of people naked. There are a tremendous number of hits for Emma Watson Naked. The actual post mentions Emma Watson but has a picture of Scarlett Johansson.

While for some reason I seem to get more hits for Emma Watson Naked than anyone else (with a bit of interest after she discussed posing nude) anybody can be part of such a search. During the primary campaign there was a tremendous number of searches leading here for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton naked. There were no nude pictures of either, but plenty of posts on both. In Hillary Clinton’s case this did include the famous cleavage controversy. This picture of Natalie Portman next to Hillary Clinton also received some attention.

While those looking for nude pictures of politicians generally do not find what they are looking for in a Google search, they now have an opportunity thanks to Right Wing News. They are now providing drawings of a naked Obama on a unicorn along with Sarah Palin, as well as a nude drawing of Michelle. There’s also more at Boing Boing.

Knowing the interest of internet users in naked people, I’m sure that Right Wing News and all others discussing these pictures will see an increase in traffic. Now I’ll sit back and see how popular this post becomes.