Liberals, Classical Liberals, and Libertarians

Secular Blasphemy presents a survey of political views including liberals, including classical liberals, conservatives, socialists, and libertarians entitled Maybe you are a liberal after all. It notes the differences in terminology internationally:

It always makes me cringe when I hear the term ‘liberal’ applied to the political left. This is a quite big distinction between the political vocabulary of the US compared to virtually anywhere else in the world, where it refers to the political right. Case in point: The prime minister of Australia, John Howard, is from the Liberal Party.

In this part of the world, a liberal is on the political right, referring to liberalism’s support of free markets with a minimum of state interference. There is another aspect to liberalism, which tends to explain the usage in the US, and that is the meaning ‘permissive’, referring to social issues. A liberal would argue it’s not the state’s obligation or right to legislate moralism. This, naturally, runs counter to social conservatives, who’d like the government to stay out of businesses but be very attentive to what goes on in bedrooms.

After reviewing the various political philosophies, it concludes with:

In a more pragmatic form, libertarianism is quite difficult to distinguish from classical liberalism, discussed above. I suggest many Americans prefer to call themselves libertarians because the term ‘liberal’ is already being used for the political left, and that is an association they will want to avoid.

I commented there that this would have been more accurate pre-Bush and especially pre-Katrina. In recent years it has become clearer that the conservatives/Republicans are the party of big government and increased government intrusion in individual’s lives. In a two party system this forces opponents of this trend into the opposing party, leading to the Democrats having an increased number of people who support liberal social issues but not necessarily traditional Democratic economic issues. Even Democratic leaders such as Jimmy Carter, John Kerry and Howard Dean identify themselves as social liberals and fiscal conservatives, while Markos Moulitsas calls himself a Libertarian Dem.

Following 9/11 and Katrina a hard line anti-government line has fallen out of fashion, changing the desirability of association with libertarianism as opposed to liberalism for many. Labels have problems in grouping people together who disagree in many areas, and separating those who have many areas of agreement. Depending upon the words you prefer and how you define them, this blog could be considered liberal, classical liberal, or even “small-l” libertarian in its concentration on civil liberties and opposing the social policies of the Republicans. Perhaps a few years ago I might have been less likely to use Liberal in the title. Considering the manner in which the Republicans have disgraced the word conservative, I think this is the right time to rehabilitate liberalism from the smears the word has been subjected to from Republicans for the last couple of decades.

Creationists Attempting to Expand Suppression of Science in Ohio

The Akron Beacon Journal (Hat tip to Thoughts from Kansas) shows the consequence of giving polital party to believers in creationism (a.k.a. cretins). The cretins have developed a “Controversial Issues Template” to attempt to cast doubt on established science:

The proposal “is a lot of gobbledygook — it’s just another wedge into the teaching of ID in science classes,” said Martha Wise, a 28-year board member from Avon, who has been an opponent of the creationist supporters.

This is seen not only as an attempt to teach creationism, but to promote the right wing agenda in all areas where their policies are contradicted by established science:

Lawrence Krauss, a Case Western Reserve University physics professor, said he is alarmed at the attempt to challenge stem cell research, evolution and global warming.

“They are not controversial from the view of science,” he said.

If teachers debated all the issues with any uncertainty, nothing would ever be taught, Krauss said.

“When they teach history, are they going to say some people say the Holocaust never happened?” he added.

Krauss and others recruited former U.S. Rep. Tom Sawyer of Akron to oppose Owens Fink.

“I have no problem with debate in classrooms, but science classrooms are a place for established science,” Sawyer said.

The Economist’s Survey on Global Warming

The Economist has a lengthy survey on global warming. The introduction shows they are more open to examining the science than American conservatives:

This survey will argue that although the science remains uncertain, the chances of serious consequences are high enough to make it worth spending the (not exorbitant) sums needed to try to mitigate climate change. It will suggest that, even though America, the world’s biggest CO2 emitter, turned its back on the Kyoto protocol on global warming, the chances are that it will eventually take steps to control its emissions. And if America does, there is a reasonable prospect that the other big producers of CO2 will do the same.

They look at the science and at the economics of global warming. Some areas could actually benefit from global warming. “Not all the change will be bad. An extra couple of degrees might not do northern Europe any harm. Russia could benefit hugely from a bit of warming: large parts of the country that are currently uninhabitable could become comfortable enough to live in. The 25% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves that are reckoned to be in the Arctic, much of them in Russia, would become easier to get at.” Despite these benefits, they find that overall gloobal warming is a serious threat which makes economic sense to take action on:

Out of the fog of uncertainty over the economics of climate change, the outline of a few conclusions emerges. Global warming poses a serious risk, and the costs of mitigation are not so large as to be politically unthinkable. Mitigation is better done gradually than swiftly, because the faster it is done, the more it will cost. That said, the economics of the subject are too uncertain for policymakers to lean heavily upon them, so in the end it will be the politicians who decide.


Princess Leia Wig

What does one wear to all those new planets discovered? How about a Princess Leia Knitted Wig? Full instructions here. (Hat tip to Wonderland).

Related story: Princess Leia as Hot Slave Babe (with picture).

Earth-Like Planets May Be Common

Maybe those Penn State scientists realized how much trouble their football team would have with Notre Dame and were looking for planets where it is easier to compete for the National Championship. Work by scientists at the University of Colorado and Penn State University suggest that Earth-like planets may be more common than suspected:

More than one-third of the giant planet systems recently detected outside Earth’s solar system may harbor Earth-like planets, many covered in deep oceans with potential for life, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder and Pennsylvania State University.

The study focuses on a type of planetary system unlike our solar system that contains gas giants known as “Hot Jupiters” orbiting extremely close to their parent stars — even closer than Mercury to our sun, said CU-Boulder researcher Sean Raymond. Such gas giants are believed to have migrated inward toward their parent stars as the planetary systems were forming, disrupting the space environment and triggering the formation of ocean-covered, Earth-like planets in a “habitable zone” conducive to the evolution of life, according to the new study.

“Exotic Earths: Forming Habitable Worlds with Giant Planet Migration” was published in the Sept. 8 issue of Science and authored by Raymond, Avi Mandell of both Penn State and Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Steinn Sigurdsson of Penn State.

The study indicates Hot Jupiters push and pull proto-planetary disk material during their journeys, flinging rocky debris outward where it is likely to coalesce into Earth-like planets, said Raymond. At the same time, turbulent forces from the dense surrounding gas slow down the orbits of small, icy bodies in the outer reaches of the disk, causing them to spiral inward and deliver water to the fledgling planets. Such planets may eventually host oceans several miles deep, according to the study.

“These gas giants cause quite a ruckus,” said Raymond of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. “We now think there is a new class of ocean-covered, and possibly habitable, planets in solar systems unlike our own.”

Later the article states, “According to the team’s simulations, Hot Earths can form astoundingly fast, in just 100,000 years or so. Earth-like planets in habitable zones form much more slowly, taking up to 200 million years, said Raymond. Geologists believe Earth took about 30 million years to 50 million years to fully form.” That’s even a little bit longer than Joe Paterno’s been coaching at Penn State.

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Rumsfeld Opposed Post Invasion Plans to Secure Iraq

This explains a lot:

Long before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld forbade military strategists to develop plans for securing a postwar Iraq, the retiring commander of the Army Transportation Corps said.

Brig. Gen. Mark E. Scheid told the Newport News Daily Press in an interview published yesterday that Rumsfeld had said “he would fire the next person” who talked about the need for a postwar plan. . .

The secretary of defense continued to push on us . . . that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we’re going to take out the regime, and then we’re going to leave,” Scheid said. “We won’t stay.”

Most likely he also thought we would be greeted with flowers as liberators.

Posted in In The News, Iraq. Tags: . No Comments »

Maureen Dowd on The Many Republican Fictions About Terrorism

Maureen Dowd discusses the distortion of reality in The Path to 9/11, comparing this to other distortions of reality by Bush and his supporters. The whole Republican story on terrorism is packed with fiction, from their claims about Clinton, when blocked Clinton’s attempts to fight terrorism (regardless if insufficient in retrospect) to their tying terrorism to Saddam. The claims that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11 or terrorism should have ended with the recent Senate Intelligence Committee report, but Dowd realizes that Republicans will continue to spread their fictions as long as there are gullible Bush worshippers who fall for them:

When a reporter asked President Bush a couple of weeks ago what Iraq had to do with 9/11, he blurted out the truth: “Nothing.” But momentarily dismissing that fantasy isn’t about to dissuade him from others. “One of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror,’’ President Bush told Katie Couric this week. I bet. Making up is hard to do.

The administration’s shameless mau-mauing was undercut yesterday by a 376-page Senate Intelligence Committee report slapping Bush hawks for relying on the flawed information provided by Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress to help make the case for war. The report also reaffirmed that Saddam viewed Osama in a negative light, and unveiled a C.I.A. assessment rejecting the president’s continuing claims about prewar links between Saddam and the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The 2005 C.I.A. finding concluded that Saddam “did not have a relationship, harbor, or even turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates.”

W. is pulling out all the stops this week to try to make people forget he was in charge when the twin towers were hit, but if he’s doing so great, why is Osama releasing new tapes while Afghanistan crumbles while Pakistan stands ready to implode while Lebanon has already exploded while Iran goes nuclear and taunts us while Al Qaeda in Iraq calls on its followers to kill Americans “by a sniper bullet, spear, explosive or martyrdom car”?

Conservatives are crowing at the prospect of an ABC movie written by one of their own that blames 9/11 on a flaccid Clinton national security team.

Bill was distracted by the Monica fallout, just as W. was distracted, on Osama and Katrina, by his insistence on living life as usual in Crawford. Bill had no natural inclination to use American force and fumbled on how to strike back at Osama. W., petulantly, did not want to focus on terrorism because

W. had a clear narrative thread in 2001; all he needed to do was go after the bad guys who hit us. Instead, he obsessed about other bad guys who happened to pose no danger to us.

Investigate Yes; Impeachment Maybe

CNN reports that fifty-seven percent think it would be good for the country “if the Democrats in Congress were able to conduct official investigations into what the Bush administration has done in the past six years.” Forty-one percent said such probes would be bad for the country. However, 69 percent said Bush should not be impeached or removed from office,while only 30 percent said he should be impeached or removed from office.

It is premature for polling on impeachment to mean very much before the investigations have even been held. The Bush Administration has been extremely secretive, and the majority of the country likely does not realize the degree to which policy has been based upon deception. Investigate first, and then ask the country whether Bush should be impeached after the specifics are known.

Republicans have been trying to keep their discouraged base from staying home this fall by arguing that impeachment is one of the major goals of the Democrats shoiuld they take control of Congress. Nancy Pelosi has already been playing down talk of impeachment. Recent history has shown that it is the Republicans, not the Democrats, who have misused impeachment. We saw how they impeached Clinton over a private sexual affair, only to be unable to convict him in the Senate.

In contrast, Democrats decided against impeaching Ronald Reagan over the Iran Contra Scandal after Howard Baker took over as White House Chief of Staff promising to clean things up. Reagan also escaped prosecution after Iran Contra Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh found that Reagan, suffering form Alzheimer’s, did not recall his role in the scandal. This makes me wonder whether in the future Bush will attempt to avoid prosecution for his actions as President by claiming he was an idiot who didn’t understand what he was doing.

New York Times Blows Coverage of Lamont’s Criticism of Lieberman

The New York Times is trying to play gotcha journalism against Lamont over a trivial point, but a review of the actual statements made now and at the time of the Lewinski scandal don’t show the contradictions claimed by the Lieberman campaign and the New York Times.
Check out the coverage of what Lamont really said about Lieberman at a dinner in which journalists repeatedly asked Lamont about the scandal here. Now compare it to Lamont’s actual statements in his email:

I reluctantly supported the moral outrage you expressed on September 3. I was reluctant  because I thought it might make matters worse; I was reluctant because nobody expressed moral outrage over how Reagan treated his kids or Gingrich lied about supporting term limits (in other words, it was selective outrage); I was reluctant because the Starr inquisition is much more threatening to our civil liberties and national interest than Clinton’s misbehavior. . . .

Unfortunately, the statement was the beginning of a process that has turned more political and morally offensive. I’m the father of three and the thought that Clinton testifying about oral sex before the grand jury may be broadcast into my living room is outrageous. The Starr report read like a tabloid, not a legal recitation, and that streamed into my home via every medium available.

This sorry episode is an embarrassment to me as a father and to us as a nation. If Clinton has a sex problem, mature adults would have handled this privately, not turned it into a political crusade and legal entanglement with no end in sight.

You have expressed your outrage about the president’s conduct; now stand up and use your moral authority to put an end to this snowballing mess. We all know the facts, a lot more than any of us care to know and should know. We’ve made up our minds that Clinton did wrong, confessed to his sin, maybe he should be censured for lying–and let’s move on.

It’s time for you to make up your mind and speak your mind as you did so eloquently last Thursday.

This sounds to me like chastisement in which someone softens the blow by saying “I agree with you, but. . .” Not that it really matters. Two of the major issues nationally are over whether we have a rational defense against terrorism or allow the Republicans to continue to play politics with the issue, and whether we preserve our tradition of freedom of religion and separation of church and state. Lieberman has been on the wrong side of both issues. This is what voters should consider this November, not what either one said about Monica Lewinski several years ago.

Retired FBI Agents Question Accuracy of “The Path to 9/11”

Two retired FBI agents who were asked to be consultants on The Path to 9/11 are the latest in the long list of people complaining about the bias and inaccuracies in this mini-series. The New York Times reports:

Two retired F.B.I. agents said today that they had rejected advisory roles on the disputed ABC mini-series, “The Path to 9/11,” because of concerns about the program’s accuracy.

One of the agents, Thomas E. Nicoletti, was hired by the producers of the mini-series in July 2005 to oversee its technical accuracy, but left after less than a month because of scenes he believed were misleading or just false.

“There were some of the scenes that were total fiction,” said Mr. Nicoletti, who served as a supervisory special agent and a member of the joint terrorism task force before retiring in 2003. “I told them unless they were changing this, I could not have my name associated with it.”

Related stories on “The Path to 9/11″