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Out of Power Republicans Look Good in 2009 Liberty Index

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As we go into a new Congressional session where Republicans have returned to the majority in the House of Representatives, the Republican Liberty Caucus’ newly released Liberty Index ratings for 2009 provide an important reminder of the positive effect which being out of power and in the minority had on Republican legislators. With a clear anti-liberty, big-government agenda coming from the White House and the Democrat leadership, Republicans embraced their role as the “party of no” in 2009 and were more true to basic principles of limited government and individual liberty than they have been in many years. The Liberty Index reflects this environment with more high ratings on both the Personal and Economic Liberty scales than ever before, particularly in the House of Representatives.

A surprise standout in the House of Representatives rankings is Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who is the first member of Congress in the 22 year history of the Liberty Index to score a perfect 100/100 in the Economic and Personal Liberty components of the index. Flake was not alone at the top, with perennial top scorers Ron Paul (R-TX) and Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) not far behind. They both scored 100 on Personal Liberty and came up with a 96 on Economic Liberty because of problematic votes on earmarks and a technology bill. Other than that they were outstanding champions of liberty.

With Democrat spending completely out of control a lot of Republicans were given an opportunity to oppose their policies and as a result score very well on Economic Liberty. Forty-eight House members scored perfect 100s on Economic Liberty. Personal Liberty scores were less consistent, though 115 House Republicans scored in the Libetarian range on their combined scores.

Senate Republicans were somewhat less impressive than their House allies, but five did manage to score perfect 100s on the Economic Liberty scale. Because of the kinds of votes which came up in the Senate it was more difficult to score well on Personal Liberty, but 31 Senate Republicans did have combined ratings in the Libertarian category.

In both houses Democrats scored substantially less well on both Economic and Personal Liberty issues. 225 Democrats in the House and 36 in the Senate scored so low that they were classed in the Authoritarian category, meaning that almost all of their votes were on the side of increasing government power and reducing civil liberties. Three House Democrats, all from California and including outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, scored perfect 0/0 results, voting against the best interests of the people on every major issue to come before them. Senate Democrats did somewhat better, especially on Personal Liberty, but Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE) was the one Senator to score a perfect 0 on Economic Liberty.

In many cases the deciding issues which separated those who did well from those who did poorly were votes which were split on non-partisan lines, particularly over issues of military spending, foreign policy and national security, where both parties have storng internal divisions.  Many Republicans are rejecting the policies of the Bush era and moving towards a more limited view of America’s overseas commitments, while some of the most powerful Democrat leaders remain committed to a policy of war and nation building.  and, of course, many of these important votes where Republicans took a stand against bigger and more intrusive government were ones where their efforts were doomed and produced nothing more than good ratings on this index, because of their minority status.

The Liberty Index is based on forty roll call votes, twenty on issues of Economic Liberty and 20 on issues of Personal Liberty in each chamber. The votes are compiled and analyzed by Professor Clifford Thies who holds the Eldon R. Lindsay Chair of Free Enterprise in the Economics Department of Shenandoah University. He is assisted by an anonymous panel of experts who have worked with him on the project for many years. This year his work is dedicated to the late David Nolan whose system of charting political ideologies has been a valuable tool for educating voters and promoting libertarian ideas.

The full results of the Liberty Index are available in PDF format from the Republican Liberty Caucus, including charts of the distribution of the ratings and detailed analysis by Professor Thies. For comparison you can find past results going back to 1991 in the RLC archives.

This year’s results are unusual because the Republicans in Congress were both in the minority and the opposition party. With the Presidency and total control of the Congress, the Democrats advanced an ambitious statist agenda. This agenda involved raising taxes, increasing regulations, huge subsidies for green industry, and a very significant increase in the federal government’s involvement in health care. Although not so well-known, the agenda also involved the nanny state, political correctness, national service, and government-funded propaganda. Resisting these changes made many Republicans look like libertarians, a shift which appears dramatic, but is largely the result of circumstances.

What remains to be seen is if once they are back in a position of power Republicans will continue this pattern and listen to the mandate of voters who clearly want them to pursue a policy of controlling spending and limiting government power. Will Congressional Republicans become more than the “party of no?”  Can they develop a positive agenda which will roll back spending and reverse the erosion of individual liberties when they are under less pressure and feel more secure.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Doug Hunter

    “problematic votes on earmarks and a technology bill.”

    That technology bill wouldn’t have been covering net neutrality would it? There’s a good chance liberty minded folds would get this wrong. Internet providers are utilities, the electric company would love to control what brand of appliances you use and charge you extra if you were using their competitors or running a profitable business using ‘their’ electricity, but it’s common sense that electricity should cost the same regardless of how it’s used (with obvious exceptions for peak demand, etc. which are already allowed for) The same rules should apply to internet access.

    Service providers claim Google and Facebook (and probably blogcritics) are making money using ‘their’ bandwidth (which they pay for at market rates I might add) without paying their fair share, it looks like to me Google and Facebook and Blogcritics are the only reason people are paying for the providers precious bandwidth in the first place. Perhaps they should be paying Google for providing a reason to buy their service.

    Anyway, hate to get off topic as that might not be the technology bill in question.

  • John Lake

    The “liberty index” is neither a government supported evaluation, nor is it presented as an objective look into legislation and legislators. In fact the “Index” is the end product of the labors of Bob Guzzardi, of the Conservative Reform Network. Guzzardi makes clear from the onset that “The Liberty Index rating is our assessment of whether a piece of legislation advances or restrains individual liberty, particularly, economic freedom to spend your money the way you think best.”

  • Baronius

    John, you’re rejecting the Liberty Index because it wasn’t endorsed by the government? You’re cannonballing into the deep end of self-parody with that one.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    John, I have no idea what you’re talking about or who Bob Guzzardi is. The Liberty Index has, since 1989 been a project of Professor Clifford Thies and has been associated with the Republican Liberty Caucus since it was founded in 1991.

    Wait, I looked up Guzzardi. What you’re talking about is a rating system for Pennsylvania state legislators. Not the same thing as the subject of this article.

    Dave

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Equating your [narrow] definition of liberty with votes that are ‘in the interests of the people’ is just more propaganda.

    The monopoly that extremist conservatives have tried to exert on perfectly fine words and concepts like liberty and freedom is repellent.

    The concomitant sliming of anyone who disagrees with them concerning their propagandistic linguistics, and the labeling of millions of us as “anti-liberty” or “destroyers of freedom,” is just plain disgusting.

    I love freedom and liberty, and I object the definitions of them propagated by the Index and by Dave Nalle.

  • Doug Hunter

    “I love freedom and liberty, and I object the definitions of them..”

    Boo Hoo, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I’m sure you have your little pet liberty issue to make yourself feel good probably something like gay marriage that effects a tiny percentage of the population in some minor way (if they make between 200-250K in taxes or if they can’t get in to see their partner at a hospital with a nazi staff), but in general you seek an expansion of government which is the antithesis of freedom and liberty.

    If you don’t like being called a destroyer of freedom, perhaps it’s best if you quit supporting policies that do just that.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Doug simply proves my point. His ideologically charged definition of liberty is the only one he can comprehend, or the only one he will admit exists.

    How about the freedom not to go bankrupt just because you get sick? The freedom to gain and retain employment when there are 5 applicants for every available job? Elections that are free of the taint of corporate influence-buying?

  • Doug Hunter

    Proves your point? It’s you who don’t have a clue what liberty means. The definition is what it is, it only seems ideologically charged because it doesn’t jive with yours.

    You’re confusing security with freedom (I guess it makes the whole trading freedom for security thing easier to swallow). It’s a nice security arrangement that if I’m starving you’re required to give me something to eat, but it ain’t liberty. Liberty doesn’t require you to do anything, that’s the point. I know that in order to coopt the word and concept the meaning has been stretched, but not everyone is so easily fooled.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doug –

    If you have no security, you have no real freedom.

  • Baronius

    I have different objections than Handy does, I’m sure. But I don’t know why the House procedural amendment to “commit to a select committee, to not remove 6-year term limits for committee chairs” is considered pro-liberty. Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t. It just doesn’t seem obvious to me. Maybe where standing House Rule X, clause 4(f)(1), is changed from ‘President submits his budget’ to ‘submission of the budget by the President’. Maybe that’s where liberty is being protected.

    Another one that struck me was the condemnation of DC voting rights. I guess that it’s unconstitutional, so it’s a governmental overreach, which infringes on our liberty, but I wouldn’t have thought to describe DC voting rights as anti-liberty.

  • Doug Hunter

    Nice False-ism there Glenn. Freedom is most certainly not security, but as Handy might say that just proves my point; on your side you haven’t a clue what it means.

  • Baronius

    I’ve heard comments like Glenn’s before. I remember reading an analysis by a conservative author about what he said was the main difference between the left and right. When liberals say “liberty”, they’re talking about freedom from consequences: security. A child’s definition of liberty. When conservatives use the term, they mean freedom to experience the consequences of one’s actions, for good or bad. An adult’s definition.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Tell me, Doug – exactly how can you have real freedom without a measure of security? I’d really like to hear your answer on that?

    How can you have freedom to vote for the candidate you support? To buy or sell what you want to buy or sell? To live where you want to live? To love whom you want to love? To happily do what makes you happy?

    You can do NONE of these things without a measure of security…and if you and Baronius think that this is somehow confusion, then neither of you have a clue as to what freedom really is.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    To take a slightly different approach, Europeans in countries such as France or Norway or Germany or the UK have a lot more ‘statism’ in their lives than any American, yet few of them would bray that they are not ‘free.’

    The policies that liberals in this country support rarely or never come close to European-style democratic socialism, but even if they did, they are not incompatible with freedom of speech and a free press and free elections. Those are the main definers of what makes us free.

    It’s the apocalyptic rhetoric I despise — yes, you and I have differing philosophies. Referring to me as a ‘destroyer of freedom’ is hyperbolic bullshit that accomplishes nothing.

    Proposing either a smaller or a larger social safety net need not cause such hysterical heavy breathing.

  • Baronius

    Glenn, this is an opportunity for you to impress me. Think about the idea in comment #12. I realize that the original author put a bias into his analysis with the labels of “children” and “adults”, but if you look past it I think you’ll see that there’s some truth in the analysis. If it helps, you can use the labels “caring” and “cruel” instead. Anyway, it reflects how we sometimes use the same words but with different shades of meaning.

  • Doug Hunter

    #13

    My question to you would be exactly how you could establish any type of security without extinquishing freedoms. Even the most basic security, not to be murdered, means others don’t have the freedom to kill. I think even the most extreme libertarians have accepted the compromise on freedom that it does not extend to the point of curtailing the next person’s freedom. We have private property to establish what material things we have free reign over. Freedom as it stands after the compromise is the ability to do whatever you please with yourself and your stuff and with any consenting person or group and their stuff. See, very simple.

    #14

    Europeans trade more freedom for security and they’re happy with it. People can learn to be happy under the Taliban, or in a cult, or in a primitive tribe, or anywhere else but it doesn’t mean that’s how I want to live. There really is nothing wrong with your choice, it’s just not mine. Unfortunately, the nature of government means that I’m bound to whatever whim it’s supporters fancy. I’d rather limit it’s power, live how I want to live, and let you do the same.

    *As for the word game, if you want to trade away freedom for security own up to it, you don’t get to make the trade on my behalf because the likeminded control 51% of the government and then tell me that security is freedom. Not all freedom is good and not all security is bad, make your case but you’re not going to simply change the definitions of the words on me.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Go Doug go.

    To some of the earlier comments, let me first point out that I played almost no role in the assembly of this data and its analysis. I’m largely just reporting on it.

    That said, there are some choices which also seem strange to me, but sadly the Congress rarely considers clear cut issues that we’d all like to see them vote on and which we could then easily point to and use them to identify who is pro and anti liberty. Next time around we might get to look at a DADT vote and that would be an unprecedented opportunity, but when it comes to the social issues I understand how difficult it has to be to find anything meanngful to use as a bellwether.

    dave

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I think the freedom/security dichotomy and ‘trade-off’ is a vast oversimplification of a very complicated world.

    I’ve said it before: there’s never been anything close to an idealist libertarian country in the real world — nor a ‘pure’ socialist state. Not among large democratic countries in the industrial age and after. So all of the various combinations are compromises. So what?

    But you can take your ‘destroyers of freedom’ nonsense verbiage and stick where the sun don’t shine — the only place it belongs.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doug –

    I didn’t try to change the meanings of the words at all…and you know it. Freedom cannot be had without security – otherwise, America wouldn’t need a military.

    As with all else, too much freedom is not a good thing. Moderation in all things…and anyone who thinks otherwise when it comes to politics is by default an extremist.

  • zingzing

    baronius: “When liberals say “liberty”, they’re talking about freedom from consequences: security. A child’s definition of liberty. When conservatives use the term, they mean freedom to experience the consequences of one’s actions, for good or bad. An adult’s definition.”

    come on. that’s a childish oversimplification. hell… “oversimplification” would suggest that it was even a bit true on either end.

    “liberty” is do what you will but harm no other. with the added stipulation that if someone does come to harm because of your actions, they have to deserve it through some action or decision of their own. (as in competitive capitalism, self-defense laws, non-libelous criticism, etc, etc.)

    if you think that liberals view liberty as freedom from consequences, you do not know your enemy. you’re just fooling yourself. and putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage. best of luck with it.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Yes, the child/adult ‘analysis’ of definitions of liberty is ignorant, ludicrous and offensive. Sigh.

  • Doug Hunter

    #19

    The military falls under the same principle that police would, the “murder compromise” as I would term it.

    #18

    I didn’t come up with that, I just used it from your post. You’re just a guy with a (slightly) different opinion probably a hairsbreadth away from me on the grand spectrum of opinions. We apples don’t fall far from the American cultural tree.

    When someone tells me the world is ‘way more complicated’ I immediately grab onto my seat because I know I’m about to be taken for a ride. The world is not complicated, it operates on simple principles that often interact in chaotic ways. Just as the most powerful computers on the planet can’t accurately model exactly what will happen the moment oil is poured into water, the fantastically complicated fluid dynamics effected by coriolisis and surface effects, etc., etc. even an idiot can tell you that at the end of the day the oil is going to found floating on top! Stick to my simple defitinion of liberty with easily identifiable boundaries and you’ll never go wrong, use the ‘fuzzy’ definition where your freedom extends to requiring me to do something for you and you’re in a grey area from whence you can never return…. or define it how you like, it’s a free country.

    Have a great evening guys.

  • Baronius

    Note that I asked Glenn to open his mind. I didn’t ask Zing/Handy.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    When liberals say “liberty”, they’re talking about freedom from consequences: security. A child’s definition of liberty. When conservatives use the term, they mean freedom to experience the consequences of one’s actions, for good or bad. An adult’s definition.

    Did you come up with that yourself, Baronius? It’s brilliant and I may have to steal it.

    Dave

  • Baronius

    I don’t remember who I stole it from. Maybe someone on the American Thinker, which is a high-risk zone but sometimes has good articles. Feel free to use it.

  • zingzing

    “It’s brilliant and I may have to steal it.”

    it’s also unrealistic, perfectly stupid and wildly off-base, but you know, whatever. fucking politics 2010. just make up shit however you please and pass it off as some gospel truth. some jackass will believe you.

    misunderestimating is no crime, i suppose.

    i’m going to define a liberal taking a shit as an act of god(dess) and a conservative taking a shit as their most productive act.

    if i say it, it must be true, eh?

    hopelessness is my only emotion when i read shit like dave picking up on baronius’ picking up on american thinker’s stupidity. you people pass on that shit like so much genetic code. somewhere, you’re going to get all fucked up by your inbreeding. oh… it’s already in your brains. think for yourselves for once.

  • zingzing

    also, baronius, consider what your thoughts would be if i stated so slanted a definition as if it were worthy of consideration… such as…

    black people define “liberty” as freedom from enslavement, while white people define “liberty” as the freedom to enslave others.

    stupid, stupid definitions, right? slanted and idiotic, without getting to the core of “liberty” for either side. that’s what your/american thinker’s definition is. it’s remarkably blind to reality on either side.

    i hope you don’t believe what you wrote, because it gives far too much credit to your own side, which is guilty of a great many crimes in the “pursuit of liberty,” and it disparages the other side as a bunch of lazy no-goods, which would suggest you find yourself so superior you can’t even respect them as a proper opponent.

  • Baronius

    Zing, you’re right that your example is stupid, because nobody thinks or talks like that. If you look at what Doug and Glenn are saying, you’ll see that they are reflecting exactly the mindsets I’m describing. Glenn sees freedom as protection. He’s a caring guy. Doug sees freedom as opportunity, with inherent risk. He’s a responsible guy.

    BTW, I wasn’t calling you and Handy dumb earlier. I just have a good idea how far you’re willing to go outside your comfort zone, and I knew this would be a no-sale for you. Even though Glenn is more dogmatic than y’all, I had a hunch that he’d be able to accept this.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    Glenn sees freedom as protection.

    Um, no. I see protection (security) as enabling freedom. After all, if security weren’t crucial to freedom, then America wouldn’t need a military or even a police force.

    The following are crucial to freedom:

    (1) the rule of law (to guard against threats from within);
    (2) freedom of the press (which also needs to be free from corporate interests);
    (3) a strong middle class (for widespread poverty enables the rise of extremism); and
    (4) a strong military (to guard against threats from without).

    The first is weakened but still largely holds. The second fell when it was made subject to corporate interests by the Reagan administration. The third was strongest in the days before Reaganomics, and is weakening every year that ‘trickle-down’ remains the rule. The fourth is the only area which stands untouched…

    …and therein lies the greatest danger: If the first three fall, the fourth becomes a tool not of freedom, but of tyranny.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Baronius –

    When liberals say “liberty”, they’re talking about freedom from consequences: security. A child’s definition of liberty. When conservatives use the term, they mean freedom to experience the consequences of one’s actions, for good or bad. An adult’s definition.

    I see. Sooo…if I have to suffer because of YOUR actions, that’s freedom?

    That’s what so many conservatives don’t get – we liberals really don’t give a rat’s patootie what you do as long as it doesn’t adversely affect us. We have ALWAYS supported your right to do as you will…but your right to do as you will ENDS when you use your right in a way that is harmful to other people! Or, to put it more succinctly, your freedom ends where mine begins. YOUR freedom shall NOT infringe upon MY freedom to live, to love, to thrive, to pursue my happiness as I will. And my freedom likewise ends where yours begins.

    And therein lay my argument: without security from those who care little how their actions adversely affect others, we have NO freedom.

    Is this really so hard to accept?

  • zingzing

    baronius: “Glenn sees freedom as protection. He’s a caring guy. Doug sees freedom as opportunity, with inherent risk. He’s a responsible guy.”

    that’s not true in the least. it’s reductive, incomplete, simplistic and unrealistic. but such is the conservative mindset.

  • Baronius

    I found it, Dave. An article at Pajamas Media written by Frank J. of IMAO. I don’t read his blog anymore (my malware filter had a problem with it) but he’s dependably funny.

  • Baronius

    Zing, you’re just posting the same “nuh-uh” over and over.

  • zingzing

    that’s because you’re posting the same old stupid shit over and over. fair enough?

  • zingzing

    hrm. well, didn’t mean to get all huffy. anyway, i don’t think you can deny that your/pajamas’ definition is reductive. i hope you wouldn’t be foolish enough to believe it. it’s a rhetorical reach around.

  • Baronius

    One man’s reductive is another man’s kernel of truth. But read that article and listen to the first couple of minutes of this and tell me if it doesn’t fit. (If it’s too much of a distraction, don’t look at the angry text on the screen. I didn’t. But seriously, if you don’t like it or the more dismissive language in the Pajamas Media article, tough it out anyway.)

  • zingzing

    fine. take it as a kernel of truth (even if it’s not). but don’t try to define someone or something based on it. i could say that stars are big. they are. but it’s not a definition of a star, or even close to one. it also ignores relative size. what does “big” even mean in this case? what about all the other things that make a star a star? why are they big? many things are big, but they aren’t all stars…

    the pajamas article seems to want to define liberals however it pleases, reality be damned and complications ignored. its reasoning eats itself and shits it back out again, reduced down to what it couldn’t properly digest. then it eats it back up.

    glenn has pointed out (several times) that he doesn’t define liberty AS security or protection. it’s just one of the things he thinks liberty is predicated upon. he doesn’t say that that security has to come from the government.

    and seriously, if you want to pat yourself on the back that much… yeah, conservatives are “adults” and liberals “children?” come on. that in itself is childish. i could say that conservatives are nothing but greedy warmongers willing to torture and imprison and impoverish millions in order to make a buck, and that’s their idea of freedom (hi, friedman), but it wouldn’t be the whole truth of the matter.

    like i said earlier, if you really, really believe what you say to be true, you’re only fooling yourself and playing into your enemy’s hands. if you don’t understand liberals (as you clearly don’t), you’ll never be able to properly argue against them. when you define liberals (or at least the liberal definition of liberty) in such silly, reductive terms, you’re just going to get laughed at.

  • Cannonshop

    Wow…a discussion of what Liberty means…

    Question to Zing and Glenn both:

    “Where does ‘Security’ stop?’ Which is to ask, “at what point does increasing ‘safety’ become oppression, instead of Liberty in your universe?”

    See, I think Doug’s right (you know that already-we’ve been back-and-forth often enough it should be self-evident through experience), you DON’T know what Liberty is, your definition is the Tyrant’s definition, as cooked in a Ministry of Propoganda, it’s Newspeak, changing the meanings of words to eliminate concepts.

    The co-option of the term “Liberal” comes to mind as another example. “Liberty” does not give one the right to control others against their will, to coerce, to force your vision of utopia upon them, or to make them pay for your sore conscience and/or bad actions.

  • zingzing

    cannonshop: “Where does ‘Security’ stop?’ Which is to ask, “at what point does increasing ‘safety’ become oppression, instead of Liberty in your universe?”

    well before the patriot act, which is oppressive, although we don’t live under oppression. and i never said anything about security or safety. i just said glenn said something about it. which baronius then took to indicate that glenn’s entire definition of liberty was security, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

    “you DON’T know what Liberty is, your definition is the Tyrant’s definition.”

    did you see my definition of liberty? you don’t know what my definition of liberty is. obviously. but don’t let that stop you from babbling on about orwellian junk.

    “”Liberty” does not give one the right to control others against their will, to coerce, to force your vision of utopia upon them, or to make them pay for your sore conscience and/or bad actions.”

    of course it doesn’t. that’s retarded. kind of like the defense of marriage act. or abortion bans. or smoking bans that take the decision out of an establishment’s owner’s hands. the right is equally guilty of thrusting their morality upon america as the left is. maybe even more guilty.

    what on earth made you think that anyone thinks that liberty gives “one the right to control others against their will?” would it be paranoia? or would it be consciously misrepresenting the words of others? either way, it’s hard to make a solid point when you’re arguing with fictions you’ve created in your own head.

  • John Lake

    It is part and parcel of our society that there is emplaced in our legislature a bilateral division. The principle to which I here refer is that particular principle which produces on the one hand liberal Democrats who are concerned with the proletariat; the man working to bring health, education and happiness to his children, and grandchildren, and on the other hand, the Republican conservatives who see it as being in their best interest to allow as much “freedom” as possible to corporate America. However as I have noted before at BlogCritics, the founding fathers made a common mistake; they assumed that the elected from either sector would have a deep underlying compassion for the constituency that placed them in office. Today the freedom of the politician to “vote his conscience” has exceeded any previous limits.
    Do hard working Americans need a social safety net? Unless we want to see individuals in dire situations cold in the streets, yes. It’s obvious. If this causes hardship to a mindless corporation, is that hardship even a factor to consider?
    Is it reasonable to believe Americans can fend for themselves? Should they be allowed to purchase unsafe, ineffective, even dangerous over-the-counter drugs, because that allowance has some semblance of “freedom”? Food must be regulated. In the modern era, there is just now a concern with obesity, particularly among children. This concern is reflected in the free media, and one hopes among legislators. This is a good example of what can pejoratively be called the “nanny state”.
    The medical community and associated industries, part of corporate America, is the largest single expense we are dealing with. If the government becomes dominant enough to oversee, and regulate the medical community, is that something evil? Are there other areas where government control, temporary or permanent might provide positive results? As recently as just prior to the elections in 2008 there were widespread cries from both sides of the aisle for transparency and accountability; has that been forgotten because of a choice by Republicans to be the “party of no”? You state with some authority that in some way (which I can’t fathom) obstructionism is a good and positive thing.
    As far as foreign policy, admittedly the campaign in Afghanistan appears to be going nowhere. In general though, that party whose right wing demands less spending and lower taxes will be the first to bomb Iran, or to bomb North Korea. All this interventionism becomes costly.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    C-shop –

    “Where does ‘Security’ stop?’ Which is to ask, “at what point does increasing ‘safety’ become oppression, instead of Liberty in your universe?

    If you’d read what I posted earlier in this thread, you’d see that I also said “moderation in ALL things”.

    READ AGAIN my comment #30:

    That’s what so many conservatives don’t get – we liberals really don’t give a rat’s patootie what you do as long as it doesn’t adversely affect us. We have ALWAYS supported your right to do as you will…but your right to do as you will ENDS when you use your right in a way that is harmful to other people! Or, to put it more succinctly, your freedom ends where mine begins. YOUR freedom shall NOT infringe upon MY freedom to live, to love, to thrive, to pursue my happiness as I will. And my freedom likewise ends where yours begins.

    And therein lay my argument: without security from those who care little how their actions adversely affect others, we have NO freedom.

    Is this really so hard to accept?

    Baronius decided not to address what I said – and I’d wager it’s because he sees the truth in what I said. If you disagree with what I said, then let me see a sensible argument against it instead of ASSUMING that I somehow want the government to be a control freak of epic proportion.

    After all, how much confidence did I have in our government from 2001-2008? The pendulum swings, C-shop – and when the Republicans take the White House again (never will be too soon given their present attitude), do I want them to have the power that you ASSUME that I want the government to have? Of course not.

    So for once, please address what I actually say rather than what you think that I’m thinking.

  • Cannonshop

    Glenn, I didn’t like the “Patriot” act when it was PASSED. I like it less since it was continued past the sunset period, but I find that there is a frightening disconnect here-you have certainly expressed a sentiment I tend to agree with, but your support for the current party of government (Unquestioning) in spite of their RENEWAL of it, causes, pardon me, some doubt as to the sincerity.

    Likewise your hisorical habit of lining up in support of ALL expansions since 2008 of government power over individual citizens-often rendered without considering the possible abuses should your party lose their control of Congress and the Executive branch.

    (I’ve opposed PATRIOT since it was passed, primarily because one can never be sure what sort of people will have access to those powers, nor how they will use them and abuse them-we were somewhat lucky in that Bush wasn’t very good at working the levers of power and influence, a Nixon or Johnson could’ve done considerable damage, and anyone MORE narcissistic and clever could do untold damage before they were stopped.)

    So here’s where I’m looking, Glenn-your words in reply to my challenge are good, but…I don’t think you actually believe them-either that, or you have an enormous blind-spot called “Party Loyalty” that exceeds your personal ethics.

  • Baronius

    Glenn, I didn’t bother responding because I didn’t find it interesting. Besides, we’ve both clearly stated our positions, and now it’s up to our many thousands of readers (heh) to decide which is correct.

  • Baronius

    John, I can’t help but notice your use of the word “proletariat”. That’s a word that I associate with being far to the left of mainstream liberalism. I’m curious (and I’m not asking this as an accusation): where would you put yourself on the political scale?

  • zingzing

    baronius: “I can’t help but notice your use of the word “proletariat”. That’s a word that I associate with being far to the left of mainstream liberalism.”

    it’s a clearly defined word, not a call to communism, mr. mccarthy.

  • Baronius

    Zing – Are you now, or have you been on this thread, unusually touchy? I politely asked John a question. A lot of this thread has been taken up by a discussion of words, and how they’re used by different political groups. The word “proletariat” caught my eye.

  • zingzing

    “Are you now, or have you been on this thread, unusually touchy?”

    ha! very good.

    “A lot of this thread has been taken up by a discussion of words, and how they’re used by different political groups.”

    anything that reminds the right of communism is used as a weapon. it’s gotten ridiculous. comical. scary.

    “The word “proletariat” caught my eye.”

    why?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    You didn’t respond because you didn’t find it ‘particularly interesting’?

    Uh-huh. Riiiiight. Okay, if that’s what you say.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    C-shop –

    So here’s where I’m looking, Glenn-your words in reply to my challenge are good, but…I don’t think you actually believe them-either that, or you have an enormous blind-spot called “Party Loyalty” that exceeds your personal ethics.

    In other words, you think I’m either lying or I’m stupid.

    I really don’t have the time to give this a proper reply – I’m getting ready to fly out tonight – but hopefully while I’m waiting at the airport tonight I’ll be able to post a proper reply…and hopefully I’ll have calmed down by then.

  • John Lake

    Barinous (#44)
    You gentlemen are scholars, economists, and pundits of the highest order. I’m merely a poor, malcontent, counterculture, liberal blogger of the sort that has “popped up” these days.

  • Baronius

    …and we are lucky to have you, John. As I said, I wasn’t trying to point a finger.

  • Baronius

    Zing – Was that “why” a serious question? Most of us learned a pretty standard vocabulary in Poli Sci. John used an unusual word, and I thought it might be interesting to know if he’d been schooled in a different tradition. Also, while I know that he’s on the left politically, I associate that word with a more doctrinaire leftism. I was wondering if he identified himself that way. It’s no different than if I used the term Bonapartism – which I have, and I’ve been questioned about.

    What I’m wondering is, where did I use a ridiculous comical scary weapon against John, and if I didn’t, why did you accuse me of it?

  • zingzing

    baronius, mccarthyism is rearing its ugly head in the right wing these days. it’s patently obvious that you’re asking if john is a communist because he used the word “proletariat.” (even if it’s kind of like asking if i’m french because i use the word “filet.”)

    with the likes of glenn beck saying that a newscaster’s admission of being a socialist is the proof that the obama admin is going to create a fascist dictatorship (how that follows is baffling, but, whatever), it should scare the left wing when the right wing goes out on its communist witch hunts.

    i’m not particularly worried about you ruining peoples’ lives, but the right has used these anti-communist scare tactics before and they’ll use them again. the john birch society and their ilk holds more sway over the political right than at any time since the mccarthy era. one would hope the right would remember the evils they perpetrated back then, but that’s asking a lot.

  • Baronius

    Zing, I don’t play games. If I were asking John if he’s a communist, I’d ask him if he’s a communist. Let me ask you, for about the fifth time on this thread, what’s your problem? Why do you want to shut down this conversation? Why don’t you refute my analysis, or support yours?

    Is that direct enough for you?

  • zingzing

    “Zing, I don’t play games. If I were asking John if he’s a communist, I’d ask him if he’s a communist.”

    then go ahead and ask him, as that’s what you’re asking him anyway… what else could you possibly be asking?

    “Let me ask you, for about the fifth time on this thread, what’s your problem? Why do you want to shut down this conversation? Why don’t you refute my analysis, or support yours?”

    my problem? the ridiculousness of the right.

    i’m not trying to shut down the conversation. the thought never crossed my mind. we’re talking, aren’t we?

    i’m not sure what “analysis” you’re referring to at this point… i refuted your adult/child thing upthread. maybe it wasn’t enough for you. i dunno.

    glenn was very careful to make his point on security, which you then willfully misconstrued into meaning something quite different, then refused to discuss it further when he pointed out (again) that you’d taken his point far beyond the bounds he set for it… because you weren’t “particularly interested” and had made your “point,” even if it was predicated on false information. so who’s trying to “shut down this conversation?” who’s not bothering to refute analysis?

  • John Lake

    Persons defining themselves as ‘communist’ are not worth listening to; fools and throwbacks. I am aware of the neo-socialist, but that’s another thing entirely.
    (any communists reading this, I apologize, truly)

  • Cannonshop

    #49 Glenn, a person can be intelligent, and still have massive blind-spots. (consider the Scientist who still attends church and believes in God, or the otherwise intelligent person who subscribes to other faith-based concepts.)

    Fact is, from my perspective, having sparred with you repeatedly, I believe you have a massive blind-spot, and it’s rooted in party loyalty above-and-beyond any personal beliefs you may have…

    Or, as you put so succinctly, you don’t actually believe what you posted in 41.

    Because you DO reflexively jump to defend every legal intrusion, every expansion of power, and every (From my perspective) abuse of authority, office, and position that Obama and Pelosi put forth, and have since the election of 2008. In addition, your ‘moderate’ stance, you supported Bush’s massive move to Corporate Statism before that (the TARP).

    AND you have been fully supportive of “Security” policies that hinge on intrusion into the persons, lives and papers of citizens…beginning as soon as your party took the reins of power, and that support will no doubt evaporate as soon as your party loses its grip on those reins-this is your pattern, Sir, and you have not, to this date, varied in it-it happens to be in direct odds to the philosophy you posted in reply 41 on this thread.

    Therefore, there is a massive disconnect between what you say you believe, and what you practice IN that belief. The only explanation I can find for this disconnect is one of two options (being charitable, there is a third, but I think you’re not an idiot.)

    1. Blind-spot: your loyalty to your Political Party overcomes your critical thinking skills whenever there is a conflict between the two.

    Personally, it is my belief that this is the case.

    2. My English is not Your English-the words and even the concepts aren’t the same, you’re working from a different dictionary than I am, one written for a Collectivist mindset, where the Individual has zero value except in his or her relation to a collective group.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    That’s what so many conservatives don’t get – we liberals really don’t give a rat’s patootie what you do as long as it doesn’t adversely affect us. We have ALWAYS supported your right to do as you will…but your right to do as you will ENDS when you use your right in a way that is harmful to other people! Or, to put it more succinctly, your freedom ends where mine begins. YOUR freedom shall NOT infringe upon MY freedom to live, to love, to thrive, to pursue my happiness as I will. And my freedom likewise ends where yours begins.

    And therein lay my argument: without security from those who care little how their actions adversely affect others, we have NO freedom.

    This is a fine statement, Glenn. The problem is that this is what most of the more conservative posters here believe and it is demonstrably not what the political left in this country practices or believes in. Welcome to the GOP.

    Dave

  • Baronius

    I’m relieved to find that other people had trouble with Glenn’s statement. I was mostly just disappointed that it seemed pre-packaged, as if he hadn’t considered the ideas I raised. But it also did seem inconsistent with his usual politics. It was like a political platform, written more to be palatable than to define the policies which are actually endorsed.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    The problem seems to be, Baronius, that so many commenters here feel obliged to speak as representatives (of liberals, conservatives, what else have you) rather than simply speaking their own mind. I really can’t understand the point of trying to assume that tone of voice/mode of speech.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena irene athena

    Freedom is just a synonym for nothing left to lose.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena irene athena

    Janis Joplin flashback.

    Freedom means nothing but being exactly who you are and doing exactly what you want to do. Nobody can tell me that a psychopath isn’t free, when he, asking nothing of life but an indulged self, and liberated from any kind of self-restraint, rapes, murders or runs for office to get what he wants.

    On the other hand, the more you get tied up in caring about what happens to other people, the more you give up little pieces of your heart, your life, your freedom. Maybe the ultimate freedom is being “OK” with that. If the right thing to do by others is to fight for their rights, then you’re OK with doing that, even in the face of sneering or even violent opposition. If the right thing to do is to be able to distinguish between nationalism and patriotism, then you’re brave enough and free enough to do that, too.

  • John Lake

    That’s what so many conservatives don’t get – we liberals really don’t give a rat’s patootie what you do as long as it doesn’t adversely affect us. We have ALWAYS supported your right to do as you will…but your right to do as you will ENDS when you use your right in a way that is harmful to other people! Or, to put it more succinctly, your freedom ends where mine begins. YOUR freedom shall NOT infringe upon MY freedom to live, to love, to thrive, to pursue my happiness as I will. And my freedom likewise ends where yours begins.
    So speaking as a liberal, I can’t agree that we don’t give a rat’s patootie what you do, as long as it doesn’t… affect us. The liberal is more likely to be on the side of the individual, but, when acting the diplomat, he must adopt a fatherly stance. Some conservative has coined a phrase, similiar to The “Nanny Stance”. The liberal might feel some responsibility to educate the children, address their health, and consistent with that, to protect them from themselves. The conservative in a broad sense may be more likely to assure the proper payment of taxes. It is clear here that the over-riding issue discussed in this thread, which may be nearing an end, is placement of the dividing line; we are back to basics; how much freedom and liberty should the government permit the individual?
    All these details merge, but only when the legislators have the best interests of the nation, and of the individual citizens at heart. As I said earlier, if they choose to be puppets for corporations- a new and real threat- or if they simply rely on those who provide them financial support, the whole thing falls apart.
    Finally, most must agree that in situations that go beyond philosophical considerations, matters including the national defense, and the very specific matter of the national debt, and deficit, the time for political, and group fidelity has to end. Obstructionism is intolerable! It’s un-American. The real solution may be to bring a swift end all the contributions and support from any group that has even the appearance of purchasing favors.
    That stipulation might also extend to the media. Op/ed is op/ed, but it can be hazardous.
    I’m preaching to empty pews. You’ve all gone home. Hopefully Glenn Contrarian had a great and relaxing flight.

  • Cannonshop

    #63 I think you may have stumbled on the actual divide line, John, in your question of how much freedom the GOVERNMENT should permit the CITIZENS…

    That’s not the way it’s supposed to work, John, it’s how much POWER the CITIZENS should permit the GOVERNMENT…and that goes back to my original challenge to Glenn and Zing. “How much is enough?” The answer from the left, near as I can tell, is “Infinity, as long as it’s the Left in Power.”