Calling all Conservatives and Liberals!!

I just read an amazing essay by Bill Whittle over at in 2 parts. Conservatives and Liberals (and everyone else) should read this. Part 1 and Part 2

Some might think it is a bit long, but I would ask that everyone who has an interest in the United States read this. It is well worth the time.

I genearlly don’t like to blog about politics because it just makes people mad at each other. I consider myself to be more conservative about a lot of things and will be voting for Bush, because I actually like him. Understand this: how you vote does not indicate what kind of a person you are so I may disagree with what you believe, that doesn’t effect what I think about you as a person. That being said, I do want people to believe what I do. :) I also recognize that there are extremely intelligent people on both sides of the spectrum so no one can simply say you are a liberal so you are stuid and visa versa.

My worldview is also shaped by my Christian beliefs which I would also like everyone to believe. :) This does not mean that I will automatically vote for Bush, I know many Christians who will not be voting for Bush. I am voting for Bush because I believe he has shown that is truly is a leader and will continue to lead the US in a great way with correct convictions that will protect us as a country.

I am a little disappointed in that it seems many Kerry supporters are Kerry supporters because they don’t like Bush. You should support someone because you think they are the one for the job not because you don’t like the other one.

Anyway, you should definitely take the time to read the essay, it will be well worth your while.


Original Post with extensive comments. [UPDATE: Original post and comments are no longer available. :( sorry!]

Another thought:
We like to say that the world changed that day. What a ridiculous, self-centered thought. The world didn’t change. Our illusions about the world changed. The scales had (mostly) fallen from my eyes in the years leading up to that morning. But many, many conservatives (as I define myself) were born precisely at 9:17 am EDT, when United 175 flew past the burning North Tower – an accident? – and exploded through the second, on the morning of September the 11th, 2001.
I don’t know if Whittle is a Christian, I haven’t seen anything to suggest that he is or isn’t. But this quite immediately brought some lyrics to mind. Sorry if you think I over quite Five Iron Frenzy, I probably do, but this was just very fitting.

Night came and I broke my stride, I swallowed hard, but never cried. When grace was easy to forget, I’d denounce the hypocrites, casting first stones, killing my own. You would unscale my blind eyes, and I stood battered, but more wise, fighting to accelerate, shaking free from crippling weight. With resilience unsurpassed, I clawed my way to You at last. And on my knees, I wept at Your feet, I finally believed, that You still loved me.

Response from ADW
…except Matt, when you are essentially locked into a 2 party system it is a little more complex than simply voting for who you think is best for the job. I mean how much air time has the likes of Ralph Nader had? He’s not really invited to the soundbyte war that’s currently going on. So if I’m not very happy with Bush (which I am not) then I need to think very carefully whether Kerry is at least not as bad as Bush and whether I want to risk voting for somebody I really want in the office etc.

Its this same kind of black & white mentality that I feel Bush is working under. I don’t think that politics is as simple as he is making it out to be. I wish it was, and I think a lot of Bush supporters wish that it was to the point that they actually believe it is.

Consequently I do agree with you about not voting according to party line but rather on a case by case basis. I appreciate the open forum you provide at your blog and the range of topics covered as well as the thoughtfulness behind your posts.

Upon review of the linked article above I have to express my dissappointment. Matt, it seems to me to be the same thing we were talking about…oversimplifi cation. Am I supposed to feel better about the fact that the author used to be more liberal? His own picture of his formal “liberal” self is of an oversimplified characiture that I do not at all identify with. It seems to me to be the very same “cheerleading” I hear from both sides that really doesn’t accomplish anything but to make set conservatives feel good about their position. Is his confession that he used to think burglars should steal from him really supposed to appeal to liberals, or for that matter anyone? I can just as easily find liberal posts that do the same for the other side.

His assessments of Kerry are done oversimply which again is attractive because we have to think less but unfortunately doesn’t get the job done as far as really getting somewhere. I don’t think I’m being unfair to him and I don’t think he’s lying. I just think he, like many others, are turning complex issues into easy black and white choices that can be made from the comfort of your own laptop.

I think we need to start reading books on political and diplomatic theory and start talking to people in person who have more knowledge and wisdom in this area and use them as resources. I am constantly dissappointed by the lack of effort involved in this process. Don’t get me wrong, countless hours can be spent on-line gathering info from newsposts and blogs but in the end it appears that we’re getting a lot of the same cheerleading that I just spent 30 minutes reading.

Please, let me know if you think I’m being unfair.


Addendum II:
I wish we had more, equal, parties that we could vote for. Yeah, you could vote for Nader, but that would essentially be a vote for Bush, so what is the point? I would love to see three or four, equally footed, parties that would give us more options. As big a fan of Bush as I am, I do disagree with many of his policies. As big an un-fan I am of Kerry, I do agree with some of his policies. What I need to figure out how to do is genetically combine the two to make an uber-candidate. But, as you said, we are forced to pick between the lesser of two evils. That being said, I do feel that Bush is quite a bit lesser of two evils.

As far as oversimplification goes for the Whittile article goes, I would have to agree and disagree. I believe he has oversimplified because he is only writing an essay. In order to deeply get into the complexities of what he has brought up in that article would require a book, I don’t know if Whittle would be able to do that sort of complex theorotical writing or not, I don’t know him. But I do agree that we should be rading those books, as I am sure they are out there. I have not read any of them and am lacking because of it. I did, however, feel that he was more complex than many others that I have read. As far as being one-sided, I think he was, and I think he knows he was. I don’t think he was trying not to be. I think he was suggesting that as a former liberal (whether he actually was or not, you would have to take up with him), this is how he has arrived at his current mind-set. I don’t think they way he arrived there will or shoudl work for everyone, but I believe it can and will work for some. That is probably just a true as the counter-arguments.

I think that Bush does see some things as black and white issues. I don’t feel that he doesn’t see the complexities that surrounds that, I just think that at some points you have to say, ok, these are complext issues with many options, you haven’t chose the one that I feel is correct so I am going to disagree with you. During the administration you can’t be as black and white as that (which he may have been during his last four years, to a degree), but during the debates that is exactly how they are going to be. They simply don’t have much time to get complex. Sadly, I see the debates as doing only two things. The first is good, they give the broad public access to what the condidates believe and where they stand on issues. Second is really bad, they essentailly become a who looked or sounded best contest. If someone is more eloquent or looked better, they are perceived as having done better.

Largely, I do see blogging as essentailly “cheerleading”. Does it ever change anyone? Probably not, but ya never know. At least, it sparks interesting debate. The potential to help flush out beliefs and make people think is a good thing. For me, what it comes down to is Bush and Kerry and what they say and stand for, not the cheerlearders (like me) on the sidelines. As I stated at the onset of this post, I don’t like posting political posts because they just make people mad at each other which is stupid. Having opposing political standpoints is a stupid reason to not like someone. Being unintelligent about things though… ;)

Response II from ADW:
Thanks Matt,

I of course understand that in any essay, debate, speech or even book for that matter a certain amount of simplification must go on. I know that this is a necessary evil and that benefits of the doubt must be given to both sides. That being said I’m not simply claiming that Bush is presenting complex things in black and white terms, I think that he really sees things in this light and creates his policy accordingly. Now this is a mostly coherent and mostly consistent practice on his part. And if you see the world in a similar way then you are going to much more easily see eye to eye with him.

I think that’s what a lot of this is about. How one sees and assimilates the surrounding world. In a way it makes it a much more personal thing and thats probably why its so easy to get angry when it comes to political posts. But I think that if we can recognize this, that political preference has much to do with how we see the world in our everyday experience then political difference will be easier to swallow and easier to talk about.

NOw I don’t mean to suggest that every Bush supporter necessarily sees his or her world in black and white. On the contrary I don’t think that’s true of you or many others. But what I am suspicious of is that in our armchair politics there is a high degree of oversimplification that must go on because of our lack of knowledge/experience . This is not to say that we cannot make wise decisions or increase in that knowledge but the point I’m trying to make is this: that it will be tempting to side with and identify with a candidate who actually oversimplifies in practice. There will be a high level of correspondence and sense-making between me and that candidate. But in reality I would much rather have someone who is dealing with blurred lines even if I have trouble understanding from my armchair.

My personal problem with Bush is not that I don’t understand him and his policies, they are coherent in and of themselves, its that I simply disagree with them and I may never hope to get a nuanced defence of them from him because by his own policy he simply does not answer to criticisms. He is ready to cut his losses. His claim is that if you don’t agree with me you probably just don’t agree with me and it will do no good to defend myself. I think this is a mistake. I think that critics have a right to hear a defense of policy. I would be bold enough to claim that my mind is open to being changed by Bush should he ever enage in the art of nuance and apologetics. That being said I don’t think he wil.


Addendum III:
Good stuff Andy and I pretty much agree with you. I think I do give Bush a little more credit. I agree that he probably does see many things as black and white, but I don’t think that is how he sees everything. That being said, I do tend to agree with those some of those things, even if he does see them as black and white.

Is there any way around oversimplification? The general public, most likely myself included, isn’t going to sit down and read books on political theory. I am all for people becoming more educated and feel that everyone is capable of that if they try, but the reality is that, on the most part, it won’t happen. So is there really any reason not to over simplify? Both parties over simplify and probably wouldn’t actually get very far if they didn’t oversimplify.

If we do simply side with someone because they make us feel better about their oversimplification, they we are missing something. If anything, I think that Bush doesn’t make us feel good because he does make hard decisions that we many not necessarily make ourselves. I think the Bush is compassionate towards people and therefore some of his views cannot be black and white because being compassionate means you will have to do things that some people will not like or feel good about because it can hurt in the present but will be better over time. I feel that Kerry is purely (maybe that is harsh and oversimple) calculational. That he just sees what will make people happy, what the current trends are and makes decisions based on that while not really looking at the over-all good. He seems very cold to me.

I agree that Bush is lacking in his defense of some of his policies. I think he would be wise to at least attempt to explain why he has choose certain courses of action. I think he does it well on some policies, but not others. It is a little defeatist to say “you disagree with me so you will always disagree with me so why bother explain?” I tend to agree with many of his policies but would still like to hear more from him.

On the other hand I feel that I don’t know what to take from Kerry. He record on defense is horrid so him telling me he is going to protect us, I find that a hard statement to swallow. He is concerned with making allies in Europe and that seems to be a very important issue to him. I would love to have friends all over the world, but that is somewhat secondary to our security and making “friends” with those that could actually help us with not just our own security, but the security of countries around the world, namely relationships with Muslim countries. If Muslim countries want to show the world that Islam is not full of suicide-bombing extremists, they are going to have to step up and help, we need to form relationships with them to help rid the world of these terrorists. Trying to pursue relationships with countries like France is somewhat futile in the fight against terror (their own interests are of upmost importance to thim, especially when it comes to Iraq and oil).

I guess it comes down to this, I shouldn’t accept the oversimplified statements that are made by either candidate, but with what I am given I have to make a decision, I think that Bush’s oversimplified views fall in line with what I believe, in my oversimplified mind. :)

I just tried to stay awake for the last debate… I finally had to change the channel. There was nothing new, I didn’t learn anything. Policy this, policy that… None of it meant anything. Kerry promised everything, and it all for free, I would love to be part of that. Bush pretty much jsut said stuff that has already been said, but at least I believe him and he has some passion. I just don’t believe a word Kerry says. Bush is real even if I don’t agree with everything he says.

Funny comment here.

Call it oversimple, but I think it is funny:
“Kerry said, “most importantly – and I mean most importantly – of restoring America’s reputation as a country that listens, is sensitive, brings people to our side, is the seeker of peace, not war, and that uses our high moral ground and high-level values to augment us in the war on terror, not to diminish us.”
Imagine President John Kerry at the Berlin Wall. “Mr. Gorbachev … I challenge you to get to an emotional place where you can imagine a different kind of non-wall reality, that fully respects the ‘wallness’ of your current reality, yet takes us on a spiritual journey in which …”" by Ann Coulter.

Good post over at with a letter from a soldier in Baghdad. You should check it out here.

There is an interesting post about American elections and what it will mean in Iraq by an Iraqi over at Messopotamian. It is worth the read. Yes he is just one person and doesn’t necessarily believe the same way as all Iraqis… but he might.

I keep adding more and more to this post. I just read an email exchange between Medienkritik and George Soros that is really insightful. Here is the link to the exchange.

I will quote some of it because it is really good stuff I think.
“You also made no attempt to answer my concerns involving the United Nations. I wrote, “There is nothing the United States could have done to convince nations like France or Russia to take 17 UN resolutions seriously and actually enforce them.”

Over a twelve-year period, Saddam Hussein refused to cooperate and abide by international law, hoping to eventually have sanctions lifted so he could resume development of weapons of mass destruction. Neither France, Russia nor China, all members of the Security Council with veto power, made any serious attempt to hold Saddam to over a dozen Security Council resolutions. In fact, the opposite is true. In 1998 when Hussein refused to cooperate with UNSCOM inspectors, France, Russia and China refused to back tough measures to get inspections back on track, resulting in the collapse of the UNSCOM inspection regime and the expulsion of UNSCOM inspectors from Iraq. It is also important to remember that all three nations had extensive business dealings with the Hussein government and were owed billions in debt by Iraq. Recently, allegations that Saddam bribed Russian and French officials have also prompted new questions as to those nations’ true motivation for resisting military action to enforce international law in Iraq.

Mr. Soros, in your book you quote the following passage from a UN commission reporting to Kofi Annan:

“The Security Council should take into account in all its deliberations that, if it fails to discharge its responsibilities to protect in conscience-shocking situations crying out for action, concerned states may not rule out other means to meet the gravity and urgency of the situation—and that the stature and credibility of the United Nations may suffer thereby.”

Not only did the United Nations fail on Iraq for twelve years, it also failed on genocide in Rwanda and it failed repeatedly in the Balkans. How can you honestly expect Americans to trust their national security to an organization with a track record of failure in a post 9/11 world? How do you expect the UN to effectively stand up to Iran and North Korea when they weren’t even able to deal with Rwanda or Kosovo? Clearly, “the stature and credibility of the United Nations” has suffered over the past decade.”


“Mr. Soros, you also add in your reply:

“I’m all in favor of removing tyrants like Saddam Hussein but the way we went about it has made it more, rather than less difficult, to do it in the future, because we acted unilaterally and arbitrarily.”

I appreciate the fact that you are in favor of removing tyrants like Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately, had we followed your plan to deal with Saddam through the United Nations, his regime of mass murder and torture would likely still exist today. I would contend that it is the fundamentally flawed United Nations system, chronically blocked from taking any real action to enforce vital resolutions, which has made it more, and not less difficult to remove brutal dictators from power. Mr. Soros, on page 118 of your book you state that NATO military action in Kosovo was justified even without a UN resolution, you write:

“I believe we were justified in intervening in Kosovo without UN authorization, and we would have done better if we had relied on NATO and not the United Nations in Bosnia. But unilateral action that goes against international public opinion cannot be justified, and it can endanger our national security by turning the world against us. That is what the Bush administration has accomplished by its rabid unilateralism.”

I disagree that the United States should base its national security policy on “international public opinion.” In many parts of the world it was unpopular to stand up to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, yet it was the right thing to do. In many parts of the world it was unpopular to oppose Fascism in World War II, yet it was the right thing to do. Bluntly put: The United States should not and cannot change its foreign policy to match the ever changing whims and fancies of international opinion. To ask it to do so would not only be impractical, it would endanger the nation’s security. It was right to act in Kosovo, and it was right to act in Iraq, where, by the way, the humanitarian situation was far worse.

You label the Bush administration’s actions as “rabid unilateralism” and on page 174 of your book you even call them “rampant unilateralism.” How so? The Bush administration spent months at the United Nations hoping against hope to see real action on Iraq. Nothing the President or anyone else could have done would have convinced nations like France, China and Russia to fully enforce the seventeen Security Council resolutions on the books concerning Iraq. That was the fundamental problem. We all know that the three veto powers opposing the US had big money tied up in Iraq. For them it was more about national interest and less about international justice.

So did President Bush subsequently engage on an “arbitrary” and “unilateral” campaign? Not at all. How can you call putting together a coalition of dozens of nations “ rabid unilateralism?” Tell the leaders of Great Britain, Poland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Denmark and the Netherlands that Mr. Bush is rabidly unilateral. Soldiers from all of those nations have fought and died next to American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush was enforcing the UN resolutions that the UN itself could not and would not enforce. How can we see a body that cannot even enforce its own laws as “legitimate” Mr. Soros?

Bluntly put: The United Nations Security Council and the five veto powers do not have a monopoly on the terms “multilateral” or “legitimate” nor does acting outside the United Nations necessarily make an action “unilateral” or “illegitimate.” That seems to be where we have a fundamental difference of opinion.

To me, a failure to confront a humanitarian crises or international threat through the United Nations is far more illegitimate than a willingness to take action outside the United Nations to confront that threat. Until we fundamentally reform the United Nations, this will always be an issue and a problem. I appreciate the suggestions you make in your book on UN reforms. The problem is actually getting them implemented. ”

Interesting stuff, eh?

[UPDATE: Original post and comments are no longer available. :( sorry!]

Categories: Politics

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