Walking Down the Center of the Political Road

Any one who deviates from the Democratic or Republican base isn’t welcome anymore. It used to be that moderates could drive safely, while the extreme ideologues passed them in the breakdown lanes. Lately moderates have been pushed closer and closer to the center line. It feels like there wont be any room left on the major party highway soon.

We all know the Republican party has been pushing out those they deem “RINOs” for some time now. There was the “with us or against us” mentality of the Bush years, which has carried on in GOP rhetoric. Rush Limbaugh and a few other extreme conservative pundits have carried the torch. Republican senators have apologized to Limbaugh for challenging him. Dick Cheney and Colin Powell have had a publicized debate on the direction of the GOP, who belongs and who doesn’t.

And of course there is the internet chatter. Commenters on conservative blogs are quick to judge others who don’t quite fit the mold. Hell, they will turn on their own in a second like sharks at a feeding frenzy. There is strict code of what a Republican should be and if you deviate even an iota you’re fish food.

Tim from Balloon Juice has broken down this phenomenon for us in a handy to read post. Republicans must live up to what Tim calls “The List”

from Balloon Juice:

D.F. must simultaneously oppose abortion (always), support torture, wiretapping and aggressive war, question evolution and doubt global warming, fear muslims, hate taxes and really hate government healthcare. If D.F. fails a single point on the list then he’s clearly a bogus conservative, anathema and unwelcome to taint the pristine boards with his heterodoxy. The question of the day (e.g., did Sarah Palin harm the ticket) usually makes a guest appearance on The List, conveniently anathematizing anyone who disagrees with the putative topic of the thread.

I read a few Conservative blogs and check some to cite a story from time to time. Tim really isn’t far off. Commenters really do bash dissenters. That kind of behavior is not exclusive to Conservative blogs. Pick a topic people are passionate about. Search forums or blog comments on that topic and you will find the same kind of behavior. That doesn’t make it any less unsavory, especially for Republicans who have opinions on abortion, gay marriage, guns, etc., in conflict with the far right.

Unfortunately for old school Republicans much of the list doesn’t always mesh with core Republican values. All the baggage brought by the religious right when the Republicans whored themselves to the rr to pad the ballot box are not the same values men like Goldwater, Buckley, or Reagan cherished. Now the GOP is paying the piper, but unfortunately so are moderate Republicans.

Democrats will often try to claim the high ground on this issue. That they are all inclusive and friendly. Well that’s not quite so. Far left liberals can push those they don’t agree with away just as quickly and easily.

Robin at American Thinker wrote a few days ago about her experience as a Democrat who chose to vote for McCain. She might as well have been a leper the way her liberal friends, husband, and therapist were treating her. While debate and disagreement is healthy, people downright loathed her for her choice, and it is her choice to vote for whoever she wants, to vote for McCain. If McCain had campaigned as the McCain we once knew I may have voted for him too.

In the hey-day of Obama excitement, you really were a brave soul to admit to voting for McCain or once he was elected disagree with him. A youtube video posted by bloggerinterrupted even questioned a black man who said he would vote for McCain, practically saying he HAD to vote Obama just because he was black. Yes shame people over to your point of view.

Of course just because you’re a Democrat that doesn’t make you exempt from the “with us or against us” behavior. Moderate Dems have been pushed around by the party base. Back in February Blue Dogs senators complained that Nancy Pelosi treated them like “mushrooms” and got perturbed when they wanted to do outlandish things like read the legislation they were voting on. I wrote on my distaste for Harry Reid’s remarks on bipartisan efforts in regards to Mr. Obama’s economic stimulus bill. His posturing at the time was just what I never liked about the Bush administration. Now that the Dems were in power they were doing it too.

So where does this leave moderates? Quite possibly taking an exit to a new road. One where moderates can express their views and not be immediately attacked as a “traitor”. One where they can vote for a candidate that espouses all of their core values, not just some candidate all over the political map. Third party country, here we come!

Let It Go – Fueling the Rush fires

Remember Nightmare on Elm St? Freddy Kruger could attack people in their dreams. Kruger’s came from whether or not people believed in him. In the most recent film to feature the slasher, Freddy vs Jason, Freddy had become powerless because the folks in Springwood have placed a moratorium on speaking about the killer. It seems that no one in the Democratic party has seen any of the Nightmare movies. If they have they didn’t see what I saw. If the Dems and left pundits had they would shut the Hell up about Rush Limbaugh.

Rush is the talk of the town right now. Bloggers left and right can’t seem to type enough about him. The Dems blame him for spoiling the bipartisan spirit. Repubs are trying desperately to find the millimeter of Limbaugh’s ass they have yet to kiss. If the Whitehouse is looking for anyone to blame in this mess they ought to look in the mirror.

It all started with a little comment by Rush. You all know it by heart now. “I hope Obama fails.” The comment was splashed all over every sort of media outlet you could imagine. People got pissed. People ranted and raved. The President told Republicans to stop listening to Rush if they wanted to get things done. Then came the firestorm, just like Limbaugh wanted. Rush put out the bait and many, including myself, took it.

The Democrats made this Frankenstein’s Monster, now they’ve got to deal with it. Constantly trying to strike back at Rush is not the answer. An egomaniacal entertainer like Limbaugh thrive off that. He can take it back on the air and say “ah ha they attack me because they’re afraid.” And the cycle continues. The same goes for pundits like O’Reilly and Olbermann. They feed off publicity, good or bad. Though Keith is really just leeching off the infamy of those he blasts. He’d have a fifteen minute show if he didn’t

How do the reasonable people out there put a stop to this? We’re doing it already. Though the media, and unfortunately our government, thinks we care what Limbaugh has to say they’re wrong. Limbaugh speaks to a certain base. He doesn’t represent all republicans or even a majority. Limbaugh’s followers are mainly on the fringes. Even if people may agree with what he says on occasion, his abrasive delivery keeps a good portion away. It’s not any different than Michael More.

Michael More became the poster boy for anti-American leftism during the Bush administration. Roger and Me and Bowling for Columbine were two of my favorite movies. I never saw Fahrenheit 9/11, but it was clear after that point that More had taken a left turn and was driving till he ran out of gas. Republicans tried their damnedest to link More to the Democrats any way they could. The Democratic core loved Michael More and didn’t care about the associations. Dem politicians and moderates quickly claimed they’d never heard of that More guy. The moderate public turned away from More and he became a non-issue. He still pops up once in a while, but the media power he seemed to once wield is gone.

Limbaugh appears to be a similar animal

from Donklephant

Remember those dark days for Democrats just a few years ago when controversial characters like Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan became symbols of the liberal movement? Certain portions of the base loved it. The rest of American turned away.

Limbaugh could very well have the same effect on the conservative movement. And here’s why — like the Michael Moore of the Bush era, Limbaugh seems to be actively rooting against America. That’s not to say he’s anti-American (or that Moore is/was either), just that he’s so vituperative in his critique of the current administration that his words can easily be turned against him and the right in general.

Politically speaking, Democrats are smart to play up Limbaugh’s influence within the Republican party. But they don’t want to overplay it. If Obama’s early economic initiatives fail or if he mishandles an unforeseen foreign crisis, Limbaugh has the rhetorical power to whip American resentment into real anger. The more prominent he is, the more damaging to the Democrats he could be.

Limbaugh’s core will always love him. That should be of no concern to anyone. If the Republicans grow some balls and disassociate from Limbaugh, Rush will sink back to the safety of his strongest supporters. He will still periodically lob a few grenades into the trenches on the other side. That is what he does, and like his opinions or not he does it well. Keep poking Rushbo, keep bowing to him and you might find voters wont discount him as easily as they did More.

The Dreaded S Word – Socialism and U.S.

A lot of people have been throwing this term around lately. Some cheer at its mention. Others become red with rage. What could illicit such strong emotions? (Parents: small children should leave the room.)


SOCIALISM

The old boogeyman is back and in a big way. We heard the term thrown around by McCain and Palin during the election. Clearly, voters weren’t phased by the charges that Obama was as red as Trotsky.

The stimulus plan has become labeled as socialist by the right. Beck, O’Reilly, and Limbaugh, have sounded the alarm. We are heading down the road to a socialist state if we don’t act now they warn. I don’t disagree, but is the anti-socialist cry a bit too late for America? Are we headed down the road to European socialism? Is this good or bad for America? In a short series, that I just decided to do this very moment, I will explore these questions from as many angles as I can stand.

Let’s get the easiest thing out of the way first. The largest problem I have with the S Word is it’s misuse. This has nothing to do with my support or opposition of Socialism. It really rubs me the wrong way when someone ignorantly tosses the word around in the wrong context. One of the biggest culprits is Elisabeth Hasselbeck of The View.

A little over a week ago the ladies on The View broke into yet another near riot. The catalyst this time was a new PSA released by Ashley Judd on wolf hunting in Alaska.

from Candy Kirby

Elisabeth Hasselbeck, wearing pilgrim garb on The View in support of her puritanical views, today lambasted Ashley Judd’s PSA slamming Sarah Palin for supporting the killing of wolves in Alaska. She started out with a rational argument, noting that wolf downsizing is part of a predator control program to help the struggling caribou population — trust me, I’m not agreeing with the argument, but at least it made a modicum of sense — but THEN…

Hasselwreck [sic] threw in her usual dose of crazy by asking if Ashley also defends the hundreds of thousands of babies “killed in abortions” each year. Yes, from wolf slaughtering to a woman’s right to choose: a logical leap. When Joy Behar asked that she stay on topic, Hasselwreck [sic] said she would talk about whatever the hell she wanted to talk about, and demanded to know if she was at “the Socialist table.”


Ok that wasn’t that most impartial source to draw from, but they weren’t exaggerating much. I’m not trying to pick on Elisabeth Hasselbeck, other people on the show make asses of themselves (Joy) or have no idea what they are talking about (Sherri) almost as much as Elisabeth. Hasselbeck is just so loud and obvious about it.

To call the table “Socialist” is wrong. Socialism does not always come with a rejection of civil rights like free speech. I can evolve into such, like in Soviet Russia or China, but socialism does not mean a rejection of rights. Socialism points to government involvement in markets and ownership.

from Wikipedia
Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating public or state ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal opportunities for all individuals, with a fair or egalitarian method of compensation.

If you want to speak out against Socialism infringing on your property rights I’ll back you. Do you disagree with that much government interference in the market? That’s fine by me. Please stop equating socialism with a moratorium on free speech. As far as I know, you can still say whatever stupid thing you want in Sweden and not be arrested.

The Dreaded S Word – Socialism and U.S.

A lot of people have been throwing this term around lately. Some cheer at its mention. Others become red with rage. What could illicit such strong emotions? (Parents: small children should leave the room.)


SOCIALISM

The old boogeyman is back and in a big way. We heard the term thrown around by McCain and Palin during the election. Clearly, voters weren’t phased by the charges that Obama was as red as Trotsky.

The stimulus plan has become labeled as socialist by the right. Beck, O’Reilly, and Limbaugh, have sounded the alarm. We are heading down the road to a socialist state if we don’t act now they warn. I don’t disagree, but is the anti-socialist cry a bit too late for America? Are we headed down the road to European socialism? Is this good or bad for America? In a short series, that I just decided to do this very moment, I will explore these questions from as many angles as I can stand.

Let’s get the easiest thing out of the way first. The largest problem I have with the S Word is it’s misuse. This has nothing to do with my support or opposition of Socialism. It really rubs me the wrong way when someone ignorantly tosses the word around in the wrong context. One of the biggest culprits is Elisabeth Hasselbeck of The View.

A little over a week ago the ladies on The View broke into yet another near riot. The catalyst this time was a new PSA released by Ashley Judd on wolf hunting in Alaska.

from Candy Kirby

Elisabeth Hasselbeck, wearing pilgrim garb on The View in support of her puritanical views, today lambasted Ashley Judd’s PSA slamming Sarah Palin for supporting the killing of wolves in Alaska. She started out with a rational argument, noting that wolf downsizing is part of a predator control program to help the struggling caribou population — trust me, I’m not agreeing with the argument, but at least it made a modicum of sense — but THEN…

Hasselwreck [sic] threw in her usual dose of crazy by asking if Ashley also defends the hundreds of thousands of babies “killed in abortions” each year. Yes, from wolf slaughtering to a woman’s right to choose: a logical leap. When Joy Behar asked that she stay on topic, Hasselwreck [sic] said she would talk about whatever the hell she wanted to talk about, and demanded to know if she was at “the Socialist table.”


Ok that wasn’t that most impartial source to draw from, but they weren’t exaggerating much. I’m not trying to pick on Elisabeth Hasselbeck, other people on the show make asses of themselves (Joy) or have no idea what they are talking about (Sherri) almost as much as Elisabeth. Hasselbeck is just so loud and obvious about it.

To call the table “Socialist” is wrong. Socialism does not always come with a rejection of civil rights like free speech. I can evolve into such, like in Soviet Russia or China, but socialism does not mean a rejection of rights. Socialism points to government involvement in markets and ownership.

from Wikipedia
Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating public or state ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal opportunities for all individuals, with a fair or egalitarian method of compensation.

If you want to speak out against Socialism infringing on your property rights I’ll back you. Do you disagree with that much government interference in the market? That’s fine by me. Please stop equating socialism with a moratorium on free speech. As far as I know, you can still say whatever stupid thing you want in Sweden and not be arrested.


Blogs for Lunch – Stimulus Opinion, Conservative Keynesians, Red States, Obama or Rush

Purple Center: Stimulus plan short on stimulus

The Moderate Voice: We’re all Keynesians down here

Donklephant: The Red State shuffle

Balloon Juice: Dumb cat, smart cat

I think it goes without saying, but the opinions found at these blogs do not necessarily reflect those of The Maine View.

Agree to Disagree – Is compromise always best?

Rush Limbaugh has made it to the big time. Yesterday Limbaugh wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal detailing his version of the stimulus plan, which I covered last week. The column was a rehash of the proposal he released on his show as the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009. The column itself made for an enjoyable read. I could see all of Rush’s points, and agree with a few, without all that jargonizing getting it the way. I guess sensible talk is not what brings in Rush the big bucks.

Take the opening paragraph: There’s a serious debate in this country as to how best to end the recession. The average recession will last five to 11 months; the average recovery will last six years. Recessions will end on their own if they’re left alone. What can make the recession worse is the wrong kind of government intervention.

There are a some misleading facts. Only recessions counted from 1945 to 2007 average out to 5 to 11 months. Roughly ten recessions occurred prior, including the Great Depression. Most administrations did attempt to intervene in the crises with varying degrees of success. Rush and many others, myself included, question whether or not the current stimulus is the best approach.

The solution proposed by Limbaugh is a compromise between spending (Keynesian) and tax cuts (Supply-Side). Maybe a compromise isn’t the best solution either.

Compromises have brought us some great things in history. Our Bill of Rights is the product of a compromise between Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Compromises don’t always produce the best results. The Reconstruction Era led to decades of discrimination, violence, and terrorism against religious, ethnic, and racial minorities.

A compromise just to prove Obama is bipartisan or to save hurt feelings of those who oppose the stimulus is wrong. This isn’t the schoolyard. No one should be forced to make compromises with our money and economy in the name of togetherness. I want the best plan there is. If that comes through a compromise then OK. If it comes from the Dems or if it comes from the GOP I don’t care. As long as this thing is not a waste of money and helps get us back on the right track quicker than doing nothing at all I’m behind whoever proposes the stimulus.

Now is the time for decisive action. Stop the in fighting, keep the debate going. Work the best solution to the problem. Quit the handholding kumbya and quit power games. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but there is a middle ground on how to approach the stimulus here.

The Insanity Begins – Rush Limbaugh, Obama, and the comming pundit wars

The pundits on the extreme right have begun their crusade. The war of words began with Rush Limbaugh’s comment that he hoped President Obama would fail. President Obama stood up for himself, as I would hope any president right of left, would do. Obama recently said to GOP leaders, “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.” A Whitehouse official followed up saying, “There are big things that unify Republicans and Democrats. We shouldn’t let partisan politics derail what are very important things that need to get done.” Well you would think Obama said Rush kept a copy of Stupid White Men hidden under an Atlas Shrugged slipcover.

Rush shot back saying “One prong of the Great Unifier’s plan is to isolate elected Republicans from their voters and supporters by making the argument about me and not about his plan. He is hoping that these Republicans will also publicly denounce me and thus marginalize me. And who knows? Are ideological and philosophical ties enough to keep the GOP loyal to their voters?”

There are quite a few holes in Rush’s argument. Obama came right out with a message of unification in his inauguration speech. Rush bashed Republicans who were joining the post-partisan spirit. “We are being told we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over and grab our ankles … because his father was black, because he’s the first black president, we’ve got to accept this.” The President called Limbaugh out on his attempt to crack the spirit of cooperation.

I knew this would happen. If Rush, Coulter, and whoever else started saying, “You know this country is crashing down. It might be time to put our agendas aside and pick up this country together.” Instead he gives us more rabid yelling without really giving a solution. Oh wait. There’s the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009. Really, I’m not joking here.

Limbaugh now fancies himself as a great uniter. First you despise unity. Now you embrace it. Make up your mind, Rush. I wont rehash the entire plan here; you can read it yourself. I will say however it was a bit like read a high school student’s economics project. Maybe I’m giving it a bit too much credit. Rush says 54% of American voted for Obama and 46% for McCain. In Rush’s plan the one trillion stimulus would be split on those lines; $540 billion for Obama to spend “his way” and $460 billion goes to “the other people of this country who did not vote for his way…spent the way they would like it spent.” The way they would like it to be spent apparently means “tax cuts, as determined by me” to Rush Limbaugh. To think that Rush Limbaugh represents 10% of the population let alone 46% is bordering on delusional. Obama has only been in office a week, in case you forgot. I think you all remember that famous line from All About Eve that would be appropriate here.

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