We’re all used to the partisan “Left/Right” convention that is used to factionalize and keep us from talking to each other. Diatribes full of hyperbole pass for political discourse, and listening has become a lost art. This is bad enough but one subject in particular gets shut out of the conversation when it is dominated by shock and awe: what about Freedom? Creeping authoritarianism is of greater concern to me than social policy, so it was of great interest when I came upon a sensible dialogue between two writers who approach issues differently but share more than we might expect. Their exchange follows below.
The urge to confront the 800-pound gorilla in the room (creeping government control) is a sub-text in much of what is written today. With the rise of so many technological tools that invade our privacy, read and record our communications, and provide access that any dictator would drool over- is it almost a no-brainer to assume they will be used against us. If we remain in our cheerleading sections busy despising each other, we’ll miss any opportunity to rein in or control the mechanisms of tyranny now being assembled.
With this in mind, COTO Report has set up this new page, Bridges, for cross-border dialogues. Here we will link specific bridge pieces posted at COTO Report, where full discussion across the political spectrum can be nurtured. The only rules are no ad hominem comments, and stick to the topic.
PS: stay tuned for how this all moves to the new “Bridges” page next to the Gum Wall!
Aspen Times Weekly
Barack Obama is the best thing that has happened to America in the last 100 years. Truly, he is the savior of America’s future. He is the best thing ever.
Despite the fact that he has some of the lowest approval ratings among recent presidents, history will see Barack Obama as the source of America’s resurrection. Barack Obama has plunged the country into levels of debt that we could not have previously imagined; his efforts to nationalize health care have been met with fierce resistance nationwide; TARP bailouts and stimulus spending have shown little positive effect on the national economy; unemployment is unacceptably high and looks to remain that way for most of a decade; legacy entitlement programs have ballooned to unsustainable levels, and there is a seething anger in the populace.
That’s why Barack Obama is such a good thing for America.
Obama is the symbol of a creeping liberalism that has infected our society like a cancer for the last 100 years. Just as Hitler is the face of fascism, Obama will go down in history as the face of unchecked liberalism. The cancer metastasized to the point where it could no longer be ignored.
Average Americans who have quietly gone about their lives, earning a paycheck, contributing to their favorite charities, going to high school football games on Friday night, spending their weekends at the beach or on hunting trips — they’ve gotten off the fence. They’ve woken up. There is a level of political activism in this country that we haven’t seen since the American Revolution, and Barack Obama has been the catalyst that has sparked a restructuring of the American political and social consciousness.
Think of the crap we’ve slowly learned to tolerate over the past 50 years as liberalism sought to re-structure the America that was the symbol of freedom and liberty to all the people of the world. Immigration laws were ignored on the basis of compassion. Welfare policies encouraged irresponsibility, the fracturing of families, and a cycle of generations of dependency. Debt was regarded as a tonic to lubricate the economy. Our children left school having been taught that they are exceptional and special, while great numbers of them cannot perform basic functions of mathematics and literacy. Legislators decided that people could not be trusted to defend their own homes, and stripped citizens of their rights to own firearms. Productive members of society have been penalized with a heavy burden of taxes in order to support legions of do-nothings who loll around, reveling in their addictions, obesity, indolence, ignorance and “disabilities.” Criminals have been arrested and re-arrested, coddled and set free to pillage the citizenry yet again. Lawyers routinely extort fortunes from doctors, contractors and business people with dubious torts.
We slowly learned to tolerate these outrages, shaking our heads in disbelief, and we went on with our lives.
But Barack Obama has ripped the lid off a seething cauldron of dissatisfaction and unrest.
In the time of Barack Obama, Black Panther members stand outside polling places in black commando uniforms, slapping truncheons into their palms. ACORN — a taxpayer-supported organization — is given a role in taking the census, even after its members were caught on tape offering advice to set up child prostitution rings. A former Communist is given a paid government position in the White House as an advisor to the president. Auto companies are taken over by the government, and the auto workers’ union — whose contracts are completely insupportable in any economic sense — is rewarded with a stake in the company. Government bails out Wall Street investment bankers and insurance companies, who pay their executives outrageous bonuses as thanks for the public support. Terrorists are read their Miranda rights and given free lawyers. And, despite overwhelming public disapproval, Barack Obama has pushed forward with a health care plan that would re-structure one-sixth of the American economy.
I don’t know about you, but the other day I was at the courthouse doing some business, and I stepped into the court clerk’s office and changed my voter affiliation from “Independent” to “Republican.” I am under no illusion that the Republican party is perfect, but at least they’re starting to awaken to the fact that we cannot sustain massive levels of debt; we cannot afford to hand out billions of dollars in corporate subsidies; we have to somehow trim our massive entitlement programs; we can no longer be the world’s policeman and dole out billions in aid to countries whose citizens seek to harm us.
Literally millions of Americans have had enough. They’re organizing, they’re studying the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, they’re reading history and case law, they’re showing up at rallies and meetings, and a slew of conservative candidates are throwing their hats into the ring. Is there a revolution brewing? Yes, in the sense that there is a keen awareness that our priorities and sensibilities must be radically re-structured. Will it be a violent revolution? No. It will be done through the interpretation of the original document that has guided us for 220 years — the Constitution. Just as the pendulum swung to embrace political correctness and liberalism, there will be a backlash, a complete repudiation of a hundred years of nonsense. A hundred years from now, history will perceive the year 2010 as the time when America got back on the right track. And for that, we can thank Barack Hussein Obama.
Gary Hubbell is a hunter, rancher, and former hunting and fly-fishing guide. Gary works as a Colorado ranch real estate broker. He can be reached through his website, aspenranchrealestate.com.
I read with interest your essay:
Even though I have a different view on many issues, I get the feeling that at a deep level we have very much the same concerns. The Constitution is being trampled, the wealth of the nation is being wasted, the government is more and more intruding into our lives, education is a joke, the healthcare bill is unbelievably horrible, we’re over-extended in idiotic wars, and the list goes on. At this level I think we are mostly in agreement.
But is the cause really ‘creeping liberalism’? The way I see it, there has been a very smooth continuity between the Bush and Obama administrations. Bush started the wars, and Obama has expanded them. Bush pushed through the unconstitutional Patriot Act, and Obama extended it. Bush presided over the collapse and initial bailouts, and Obama expanded the bailouts, both of them leaving us with debt obligations that could never possibly be repaid. Bush brought in torture and indefinite detention, and Obama has made these official ongoing policy. Where’s there any real difference, except in the speeches? I think Bush was more honest, and Obama more the liar, but the bottom line is they both have been pushing the same basic agenda.
You mention immigration, the treatment of criminals, the welfare system, taxation, extorting lawyers, etc. Weren’t all these things happening more or less the same way under Bush? I think they were, but I don’t blame it on ‘creeping conservatism’. I don’t really see liberalism or conservatism as being relevant to what happens in Washington.
Washington is one big rich-boys club, and the most successful, enduring politicians of both parties are more concerned with staying in the club — with all its perks — than they are with ideology. When they make speeches, they use language that appeals to their constituency. When they vote, they pay attention to who funds their campaigns, and who promises them a cushy job on retirement. The real power in Washington is the money power.
It wasn’t liberals or conservatives that crafted the healthcare bill, it was the insurance companies. And look at Obama’s White House, it isn’t liberals or conservatives, it’s folks from Wall Street, the ones who caused the collapse and then demanded to be bailed out. Money rules, and the biggest money is Wall Street, and the privately owned Federal Reserve. They’re the ones who print the stuff. The Wall Street folks, and their cronies, are the ones who own the mass media — both the liberal and conservative variety of media.
We’re being played for suckers, with this liberal vs. conservative game. The liberals go to sleep when someone like Obama is in office, and the conservatives go to sleep when someone like Bush is in office. Taking turns, both sides keep hoping things will get better with the next election, like a donkey following a carrot.
Liberals won’t vote for Ralph Nader, because that would help the right, and conservatives won’t vote for Ron Paul because that would help the left. Only a rebellious few vote for who really represents them, and the rest are forced to the two mainstream parties, both of which are bought and paid for.
I really like your nickname, ‘The Redneck tree hugger’, because it bridges across the divides: you can be a conservative and care about the environment at the same time. I wish we could sit down and chat about things. We need to restore the Constitution, where it says all powers not delegated specifically to the Federal Government are reserved to the States, or to the people respectively. But we aren’t going to get there with the help of the Republicans or the Democrats. We’ve got to find another way.
american living in ireland
where things aren’t quite so crazy yet
( Richard’s “about me” page: http://quaylargo.com/rkm/rkm_bio.html ) see also:
Subject: Re: An open letter to Gary Hubbell
I am in absolute agreement with everything you wrote. If you’ll research my columns over the years, you’ll see that I was never a fan of George W. Bush. In fact, I was a very strident critic. I was not in favor of the TARP bailouts when they were first proposed by Bush, and you are absolutely correct that Obama stepped right in and finished what Bush had started. Mind you, Timothy Geithner, the Keebler elf, was first employed at Treasury by Bush.
Bush never represented conservatism to me. Indeed, the word “conservative”, as Webster defines it, means “afraid of change.” That definition doesn’t work for me. In fact, I’m not sure I am a quote/unquote “conservative”. Call me a Constitutionalist. Was Bush a true conservative? By his actions, I say no. Signing a $400 billion drug entitlement for seniors into law is by definition an act of liberalism. Allowing the deficit to become bloated and unmanageable was an act of liberalism. Sitting down with John McCain and the Democrats to craft an amnesty act for illegal aliens was liberalism. I remember Bush’s surprise and shock when people rose up against the amnesty bill. It showed just how out of touch he was with the people. The big cheerleader for the amnesty bill was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a staunch Republican ally. To me, it seems that such a stance would be openly advocating the subversion of the American people. I mean, let’s take jobs away from taxpaying citizens and give them to foreign invaders who are willing to work for less? Are you kidding? Just so you can hire dishwashers at Denny’s and meatpackers in Omaha for a cheaper wage? Was this conservatism? Absolutely not–it was greed. No wonder people are pissed off at the Republicans. They’ve earned it.
You mentioned health care. Ah, health care. You are absolutely correct that Obama has handed a very big plum to the insurance companies. Nothing in his bill encourages competition or the elimination of waste. I wrote a column over a year ago about health care. When we go to the doctor’s office, why isn’t there a keyboard and a screen in the waiting room to sit down and enter all our information ONCE? Instead, you fill out four different forms by hand with the same information, for four different droids to enter into four different systems. People with medical conditions or surgeries that were resolved four years ago are stilling getting dribs and drabs of bills sent to them. It is massively inefficient, and truly, doctors are such lousy businessmen and women that they brought this monstrosity upon themselves. They did such a poor job of running their business that they left the door wide open for government to step in, and we are the poorer for it.
A student of our nation’s history learns that our founding documents were very carefully crafted by very wise men who had experienced significant difficulties and conquered them. The Constitution is not a document to be ignored. It is THE roadmap to prosperity, opportunity, liberty, equality, and freedom. Every European that travels to the U.S. wants to see the open road in the Utah desert at Monument Valley, where that highway stretches endlessly into the distance of those desert monoliths. Why? Freedom.
When we ignore our Constitution in an effort to engineer a desired result, we always result in a loss of freedom. Sure, we may have more diversity in our colleges and universities, for example, but tilting the scales to produce an artificial diversity has resulted in the first generation of Americans to have a lower college graduation rate than the generation before. Instead of starting at the very beginning–a cultural change that treasures education and opportunity instead of ignorance and dependency–we’ve denied opportunities for those who have earned them. And, by default, we chip away at personal freedoms.
I’ve never been afraid of change. I want to know why I can’t plug my electric car into my solar panel and drive 150 miles without supporting a Saudi terrorist financier or an environmental catastrophe such as the tar sands in Canada. The problem is it would be hard to tax my driving miles in this scenario, so government kinda likes that oil company disaster that we’ve been chained to for 100 years.
And Wall Street! Now you got me started. I’ve guided all kinds of Wall Street guys on fly-fishing trips and hunting trips. When you spend 8 hours on a trout stream with a guy, you get to know quite a lot about him. Here’s what I learned: they’re not smarter than you or me; they’re not necessarily so talented or observant. They are, however, extremely motivated, extremely greedy, and they’re cunning. They’re willing to work 15 hours a day and sleep in the office if that’s what it takes to make $40 million in bonuses this year. They will neglect their families, they will treat others like dirt. They act as if they have a special form of entitlement, and they do. It’s called great wealth. It’s called flying a G4 instead of coach. We, the people, as individual investors, are simply feeding the beast. Your IRA, Keogh plan, 401K–by investing in the stock market, you are subsidizing this incredible greed. Any gains you make in the stock market are basically luck, because after they’re done collecting their monstrous fees for putting together mergers and acquisitions, initial stock offerings, preferred stock, stock options–all the meat is stripped from the bones of any deal, and your investment is what allowed it to happen. Is this wrong or unconstitutional? No, but basing the entire world economy on packaging derivatives insured by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae on mortgages that were guaranteed by the federal government on the false premise of “everyone should own a home” social engineering is wrong. You can blame Barney Frank and Bill Clinton, you can blame George Bush and Henry Paulson, but it happened on the watch of both parties, and it’s wrong. We, as taxpayers, subsidized the largest “house of cards” Ponzi scheme ever in world history, and it’s still going on. That TARP bailout money you spoke about? Well, there were 1,300 foreclosures last year in Mesa County, Colorado, out of 130,000 residents. That’s 1% of all RESIDENTS, including kindergartners. Those homes should be selling for $100,000 each, investors with money in the bank should be able to make a good profit, and the market should kick-start again at 50% of the previous value. However, so many bank loans are being guaranteed by TARP money that the banks aren’t selling the foreclosures at a loss; they’re holding them until they get a big fat insurance check from the government, and then they’re bundling those loans and selling them in $250 million packages to…DRUMROLL…WALL STREET! If you don’t have $250 million to spend, you can’t play. So the homes are selling in big bundles at 10 cents on the dollar instead of going to auction locally for 50-70 cents on the dollar. And who is subsidizing this? You, the taxpayer. And Wall Street–which created this whole mess in the first place–wins again.
So where do we go from here? There’s only one place, in my opinion, and that is back to the beginning–the Constitution. We need to challenge every candidate running for election to run on one very basic set of principles: 1) is your vote Constitutional, and 2) will you return us to fiscal viability and balance the federal budget. I couldn’t care less about some federal pork-barrel project coming back to my district. I would much rather have the credit card paid off, wouldn’t you? If that candidate happens to be Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian–I don’t care. I do feel, however, that the Republican Party, with all its MANY flaws, of which I have enumerated several above, has the best chance to achieve those goals. Personally, a third party would be a wonderful solution in my eyes, but in the interim we would be ceding power to the Democrats, who have absolutely no restraint and no respect for the Constitution. Their greatest goal is to take away liberties from the people and grant special privileges to groups that don’t deserve them in an effort to create equality. The Tea Parties have become the conscience that the Republicans were missing. Any Republican candidates who don’t listen to the drumroll of protest in the form of the Tea Party activists are going to get their asses handed to them. See Example A, Charlie Crist, and Example B, John McCain. Next up? Lindsey Graham. So I will work within this framework, for now, knowing full well that it is flawed, but possible. You know what’s interesting to me? Your missive to me was very well stated, and there is an undeniable logic both in my original column and your response. I appreciate the dialogue. However, when I receive the occasional missive from a die-hard liberal, it usually involves some very angry name-calling in the form of one or two sentences from someone unwilling to identify themselves. I, for example, am a “fucktard”, according to one such woman. They can’t come up with any rational argument against what I have written, so they resort to hate speech. To me, that means I’m winning the debate, and so are many thousands of citizens who have finally stood up and become recognized. The groundswell is beginning.
An aside for you–I have been contacted personally by three Congressional candidates and the front-runner in the race for governor of Colorado, thanking me for my writings and assuring me that we, the people, are being heard. That’s a start, isn’t it? And one final note–I’m predicting a new wave of candidates for the future, and they will be very formidable indeed. The veterans who have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home and becoming involved, and it’s going to be very hard for entrenched liberals to reason with these service veterans who have been tempered in combat, serving our country in a hostile environment abroad. I don’t care if you agree with the cause or not, you have to respect their service. This is the new wave of Constitutionalists, and rationale always trumps emotion.
Thanks for writing.
I see you’re ahead of me regarding the continuity of Republicans and Democrats. Hope I didn’t sound condescending in what I wrote.
(Gary commented: “when I receive the occasional missive from a die-hard liberal, it usually involves some very angry name-calling”)
This is really the reason I wrote. Between left and right there’s lots of ranting but little dialog. If only people would listen to one another they’d find there are real people on both sides. I could tell by your article that you’re someone who thinks for himself, and I was glad to have an opportunity for some useful discussion.
I was raised as a liberal. I remember how pleased I was when Kennedy sent in troops to protect black students, and when the Civil Rights Bill was passed. It took me many years to realize that the net result was the centralization of power in Washington, while blacks continue to be treated as second-class citizens. I believe Kennedy was well-intentioned, but we know where good intentions can lead. I no longer identify with any political faction.
I’d like to suggest another perspective on liberalism. The fact is that the majority of the population in North America and Europe are liberal in their thinking. The dream of the liberal is a government that serves the people, balances the budget, promotes prosperity, avoids wars, and protects our rights. They think it is possible, if only the right people get in power. They don’t think too much about the fact that whenever you ask the government to do something for you, you’re giving them power to do that — plus whatever else they decide to use the power for. And liberals can’t bring themselves to see that government is basically a conspiracy against the people — they reject that along with all other ‘conspiracy theories’.
Since liberals are the majority, the mainstream propaganda is aimed at liberals, and phrased in liberal language. Conservatives are quite right to call it the ‘liberal media’. The healthcare bill, for example, was sold by the media in liberal terms — ‘helping’ people who are not currently insured. The media also told people that Obama’s attempt to ‘help’ was being thwarted by ‘heartless’ Republicans.
So we get a situation where liberals are celebrating the passage of the healthcare bill, even when most of them don’t have a clue about what the bill really means. They were seeing the whole thing as a battle between good and evil, between ‘caring’ Obama and ‘heartless’ Republicans. They’ll accept ‘defects’ in the bill because they think it was ‘the best Obama could get’.
The whole thing was theater, a scam. The healthcare bill was settled in its fundamentals many months ago, written by insurance companies, and rubber-stamped by party leaders of both sides and by Obama. Then we had months of fake debate, giving Obama an excuse to ‘back down’ on major promises, so he’d look good to liberals. Meanwhile Republicans could point out how bad the bill is, so they can look like heroes when the shit hits the fan in the healthcare system, as it will. And on both sides of the aisle, campaign accounts had been boosted by contributions from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
The point I’m making is that the healthcare bill has nothing to do with liberal or conservative. It’s theft by insurance companies, abetted by corrupt politicians, and sold as ‘liberal’ by the corporate-owned media.
It isn’t that liberals ‘want things’, and then the government ‘gives it to them’. Rather, the wealthy elites that run the country decide what they want, and then they sell it in the media using liberal language. From a conservative perspective it might look like liberals are running things, but it’s an illusion. An illusion that many liberals buy into as well.
Your strategy is to work toward restoring the Constitution, and I support that. However, most liberals will oppose it, if it’s proposed by Republicans. Not because liberals dislike the Constitution, but because they don’t trust Republicans. And because the media will tell them that ‘Constitutionalism’ is fake, that it’s a cover for eroding civil rights, etc. etc. Whichever lie that works — to be discovered in focus groups.
As long as liberals see conservatives as ‘the problem’, and conservatives see liberals as ‘the problem’, then we’re never going to get anywhere. We’ll be played off against one another, and nobody will get what they really want. When the government wants to sell more ‘security’, they’ll use conservative language. When they want to sell more spending, they’ll use liberal language.
I believe that we need to start talking to people on the ‘other side’, rather than circling our wagons in opposition to one another. I don’t propose this as a political strategy, but rather as a pre-condition for developing an effective strategy. We won’t convert anyone to change sides, but we’ll learn that underneath our labels we all have similar concerns and hopes.
A Constitutional republic is supposed to operate by the consent of the governed. If the governed are divided against themselves, then government is free to do what it wants. If the governed can develop mutual understanding, they can stand as one voice and demand accountability.
thanks for the dialog,