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By odd coincidence just yesterday the phrase 'compassionate conservative' came, after all these months, back to mind when I saw that Page One photo in the PDX Trib. My thought was: 'So finally, the paper shows the definition of compass.con.'
A Cambodian 10-year-old, missing a wrist and hand, fingers on the other side, an eye and cheek tissue, who according to the caption had "returned to school," and was 'gamely back at it, happy to be playing with his classmates, studying hard for the wonderful opportunities education provides, yessiree bub a real trooper.' Perhaps an unfortunate choice of caption (or very telling) since that's how it sounded to my ear.
I realize the article was about the Gold Star parents and the powerful goodness human nature reaches, seemingly in exact balance of the despair of gut-grueling grief -- just listen, don't talk. I thought of the child and I thought of Oregon's economic gain from Defense Dept landmine money going to Wah Chang down the Valley.
A band-aid for cure and never a suspicion of the cause.
Yeah, right. "Compassionate conservative."
As Heinrich Himmler used to say, "you can't spell 'compassionate conservative' without SS."
I actually know a lot of compassionate conservatives.
George Bush is not one of them, but Jon you will not advance the progressive cause by implying that all conservatives are nazis.
It's untrue and inflammatory.........
Certainly one can be a conservative without being fascist. But I wonder, how does a conservative show compassion without violating her political philosophy? And does that show of compassion deal with the problems at hand, or is it mostly an excuse for government inaction?
Sorry for the offense. The "SS" line was meant as a joke, and by no means intended to tar the entire conservative movement and its adherents with the brush of fascism.
I'll also assume analyses like "The American Taliban" won't pass muster, either.
I'll stick to fact/reality-based critiques to avoid both confusion and imperiling the progressive cause.
"But I wonder, how does a conservative show compassion without violating her political philosophy?"
What exactly do you think that philosophy is?
Excuse me now: I have to go and take care of a few blasphemers and adultresses down at the soccer field.
A former employer of mine who raised a large family and also adopted six kids, donated heavily to charity, and chose virtually all of his management staff from the blue collar rank and file.....I'd consider him to be a good example. He was also personally kind, modest, and empathetic.
I'm guessing Tom, that you're saying that if a conservative believes that the government is not the answer to society's inequities, they are disqualified for consideration as compassionate...........That's one of the things that keep Dems from efficiently exploiting the resources that wealthy and upper middle class progressives can bring to the struggle.
I happen to think that Brandon's cartoon addresses accurately the total obliviousness of GWB to the struggles of anyone not born into his level of privelege. Bush is consistent at least. Classmates and professors from his days at Yale recall him arguing that poverty is something that people bring on themselves and deserve (kind of like Original Sin) and worst of all, Bush also seems to believe that the wealthy have money because they deserve it.
There are a lot of conservatives that find Bush pretty appalling with his dishonesty, his use of faith as a weapon of convenience, his overseas adventurism, and his total lack of fiscal responsiblity.
And so my second question. Certainly many conservatives feel the emotion of compassion and take action on that emotion. But if one listens to people who run "compassion delivery" services that depend on private largesse, one will hear that charity does not come close to filling the need.
So I am not questioning the concern of compassionate conservatives. I am questioning their knowledge of the relevant realities and their reasoning process. In a cynical moment I would conclude that they are simply hypocritical.
That conservative philosophy would be that government has no business redistributing wealth that capitalism relentlessly concentrates [of course, conservatives would deny that last part]. At the same time, folks who call themselves conservatives usually support policies that make wealth inequality even more extreme. This may not be consistent with their own philosophy, but it sure happens a lot.
So Tom, a conservative would not be "showing compassion" by voluntarily contributing to charities while opposing forced redistribution of wealth?
Did you hear that Jack Bogdanski?
Your dollar-per-blog-hit charitable pledge lacks meaning without a clear record of support for progressive redistributionist policies.
Presumably that "No" vote on BM 30 casts some doubt on the authenticity of your compassionate nature with Mr. Civiletti.
PS - I'm not suggesting that Jack is a conservative, so leave that strawman alone.
In other words, conservative philosophy is no obstacle to showing compassion. Conservatives in fact can be as compassionate as people of other political persuasions. They just tend not to see government as a vehicle for compassion, or some notion of compassion.
In fact, they often feel that liberals/progressives have a faulty notion of human nature that leads to misguided policies that are meant to be compassionate, but result in worsening the lot of those they're intended to help and everyone else besides.
I was disappointed that the last thread we were involved in died off, since I cited an article wherein I believe that a misguided conception of compassion has shown to do more harm than good. That article is tangential to a thread dwelling on Bush's stupid comment, but it in case anyone is interested, here it is again:
Why do you all want to blame an entire political group for the comments and attitudes displayed by one complete idiot who for some unfathomable reason managed to get himself elected to the Presidency twice?
Bush's comments were a shocking display of silver-spoon-in-mouthness to be sure, but it's hardly representative of conservative compassion.
Sure, a conservative can feel compassion and act on it. Some conservatives may do a whole lot for others. I wonder though, if conservatives, as a class, do more good than harm, net, if their compassionate acts are weighed against their opposition to social programs.
I'll check out the article, Anthony.
Becky: The conservatives didn't support Gore or Kerry [or Nader].
I suspect Dumbya's remark was made out of jealousy since he can't handle ONE job.
The liberals didn't support Gore or Kerry either - if they had, they would have won. We all know there are more liberals than conservatives in this country. I hope liberals can finally get an exciting candidate the next time around. I don't see ANY interesting conservatives on the horizon. Of course, if the Democrats keep floating potential candidates like Kulongoski, then it's hopeless.
It says alot that the term 'compassionate coservatism' even exists. I never hear liberals bringing up compassionate liberalism.
It says to me that conservatives even recognize that their tag needs something to help it sell.
First, as a potential liberal, I think it is one thing to say that government should be a vehicle for equality in opportunity and another to say it should be a vehicle for compassion.
Interesting article you cite. I guess the question I have is whether social policies set by the government drive forces like single motherhood, divorce rates and crime or whether government is simply a response to social forces. How far back do we go to measure such influences and how far back does our history bear out on our policies today?
Did our government have the right response to issues of race and segregation, sexism and inequality forty years ago? What do we do to fix it? And is the question of the single mother working three jobs, "Where is the father?" or "Why does someone have to work three jobs to stay afloat in this economy?"
I think it makes sense that with the growth of America and loss of community that "compassionate" policies supplant the notion of helping ones' neighbor. You can no longer believe that someone will offer you charity when they know you're struggling, because most often, they don't know you're struggling. They could care less you're struggling. You don't even talk to them even though they live across the street.
While churches remain strongholds of community support, and a place to turn for some, they don't cater to everyone who suffers. In the recent past, government programs took the place of this "neighborly" support. This, however, has been in the decline, as nonprofit organizations begin providing this support--often receiving government money. Why? They do it more efficiently (and pay less), follow business models (focused on growth & sustainability), and have more direct contact with their customers. This is true for many previously supported government services: rental assistance, prison rehabilitation programs, workforce training, parenting skills, mental health services. So, quite frankly, I don't see what all the fuss is about. Government's spending less, nonprofits are more accountable and rely on business, individual & foundation support for much of their budgets. Isn't this a more conservative form of compassion?
Becky, as you seem to experience (suffer? enjoy?) the following, and if I can phrase my question without it sounding confrontational, can you explain, please: Why do people hold on to no explanation for the situations of this administration rather than trying the very simplest hypothesis (e.g., cheat crimes) merely to test for a consistent behavior pattern through and through the empirical data?
That is, assume just as an exercise that events can be rigged, crime can be committed and when it is the principals naturally act to hide their guilt by going to whatever extent necessary.
There is abundant, clear and independent evidences the latest election was rigged.
0489-Collected readings on vote machine fraud
0488-Judge Moyer Rules that Evidence Can be Destroyed
0487-Moritz College of Law posts website devoted to Ohio 2004 election litigation documents.
0486-More Irregularities Uncovered by Recount in Fairfield, Champaign, Van Wert, and Ashland Counties! Triad accessed computer remotely prior to recount!
0485-More evidence of Ohio election fraud unearthed in Trumbull, Franklin, Madison, and Miami counties. Blackwell refuses to testify.
0484-Exit poll data suppressed by media
0483-Uncounted Summit County Votes
0482-Uncounted Hamilton County votes
0481-Refusal to count provisional ballots in Cuyahoga
0480-Uncounted Cuyahoga County votes analyzed
0479-Cuyahoga County uncounted votes analyzed
0478-Summary of specific allegations in election contest
0477-Miami County results fraudulent says Phillips
0476-Lucas County irregularities tied to burglary
Seeing all that suddenly makes the election outcome 'fathomable.' And seeing there was cheat results and not true results removes the need for nonsensical sounding statements like 'liberals didn't support the liberal candidate -- if they had he would have won.' The opposite is more rational: Sure they supported him, and he won, but he was cheated.
It just seems it is more logical, and more economical of thought, to think (just to open-mindedly test it) that it's all age-old ordinary human lying instead of something new and unheard of going on.
Somewhat staid and conclusion-averse Frank Rich, in this coming Sunday's NY Times, (link at MediaMatters) puts it this way: Conservatives, who supposedly deplore post-moderninsm, are now welcoming in a brave new world in which it's a given that there can be no empirical reality in news, only the reality you want to hear (or they want you to hear).
It is not only 'more natural' for 'them' to be lying to our faces than for there to be so many unbelievable coincidences, but also, seeing it as liars lying explains so much more.
You know the neo-conservatives' compassion we never see? It's not there.
You know those WMD's we never saw? They weren't there.
You know those Ohio ballots for Bush we never saw? They weren't there.
You know those hijacking terrorists we never saw? They weren't there. (And a corollary with regard to terrorists: If 'terrorists' aren't there, then who is doing all the bombings and killings that make it look like they're there?)
Risking fatigue on the point, here are a few more reports, fresh this fortnight, along the same line (of this Fright House trying to fool all of the people all of the time).
US Subversion of Diplomacy and North Korea's Phantom Nukes, by Gregory Elich
A Corrupted Election: Despite what you may have heard, the exit polls were right, by Steve Freeman and Josh Mitteldorf
The Election In Iraq: The U.S. Propaganda System Is Still Working In High Gear, by Edward S. Herman
"I guess the question I have is whether social policies set by the government drive forces like single motherhood, divorce rates and crime or whether government is simply a response to social forces."
The problems the author describes certainly don't have their origins in government action, but I think as traditional, private social constraints have eroded, the role of government becomes more consequential, regrettably.
Government doesn't cause divorce, but its policies can ratify certain kinds of behavior (or not) and provide incentives and disincentives. In the case of fatherless children, government policy plays a far greater role, though social attitudes are still important (not least for their potential to affect policy).
Government always has a large role to play in crime, through law enforcement. Larger social forces can affect incidence and type of crime, and government policies ought to provide strong disincentives to criminal activity. The way it works out in practice, criminals and law enforcement people both adapt tactically to what the legal environment permits. I think the author makes a great point about the ultimate impotency of law enforcement when he talks about prison. A society can respond to the kind of rot that results in greater criminal activity by simply locking greater numbers of people up, but the cost is great.
Here's another rueful take on the social situation in Britain, which I believe casts a similar light on problems shared by the U.S.:
Truth be told, I have no argument for you. The evidence looks clear to me that the election was stolen. It just seems so unbelievable that believing it makes a person feel like maybe they're a conspiracy wacko or something. It's a topic I can't even discuss with the conservatives in my life without being treated like I'm losing my grip on reality. Who wants to believe the hideous, painful, disgraceful thought that the President of the United States engaged in fraud to thwart the will of the people? It makes me feel physically ill. Willfully believing that there is no explanation is a lot easier.
Becky's last comment illustrates why elections can be stolen here. Media management and cultural myth make serious consideration of such crime excedingly painful for most Americans. We would rather ignore the evidence than examine the possibilities.
In defense of Becky, loony conspiracy theories don't help. Neither does myth mongering about disenfranchisement and fishing for votes with a heightened disposition to invalidate elections.
Everyone would benefit from a voting system that matches or even exceeds the level of security and authentication achieved by the banking industry's use of ATM machines.
My sense is that the greatest offense of "media management and cultural myth" is in underestimating the problem of voter fraud.
Anthony: Having programmed both ends of ATM machines and the uplink/downlink in between, my sense is that voters don't have a chance to try fraud, nevermind be one.
Becky, re: "It's a topic [every thing told us by dictatorBush is false] I can't even discuss with the conservatives in my life without being treated like I'm losing my grip on reality."
Yeah ... read the responses to my Bl.Or.blog comments on phony war, wasted soldiers, treason, and lies lies lies of Bushmediapropaganda brain programming -- disparaging my knowledge instead of their own lassitude, (the kindliest word for it I can think of) -- and consider these are the 'liberals'!, uh... progressives' views!!!
I and a lassie have taken up together since my wife died and her longtime husband divorced her. We've been good friends for over fifty(!) years, since first grade, ("You've always been weird, T.") We dated once in high school, ("I don't remember that, T.")(!) She forbids me to talk of impending Bushdoom. Because if I'm right then what she believed, and lived for, was all wrong and she's been 'used,' sacrificed like a 'good soldier.' And Bushdoom means her life was unfulfilled and means her pension nest egg is vapor and means a despondent condition which younger people might be unable to imagine. (She always just 'watched TV, what's wrong with that? That's how you know what's going on.') It is very painful. Our hearts are one heart, which isn't changed by 'getting apart.' She wants to dismiss things I tell, but she knows too long too well my characteristic accurate intelligence, and she can't dismiss it. (She 'never left the farm.' I went 'back East,' and 'wrote the internet' and prospered excellently programming computers that put a man on the moon and a cruise missile down any chimney -- ya' know, kids, there's a large amount of 'grip on reality' necessary to accomplish such things; think about it -- and I 'made advertising' and 'produced television' and 'dissected the central nervous system' and 'once I built a railroad, I made it run, I made it run against time' ... and you know what? -- lassie knows: I still can. She's never been these places, she's never seen what I saw, she doesn't. know. and she has personally experienced that most of the time I, good ol' weird T., does know. Been there, done that, got paid -- and they don't pay for faking.) Being joined at the heart, like having siblings, is very painful.
Many readers here are more strangers of me than lassie is. There is not the pain for them to dismiss me and my thinking, uh, er ... 'opinion.' (Believe me: I get emails.) Most all of the 'contributors' here have met me and we've talked; they have a firsthand impression of me if they care to rely on it. I figure they've figured out who I am or must be, but then, I stay reminded there are always times I 'figure' wrong. Therefore all they'd have to go on is what I've written. Well, words is words, it's not TV, and many then are not equipped to judge because, you know, it's just words.
One more haymaker; swinging wildly here. I very much like and am friends with an especially cognizant influential Portland person, a 'Big Man in this town.' (As I implied above, that means most of you around the Blue Oregon water cooler.) The sole basis for his and my affection came from reading each other's writing for about fifteen years, let's say thousands of pages each, (because that's accurate; a couple hundred 'notes' a year). So then we decided to meet in person, and do lunch. So I asked him right off, 'Why do you, a Big Man, give time for me, a nobody?' And he said to me, "You're a very interesting person." How does he know? All he had to go by was words on paper, and he couldn't know whether I was the one who thought and wrote those words or if I copied them or if 'I' was a committee writing to him. And while we disagreed in words, (pro-Bush / anti-Bush, e.g.), we did agree in person, so we continued doing lunches, oh, say 'quarterly,' for several years. Then he broke my heart. Like this: Right at the beginning I said to him, "There are no WMD's." (This was before I found out there are no terrorists either. I started out thinking there were, but it turns out they are all paid actors -- I know these guys, I know how they work.) And he said, "Well, they'd better plant some, damn quick." Hundreds are dead, now, Oregonians and others. Millions are maimed. In appearances.
Broke my heart. We haven't spoken. He could not go by truth in his life without losing his grip on image. Or its, on him. Idolatry. I'm sure he will read this. I'm sure he will recognize it. I'm sure it won't change anything. I am trying to be wrong.
I see you are suffering the same anguish I am. I don't know what to do about it, so I go on with my own life and try not to worry and try not to inflame my husband and his family with my conspiratorial ideas. But I'm not stupid, either - IQ tested out at 152 - though I'm an artist rather than a scientist like yourself. I read the things that people like you write and again question the comfortable view that the unbelievable very well could be the truth, and I wonder why we CAN'T do anything about it. By the way, I think you're a very interesting person, too.
My comment was not critical of Becky, but the situation that makes her feel unable to express her concerns.
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