Wow, I seem to have struck a nerve.

A couple of weeks ago I did a post titled “How Stupid Do These People Think We Are? And More Importantly, How Often Are They Right?“, regarding a poster that has been making the rounds on Facebook from MSNBC Commentator Lawrence O’Donnell. The basis of this poster is that anything positive that has ever been done in this country (civil rights, giving women and African American’s the right to vote, etc…) was the result of the efforts of liberals, and, as the quote goes on to say, “What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things, every one.“. My take was that this was an amazingly simplistic view, and one that could only be reached if you ignored a great number of facts.

Now while I used to blog a great deal more, it is something that I have just not had much time for lately, and in fact this post was my first one in nearly six months, so my expectation for readership was pretty low. I did link the post to my Facebook page, and was pleased when I got about 35 hits. The problem was, all of the comments I was getting on this piece were being left on my Facebook page, not here. So, I was thinking it may be a good idea to shut down the blog and just “blog” on Facebook instead.

And then something I never expected happened. On Monday this post received 246 hits. More amazingly, I exceeded that number on Tuesday, and had even more on Wednesday. As I write this follow-up, I am on track to have 1000 hits by the end of the day. Why? I’m not 100% sure, but the vast majority of these hits are coming through Facebook referrals, so some of you out there have picked this up carried the torch for me.

Now I’m not sure who, and I’m willing to bet that some of you have linked me with a “This is a great post, you have to read it”, while others have probably written “This guy is full of crap, check it out”. And both are great, because conversations, really great conversations, are never one-sided. I’d like to follow-up on some of the comments that I have read, and hopefully we can keep the conversation going. Also, and I know this is selfish of me, but I would love to have all of you stop in from time to time, so we can continue to have discussions on the important discussions of the day.

Since the vast majority of you are new to my site, let me tell you a little bit about me and more importantly, what I am hoping to achieve. My whole blogging adventure started a few years back with my first blog, Lost Iowan Diary, which you can access through my home page. It actually started a little earlier than that when my High School friend and college roommate Chris started his own blog, and I found myself spending so much time on his blog – which by the way was politically the exact opposite of mine – that I decided to start my own blog.

Now I am conservative by nature, but the problem is I find most folks on the left have an idea of exactly what a “conservative” is, and respond to them based on their preconceived notions. And let’s be fair, it’s no better on the right when responding to “liberals”. But the fact of the matter is this: most of the conservatives I know don’t fit that mold, and very few of the liberals I know fit that mold either.

Now I never planned on my blog being a 100% Conservative, 100% of the time blog. As a matter of fact, if the only readers I ever received were like-minded folks, I probably would have shut it down a long time ago. What does that serve, other than stroking a few egos. “You’re the best.” “No, you’re the best” “No, you are”. Yeah, that sounds like a lot of fun. Nope, I wanted differing opinions, as many of them as possible. THAT makes for a fun and interesting conversation. And when I ventured outside of my blog world, seeking out left-leaning websites to engage those folks in discussion, I was frustrated by the lack of these folks to even consider another point of view. Hence the burn out and lack of recent blogging.

But this last post has brought a little life back to me. Maybe there are some folks out there willing to have real conversations without resulting to a bunch of insults and childish name-calling. That’s where you folks come in.

Let me give you one more comment about my goal. My goal is not to convert everyone to my way of thinking. While I try to do my best to research what I am discussing, I am not under any delusion that my way of thinking is the only way of thinking. While I would fear a government that had a vast majority of liberal control, I am equally fearful of a government of vast conservative control. We need as many differing viewpoints as possible to, hopefully, come to the best decisions to keep our country moving forward.

As for my political influences, I try to keep that as balanced as possible. I avoid both FOX and MSNBC, and I do listen to some talk radio, and thanks to the advent of satellite radio, I am able to balance my listening between left and right, although I prefer a station called POTUS, which is the closest thing you will find to a balanced point of view in the media today.

But let’s get back to the follow-up on the O’Donnell piece. Like I said before, I want to follow-up on a couple of the comments that were made, and as always I would appreciate any additional comments you might have. I’ll put the comments of the readers in red.

I want to start with a reader called pdmikk who had this to say: “is exactly the pot calling the kettle. I remember when conservatives were interested in governance for the good of the entire people of the US… but the current “conservative” meme is primarily interested in protecting financial exploitation and resource extraction”.  Now I agree with pdmikk that the “conservative” party of today is not what I would call “correct” in their way of thinking on a lot of things. The Republican party (which, by the way I am not a member of), just like the Democratic party, have been hijacked by fringe elements of their party. But that does not, in my way of thinking, mean that conservatism as an ideal is wrong.

Let me use an example, and I have chosen  the topic – abortion – simply because it is an issue that most people have a strong opinion on, regardless of which side of the fence you fall on. Lets say that you are strongly pro-choice, and the national leadership of the pro-choice party gets hijacked by a few wackos who, frankly, are an embarrassment to the cause, while the pro-life movement has shifted towards a more rational level of leadership. And before I go further, A) I am not trying to open up a discussion on abortion, and B) this analogy works equally as well if you switch the roles to pro-life being the ones who move to a fringe.. Anyhow, even though your leadership has gone off the cliff, does that change YOUR personal views on abortion? Probably not. So just because the Republican leadership has gone off that same cliff (and don’t kid yourself, the Democrats are jumping as well), does that mean you abandon your core ideals. No you don’t. You stick with them and you work to correct your leadership.

As for the “…but the current “conservative” meme is primarily interested in protecting financial exploitation and resource extraction” comment, I just don’t buy it. First of all you have to believe that the right is working to protect “exploitation”, which is a common meme from some on the left that the rich are only rich because they exploit the poor. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every businessman is squeaky clean, but most wealth is earned, not exploited, although I think this would be a great topic for a future discussion. By the way, two of the richest Americans – Warren Buffet & Bill Gates – are democrats, and the left loves them. And as they should, both men do some amazing things with their money to help causes around the world. And were these two working class shlubs, I bet they would be equally nice people, just not able to help at near the level they do now. Damn rich people.

As for “extraction of resources”, I would answer “So?”. What is wrong with wanting to become more energy independent. Heck, even Jimmy Carter called for America to become more energy independent. But again, we have an example of putting conservatives into a box. “Conservatives want to rape the land and kill the poor.” Yeah, right?

Moving on. A reader named Dave asked that I give input on a conversation that he and a fellow Facebook friend have been having regarding my post. Dave, I read the conversation, and my input it this: This is EXACTLY the kind of conversation I was hoping to inspire. Again, it’s not about proving one side right or one side wrong, but having the conversation in the first place. I could spend the next hour picking that conversation apart, but I would rather suggest that anyone interested in a further look at this conversation take a look at it themselves. You can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=196542007111849&id=723793004&notif_t=share_reply

Next I move onto my old blog friend Gary. Gary starts out with the following comment: “I think that one big flaw in the argument of “the Democrats fought against civil rights”, is that back then the parties were reversed.  Back then the “Democrats” were what we now view as Republicans and vice versa.  In fact it was the civil rights issues that basically initiated that switch.” While I’m not sure I agree 100% with this assessment, I do agree with the fact that Democrats and Republicans today are different from they were “back then”, I’m not sure it would be considered a reversal.

Gary then goes on to include a clip from the Young Turks. He states “Interestingly enough sometimes when I post videos by these guys, every now and then a conservative will suggest that it’s automatically discounted because they’re “ultra liberals” and whatnot and all they do is praise Obama and demonize Republicans.  To that I’d have to say they must never watch the show because that’s CLEARLY not the case“. Now Gary, I have watched clips from They Young Turks before, and while they may occasionally provide a slam to the left, they generally do lean way left. The exact same comments could be made about Fox News. Truthfully, it isn’t the source, it;s the facts.

Let me give you a few comments on the video, and suggest that you go to the comments in my last post and view it yourself. It starts with Republican Congresswomen Virginia Fox from North Carolina complaining that the democrats have blamed everything that has gone wrong with the country on Bush, not unlike a lot of republicans doing the same thing now about Obama. She then goes on to state “The GOP has been the leader in starting good environmental programs in this country, just as we were the people who passed the civil rights bills back in the 60’s without very much help from our collegues across the aisle. They love to engage in revisionist history.”

Rep Fox’s comments are then cut of, and we have a rebuttal from a Rep. Cardoza from California, who, in part, says “…The gentlelady from North Carolina, in her statement just now, indicated that the GOP had passed the civil rights act legislation with almost no help from the democrats. I can’t believe my ears. It was the Kennedy and Johnson administrations where we passed that Great Society legislation. It was over the objections of people like Jesse Helms that we passed that legislation.(despite the fact that Jesse Helms didn’t join congress until 1972) … I will stand by these statements,, and I am very proud of what my party has done to advance civil rights legislation

Young Turks host Cenk Ungar claims Rep. Fox is “Twisting reality, twisting history and twisting the facts” and calls her claims “unreal”, using as his argument that the republican party “moved away” from that kind of thinking. Now, is that the case? Maybe, and that is an entirely different discussion. BUT, are Rep. Fox’s claims “Twisting reality, twisting history and twisting the facts” and “unreal”. Lets look at the pesky facts:

On June 9th of 1964, the Democrats, led byU.S. Senator and former Ku Klux Klansman Robert Byrd (D-WV), led a 14-hour filibuster against 1964 Civil Rights Act. The next day, June 10th, Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-IL) criticizes Democrat filibuster against 1964 Civil Rights Act, calls on Democrats to stop opposing racial equality. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was introduced and approved by a staggering majority of Republicans in the Senate. The Act was opposed by most southern Democrat senators, several of whom were proud segregationists—one of them being Al Gore Sr. Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson relied on Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader from Illinois, to get the Act passed.

The following year Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen (R-IL) overcame a Democrat attempts to block 1965 Voting Rights Act; 94% of Senate Republicans vote for landmark civil right legislation, while 27% of Democrats oppose. Voting Rights Act of 1965, abolishing literacy tests and other measures devised by Democrats to prevent African-Americans from voting, signed into law; higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats vote in favor.

Twisting history? I don’t think so. Now again, you can make a firm argument that this was a different Republican party than we have today, but the fact of the matter is a higher percentage of Republicans voted for civil rights legislation.

I’d also like to go back to Rep. Cardoza’s comment “I can’t believe my ears. It was the Kennedy and Johnson administrations where we passed that Great Society legislation.” So? Just because it happened in their administration doesn’t mean it was their party that drove the legislation.

I want to end with a couple of comments by reader Steven. Steven makes some good points, but I think also misses a few points. He states “When I read the word “liberal”, I do not immediately make the assumption or reach the conclusion that we are talking about “democrats”.” I agree, and there has been a lot of effort made by those who disagree with my assessment that in fact the Republicans of which I speak were liberals. Not sure I buy it, but its a valid argument. He goes on to say “I have friends who are democrats who are anti-abortion, and friends who are republican who are for marriage equality“, which is kind of the point that I have been trying to make, that there is no one neat box that fits conservatives and no neat box that fits liberals, despite the fact that O’Donnell was trying to do exactly that.

Steven goes onto say “If, however…. if you read those words once again, and think about – REALLY think about – what they are saying, then it becomes difficult to argue with the facts that yes, at the time those changes took place, the people who made them happen? They were – by the dictionary definition of the word – liberals“, and then provides the dictionary definition of liberal, part of which is one who is “favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs”. The problem here is what do you consider progress or reform. Look at the word reform, or “to change”. The Patriot Act definitely “reformed” our civil liberties. Was it Liberal?

He adds ” When I read those words, what I saw was a pretty simple statement: the people who made those changes happen, who pushed for those beliefs and shifts in policy, were the ones who looked at the world as it was and said “We can do better.” Now this is where things get sticky, because you have to assume what Steven is saying, at least based on todays political parties, that everything the liberals do is making the world better. I disagree. Oh, not entirely, I’ll go back to what I’ve said all along, that we NEED to have representation and policy from differing sides. Pushing for beliefs and changes? Hell, waterboard was based on a belief, and it was a change. Do you agree with it.

Finally Steven says this: “When I say that I am anti-conservative, I am not saying that I am anti-Republican. I am saying that I am anti-anything that takes away from any citizen of the United States of America the rights and ideals that we are all supposed to have. That is what I believe, and what I stand for, and why that poster is, to me, the truth.”

So what Steven has said, and pretty clearly here, is that conservatism is about taking away from any citizen of the United States of America the rights and ideals that we are all suppose to have. Really Steven. So by definition are you saying that liberalism is all about the rights and idealism we are supposed to have? I would say to you that your thinking is no different from the most hard-core right-wing bigot. There is no so blind as he who will not see. Because unlike you Steven, I am not anti-anything. I am not anti-liberal, I am not anti-democrat. I am pro-truth, I am pro-America, and well, I guess I am anti one thing, I am anti-spin.

The overlying basis of the discussion from the left on this is that the republican party, back in the day of lincoln and beyond, was in fact the liberal party. But then why, when O’Donnell wrote these words (and remember, this was from a script from The West Wing, and these words were being spoken in a presidential debate by the Democratic contender), why did he not say, after saying that “Liberals” did everything positive,  something like “and at that time it was the right that was the liberal influence and the left that was conservative.” No, he started out by saying “What did liberals do that was so offensive to the Republican Party?”, implying that “liberal”, in this discussion, was the Democratic party.

O’Donnell knew exactly what he was doing, and based on the number of Facebook pages I’ve seen this poster on, I’d say he succeeded. And lets face it, would he have been this successful if he choose to tell the truth? I doubt it.

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