Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Idiocy of Moderation

Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; but urge me not to use moderation ~ William Lyon Phelps (2/2/1865 to 8/21/1943) An American author, critic and scholar who taught the first American university course on the modern novel. In addition to a radio show, he wrote a daily syndicated newspaper column, lectured frequently, and published numerous popular books and articles.

This rant came about in response to a post from so-called Moderate Willis Hart attacking, yet again, what he calls the "extreme Left". This post from the so-called Moderate was deceptively titled The Indecency of Extremism. I say "deceptive" because, one might think that, given the title, this individual would cite examples of arguments from both the "far Left" and the "radical right" that he finds "indecent". This isn't the case. Instead he whines exclusively about visiting a Left-leaning message board and being attacked when he defended John McCain against charges that he was "a North Vietnamese collaborator" (Which, as far as I can tell, may or may not be true).

The blogger says he pointed out that, while he is no McCain supporter (this was during his bid for the presidency), he felt he needed to point out the inaccuracies of this (supposed) extreme Leftist's argument. When I read Mr. Hart's post I was, naturally, insulted. After I laid out some of my issues with what Willis wrote another moderate chimed in to agree with Willis. I had suggested I might write a post for my blog, and title it "The Idiocy of Moderation". In response the OTHER Moderate repeated Willis' baloney about the problem being, "extremists on BOTH sides of the aisle who absolutely refuse to budge [from] their ideologically entrenched positions".

This, I say, is complete nonsense. I will get to my reasons why, but first I'm going to relate what my issues with the Moderate blogger's post are. to being with (and as I already said), the title of the post implies that the Hartster is going to clue his readers into the reasons why "extremists" on both sides are "indecent" - but that turns out to be a lie since the entire post is a whine about how Liberals attack him whenever he visits their message boards (a frequent complaint of his). This is a tad ironic given the fact that he often accuses a certain left-leaning pundit of having "thin skin".

Secondly, this accusation that John McCain is guilty of collaborationism that Willis implies originated with the extreme Left isn't true. When McCain ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000 the group Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain made "controversial allegations against Senator John McCain concerning his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam". A video (see below) put out by the group features allegations from ex-Senator Bob Smith (a REPUBLICAN from New Hampshire) and Rep Robert Dornan (a REPUBLICAN from California). The group is not a Left-wing version of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (who made slanderous allegations regarding John Kerry's service in Vietnam).

In wrapping up his post Hart asks, "don't these people realize that you can defend somebody simply because it's the right thing to do and NOT because of political considerations?". He concludes, "it really doesn't seem that they do". The "these people" and the "they" that Hart refers to are Progressives. These are the "extremists" that Hart is indicting for the (supposed) ill treatment he was subjected to. As one of "these people" who Hart regularly slanders I take exception. I do realize you can defend someone for the reasons Hart gives.

During the video Congressional staffer Tracy Ursy says, "Certainly you do what you need to do to stay alive. Nobody would fault anybody for that", and I agree with that statement. I would not go so far as to say McCain is guilty of collaborationism. But I think it's pretty clear that he did all he could to keep all the facts from coming out. And I think it is legitimate reason to criticize him for these actions (in keeping the facts hidden).

Now, in regards to the allegations implied by Hart on numerous occasions and echoed by this other Moderate that I referenced earlier; that is, that "extremists" on both sides are responsible for the current budget crisis - I categorically reject this notion. It's part and parcel to the BIG LIE perpetrated by the Republicans - which is that the American people should blame both sides equally for the 14.32 trillion dollar national debt. Democrats and Republicans do NOT share equal responsibility for the 14.32 trillion dollar national debt. That debt is MOSTLY Reagan's and W's. Obama is adding to it now, but (1) he's doing it to prevent a depression, and (2) the wars on the books now, unlike with bush who ran them off budget.

Also, while the other previously mentioned Moderate believes "we are where we are because of extremists on BOTH sides of the aisle who absolutely refuse to budge on their ideologically entrenched positions", the fact is he's dead wrong (and is playing right into the Republicans hands by propagating this misinformation). Progressives are not being allowed to participate in the negotiations. They are being totally SHUT OUT (as usual). The negotiating parties are the radically-right Republicans and the Moderate and Conservative Democrats. Nobody on either side has suggested that the middle ground lies somewhere between Paul Ryan's Path to Prosperity and the Progressive People's budget.

The progressives ALWAYS budge. Did we get the public option? No. Was the ridiculous and totally unnecessary Stupak–Pitts Amendment excluded from the Affordable Care Act? Yes, but the president "compromised" by issuing an equally ridiculous and unnecessary executive order "preventing" government funds from being used for abortions (even though the Hyde Amendment already accomplishes this).

The conservative position regarding Social Security is that it should be abolished and replaced with a voucher system (shifting much more of the costs onto the backs of future seniors). The Democratic position appears to be that raising the retirement age and decreasing benefits should be examined. Neither is the Progressive position, I can assure you of that. And on it goes - the Progressives state their position and are ignored by both sides. How the hell can we be part of the problem when nobody gives a damn what we have to say? We can refuse to budge, but no one will care.

This is the idiocy of the Moderates - they really believe the solution to all our problems lie in the middle. What they fail to realize is that the middle has shifted significantly to the Right. The radicals on the Right are the only extremists we should be blaming, because only they are threatening to not raise the debt ceiling if they don't get their way. Even though they voted to raise it multiple times when bush was president. But with a Democratic president they hold the middle class tax cuts hostage until he caves, and they get exactly what they want.

What are the Democrats threatening to do? Wait until the last moment before they cave again? According to this other Moderate "we gotta start talking WITH each other not AT each other". Then he says "if we don't come to our senses soon, its all gonna go down the toilet". In response I have to ask - what's with the "we"? Everyone knows President Obama is willing to compromise (by giving the Republicans a large chunk of what they want). With the Democrats things that shouldn't be on the table are, and with Republicans nothing is on the table. Even tax loopholes for corporate jets are sacrosanct. Democrats aren't the ones who are refusing to negotiate in good faith.

The other Moderate says, "I am a Blue Dog Democrat and I gather from your past post you don't think much of me". Yes, you are correct. Moderates are part of the problem. If you truly "sympathize with a lot of progressive issues" then why not STAND WITH US? We need to send a message to the Republicans, which is that their threats aren't going to work this time. But no, standing with the Democrats and the American people would involve standing against the Republicans. Which is something you are apparently unwilling to do. Because you refuse to admit one side is to blame while the other is not.

SWTD #84, wDel #6.


  1. my God w, you said it! NOBODY, and that includes our liberal president, listens to the progressives. In my opinion we are the only party with the answers to our devastating economic woes, but NO we are ignored and called radical! What Pres. Obama did during the press conference had me yelling at the TV, "stand up pussy" !!! I'm so frustrated with his calmness I can't stand much more of it! I don't know how any sane person can look at The Peoples Budget and not call it genius...I just hope I don't get to the point where I say fuck it all, I'm outta'll know if I title a post with those exact words...!

  2. The "both sides are responsible" chant, is a distraction from the truth, that Republicans are responsible.
    Those who cannot read the facts of History are either stupid, or intentionally misleading (lying).
    I read one comment today from a gal who likes to call herself a "conservative moderate" saying any tax hikes are out and she is sick of those saying there should be a tax hike. She went on to say that until spending is cut there should be no talk of tax increases. Sounds reasonable, but she would never sign onto any tax increase, no matter what the situation. That's today's moderate.
    In a time when we have a 14 trillion dollar debt, talk of tax increases is absolutely wrong, according to them. That's not moderate at all given our debt.
    These folks have deluded themselves that they are moderates, when in fact they are extremists.
    It's not just that History proves progressives are on the right track, but to deny a society has to progress, is nuts. To try and stop that progress, is to aid in the destruction of that society.
    The old saying "things will get worse before they get better" is where we are right now. So hold on, it's going to be a bumpy ride.
    I have no faith that Obama will "draw a line in the sand." My question is, where are the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate? Why aren't they shouting out?
    To be crass; Mrs. Clinton has bigger balls than Obama, and I for one wish she had won the election.

  3. A bald-faced inaccuracy. I did not imply that that smear against Mr. McCain originated ANYWHERE. I just said that I had experienced it on a far-left blog and that when I defended Mr. McCain, those idiots extrapolated ridiculous and paranoiac conclusions.............And your characterization of moderates is at best cartoon-like. Moderates are not moderate on everything. Far from it. I am very strongly pro gay-rights and pro-choice on abortion. We, as opposed to automatons/ideologues, judge each issue separately and can often be persuaded by reasoned arguments/evidence (I, for example, have changed my views on taxes over the past year). I stand by my view that ad hominem attacks such as "worthless piece of excrement" and "media whore (no, putting the word, media, in front of whore doesn't make it any less offensive)" have zero place in legitimate political discourse. And I'd be saying the same exact thing if the object was a Democrat. You see, that's another characteristics that us "moderates" have; consistency.

  4. And I have written MANY posts on conservative extremism. To imply that I haven't is yet another deception.............Oh, and, Tom, I'm a moderate who does believe in raising taxes. Just for some additional disclosure here.

  5. I just thought of another person who I defended. wd - when Rusty tried to imply that he was a child predator.

  6. WD, what's your evidence that Reagan and GWB are the ones responsible for the $14 trillion debt?

    Debt when Carter left office: $711b
    Debt when Reagan left office: $2t
    Debt when Bush I left office: $3t
    Debt when Clinton left office: $3.4t
    Debt when Bush II left office: $5.8t
    IMF estimate of debt after 2011: $10.5t

    This doesn't even account for party affiliation in the House and Senate. The best that can be said is that prior to 2008, Democrats and Republicans are equally responsible for the debt. Numbers don't lie.

    After 2008? That's on Obama and a Democrat House and Senate.

  7. HR, I don't know where you are getting your stats from, but they do not appear to be accurate. My source says the correct figures are...

    Jimmy Carter (1977–1981) 0.994, 0.29, -3.3%
    Ronald Reagan (1981–1985) 1.817, 0.82 +11.3%
    Ronald Reagan (1985–1989) 2.867, 1.5 +9.3%
    George HW Bush (1989–1993) 4.351, 1.48 +13.0%
    Bill Clinton (1993–1997) 5.369, 1.02 -0.7%
    Bill Clinton (1997–2001) 5.769, 0.40 -9.0%
    George W Bush (2001–2005) 7.905, 2.14 +7.1%
    George W Bush (2005–2009) 10.413, 3.97 +20.7%
    Barack Obama (through 2010) 12.063, 1.65 +9.0%

    President, National debt at end of term*, Increase in Debt*, Increase or Decrease in Debt as a percentage of GDP (*In Trillions).

    The guy who crashed the economy also racked up the most debt. The national debt when GWB left office was 10.4 trillion, not 45.8 trillion (your figure).

    Barack Obama and the Democrats did the right thing by spending to stimulate the economy (the stimulus just wasn't big enough). Once all these cuts go through the economy will go back into recession. Which the Republicans will blame on the President.

    This, I am convinced, is their plan. Kill the recovery by cutting government spending and regain the presidency by placing the blame on the president and the Democrats.

    I pray, for the good of the country, this plan fails.

  8. Yes, I'm annoyed at myself for not linking my data source, so I need to dig it up. I do note that your years aren't quite right. It looks like you're crediting 2009 to George W.

  9. My prior post contains a typo. What I meant to write is...

    "The guy who crashed the economy also racked up the most debt. The national debt when GWB left office was 10.4 trillion, not 5.8 trillion (your figure)".

    Also, I'm not crediting 2009 to GWB. bush's presidency ended in 2009. The national debt when bush's presidency ended (1/20/2009) was 10.413 trillion.

    bush added 6.11 trillion to the national debt, more than any other president in history.

    Reagan's contribution to the national debt amounted to more than the sum total of the debt accumulated by every single president that came before him.

    He also changed the meme regarding debt and tax rates. Reagan said, "deficits don't matter". The top tax rate before Reagan was 70 percent. Now the discussion is whether or not we should return to Clinton-era rates? I think we should return to pre-Reagan rates... but that isn't being seriously discussed (and I blame Reagan).

    That is my evidence that Reagan and GWB are the ones responsible for the enormity of the national debt at present.

    BTW thank you HR for visiting my blog. I tried to return the favor and leave a comment on your blog, but wasn't able to. When I click the "post comment" button Blogger asks me to sign in. After I sign in I click the "post comment" button again... and again Blogger asks me to sign in.

    You don't use the standard Blogger-provided commenting interface... could that have something to do with why I'm encountering this problem?

  10. I welcome your comments at my site. There's nothing special to my settings: don't allow anonymous comments, embedded below post, no moderation, no word verification.

    Give it another shot.

  11. The reality is that extremism and apathy, the two are polar opposites, are both a product of a two party system that no longer works.

    No one throws dissenters under the bus faster than liberals....and its fun to read a couple liberal blogs who on one hand want to chastize the "hard left" and then rant about people who do not vote.

    Our two party system is making compromise and coalition building impossible; but the extremism on the right is totally different than the extremism on the left. The extremism on the right is basically attacking the system while extremism on the left basically has dropped out of the system.

    So, the moderates desire to paint the two extremes as "equal" is a false desire; and WD is right, with the lack of a true left wing the moderates are actually not middle of the road but realistically conservatives...

    Fox News loves to compare the left wing that existed in the 60's to the Tea Party today...but they existed in different generations and thus do not balance each other out today.

    The reality is that Barack Obama represents a moderate....if both extremes were equal then we would be looking at a compromise that would balance a dollar of spending cuts with a dollar of tax increase but the reality is Obama has proposed a dollar of tax increase with 3 dollars of spending cuts and yet the right is still not happy.

    THEY won and they are not happy! The fact is that moderates have to understand that by comparing the hypothecial extreme left with the real extreme right they are avoiding dealing with the reality that the right today wants to destroy democracy and establish a compare the extreme left of the depression and or the 60's with today's extreme right hides the fact that the extreme left always operated from outside the system...the extreme right today operates from within the system...and that is a huge difference!

    As long as moderates are continously deluded into "fearing" the threat of socialism, communism, and big government as an attack from the left then they will totally miss the growth of fascism from the right....

  12. Well-said Carl. I agree with everything you wrote with one exception. I'm not sure what you mean when you say Liberals throw dissenters under the bus faster. Maybe you can give some examples?

    Will, thanks for repeating Rusty's scurrilous claims here on my blog. Your "defense" is appreciated.

    This ridiculous charge came about, btw, because I didn't throw Anthony Weiner under the bus. I took him at his word and defended him. So Rusty called me a "child predator" when it was revealed that the ex-Congressperson had communicated with an underage girl (although nothing sexual was discussed and no wieners were tweeted).

    Also, the impression I got after reading your post was that you believed the charges levied against McCain came from the Left. You WERE criticizing a left-leaning site for making them. I think it was a reasonable conclusion.

    Especially seeing as you provided NO LINK, so I couldn't read the conversation myself... I only had your partial information to go on.


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