Howard Stern's new found liberalism.
March 12, 2004 10:00 PM   Subscribe

Howard Stern's new found liberalism. "The potential impact is huge," says Charles Goyette, talk-show host at KFYI in Phoenix. "And it's not just with the 8 million people who tune it, it's that he breaks the spell. Everybody's been enchanted by Bush, that he's a great wartime leader and to criticize him is unpatriotic. Now Stern pounds him every day and it shatters that illusion that the man is invincible and he shouldn't be criticized."
posted by skallas (50 comments total)
 
Its interesting, though predictable, to see how people change after they've been fired for their speech. Bill Maher seems like more of a firebrand on HBO since his advertisiers bowed out on him after his comments about 9/11 on network TV. Stern's sudden education on how Clear Channel works has opened his eyes to the extreme right-wing elements in our government and in business.

The fired employee of my enemy is my ally?
posted by skallas at 10:04 PM on March 12, 2004


For the sake of consistency, I probably should react to this with the same distain as when Dennis Miller turned neocon. But I hate the president, and am a hypocrit, so... I'm torn.
posted by Hildago at 10:05 PM on March 12, 2004


distain = distaste + disdain.
posted by Hildago at 10:06 PM on March 12, 2004


well, most smart people have been criticizing bush for the last three years now. does a dumb person like stern catching on signify a sea change in public opinion? i dunno, you tell me.
posted by dogmatic at 10:07 PM on March 12, 2004


> Dennis Miller turned neocon

Yeah, but Miller was *promoted* for his neocon views (among other things). Straight to football and a new TV show. Imagine who he would be batting for if someone decided to fire him like they did with Stern and Maher.
posted by skallas at 10:11 PM on March 12, 2004


Well, it signifies a POTENTIAL sea change in the public opinion because the public listens - or at least listened - to Howard Stern. Not that they take him seriously, but he was, and to a great extent still is, in a perfect position to plant doubts.
posted by Ryvar at 10:13 PM on March 12, 2004


They're definitely going to throw him off the air now everywhere--sooner rather than later. He's always been a smart guy, and I hope his fans listen (while they still can).
posted by amberglow at 10:17 PM on March 12, 2004


Well, I never really listened to Howard Stern before. I always found him too crass.

Now maybe I will.
posted by geekhorde at 10:18 PM on March 12, 2004


Bill Maher seems like more of a firebrand on HBO since his advertisiers bowed out on him after his comments about 9/11 on network TV.

I think it's much more about HBO's premium service having an advantage over Disney-owned and FCC-regulated network television. But what bothers me about Maher's flak was that he was axed for his comments post-9/11- not that a good show went off the air.

PI for the most part sucked. Howard Stern's content is 99.44% indefensible. Stern's new found "liberalism" seems to be the epitome of his long-term libertarianism- in that his political views have shifted to what supports him and him alone. He's Dennis Miller on the opposite end of the spectrum- finding a political angle to go where the money is.

I disagree with the censorship and I support Stern's defense of his albiet crappy radio program. But as a genuine liberal, I find it insulting that people like Michael Moore and Al Franken are labelled goofy firebrands who deserve public ridicule for having an unfriendly appeal towards promoting left-leaning goals their whole lives while people like Stern and Maher are made into heroes for the left because they became personally inconvenienced yesterday. I've expressed outrage at corporate censorship and politcal control for years; now I'm a follower for this guy?

Sorry about your show, Howard, but where were you when TCA-1996 gave Clear Channel the right to fuck you over in the first place? I think during that time you neglected to offer counteropinion on corporate media control and discussions on the merits of political activism in favor of placating the masses with lesbian midget wrestling for 55-gallon drums of cash.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:25 PM on March 12, 2004


Howard Stern is the new Nader.
posted by wendell at 10:26 PM on March 12, 2004


wendell is the new clavdivs.
posted by y2karl at 10:30 PM on March 12, 2004


George Carlin (the old Stern?) is calling it just "More of the same, more of the same. What are we, surprised?"
posted by amberglow at 10:34 PM on March 12, 2004


Interestingly, it should be noted that Bill O'Reilly always thought that Howard Stern was intelligent, and knew what he was doing was shtick. He defended Howard Stern for the week or so after the Clear Channel fiasco on the Radio Factor.

On the other hand, I bet O'Reilly always thought that Howard would come down on the conservative side, not against Bush. So I expect those accolades to a fellow corporate brother to be gone by now.
posted by calwatch at 11:10 PM on March 12, 2004


And, to bring this thread full circle, Goyette was a subject of this post.
posted by calwatch at 11:15 PM on March 12, 2004


George Carlin is not "the old Stern". Carlin has always been political. He may be out to shock you, but he also has something to say, and he says that something at every given opportunity. Stern, on the other hand, really is all about getting sexy ladies to do stupid things on-air. His politics are almost entirely reactionary and self-interested, and even then, they're tailored to generate publicity rather than thought. There's nothing wrong with Stern in terms of comedy, but what he's doing just isn't like what Carlin does.
posted by vorfeed at 11:49 PM on March 12, 2004


Bababooey!

(Sorry, had to do it.)
posted by bdk3clash at 12:00 AM on March 13, 2004


Perhaps Stern is just going where he thinks the money is, i.e. the future growth market is for anti-Bush populism. At one level this is an encouraging leading indicator. But trash talk and the politics of dittoheaditude don't really present much of a stable foundation for positive civic change.
posted by alms at 1:10 AM on March 13, 2004


Howard Stern's content is 99.44% indefensible.

This is the sort of disclaimer that pisses me off, especially coming from a champion of liberalism like XQUR. Part of Stern's greatness, like Larry Flynt, is that in a free society ALL CONTENT IS 100% defensible. Stern is a champion of free speech and his distasteful schtick being okay is as big a part of his message as lesbian sisters is tittilating. I don't agree with a lot of what Stern says or necessarily find his bits entertaining, but I'm endlessly fascinated by the him in the sense that he challenges peoples arbitrary sense of "what is okay". He is railing against the idea that authority figures believe they are the judges of what you should be able to consume and this has implications from the drug war to television.
posted by McBain at 2:06 AM on March 13, 2004


but where were you when TCA-1996 gave Clear Channel the right to fuck you over in the first place?

Exactly here I see the disconnection between xqu et a marginal number of others and the mass-media politics.
XQU here "calls" for accountability of actions or lack of actions in the past, basically underlining how some commentator may switch on or off and from side to side according more to audience returns then to political beliefs.

Being an external observer (outside of U.S.) I was under the impression that politics in U.S. were reduced to a very virtual battle of mass-media-based shows, basically a Jerry Springers alike show with political coloring that occourred every each presidential election. Very generic arguments, pointless flamewars created for the shake of flamewar, generic derailing : anything but constructive, mature even if heated discussion.

I thought this was a particular property of U.S. political two-parties system which apparently relies a LOT on mass-media to reach their electorate , but when a (virtual, absolutely virtual) two-parties majority system was introduced in Italy I've seen exactly the same structure being built from scratch mostly by Mr.Berlusconi (=italy Murdoch) with constant, obsessive (a-la advertisement) attacks of "babyeating communists" "judge communists" "anything goes communist" , local right-wing equivalent of "liberal".

Even if we still (and hope for a long while) lack tv-and-radio "personalities" like O'Reilly and Stern it seems to me politics in .it is being slowly morphed into a show for the masses, not very different from a series of ritual B-movie kung-fu fighting series, in which the eye candy show of martial arts is far more important then the underlying issues. (check religion, food and TV = opium for the masses)

I wonder how many like XQUZYPHYR and others are left to point out factual-based lack of credibility, with remarks like "where da fuck where you when the cushion was being taken from under your ass ? " and how many in the future will manage to understand politics must NOT be left to mass-media talk shows and tv-personalities, but must be taken away from capitals influence as much as possible it doesn't matter if the agenda is right or left or somecolor leaning.
posted by elpapacito at 3:27 AM on March 13, 2004


Sorry, but censorship of vulgarity isn't terribly exciting to me; we've been doing it on TV and radio for decades, without any appreciable loss of freedom in political or social discourse. President Bush may not be your cup of tea, but that's more a function of the median education level in the United States than anything else--and I don't think allowing Howard Stern to talk vulgar is going to do anything to raise that education level.

What is most disturbing about the comments in this thread is that there are still people who listen to Howard Stern and think he's funny. But he's not; he stopped being funny nearly ten years ago...about the time he started making fun of the homeless.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:47 AM on March 13, 2004


ParisParmus: well I don't see how not allowing Stern to talk "vulgar" is going to do anything to increase the education level as well. On the contrary I guess the presence of Stern is not entirely useless, as you can point out differences between his show and others.

Even if I can't stand the sight of O'Reilly at least he's a good example of something that is definitely "not vulgar" (at least for me) but not necessarily better because it's "not vulgar" by some standard.
posted by elpapacito at 4:18 AM on March 13, 2004


well, most smart people have been criticizing bush for the last three years now.

Well, that pretty much stops the discussion there, huh? The half of america that agrees with you just has all the brains ;)

(you keep patting yourself on the back for all them smarts you got)
posted by Dennis Murphy at 5:03 AM on March 13, 2004


No, Dennis. The half of America that resents and questions the lies, the greed, the incompetence and the stupidity, the venality and the ideological, bloodthirsty foolhardiness of George Bush and his administration - they have the brains. Those who are unwilling to accept a government that clearly does not have the interests of any but its richest citizens in mind, those who are uncomfortable with an administration that has raised the level of fear and hatred around the world directed towards America and its people to unprecedented levels. Those folks do have a couple of brain cells to rub together.

As for the rest, well, perhaps it's best not to assume evil as an explanation where mere stupidity will suffice, or even stupidity where mere complacence and tribalism are enough. One has to wonder, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:20 AM on March 13, 2004


If a conservative is a liberal that's just been mugged, then a liberal is a conservative who's just been deprived of his rights.
posted by alumshubby at 5:21 AM on March 13, 2004


'Liberal' and 'conservative' are fucking nonsense buzzwords that people of small wit use to label and demonize those with whom they assume they disagree, but are too lazy to actually find out.

The fact that Howard Stern has decided to criticize the current administration doesn't make him a 'liberal' or anything else other than someone who, for his own reasons that may (or may not) have little to do with beliefs he holds, is performing the duties of a good citizen of a democracy, and pointing to the failings of his elected leaders, in hopes that those failings may be corrected, or those who display them be removed from office.

Sledgehammer simplifications like 'liberal' or 'conservative' don't enter into it. Or ought not to.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:32 AM on March 13, 2004




Sledgehammer simplifications like 'liberal' or 'conservative' don't enter into it. Or ought not to.

Exactly. As an atheist who supports, gun-control, tax cuts, social paid healthcare, welfare reform, free trade, additional military funding, a smaller federal government, and gay weddings for all....am Liberal Conservative or Libertarian? See, doesn't exactly fit does it.

Labels are for people who don't have their OWN stances on the issues.
posted by CrazyJub at 6:05 AM on March 13, 2004


Those who are unwilling to accept a government that clearly does not have the interests of any but its richest citizens in mind, those who are uncomfortable with an administration that has raised the level of fear and hatred around the world directed towards America and its people to unprecedented levels.

Speaking of "nonsense buzzwords", every single bit of Bush's domestic spending flights of fancy has been nothing more than mainstream liberalism. When Bush gave his one splendid tax cut, then those, because of liberal tax policies which tax (punish) the country's highest achievers the most, who pay the most taxes get the most back, in all fairness. This is not the "interests of its richest", it's good economics that have worked, and has been practiced by democratic liberals such as J.F.Kennedy, back when nobody accused him of the inane "tax cuts for the rich" chestnut.

As for the level of "fear and hatred", it's obviously less now that so many of the people who would fly more airplanes into buildings are in hiding, in jail, or dead, thankfully. If enemies of the United States fear and hate being tracked down and killed in unprecedentedly increasing numbers, so much the better. I think most of the "hate" comes from one stavrosthewonderchicken, who is again, dead wrong as usual.

"Liberal" (or since Kennedy actually "leftist" is more accurate) and "conservative" do have meaning, but of course a leftist spends his entire existence explaining away his "centrist" views, how there is no real "left" or "right", just the glib, immoral socialist ooze of liberalism. Just a little research would do a world of good. A lot of conservatives disagree thoroughly with Bush on Iraq and his liberal abuse of taxpayer dollars, and a lot of conservatives disagree with them in return. That doesn't mean the words themselves are meaningless.

Rush Limbaugh has openly criticized Bush's domestic mainstream illiberalism, and yet nobody's calling him a "liberal" because he's not. Who cares what Howard Stern is?
posted by hama7 at 6:09 AM on March 13, 2004


Bravo, Johnny Ramone.
posted by hama7 at 6:33 AM on March 13, 2004


"And it's not just with the 8 million people who tune it, it's that he breaks the spell. Everybody's been enchanted by Bush, that he's a great wartime leader and to criticize him is unpatriotic."

I think the spells breaking for a lot of people. After 9/11 people felt (understandably) sacred and were willing to throw thier support behind anyone who was ready to act. Even people who didn't support or like Bush in any other way (like myself) were ready to give him the benefit of the doubt. And a variety of factors-his extreme-right social policy, a failing economy- have broken that spell.

As for the level of "fear and hatred", it's obviously less now that so many of the people who would fly more airplanes into buildings are in hiding, in jail, or dead, thankfully

What?? Where's bin Laden, hama7? What about what happened in Madrid?

One of the biggest reasons I'm anti-Bush is that he failed on this front, despite all his posturing. I hate terrorism as much as anyone possibly could and want them punished, and instead of rooting out the actual culprits Bush went of a personal crusade. (Yes, it's nice that saddam's out of power, but that would've happened eventually anyway, without so many dead GI's).

Howard Stern's new found liberalism.

Stern always had to be at least somewhat liberal. If it weren't for liberalism how elese could he joke on the air about anal sex at 8 in the morning?

Who cares what Howard Stern is?

8 million listeners. nd while Stern is crass and obnoxious (which are sometimes virtues and sometimes flaws depending on my mood) he's definitely not as stupid as people like to think.
posted by jonmc at 7:09 AM on March 13, 2004


This link was already posted earlier today.
posted by Miyagi at 7:40 AM on March 13, 2004


I'm not about to defend Howard Stern's aesthetic. But there is a principle at stake, and that is that the government has no right to stop people from saying whatever they want, even on the radio. Even if it's rude, racist, or grotesque. For example, the film Aakrosh, a documentary about the 2002 massacres in Gujarat, was banned by the Indian government - which prevented it from being legally shown anywhere - because the Film Board said it was too violent, might inflame religious tensions, and have a negative impact on society. Oh yeah, and it makes the government look bad. And it is not alone. But of course, that couldn't possibly happen in America, because both the government and public sentiment are unceasingly vigilant against any such suppression of embarrassing information or dissenting views. Right?

As for Stern's supposedly sudden conversion, he has been sympathetic to libertarianism since at least 1988. He briefly ran for governor of New York on the Libertarian ticket - publicly proclaiming that he'd pass three laws and then step down - before dropping out to avoid public disclosure of his finances (which I personally think was a punk-ass maneuver; what, people might find out he's rich? There's nothing in those tax returns that the IRS doesn't already know). He just hasn't made a career out of political punditry; nor do many entertainers who voice their political opinions on the side, like, say, the Dixie Chicks.

Didn't Voltaire say something about stuff like this?

On preview: Stern is only a liberal in the sense that a libertarian is a classical liberal, not a liberal in the American sense. Although really, stavros is right - at this point, when the lines of divison over abortion, gay rights, trade, fiscal, and economic policies, military adventures overseas, and the preservation of civil liberties and privacy criss-cross in every possible sort of way, how is saying one is a liberal or a conservative, anything other than a vague indicator of a tendency to vote for one major party or the other? When Bob Barr starts working for the ACLU, you know that the liberal/conservative dichotomy is nothing but cultural prejudice and marketing.
posted by skoosh at 7:41 AM on March 13, 2004


McBain- by "indefensible" I certainly didn't mean there's no excuse for it to be on the radio- free speech allows his stuff to be on it. Like I said, I defend his right to have a show, but I'm not going to pretend that the worst part of defending free speech and art isn't the simple fact that most things that are considered art in this country is utter crap. Taste is my arbiter of preference, not rights. I defend Stern because Clear Channel broke that barrier. That doesn't mean I suddenly think cucumber masturbation is the equivalent Lenny Bruce.

elpapacito- I think you missed my point completely. What you "hope for" is exactly what I want for politics- how is that accomplished when the only time people seem to be interested in politics is when a shock-jock gets kicked off the air? How does that lead to your goal of politics being "taken away from capitals interest?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:54 AM on March 13, 2004


That doesn't mean I suddenly think cucumber masturbation is the equivalent Lenny Bruce.

I'm just curious, but why not? Bruce talked about similar things, in equally graphic and crude terms. The only difference I can see is that Bruce (who I enjoy a lot) has an imprimatur of retro-cool and had a more "intellectual" audience.
posted by jonmc at 8:00 AM on March 13, 2004


[derail]

jonmc- I think the boundary breaks when it veers from breakthrough to repetition. Stern isn't Bruce because he's no longer "challenging audiences," he's meeting customer demand.

A comparison is professional wrestling, which certainly shines on the bread-and-circuses analogy. I rarely see Vince McMahon touted as a champion of breakthrough artistic performance the way Stern is. That doesn't mean it's not entertaining, merely that it's appeasing the desires of the masses, not giving them something new to think about. The wrestlers come out, they do the moves the fans want, say the catchphrases the fans want, and so on. Change is based on what new T-shirts come out.

Breakthrough ends when the medium reaches the status quo. Hugh Hefner broke barriers and challenged the norm decades ago. By default he can't really do that anymore now that Playboy is effectively mainstream.

Personally, Howard Stern and the like trying to "stay fresh" and "push new boundaries" is like a mexican restaurant making a new dish- yeah, it's new, but it's just a variation of the same ingredients in every other item on the menu. The fact that a different waiter is feeding you the food in a different way doesn't mean you've never had it before.
[/derail]
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:23 AM on March 13, 2004


Breakthrough ends when the medium reaches the status quo.

Fair enough. Although you could make the argument that Stern is the guy who finally brought the mainstream kicking and screaming, into Bruce's world. But I see where you're going. Stern is sometimes funny, and I think he has a genuine desire to be a pain in the ass to the smug, but he did spawn a shitload of bad pseudo-outrageous morning zoos.
posted by jonmc at 8:32 AM on March 13, 2004


before dropping out to avoid public disclosure of his finances

i thought the major reason for him dropping out was because some law prevented him from having a radio show while running?
posted by lotsofno at 8:49 AM on March 13, 2004


"Part of Stern's greatness......"

Stern will go down in history as one of it's greatest festering pustules. That is Stern's greatness in total.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:24 AM on March 13, 2004


when the lines of division over abortion,

Does a pro-life liberal exist? This is not even an issue that should concern politicians.

gay rights,

Gay people have the same rights as all other individuals under the law. I know what you're trying to say, and that's not a right.

trade,

Aside from steel, Republican trade is generally free, while liberal trade is laughably not.

fiscal and economic policies,

"Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but Democrats believe every day is April 15." - Ronald Wilson Reagan

A whale of a difference there. Keep your own money, or tax yourself Swedish? Give me a break.

military adventures overseas,

If halting fascists, communists, and dictators with ties to terrorists is wrong, baby, I don't want to be right.

and the preservation of civil liberties and privacy

Now you have to take off your shoes at the airport so terrorist cells can be caught regularly throughout the country? Boo Hoo. It's a small price to pay. It's the lefties who are screaming about their "civil liberty violations" when there are none, and these were the same people looking for "root causes" when terrorists declared war on them. I wonder if those poor Spanish commuters are looking for root causes, or taking to the streets with their "peace" signs.

Another reason that there are stark liberal and conservative differences is that no conservative in his right mind would want to be associated or confused with a liberal under any circumstances ever. Don't tell me there's "no such thing as right and left" because there is a left, and I want no part of it.
posted by hama7 at 9:25 AM on March 13, 2004


Part of Stern's greatness

:::stops reading, moves on to next post:::

'Liberal' and 'conservative' are fucking nonsense buzzwords that people of small wit use to label and demonize those with whom they assume they disagree, but are too lazy to actually find out.

Unfortunately, it's much easier for people to realize this from the outside looking in than from within.

Metafilter: It's best not to assume evil as an explanation where mere stupidity will suffice.


posted by rushmc at 9:28 AM on March 13, 2004


XQUZYPHYR : hey I was actually praising your pointing out that Stern woke up a little late and wondering how many of your kind are left , the kind that points out that some media-personalities "changes of mind" or "sudden realization" are a litte suspicious ; my point is that your pointing out is a rarity and is likely to become more rare because politics is often presented on media as a stupid " I'm right ! No You're wrong !" catfight.

Unexperienced youngsters may think this is really what politics is about and consider politics another stupid tv show of no interest.

The way out of it ? I don't know any other then pointing out TV personalities do whatever they think will attract audience and that includes pseudopolitic catfights.
posted by elpapacito at 9:44 AM on March 13, 2004


Like clockwork, Stern is crass from 7:30 to 9am (aka drivetime).

Those who think thats his whole act might well be surprised by the high brow stuff that floats by from 5:50 to 7:30am.
posted by Fupped Duck at 10:45 AM on March 13, 2004


but he did spawn a shitload of bad pseudo-outrageous morning zoos.
Spawn as meaning the take over other radio station's DJ's morning zoo?
posted by thomcatspike at 10:53 AM on March 13, 2004


Some day Hama7 might say something that makes sense to me. And, that is the conservative side of me speaking.
posted by Eekacat at 11:35 AM on March 13, 2004


hama7: I didn't do this in my original comment, because I just wanted to hurry up and get it posted already. I also didn't intend to ask for any individual's positions on the issues I mentioned, but hey - if we take your positions to be the "conservative" ones, then we can make some progress toward demolishing any sense that there is such a thing as a "conservative" - or its putative opposite, "liberal".

Does a pro-life liberal exist?

Dennis Kucinich, until shortly before he started running for President. Nat Hentoff. Anyone quoted on this page.

Gay rights: There's more to gay rights than same-sex marriage. There's no federal anti-discrimination law based on sexual orientation, and there's more than one state where it's perfectly legal to deny someone a job or an apartment because she digs women. Also, I don't have to go far to find someone whom I and many others here (including himself) would describe as conservative, and yet supports gay marriage and equal rights and benefits for gay couples.

Trade: Paul Krugman supports free trade and economic globalization. In fact, before he was known as anti-Bush critic extraordinaire, he was vilified in plenty of places for his stridently pro-WTO stance. Also, see: Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and every Democrat in Congress who voted for NAFTA. The Boston Globe article you linked only mentions the idea of linking liberalization to the enforcement of international labor standards. Also, "No major candidate advocates forcing wage increases on trade partners."

Fiscal and economic policies: the Republicans of 1994 ran and won Congress on the platform of balancing the budget, even attempting to enact a balanced-budget amendment. Ten years later, the Republican Administration is increasing both military and non-military discretionary spending in its budgets, and cutting taxes simultaneously, thus guaranteeing budget deficits for years to come. Now the "tax-and-spend" party bills itself as the "fiscal responsibility" party. Not to mention that members of both parties, at all levels of governments, have been willing, and occasionally even eager to cut deals, including 100% tax exemptions, with corporations to get or keep facilities in their states and districts.

Military adventures: Pat Buchanan opposed the war in Iraq. What a flaming liberal! More isolationist leftwingers can be found at The American Conservative.

The preservation of civil liberties and privacy: I already mentioned Bob Barr, but there are many others. Don Young, for example. Dick Armey. Robert Novak. Charlton Heston. Wayne LaPierre. Conservatives who are alarmed at the creeping encroachment of government power and surveillance into every aspect of their private lives. Imagine that.

no conservative in his right mind would want to be associated or confused with a liberal under any circumstances ever.

BOB BARR! It's called making strategic alliances. It's called finding common ground. It's called taking stances, not because they're the "correct" ones for your "team", but because that's what you believe is right. The liberal/conservative dichotomy is only useful as a way of marketing the two major parties. As a way of finding our natural allies on any particular issue, they are completely useless, and in fact impede political discourse and democratic governance.
posted by skoosh at 12:11 PM on March 13, 2004


I'm still slogging through reading the discussion, but I thought I'd point this out - for the very fact of his status as the original shock jock, Stern reaches a somewhat different demographic than do other media venues critical of Bush.

This is key. The thirty to fortysomethings he reaches - if that's indeed his crowd - comprise what well could be one of the most politically apathetic generations in American history (surpassed maybe only by the current twentysomething crowd).

And now, one of their gods has chosen to rain down verbal fire and brimstone on the Bush Administration. Stern may be able to do, more effectively for his huge listenership, what Dean attempted - mobilize the politically disaffected to vote in November.

So what if he's a recent convert? At the moment, frankly, I don't give a damn. Prodigal son, come home to papa.

Yeah, I'll be a chearleader for Howard. Damn right.

Who do we love? Howard Stern! I CAN'T HEAR YOU - WHO DO WE LOVE? - HOWARD STERN! Go Howard! Stern! Stern! Go Howard! Stern! Stern! Go Howard! Stern! Stern!
posted by troutfishing at 2:32 PM on March 13, 2004


if we take your positions to be the "conservative" ones, then we can make some progress toward demolishing any sense that there is such a thing as a "conservative" - or its putative opposite, "liberal".

I appreciate your taking the time to respond so thoroughly, skoosh, and though I'm not sure we can ever transmogrify a single position into a political point of view, I'll do my best to respond. Let me add that my initial impression of this "constructs do not exist" theory is that it stems from the postmodern philosophy that if any held idea or set of beliefs can be deconstructed, then they do not exist. Race still exists, though some argue that there is no genetic basis for such an argument. It's a theory that begs you to be blind, or to say that there is no difference between a Mallard and a Pintail.

We surely can tell the difference between a man and a woman, and though some chromosomal variations may be present, that does not logically lead to the theory that sex itself is a social construct. Exceptions do not disprove the rule. Before I meander too far, all this does apply to terms like "liberal" and "conservative".

The fact that the pro-life liberal group identifies itself as "liberal" and "left" serves to illustrate my point, although who knew about Kucinich? I have to admit I didn't pay much attention, though I still don't think abortion deserves much attention from politicians at all, which would put me outside the loop as a "conservative".

There's more to gay rights than same-sex marriage.

Fine. Individual rights should be protected, regardless of orientation, but please note that I stipulate: rights. Because MidasMulligan agrees that same sex "marriage" should be legal certainly doesn't make him a liberal. Well respected libertarian and conservative Neal Boortz is unconcerned about it, and noted conservative Andrew Sullivan has made passionate appeals in favor of it.

Paul Krugman supports free trade and economic globalization.

There are many arguments against and in favor of globalized economics. In his speech Michael Howard argued that "The rich countries should act in accordance with what they know to be true: free trade spreads prosperity, protectionism does not." That doesn't make Krugman a conservative. Not by a long shot.

the Republican Administration is increasing both military and non-military discretionary spending in its budgets, and cutting taxes simultaneously, thus guaranteeing budget deficits for years to come.

Military spending is fine, millions of taxpayer dollars dumped on junk is not. Tax cuts are always good to conservatives, never to liberals (see Reagan quote above). What the heck does anybody care about deficits? Bush is too liberal with his spending, but that still does not make him a liberal on defense.

Pat Buchanan opposed the war in Iraq.

Buchanan opposed it because of some feelings that it was Israel's war. We disagree, but that still makes neither of us liberal.

Conservatives who are alarmed at the creeping encroachment of government power and surveillance into every aspect of their private lives.

Does that include highway surveillance cameras and property tax? None of the supposed "encroachments" have done anything but catch the bad guys. I, as much as anyone, am in favor of letting freedom ring, but there is a war on, and that changes the equation. There is disagreement on the Patriot Act, but it must be re-enacted by vote at regular intervals, so if people are just too put out to have law enforcement search for terror cells, they can cancel it.

There is disagreement from conservatives about conservatism, but that doesn't mean that there are no conservatives, in the same way that Ronald Reagan likes jelly beans and I don't, but that certainly mean that we are ideologically dissimilar.
posted by hama7 at 2:42 PM on March 13, 2004


but that certainly mean

That certainly doesn't mean..
posted by hama7 at 3:09 PM on March 13, 2004


This is not the "interests of its richest", it's good economics that have worked, and has been practiced by democratic liberals such as J.F.Kennedy

Under JFK, the income tax rate for the highest bracket was reduced to a modest 70%.
posted by eddydamascene at 7:56 PM on March 13, 2004


hama7: Sorry for taking so long to respond; there are just so many threads to talk about! Plus that "real life" thing...

Race and gender definition are distracting issues here, though fascinating ones. We can talk about that some other time.

Here's what I think about the overlapping fields of American political ideology, opinion, and loyalty. There are at least six different major ideological camps in the American polity:
  • The libertarians, who believe in small government, maximum individual liberties, keeping a tight leash on police power, and the sacredness of property rights.
  • Cultural/Religious conservatives, especially (but not exclusively) Christian conservatives, who believe that America is a Christian nation with a divine mandate, tend to oppose any spread or acceptance of sexualities or sexual expression that deviates from the norm of heterosexual, monogamous, marital, procreative sexual intercourse, and tend to value cultural and moral purity (eliminating pornography and drug use, opposing abortion, promoting English as an official language, the anti-same-sex-marriage amendment) over free-speech absolutism and limitation of government power.
  • The labor left (i.e. "The Old Left"), composed of union supporters and sympathizers, who tend to focus on economic issues from the point of view of the non-managerial employees of the land (wages and benefits, the right to organize, working conditions, overseas outsourcing), but are often all over the map on cultural and civil-rights issues.
  • Social interventionists (the old "New Left"), who support the rights and advancement of ethnic minorities, the poor, and other historically underrepresented groups (i.e. women), including affirmative-action policies, and tend to oppose certain policies and patterns -- police brutality, the arbitrary nature of drug laws, selective enforcement, the death penalty -- through the lens of racial disparities in treatment and outcome.
  • Environmentalists, who support the preservation of natural ecosystems and the purity of human bodies, and oppose the encroachment of industrialization on the aforementioned domains (e.g. air and water pollution, suburban sprawl, potentially toxic chemicals in food and cosmetics, factory farming, etc.).
  • Anti-imperialists and international egalitarians (who, along with the environmentalists, comprise the new "New Left"), who oppose the extension of American economic and military power over the rest of the world, especially when it crushes democratic dissent and supports oppression and tyranny abroad. They support equality in two forms: the rule of international law, including the formal equality of sovereign states; and global utilitarianism, which sees the gap in wealth and power between the global North and South as a monstrous injustice.
These are merely the ideological camps (with subcamps, I'm sure, too numerous to name), and many Americans - I daresay most Americans - subscribe to more than one of these camps at the same time, even if the positions are in some ways logically contradictory. Imposed on this political landscape is the two-party system, which spontaneously arises from a winner-take-all electoral process. The parties need loyal followers, but they also need to appeal to approximately 50% of the electorate, and so each erects a big tent that (sometimes uncomfortably) accommodates several of these ideological camps. These camps have also shifted loyalties more than once (cf. the Democratic/Republican flip-flop of the South), but some voters and politicians stay stuck to their original party, and they sometimes sit uneasily with their new tentmates (Jim Jeffords, for example).

But these are alliances of convenience. The Catholic members of the religious conservatives (like Bill O'Reilly) often come down against both abortion and the death penalty. Some environmentalists oppose immigration, since it just creates more environmentally voracious Americans. Libertarians oppose government-sponsored welfare and anti-marijuana laws. One of the most hardcore Noam Chomsky fans I know is a devout Christian, as are a good portion of the protesters who regularly get arrested at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. There is no natural contradiction between being environmentalist, anti-union, and culturally conservative (but anti-death penalty). The liberal/conservative opposition arises from the two-party system, not from a coherent and overarching ideological division. It's not just the occasional disagreeement on this or that point; these differences in opinion arise from deeper ideological differences, which are masked in order to provide a united front against "the other side". But to the extent that we buy into that false dichotomy, we cheat ourselves and each other of a true, honest, and representational political discourse.
posted by skoosh at 12:08 PM on March 19, 2004


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