The views of an unashamed social liberal


Chuck Doswell

Created: 22 September 1998; Updated: 28 April 2012: Added another dialog with a reader.

This material is copyrighted and should not be reproduced in any form without my expressed permission.

More items may or may not be added to this as things occur to me. Anyone wishing to comment on this can e-mail me at cdoswell # Use the email link or cut and paste, replacing the _#_ with @. If you send comments, you implicitly agree to have them posted here, along with my responses to your comments.

I find myself increasingly annoyed by the current preoccupation with liberal-bashing. It seems that being a liberal is considered equivalent by many to being some sort of wild-eyed radical from the political left. What an impoverishment of language for "liberal" to have become synonymous with the "radical left"! The reality of this word is very different - from

lib·er·al adj.


1. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.

2. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

3. Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.

4. Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.


1. Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor.

2. Generous in amount; ample: a liberal serving of potatoes.

3. Not strict or literal; loose or approximate: a liberal translation.

4. Of, relating to, or based on the traditional arts and sciences of a college or university curriculum: a liberal education.


1. Archaic. Permissible or appropriate for a person of free birth; befitting a lady or gentleman.

2. Obsolete . Morally unrestrained; licentious.

How does a word with such positive meanings (save the last, which is considered obsolete) come to have such negative connotations? Because of political associations, naturally! Not surprisingly, "Conservatives" have also distorted the meanings of their own label, as well ... again from

con·ser·va·tive adj.

1. Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.

2. Traditional or restrained in style: a conservative dark suit.

3. Moderate; cautious: a conservative estimate.


1. Of or relating to the political philosophy of conservatism.

2. Belonging to a conservative party, group, or movement.

5. Conservative Of or belonging to the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom or the Progressive Conservative Party in Canada.

6. Conservative Of or adhering to Conservative Judaism.

7. Tending to conserve; preservative: the conservative use of natural resources.

Depending on your point of view, it certainly can be argued that definitions #1, 2, and 3 are appropriate for political "Conservatives", although then the label "Moderate Conservative" seems rather redundant, even as the term "Radical Conservative" would be a contradiction in terms. Perhaps the least conservative aspect of "Conservatives" - as I'll talk about below - is associated with definition #7! From my point of view, there's room to argue about just precisely what constitutes "traditonal views and values". I don't think the existing "Conservatives" fulfill my notion of what is traditionally American. Of course, my personal views on particular subjects are not easily characterized by a single label. No particular political party or monolithic political philosophy is equivalent to my personal opinions. I feel sorry for anyone whose views coincide perfectly with any political party ... it's a clear sign that such a person has let the party do his/her thinking. Of course, that seems to be the way with America these days. I mean if Rush Limbaugh thinks for millions, then to that extent we have become a nation of political sheep.

However, all this notwithstanding, I feel impelled to offer the following thoughts for your interest and edification. The Web is a "bully pulpit" and I'm trying to take full advantage.

1. Abortion

The religious right has taken abortion to be the basis for their version of a crusade for human rights. They've even attempted to muster science to serve their religious ends, arguing that even science says human life begins with conception rather than birth, so that abortion is murder. Enlisting science in support of moral stands is rather silly - the two domains have relatively little common ground, it can be (and has been) argued that they have virtually no common ground. Can you use one to underwrite the other? I think not. That notwithstanding, though, the same religious right troops have several other items on their agenda.

For instance, I find it curious how many people who claim to be concerned about the rights of the unborn are so willing to run roughshod over the rights of convicted and even accused criminals, eager to secure the death penalty for the accused and hasten the execution of the convicted. Many of those unwilling to let doctors murder unborn children are quite enthused about the state murdering convicted felons of all sorts. Isn't there a bit of a logical inconsistency to such folks? It's o.k. to murder adults but not unborn children? Doesn't this inconsistency strike you as curious? Either be for murder or against it - but I don't believe you can't have it both ways!

Another inconsistency that is rampant among many of those championing the cause of unborn children is their unwillingness to provide for them, once they're born. Suppose an unwed welfare mother is pregnant - how many abortion opponents are willing to contribute generously to support that child, once born? If we don't want her to have that abortion (much less to pay for it!), how many are willing to give their tax money to inner city schools and urban renewal to provide a decent environment for the children they are so eager to have born, rather than aborted? What sort of life can a single welfare mother provide for her brood? How many such children end up being supported by us anyway, on welfare or in prisons? [see next item] A lot of these anti-abortion activists are against planned parenthood, as well. Oh yes, I suppose she shouldn't be allowed to have more children at all - but we certainly don't want her to use birth control! She should "just say no", right? Live a life of total celibacy, denying herself a human pleasure you don't need to have money to enjoy, right? Such folks logically ought to believe in elves and fairies, too!

2. Education, opportunity, crime, and punishment

In a world dominated by technology, education is an important key to being successful. Yet we have systematically denied a decent educational opportunity to many of our citizens - those living in inner city ghettos of all sorts. In our lily-white suburbs, we willingly (?) ante up our taxes (or pay for private schools!) to provide our children with education opportunities of all sorts, even as the inner city tax base declines and the schools crumble physically as well as intellectually. God forbid that anyone would ask us to contribute to the education of inner-city schools. We don't live there, so why should it be our problem? Well, the simple answer is that the products of that process often do become our problem!

So these kids grow up within an intellectually-impoverished world. So what? There have been numerous studies published that show unequivocally that an impoverished environment leads directly to reduced intellectual development. The kids often conclude that their best path is one of gangs and crime. Yes, some make it out in spite of these handicaps. But imagine what percentage could become productive tax-paying citizens rather than criminals and welfare bums if we were committed to showing them more productive alternatives through education!

It seems our liberal-bashers prefer to think of the inner-city educational crisis as someone else's problem. But wait - when the kids become adult criminals, we all end up paying for them to rot in prisons to protect us and our precious property from their depredations. How much are we paying to warehouse criminals in our society? Something like $60,000 per person per year. A lot more than it would have cost to provide better education for them as children. Does it make sense to be stingy with support for inner-city education and generous with support for prisons? In one sense, of course, these kids have made personal decisions about their lives - but how many could we have saved with a bit more investment up front? How much better off would we be if these kids became productive members of our society instead of expensive predators, many of them being supported for much of their adult lives in prisons? Are we really better off avoiding the responsibility for these people as children? We push people toward criminal lives and then punish them for it, at great cost to ourselves, if they go that way. This is ridiculous to the point of utter absurdity.

Every one that doesn't become a financial burden on our society, but rather becomes a tax-paying, productive citizen, is a major turn-around for our society. We ought to be falling all over ourselves to help the impoverished and disadvantaged to get a good education so they can join us in productivity. It seems to me that a lot of our negative attitudes among our liberal-bashers must be based on something other than purely economic grounds - like racism, maybe?

3. Free enterprise vs. government

The standard conservative agenda presumes that government programs are inevitably inferior to what the so-called private sector would provide and are always more expensive than the equivalent private sector program. Thus, they are eager to reduce government spending, to privatize whole government programs, to reduce entitlements, to eliminate Social Security, etc. They stigmatize Federal employees as bloated, lazy parasites on the public dole. It got so bad during the Reagan years, it was amazing to see Federal workers being characterized negatively by the man for whom many of them nominally worked. Inconsistencies between external statement and internal memos are rampant in the Federal system.

Of course, many of these conservatives are wholeheartedly in favor of more military spending. The Reagan years of explosive growth in the Defense budget created the lion's share of the present national debt, a fact conveniently forgotten by knee-jerk conservatives like Rush Limbaugh crying about "tax and spend" Democrats ruining our country financially. Military spending makes products whose only purpose is to destroy or be destroyed. If no war occurs, the items had no opportunity for use ... they are a black hole, contributing nothing for the investment they require. Sure, protection of the nation from foreign attack is worthwhile. But how much did we really need? Most of the Cold War paranoia was just that ... it had much less factual basis than most people realized ... but a lot of our tax money went to a few very rich people who benefited enormously from the feverish "Defense" spending.

It seems obvious that this same conservative crowd is very much in favor of subsidies to rich folks. For instance, the whole government dam-building orgy in the American west provided very little in the way of tangible rewards to anyone but a handful of very wealthy farmers, who got cheap irrigation water. How many industries in this country get tax breaks and outright Federal payments? Most of these same people are the ones crying to cut the welfare budget for poor people ... yet they favor this special form of welfare for rich people! It all would "trickle down" to the common people, said Reagan. Well, what was a flood for the rich was indeed a trickle for the rest of us! "Trickle-down" economics turned out to be a grotesque joke.

What most of these conservative bozos call "free enterprise" is really a system that is given all sorts of benefits by the Federal government: tax breaks, outright subsidy payments, various kinds of immunity from prosecution for fraud and the consequences of their activities. Big companies (lumber, mining, and ranching) are allowed to pillage from Federally-owned land and pay little or nothing for it. Manufacturers pollute freely and, if caught, are given a slap on the wrist. The Federal government even builds logging roads in the National Forests for the lumber companies! Whenever environmental protection enters into the equation, the company executives start crying about loss of jobs, and bankrupting the nation. This isn't "free enterprise" ... it's welfare for those who need it least. Curiously, the average citizen-conservative isn't benefiting personally from the pouring of government money into private company coffers, but they seem to be making political arguments on behalf of the people who employ them. This amounts to blackmail by employment. Loggers and miners and ranch hands spout the company line because they're afraid of losing their jobs. But the companies dump them anyway. In most cases, the "environment vs. jobs" argument is entirely specious. Once the companies have finished pillaging, the local jobs are going away, anyway. Blue collar workers are being fooled into shilling for their employers, who don't give a shit about their workers in the first, middle, or last place.

Everything I've seen and heard about free enterprise suggests to me that it is no more likely to be successful than government. Dilbert cartoons are popular because stupidity, fraud and abuse are rampant in the private sector, too. Clearly, there are spheres within which government spending makes more sense than in other spheres ... there certainly are arenas which could be converted successfully to the private sector. To that extent, I favor disengagement of government programs in those sectors where it is logical to do so (see my opinions about public vs. private weather forecasting here and here). But I do not accept it as an article of faith that private is inevitably better than public! Some services provided by the Federal or State governments belong in the public sector: such things as management of nationally-owned resources (like parks), issuance of hazardous weather warnings, collection of national weather data, regulation of air and water quality, etc. These need to be handled Federally and no private sector intrusion or manipulation should be tolerated. The conservatives who are so big on deregulation are usually the ones who will benefit by deregulation - everyone should be skeptical about arguments imposed on the nation by those whose interests will be served!

Yes, I know that this statement can be turned on me, but my time in Federal service has ended. I now live mostly on my government retirement benefits. I think I have a record of being reasonably objective about these issues, however - I've not taken a "knee-jerk" position on this. And besides, I'm not afraid of skepticism regarding my ideas! If you think I favor this or that because it conveys a pecuniary advantage on me, you don't know me very well!

4. The environment

Recently, in lurking on a newsgroup, I saw the most astounding liberal-bashing notion yet. Some redneck had asserted that the Boy Scouts of America are a "liberal" organization, because of their commitment to the environment! By this amazing feat of illogic, this idiot had associated environmental concerns with the "liberals" and so anyone advocating preservation of the environment must be a liberal!! Apparently, only the death of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Communism worldwide (with a few pitiful exceptions) prevented this person from associating the Boy Scouts with world-wide Marxism.

Being an"environmentalist" has nothing to do with the conservatives vs. the liberals! I assume that this guy likes to go hunting and fishing outdoors and would go ballistic if someone paved over his favorite hunting and/or fishing spots. He'd probably be very unhappy if some corporation contaminated his drinking water with PCBs. Nevertheless, as long as it appears to be a conservative policy to allow business interests run rampant over the environment, he's all for it. This must be another follower of Rush Limbaugh's babble.

The environment doesn't give a damn about politics and "pigeon-hole" labels. People who care about their world's environment aren't some monolithic block of "flaming liberals" ... they run the political gamut. I didn't bother arguing with this guy either online via the newsgroup or even offline via e-mail ... having an argument with anyone who believes such nonsense is virtually certain to go nowhere. If there is any group that stands for the old-fashioned values the conservatives love so much, it's the Boy Scouts!! I support Scouting because of the program's support of young men at a time in their lives when they often need that support the most. Yes, I also am an "environmentalist" ... I want to pass on to my children a world where they can enjoy the outdoors just as I have. Scouting uses the outdoors experience to build notions of teamwork, leadership, physical exercise, self-confidence, and yes, respect for our environment. Our world can be enjoyed without destroying it, and it is not something we can replace if we screw it up badly enough. Only someone who's monumentally short-sighted and selfish is not willing to pass on as clean and pristine an environment as possible. What the blazes does this have to do with political labels? In spite of their apparently "conservative" values, Scouting is not political!

I certainly don't buy what Mr. Gore is saying uncritically, but just because the Democrats want to sell themselves as the protectors of the environment, is this adequate reason to damn the whole notion of environmentalism? I suspect the motives of the Democrats - environmentalism is currently "popular" and I suspect they are responding to the polls by wrapping themselves in the cloak of environmentalism - but is the association sufficient for guys like this to equate environmentalism with the "liberal" philosophy? I fail to understand how someone can hate "liberals" so much that he would be opposed to environmentalism because, in his feeble mind, it's connected to liberalism!

5. Fundamentalists and conservation

A recent incident, where an avowed "Fundamentalist" harangued me about his views on conservation, prompts me to add this one. I always have been mildly amused at Fundamentalists - they assert that the Bible is the written word of God and should be taken literally. If the Bible says that Creation took place in seven days, that's precisely how long it took. If the Bible says that Methuselah lived for 900+ years (or however long), then that is exactly what happened. And so on. The amusing part of this perspective is the quandary over how to interpret written words. All of us know that words can have several meanings and that reasonable people can dispute what words actually mean. The Constitution of the United States is an example of a decidedly mortal document that contains words in dispute: freedom of speech, gun control, abortion, and other issues tend to revolve around how to interpret those words. Why should the written words of the Bible be immune to multiple interpretations?

[The preceding ignores any shades of meaning and various types of transcription and translation errors that may have crept in over the centuries as the Bible was translated from the original Hebrew into Latin, from Latin into various other languages, and the various versions derived therefrom. That is, I am ignoring which version of the Bible to take literally! Lots of room for religious people to argue, here. In fact, people have died arguing over such things. I digress, however.]

But of course, if the Bible is the written words of God, then perhaps God only used words with single meanings? Not from where I sit! Basically, as near as I can tell, most Christian Fundamentalists are actually saying that their interpretation of the Bible is God's truth, and any other interpretation is false. This seems like a comfortable position from which to argue, of course, since it assumes that any difference of opinion is necessarily wrong. How convenient! No need to question your interpretations ... you've got God on your side!

To get back to the thread of this entry, however, the Fundamentalist who was "arguing" with me was saying that he didn't care if all the rattlesnakes in the world would disappear tomorrow. If he could, he'd kill them all without hesitation, or at least sanction their extermination without any pangs of conscience. I was trying to suggest to him that he needed to learn more about how ecology worked, to try to understand that rattlesnakes have a place on the Earth, just as all species do. His response was that he didn't need to learn anything more on the subject, because he already knew all he needed to know - a classic "conservative" viewpoint that effectively says that they willingly wallow about in ignorance. I knew I was in trouble, right away, at this point in the "discussion" (which was rapidly deteriorating into a monologue).

Then, to top it all off, he offered the classic Fundamentalist view that "Besides, God gave Man dominion over all the plants and animals of the Earth." He went on to say that since the Earth and everything on it will eventually disappear, the only thing that matters is entrance into Heaven and eternal life for all those who qualify. Thus, he claims to have virtually no concern for Earthly things, like the ecosystem of our Earth, with all its lifeforms. The argument seems to be that dominion gives us the green light to go ahead exploiting and destroying the planet to our heart's content. It just doesn't matter, based on the "dominion" argument. However badly we muck up the Earth for our descendants, however many species of plants and animals we eradicate, the Fundamentalists are going on to eternal life, so it just isn't a problem for them.

Obviously, his religious beliefs are being cited in support of this position and this isn't the first time I've heard such aggravating nonsense. Those beliefs are being used to justify actions that will destroy things that matter a great deal to many of the rest of us non-Fundamentalists, whether or not we share those beliefs. It seems to me that in this democratic nation, freedom only extends to those actions where the rights of others are not harmed. Shouting "Fire!" falsely in a crowded theater and thereby causing a panic will get you arrested, and rightly so. If your words harm others, you're not free to use them. In the same way, if your religious beliefs infringe on the rights of others, you are not free to exercise them. Specifically, no matter what your religion tells you, you should not be able to trample on the planet in which we all live, just because it doesn't concern you! Sorry, jerk-off - it's my planet, too!

6. The "Incorporation" of America

Ah, the joys of rampant capitalism! Although I'm by no means an advocate of any other economic system, I find the accelerating pace of corporate buy-outs to be a disturbing trend. Sure, Wal-Mart provides its products at low prices, there are "no surprises" when you stay at Holiday Inn, and you can always count on the burgers being the same at McDonald's wherever you go. But we are losing most of the variety in the American landscape. Regional differences are being erased rapidly, everywhere across this land of ours. Go the to mall, and all the shops are the same as the ones at home. New restaurants in town always seem to be chains. Most clothing now is sold in the few surviving department stores and the chains offering "trendy" junk. Even hardware stores and automotive service are being taken over by the chains and homogenized. Wal-Mart seems to offer everything under one roof!! If you want an unusual product, where can you go? The big corporate chains only stick with products and brands that sell off the shelves quickly, and if you want something different ... tough. The last bastion of individualized product content seems to be the Web, these days. Who knows how long that will last?

A business with which I've become familiar is the stock photography business. Some years ago, I was invited to join a photographic stock house that was started by someone who had a vision of what he wanted the business to be: a tightly-edited selection of work from the best photographers he could locate, sold at fair prices, offering clients the best images for their purposes, and offering photographers the chance to make a fair return from their creative efforts. Then, shortly after I joined, the company was bought out by the giant Getty conglomerate, and immediately it became clear that the only goal of the new owners was to make money, especially for themselves and their top-level executives, and also for the stockholders. A big cost driver that was limiting corporate profits was the share of the profits being given to photographers -- those producing the product to be sold. Images are now being sold by Getty at alarmingly low prices to undersell a dwindling number of competing companies, forcing small image companies to sell out or be buried. Low-cost, royalty-free images or images from photo shoots wholly owned by Getty (with photographers getting a very low percentage of each sale) are being pushed on Getty's clients, in favor of the more expensive rights-protected images produced by experienced, high-caliber professional photographers who retain the copyrights. New contracts running to 27 pages of legalese gibberish and laced with traps for the unwary artists, who might not realize they are signing away important parts of their business relationship with the company, have replaced short, understandable contracts with reasonable terms. As I write this, it seems that many of their current photographers under contract (probably including me) will not sign the new contract. My main reason for mentioning this is that my experience is becoming more and more common. It seems that many people I know are now encountering, up close and personal, the impact of mega-corporate buyouts, with their narrow focus on making money instead of providing quality products and services to America these days. How many of you have had these experiences?

As more and more businesses are coming under the influence of fewer and fewer corporate giants, we're all being squeezed into accepting whatever deal the giants have to offer. If you don't like the new business model ... tough! Just what are you going to be able to DO about it? The old "mom and pop" restaurants, motels, hardware stores, etc. are disappearing. Most of the products and services that used to give the various regions their own unique culture are being swept away by the bloated corporate giants. We're seeing a few huge companies get more and more diverse holdings and greater and greater market share, at the expense of small businesses and local entrepreneurs. It seems that modern capitalism in the U.S. is becoming "Join or be buried!" Sure, entrepreneurs still exist, but it seems they are willing to sell out to a corporate giant as soon as possible. Make your millions with your start-up company, as soon as a conglomerate makes you an offer. [Of course, those who don't take those offers often are buried!] The object is clearly to accumulate wealth for management and shareholders, not to produce a product or service. Once a few goliath corporations remain, how sympathetic are they going to be to your interests and needs? What competition will prevent them from jacking up prices whenever the CEOs need a new pool in their mansions? What public interest will sway them from plundering the environment for their own corporate profit? Is this really capitalism? Isn't this what anti-monopoly efforts in the early 20th century were trying to prevent?

Even more insidious is that these giants have lots of political clout - they have so much money and so much business under their control, they have a lot of say in the halls of political power. The politicians (like "dubya") are simple puppets in their hands. "Forget about those environmental regulations - we've got profits to maintain and increase." Oh yes, and most of the really big corporations are multinationals, who feel no qualms about moving their manufacturing to other parts of the world, where laborers are more willing to settle for small wages and miserable working conditions than most American workers, who tend to form troublesome unions that make corporate decisions complicated. [Uncaring, stupid corporate management that alienates workers deserves what happens when unions are created!] Many corporations have even managed to dupe their workers into going along with them. The workers have hopes of saving their jobs, even though the companies are more and more inclined to take those jobs where the workers are more docile and thereby cut manufacturing costs. It's all about money - money for the rich. As the gap between the rich and poor in this country grows, we should think about the possible outcome of that, down the road. History offers a number of ugly examples.

I do what I can to avoid patronizing the giants if I can find what I want from a less-bloated alternative company. That much is easy to do. I stay at local motels wherever possible and avoid the chain restaurants if I can. I don't buy groceries at Wal-Mart if I can avoid it, I buy my hardware on the Web, and so on. The list can go on. I like sampling different things. Bland perfection is much less interesting than taking a chance on products and services that typically are much better than those offered by the mega-corporations (and, only occasionally, turn out to be awful).

Support your local businesses, in favor of the giants!! Maintain your local culture and show how much it means to you by patronizing those who have stayed with it, in the face of the squeeze put on them by the giants. We can vote on the issue, if we are willing to do so, with our choices about where we put our money. We have mircrobreweries in many places around the country today because many of us got bored with bland, tasteless, artificially-carbonated beer brewed for us by the few remaining gigantic brewing companies, like Anheuser-Busch. It can be done! Cheapest is not always the right choice. We can stand up for quality just by voting with our wallets and purses, rather than settling for cheap, uniform, and marginally satisfactory all the time.

7. ...

Update: 30 July 2011. Here is a dialog between a reader (Scott Currier) and me with regard to Section 1, above. Apart from some minor edits this is a verbatim version of an email exchange. Scott's comments are in a different color.

Regarding your essay on being a social liberal you talk about abortion. Your second paragraph really surprises me. It's the type of comment that makes you look like a very intelligent person who lacks a bit of common sense.

"Common sense" is a rather elusive concept. Just what constitutes common sense, to you? And what is it about the following that you find to conclude I lack "a bit" of it?

If you execute, murder, kill, or whatever term you want to use a convicted felon who has done something so bad as to justify the death penalty, you're protecting society and punishing the person who did something deemed worthy of the death penalty. The person on death row basically got himself there.

This presumes, of course, that the conviction was not in error and the person to be executed is indeed guilty of the crimes of which s/he is accused. I take it you don't subscribe to the notion that motivated the American version of a justice system, which was designed from the very beginning to protect the rights of the accused to the extent that guilty persons would be set free much more often than guiltless persons would be punished for crimes they didn't commit.

In contrast, what did the unborn child do?

What might such an unborn child do in the future? Many children born into disadvantaged home situations become criminals. If you prefer that possibly guilty people should be punished in preference to setting guilty people free, then it could be a matter of common sense to remove these potentially dangerous individuals before they have a chance to commit their crimes. You might kill some potentially innocent people, of course. I take it you can see the logical parallels ...

In general people are more protective of children than they are of adults, it's human nature.

That may be true, of course. For some of us, the importance of children in the USA today may have become exaggerated to the point of almost being a cult. And I think the focus on abortion is part of that.

Normal people can accept that killing someone is sometimes necessary in self defense (a you or him situation), or in response to a heinous crime.

Normal people - is that what you refer to when you discuss common sense? Just how do you define normal? Does the commandment say "Thou shalt not kill, unless you're a normal person under certain conditions"?

In the case of abortion, you are stopping a life for no reason other than convenience, to fix an error.

Sometimes you're aborting a fetus to save the life of the mother. Or to prevent the psychological trauma of bearing the child of a rapist (which can have very negative effects on that child, as well as the mother). Or because it is an unwanted pregancy (an error) if you will.

Normal people sweep this under the rug and look the other way. Even those involved with abortion will admit that they don't jump up and down with happiness everytime they conduct their dirty business.

Normal people again. Is this the same "normal" group as the one above? Apparently not.

People who have abortions usually know deep down exactly what they have done, murder their own child, and it affects them, it makes them feel bad.

How do you know this? Are you speaking from personal experience or is it simply the propaganda put out by the anti-abortion movement?

So, with that in mind, it really makes no sense think that if you are opposed to abortion you have to be opposed to the death penalty or opposed to using deadly force when necessary to protect ones life.

Well, perhaps it makes no sense to you, but I think it's perfectly sensible. If you invoke the "Thou shalt not kill" argument to oppose abortion, I see no logical difference between killing a fetus and killing a convicted criminal. There's no such distinction in the commandment. I guess that's why you don't believe I have common sense - because I don't see things the way you do!

Abortion is here to stay, if I had the power to stop it I probably wouldn't unless I could solve the other problems that you bring up.

The growing anti-abortion movement makes your assertion one that can be questioned. If the right-wing religious zealots have their way, abortion will be outlawed everywhere no matter what the situation.

What do you mean run roughshod over the rights of felons? If someone has done something so bad that they are on death row, hello, get it over with, this person forfeited his rights when he committed the crime as far as I am concerned.

See the above. You assume, again, that a convicted criminal is indeed guilty. I'm not disputing that the majority of them may indeed be of their crimes, and our secular nation has claimed the right to punish criminals with the death penalty (in some places), but I maintain we have an obligation to protect their rights to the full extent of the laws, right up to the time when they're executed.

Comments like your second paragraph make liberals easy targets because it's so easy to claim that "Liberals don't care about kids, all they are concerned with is the rights of felons"

Comments like the above make conservatives easy targets because it so easy to claim that "Conservatives don't care about people. All they care about is unborn children."

That comment also contributes to the stereotype that scientists and a lot of liberals may be smart but they lack common sense.

That stereotype may have some merit - scientists are usually "geeks" who are heavily focused on their work. To say they lack common sense, however, is arrogant and insulting without due cause. Many people who subscribe to such stereotypes often know nothing about any scientists besides what they see in the media. In my experience, I find many scientists to be more thoughtful about deep issues than most non-scientists. And I refuse to accept the notion that liberals lack common sense - insofar as I can tell, that stereotype exists because liberals hold different views from those who believe in such stereotypes, and therefore are "weirdos" who "lack common sense" in the minds of non-liberals.

I think that socially moderate makes more sense than socially liberal, leave abortion as it is and leave the death penalty as it is and allow people to kill in self defense.

Damn it, a liberal is a moderate!! You've evidently accepted the bastardization of the word "liberal" to mean "radical leftist." The USA colllectively has swung so far to the right-wing these days that a centrist is considered a radical!

The world is not binary, it's not black and white. Murders isn't alway wrong.

What part of "Thou shalt not kill" do you disagree with? It seems to me the Ten Commandments are pretty unambiguous and more black and white than I am. Note that I'm pointing out logical inconsistencies among the right-to-lifers. I haven't advocated a binary view of things - simply that the anti-abortion faction includes people whose stand on these two issues (abortion and the death penalty) are inconsistent.

One last comment, why is abortion murder? Well, if the abortion doesn't occur you can wait a few years and have a conversation with what you were planning on aborting. Wait long enough and you may find that you depend upon what you were going to abort.

Or you may find out that what you were going to abort and chose not to has become a street criminal, dealing in drugs and killing without a conscience. I don't disagree that abortion is killing, so I don't see the point, here.

Update:  28 April 2012.  Here is the lightly-edited dialog occasioned by comments from Jeff P__, who has requested I not include his last name. Jeff's comments are pretty much as received, including typos and errors, displayed in a different color.

While I certainly agree with some of your points I think the problem you're truly facing is that the folks on the radical end of your side of things tend to call themselves what?  You guessed it, liberals.  Some might throw "progressive" on there or some other modifier, but *most* openly call themselves liberal, so what are we to call them?  I personally prefer socialist, communists, etc, as they're at least a bit more descriptive I'm not saying YOU adhere to these schools of thought, but there certainly seems to be a lot of that type of thought running around in the democrat party which I'm going to take a wild leap of faith in assuming is who you identify with.

I have no idea from where you're getting your information - perhaps you can identify some sources? - but I'm pretty confident that extreme leftists would not want to be called liberals.  I'm pretty certain they despise liberals at least as much as conservatives despise liberals.

You brought up abortion vs. capital punishment.  In doing so you seem to have gotten the idea that all people who are against abortion could only be basing it off of religious dogma. 

Show me where I've said "all" people who oppose abortion are basing it on religious dogma - I feel no need to defend this statement because I've never stated it!

I personally find the whole thing to be absolutely reprehensible.  To punish a life for the poor choices of their mother and or father while comparing that life to that of a cold blooded killer, seems a bit extreme, and frankly kind of disturbing.  Do you really not see the distinction? 

Well, you're entitled to your opinion.  Frankly, many unwanted babies will be punished for years and years by being born to a mother who didn't want them, and/or couldn't afford to make a decent home for them.  Many of the very same people who oppose abortion on religious grounds also believe that welfare to support those babies they're determined to be allowed to be born should be cut.
Now I'll absolutely grant you that the justice system is beyond messed up.  BOTH sides of the isle seem to be all about trampling the shit out of rights. 

Of late, this is more true than it was before the Obama administration.  Up until recently, the GOP was consistently more willing to sacrifice our freedoms for the illusion of state security.

But, the justice system, if you can even call it that, is definitely better than it used to be at least now we have things like DNA and forensics which can make it pretty much certain who the perp. was.  Not always, but in many cases.  That doesn't change the fact the prosecutors have turned prosecution into a politics game and that cops are sometimes more crooked than the criminals they're claiming to protect us from...but many cops are straight up guys who really are trying to do the right thing, but often have their hands tied by political crap from above. And prosecutors will jump on ANY case if it wins them political points, panders to some voting block the like, or will get the media off their backs. And I definitely agree with the you in that ex-cons are really given little choice but to return to a life of crime.  Once you've been in the system you'll most likely never make a decent income legally. If you did your time that should be the end of your punishment, but it rarely is.  And if they're to dangerous to be out among the rest of us, they probably shouldn't be out. 

The war on drugs never should have started in the first place, it was a stupid idea, but really I think the media is to blame on that particular idea. They almost single handedly hyped the crack "epidemic", and both sides just one-uped each other trying to prove how "tough on crime" they were until folks were doing hard time for selling a damn plant.  The only reason anyone in politics gives a crap about legalization is because it gets them points with the young, hip, cool crowd, and the added tax dollars for them to blow.  None of them get that it's just flat stupid policy.  It doesn't work, it will NEVER work, even if they searched EVERY SINGLE CAR that crossed every single border, they STILL couldn't stop it.  Because if there's a market, someone will fill it.  If they can't keep dope out of something as small, isolated, locked down, and totally gov't controlled like say, a prison; how in the world do they think they can stop it on a nation wide scale?

The "war" on drugs goes back much farther than the relatively crack epidemic.  See here.

There's many more points I intended to debate with you and perhaps if it wouldn't take me writing an essay of my own to try to counter your, in my opinion, blatantly hypocritical essay, I would, but I'm not sure yet that it would even matter.  You are doing the very thing you're blasting in your essay. 

Is that so?  Exactly how so?  How does the fact that I'm unhappy with the use of the word "liberal" to mean a radical leftist represent hypocrisy?  How does pointing out the hypocrisy of many conservatives represent bashing the conservatives?  Are you saying that any criticism of common conservative viewpoints is equivalent to "blasting" them? 

Many of us evil conservative types just want to live our lives, and not have the government meddle in EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of our day to day lives.  Which I don't see how you could even argue they don't intend to do.

I think I can make a case that it's predominantly certain conservative segments who hope to meddle in people's lives, especially when it comes to erosion of our constitutional freedoms.  The liberals have consistently hoped to reach out to disadvantaged people in this nation whereas the conservatives seem mostly to favor welfare for the rich!

We're shaken down at every single opportunity, yet they are always bitching about wanting MORE money, yet they take our money and piss it away by the trillions.  Both sides of the isle are corrupt beyond belief.  Unfortunately with the system we've been handed there is really only 2 parties.  And any more they seem to be 2 sides of the same damn coin.  BOTH sides are bought and paid for by corporations.  Niether side gives a crap about us, we're just the money tree for their social experiments. You're absolutely right I want the government out of my life, I can't think of a single thing they do that they don't mess up and make cost 50x what it should.

So you want to give up the military, the police, fire departments, garbage collection, street and highway maintenance, support for science and technology research, etc.?  That makes you an anarchist.  Good luck with that.

You, being a recipient of tax-payer money will of course howl about not getting enough, and you'll always want more.

Since when I have I howled about not getting enough money?  Now you're getting personally insulting!  You don't know me and evidently have little or no understanding of what I do and what I'm trying to say.

I mean even Bill Gates, who has more money than god, still wants more.  Does that mean I think that the gov't should cut off funding for weather research, not at all.  It's something that needs researched as it does impact so many aspects of day to day life, and I'm not real sure that there's a private sector drive for weather research, I might be dead wrong, you'll know more about that than I.  But that is one of a few roles that I think the gov't should fill.

How generous of you!

Perhaps if they drug tested all welfare recipients, to ensure our tax dollars were being used wisely, they'd have a bit more money to fund weather stuff with. 

You must be joking.   But - somehow, I doubt it.  The clueless always have no clue that they're clueless.

But we all know what a sacred cow anything to do with welfare is.  Does that mean I want ALL welfare eliminated, no. 

How generous of you!

But the current state of the welfare system is insane.  If I could just have a dollar for every time I've seen ms. welfare-mom pay for her food(steak, lobster, only the best you know) with food stamps, then pull out a wad of cash for booze, and cigarettes, and go hop in her live in boyfriend or unreported income husband's tricked out SUV, I'd have my own tricked out SUV. 

I suspect if you literally had a dollar for every time you saw this scenario, you'd be able to buy a cup of coffee now and then.   You haven't provided any evidence for this wild assertion, which amounts to a typical tea bagger description of welfare, when the facts aren't even close to this stereotype (often a racist stereotype!).

You can't honestly say that the gov't isn't knowingly letting these folks game the system in exchange for votes.

I can honestly admit I don't have any basis in facts to support your broadside is even remotely accurate for the majority of welfare recipients.

Everyone sees it, yet every time it's brought up, the hounds are unleashed. Social security is another cluster...your entire generation KNEW the gov't was stealing from you, and now, my generation is being forced to pony up for your generation's S.S. and we best not dare do anything about that...My point is, where does the outright theft stop?

Seems you're saying  it was my fault the birth rate has been declining while the retired population is growing.  Not guilty.

So, while you may feel that you're being unfairly labeled or picked on, or whatever, I can assure you conservatives don't have the bashing game on lock.  It's amusing how up in arms folks get about fox news while completely ignoring the likes of MSNBC, CNN, NBC, ABC, and CBS. 

I suppose you're still a believer in the long-outdated notion of the liberal media bias … pathetic.

Now I did read your essay/rant/whatever on the media, and I agree ~95%...but I'll always appreciate Rush, he's the only one that gave us a voice when everyone else was spinning hard left. 

That says all I need to know …

I've read or am working on reading almost every essay you've written that I have a chance at understanding.  Your heavy duty peer reviewed type stuff I way beyond the scope of my interest in weather, but I wish I knew enough to understand it.  That's what got me reading your stuff3 years ago, but I've just now came back to read it all.  The vast majority of the conservatives I know are just like me for the most part. 

So it would seem …

Most of us don't really buy into religion, but we can see the difference between the life of someone that intentionally killed another innocent person, and a baby who had no say in anything.  I'm very conflicted by the rape/incest aspect and generally believe adoption to be the best recourse if you can't handle raising the child.   I don't even really have a problem with the morning after pill.  I have a problem with a doctor killing what is very clearly a little person.  And of the women I've known that have disclosed such an experience to me, yes they all regretted it, they all felt like they had killed their child.  I guess if I had to pass a law on it or something I'd make the limit 6 weeks and forced ultrasound/informed consent.  Not that trans-vaginal ultrasound crap, that's just too extreme, and a regular ultrasound will work just fine.  Even a killer gets a trial, a baby should have something to protect it if it's own mother can't be bothered.

OK - you're entitled to your opinion.

I wish I knew for sure if the country were truly as divided as the politicians and the media want us to think we are, because I just don't see how my view of things is so terrible or extreme or even unusual. Huh, what do you know I guess I did bang out a short essay of my own even if it does skip around a bit.

If you don't think this nation is deeply divided … well, I doubt I can offer you any convincing argument that it is.  Feel free to express yourself - the web allows you to do so relatively cheaply.'

FOr the too long; didn't read types: Stop with the wholesale baby-slaughter, no they really aren't just the same as someone who butchered their wife or whatever they did to end up on death row, even death row inmates get years of appeals. Leave me alone, stop stealing my family's money, if the folks that make use of tax payer dollars would learn some fiscal responsibility maybe we wouldn't flip every time you howl about wanting more of our money, and yes storms are amazing stuff.

Please - go ahead and hold your breath as you wait to hear me howl about wanting more of your money.

PS: All I ask if your post this is that you remove my name if it shows up in the header or whatever.  I don't care if you know my name, it's Jeff by the way, I just don't need some future potential employer googling my name and getting all pissy.

Interesting that you fear the possible consequences of speaking your mind.  I'll respect your request, but your lack of a spine regarding your opinions detracts from your message.  I'm giving you a voice - I hope you'll have the courtesy to be grateful.