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Fiddlin Bill

You are totally right (not surprisingly!). I would add that any argument which yields the conclusion "so, don't vote at all," or "vote for some 3rd party candidate" will most like mean, in reality, that the candidate you like least will have a better chance of winning. See, e.g., G W Bush, Florida, 2000. It was the votes for Ralph Nader that made it "close enough," a term of electoral art which masks all the shenanigans that occur inside the process, every time. So all those Nader voters really showed Bill Clinton a thing or two, huh?

SReady

The "Stars & Bars" (the flag of the CSA govt) are not flown by the Capitol in SC. They fly the Confederate battle flag on the Capitol grounds. The distinction is important. While either would be egregious, to fly the battle flag is to fly the flag of that indicates those who stand with it & behind it are actively engaging in war. By flying it or standing with it one declares oneself to be some combination of ignorant, inarticulate and actively bellicose.

Lance Mannion

SReady, I've always been confused about that. I've been corrected both ways before. But your point about what it stands for whatever it's called is a very good one.

Btw, I took out that paragraph before I saw your comment because I decided I was trolling myself in a way by introducing a much bigger issue that I should deal with in a post of its own into what's essentially a routine bit of pundit bashing on my part.

Chris the cop

"Or put another way, what did hybrid/centrists ever manage to accomplish with their blending?
Winning the Cold War?
The National Highway system?
National Parks?"

Actually 2 of the 3 did occur because of centrists. The Cold War was won by the long term deployment of the Kennan Doctrine of containment, the middle ground between capitulation to a mass murderer (that would be Stalin) and the dictators that followed, and nuking everything red. And this notion that the Cold War "bankrupted us financially and morally and spiritually" is just silly. Or were the 90s a time of national bankruptcy that somehow got by me?
The highway system was pushed through under a moderate centrist Republican (that would be Eisenhower, who was its major champion)
The National Parks? Don't enough about that to speak intelligently.
And as for the Civil Rights Act, thank goodness there were enough Republicans around since more of them voted for it then the plurality of racist Democrats who were in office back then. A win for liberalism for sure, but hardly accomplished soley by liberals.

It's the same old bilge, Lance: left = good, right = bad. The thing is, it IS both sides fault. Both sides are made up largely of horses asses. And both sides are going to have to try much, much harder to find common ground. Which they won't since they are made up largely of horses asses. I can't think of a period in my adult life when I was as disgusted with both sides of the aisle as I am now.

Barbara

You do know that Friedman isn't just a celebrity journalist, don't you? He is married into an extremely, extremely wealthy family (easily googleable). At this point, writing must be more of a hobby for him, because he certainly doesn't need the money.

I mention this to underline that he is indeed a smug, self-satisfied, self-infatuated elitist protected from the vicissitudes of the here and now by his wealth and privileges who doesn't give a damn what happens to the rest of us stuck living in the present.

Paul Loop

Chris the Cop> You missed the point. He said ``What great thing in this country's history ... wasn't accomplished by a group of liberal extremists dragging people from the center to join them in opposing the entrenched conservative interests of the day?''
If you can prove that it was centrists who dragged liberals to build highways you might have a point.
The Cold War? The Cold War was a colossal drain on the nation's treasury, and this word ``containment'' that you blithely toss off, was the activating strategy behind the disastrous, expensive, bloody, demoralizing, divisive and ultimately pointless expansion and prosecution of the Viet Nam War. The Cold War wasn't just pointing missiles at each other and making threats. Would that it had been. And somehow you managed to slip right past the '80s and the monumental deficits Reagan ran up amping defense spending to pressure the already failing USSR (which had put Stalin in the ground in 1953) while slashing taxes. The Berlin Wall came down in 1989, so the Cold War was, you know, sort of OVER before the '90s got started. Remember the ``peace dividend?''But nice try for the both sides argument.

And as for your point about Civil Rights: Yes, moderate Republican votes offset the racist Democrats in office back then, but liberals put the Civil Rights Act on the table. Period. Eisenhower couldn't get his party to back civil rights reform in the '50s. LBJ -- a war hawk but a social liberal to the nth degree -- is the one who cajoled, threatened and twisted enough arms to get the centrists and enough of the Dixiecrats themselves to come around. The GOP House and Senate voters from the old Confederate states? NONE of them voted for the Civil Rights Act. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/28/republicans-party-of-civil-rights . Those same racist Democrats -- who in spirit were not at all ``left,'' and who in fact rose to power in reaction to the liberal Republican who vanquished the Confederacy -- couldn't wait to jump to the Republican Party and invert what had been the Democratic Party's southern strategy (though few Democrats like to hear it put that way today) into their own, infinitely worse manifestation.
So, yeah, right = bad, even when the right dresses up as Democrats. And the reason both sides can't find common ground today is 100% on their doorstep.

Chris the cop

We'll have to agree to disagree here. Yes, Vietnam was a disaster, but containment saved the world, keeping the Soviet Union in check until it exhausted itself. The interstate highway was not created by "a group of liberal extremists dragging people from the center;" and agreeing that "right = bad" is just as silly as saying "left is bad." The percentage of people who are Democrats (not necessarily liberal) is about the same as the percentage of people who are Republicans (not necessarily conservative.) - about 45%. Are you really going to blithely dismiss nearly have the registered voters in the US as 'bad' just because they don't agree with you?

And as far as the Cold War being "a colossal drain on the nation's treasury," it only took place during huge amounts of economic growth and never remotely approached the level of (proportional)debt we have today: $17 trillion and counting.

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