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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
            Wednesday, November 19 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Frames of reference: conservative, liberal

Conservative and liberal are probably the most widespread and influential frames of reference in use in the United States. As a Christian and former campus minister I'd much prefer that our religious professions had that place in our lives and in society, but the opinion research finds the contrary. Most Americans, while claiming by an overwhelming majority to be "religious" people, praying people, people with personal relationships with God, deny that their religion ever plays a significant part in their political choices. I feel it's cynical to think this way, and yet it's probably true: it's more meaningful to find out whether a new friend is a liberal or conservative than whether he or she is Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, Jewish, or Orthodox.

It's true that liberal and conservative have almost infinite varieties of meaning. You may think you're a conservative but when I get to know you I may think you're a liberal, or vice versa. Among conservatives, there are "neoconservatives" (which seems to refer to those who consider The Weekly Standard their favorite reading); social conservatives, who believe that abortion, gay civil rights, and voucher schools are the most important political issues of our times, and "economic conservatives" who range all over the map on those three issues or couldn't care less about any of them, but believe that government spending should be tightly controlled and that things like deficit spending and a balance of international trade are among their top priorities.

One of the writers on this conservative/liberal debate on the Home Page email forum recently said that conservatives usually complain about government intrusion in our lives, finding that inconsistent with a desire for curbs on abortions. Actually, I would say those who make government intrusion a watershed issue are the libertarians, and many of them are against any laws regulating abortion, gay behavior, pornography and, in many cases, even what are generally defined as "illegal" drugs. One of their big heros is the late author, Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue of Selfishness, and my favorte, We the Living), who did write magnificent treatises against Communism and collectivism, so was at least for that also admired by many conservatives. But conservatives tend to be pro-police, tough on crime, and for that you have to have good and strong administrative government.

Liberals also come in various shades. The Harvard law professor and liberal advocate, Alan Dershowitz, recently protested strongly against the use of "the liberals" or "you liberals," because there are so many varieties that no one should be thought of speaking for all. Especially, he disowned The Nation, which most probably consider one of the leading liberal magazines, as being beyond the fringe of at least his definition of what is liberal. There are Jeffersonian liberals, who consider themselves in sync with the founders of the American republic, and many conservatives have over the years said that that particular definition of liberal applies to them, even more than today's liberal politicians and media and entertainment figures.

And thus far I've only circled the airport...next time I'll try to come in on at least a couple of landing strips.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Fun facts (or "facts," so it says, but take with a grain)

Every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming 1/10 of a calorie.

You are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than by a poisonous spider.

—Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

Fall seven times, stand up eight.
 
— Japanese proverb
 
Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz
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