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Tilting at Windmills

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January 13, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

FIVE CONSERVATIVE MYTHS....You might choose others, but here's my list:

  1. A 30% national sales tax is a workable substitute for all income and payroll taxes in the United States.

  2. Global warming is not primarily caused by human activity. In fact, global warming might not even exist.

  3. Intelligent design is a viable scientific theory that ought to be taught in biology classes.

  4. Even with marginal tax rates at current levels, reducing taxes will increase revenues.

  5. Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11.

I would like to compile a similar list for liberals/Democrats. Items should be (a) reasonably consequential; (b) held by a nontrivial cross-section of actual politicians, think-tankers, and pundits, not just by a small lunatic fringe; and (c) not mere differences of opinion ("abortion is murder," "preventive war is bad"), but things that are demonstrably false. Leave your nominations in comments.

Kevin Drum 1:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (204)

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Comments

Certain elements within the Bush Administration may have had advanced knowledge of 9/11 (who was in the building, who wasn't, Saudis in their jets, etc...)

Bush just pretends to be dumb

The 2004 Ohio vote was stolen (I don't know much about this, but I know a lot of people who are convinced it was stolen)

Posted by: matthewcc on January 13, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

6. Republicans are conservative spenders and control the budget better than others.

7. Republicans have "morals & values".

Posted by: Mark-NC on January 13, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican Party is committed to the idea of a smaller, less intrusive government.

Posted by: junebug on January 13, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Many liberals as well as Congressional Democrats believe that high oil/gasoline prices are mainly the result of greedy oil companies and that peak oil and it's ramifications are not that serious an issue.

Posted by: Karen T on January 13, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

I am curious if you could be more specific in your wording on #2. Which is the myth:

1. No warming is caused by man
2. Not all observed warming is caused by man
3. Man-made warming will not rise to catastrophic levels justifying costly mitigation efforts, in terms of money and lost freedoms

I agree that 1 is a myth. At this point in the advancement of science, it would be really hard to label #2 or #3 a myth, rather than just a competing hypothesis that is more or less in vogue.

Posted by: coyote on January 13, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

You're spittin' into the wind here, Kevin. I'm not saying, by any means, that liberals are always right about anything, I'm just saying that the whole anti-science/anti-intellectual/anti-fact thing is entirely Republican, and that you aren't going to find ANY liberal beliefs to match (2), (3), and (5).

Posted by: Trickster on January 13, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

"The only reason the US invaded Iraq was oil."

"Religion has always been a conservative force in American politics."

"Populism is a viable political strategy."

"Gun-owners like guns because they want to kill people."

"'Corporate Interests' can usefully be thought of as a simple, monolithic entity.'"

"Bill Clinton's blow-job was his own private business."

Posted by: lampwick on January 13, 2008 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Not so fast on the first Kevin. If you are really going to declare the first a myth, then you are going to have to do more than simply repeat objections to it that many economists already have good answers to. Repeating over and over that sales taxes are regressive is pretty mythical in itself when most economic proponents of such systems have suggested ways to overcome that difficultly directly. If you still have criticisms of those solutions as well, that's great, but simply ignoring them and always starting with the original objection is the intellectual equivalent to arguing that evolution is "just a theory" then having the problem with that claim explained... and then repeating the original claim again five days later.

Posted by: Bad on January 13, 2008 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

[trolling deleted]

Posted by: Al on January 13, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Coyote, Kevin is simply putting forth different postulates than you. It's not that yours are more "specific," it's just that they are "different." His are of quite adequate specificity to serve as objects of discussion.

Posted by: Trickster on January 13, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

There is no such thing as political correctness. It is not a force one needs to worry about. It is used as a charge to cover up racism or sexism.

I think what is laughable about this is the number of liberal professors that still demand tenure. I think it's downright absurd to watch certain professors demand tenure while noisily demanding there is no such thing as political correctness.

Posted by: jerry on January 13, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

"I would like to compile a similar list for liberals/Democrats"

Just call up David Broder, he should be able to give a fellow traveler like you a couple of dozen at least. Sheesh, when does your FOX commentator staus come through?

Posted by: Marlowe on January 13, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

The answer to ugly free speech is less free speech. Witness the numbers of universities that have implemented absurd speech codes. Witness the cries of troll and concern troll to yell at people who otherwise might be called people that disagree with you.

Posted by: jerry on January 13, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Coyote: I'm not talking about mitigation efforts. I'm talking about the fact that a considerable cross section of conservatives flatly deny that human activity contributes significantly to global warming, and a smaller but still significant cross section deny that global warming even exists.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on January 13, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Social programs will eventually cure all (or most) of society's ills and inequalities.

Government can legislate racism out of existence.

Everybody should go to college because you're sure to get a good job if you have a degree.

Government can be trusted to control gun ownership, but citizens can't. (I know not all Dems agree with this)

Our oil problems are simply the fault of greedy oil companies who need to be taxed more (not the fault of Peak Oil)

The internal combustion engine can somehow be made to get 100mpg running on gas alone. The reality is that car companies are reduced to making cars out of lighter materials (aluminum instead of steel, plastic instead of aluminum) to squeeze out better MPG.

The feds really, truly balanced the budget in the late 90s (without accounting gimmicks).

Posted by: Speed on January 13, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Here are my suggestions for the Dems-

1. Bill Clinton's budgetary and economic policies are responsible for the economic prosperity of our nation during his administration.

2. Budget deficits are always bad.

3. Nader cost Al Gore the election in 2000.

4. A Democratic president would not have invaded Iraq. (This one is hypothetical. But Clinton very much wanted to invade Iraq in 1998)

5. Saturated fat is bad for you.

Posted by: sporadic on January 13, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

"We can't win elections if we sink to their level."

Posted by: skeptic on January 13, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

That people have a right not to be offended. That to even discuss certain topics marks one as a racist, sexist, islamophobe. That to discuss certain topics and disagree with the prevailing sentiment marks one as a racist, sexist, islamophobe.

That regardless of our speech codes, that we on the left are reality-based.

That though we all agree that there is no threat at all in any form whatsoever from Islamists, that we also agree that Christianists are a threat, and that Israel is too. And there are no gray areas about any of this.

Posted by: jerry on January 13, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, sporadic is on target.

NAFTA, which we disliked in 1992, is really the shizzle in 2008. Free Trade is the only way to go, and Fair Trade is the policy of luddites.

It is craziness to consider returning to the Gold Standard, which we only finally got off in 1972. Questioning our federal reserve system and fiat money marks you as a Ron Paul looney.

Posted by: jerry on January 13, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal myths? Hmm, I'll bite.

1. Solar power is a viable alternative to oil/coal/nuclear

2. The federal government could run healthcare more efficiently than private organizations (sorry, Kevin)

3. Israel is one of the most oppressive, abusive states on the planet

4. Amnesty and open borders would have no negative consequences

5. The jihadists would leave us alone if only we stopped meddling in the Middle East

Posted by: ForbiddenComma on January 13, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

1. A steeply progressive income tax will not discourage hard work.

2. Global warming is caused primarily by human activity and humans have to solve it.

3. Intelligent design isn't a viable theory and shouldn't be taught in biology classes.

4. Increasing taxes will not decrease revenues.

5. There is no proff that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11

That was easy!

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 13, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal myths off the top of my head:

1) Saddam Hussein was contained and not a threat in 2002.

2) Hussein was cooperating with Hans Blix inspectors and was complying with UN resolutions when we invaded.

3) Bush/Cheney cooked the intelligence despite contrary findings by the Silverman/Robb Commission, the 911 Commission, etc., lying us into war.

4) Senators didn't really understand what they were voting for on the AUMF.

5) The threat of global warming justifies compromises by the conservatives on industrial policy and government regulation but not by the left on nuclear power or immigration control.

Posted by: mr insensitive on January 13, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Um, Speed? Kevin asked for liberal myths, not straw men.

1. Nobody thinks social programs will CURE all social ills. All we can hope for is mitigation.

2. Of course government can't legislate racism out of existence. It can, however, reduce the amount of misery visted on minorities by racist people and institutions.

3. Nobody guarantees a good job for everyone. We can, however, improve the odds.

4. No, I don't trust my neighbor to control gun ownership. I don't know anyone who would think my nighbor should be allowed to have a Howitzer. The debate over gun control isn't binary. It's a matter of degree.

5. Which liberal is denying Peak Oil? Cite, please. The oil companies are also greedy.

6. Which liberals are making that claim? Cite, please.

7. I don't know enough to know about the budget but I suspect it can't be denied that the defict was a good deal less.

Posted by: thersites on January 13, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

number 5 seems like a lazy attempt to add a 5th myth on your part. The first four at least relate to conservative doctrine in one way or another.

Posted by: DMan on January 13, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

White Males in general have shitloads of privilege over EVERYONE else. Or the Gloria Steinem construction: black men have it easier than white women. The truth: the majority of white males are just as fucked as the majority of most people. Few of any of us get to be managers, or elected officials, or rich even. The truth: Gloria Steinem's oped was insane and completely unjust.

Or the feminist blogosphere form: there is no such thing as a false rape charge, and even if there were, compared to the numbers of unreported rapes, there is no reason to consider false allegations of rape or child molesting or domestic violence. Or once again, what Benjamin Franklin said about better 100 guilty men go free than jail one innocent person? It's true for everything except crimes against women. Or unscientifically, we can drive the rate of TYPE II error down without having to worry about increasing TYPE I error.

Posted by: jerry on January 13, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

4) Senators didn't really understand what they were voting for on the AUMF.

That's not really a liberal myth, it's just what Hillary supporters have to say to themselves to rationalize their support for Hillary. Deep down they know better.

Posted by: jhasdfklhjdsahjkf on January 13, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin -

Your challenge is clearly not producing anything worthwhile -- the liberals are finding ways to snark at the conservatives (e.g. "The Republican Party is committed to the idea of a smaller, less intrusive government."), and the conservatives are putting words into the mouths of the liberals (e.g. "people have a right not to be offended").

I suggest that you ask a wonky conservative blogger to put the challenge up on his (or her) blog, and see what the blogging community comes up with. Captain Ed, maybe?

Posted by: Osama Von Mcintyre on January 13, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Here are some big conservative myths making the rounds today:

The US is a Christian nation.
The US was founded as a Christian nation.
The Founding Fathers were all observant Christians.
George Washington had his own prayerbook.

All of these are demonstrably false, yet all are pushed by the current crop of GOP Presidential candidates.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on January 13, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez, Kevin should have said that differences of opinion don't count--oh, wait, he did. Speaking as a liberal, I think most of the myths given so far are bogus. Here's my suggestion of one, though:

More restrictive gun laws will reduce gun violence.

Posted by: RSA on January 13, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Some liberal myths:

1. Conceal/Carry laws make the population less safe.

2. There is no looming Medicare funding crisis.

3. Sarbannes-Oxley makes investing safer

Posted by: EW on January 13, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

My list is too Iraq-focused. Let me add a couple of alternatives:

a) Combating the perception of corruption justifies eviserating the First Amendment with Campaign Finance Reform, but the perception of corruption does not justify de minimus inconveniences such as providing a photo ID when you go to vote.

b) Every peccedillo and imperfection of Israel is more egregious than any atrocity by the Palestinians or their supporters.

Posted by: mr insensitive on January 13, 2008 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

That identity politics is an effective mechanism that leads to a more just society.

Posted by: jerry on January 13, 2008 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

The interests of teachers unions never conflict with the interests of students.

This is not the best example because liberals never say this in such a stark form, but sometimes they act as if they believe it.

Posted by: geraldy on January 13, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot one - Voter fraud is a serious problem. Of course, every study says that definitely voter fraud is essentially nonexistent, but that doesn't stop them from claiming otherwise.

Posted by: George on January 13, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

1. Eliminating the profit motive in health care can result in universal coverage, lower infant mortality, higher life expectancy and other benefits exemplified by the other industrialized countries who have state-run health care.

2. The difference between taxing investment income and salary is tantamount to valuing rich people who don't work for most of their money versus working people who do.

3. Giving tax breaks to corporations that offshore their workforce somehow hurts american workers.

4. Taking our eye off the ball in afghanistan allowed the taliban to regroup.

5. anyone who purposely conflates saddam and al qaeda is pandering to racism since a 12-year-old could tell the difference between a militant secularist like saddam and a born-again like osama.

6. bill clinton didn't invade iraq. he also wasn't president on 9/11.


amazing what some of us believe.

Posted by: benjoya on January 13, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Unlike Conservatives, Liberals believe they are morally required to come up with a list of their own inanities to match a list of Conservative inanities so they can feel superior via their "fairness."

Posted by: bdr on January 13, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

What George said.

Posted by: Punditbot on January 13, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Affirmative action does not put white men at a disadvantage.

Posted by: sod on January 13, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

6. Liberals control the media, and all reporters and pundits are liberals.

Posted by: reino on January 13, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

This is a fascinating exercise, though not really producing the result you requested. Just about all of these liberal myths are either seriously debatable, actually correct, or simply not something that fits the guidelines of being something that liberals believe (as defined by Kevin—and certainly not in comparison to the examples he provides.)

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure there five. EW does a good job of hitting upon at least two: 1. Conceal/Carry laws make the population less safe. 2. Sarbannes-Oxley makes investing safer. Both of these are, in this simple formulation, untrue, and they are taken as articles of faith among large numbers of liberals.

His other one ("There is no looming Medicare funding crisis") nicely fits with the straw men from everyone else. The fact that there is a Medicare funding crisis is, in fact, the defense that liberals offer for why we don't need to worry about Social Security (and why it's dishonest to lump these together). It's also a huge matter of debate among liberals concerning the prescription drug plan, where Medicare is being prevented from negotiating as a block for these drugs.

So, no. That only counts as a liberal myth in the heads of those who don't spend any time listening to what liberals actually say. If there are any other actual liberal myths, I didn't see them. But this is a really interesting window into the insular world some of these conservatives prefer to occupy.


Posted by: Paulk on January 13, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

It seems like the few conservatives who are actually trying to pose legitimate "liberal myths" are confusing "liberal" with "Democrat."

Liberals largely opposed the AUMF on Iraq from day one, and the Democrats like Kerry, Clinton etc. who argued afterwards about it weren't presenting anything close to a "liberal" myth. They weren't even posing a myth- they were just lying.

The only liberal myths I would say I agree with as "myths" are the ones that are presented as over-broad scopes. For example saying that gun ownership is across-the-board wrong, or that there are no problems with unions in any way, etc.

The only one presented here that really is a legitimate liberal myth- in that it's not simple something you think isn't true and is actually something prominent liberals have said- is the idea that a Democratic president would have without a doubt prevented 9/11. It's a shame Kevin only got one good response out of so many comments so far, but I sort of figured this one was going to be massive trollbait.

Posted by: August J. Pollak on January 13, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with bdr and Osama von McIntyre. This is not an exercise to be carried out in the comment threads.

I'm sure there are some, and a few of the examples above are meaningful, but by and large this is producing way more snark than productive discussion.

Posted by: sujal on January 13, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

ooh, ooh, i'll play!

conservative opinion-makers don't really believe the things they say, but are playing to the rubes.

conservative men are all afraid of women, but no liberal men are.

oops, can only come up with two. guess i'm a mealy-mouthed liberal.

your pal,
blake

Posted by: blake on January 13, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I like reading your writing for it's voice and general intelligence. but if you can't even get behind the idea that "preventive war" is bad, then maybe it's time i stopped reading your site. thanks for a few good years.

Posted by: URK on January 13, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

How about:
"Studies that compare outcomes of infant and adult mortality and other health care outcomes between nations reflect only the strength/weakness of the healthcare system rather than poverty and distribution of wealth, obesity, drug use, handgun availability, sedentary vs. active lifestyle, genetics."

Posted by: Brian MD on January 13, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Democratic Myth: That changes in tax policy, labor laws, or increases in trade protectionism can return the United States to a period of growth in high quality manufacturing jobs.

Republican Myth: That increasing income inequality in the US reflects merely returns to education.

Republican Myth: That the right way to measure tax progressivity in the United States (or the percentage of taxes paid by the rich) is to ignore the federal payroll tax and sales taxes; i.e., that taxes as a whole are far more progressive than they actually are.

Republican Myth: That Giuliani's "public order policing" is the reason that crime fell in New York City (rather than various other factors that caused crime to fall throughout the United States during the same time period).

Shared Democratic and Republican Myth: That farm subsidies protect the American family farming tradition, help consumers, and don't hurt desperately poor farmers in Third World nations (and that ethonol is a cost effective alternative fuel).

Posted by: RiMac on January 13, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

"Populism is a viable political strategy."

IF you think this is a "myth," you haven't paid attention to American politics much.

Posted by: JC on January 13, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think such a list exists.

Among liberals/democrats, regardless of their other failings, holding a view that is demonstrably false, reasonably consequential, and not a mere difference of opinion is an embarrassment. Such views are regularly debunked within the liberal/democratic community -- epecially by think tanks.

Among conservatives/republicans, holding a view that is demonstrably false is a badge of honor if it advances their political goals. There is little debunking, if any at all, in conservative republican think tanks of any of the idiocies you listed. Their "thinkers" are in fact the source of such nonsense.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 13, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

MAJOR REPUBLICAN MYTH: Republicans are strong on defense (clearly they are not. cf. 9/11, destruction of the us army in iraq)

Posted by: aaron on January 13, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

... the liberals are finding ways to snark at the conservatives (e.g. "The Republican Party is committed to the idea of a smaller, less intrusive government.")...

Um, my comment was completely devoid of snark. You may not like the fact that government has expanded significantly under a Republican President and (up until 2006, anyway) a Republican Congress, but it has. (Note that the article's subtitle refers to "some" conservatives expressing concern. Not "most" conservatives. Not even "many" conservatives. Certainly not "influential" conservatives.) So while the occasional lonely voice, like that of Mike Pence, might talk about slowing that growth, or even shrinking government spending, the fact is that his Republican colleagues haven't joined him to do anything about it.

(And I'd say that you might not like the fact that the Republican-controlled federal government has, through domestic spying & efforts toward a constitutional amendment preventing same-sex marriage, inserted itself into the private lives of its citizens, but those things don't seem to bother very many Republicans. Funny, that.)

Posted by: junebug on January 13, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

There have been several responses to the effect of there are no liberal myths here except for "my" pet issues. Everyone else are mushy thinkers or trolls.

I am now convinced that us liberals are pretty damned perfect(*).


(*) except for "my" pet issues and the fact we allow too many trolls to live.

Posted by: jerry on January 13, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Reading these lists makes ink-blot interpretation seem like rigorous analysis. True, some liberals BELIEVE stupid things. Why? Because belief is the underlying predicate. But liberalism itself is much more comfortable with the idea of empiricism, so these errant belief patterns really don't establish themselves as overarching liberal myths. I think this is what Kevin is trying to do here: differentiate the reality-based thinking of liberals from the belief-based thinking on the right.

Maybe I'm wrong. But the generally pathetic examples of liberal "myths" seem to suggest the opposite.

Posted by: walt on January 13, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmmmm.... five liberal myths. I don't know if I have five, let's see.

  1. Advancing the interests of the NEA necessarily advances the interests of public school students.
  2. Social mobility is in decline.
  3. Autism is linked to early childhood vaccinations.
  4. Rambunctious, aggressive, or trivially violent behavior in little boys should be suppressed (i.e. toy guns, elementary school scuffles, wrestling).
  5. Intelligence is not heritable to any significant degree.

Ok, guess I do have five. I believe all 5 of these are demonstrably false.

Posted by: daniel on January 13, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Blake, you may wish to add this to your list.

But liberalism itself is much more comfortable with the idea of empiricism, so these errant belief patterns really don't establish themselves as overarching liberal myths.

As one potential counter to this is the claim (I don't know if it's true or false) that the majority of MDs and Engineers are conservatives.

Posted by: jerry on January 13, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

1) Fiixing the health care problem can be done with tax cuts, subsidies, and working with the medical industries. That just redistributes wealth.
2) Liberals don't mind a new underclass crossing the borders to pull wages downward.
3) Defunding the Iraq disaster will regain respect in the world, and make America safe once again. It will take a lot more than that.
4) The Clintons are liberal. Give me a break. That's a fairy tale, I tell you!
5) Impeachment sends the wrong message because Republicans won't support it and it will fail. At least people will watch the trial and learn that the Attorney firing scandal is really about election manipulation and is about a lot more than 8 USA's.

Posted by: Daniel on January 13, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Serious straw-manning, here.

All five of these arguably are in/out of Kevin's a, b, c criteria for Dems.

If you all want to have fun with this, go for it. But as an exercise of thoughtful political discussion, it's very tendentious.

Posted by: Stephen on January 13, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative myths off the top of my head:

1) Saddam Hussein was not contained and not a threat in 2002.

2) Hussein was not cooperating with Hans Blix inspectors and was complying with UN resolutions when we invaded.

3) Bush/Cheney did not cooked the intelligence despite contrary findings of Downing Street minuets and all other evidence of selective and arbitrary use of intelligence, lying us into war.

4) Senators didn't really understand that Bush was lying when he said AUMF was a vote for peace so they voted for the AUMF.

5) The threat of global warming justifies no compromises by the conservatives on industrial policy and government regulation or by the left on nuclear power or immigration control.

Mr. Sensitive

Posted by: GOP SUX on January 13, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

I think that the conservatives have actually added to your list Kevin, by bringing up the issue of peak oil. One of the strongest myths among the Republican base for many years has been the belief that oil is not going to peak anytime within the next half-century, and therefore, there is no need to invest in alternative energy solutions.

Posted by: Tom on January 13, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Progressive/Liberal Myths
- All people want peace, and if we are just willing to sit down and negotiate in good faith, there will be no need for military action

- The only reason a company would try to prevent unionization is because they are run by facists.

- Respectable people do not discuss inherent differences/limitations between classes (BTW, this represents the same fallacy that bigots manifest: that group averages affects individual ability. The truth is the shape and position of a bell curve doesn't really matter to any particular person, only their position on the axis.)

Posted by: MarkedMan on January 13, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, I'll add a few more key conservative myths to the ongoing list here before I put on my devil's advocate hat here for a minute and think what a relatively reasonable conservative might call "liberal myths":

Other key conservative myths:

-- informing teenagers about sexuality and birth control encourages them to be promiscuous

-- torture is a useful means of intelligence gathering

-- frivolous lawsuits against doctors are the primary reason health care costs so much

Liberal Myths:

-- Poverty is primarily the result of large, structural and societal forces and not just poor decisions by individuals.

-- Labor is a more virtuous good than capital. (Corollary: government ought to work to alleviate poverty rather than protect and encourage wealth)

-- Animals and the environment, along with humans, are worthy of due consideration in public policy decisions impacting land, water and property.

-- Race, sexuality and gender are social constructs forged within relations of power and amenable to change over time, not immutable human traits that we ought to accept as they are.

Posted by: jonas on January 13, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal myth: Immigration doesn't doesn't weaken labor's position in the U.S. labor market, because immigrants only take jobs that U.S. workers are unwilling to take.

Again, this is a liberal myth rather than a Democratic Party myth.

The myth is believed out in sympathy with immigrants and out of anti-nativism, which is admirable enough, but doesn't make it any less of a myth.

As I understand it, it's fairly well established that immigration does weaken labor at the low end of the income distribution.

Posted by: anonymous on January 13, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal Myths:

1. People are good.

2. Knowledge of the "Other" leads to acceptance of the "Other".

3. Human rights are well-defined and universal.

4. Universal human rights and multiculturalism
are not inherently contradictory.

5. The use of force in international relations is never justified.

6. Economic growth and consumption are bad things.

7. Altruism is a better motivator than profit.

Posted by: Adam on January 13, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

All other liberal/Democrat myths are predicated on their greatest myth of all - government is capable of soving problems.

Posted by: Froggy Bottom on January 13, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Republican and Democratic myth: the surge is working

"Surge of More Lies"
By Congressman Robert Wexler
Politics.gather.com

Tuesday 08 January 2008

A new troubling myth has taken hold in Washington and it is critical that the record is set straight. According to the mainstream media, Republicans, and unfortunately even some Democrats, the President's surge in Iraq has been a resounding success. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

This assertion is disingenuous, factually incorrect, and negatively impacts America's national security. The Surge had a clear and defined objective - to create stability and security - enabling the Iraqi government to enact lasting political solutions and foster genuine reconciliation and cooperation between Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds.

This has not happened.

There has been negligible political progress in Iraq, and we are no closer to solving the complex problems - including a power sharing government, oil revenue agreement and new constitution - than we were before the Administration upped the ante and sent 30,000 more troops to Iraq.

Too many Democrats in Congress are again surrendering to General Petraeus and have failed to challenge the Bush Administration's claims that the surge has been successful. In fact - it is just the opposite.

The reduction in violence in Iraq has exposed the continuing failure of Iraqi officials to solve their substantial political rifts. By President Bush's own stated goal of political progress, the Surge has failed..."


There's more--worth a read

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 13, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

daniel, you've come close on at least two your five (1 and 3). I'm not exactly sure that your #4 qualifies, or what it would mean for it to be false as opposed to just something you disagree with. However, if you rephrased it to say "banning toy guns will reduce violence" then I think you're on the money. Unfortunately the evidence that economic mobility is declining is very well supported by numerous comparative studies (including those that compare the US today to the past and those comparing the US to other countries). Moreover, since you don't seem to have checked out Cosma Shallzi, let me recommend his blog Three Toed Sloth. He demonstrates at great length what it means for intelligence to be heritable and how weak the arguments made by people like Murray truly are.

Posted by: Rich C on January 13, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'll echo most of the earlier good-faith suggestions; most of the liberal myths that should be confronted head on generally have to do with our tendency to think we can legislate problems away.

Liberal myths that we should dispense with generally include the idea that prohibitionism is an efective tool for dealing with drugs, prostitution, gambling, guns, etc. Gun control and drug control et al have made the very problems they ostensibly were meant to deal with worse and not better, and we libs seem to have a real blind spot here.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on January 13, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Five liberal myths (not all liberals believe in them, but they are common):

1) Lincoln invaded the South in order to end slavery.

2) Kennedy definetely would not have sent significant ground forces to Vietnam.

3) The fall of South Vietnam was inevitable.

4) Ronald Reagan did not accelerate the collapse of the Soviet Union.

5) Poverty, and not hatred of foreign (U.S.) presence in the Arab Crescent, breeds Islamic terrorism.

Posted by: homie on January 13, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

All other liberal/Democrat myths are predicated on their greatest myth of all - government is capable of soving problems.
Posted by: Froggy Bottom on January 13, 2008 at 3:23 PM

Ok, I have to call bullshit. I'm deeply sympathetic to the view that public bodies can't solve all problems particularly well, but to say that they can solve no problems at all, let alone well, is simply silly. Off the top of my head, and avoiding areas of major political contention, I'd say that government has provided reasonably good solutions to counting the number of residents of the country, to collecting and disseminating broadly factual data about the state of the economy, to providing access to clean water and working sewage systems, and to making the average person generally secure in their person and property.

On the other hand, government has made an absolute mess on intellectual property laws, on energy policy, and on transportation security (contrast the very visible but utterly ineffectual airport gauntlet with the alarming lack of inspection at our incoming seaports). I'm also inclined to think that our education system would be better were it to be privatized to a greater degree than it is now.

But any suggestion that government can solve no problems at all is as useless as a suggestion that government can solve all problems.

Posted by: daniel on January 13, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

5 Liberal Myths? Can't be done without a lot of straw.

Posted by: Suffering Bruin on January 13, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Here are five conservative myths off the top of my head:

1. Gay marriage is/would be destructive to society.

2. Ronald Reagan caused the collapse of the Soviet Union.

3. The Arab/Muslim world hates/dislikes the U.S. and Israel for no rational reason (the U.S. is hated for its "freedom," according to this myth, while Israel is hated just because Arabs/Muslims are anti-Semitic).

4. U.S. foreign policy has always been about promoting democracy and freedom.

5. The U.S. deserves most of the credit for winning WWII.

All of these are false, and all are accepted in conservative circles as gospel.

Posted by: Lee on January 13, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Rich C writes:

He demonstrates at great length what it means for intelligence to be heritable and how weak the arguments made by people like Murray truly are.

Oh, I'm in complete agreement as to the weakness of Murray's case (and I actually took the time to read the Bell Curve--too bad I can't have those hours back). I just don't believe that intellectual capability is wholly environmental. Smarter people, on average, have smarter kids. Not all smart people have smart kids, and not all smart people had smart parents, but that's still the most likely case.

Of course in the real world hard work ends up counting for a whole lot more than raw intellectual horsepower, and work ethic is entirely environmental.

Posted by: daniel on January 13, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus Kevin you sure turned over some rocks here today and what came out would scare a 340 pound pro fgootball lineman.

Posted by: Gandalf on January 13, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

This thread is a cesspool.

As has been stated earlier, there are a few worthwhile nominations,. Mostly the ones centered around an abundance of faith in the power of legislation.


It's a shame the vast majority are some combination of incorrect, opinion and strawman.

Posted by: uri on January 13, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

I've been in cesspools, and this thread is not a cesspool.

Posted by: jerry on January 13, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

To me, the granddaddy of conservative myths is

The wealthiest Americans are the most productive Americans.

A lot of conservative economic policy derives from this.

Posted by: Greg in FL on January 13, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

5 "liberal" myths:

1) Al Gore lost in 2000 because of Ralph Nader.

2) John Kerry lost in 2004 because he didn't respond to the Swift Boat veterans.

3) The Democrats are left of centre.

4) Things would have been different if Robert F. Kennedy had been President.

5) "Left-wing" and "Right-wing" are descriptive statements.

Posted by: Splitting Image on January 13, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm..off the top of my head...

Gun control is the biggie, I think, that by lowering the number of guns you lower violent crime. Crime is largely driven by motives, not by availability.

There are a bunch of misconceptions that both sides have..that are accepted conventional wisdom, so to speak.

That poverty is NOT structural, that it can be fixed through individual band-aids. (It can't. The structure is that there are less jobs than workers, and due to that a significant number of jobs pay below the poverty line. You can give everybody a college education, but someone is going to have to be the janitor, someone is going to have to lip the burgers, someone is going to have to work retail, etc.)

That shareholders are speshul snowflakes who deserve our utmost protection.

That stock market investment is actually investment in terms of wider economic benefits.

That inflation is caused on the demand side having more resources. With the exception of scarcity, it's caused by the supply side demanding higher profit levels.

Posted by: Karmakin on January 13, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Karmakin>>Gun control is the biggie, I think, that by lowering the number of guns you lower violent crime. Crime is largely driven by motives, not by availability.

Have to disagree. Most crimes are crimes of passion or crime of opportunity. Easy access to guns increase the likelihood for a domestic argument or a drunken brawl to turn into a gun incident. Look at the Wild West states -- they are strongly anti gun control but even they make it illegal to walk around with a .357 hanging off your belt.

Posted by: Elliott on January 13, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that for the most part, there simply are no liberal myths that are demonstrably false but are perpetuated within the liberal community anyway. It's against the nature of liberalism, which is built upon a tradition of secular observation rather than proud reliance on faith. If I was to come up with anything, it would be this:

-People will vote in their own self-interests.

-The American people are inherently good and will do the right thing so long as the issues are explained to them properly.

Posted by: Sean on January 13, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

7. The Gold Standard was teh awesome.

Posted by: reino on January 13, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

All other liberal/Democrat myths are predicated on their greatest myth of all - government is capable of soving problems. Froggy Bottom

That's only a myth during times when republicans are in power.

Posted by: Dave Howard on January 13, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

I can think of only one at the moment...a bumper sticker on cars of a not too small subsection of Democrats and/or liberals... though it fails the the last 2/3 of the restriction set out in your "(b) held by a nontrivial cross-section of actual politicians, think-tankers, and pundits" (partly because the situation with liberal/Democratic think-tanks and pundits is so ridiculously sad...).

Anyway, back on topic, it is: "War is never the answer".

My opinion is that a true and perhaps more effective statement to make would be: "War is too easy an answer."

-brendan

Posted by: brendan on January 13, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

1. There are no safe ways to store the waste from nuclear power.

2. The poor in the US have it just as bad as the poor in the developing world

3. The American people are too racist and sexist to elect a black or female president

4. Europe is a bastion of progressivism

5. The US is losing massive numbers of jobs due to outsourcing

In the end, though, we still have a much better grip on reality than conservatives do...

Posted by: shawn on January 13, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Number One Liberal Myth- making pot illegal is, on the balance, a good idea. Our legislators can't even bring themselves to talk about this, in spite of the fact that every major commission that has ever studied this matter has concluded that making marijuana illegal causes more problems than it solves.

Number Two Liberal Myth- We can go on merrily spending $400 billion a year on the military because (choose one or all) it's only x percent of our GDP, we are the sole remaining superpower (world policeman, Great White Bwana Hunter, last hope for Western Civilisation, object of veneration for cargo cults worldwide), we have an "obligation" (White Man's Burden theory), and, last but not least, earmarked appropriations return Democratic congressmen and simply redistribute the wealth into different congressional districts.

Myth Number Three- the social welfare agencies do not generally act as Stanley Milgram would have predicted.

Believing these myths means that liberals watch black people get thrown in jail at rates 3-4 times as great as whites, get stripped of the vote, and have fatherless families. Our military, with their 600 foreign bases, pretty much runs American foreign policy. And very few people who actually have to use the welfare system are shouting hosannahs to the Dems for providing it.

Posted by: serial catowner on January 13, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Myths accepted by (some) liberals? Most of the liberal "myths" are milder versions of conservative memes. They're harder to name than intelligent design and tax cuts solve all problems, but it's worth a try:

1. "Life" begins with conception.
2. The Bush administration was behind the 9/11 attacks.
3. Religious people have higher moral standards.
4. America is not ready for a woman president (but a "non-threatening" black man just might make it).
5. Republicans take it too far, but curbing civil liberties does make us safer.
6. The Iraq war is all about oil.

Oh, and for matthewcc, I kept this nugget regarding the OHIO vote in 2004 when it came out in 2007:

Check the government’s official numbers in Ohio for the 2004 presidential election:
“Spoiled” ballots 103,660
Provisional uncounted 33,998
Absentee uncounted 15,519
Ghost & blocked votes 85,950

Total Uncounted 239,127

Bush ‘victory’ margin 118,599

source: Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans - Sordid Secrets &Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild By Greg Palast

Posted by: Brownell on January 13, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal myths (held by many liberals, but obviously not all):

1) Think globally, act locally.

This is not exactly a myth, but a piece of advice on many a liberal bumper sticker that is followed about as stringently as the Golden Rule or the words of Jesus. In other words, only when it's convenient.

Also, there is a strong relationship to this idea and the conservative principle of subsidiarity. Authority AND accountability work best on the ground at the local level. A quick look at the efficiency of any bureaucracy (corporate or governmental) should demonstrate that mandates from central command have a way of creating unintended consequence. Rules work best when they are simple, clear and can be complied with in a number of ways.

2) If you give citizens the right to carry weapons, the streets will turn into shooting galleries

Sorry, not supported by available facts. Things could change of course, but the "fact based" community should be a little more consistent when discussing gun control. The fact that guns are associated with violent crimes doesn't automatically mean that restricting access to guns will solve the problem of violence. That should be self evident.

However, I'll have to ding conservatives for inconsistently applying their control and free market arguments to torts. In simple terms:

Lawyers don't sue people, people sue people.

and

In a free market, shouldn't you be able to spend your hard won cash on the best justice money can buy?

3) Science is free of bias

This is perhaps not fair to pin on liberals, but there is way too much trust in the neutrality or objectivity of the practitioners of what we know as science. I am a scientist by training and we are all taught to worship at the altar of the scientific method -- that is until we develop a "theory" that purports to explain some complex phenomenon. Then, no matter how hard we try, it's just too tempting to ignore bits of data here and there that don't conform to our expectations. Sometimes there are BIG bits of data that get rationalized out of sample sets. Of course, the motives aren't always intellectual vanity. The pressure to keep one's job also comes into play.

I guess what I'm saying is that if liberals believe that corporations pay off scientists to fudge, they need to be aware that there are other motives for fudging that might come into play for their own favorite theories.

Evolution, however, is not debatable by any sane person with even a modicum of sense. I've never seen an argument for an intelligent designer that isn't easily refuted.

4) The earth is in perfect ecological balance, humans are upsetting that balance

This is the liberal version of creationism. There is not such thing as "balance of nature" or "unnatural" human activity. These terms both require a human choice to value one thing over another. Sure, there are compelling reasons to preserve species diversity, but mass extinctions have occurred before and they will occur again. Catastrophic geophysical events occur. A given ecological system has several possible equilibrium points, but there is no ideal state without bringing in human preference. Even if there were, it could not be sustained indefinitely.

Of course, the idea of continuous and unlimited economic growth is equally suspect. Same principle really. We project a human consciousness on the invisible hand and figure the market will magically produce results to maximize benefit for all actors if we just get out of the way. Sorry, the facts on the ground don't support that.

I guess I'm finding it difficult to separate conservative from liberal myths since they both spring from the same sources:

1) Attribution bias concerning things of emotional significance (God, ecological balance, the positive power of government, the free market, etc.)

2) Absolute avoidance of math and statistics that contradict the favored hypothesis or principle.

3) Putting way too much faith in "elegant" models of closed systems. Our reality is an open system, and will never match the theory. We need to demote theories from their pedestal and get back to a healthy dose of empiricism. If either a conservative or liberal wants to be "progressive," they need to begin with the assumption that they may be wrong and really understand what set of facts would disprove their pet theories and seek those out with religious fervor.

Of course, that'll never happen.

4) Cult of personality over cult of process. We like to believe things happen because of individuals -- heroes and heroines. We also prefer the hail Mary pass to winning with a boring, but consistent ground game. It's hard to inspire either a liberal or conservative with competence. Pulling your ass out of a crack that was the result of prior bad choices gets more favorable press than never fucking up in the first place.

Eh... now I'm depressed.

Posted by: lobbygow on January 13, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that for the most part, there simply are no liberal myths that are demonstrably false but are perpetuated within the liberal community anyway.

Exactly. Once again, it's not because democrats/liberals are smarter, it's because there is a very strong tradition among them that prevents views that are inconsistent with the data from becoming mainstream. There can be wide and vigorous disagreement on value judgements, or disagreement in cases where data analyses greatly conflict, but when the data are clear, or there is reasonable scientific consensus, there is extremely strong pressure to accept the facts.

Indeed, one of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a democrat running for office is to be confronted with data showing him/her to be wrong on the merits.

The problem with this whole discussion, however, is that none of the important issues on which leaders must take a stand -- in particular, those assessing the cause of human behavior, or the probable effects of a particular policy on that behavior -- can be shown empirically to be true or false. In practice, unlike the physical sciences where a true experiment can be conducted, nonexperimental social science findings are always subject to what are called "model effects" and data are never sufficient to control for all causative factors.

At best, even in cases where theoretically the issue should be subject to empirical proof or disproof, it never really is. So, it's usually a "preponderance of evidence" issue, never a simple true or false proposition. And dems/liberals are much more willing than repubs/conservatives to go with a preponderance of evidence, even if the conclusion cuts against their "beliefs."

While I don't think Kevin meant this to be a question about the limits of the scientific methods as applied to politics, that's exactly what it is. Put another way, in the social and political sciences, proving empirically that a view is indeed a myth is extremely difficult.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 13, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

One thing that breaks my liberal heart is that massive incarceration of segments of the population probably does reduce crime. It's unjust, inefficient and pleases mouth-breathing conservatives but it seems to work. I'm not in favor of it, but it is effective.
Other Liberal Myths
If we only ask them nicely enough, Conservatives will argue in good faith.
Conservatives think for themselves and don't merely regurgitate 20 year old talking points. ( I mean really guys, Campus Speech Codes? Political Correctness? It's not 1985 anymore.)
If portions of the population don't respond to a reasoned argument, it's because we liberals are doing it wrong. Maybe we should smile more or go to church more or something.
Nationalism or appeals to blood and soil don't have any appeal in the U.S.
Conservatives are as thoughtful as Liberals.
If we keep trying, Jonah Goldberg will eventually see the error of his ways.

Posted by: dSmith on January 13, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

a) The death penalty isn't a deterrent.
b) If it weren't for the special interests we would have acted to stop global warming already.
c) Illegal immigration is a benefit to the economy.
d) Racism is mostly a problem of the South.
e) Republicans didn't really care about Clinton's bimbo eruptions -- they just used the scandal(s) to gain power.

Posted by: Kit Stolz on January 13, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

"4) The earth is in perfect ecological balance, humans are upsetting that balance

This is the liberal version of creationism. There is not such thing as "balance of nature" or "unnatural" human activity. These terms both require a human choice to value one thing over another. Sure, there are compelling reasons to preserve species diversity, but mass extinctions have occurred before and they will occur again. Catastrophic geophysical events occur. A given ecological system has several possible equilibrium points, but there is no ideal state without bringing in human preference. Even if there were, it could not be sustained indefinitely."

Thank you -- this one doesn't get enough attention.

Posted by: Adam on January 13, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal myths:

1) Wal-Mart is bad
2) Trade barriers will increase wages/prosperity
3) It's good to limit how much money Americans may contribute to political campaigns
4) School choice is a non-progressive idea
5) It is better to eat food produced locally

Conservative myths:

1) Reagan was the prime mover in ending/winning the Cold War
2) Immigration makes it likely that Mexico will someday try to take back the Southwest
3) A robust, well-funded safety net means a weak, underperforming economy
4) America enjoys above average social mobility
5) Better and more robust firearms regulations will not help to lower the murder rate

Posted by: Jasper on January 13, 2008 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

I feel like I am in the Bermuda Triangle; my political compass is spinning and I can’t seem to get my bearing. This should be called popular myths and strawmen.

My chief complaint is the suggestion that there is some equivalence of lunacy and delusion. This is just untrue. There is no middle ground on man-made global warming and evolution. They are as established as fact as anything in science. The political fate of these facts is something altogether different.

This type of comparison misses the importance of right-wing orthodoxy- religious, nationalist, or economic- in the US. In light of these orthodoxies British Tories or German Christian Democrats are hard leftists. Parity would mean an outright condemnation on the left of market economics in favor of a Kibbutzim movement; it would embrace radical pacifism and radical atheism. Nothing like this exists in the US. Instead the “left” is made up of people who oppose the orthodoxies of the right.

Posted by: bellumregio on January 13, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Sporadic: I'll sign off on the first four. NO. 5 is a sign of alt-medicine gone bad.

Thersites, et al... most "liberals" aren't talking about Peak Oil, and yes, Democratic Congressmen have held "Big Oil" hearings in the past. Call it a liberal half-myth, at least.

Oh, Sarbanes-Oxley bashers... at least spell Sarbanes' name right.

Lobbygow... no, science isn't perfect, but the myth of "scientism" pretty much is exactly that.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 13, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

A 30% national sales tax is a workable substitute for all income and payroll taxes in the United States.

is that held by a non-trivial fraction of conservatives? The closest, not widely held, conservative alternative is a flat income tax with a large personal deduction.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on January 13, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

A big thanks going out to Al for his self-censorship efforts the past few days.

Posted by: Rula Lenska on January 13, 2008 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Indeed, one of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a democrat running for office is to be confronted with data showing him/her to be wrong on the merits.

Wow. You clearly have much more honest and much worse at politics Democratic politicians than the ones I have.

Regarding there being no "balance of nature". This is clearly true in the very short run, where we witness tornados and earthquakes and tsunamis. And it's clearly true in the long run where we move from gaseous planet to homosapiens. Clearly evolution kinda sortof implies there is no such thing as a natural balance in the evolutionary time frame.

But in the medium run? I'll have to look at those predator prey models and get back to you.

I find it intriguing how many of us liberals seem to believe a) intelligence is not inherited and b) liberals are so much smarter than conservatives.

I've met some really stupid liberals and some very smart conservatives. And I've seen some really stupid, corrupt, manipulative, ambitious, venal, lying sneaky Democratic politicians.

I have to admit, I think my shit smells pretty bad. I don't think I am the only Democrat or liberal with stinky shit. I don't put too much credibility into statements that our shit don't stink. Especially when they are in close proximity to statements on how empirical we are.

Maybe I just want to deny that I am the only liberal whose ass smells like ass. Congrats to the rest of you.

Posted by: jerry on January 13, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal myths:

1. campaign finance reform has reduced the role of money in politics, and more reform would work even better.

2. Clarence Thomas' opinions are mostly if not all badly written.

3. that liberals believe that humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas have all evolved from a common family of anscestors by a process of random variation and natural selection. {that is to say, it is a myth among liberals that there are any liberals who believe this. What they like about the theory of evolution is principally its anti-Christian implications. }

4. that unions promote progressive policies.

5. that the government can actually identify and prohibit hate speech.

6. that ecologies are well designed to function optimally. {that is, liberals believe that organs are not intelligently designed, but that ecologies are.}

7. that violent action against the U.S. (and other liberal countries) is motivated by U.S. injustice toward others.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on January 13, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

There is no middle ground on man-made global warming and evolution.

Not for me either -- as a value judgment or as a preponderance of evidence issue.

But, it is simply not possible to show empirically that a belief that humans are not causing global warming or a belief that we did not descend from apes are myths -- if myth is defined as "demonstrably false".

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 13, 2008 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Not to turn this into another one of these threads, but seems that there is a consensus that gun control is the biggie (no wonder it's way down on the list on the Dem platform anymore)...so here goes:

Have to disagree. Most crimes are crimes of passion or crime of opportunity. Easy access to guns increase the likelihood for a domestic argument or a drunken brawl to turn into a gun incident.
Crime does require motive, means, and opportunity...but what constitutes "easy access"? People who have the mindset to use deadly force in domestic abuse or bar brawl situations aren't typically of the mindset to be dissuaded from gun possession by laws forbidding it. Even the most lenient states don't legally permit drunks and drinkers to carry when getting their load on. Even when discussing the home environment...murderous domestic abusers will generally find other means to behave in a lethal fashion. In any event...even if we're to posit that you're right that having a gun around is going to increase such violence, the original poster's comment still rings true--it still doesn't follow that trying to lower gun ownership rates will result in less violence. Even if you're right...the "less easy access" fantasy world you're thinking would be less violent isn't going to come about through legislation and gun control. Even if we concede your premise, it just doesn't follow that stricter gun control results in less violence. If that were the case, Baltimore and DC would be really safe and Vermont would be violent as hell (anyone can carry, no permit required). Obviously crime and violence are the results of cultural and socioeconomic factors and not gun ownership per se.

Look at the Wild West states -- they are strongly anti gun control but even they make it illegal to walk around with a .357 hanging off your belt.

Uhm...which states are those? Only a few states anymore don't permit qualified law abiding citizens to carry (and most of them permit open carry). None of the states that refuse issue permits on a shall issue basis (MD, NJ, NY, CA, CT, MA) are "Wild West" states. I dunno what you think of as "Wild West", but in AZ, NM, UT, etc...actually, you certainly can carry a .357 on your belt. What's wrong with that? It's not people in the "wild west" that are killing each other, for the most part.

That said...I'd argue that as a community activist trying to clean up my east coast urban blight neighborhood...I need to be afforded the ability to protect myself way more than somebody in WY or MT.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on January 13, 2008 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

"4. Europe is a bastion of progressivism"

This is a really good start, europe and canada both have complex policies and government systems, and liberals in the US tend to assume both they both match liberalism in the US and that their policies can be moved into the US context without much difficulty. Health care in canada is a prime example - Their system is better than ours, but that doesn't mean that we can copy it with the same success.

Posted by: Doug Meger on January 13, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

liberals in the US tend to assume both they both match liberalism in the US and that their policies can be moved into the US context without much difficulty.

Here here. The corollary being one of my favorite conservative myths--that as a lefty my ulterior motive is making the US "Europe West". Somewhere in there lies the root of the liberals-aren't-patriotic-like-we-are myth.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on January 13, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

that ecologies are well designed to function optimally.
Some version of this keeps coming up, and it sounds equally stupid each time. Please show us any example of any liberal anywhere who thinks this.

Hint: suggesting that we quit fucking up the planet doesn't equate to a belief that ecologies have "optimal functionality".

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on January 13, 2008 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

1. Liberals control the media

Posted by: Jimm on January 13, 2008 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

2. America is always right, unless the liberals are in charge, then it's almost always wrong

Posted by: Jimm on January 13, 2008 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

3. Federalism is good, unless it gets in the way of federal presidential power and moral initiatives.

Posted by: Jimm on January 13, 2008 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

All good conservatives and liberals agree on the following truths, sorry,I mean myths:

1. The US runs the world
2. God gave us this right
3. The US can do no wrong
4. The US brings freedom and justice to everyone
5. Money talks

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on January 13, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

4. Presidential power should be expanded, except when a liberal is president.

Posted by: Jimm on January 13, 2008 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

5. The Constitution should be interpreted strictly, unless it shouldn't be for other reasons.

Posted by: Jimm on January 13, 2008 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Why are you wasting your time with a liberal list? There is no liberal list of myths that compares at all to the doozies you complied in the post and other commenters have suggested. So knock of the stupid false balance stuff. You aiming for a gig with the corporate media? Forget it. The request for a list of iiberal myhts is stupid.

Well, let's see what kind of junky bogus 'liberal list' you come up with. I predict it will not stand up to scrutiny. The dead-end idiological list of litmus tests comprised of demonstrably false propositions is unique in modern US politics. I think that can be demonstrated.

Posted by: no more false balance on January 13, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

6. Science sucks, but God is great.

Posted by: Jimm on January 13, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

The best thing about this thread is the insights it gives into how little the wingnuts (at least the ones who post here) understand about liberals. And about other countries. And about history. And about science. And ...

Here's a choice bit of nonsense:

3. that liberals believe that humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas have all evolved from a common family of anscestors by a process of random variation and natural selection. {that is to say, it is a myth among liberals that there are any liberals who believe this. What they like about the theory of evolution is principally its anti-Christian implications. }

It would be hilarious, if not for the thought that somewhere out there is a person with the sort of diseased brain required to believe such a thing, and then it seems almost cruel to laugh at them.

6. that ecologies are well designed to function optimally. {that is, liberals believe that organs are not intelligently designed, but that ecologies are.}

Someone else already commented on this one, but the breathtaking stupidity of the claim is worth another look.


7. that violent action against the U.S. (and other liberal countries) is motivated by U.S. injustice toward others.

So does the person who wrote this think that liberals attribute all violent action against us to this motive? Or if not that, then do they think that US injustice is never a factor? Evidence of a deeply warped mind either way.

Posted by: bob on January 13, 2008 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

7. Climate change isn't caused by man, we can't do anything about it, and even if it's caused by man, we can't do anything about it, and even we could do anything about it, it's too late, even though science is great and will be able to fix it (or handle the consequences), and it's best to just leave it to the market anyway.

Posted by: Jimm on January 13, 2008 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

8. Saddam Hussein was Satan incarnate, Howard Dean his bugler, and Hillary his handmaiden.

Posted by: Jimm on January 13, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

9. Free trade is good, immigration is bad, free trade is bad, cheap labor is good.

Posted by: Jimm on January 13, 2008 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

10. Gays are bad, should be openly condemned, unless they're in your family, then they shouldn't be talked about, especially by liberals, and you might want to put a chastity belt on your dog, just in case.

Posted by: Jimm on January 13, 2008 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

That's all I got for now, hope everyone is having a nice day!

Posted by: Jimm on January 13, 2008 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

1) There is no moral justification for proactive military intervention (as opposed to self-defense), under any plausible circumstance.
2) The conflict (or at least the current conflict) between Israel and Palestine is primarily the fault of the Israelis ("primarily" being key, here; I'm not talking about people who think Israelis should share some of the blame, or an equal share of the blame.)
3) Partial-birth abortion/intact dilation and extraction is a critical issue that must be fought because it has major slippery-slope implications for the entire legality of abortion.
4) I don't feel like working up a phrasing, but I do think something about the 9/11 conspiracy theories might be appropriate here.
5) Rove is an electoral genius the Democrats must learn to counter or imitate to survive. (Less in vogue now, fortunately.)

Posted by: NK on January 13, 2008 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

7. Climate change isn't caused by man, we can't do anything about it, and even if it's caused by man, we can't do anything about it, and even we could do anything about it, it's too late, ...

My favorite continuation of that line of "thinking" is: "... and even if we could do something about it and it's not too late, who's to say that global warming might not turn out to be a good thing?"

The reasoning being that there would be big money to make with new beachfront property, water rights, etc. Case in point: the Bush family's recent purchase of 100k acres in Paraguay, "atop one of the world’s largest fresh-water aquifers."


Posted by: bob on January 13, 2008 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget (6) We're not trying to convince anyone of (5) and don't know why anyone believes it.

Posted by: Matt McIrvin on January 13, 2008 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Outlawing abortion will not significantly reduce the number of abortions."

"Genetics has little correlation with success."

"Executives at energy companies have a great deal of power over energy prices."

Posted by: vinc on January 13, 2008 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

My candidate for common liberal/Democratic myth?

"Conservatives are patriotic Americans, just like us."

Posted by: Joe S. on January 13, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK
7. Climate change isn't caused by man, we can't do anything about it, and even if it's caused by man, we can't do anything about it, and even we could do anything about it, it's too late, ...

My favorite continuation of that line of "thinking" is: "... and even if we could do something about it and it's not too late, who's to say that global warming might not turn out to be a good thing?"

Excellent...how could I have forgotten that? :)

Posted by: Jimm on January 13, 2008 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Recap, including revision of #7:

1. Liberals control the media.

2. America is always right, unless the liberals are in charge, then it's almost always wrong.

3. Federalism is good, unless it gets in the way of federal presidential power and moral initiatives.

4. Presidential power should be expanded, except when a liberal is president.

5. The Constitution should be interpreted strictly, unless it shouldn't be for other reasons.

6. Science sucks, but God is great.

7. Climate change isn't caused by man, we can't do anything about it, and even if it's caused by man, we can't do anything about it, and even we could do anything about it, it's too late, and whether or not we caused it or its too late it could very well end up being a good thing, especially considering it's happened plenty of times before, and if it turns out bad science is great and will be able to fix it (or handle the consequences), and regardless it's best to just leave it to the market and give it up for God anyway.

8. Saddam Hussein was Satan incarnate, Howard Dean his bugler, and Hillary his handmaiden.

9. Free trade is good, immigration is bad, free trade is bad, cheap labor is good.

10. Gays are bad, should be openly condemned, unless they're in your family, then they shouldn't be talked about, especially by liberals, and you might want to put a chastity belt on your dog, just in case.

Posted by: Jimm on January 13, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, no can do.

Posted by: Kenji on January 13, 2008 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Look, I'm inclided to agree that conservativism in the US is less pragmatic than liberalism these days, but it's NOT equivocating to also take a look at ourselves and question our own assumptions.

Kevin's ORIGINAL suggestion for comments was a much better thread topic than having everyone spew a bunch of rhetoric at people who we already know we don't agree with and who probably aren't listening anyway. Venting about how republicans are dumb isn't going to make us any smarter.

Posted by: Doug Meger on January 13, 2008 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

Suggestions for Kevin's second list:

1. All neocons are Republicans.
2. Democratic presidents never bomb other countries without good reason.
3. The AUMF was not a AUMF.
4. There are no liberal myths.

Posted by: JS on January 13, 2008 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Another extremely important conservative myth (although it isn't only conservatives that believe it) is that only Americans are patriotic. To conservatives, other national groups (Vietnamese, Iraqis, etc.) only care about living under a democratic government and being well off economically. This is why conservatives can't understand how people can feel outraged when they're invaded by the U.S., since America is supposedly trying to give them everything they care about (of course this last point isn't true, but that fact is ignored).

This line of reasoning played a critical role in the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

Posted by: Lee on January 13, 2008 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

I think I have fallen into the sea of projection.

Posted by: Ya Know.... on January 13, 2008 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

The choice of whether to abort a fetus (or embryo) is of no more moral consequence than the decision to have a cyst or a tumor removed.

Posted by: Joel on January 13, 2008 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

"
I don't think such a list exists.

Among liberals/democrats, regardless of their other failings, holding a view that is demonstrably false, reasonably consequential, and not a mere difference of opinion is an embarrassment. Such views are regularly debunked within the liberal/democratic community -- epecially by think tanks.

Among conservatives/republicans, holding a view that is demonstrably false is a badge of honor if it advances their political goals. There is little debunking, if any at all, in conservative republican think tanks of any of the idiocies you listed. Their "thinkers" are in fact the source of such nonsense."

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 13, 2008
--------------

ditto

Posted by: MarkH on January 13, 2008 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

conservative myths:
(6) Abstinance education is the one and only effective policy for any behavior related health/social problem.

(7) Its OK to borrow and spend because foreigners are so afraid of us they will continue lending devaluing dollars to us forever.

(8) Absolutely no regulation (especially of banking) is the best policy. The market is always right!

(9) The media (excluding Faux News, and wingnut radio) is massively liberal.

(10) The answer to any crime problem is strict mandatory sentencing.

liberal myths:
(a) Nuclear power is dangerous and will destroy the environment.
(b) Corporations, and profits are immoral.
(c) Trade agreements are bad.
(d) We have money left to spend for social programs.

general myths:
(1) Oil is not running out, we can continue to purchase SUVs and grossly overly powered cars without fear of consequences.

(2) Everything worth learning can be absorbed by consuming the products of the entertainment industry.

(3) we should satisfy the issue of scientific controversies by having a general election, i.e. the majority opinion is the truth.

(4) America has been choosen by god to be the worlds leading nation. We need not earn the privledge.

(5) It is OK to be arrogant about automobile safety issues. "I know that the experts who set the speed limit are idiots..."

Posted by: bigTom on January 13, 2008 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

There is no evolution. Only animals that our great white hunter Dick Cheney has allowed to let live.

Posted by: Joshua Norton on January 13, 2008 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

"(b) Corporations, and profits are immoral."

Straw man. Straw. Man.

Unless you consider Adam Smith to somehow be a "liberal".

* Vanity drives the struggle for wealth. The rich want "to possess those decisive marks of opulence which nobody can possess but themselves."

* Market society is profoundly inegalitarian. "For one very rich man, there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many."

* There's nothing fair or evenhanded about the role of government in any of this. The government, "so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all."

* The division of labor is profoundly dehumanizing. "The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations ... generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become." Eventually he becomes "incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation [or] of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life." Instead of abandoning the workers to their "drowsy stupidity," the state ought to supply public education.

* Labor markets are fundamentally coercive. Wealthy employers can outlast their workers in the event of disputes. "It is not ... difficult to foresee which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occasions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms."

Every single passage is from Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations. I wonder how many of those energetic young right-wing lobbyists sporting Adam Smith neckties know what he actually says.


Posted by: Joshua Norton on January 13, 2008 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

1. The threat from Al Qaeda is not real and potentially dire, because the Bush administration has politically manipulated that threat for its own, independently-arrived-at purposes.

2. Things have not improved in Iraq because of the new strategy pursued by Team Petraeus.

3. President Bush is the worst president imaginable; or, alternately, Things could not be worse than they are under President Bush.

Posted by: Jeff on January 13, 2008 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

To be similar to the conservative myths, they have to be empirically untrue, not debatable (ruling the gun control and other arguments) and have reached an almost religious article of faith.

I can think of two that meet this criteria that a lot of liberals hold, certainly not all:

1. Thimerosal/vaccinations caused an autism epidemic. I've had discussions with lots of left wingers on this, and they don't are if its true, they just believe.

2. Genetically modified foods are dangerous. There's no scientific researching justifying these fears, but they are strongly held.

Posted by: pj on January 13, 2008 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

No scientist that I know has suggested that all warming is caused by men. (That's a straw man argument.)

Also, the costs of mitigation have never been linked to a loss of freedoms. I think the post above (bv coyote) which suggested it reflects simply a new level of crapoloa that's been recently hoked up by assholes in a conservative think tank somewhere. The worst case costs I've seen are around 1% of GDP. Spread Katrina-sized catastrophes around with Nature's fecund hand and remember the old stitch-in-time-saves-nine axiom.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on January 13, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Some liberal myths:

1. Conceal/Carry laws make the population less safe.

2. There is no looming Medicare funding crisis.

3. Sarbannes-Oxley makes investing safer

1. Lots o'Guns really has made Iraq a
"polite society", eh?

2. Straw Man. Everyone knows about Medicare's funding crisis and most have been bellowing about since Bush added an unfunded extension.

3. Hardly a liberal position since most of the liberals I know have decried Sarbanes-Oxley.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on January 13, 2008 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

The choice of whether to abort a fetus (or embryo) is of no more moral consequence than the decision to have a cyst or a tumor removed.

Conservative women have abortions at the same rate as liberal women. Bush has had a majority of judges now for quite some time. Where is the overturning of Roe v Wade? Not going to happen, chum. Since actually overturning Roe v Wade would fragment the fundamentalist-single-issue bloc.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on January 13, 2008 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

"The choice of whether to abort a fetus (or embryo) is of no more moral consequence than the decision to have a cyst or a tumor removed."

Uh, no. This is not a myth. It's simply a scientific truth.

Posted by: Joel on January 13, 2008 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Some environment-related myths that I'd perhaps not pin on all Democrats, but some parts of the liberal/progressive/whatever movement:

1) Without conspiracies by the oil and car companies to preserve the status quo, we'd all be driving around in vehicles that run on locally-produced fuels that don't contribute to greenhouse emissions.
2) It has been scientifically demonstrated that organic produce is both healthier and better for the environment than conventionally-produced food.
3) Minimising "food miles" is an accurate, useful tool for reducing one's environmental impact.
4) Nuclear waste represents an environmental threat comparable in magnitude to global warming.
5) Chernobyl was the worst industrial accident in history, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, and widespread birth defects across Belarus and Ukraine.
6) Solar and wind power are ready replacements for coal, gas and nuclear power.

Posted by: Robert Merkel on January 13, 2008 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Joel, so you're saying that aborting an 8 month old fetus is of no more moral consequence than the decision to have a cyst or tumor removed?

I'm not sure about the scope of your scientific truths.

Are you limiting your scientific truth to first trimester fetuses? If so, where's the scientific magic in that particular calendar date. Most scientific constants are a lot more transcendental than 3 months. I have to say that if there is some scientific truth that comes out perfectly in three months, than that probably is evidence of an intelligent designer.

Posted by: jerry on January 13, 2008 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

A good candidate is the claim that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn't really say he wanted to see Israel wiped off the map. Cf. the various semantic games of Juan Cole, Jonathan Steele, Dennis Kucinich, Glenn Greenwald, etc.

Posted by: John-Paul Pagano on January 13, 2008 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Even with marginal tax rates at current levels, reducing taxes will increase revenues."

What an absolute MORON.

Posted by: theirritablearchitect on January 13, 2008 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

The best thing about this thread is the insights it gives into how little the wingnuts (at least the ones who post here) understand about liberals.

Ah, while I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, it reminds me of the most prevalent liberal myth of all:

We understand conservatives far better than they understand us. We are complex and contain multitudes. They are monolithic and reducible to a common denominator.

I'm wondering if the terms "liberal" and "conservative" are a bit too elusive for any reasonable attempt at such lists. Many of the posters here seem flabbergasted at the very idea that liberals could believe in something that is demonstrably untrue.

But... is that really a definition of "liberal?" Maybe we're conflating the term "liberal" with "secular humanist" or "empiricist." Could one be liberal and also be an act utilitarianist?

I guess the difficulty is that no one who self-identifies as either conservative or liberal will willingly accept the opposition's definition of what they are. All you can do is present some positions held by a subset of the population, but there will always be someone to counter "but all [fill in the blank] don't believe that.

I identify myself as liberal primarily because I don't have faith in a "magical" free market (although I think capitalism, when properly managed is a great system) and I don't think faith has any place in determining how a pluralistic society is governed. But aren't there liberal believers in God? I'm pro-choice, but could a "good" liberal be neutral on the subject or even pro-life? Does the "big tent" we liberals supposedly have allow that?

I just don't know.

My main objection to many modern conservatives, on the other hand, is their willingness to talk about individual freedom and accountability one minute while worshiping intrusive authoritarian policies the next. Can you really be an "economic libertarian" but decide you know best what your neighbor should do with her body?

Still, the idea that liberals are some how inherently immune from blind spots is laughable. After all we liberals are human, and humans are prone to error.

Posted by: lobbygow on January 13, 2008 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

Myth held by some Democrats:

1. (Movement and/or funded) Conservatives can be reasoned with.

That is all.

Posted by: Lambert Strether, Philadelphia, PA on January 13, 2008 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

To be similar to the conservative myths, they have to be empirically untrue, not debatable (ruling the gun control and other arguments)

Eh, you can debate until you're blue in the face the merits of firearms themselves, sure...but it's pretty empirically obvious that 40+ years of liberal-lead-and-approved gun control hasn't done anything to make us safer. Love 'em or hate 'em, banning 'em ain't doing squat. As I said before, it's two separate arguments really--what their consequences are, and whether it makes sense to prohibit them (hint...it doesn't). Anymore than banning booze did anything useful. Or continuing to ban drugs does. The liberal attachment to prohibitionism is understandable (we tend to believe in the power of well meaning govt activism, sure), but in most cases makes us attached to policies that (and yes, this is empirically demonstrable) don't make sense...like drug, gambling, prostitution, and gun control.

To wit:

1. Lots o'Guns really has made Iraq a
"polite society", eh?

And you were speaking about strawmen...that's NOT the argument he was addressing. Nobody's suggesting anything of the kind; the point stands unaddressed by prohibitionists--letting law abiding citizens defend themselves instead of making them ready and easy victims for predators hasn't made anyone less safe. That has nothing to do with Iraq, a country full of sectarian strife and embroiled in a civil war (conservative myth #54398, Iraq isn't a civil war...duh).

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on January 13, 2008 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

and (c) not mere differences of opinion ("abortion is murder," "preventive war is bad"), but things that are demonstrably false.

Kevin,

Honestly 1, 2, 3, and 4 ARE NOT demostrably false. They are educated guesses.

Posted by: John Hansen on January 13, 2008 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewMarler: When Clarence Thomas writes one of his own opinions, do let us know, please?
As for the rest of what you said, try some coherence before you write again.

Sebastian: Huuu? Laws prohibiting/restricting drunks from carrying don't matter if you're a drunk who bought a gun while sober, without any restrictions.

Kevin, more seriously: "American exceptionalism." Too many liberals and conservatives both believe in this, and have ever since Tocqueville invented the term. That's why we have too many liberals and conservatives alike with imperialist ideas today.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 13, 2008 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

I can only think of one specific, clearly false liberal myth:

1. Banning abortion will not lead to any reduction in the number of abortions performed.

But I think this one might be worth thinking about:

2. Israeli military withdrawals from Arab territory and moves towards establishing a Palestinian state will lead to a reduction in terrorism and violence against Israelis.

I say this as someone who believes Israel should withdraw completely from Gaza and the West Bank and establish a Palestinian state as soon as possible. But I don't see any evidence that this will lead to a reduction, rather than an increase, in terrorism or violence in any near or even medium term. All the evidence from Lebanon and Gaza shows the opposite.

Posted by: brooksfoe on January 13, 2008 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

1) There are no innate group differences.
2) Head Start provides a long-term improvement in academic achievement.
3) The New Deal ended the Great Depression.
4) Big corporations are worse citizens than small businesses.
5) The planet is experiencing unprecedented warming.

Posted by: Chris on January 13, 2008 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

If the minority in Congress is treated with respect, they will act responsibly.

Posted by: zeno2vonnegut on January 14, 2008 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Liberal Myths:

1: Liberals don't have myths.

2: The only motivations behind opposition to liberal policy are racism, sexism, greed and ignorance. (Not honest disagreement)

3: Unions are not a special interest. (That is to say that unions do not sometimes defend the interest of their members to the detriment of society as a whole)

4: Gun control is an effective means of crime reduction.

5: The underrepresentation of women in the sciences is clear evidence of discrimination, but the underrepresentation of conservatives in the humanities is not.

Posted by: heedless on January 14, 2008 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

brooksfoe, I agree with both of your points, but regarding point one, which I do believe, how do you show that it is a clearly false myth? How do you handle the untestable claims that prior to Roe V. Wade there was no record keeping of illegal abortions and hence illegal abortions were skyrocketingly high?

In a newsgroup the other day, I had one person tell me that there were up to 30 girls a year just disappearing from my high school class in the late 70s to either get an abortion or to take six months off and that I was just too clueless to notice it.

I think the point is almost obvious on its face and would point to analogies in speeding laws, or baby dumping after "Moses Baby laws" have been coming into effect, but apparently, ABORTION IS DIFFERENT and I am just a white patriarch trying to keep women down.

To me, another liberal myth is that today's modern, mainstream, feminists, as seen in the liberal blogosphere, as presented by NOW, are fighting for equality between the sexes, and an elimination of gendered laws. Near as I can tell, these groups are much closer to Church Ladies that fetishize the vagina and seek to protect the vagina by seeking superior positions in law.

Another liberal myth: when women are in charge, wars will end, women will conduct affairs in a more "listening" group consensus manner. The obvious truth is to look at how so many women felt they were treated by other women in high school, and in college, and then to look at our prominent women leaders of the 20th century and past and examine their war records: Thatcher, Meir, Gandhi, and many others.

Posted by: jerry on January 14, 2008 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

Absolute Truth:

Everything to come out of a Conservatives mouth relates to their wee-wee's (or someone elses'), greed or blood lust.

Posted by: Czarcastic on January 14, 2008 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

After a quick run through, I only see two that I think qualify:

1) The ecology before civilized man intervened was harmonious and in balance. (I.e. the American Indians were at peace with their environment.)

2) That nuclear power is evil, inherently unsafe and there is no technological solution to waste disposal.

The genetically modified food is bad would probably also qualify. But, like many of the others (Oil companies cause high gas prices) I don't see this a a specifically "liberal" issue in that you'd find as many conservatives agreeing as liberals.

Most of the rest I don't see as empirically false or as held by a significant percentage of "liberals."

The liberal argument for gun control is something like: "Tighter restrictions on guns would reduce the number of deaths from guns."The implicit statement is that this good offsets the bad arising from gun control - but this is a moral evaluation, not a factual one.

Posted by: mcdruid on January 14, 2008 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

"Banning abortion will not lead to any reduction in the number of abortions performed." - brooksfoe

I wonder if that's a liberal myth. I'm not up on how many abortions are performed in the US yearly
now. But banning abortion probably would not affect the ability of upper middle class/wealthy women to get abortions and would lead once again to desperate attempts by poor women, resulting once again not only in the death of an unborn fetus but also the mother.

"Israeli military withdrawals from Arab territory and moves towards establishing a Palestinian state will lead to a reduction in terrorism and violence against Israelis."

Maybe you meant exactly what you wrote here but I don't think that 'moves towards' a Palestinian state is going to help with terrorism or Israeli aggression towards Palestinians. I think the 'establishment of a Palestinian state' would help immensely.

"All the evidence from Lebanon and Gaza shows the opposite."

Don't know quite what you mean here about Lebanon. You mean the recent rocket attacks into Israel? I may be wrong but I think there has been only one 'incident' recently, resulting in no injury or loss of life. Or do you mean inside Lebanon itself? So many different religions and factions inside Lebanon. A very difficult situation. But Hezbollah only asks that it be given representation in Parliament proportional to the number of its supporters. That doesn't seem to me to be too much to ask.

Posted by: nepeta on January 14, 2008 at 2:32 AM | PERMALINK

1. If you don't agree with me, the only possible explanation is that you're stupid or you're evil.

Posted by: mdl on January 14, 2008 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

banning abortion probably would not affect the ability of upper middle class/wealthy women to get abortions and would lead once again to desperate attempts by poor women, resulting once again not only in the death of an unborn fetus but also the mother. - nepeta

Banning abortion would not even come close to eliminating abortions, but it would reduce the number performed. More unwanted babies would be born; more illegal abortions would be performed, leading to a rise in maternal prenatal death. It would be a terrible thing in every way. But fewer total abortions would be performed.

Also, more comprehensive sex education and wider availability and promotion of contraception would be more effective in reducing the number of abortions performed than would banning abortion outright.

Don't know quite what you mean here about Lebanon. You mean the recent rocket attacks into Israel? I may be wrong but I think there has been only one 'incident' recently, resulting in no injury or loss of life.

Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000. Rocket attacks and incursions into Israel then began to occur sporadically, ultimately leading to Israel's re-invasion in 2006. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2006. There has been no letup in rocket attacks. In general, withdrawal has led to a competition among internal armed Palestinian political groups which stand to gain power and credit by committing violent acts against Israelis. This dynamic can be expected to continue with further withdrawals.

Posted by: brooksfoe on January 14, 2008 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK

In here way to late, but I'll chime in with the liberal myths I observe. One caveat, however. These aren't what Democrats believe. In fact, one of the great right-wing myths is that the Democratic Party pushes the agenda.

1. War is never the right choice.

2. All the "mistakes" the Bush administration made in the Middle East, aren't. They were all part of a master plan.

3. The death penalty never discourages capital crimes.

4. Since the Bush Administration would do anything to go to war with Iran, Iran isn't a threat. Same went with Saddam before the start of the Iraq War.

5. Government-created economic programs do not often backfire.

Posted by: BrianInAtlanta on January 14, 2008 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

Sebastian: Huuu? Laws prohibiting/restricting drunks from carrying don't matter if you're a drunk who bought a gun while sober, without any restrictions.

I think you're talking about two different things. I can't think of anywhere where you're not prohibited from carrying when you go out and get your drunk on.

That's a separate issue from buying a gun, which, as anyone who's filled out Federal Form 4473 knows, you're prohibited from doing if you're an habitual alcoholic or abuser of narcotics.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on January 14, 2008 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

BrianInAtlanta:

There aren't many liberals who believe that "war is never the right choice." Very few liberals would deny that the U.S. was justified in fighting WWII (ironically, those who do believe this are often conservatives like Pat Buchanan). And very few would deny that Abraham Lincoln was justified in using force to preserve the Union (the Confederates, of course, actually triggered the outbreak of the Civil War by firing on Fort Sumter).

It would be more accurate to say that liberals don't believe that aggressive war is ever the right choice. This is not a "myth," it is simple common sense. The Iraq War was certainly a war of aggression, as was the Mexican War of 1846-48.

Posted by: Lee on January 14, 2008 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Conservative myth that somme Democrats (ie Obama) have adopted: Social Security is in dire trouble and needs to be "reformed."

Posted by: sullijan on January 14, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

If you want five items for Democrats and liberals that are demonstrably false and that really don't amount to differences of opinion or caricatures of widely held opinions, then I'm guessing that every element on your list ends up being about free trade.

1) U.S. free trade agreements harm low income foreign factory workers. While it's fine to fight for improved working conditions and against the use of child labor, most people we label as sweatshop workers aren't enslaved and choose to work in such conditions because the alternative is no work

2) Free trade hurts the U.S. economy. Nope. Free trade hurts individuals within the economy, but the economy as a whole always grows except under highly contrived circumstances. Expansion of the social safety net is almost always more economically desirable to trade restrictions, theoretically producing pareto superior results if wealth redistribution is reasonably well targeted.

3) NAFTA, CAFTA, etc. have hurt U.S. workers. See 2). This is really the same issue, but specific free trade agreements tend to be targeted for attack separately from free trade generally. Again, the problem is with the failure to expand the social safety net as opposed to with free trade per se.

4) Free trade puts dangerous products on the U.S. market. Nope. Inspection failures put dangerous products on the U.S. market. Free trade in no way implies holding foreign products sold in U.S. markets to lower safety standards than U.S. products. The Republican zeal not to regulate or inspect imports--or anything, for that matter--is an entirely separate issue from free trade.

5) Tarrifs are sometimes useful. Even if you buy into the notion that protectionism is sometimes justified, subsidies to American producers are always more efficient protectionist measures than tariffs on imports.

Posted by: R Johnston on January 14, 2008 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Orwell,

What's next from you, Holocaust denial?

Posted by: Lee on January 14, 2008 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

These aren't necessarily liberal myths but because Kevin included #3 I'll return as liberal myths.

1. The Bible is so riddled with mistakes, and been translated so many times, we can't trust it as a source.

2. Belief in a religion has clearly caused the most violent deaths.

3. An objective view, limited to the current evidence only, would lead to the conclusion that life probably was created by chance.

4. Scientists are for the most part objective.

5. Study of modern populations shows that breaking free from the myths of Christianity produces better, kinder and more productive populations.

Posted by: John Hansen on January 14, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

While it's fine to fight for improved working conditions and against the use of child labor, most people we label as sweatshop workers aren't enslaved and choose to work in such conditions because the alternative is no work

Wow. I'd love to throw you out of work for a year or two and then offer you a job in a sweatshop, something tells me you'll eagerly take the job, thank me for it, and daily debase yourself in front of me for it. And best yet, you'll be stupid enough to tell people that you aren't enslaved and took the job out of your own free choice. Bonus: I hope you have kids so I can employ them for less and toss you back out onto the street.

Posted by: jerry on January 14, 2008 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

As Orwell has so brilliantly demonstrated - the only thing "conservatives" can contribute is crap based only on failed theory and ideology. Not a sound fact in the whole bunch of them.


Posted by: Czarcastic on January 14, 2008 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Here's an obvious, disprovable liberal myth that is patently untrue and I can't believe no one's mentioned:

Liberal myth: One in ten people is gay.

This is based, if memory serves, on the far-out-of-date Kinsey Report, and more recent research has knocked the number down to about 3-5%. (3% is the number that Dan Savage, no rabid right-winger, promulgates on his blog, but it sure *feels* low, so I prefer to say 5.) I call it a liberal myth because the number is used in defense of pro-gay policies, as if the prevalence of gay people has some effect on their individual rights. (Even though the Muslim population is only about 4-6% of Americans, I still think they should be allowed to vote, hold jobs, and get married! Their numbers shouldn't matter.)

Perhaps it doesn't qualify, however, because it doesn't suggest a very specific policy (like Kevin's creationism in schools and 30% tax examples). But it is definitely widely believed, and definitely wrong.

Posted by: David Dickerson on January 14, 2008 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

John Hansen,

We can't trust the Bible as a source. That is simply a fact. One can believe in the Bible as a matter of religious faith, but there is certainly no proof whatsoever that the Bible has anything to do with God. It's been proven that the Earth orbits the sun. It has certainly not been proven that the Bible comes from God.

Posted by: Lee on January 14, 2008 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

"5. Government-created economic programs do not often backfire."

Well yes - yes they do. When the wingnuts get their hands on them and rob them blind for their own greedy purposes.

Posted by: Czarcastic on January 14, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

"Liberal myth: One in ten people is gay."

Back to wee-wee's again.

Studies undertaken after Kinsey's revelations failed to achieve the same results: statistics run as high as 27% gay and as low as 3%. The methodology and assumptions of each study appear to have remarkable sway over the eventual findings. As a result, it is impossible for scientists to say with surety how many humans are gay, percentage wise or otherwise.

Posted by: Czarcastic on January 14, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

4) A.Free trade puts dangerous products on the U.S. market. Nope. B.Inspection failures put dangerous products on the U.S. market. Free trade in no way implies holding foreign products sold in U.S. markets to lower safety standards than U.S. products. The Republican zeal not to regulate or inspect imports--or anything, for that matter--is an entirely separate issue from free trade.

C.[DeLong Addition] People that lose their jobs due to free trade need an effective job retraining program.

We want A, but most of recognize we won't get the benefits of A unless we implement B and C. Now, in the history of free trade, we have never seen B or C, and indeed in the history of this country, we have rarely seen B (except under vastly different circumstances) and never seen C apart from after WWII provided to a very select group of people. Still mathematically some of us can prove that we can't rule out B and C arising spontaneously in the future, and so we can safely advocate implementing A even without B or C standing a snowball's chance in hell of ever being seen.

And then when some of us die from bad imported food or die homeless in the street, we can blame Republican obstructionism while we watch our HD TVs. Hey, Lost is coming on!

Posted by: jerry on January 14, 2008 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

"There has been no letup in rocket attacks. In general, withdrawal has led to a competition among internal armed Palestinian political groups which stand to gain power and credit by committing violent acts against Israelis. This dynamic can be expected to continue with further withdrawals." - brooksfoe

I understand that the current rocket attacks are partially instigated by competition between a few extreme groups in Hamas and the Abbas faction. I still think the frequency of attacks has dropped, but perhaps I'm wrong. Even though Israel has 'withdrawn' from Gaza, Israeli military incursions still occur as well as air strikes. So the 'tit for tat' continues. My point was that Israeli withdrawals won't help much without the creation of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state. The prison guards have just moved outside the prison walls.

Posted by: nepeta on January 14, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

@Jeff made on 9:11pm (ha!):

1. The threat from Al Qaeda is not real and potentially dire, because the Bush administration has politically manipulated that threat for its own, independently-arrived-at purposes.

Two seperate issues. I doubt you'd find many sensible liberals who say that the threat from al-Qaeda is not real and potentially dire. However, the Bush Administration has most definitely politically manipulated the threat.

2. Things have not improved in Iraq because of the new strategy pursued by Team Petraeus.

Straw Man. None, NONE of Bush's stated goals of the surge have been met (political reconciliation, oil laws, Iraq taking over security in the entire country). Look it up. And it's even debateable what effect the "surge" had on the small improvements there have been. In any case, those improvements mean Iraq has more or less returned to where it was in 2005, and it was a disaster then.

3. President Bush is the worst president imaginable; or, alternately, Things could not be worse than they are under President Bush.

Hardly. For one thing, with every passing day Bush does something that makes everything worse. Secondly, judging by how the current Republican candidates are treating Bush more or less like toxic waste I'd say he's in the running for worst president. Of course, time will tell.

Posted by: Joshua on January 14, 2008 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Lee wrote:
"There aren't many liberals who believe that 'war is never the right choice.'"

Then obviously I'm misinterpreting all those millions of "War Is Not The Answer" signs I saw everywhere in the run up to the Iraq War. Did everyone really interpret that as "In this particular instance, war is not the proper option"? Seemed more of a blanket statement to me and, hence, indefensible unless you want to propose absolute pacifism.

Posted by: BrianInAtlanta on January 14, 2008 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

PS to Brooksfoe: Agreed on the abortion issue.

Posted by: nepeta on January 14, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

PPS to brooksfoe: I just checked on the frequency of rocket attacks on Israel for 2007. You're right. Attacks continue apace with previous years.

Posted by: nepeta on January 14, 2008 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Looking for balance, Kevin?

Posted by: OldReader on January 14, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Myths for both...

Liberals: we're smarter
Conservatives: We're more moral

Liberals:
- The United Nations represents some sort of moral compass
- We could contain Saddam Hussein indefinitely
- Iraq was only about the oil
- Wind and solar can solve our energy problems
- The slime Kerry received in the election was not a special case, i.e., swiftboating is a broad tactic
- Problems in Middle East are our fault
- Woes in Arab world are the west's fault

Posted by: SJRSM on January 14, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Myths of liberals:
1) Raising minimum wage doesn't cost jobs
2) Unimpeded immigration doesn't hurt working class Americans
3) War is always a sign of failed leadership
4) Union leadership can always be trusted to represent workers' interests
5) Legalizing drugs wouldn't have adverse social consequences

One could go on. Just read Yglesias: he has made a small cottage industry of cataloguing the nonsense put forth by his ideological bedfellows.

Posted by: Nils on January 14, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

5 is utter bs, Kevin.

Posted by: Brian on January 14, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

The one, overarching, great conservative myth is "competence."

They believe themselves to be "competent" stewards of the public interest, but when left to run the government, they screw it up and leave the place worse than when they found it.

See: every damned one of them.

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 14, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative Myths:

1. Tax cuts INCREASE government revenue.

2. No one could have anticipated terrorists using planes as weapons to attack civilian targets on American soil.

3. The Bible is a better guide to morality then, say, The Golden Rule, or Karma.

4. All problems can be solved by throwing our weight around.

5. Poor people are lazy and stupid.

6. Liberals are unpatriotic.

7. (This should probably be #2) The media is liberal. Even the Washington Post and New York Times whose support for the Iraq invasion would make Fox News jealous.

8. Fox News is merely "balancing" the bias of the "liberal media."

6. Universal health care would be bad for American businesses.

Liberal Myths:

1. America can solve the world's problems (this is also a conservative myth, though taken from the direction of military aggression, rather than dialogue and communication)

2. If we attempt to reason with conservatives, they will fight fair.

3. The Clintons are "liberals."

4. War is never the answer.

Posted by: Piper on January 14, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Missed a couple important conservative myths:

Government regulation is always bad.

Conservatives are fiscally responsible.

"Democracy" abroad = acceptance of American policies.

Posted by: Piper on January 14, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

One More Conservative Myth:

Liberals, not big business/ Wall Street conservatives, are the primary drivers behind immigration reform.

Posted by: Piper on January 14, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

No liberal myths here. I'm even one of those weird liberals who does not believe that religion in general or Christianity in particular, has been for the "most violent deaths," though I think the history of the Crusades and the Inquisition as well as today's religion-dominated war on Muslims can tell us that many deaths have been caused by well- and ill-meaning people based on their Christian beliefs.

I didn't want to respond or refute, yet I feel compelled to remark on one egregious set of misleadingly-constructed "myths."

1. The Bible is so riddled with mistakes, and been translated so many times, we can't trust it as a source.
As I understand the controversy (taking place well outside of coservative fundamentalist circles), it is not that the Bible has been traslated too many times, but rather that as an entity built from a collection of conflicting ancient texts, the body of sources regarded as "canonical" have been (a) pared down to reduce conflict, and (b) edited to reduce apparent conflicts. The OCCURRENCE of these two processes has been well-documented and is pretty much indisputable. The motives of the parers and editors can be questioned, of course.

But I would ask "...we can't trust it as a source" of WHAT? Divine Word? It appears to me as though we have only the Bible's "word" that it is Word. That sounds like a circular argument to me. Historical fact? Damn skippy we shouldn't, at least not to the point that we ignore other firm evidence of historical fact. Let's remember that the scientific method arose more than a thousand years after the Bible was written. The bar was not high.

3. An objective view, limited to the current evidence only, would lead to the conclusion that life probably was created by chance.
It wasn't "created" at all, bub. The dichotomy that "life was created, so was it by chance or by God?" is false. Let's just say that "An objective view, limited to the current evidence only, would lead to the conclusion that life as we know it developed and evolved by means of natural selection, and given the state of 'the current evidence' it seems plausible to extend what we know of evolution to the earliest beginnings of life without resorting to a supposition of supernatural intervention."

4. Scientists are for the most part objective.
I saw this in several forms in here. The objection seems to be that some scientists are influenced by their funding, or by something or other not well defined. The answer is that while a scientist may be influenceable or 'subjective,' capital 'S' Science acts as a huge open-source project in the course of which finding credible and reproducible flaws in the work representing seminal assumptions in the field is encouraged, and is in fact richly rewarded.

On the other hand, shoddily researched politically motivated conclusions are, in general, quickly disproved and waved aside (everywhere but GOP conventions). The propaanda tool here is to conflate the natural flaws and fallibility of one or a few small groups with that of a vast, well-educated, competitive community. Those who would extoll the 'effiencey' of competitive markets seem to ignore the competitive market of ideas (supported by empiical evidence and the scientific method).

Posted by: Daddy Love on January 14, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

What liberal thinks that the Clintons are Liberal?

Posted by: Daddy Love on January 14, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Touche, Daddy Love. That is more of a conservative myth. Admittedly, I was reaching.

Posted by: Piper on January 14, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

2 through 5 are obviously myths, but I wonder about #1. Suppose we included stocks and bonds in the sales tax? Charge 30% on every stock or bond transaction. Does anybody know what the total yearly transaction amounts are for NYSE and NASDAQ? 30% of that should be a tidy sum.

Posted by: anandine on January 14, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Kevin, but it's a proven scientifc fact that liberals are correct about everything. ;-)

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 14, 2008 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Lots of writing on this thread but almost none of it passes muster. For a myth to be false, it has to be proven false with facts readily available. The only one I've seen is:

1. Gun control reduces violent crime

Almost all liberals believe this but whenever and wherever bans go into effect the opposite happens. The most recent is England, where banning guns has led to increased rates of crime involving guns.

But this leads to the biggest myth held by both sides:

* You can stop an activity simply by outlawing it.

Other liberal myths (almost all spring from the gun thing which is our Achilles heal when it comes to policies in the face of empirical evidence):

2. Hunters kill animals purely for sport
3. Vegans eat a diet that does not harm animals
4. The Humane Society of the U.S. runs animal shelters
5. Sound environmental and conservation policy does not need to involve the killing of any animals

#2 is true of some hunters, but definitely the minority and polls of hunters never shows it as as one of the most important factors (being outdoors and food usually are the top reasons). #3 is based on the simple fact that farmers have to control deer to grow crops. If we stopped hunting the deer there would be no crops in the U.S. for vegans (or any of us) to eat. #4, HSUS simply is a political action organization primarily to promote anti-hunting legislation. #5, all studies to date where deer are left uncontrolled lead to a completely devastated ecosystem.

Posted by: Patrick on January 14, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

"The main motivation for Republican corruption (their selling our government to the highest bidder) is personal greed, not conservative ideology itself."

Posted by: David in San Diego on January 14, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick,
Interesting post. I think a lot of the reason the gun thing is our Achilles heal when it comes to clinging to policies that simply make not the slightest bit of fucking sense is that most liberals these days have never seen a gun, let alone shot one, unless it was on a cop's belt on the subway. You tend to fear that which you don't know. We progressive types tend to lie to ourselves and think that almost universal human characteristic isn't something found in liberals. Clearly it is.

In any event, you're right about the larger point: our ridiculous infatuation with the idea that gun control makes sense is part of the larger addiction we have to the idea that bad things will go away when we outlaw them.

Somebody earlier made the suggestion that a liberal myth is that we think drug legalization won't have bad consequences. Gotta call bullshit on that--sure, it'll have a few negative consequences (the death of the illicit drug economy will bankrupt urban minorities even further, a minute percentage of folks will become addicts--though not nearly as many people as the naysayers will suggest...I mean really...who's going to do heroin just because its found at CVS and RiteAid?). The point is, such negative consequences are nothing compared to the hard costs inflicted by the drug war today.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on January 14, 2008 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian, I think you might be right about the fact that they fear what they don't know. I wonder if that can be applied to the conservative myths ;-) You would think Prohibition was the great experiment that proved the point; but it seems like we repealed that, then prohibited a whole bunch of other things.

I agree with your drug legalization argument too. Although, I've seen studies that show the urban minorities really don't make that much money. I don't think there are any potential addicts out there that were saved because they couldn't get the drugs.

The gun thing really hurts the Democrats as many lower and middle class voters probably would support them except for their gun control stance. The Democrats should just except the empirical evidence and come out for all the Bill of Rights (if I'm right that they are 9 for 10 now). They could probably cleave off many of the Cato/Reason type Libertarians from the Republicans for the next generation.

Posted by: Patrick on January 14, 2008 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

They could win plenty of the Patrick...but their elitism tells them that guns are things only enjoyed by slack jawed yokels and army types...thus controlling guns is somehow okay cause you're only facing off against a bunch of red state whities.

Too bad...cause that's quite far from the truth. The ranks of gunnies include urban progressives like me trying to renovate urban America.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on January 14, 2008 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

The only evil people in the world are heterosexual white males.

The only problem with schools in America is that we don't pay teachers enough.

Race is a societal convention. There are absolutely no differences in relative abilities, proclivities, or intelligence between racial groups and NO ONE SHOULD EVER CONDUCT REAL SCIENCE TO INVESTIGATE RACIAL DIFFERENCES!


Posted by: Harry on January 14, 2008 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

Daddy Love - Thanks for your thoughtful, response. I appreciate how it contained more light than heat. I disagree with you though.

DADDY LOVE:: No liberal myths here. I'm even one of those weird liberals who does not believe that religion in general or Christianity in particular, has been for the "most violent deaths," though I think the history of the Crusades and the Inquisition as well as today's religion-dominated war on Muslims can tell us that many deaths have been caused by well- and ill-meaning people based on their Christian beliefs.

ME: Agreed. Some religious people have done heinous things.. Evil people taking charge of a religion will cause much violence. But I would say that secular society is more apt to evil than a religious society.

DADDY LOVE:I didn't want to respond or refute, yet I feel compelled to remark on one egregious set of misleadingly-constructed "myths."

1. The Bible is so riddled with mistakes, and been translated so many times, we can't trust it as a source.
As I understand the controversy (taking place well outside of coservative fundamentalist circles), it is not that the Bible has been traslated too many times, but rather that as an entity built from a collection of conflicting ancient texts, the body of sources regarded as "canonical" have been (a) pared down to reduce conflict, and (b) edited to reduce apparent conflicts. The OCCURRENCE of these two processes has been well-documented and is pretty much indisputable. The motives of the parers and editors can be questioned, of course.

But I would ask "...we can't trust it as a source" of WHAT? Divine Word? It appears to me as though we have only the Bible's "word" that it is Word. That sounds like a circular argument to me. Historical fact? Damn skippy we shouldn't, at least not to the point that we ignore other firm evidence of historical fact. Let's remember that the scientific method arose more than a thousand years after the Bible was written. The bar was not high.

ME: I may be mistaken, but it does not seem that you have done any serious reading about the way the Bible was compiled. The idea that it was "..(a) pared down to reduce conflict, and (b) edited to reduce apparent conflicts...:" to make it seem more accurate is IMHO not a serious opinion. Please point me to any reputable Bible scholars which make these claims.

All I mean is that the Bible can be seen as an accurate source of what the people who wrote it believed. When they say "Jesus, is the Son of God". It was written as a historical source by those who really believed that. It was not concocted as a story to control the masses. It was not changed later to put words into the writer's mouths. Whether you choose to believe what they wrote is up to you.

DADDY LOVE - 3. An objective view, limited to the current evidence only, would lead to the conclusion that life probably was created by chance.
It wasn't "created" at all, bub. The dichotomy that "life was created, so was it by chance or by God?" is false. Let's just say that "An objective view, limited to the current evidence only, would lead to the conclusion that life as we know it developed and evolved by means of natural selection, and given the state of 'the current evidence' it seems plausible to extend what we know of evolution to the earliest beginnings of life without resorting to a supposition of supernatural intervention."

ME: It seems Stephen Jay Gould ( to just name one ) would have disagreed with you regarding life evolving only by [ random mutation ] and natural selection. Plus your "seems plausible to extend" line sounds to me like a plain admission that the objective view of the evidence does not point to life coming about without supernatural intervention.

DADDY LOVE:4. Scientists are for the most part objective.
I saw this in several forms in here. The objection seems to be that some scientists are influenced by their funding, or by something or other not well defined. The answer is that while a scientist may be influenceable or 'subjective,' capital 'S' Science acts as a huge open-source project in the course of which finding credible and reproducible flaws in the work representing seminal assumptions in the field is encouraged, and is in fact richly rewarded.

On the other hand, shoddily researched politically motivated conclusions are, in general, quickly disproved and waved aside (everywhere but GOP conventions). The propaanda tool here is to conflate the natural flaws and fallibility of one or a few small groups with that of a vast, well-educated, competitive community. Those who would extol the 'effiencey' of competitive markets seem to ignore the competitive market of ideas (supported by empiical evidence and the scientific method).

ME: ( BTW - I have a Ph.D in Physics from UCLA ) The problem is that it is not just political or monetary problems that cloud the objectivity of scientists. There are all kinds of more human reasons why scientists aren't really objective. Mostly pride and ego, intimidation, lack of motivation, political correctness. It is very hard to disprove things which make it into "the common knowledge" yet are wrong.

As for Science with a capital "S". It is very limited to what it can get correct. Yes it is a wonderful tool, ( I would not have studied it for so long if it wasn't ). But it is very hard to do definitive work in science. Much of what is done, goes beyond what strict application of the scientific method can conclude. The scientific method is useful, but much more limited than the many want it to be. Many who go about as "scientific experts" are not the best scientists - only those who exagerate their claims the most.

Posted by: John Hansen on January 15, 2008 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

There are so many Liberal myths that it is hard to know where to start.

1) Liberals believe in free speech and academic freedom. (Anyone who has attended an elite American University in the past 25 years knows that liberals believe in a rigidly enforced orthodoxy, strict codes on what is and what is not acceptable speech , and that the only tolerable political views amongst faculty are left wing, far left wing and Marxist.

2) Socialism works

3) Liberal policies on crime had nothing to do with the explosion of violent crime through the ‘60s and ‘70s. More conservative attitudes towards crime and gun control have had nothing to do with the dramatic decreases in violent crime in the past 15 years.

4) Screaming “RACIST”, “SEXIST”, “HOMOPHOBE” or “IDIOT” at the top of your lungs is a suitable substitute for rational discourse.

5) If you say you are “spiritual but not religious” or practice new age mysticism or follow an Eastern religion that makes you more rational and a better person that if you say you are a Christian.

6) Western Europe does not have a serious Muslim problem.

7) Al Gore is an expert on Global Climate Change. Bono is an expert on Africa. George Clooney is an expert on US History. Toni Morrison is a good author. Maya Angelou is a good poet. The West Wing was a good TV program.

8) Everyone who lives in a flyover state is an ignorant, gun toting racist who is married to his cousin.

9) African Americans are a monolithic group; the views of all African Americans are represented by Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

10) The mainstream media does not have a center-left, Democratic, blue state bias.

11) Sacco and Vincenti were innocent. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were innocent. Matthew Shepard died because of homophobia and not due to a drug deal gone wrong. The members of the Communist Party USA were heroes.

12) People are perfectible. Human nature can be changed. Social engineering can fix societal problems.

13) AIDS was all Ronald Reagan’s fault. Gay life styles had nothing to do with the epidemic among gay men in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Posted by: Horselover_Fat on January 15, 2008 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

"Gun control laws work"

Yeah, I know that's only one, but it is so fantastic, and so deeply held (especially on the UK side of the pond) that it more than outweighs any five Conservative ones you care to name.

Posted by: Alex Swanson on January 15, 2008 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

the gun thing is our Achilles heal...

Lib Myth: Were beter spellors.

Heh

Posted by: SJRSM on January 15, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Today's Conservative Myths/ Talking Points:

The Bill of Rights is Based on the Ten Commandments.

America is a Judeo-Christian nation.

Posted by: Piper on January 15, 2008 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Today's Liberal Myths:

The Bill of Rights is based on whatever we tell you we think they mean, including, but not limited to, "Hate Speech" and the Second Amendment doesn't actually grant anyone a right own a gun of any sort.

Posted by: theirritablearchitect on January 15, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I thought you were a smart, CalTech-educated, thoughtful pundit. I guess I was wrong.

I wonder if you actually know any conservatives or if you only read about them in the NYT or on Kos? Wait - you mentioned that you know Hugh Hewitt. Why don't you ask Hugh what he thinks of these five items? Or you can ask me: Numbers 1, 3 and 5 are ridiculous.

Number 2 - I guess I'm an agnostic on global warming; it may or may not be happening, and if it is, it may or may not be anthropogenic. I know a lot of very smart people who think the Goreacle is indeed an oracle, and I know a lot of very smart people who are skeptical. There is no scientific consensus on either point so far as I can tell.

Number 4, well, that's what's always happened in the past, maybe it would again. You will note, I hope, how goverment revenues have surged in the years since Bush reduced taxes to almost where they were before Clinton jacked them up. Repeat after me: economic growth produces higher incomes and higher tax revenues. lower economic growth produces lower incomes and lower tax revenues.

Posted by: DBL on January 15, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a myth that instead of an addition, can act as a substitution for #3.

3. Evolution is a fact-based, scientifically sound, strong theory of how humans came to be

Posted by: Steve on January 27, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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