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Wendy Cockcroft
The individual must be free to act and the will of the people must be respected
The individual must be free to act and the will of the people must be respected


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What Does "Conservative" Mean?

When one of those people I tend to call "a Far Right nutbucket" shared this article as "a leftist conspiracy to discredit Trump," I found myself singing "Another one jumped the shark" to the tune of Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust."

Don't people read our "About" post?

Then I found myself asking whether or not people take our About post seriously. I thought I'd made it clear that we don't entertain divisive attitudes, authoritarian positions, conspiracy theories, or stupidity here, but they don't seem to get it. Then I realised what the problem is.

They think they ARE rational.

Yesterday at work I was reminded that it was the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 atrocity in New York. Needless to say, the minute Billy mentioned that, my colleagues went a bit nuts recycling Truther conspiracy theories. "Didn't the owner take out a trillion dollars insurance policy?" asked one of the girls.

"You're supposed to take out adequate insurance on a building you own, and as the landlord that was his job," I pointed out.

Now that I've had a chance to process my irritation at the nonsense spouted by the people I work with I've come to the conclusion that a) I'm a grumpy old cow, and b) the reason they repeated that crap was because it seemed perfectly reasonable to them before I metaphorically crushed it underfoot.

So yeah, to recap, I've come to the conclusion that the reason we get all the nutbuckets posting the most outrageous nonsense here sometimes is NOT because they haven't read our About post, it's because they have, and think we're kindred spirits since they are "rational" too. Which brings me back to my question, what does "conservative" mean? And why, for the love of God, are WE letting it mean that? 

The fringe loons have co-opted the word

Letting people on the Far Right control the conservative narrative in exchange for supporting people who were losing support from We The People is to blame for this. Per a recent article in Salon, Ann Coulter couldn't get arrested, let alone a TV spot these days, is because her extreme views have become so mainstream in conservative circles she's not news any more.

The UK version, Katie Hopkins, of "Gunboats for Migrants fame," will surely suffer the same fate.

Is picking on the very people our foreign and trade policies have driven from their homes via poverty or war, etc., a value we were raised with? Not in my house.

Is putting money (economic considerations), not people first a value you were raised with? Not in my house.

Is singling out individuals and groups whose worldview differs from your own for abuse and contempt a value you were raised with? Not in my house.

In my house we were taught to share, to care, and to bear with those people we didn't see eye-to-eye with; the worst they could expect was a bit of eyeroll now and again, and all because there's a certain amount of give and take required to live in an orderly society. What happened to that? Because as far as I'm concerned, that's not Marxist, communist, Socialist, or [$ dog whistle word of your choice]. That, my friends, is what traditional values are.

Let's be more outspoken

We need to be talking more about our values and what it really does mean to be conservative so that ours is the narrative that dominates. Until we do, the word "Conservative" will continue to mean "Loon" and I'm not having that. I won't stand for it. Let's push those people back to the fringes where they belong and let the sensible designated drivers take the lead once more.

Who's with me?

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Conspiracies, Conspiracies Everywhere...

I'm sick and tired of seeing mad conspiracy theories being posted as fact. They're not. Rational people have no time for that nonsense: prove it or shut up and go away. From FEMA concentration camps (remember those?) to -skeptic this and that to Birthers/Truthers and denialists of every stripe, people have been popping up like gophers to hysterically insist that doom is upon us (Doom, I tell you!) and we must join their group or whatever before it's too late, or something.

The word 'Conservative' has been hijacked

Special interest groups of various persuasions have appropriated the word 'Conservative' to legitimise their stances and many of us have fallen for it. Why? Because they're shouty or because they're authoritarian by nature? Why aren't there more of us telling them to shut up, go away, and get a clue? As it stands, conservatism itself has come to stand for many of the policy positions we used to assign to fringe loons. These are now mainstream because the sane people aren't pushing back. Can somebody please explain the silence of the lambs moderates? I'll have a go.

Binary thinking is accepted as normal these days

Read this:

I run into it all the time. Every flippin' day, and it really annoys me. Stop. Doing. That. Why? Because it's why the lunatics are currently running the damn asylum! It alienates people. I'm not and never have been a Republican anything but because I occasionally comment on American politics I get called a RINO, usually by people who would call Lincoln and Eisenhower liberal socialists, and don't get me started on dog whistles! My point is, the black-or-white approach forces people to take sides, which alienates reasonable people who don't want to be seen as siding with the enemy but don't necessarily want to join the Loony Tunes Team either. This has the effect of smothering discussion because there's no discussion taking place, you're just scoring points and butting heads. That's not how debating is done, people.

The madness is spreading

I see it on the left, too. I'm friendly with a number of people on the left even though I'm ideologically opposed to their policy positions, because I don't agree with socialism and I don't like authoritarian anything. Now your actual socialists tend to be socially conservative, believe it or not. It's the liberal left that tend towards moonbat-ery. Well they too have discovered the wonder and glory of binary thinking and are currently actively working against reforms being proposed by Amnesty International over prostitution. I'm of the "legalise, tax, and regulate it" persuasion because it's a demand-side issue. This is what happens when you try to have a reasoned discussion with a liberal lefty social justice warrior:

Notice that she didn't reply to my comment; she knows I'm right but won't admit it. Her problem with me is I won't do as I'm told. I'm not going to. I can think for myself, thank you very much.

Here it is on the right:

I have some suggestions

• Please can we all agree that to put facts first, whether they contradict our personal policy positions or not?

• While information from obviously biased sources should be taken with a pinch of salt due to framing, let's not just dismiss them out of hand, let's actually check them out.

• When someone makes a wild accusation, complete with histrionic assertions of impending doom, let's put emotion aside and pick our way through the facts. Weasel words such as "experts say" or "some people believe" are not facts and can be discounted. If there really is an evil Liberal Socialist plot to cause global warming by shooting cosmic rays into the clouds at the North Pole or something, shouldn't we be finding out exactly where the facility is so we can demolish it or something? "Ah, but it's a secret" means "I pulled this one out of my hat."

• Identify, quantify, and ascertain what the thing is, where it is and what can be done about it. Run your own experiments and do your own research if that's what it takes, but don't fall for the "My team, right or wrong" malarkey. You have only yourself to blame for the outcome if you do.

• Take your own personal prejudices into account when reading or listening to statements being made. I tend to filter out hysterical-sounding ranty statements on principle, but you never know, there might be some truth in them after all. It's just that I resist attempts to manipulate me by default, it's how I'm wired. I'm more likely to listen to calm, well-reasoned assertions than shouty ones that tug at my emotions. Long story — fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Let's leave it there.

So yeah, if we just insist on being, you know, rational, and refuse to be dragged into choosing between TweedleDumb and TweedleDumber, we might just be able to persuade enough people that this is what it is to be conservative that they stop lumping us with the screeching fringe loons.

/End rant.

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Okay, signing out again. If anyone wants to get hold of me, I'm on Twitter. You can also keep up with my latest rantings on my blog, On t'Internet.
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Sorry I've not been around much, people. I don't do the web design any more, I've been working as an administrator for a facilities management company. I live on Twitter as @wendycockcroft.

I still get notifications from here from time to time, and as I was cleaning out the Far Right crap from my Rational Conservatives community, I came across this post. I do believe his points are worth considering...
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Surveillance: Do We Really Need It?

I've deleted a post from a right-winger who seems to have missed the point that the recent Australian outrage was not the result of every Aussie failing to stomp around, Mad Max style, ready to wreak bloody vengeance at a moment's notice with a variety of deadly weapons (and possibly a tank). No, it was a failure to properly process intelligence, possibly due to the fact that instead of keeping an eye on weirdos who might turn murderous at some point, the security services are hoovering up "all the things." Result: too many haystacks, multiple false positives, and sod all needles.

Well personally I'd prefer a targeted approach in which probable cause and warrants featured heavily so that the actual bad guys were caught and put away and a lot of this crap got stopped before it could start.

It's pretty damn convenient that at a time when we're pushing back against mass surveillance, a terrorist is permitted (yes, I said "permitted") to attack the public in the hope that we'll pretty much beg them to increase their activities.

However, as I've pointed out, this can be counter-productive. How do you even begin to sift through mountains of cat and dinner pics to get to the nasty stuff and stop the bad guys? They're not all as thick as Man Haron Monis; they tend to use coded words and phrases to get around surveillance, and often avoid the internet altogether. It's the stupid attention-seeking types like Monis who are likely to be caught, the really dangerous ones will slip through the net.

So... does mass surveillance have any real value besides lining security companies' wallets?

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So I Wrote To My MP

Hazel Blears is my MP and I wrote to her to complain about the surveillance, etc. This is her response.
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Corporations are people, my friend

So why do they get away with malfeasance, then? This is unacceptable. #TTIP
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So when it grows up it will be Cathulhu?

- +Vernon White 
trying to get in the mood to get work done but either  #cthulhu  kitten doesn't want me too ... or I need coffee.
or a nap
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Us V Them, The Old Divide & Conquer Strategy

As an Irishwoman, I'm painfully aware of the efficacy of the Divide & Conquer strategy - it's what handed my country to the British on a silver platter. The effects are still with us.

When I stopped posting here about six months ago due to having little time to be here, I had noticed the sharpness of the divide between people who were nominally liberal and nominally conservative, whose affiliations were based on whether or not they supported a particular party.

Now I'm back, just for today, and I'm seeing the divisions are deeper than ever before, with the Right portraying anyone deemed to be on the left/liberal side as a threat to the nation, while the left/liberals cling to their talking points as if Snowden didn't happen.

The actual bad guys

The real problem is not that there's a left/liberal or a right, but that people believe these tropes are "a thing" and that they are a threat to Our Way Of Life. Karl Rove's characterization of Democrats as appeasers opposed to heartland morality has been so successful that the Democrat party has moved to the right to prove their loyalty to the nation. The results can be hilarious at times, as commentators on the right turn intellectual somersaults trying to frame the Obama administration as "socialist" every time it adopts a right wing policy. The actual bad guys are the corporate donors who have bought the politicians and persuade them to make laws to benefit them.

Obama - all about the Establishment

When I joined in the efforts to promote President Barack Obama in the last election, it was as the best of the worst, not as the right man for the job. As time has passed I've been keeping up with the news and found that he's been persecuting whistleblowers, pushing FTAs that could damage the economies of the nations involved, and going along with the surveillance state instead of shutting it down. He's all about the Establishment, and Hillary is no better. I'm disappointed, to say the least, but not all that surprised, the indications were there.

So what are you cheerleading, Dems?

I see many posts from Progressives cheerleading a president who has thrown a little red meat to the base but done little to stop the wasteful wars on drugs and on terror, and who has been reluctant to rein in the NSA and other bad actors. If he's not progressive, why support him? He can't serve a third term, it's unconstitutional. What he's doing is not okay. You need to call him out.

The "right" Right

Those of you who subscribe to Republican principles should remember it's the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower. It was always about freedom and justice for all. Unfortunately, you've got few representatives who are worth promoting. I liked Chris Christie for a little while, but then he blotted his copybook, as we say over here. Why aren't you pushing for candidates who are worth voting for?

A viable alternative

Let's be promoting the other political parties that are around, and talking about them and their policies until one of them stands out enough to be worth plumping for in the next election. The current positions of both main parties aren't really working for the rest of us. To be honest, a more nuanced approach, where people are empowered to think (and provide) for themselves, is the way forward. Those people you disagree with aren't necessarily the enemy — you'd be surprised at the amount of common ground you have with them. I've found that if you make a good enough case for your position, you can actually win them over. Don't let the Establishment divide us by pitting us against each other, let's work together and find candidates to represent us outside of the choices they give us. That way, we can have a government that is truly by the people, for the people.

Or you can keep recycling the same political cartoons and tropes, and continue to perpetuate the same old stereotypes. You decide.
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TTIP - Beware The Corporate Menace

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is one of the most important developments in EU-US relations since WWII. Those in favour claim it will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and boost GDP on both sides of the Atlantic. But is this true? And what are the hidden risks for European citizens?
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