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March 26, 2004
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Afghanistan is getting a little attention. We're sending another 2,000 Marines in.

The blue butterfly is making a return in the U.K.

'My Lai' and 'hero' aren't words you often find together.

Wriggling around looking for loopholes is normally the kind of thing that annoys me, but let's be honest here. No sane person could advocate removing the troops from Iraq, pretending to believe that the magic of a hasty cycle of elections would automatically impose safety, security, and order on the country.

It's nice that Libya decided to come clean and abandon their WMD program but I'm displeased by the stories starting to spread that say our initial reports inflated the number and capability of their weapons and programs. Not surprised, you understand. I'm getting used to mentally discounting Administration threat estimates by at least 25%. But it still annoys me.

Krugman says Social Security and Medicare aren't the same thing, and they aren't in that much trouble. It mostly boils down to the fact that there are problems but if the government wants to, if can fix the programs. And he says privatization isn't the answer, big surprise.

china has some suggestions for how the UsofA can improve its image abroad. Start with the idea that we shouldn't assume that people don't understand us just because they oppose us.

Personally, I think the 527s supporting both sides should be investigated. I'm sure there's enough skating near and even over the line on both sides to go around.

It's good to be a liberal.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:18 AM


Liberal used to mean someone who agreed with Adam Smith and J.S. Mill, that government should protect us from each other, provide important collective projects, and otherwise stay out of our way. The "protect us from each other" morphed into "and ourselves" and "collective projects" became nation-building exercises like compulsory education, central banks, and welfare systems.

Round about 1900, liberal stopped meaning anything really. Now, classical liberalism is like a moderate libertarianism, and I usually describe myself as an enraged moderate progressive.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at March 28, 2004 12:03 AM

Well, I could get behind being an EMP :) but I don't really have a problem with the fact that the meaning of the word "liberal" has changed over time. Language is a living tool, after all.

Posted by: Anne at March 29, 2004 08:22 AM

True. But not enough people recognize that a term like "liberal" is both poorly defined in the present and historically slippery. It makes my job as a teacher a little difficult, when "conservative" and "liberal" mean such different things at different times. And it makes my political life difficult, that people will label me "liberal" and ignore the vast differences between me and whatever it is they think they mean because Fox news is making it sound dirty.

I actually wrote a letter to the editor back in the early nineties, in which I refered to the "l------" word, and being San Francisco, they filled in "lesbian." Poor Michael Dukakis.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at March 29, 2004 02:13 PM

ROFL! That's a pretty good one.

But seriously. I know the people I used to think of as "liberal" have, to some extent, begun referring to themselves as "progressive" these days, and it aggravates me.

Yes, I know the Right has worked hard for over twenty years to make "liberal" a bad, bad word, but we're not required to let them dictate terms like that, are we?

I say the best thing we can do is to define the word, or find one we can live with for the foreseeable future, and get on with the job.

(For what it's worth, when I was in college, I loved that kind of thing. Tracking changes in the meaning of a word over time. Didn't matter if it was political, social, economic, whatever. I think it's fascinating. And, of course, educational.)

Posted by: Anne at March 30, 2004 08:11 AM