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March 3rd, 2006
09:02 pm
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If it walks like a chicken, and quacks like a chicken ...
The world's least funny comic strip* recently unloaded the L-bomb upon us all:



That's right. Mallard Fillmore is a Libertarian. The comic strip that bellwethers movement conservatism -- with its endless stream of personal jabs and caricatures of liberals that seem pulled out of a time vault (seriously, the figure most satirized so far this year is Teddy Kennedy, with four Chappaquiddick jokes in two months), with its approving citations of Michelle Malkin and regular paeans to William F. Buckley, with its complete lack of criticism of any right-wing figure anywhere, with its blurb proudly proclaiming its "conservative bias" -- has found a new word to replace the label "conservative". Chantel is a liberal, and Mallard is the opposite -- a "libertarian."

Given that the strip has shown no other sign of disagreement with GOP-talking-points positions (except to chastise GOP politicians for behaving too much like Democrats!), what this boils down to is that Mallard, despite believing all the same things they do, is ditching the label "Republican" in order to go over and stand with the Cool Kids. And rest assured that's all it is, political camouflage. For example, actual Libertarians think the government has as much business lecturing Americans about Mallard's beloved "moral values" as it does about Mallard's despised political correctness.

Man. When even Gipper the Talking Points Duck is too busy ducking the label that best describes his political stance in order to go stand Over Here Away From Bush And The GOP, you know that the party is political damaged goods.

As a minor side note, the strip where Mallard "liberals, liberals, democrats, democrats, liberal democrats" Fillmore chides a coworker for conflating Republicans and conservatives is (I'm sure unintentionally) the funniest strip he's ever done.

--

* Granted, the competition is very fierce.

Current Music: Old Soul - "Falling"
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From:thrames
Date:March 4th, 2006 05:30 am (UTC)
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What the fuck. He reuses the same damn joke SEVERAL DAYS IN A ROW. Even Jim Davis has more sense than that. He might do the same 10 jokes, but at least he rotates them out on a semi-regular basis. He's about as funny as the majority of those Muhammad cartoons. Except everyone realizes Mallard's too damn stupid to start a riot over.
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From:elynne
Date:March 4th, 2006 06:52 am (UTC)
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It's because Conservatives don't have a functioning humour gland. They don't want to read something because it's "funny"; they want to read something because it reinforces their own opinions, and because they think, since it's a cartoon, it's probably supposed to be funny.
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From:hafoc
Date:March 4th, 2006 03:20 pm (UTC)
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True Believers of any stripe lack a humor gland.
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From:elynne
Date:March 4th, 2006 07:31 pm (UTC)
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Yah okay true. :)
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From:grendelkhan
Date:March 7th, 2006 05:25 pm (UTC)
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Dude, you know the Mohammad cartoons weren't meant to be humorous, right? I suppose your comment makes sense even if you knew that, but I want to be sure.
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From:mordant7
Date:March 8th, 2006 08:36 pm (UTC)
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you mean Malliard Fillmore is supposed to be funny?
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From:grendelkhan
Date:March 10th, 2006 08:39 am (UTC)
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I can't tell if we've gotten enough sarcasm going to wrap around and speak unironically or not, but a better comparison would be to compare Mallard Fillmore to something that isn't funny but tries to be, like... Garfield, maybe.
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From:sebboi
Date:March 4th, 2006 12:43 pm (UTC)
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So... an antropomorphised duck whom is attracted to a female human is masquerading as a 'liberal' with a highly conservative and republican outlook?

What's confusing, again?
From:(Anonymous)
Date:March 7th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)
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An anthrpomorphised duck attracted to a female human? Steve Gerber, call your lawyer.
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From:hafoc
Date:March 4th, 2006 03:26 pm (UTC)
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(shrug) Is Bush a conservative? Back when they were out of power, I thought conservatives stood for less government intrusion in our private affairs, fewer idealistic (equals stupid) military adventures overseas, less defecit spending... remember that? Didn't exactly turn out that way when the Neocons got into the act. They're using power just as stupidly and making the same stupid mistakes as the people they used to complain about.

So what am I, Bax, other than confused? I work for the government, I see its inefficiency, I can see that if things can be handled outside government they should be, but many things can't be. I guess I'm either a pre-Neocon conservative or a New Deal liberal.. or perhaps I'm just myself. Gah, makes your head spin, it does.
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From:baxil
Date:March 5th, 2006 12:32 am (UTC)
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> Is Bush a conservative?

Conservatives of actual principle -- as opposed to shills following his dream of a pax Republicana -- would tell you no. As a liberal, I find it very difficult to disagree. He has such a consistent record of putting personal loyalty over principle that I don't think he could be said to be much of anything (at least in polite company).

As I said below, economic restraint (and the other things you list) are supposed to be conservative values, and conservative-minded people wouldn't be fleeing to the libertarian margins if they thought they could rely on conservatives to actually be "Conservative."

As for what you are ... I don't know that it's my right to slap a label on your beliefs. But whatever they may be -- "New Deal liberal" is probably what I'd personally choose from your list; or I might also propose "Goldwater conservative" for your consideration -- I don't think I'm so very far away. Political labels aside, my enthusiasm for government social engineering is low, and my enthusiasm for government economic engineering is tempered by the fact that the entire political establishment is a Gordian knot that needs severing from money before politicians can be relied on to produce changes that reliably benefit their constituents. In some cases, though, such as health care, our system is so broken right now that socializing the system would be better than inaction.
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From:hafoc
Date:March 5th, 2006 01:21 am (UTC)
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Health care isn't the free market system its defenders say it is. "Free market" implies some kind of price competition, and the ability to decline to purchase the product if it doesn't meet your needs at a price you can afford. But that's not how it works.

The way things are now, if you need critical care, you get it. If you have insurance, it pays. If you don't, they take everything you own. If they have already taken everything, they treat you anyway and overcharge everyone else to make up for it.

That is already in effect socialized medicine-- just socialized medicine with an impossibly unfair and dishonest payment system. That being the case, I think we might just as well socialzie the sucker and be done with it. It would be a lot more honest. Also a lot more efficient, since it would allow people (like me) who work for inefficient old bureaucratic organizations that still have health coverage, to quit if they wanted, to go do something better and more productive, without fear of physical and financial ruin.
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From:baxil
Date:March 5th, 2006 01:57 am (UTC)
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Completely agreed. One of my "grew out of it" links below goes to my rant on the subject.
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From:hafoc
Date:March 4th, 2006 03:28 pm (UTC)
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By the way, Tephie has a good saying: "It's hard to be a libertarian when you know things."
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From:baxil
Date:March 5th, 2006 12:10 am (UTC)
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Hee, cute. :D I started as a Libertarian myself, but slowly grew out of it. The group has many good ideas, but applies them in too many places where they don't work.
From:wyrdryn
Date:March 23rd, 2006 02:44 am (UTC)
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I'm a libertarian. On 'grew,' I have myself proposed similar ideas to others. Not within the libertarian community itself granted, but in the general public, and most who heard me liked it. It seems to be an idea with populist potential. Check out the libertarian reform community, we're looking for populist materials that don't violate our precepts. Personally I think that one fits.

The second, on 'out' though, you don't really make an argument that I can agree with. Meanwhile, his arguments hold up to all my principles and every way that I would expect to be treated if I were personally the one in a disaster zone. If I were in a disaster the last thing I would want to hear was that the government was limitting the supply of already scarce goods to my area. I would want people to make huge profits. These huge profits would serve two purposes.
1) They would ensure that next time there was a disaster, there were private companies ready to use these disasters profitably. This benefits private sector disaster response.
2) They reward people who bring goods and services into areas where scarcities have risen sharply. This is a 'vital sign' of the economy. When scarcities cause price hikes and thus bring enhanced profits to the seller, the market becomes more responsive to scarcity in general.

One other thing on that subject. Government intervention, by damaging the profit motive, damages the private sector response. By damaging the private sector response, it becomes necessary to use greater government intervention. I believe that laws against "price gouging" are very bad laws.


And on 'of it,' there ARE things in the libertarian community (community, not platform, and sadly not party) that address that. I personally believe that while we should use a nominally free market healthcare system, we need to crack down hard on fraud in the system and take serious steps to drive down prices. Eliminating fraud would drive down the prices in itself and I'm sure there are market initiatives that could be taken to drive them down farther. The current libertarian plank is inadequate to the task, but that doesn't mean every libertarian agrees with it.

One last thing. I personally would prefer a tax-free medical savings account instead of raised taxes. Somehow, while earning just over poverty level wages - I'm a landscaper, and only have reliable work during half the year - my monthly budgets include $200 going into savings. This seriously constrains my income, but I could probably pay for many emergency expenses on my own. I believe that others could do the same thing as I'm doing now. It would damage the consumer economy somewhat to have people save up that much, and it would put a serious downward pressure on the real estate market as things suddenly sold/rented for less, but after the market corrected itself it would be in the end a good thing.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:March 4th, 2006 11:17 pm (UTC)
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He misunderstands the term "liberal". It's possible to be a liberal libertarian. Those are the people who want the government out of our bedrooms and our bodies. Mallard Fillmore, on the other hand, is a conservative libertarian. Those are the people who don't think they should have to pay taxes, and think the government is trying to take their guns and booze away.
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From:baxil
Date:March 4th, 2006 11:39 pm (UTC)
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> He misunderstands the term "liberal"

Most conservatives do, since these days conservative media uses "liberal" mostly to mean "anything we don't like."

The thing about your "conservative libertarian" designation is that that's what the position of the Republican party should be -- they're just doing a horrible job of it, what with the modern GOP strategy of party over principle. Economic restraint is supposed to be a conservative value, and people wouldn't be fleeing to the libertarian margins if they thought they could rely on conservatives to actually be conservative.

The "liberal libertarian" definition you give is where the big-l Libertarian Party resides, so I don't think there's any reason to use the qualifier "liberal." That eliminates the ability to make distinctions for, oh, people like me, who still have strong libertarian sensibilities but have fallen away from the party over things like health care and tax policy, thinking that government intervention makes more sense there.
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From:circuit_four
Date:March 7th, 2006 01:13 am (UTC)
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Congratulations on the TMW Blog shoutout!
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From:baxil
Date:March 12th, 2006 05:56 pm (UTC)
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I actually ended up noticing before getting the pointer -- TMW is on my daily political blog skim list -- and, boy, did that make my morning! :)

At any rate, thank you. You have any idea whether someone tipped off Greg or whether he found my article on his own?
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From:roaminrob
Date:March 14th, 2006 12:10 am (UTC)
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The Repubs are preparing for November, already. (Didja see how quickly Bush got left out to dry on the ports deal?) I predict that we'll see a lot more confusion (or misdirection?) in the Republican camp over what constitutes Republican, or Conservative, and who's actually what. Then they'll regroup in late Summer and try to put forth a "real Republican, a candidate we can trust". In fact, I'm gonna copyright that statement ( (c) 2006 ) just for kicks and giggles.

Anyway, I don't think it's so much that The Party is trying to ditch the Republican label so much as they're already starting the cleanup process.
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