TCS Daily


An Election Harbinger

By Michael Rosen - May 31, 2006 12:00 AM

SAN DIEGO -- 2006 has been unkind to the GOP and it threatens to become unkinder still.

President Bush's approval numbers hover in the 30's and 40's. Several Republican leaders have been indicted or convicted on corruption charges. Democrats talk openly and gleefully of recapturing the House and Senate -- and of initiating impeachment proceedings against the president.

All this despite record-high economic growth, low unemployment, a booming stock market, and a gradually coalescing Iraqi democracy.

Still, disaffection seems to be in the air, in particular on the right, and especially on the hot-button issue of illegal immigration (bloated congressional spending is a close second). There is a palpable fear among Republicans that conservatives will sit on their hands in November -- precisely when motivated liberals will flock to the polls. Why even bother supporting these guys, say some conservatives, when they'll muck things up about as badly as the Dems would?

For their part, Republican activists -- and officials whose jobs are at stake -- counter that conservatives will be in for a world of hurt if the Democrats retake the Congress.

This frustration has converged on a single race: the June 6 special election in San Diego to replace Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the former congressman convicted of receiving an estimated $2.4 million in bribes. The winner will occupy the Duke's seat until November.

Considered by pundits on both sides of the aisle to be a harbinger of Republican fortunes in November, the race implicates virtually all of the issues of concern to 2006 voters: controlling the border, "amnesty" for illegal aliens, lobbying, corruption, national security. The campaign, currently thought to be a dead-heat, pits a moderate Republican, former congressman Brian Bilbray, against a liberal Democrat, Francine Busby.

Technically, the June election is a run-off from an April general election in which 18 candidates -- including 14 Republicans -- competed. Bilbray narrowly edged out numerous conservatives, including the relatively unknown Eric Roach.

Because the June special run-off coincides with a separate primary for the November general election, Roach flirted for weeks with appearing on the June primary ballot. Ultimately he was persuaded to stand down on the theory that his presence would siphon votes from Bilbray in the special election.

Yet conservative disillusionment with the GOP persists and poses a special risk in a congressional district where, while Republicans outnumber Democrats by 45%-30%, a large contingent of independents renders the race a true toss-up. A few weeks ago, another conservative candidate -- who garnered a scant 1.6% in April -- entered the primary race as an alternative to Bilbray.

Bilbray, by contrast, has remained upbeat, steadily collecting endorsements from leading conservative officials from across the city, county, and state. A steady stream of national Republicans -- including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Senator John McCain (whom Busby disingenuously tried to claim as her own), and the Vice President -- have come to the district to campaign for him.

I attended the Cheney fundraiser earlier this week, where I found many of these issues simmering to a boil. As expected, the Vice President was greeted by the same Daily Kos-style protesters who have underwritten much of Busby's campaign. But while security was tight (I arrived a bit late and nearly didn't get in; nothing like arguing with the Secret Service...), inside the event, smiles abounded.

The crowd was warmed up by the rest of the San Diego-area Republican congressional delegation, Reps. Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa, as well as by former California governor, senator, and one-time presidential candidate Pete Wilson. The consistent theme was unity, retaining Cunningham's seat, and maintaining the GOP majority in Congress.

Bilbray then ascended the podium, beaming, to introduce the Veep. Yet after thanking Cheney for his support, and praising him for his long career in public service, the former and would-be-future congressman rallied the crowd by saying that he and the Vice President had had a candid talk about illegal immigration. Bilbray told the audience that he had communicated to the administration the vehemence with which his would-be constituents desire a border crackdown.

Bilbray, after all, has staked much of his race -- and indeed his career -- on border issues. His campaign slogan is "Proven Tough on Illegal Immigration." He served as mayor of Imperial Beach, a town less than three miles from the Mexican frontier. His website touts the fact that he "led the charge to add almost 1,400 new agents to the US Border Patrol in 1995, and was instrumental in the effort to secure $425 million in funds to reimburse border states for the burden of illegal alien incarceration." Bilbray also serves as the co-Chairman of the National Board of Advisors for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

In this race, illegal immigration presents a perfect, unifying issue for Bilbray. It fires up activists who continue to be frustrated by our policies and it enables him to paint Busby, who supports the Senate's guest worker program, as an amnesty-loving liberal. If conservatives feel uncomfortable voting for me because I'm socially moderate, Bilbray surely believes, they can take solace in knowing that I'll protect the border.

And this argument, writ large, is indeed what Republican candidates increasingly need to fall back on this year: vote for me because even if you don't like me, a vote for the Democrat will hurt your interests substantially more. You may feel good about sending me a message today but you'll feel the pain tomorrow.

While the "lesser-of-two-evils" school is usually the last refuge of scoundrels, there's enough at stake to resort to it this year. Take Busby, for example: if a darling of Moveon.org can capture a district with a 3:2 Republican advantage, even if only for six months, the left-liberal agenda will be trotted out at every turn. Legislative support for an Iraq withdrawal will wax; tax cuts will mysteriously vaporize; and Bush's judicial nominees, whose plight has been difficult enough as it is, will be thwarted, assuming the Senate follows the House's lead into the Democratic column.

As Jim Geraghty has studiously documented on his National Review Online blog, the grave perils of a Democratic takeover of Congress powerfully justify supporting GOP candidates -- even the ones you don't really like. In fact, sitting out the '06 campaign will actually hurt the most conservative candidates up for re-election this year. People are simply fooling themselves if they think that ousting the GOP will somehow foster conservative goals.

For their part, elected Republicans must do a better job of articulating the GOP vision of America. This means not only tweaking the policies themselves -- reining in runaway spending comes to mind -- but also refining the message. No president or Congress presiding over an economy growing at more than 4% per year should poll as poorly as President Bush has been doing. Something clearly isn't working.

Back to the Cheney fundraiser: After being introduced by Bilbray, of course, the Vice President strode onstage with the Second Lady and delivered his customary recounting of the administration's foreign and domestic accomplishments. The grins returned and, at least for a moment, the group was one big happy family. We'll see if the GOP -- elected officials and conservative activists alike -- can stay familial and keep smiling through June 6 and on into November.

Michael M. Rosen, TCS Daily's IP columnist, is an attorney in San Diego and a candidate for the San Diego County Republican Party Central Committee for the 75th State Assembly District. The views expressed are his own.

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26 Comments

Don't Forget the Judges
My primary reason for voting for GWB was to protect the federal judiciary from activist judges. So far this is about the only thing W has really delivered on and it is still worth having. Judges have the capacity to change this country in ways that neither congress nor the exec branch can compare with.

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So we loose control - so what!
We continually hear that we must continue to support deaf Republicans as the lesser of two evils. It is often said: "People are simply fooling themselves if they think that ousting the GOP will somehow foster conservative goals." Really?

Few will disagree that the "Contract with America" lead to the current GOP control of the Congress, as well as the Presidency. Unfortunately, the longer such GOP control exists, the more they divert from the Contract and pay it lip service only. The President and the Congress appear to have reached a point where they evidence no interest in listening to those of us who elected them and they display an arrogance of position that almost defies comprehension. They forget or ignore that election to Congress does not anoint them with the Divine Right of Kings and Nobility - Our Founders pledged their Lives and Honor against those concepts to found our Country. Election does not confer upon them an elite wisdom which allows them to ignore our wishes because they know better than we what should be done. Some even have the arrogance to proclaim that they need not follow our constitution and are exempt from the laws they pass for the rest of us to follow. Do what I say, not what I do!

We are continually told that we must swallow our principles and vote for Republicans as the lesser of two evils. Really? The red flag they waive in our face is the "certainty" that if we sit out the '06 election or vote against every Republican candidate (depending on how mad we are) what will follow is: "Immediate" withdrawal from Iraq will become policy if not fact; tax cuts will end or be reversed; no conservative Judicial Nominee will be confirmed; illegal aliens will receive amnesty; and, impeachment proceedings will begin against President Bush.

Bluntly, so what! We survived forty years in the Democratic desert, another two years in limbo could not damage us as much as reelecting self-serving congress-critters who have ceased to listen to us and have defenestrated our Contract with America! We must ask exactly what damage will result from a loss of control of one or both Houses of Congress. What will be the real consequences?

Impeachment will be sought against President Bush? At a minimum, he'll spend much of his last Presidential years concentrating on his defense to preserve his "legacy". So what, his legacy is not our concern. Perhaps if he concentrated on being the President of America rather than of Mexico his 'legacy' would become self-evident. Even if the worst came to pass, we still have a Republican V.P..

Democrats will control Congress with their "Leftist" agenda! When the Senate passes an Immigration Bill sponsored by Sen. Kennedy and approved by a majority of Democrats and a minority of Republicans, please explain how a "Left" agenda would differ! McCain-Feingold emasculated Free Speech (it should be called the Incumbent Protection Act) - again, how would a "Left" agenda differ?

The bottom line: Republican members of Congress have discarded the Contract with America, they no longer bother to listen to us as, by "Divine Right", their superior mentality certainly makes them smarter than us and we must follow their direction.

Ha, in your Dreams, fellows!

Those of us highly incensed plan to go to vote in '06 against every Republican candidate (excepting only a few incumbents) while the remainder of us just plan to stay home. Loss of control of Congress for two years is not the end of the World (except for those defenestrated Congress-critters) and is a small price to pay to clean house and remind these people who elected them. By 2008, we should have candidates standing in reaffirmation of the Contract with America, candidates who will resume listening to us and a presidential candidate who will represent our views not those of the liberal left and certainly not those of Mexican politicians!

Remember that old GI expression: Shape up or ship out.

Well, guess what!

something clearly isn't working
Amen, brother.

This article gives some examples of why its not working, but its only mildly partisan, so thats an improvement for the Republican modus operandi. How fitting that the election harbinger as pronounced by a Republican is that of a seat abandoned by a corrupt Republican because he is going to jail.

First, unrealistic positive spin.
"All this despite record-high economic growth, low unemployment, a booming stock market, and a gradually coalescing Iraqi democracy."

These points may all be true, but the benefits of these wonderful economic points are heavily weighted to the wealthy in this country. Most Americans are not wealthy, and they are struggling with stagnated wages and rising inflation while corporations and their executives are making double digit growth in profits and compensation. The good news is there are jobs out there, the bad news is they pay $8.00 an hour. Conservatives can't seem to grasp this reality.

Next, half-truths and deceptive spin.
"President Bush's approval numbers hover in the 30's and 40's. Several Republican leaders have been indicted or convicted on corruption charges. Democrats talk openly and gleefully of recapturing the House and Senate -- and of initiating impeachment proceedings against the president."

Actually, Bush's approval hovers in the 20's and 30's. Its amazing its that high. And its both exaggeration and fable to say Democrats are openly and gleefully talking about impeachment. Russ Feingold is the only Democrat I've seen talk about it openly, every other one openly rejected it. Everyone knows it should and could happen, but it would take a very strong political will to actually do it.

The fact the author is going to a Cheney fundraiser is more proof that Republicans don't get it. The fault lines are cracking and separating within the right-wing, and thats good news, but like drug addicts trying to get clean, you can't get there if you keep going back to the drugs. If Republicans hope to reconnect with Americans they need to dismiss Bush/Cheney Co. and get back to their values. And those values do not include pandering to extremist groups like Focus on the Family, etc. who are ripping the country apart by yanking the social fabric. Politicians serve the country and their districts, not just some social bigot morally-superior redneck religionists. If Republicans can figure that out they will have a chance to be respected again.

I'll even vote for a Republican candidate who is good, but I'll never vote for anyone who tries to link themself even remotely with Bush/Cheney Co.

Hear, Hear - excellent post
The jury is still out on border control but is is already clear that most of the Republicans in the Senate are just as bad as the Democrats on that issue. The House situation is a bit more complex, but the fact remains that most of the 15 million illegals came into the country during a period when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and also the White House.

They need a break out of power to clear their heads and get reacquainted with their priorities.

logic alert
You wrote ". . .those values do not include pandering to extremist groups like Focus on the Family, etc. who are ripping the country apart by yanking the social fabric. "

I'm not an adherent of the religious right, but it is hardly logical to say that the side that wants to preserve traditional forms and relationships is the one that is "ripping the country apart by yanking the social fabric."

The anything goes, everything is permitted, nothing is absolute, all values are relative liberal/libertarian/libertine social agenda may or may not be good politics, sociology or national policy; but it is hardly likely to strengthen the social fabric.

rfw1028
Maybe I speak only for myself, but I'm less interested what party controls congress. Than I am in getting the border and spending in this country under control. I've been voting since 1980 and I've rarely voted against a Republican candidate or conservative ballot issue. Today I am convinced that the only way to get the politicians refocused on the people that pay taxes and vote. Is to vote out the dumb asses that can't seem to pay attention except during election year. I believe a major change in congress will send a message that will continue to echo through DC well into the presidential election cycle.

What are the principles of the GOP?
This election only highlights the problem facing the Republican Party nationally, what are its principles? Having elected Bush in 2000 Conservatives embraced a man who was not a conservative and never pretended to be. Most conservatives were willing to vote for the lesser of two evils, a ploy that the Bush White House used successfully and continues to use.

But the Bush White House has managed to blur the distinctions between the two parties. Giving us a Republican controlled senate and house that proved it can do an imitation of a wildly spending drunken sailor that ranks with the best the democrats can offer we are left only with the difference of which special interest groups dictate spending priorities, big business vs. trial lawyers or big business vs organized labor.

Since 2000 I haven't had any confidence in what I am told by either party. They have lied and played gymnastics with the truth. I believe that business as usual will only result in more of the same, big government spending vast amounts of money but accomplishing nothing with never ending demands for higher and higher taxes for the children, for the badgers, for the illegals or for your favorite overseas despot.

I will vote against any incumbent that has demonstrated his ability to do the drunken sailor act. I will vote against any elected official that wiull not enforce the laws of the nation. I will especially vote against, work against, and contribute to those who oppose the currently proposed immigration bills now pending.

I believe the only real differences between the two parties is how long each will take in getting you to hell. I'd prefer a different destination.

logic matters most
Good comments SullyA, but I do see it differently.

Its absolutely logical that the ones trying to preserve traditional forms and relationships are the ones yanking the social fabric. "Preserving traditional forms and relationships" is really a very kind way to phrase it.

Its really a strategy in the religious right's attempts to gain back control of people, to dictate morality on us. To stop our evolution. There was a time and place for religion that it was a good thing to dictate morality. I think we've evolved, in many ways we're very different than we were 100 years ago, in some ways we're the same. The religious right seeks to turn back some good ways we've changed because this progress doesn't fit with the traditional religious views. There is a large and growing number of people who don't care what those traditional religious views are, its logical those views should have less of an influence on everyone. Frankly, I think religion should have zero influence on society as a whole, but I recognize I'm probably a minority. But someday society will catch up with my view. Thats the path we're on, and thats why its the religious right that is ripping the country apart. It is natural that we are evolving away from a religious view that doesn't fit a rapidly changing reality.

It doesn't have to be that way. I submit it is that way because of the nature of religious leadership today. They are as corrupt and hypocritical as any politician in Washington. Since when did religious leaders become "tough guys" who support war? Who hold political rallies and scorn politicians for not doing their bidding? Who growl "culture of life" when its convenient for their political agenda and do a morality 180 to support the death penalty or war for the same political agenda?

"The anything goes, everything is permitted, nothing is absolute, all values are relative liberal/libertarian/libertine social agenda may or may not be good politics, sociology or national policy; but it is hardly likely to strengthen the social fabric."

Quite the contrary, open-ness and change are exactly what strengthen our social fabric. Things get worse before they get better. Its human nature to push things as far as they will go before we settle on a comfortable moderate position. Its how we learn. Experience is the best teacher.
Anything goes and everything is permitted as far as authorities allow it. Police on the streets, teachers in the classroom, parents at home, peers everywhere else. We will all be offended at something one time or another, how we react means more than the fact something offending to someone exists.
I would agree nothing is absolute. Well, except one thing. There is one absolute truth I can come up with, after about 3 years of contemplating it. All living things die. Its true for everyone universally. Other than that, I don't know what else is absolute.
And values being relative? Absolutely they are. If we all use common sense we would be in a close position with values at least. But we have problems when people don't contemplate their values, question them and reinforce them with critical thought. Thats when values become absolute, when they're not backed up by critical thought. There is a wide range of relativity with values, thats important to consider also.

Does not compute
Exactly what values are relative? Can you describe how a doctor might apply these sliding, relative values to two different patients with the same illness? Or a cop? Or parents?

the logic of extremists
always uses as a starting assumption that all bad things are caused by your opponents.

as usual
nothing bob says corresponds with reality.

Everyone in this country is benefitting from the current economic good times.
But since the rich are benefitting more than bob's preferred groups, it must be bad.

Gun Control
If the Democrits get in there will be more gun control and judges and justices appointed who disparage the Second Amendment. That is indisputable.

I'm not a conservative and have opposed the Iraq war. I really don't care about the immigration thing, just so long as the immigrants who gain citizenship vote against gun control. The illegals don't bother me because they don't vote.

Likely, I'll vote Libertarian, but if there is an important race where there is an anti-gun Democrit, I'll vote for the Republican, if he or she is pro-gun.

I think the big problem is the Iraq war. The American people like a good war like they like a good football game. But if the game drags on too long and their side isn't clearly winning, they take off and leave so as to beat the traffic home.

Those of us who fought in Vietnam saw what was coming. Bush did not. The American people have grown tired of Iraq. It's now Bush's albatross. The American people do not see themselves primarily as warriors, rather as entreprenuers and workers. They are not going to thank you for bringing them a war.

It is only the right that cares about illegal immigration. The rerst of the country really doesn't care, even if they nominally oppose it. It doesn't fire them up.

Nor do the AMerican people care about the right social agenda. They just want to be left alone, and not be subject to excessive self-righteousness. If anyone is going to be self-righteous, it will be the American people as a whole that they will tolerate, not conservative busy bodies.

Bush would have done much better if he would have stayed out of Iraq and concentrated on domestic issues, like cutting government spending and getting more significant tax cuts and deregulating. The resulting prosperity would have gained the GOP much more support. But the GOP would rather build bridges to nowhere that benefit local constituents, rather than cut the size of government.

Let's hope that if the Democrits get in, they don't do too much damage to the freedom to keep and bear arms.

Speaking of Gun Control
"Gun control is being able to hit your target." - Bumper sticker

Most of the Republicans problems stem from having a "Big Tent" and electing people who don't support the party platform.

V.P. Cheney should invite some Rinos on a hunting trip.

rewrite your programming
I think almost all values are relative. We're better off identifying values that aren't relative, there are much fewer of those.

One that isn't, is the action of rape. I can't think of a single circumstance when rape would be justifiable. I think most everyone would agree with that, this is a case where there is no or very, very little relativity with a value.
Yet we see news stories from Islamic African countries where a woman is punished when she is raped by a man. Talk about some twisted values. Such a story exists because the society or authorities there just accept a traditional value over the wisdom of common sense. If they gave women the respect they deserve as human beings and used critical thought to examine such a value they surely would reject the idea that its a woman's fault for being raped. Lets also note however, the woman may deserve some degree of fault in that situation for making very poor decisions. But that doesn't justify it in any way. Its not black and white.

This presents another factor to consider, and thats how multiple values can relate and affect each other. The example above involves several values in giving rise to the situation.


I don't fully understand your hypothetical question, its a different context.

"Can you describe how a doctor might apply these sliding, relative values to two different patients with the same illness? Or a cop? Or parents?"
I would hope a doctor would not change his/her values from one patient to the next. That sounds like a very unbalanced person and maybe shouldn't be a doctor. I think something like racism, or some other form of discrimination could cause a doctor to use different values with different patients. Same thing, something is wrong with the person that is a doctor. His/Her values are off.
Conversely, I can imagine a situation where a doctor would use unorthodox techniques to heal a person. No other treatment works, this is the last option. Thats a moral dilema, I imagine doctors may deal with that somewhat often.

Its not absolute. Its very complex and filled with gray area. Its a good thing to discuss, really gets the mind gears turning.

Can anyone else think of an absolute truth?

If you can't spot your own contradictions
If you can't answer your own last sentence then you need a cane and guide dog.

Gee, what a helpful response
Please ThomasJackson, point out some of my contradictions. Its called a conversation, 2 people exchange ideas. Its not THAT difficult for you is it? I thought you would take pleasure in telling me how I'm wrong. Maybe I forgot already how you are- you just want to tell me I'm wrong, not how or why I'm wrong. That would require thinking.

I did answer my own last sentence previously. The only absolute truth I know of, is that living things die. Its true universally. I've contemplated it for years and I can't come up with any others. I'm wondering if anyone else can.

Can anyone make the blind see?
If you make the statement there is no moral absolutes and then make a series of observations showing where you yourself provide moral absolutes but are unaware of it how can I assist you?

Try reading your own comments and tell me again there are no moral absolutes. That everything is relative.

Are you kidding me?
Are you just trying to be difficult or are you really this dense? Its like I'm talking to a wall here. Stop focusing on nailing me on something and think about my premise and why its wrong in your mind, if it is.

I'm saying values are relative, and rather than try to list every type of value that is relative, which is almost all, I clearly stated its better to approach from a direction of listing ones that are less relative. For example, the action of rape. Thats one example of a value that is not relative, or possibly very, very slightly relative. Thats the only example I can think of of a value that might be absolute. Can you offer other examples?

So I'll adjust my position and say there might be some moral absolutes, the case of rape might be one. That doesn't mean values are absolute, it means that one example probably is.

Think
There are no relative values just people who don't wish to be judged and held accountable.

You said doctors couldn't give different treatment to different people. Why not if values are relative, don't the wealthy deserve better treatment; or friends of the doctor; or his relatives; or the good looking? Of course not because absolute values exist. There are many examples and if I have to quote back your own example to you and you remain unaware of it then I doubt you can understand or are willing to understand that relative values exist as an alibi for those who wish to act in an unaccountable manner.

Do you believe the ten commandments should be understood as the ten suggestions?

interesting - but it sounds like all animals are equal but some animals are more equal
BobJones - you assert that no values are absolute but then you assert that rape, racism and favoritism on the part of the doctor are evils.

Rape and racism are easy whipping boys, or more properly whips; but I don't see how they are different from any other form of indulgence in self interest, whim, or theory of social order unless you posit some absolute rule of morality that includes them but does not include other acts or preferences.

As well as appealing to Allah, the muslim legalistic rapists you mentioned could assert that rape is necessary to sustain the social fabric in the interests of the greater good, and a hardcore racist can easily do likewise, as many have done in the past.

If all morality is personal and relative we cannot judge anyone. Ghenghis Khan is just as moral raping his virgin per night as Mohatma Ghandi working at his spinniung wheel.

Its all relative
Good comments guys.

Now I get it. Thomas, you and I are looking at it from different perspectives. You're looking at a person and considering how an individual might adjust their behavior because of their values. As in, its a doctor's values that determine if he treats different patients differently because of race or looks or whatever.
But if a person's values change over time, how can you say values are absolute? That same doctor who gives better care to rich people might realize all of a sudden that its wrong to do that, so his values change.
Nothing wrong with the perspective your looking from, but its even more wrong to say values are absolute when looking from that perspective. It happens all the time that an individual's values change.
Take this example, a value I have is that murder is wrong. But thats not absolute, because if I catch someone doing harm or murder to someone I love, I'm going to kill him. The prickly issue of abortion fits in this too. I'm pro-choice, but I am conflicted on the issue. When I weigh the issue I come to the conclusion that making abortion illegal would be much worse for our society. How about this whole culture of life bs we get from people? How can a person say they support a culture of life, they oppose abortion but support the death penalty or war, and still claim to have absolute values?
Values are relative and it depends on circumstances.

My perspective: I was looking at it from the perspective of a value and how that value is perceived by all people. We all have our own values, so if a value is absolute it must be applicable for all people. Rape is an example where we all have close to a consensus that rape is wrong. But people still commit the act, and some try to justify it, but I don't see how they can. I can think of no other values that we would be so close to a consensus about as people, yet I'm not 100% sure its absolute. Even if you and I share a similar value, it may be that its much stronger to me and not as strong to you. The environment might be a good example, I'm passionate about the environment. Its my values to be a good steward, recycle everything I can, leave only footsteps, be as efficient as I can, pollute as little as I can. I would venture to guess that you, and few people on TCS share my passion for these values. That means values are not absolute, they do shift and change for different people depending on circumstances. They shift and change within a single person for that matter, depending on circumstances.


TJ: "There are no relative values just people who don't wish to be judged and held accountable."

That statement is bs. It sounds more like a party message to promote an ideology than a thoughtful opinion. It probably is true for some people, heck, probably most people, people are dumb, they don't want to think critically about themselves. Values ARE relative, I say that and I would bet I judge myself and hold myself accountable more than about anybody. This is interesting actually, I know more people who would argue values are absolute and don't wish to be judged and held accountable, than the other way around. You can learn a lot about a person by the accusations they make of others.

TJ: "Do you believe the ten commandments should be understood as the ten suggestions?"

Yes, and thats what they are. Very good suggestions I'll add, but no more legitimate than something any other wise person could produce. That is, unless you have faith, in that case they are probably much more legitimate. Its relative.

SullyA: "If all morality is personal and relative we cannot judge anyone. Ghenghis Khan is just as moral raping his virgin per night as Mohatma Ghandi working at his spinniung wheel."
Of course we can, and we do, judge almost everyone we encounter everyday, according to our own morality. There probably are people who would argue Ghenghis was moral, but its probably close to a consensus that people would say he was not moral. If it were absolute, we would all agree, we would have to, because its absolute.

I'll take another shot at this absolute truth thing I've been throwing out there. To be absolute truth means something is true universally for all people in all of the cases. Living things die, is the only thing I can come up with that is absolute truth. I challenge anyone to come up with more examples of an absolute truth.

That about sums it up
How does one discuss ethnics or morality with one who believes not in the ten commandments but the "ten suggestions?" Since everything is relative there can be no good or evil just a slow but steady decline into the abyss.

Sorry no sale.

I guess so
If you're going to have such a morally superior attitude that a person can only be ethical or moral if they are religious. Now you know why its the religious right that is indeed ripping the country apart by yanking the social fabric. Only those who believe can even sit at the table.

I don't know about declining into the abyss, but you're right, good and evil are just human-created judgements in an attempt to make things absolute. Its kind of logical actually, things are easier to deal with when you believe its absolute. No gray area, its all black and white. But thats not reality.
Its also the language of Bush/Cheney Co., with us or against us, good vs. evil. But its not that simple.

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