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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 04:52 PM
Original message
Liberals are foxes and Progressives are hedgehogs
Edited on Thu Nov-12-09 04:55 PM by HamdenRice
There's a famous essay by Isiah Berlin about the "Fox and the Hedgehog." It is about political ideologies, but is based on a tiny scroll fragment of Greek literature that simply said, cryptically, "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."

Berlin applied this to politics, and in particular claimed that liberals were foxes. This is not to say, as one might conclude that Berlin (or the Greeks) were saying hedgehogs were stupid.

They were saying there are two ways of approaching political theory. You can be a systematic thinker and believe that there is a grand theory that explains everything (or at least a lot of things). If so, you are a hedgehog. Many Marxists are hedgehogs, but so are many free market, Chicago style right wing economists. They have mastered one big theory, and that theory explains the world to them.

Foxes have no one big theory. They know many things. They have no plan. That makes them seem unprincipled. They try one thing, and if it doesn't work, they try another.

Being a fox or a hedgehog has nothing to do with where you are on the political spectrum. There are right wing foxes and left wing foxes, and right wing hedgehogs and left wing hedgehogs.

Liberals are foxes; progressives are hedgehogs.

Liberals, another theorist once said, believe in "muddling through." They have no answer when they start. They are not bound by ideology. For example, a liberal would not say, a priori, that insurance corporations cannot be involved in health care reform. They would say, maybe they can, maybe then can't -- let's experiment and see.

Just to show how this has nothing to do with where you are on the spectrum:

Franklin Roosevelt was a fox.
Abe Lincoln was a hedgehog.
Bill Clinton is a fox.
Jimmy Carter is a hedgehog.
George H.W. Bush is a fox.
George W. Bush is a hedgehog.
Dwight Eisenhower was a fox.
Lyndon Johnson was a hedgehog.

Barak Obama is a classic fox, and a liberal.

Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich are hedgehogs.

Liberals are foxes.
Progressives, who have a systemic theory of what's wrong, are hedgehogs.

Hedgehogs get mad at foxes for not understanding their hedgehog "theory of everything" that explains why certain experiments or policies must not be tried.
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dflprincess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 04:56 PM
Response to Original message
1. Using your definitions,
a liberal would not say single payer is off that table and cannot be discussed. A liberal would say, let's look at it, maybe it is the answer - or perhaps we should allow the states to experiments with it themselves, if they want to.

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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 04:59 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. I think a liberal, muddling through, would see there were never votes for a single payer
Edited on Thu Nov-12-09 05:00 PM by HamdenRice
and that we can get to single payer eventually without being somehow morally compromised.

There was a terrific radio show in Pacifica this morning that said that the proponents of keeping the private insurance companies in the system are lying.

They know that the system being enacted will eventually lead to the p.o. growing and becoming single payer. It will just take many years, and they have no hedgehog principle against getting there gradually.
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dflprincess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:11 PM
Response to Reply #3
12. We don't have many years
people need access to care now and the insurance reform the House passed does not guarantee that access. The only guarantee is that we will be forced to pay a private company for "coverage".

If there had been any real intent to eventually change the system they at least would have left in the amendment that allows the states to pursue their own solutions. Instead, they chose to make most of us captives of the insurance industry and to force us to pay to prop up a system that has been cheating us for years.

Perhaps if single payer had been brought to the table and discussed the votes may have been found or, at least, the "compromise" we're getting wouldn't have been a gift to the insurance companies. Over 70% of the people wanted change and in talking to people who haven't paid quite as much attention to the whole debate, a lot of those who heard a public option was being disucssed thought it meant single payer and were looking forward to it. Instead, they're getting screwed. Come 2012 Obama may find he outfoxed himself.







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MadBadger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:22 PM
Response to Reply #12
16. The house bill passed by 5 votes. I dont see how Single Payer had any shot
Its not like members of COngress actually listen to each other and change their opinions during debate. And if people changed their opinions, maybe it would lose by 10 less votes. But 100% chance it would still lose, and probably lose bad.
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:33 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. That's reality
I honestly don't get the other view. If this bill with p.o. passed so narrowly, what makes anyone thing that we could have passed s.p.?

Liberals are above all pragmatists. Vote counters.

Although it's true that probably a majority of citizens would have liked s.p., it's also true that that would have required TAKING AWAY PRIVATE INSURANCE from people who have it and didn't want it taken away from them, whose revolt and fearfulness would have made the teabaggers look like, well, a teaparty, and who would have sunk the entire effort at reform.
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MadBadger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. Im a Liberal and a fox.
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:39 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. I tend toward foxiness, but I do think I have an overarching theory
I guess that makes me, as someone wrote downthread, a foxy hedgehog!
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dionysus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 10:05 AM
Response to Reply #12
45. with all due respect, how many times must it be explained;
Edited on Fri Nov-13-09 10:08 AM by dionysus
THERE WERE NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH VOTES FOR SINGLE PAYER TO PASS
THERE WERE NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH VOTES FOR SINGLE PAYER TO PASS
THERE WERE NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH VOTES FOR SINGLE PAYER TO PASS
THERE WERE NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH VOTES FOR SINGLE PAYER TO PASS

if there was enough support in congress for it, it would have been "on the table"

if obama had pushed single payer knowing it didn't have anything close to the number of votes it needed, it would have gone down in flames and possibly ended ANY chance of reform.

how can you guys not understand this?

do you really think the blue dogs who don't even want a public option would vote for single payer?!?! do you really?!?!?
:banghead: :banghead: :banghead: :banghead: :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:
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Nicholas D Wolfwood Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 07:47 AM
Response to Reply #1
43. List for me the 218 current House members and 60 current Senators that would EVER vote for it...
under ANY circumstances. Then we'll talk.
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dionysus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #43
46. how they refuse to grasp this simple, simple truth is beyond me.
it really is like talking to a dining room table.
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Nicholas D Wolfwood Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 10:48 AM
Response to Reply #46
47. I never do get a response to this.
The only thing I do get is, "you can't know because we didn't try." My reply is this: I'll let you have any speculation you want. Give me a hypothetical where we DID try to pass single payer and we did use every tactic possible. You can even use blackmail if you need to. Just tell me specifically which Senators and Reps you think were susceptible to coersion of any variety to the point where we'd ultimately win passage.

As Herm Edwards said last week when talking about the NFL, "A goal without a plan is just a wish." If you can't sketch out a scenario under which we'd get 218 specific votes in the House and 60 specific votes in the Senate, you don't have a plan and you don't have a viable negotiation point. You have a wish.
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lumberjack_jeff Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 04:57 PM
Response to Original message
2. Astute. K&R
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:34 PM
Response to Reply #2
18. The unrec'ing crew is out in force for this one -- considering how it has been up and down in recs!
Thanks anyway!
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ZombieHorde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 10:55 AM
Response to Reply #18
50. Doesn't that also mean the rec'ing crew has been out in force as well? nt
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Kaleva Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 02:56 PM
Response to Reply #50
53. They never question the motives of the rec'ing crew.
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DJ13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:01 PM
Response to Original message
4. Barak Obama is a classic fox, and a liberal.
No, he (and Bill Clinton) would be a hedgehog under the definition you stated.

Sure he talks like a classic liberal, but his actions shows that much like Bill he's a triangulator who tries to appeal to liberals while in reality supporting corporate ideals.
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:03 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Triangulation is classic fox behavior
assuming that we are talking about triangulating among voting constituencies.
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:01 PM
Response to Original message
5. One of the more creative rationalization I've seen yet for the FACT that most of Obama's policies
are center right (i.e. Rockefeller Republican). Some are actually mainstream 1980's Republican- such as rejecting out of hand a financial transactions tax.
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:03 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Health care reform and the stimulus are not center right
If that's your criteria, then anyone can call anything by any label.
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #8
14. This bill is as center right as it gets!
Edited on Thu Nov-12-09 05:53 PM by depakid
Look at what Nixon wanted!

February 6, 1974

To the Congress of the United States:

One of the most cherished goals of our democracy is to assure every American an equal opportunity to lead a full and productive life.

In the last quarter century, we have made remarkable progress toward that goal, opening the doors to millions of our fellow countrymen who were seeking equal opportunities in education, jobs and voting.

Now it is time that we move forward again in still another critical area: health care.

Without adequate health care, no one can make full use of his or her talents and opportunities. It is thus just as important that economic, racial and social barriers not stand in the way of good health care as it is to eliminate those barriers to a good education and a good job.

Three years ago, I proposed a major health insurance program to the Congress, seeking to guarantee adequate financing of health care on a nationwide basis. That proposal generated widespread discussion and useful debate. But no legislation reached my desk.

Today the need is even more pressing because of the higher costs of medical care. Efforts to control medical costs under the New Economic Policy have been Inept with encouraging success, sharply reducing the rate of inflation for health care. Nevertheless, the overall cost of health care has still risen by more than 20 percent in the last two and one-half years, so that more and more Americans face staggering bills when they receive medical help today:

--Across the Nation, the average cost of a day of hospital care now exceeds $110.
--The average cost of delivering a baby and providing postnatal care approaches $1,000.
--The average cost of health care for terminal cancer now exceeds $20,000.

For the average family, it is clear that without adequate insurance, even normal care can 'be a financial burden while a catastrophic illness can mean catastrophic debt.

Beyond the question of the prices of health care, our present system of health care insurance suffers from two major flaws :

First, even though more Americans carry health insurance than ever before, the 25 million Americans who remain uninsured often need it the most and are most unlikely to obtain it. They include many who work in seasonal or transient occupations, high-risk cases, and those who are ineligible for Medicaid despite low incomes.

Second, those Americans who do carry health insurance often lack coverage which is balanced, comprehensive and fully protective:

--Forty percent of those who are insured are not covered for visits to physicians on an out-patient basis, a gap that creates powerful incentives toward high cost care in hospitals;
--Few people have the option of selecting care through prepaid arrangements offered by Health Maintenance Organizations so the system at large does not benefit from the free choice and creative competition this would offer;
--Very few private policies cover preventive services;
--Most health plans do not contain built-in incentives to reduce waste and inefficiency. The extra costs of wasteful practices are passed on, of course, to consumers; and
--Fewer than half of our citizens under 65--and almost none over 65--have major medical coverage which pays for the cost of catastrophic illness.

These gaps in health protection can have tragic consequences. They can cause people to delay seeking medical attention until it is too late. Then a medical crisis ensues, followed by huge medical bills--or worse. Delays in treatment can end in death or lifelong disability.

COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN (CHIP)

Early last year, I directed the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to prepare a new and improved plan for comprehensive health insurance. That plan, as I indicated in my State of the Union message, has been developed and I am presenting it to the Congress today. I urge its enactment as soon as possible.

The plan is organized around seven principles:

First, it offers every American an opportunity to obtain a balanced, comprehensive range of health insurance benefits;

Second, it will cost no American more than he can afford to pay;

Third, it builds on the strength and diversity of our existing public and private systems of health financing and harmonizes them into an overall system;

Fourth, it uses public funds only where needed and requires no new Federal taxes;

Fifth, it would maintain freedom of choice by patients and ensure that doctors work for their patient, not for the Federal Government.

Sixth, it encourages more effective use of our health care resources;

And finally, it is organized so that all parties would have a direct stake in making the system work--consumer, provider, insurer, State governments and the Federal Government.


More: http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2009/September/...

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MagickMuffin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:03 PM
Response to Original message
7. I guess that makes me a "Foxy Hedgehog" ;=D
Edited on Thu Nov-12-09 05:05 PM by MagickMuffin
Yes, I consider myself to be a part of both camps.


edit: typo




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laststeamtrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:05 PM
Response to Original message
9. Democrats are conservatives. Republicans are reactionaries. Liberals are centrists. 'Progressives'
... are liberals.

They all suck.

Real progressives, on the other hand, don't.
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:06 PM
Response to Original message
10. And then there are blue dogs and pigs.
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Dr Fate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #10
27. And "Ponies." Don't forget "the ponies" for God's sake.
Remember when "the foxes" made fun of us "hedgehogs" for "wanting a pony"- right before they actually gave a "pony" to the insurance industry?

But seriously, what is this, fucking Farmville now?
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burning rain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:07 PM
Response to Original message
11. Liberals are progressives with no balls/ovaries.
.
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Truth2Tell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:12 PM
Response to Original message
13. Have you noticed what happens
Edited on Thu Nov-12-09 05:14 PM by Truth2Tell
when we let the foxes guard the hen-house?
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Bitwit1234 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:19 PM
Response to Original message
15. AND REPUBLICANS ARE WEASELS.
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Kablooie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 12:50 AM
Response to Reply #15
35. Some are sloths
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:40 PM
Response to Original message
21. Rachel Maddow is a fox; Amy Goodman is a hedgehog
Edited on Thu Nov-12-09 05:41 PM by HamdenRice
Mike Malloy is a hedgehog, but Keith Olberman is a fox.
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:42 PM
Response to Original message
22. Pat Buchanan is a fox; Rush Limbaugh is a hedgehog
and Glenn Beck is a rabid dog.
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Sinti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 05:54 PM
Response to Original message
23. They try one thing, and if it doesn't work, they try another. - exactly
I want what works to make everyone's life an enjoyable experience, to the best of our human ability. What good is a tool if it doesn't work.
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Dr Fate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 06:20 PM
Response to Original message
24. Centrists & conservatives have been wrong about nearly everything, while Liberals have been correct.
Edited on Thu Nov-12-09 06:26 PM by Dr Fate
I dont have any cutesy aninal comparisons on who is who- all I know is that "centrists" & their conservative allies have been wrong about nearly everything, while the "crazy far left" has actually been right about everything.

I dont care what kind of animal a "centrist" is- his accomplishments will speak for themsleves. Iraq, Afghanistan, Bush's Tax cuts for the rich, a failing economy and Bush getting off scott-free are among them. Hopfully these things can be corrected by the same "centrists", but I doubt it.

I dont get mad at "centrists" and Blue Dogs for not understanding some "theory of everything"- I get mad at them for being 100% WRONG on Iraq, 100% WRONG on Afghanistan, 100% WRONG on supporting Bush's tax cuts, 100% WRONG as to bailing out millionares & billionares, and for being 100% WRONG in opposing a strong public option as opposed to educating, advocating and fighting for it.

Tell all this kiddy cartoon crap to independent voters in 2010- maybe DEM campaign workers should be provided with furry little hand puppets in order to illustrate all these enlightning points.
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Laelth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 06:24 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. +1 n/t
:dem:

-Laelth
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Dr Fate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 06:28 PM
Response to Reply #25
26. Thanks. So where does "the pony" come into all of this?
Edited on Thu Nov-12-09 06:29 PM by Dr Fate
As long as we are talking about cute animals, shouldnt we be talking about "the pony" that the "hedgehogs" wanted, and "the pony" that the "foxes" are going to give to the Insurance Industry?

And I wonder-what is the connex to "FOX" news?
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Lilith Velkor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 12:34 AM
Response to Reply #26
34. Some people say there's a pony somewhere in that big ol' heap of bullshit.
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Prism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 06:36 PM
Response to Reply #24
28. +2
Another day, another thread hostile to the villainous left.
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Dr Fate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 06:41 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. I wonder if Joe Lieberman is a "Fox." He certainly is a "centrist" and a DLCer.
I'd say they are all "rats"- but I'm not the one running this funny-farm.
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Prism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 06:44 PM
Response to Reply #29
30. All animals are created equal . . . n/t
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Dr Fate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 06:45 PM
Response to Reply #30
31. LOL! Doubleplusgood! n/t
n/t
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 06:51 PM
Response to Reply #24
32. Yup, that's why Kucinich won the presidential primary and election and Obama didn't!!
:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

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Clintonista2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 01:18 AM
Response to Reply #32
36. So Bush was right about everything and Kerry was wrong about everything because Bush won?
Nice logic there champ.
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 05:50 AM
Response to Reply #36
40. Bush won?
Edited on Fri Nov-13-09 06:07 AM by HamdenRice
Really?

But even compared to Bush, the Kuch gets 4% of the Democratic vote in primaries.

That means that 96% of Democrats think he's wrong. So either 96% of Democrats are stupid or and Kuch and his supporters are a super smart elite or ...

Well, you do the math.

:rofl:
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Norrin Radd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 05:29 AM
Response to Reply #24
37. Centrists are jellyfish.
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 06:49 AM
Response to Reply #37
41. You're missing the point. "Liberals" are not centrists.
Edited on Fri Nov-13-09 07:26 AM by HamdenRice
The point Berlin and I are making isn't about where you are on the spectrum, but about how you solve problems.

Some liberals can be to the left of some progressives, and some can be to the right of them.

The issue is whether you come to problems with a "grand theory" (progressives) or a general political commitment (liberals).

Cornell West is a classic liberal and "fox" and he's to the left of Dennis Kucinich.
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-12-09 06:52 PM
Response to Original message
33. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 05:36 AM
Response to Reply #33
39. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
spiritual_gunfighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 05:35 AM
Response to Original message
38. Obama is a liberal? n/t
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Peacetrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 07:40 AM
Response to Original message
42. Thank you for the definition.. As a proud liberal, I can embrace Progressives as just doing it
in a different way, and start to let go of the anger as it were over letting the right define us. I had an op on that yesterday, because I think we are the same yet have a different approach maybe.

Before, the word progressive just went up my spine. I had no way of defining what the heck a progressive was.

But I will stay a liberal. It is who I am.
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NatBurner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 07:52 AM
Response to Original message
44. i thought this was gonna be about sonic and tails


my bad
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ZombieHorde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 10:54 AM
Response to Original message
48. I am not so sure Obama is liberal or progressive, but if he is, I would label him a hedgehog.
Pres. Obama's theory of everything = bipartisanship. Pres. Obama's promise of "change" during his was about the rhetoric in Washington, and I believe he has been trying very hard to accomplish this change, even though some of us wish he wouldn't.
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Beacool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 10:54 AM
Response to Original message
49. Are there any lemmings in this equation?
I've seen far too many of those these past two years. The bottom of the cliff is piled high with their carcasses.

:D
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Lilith Velkor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 12:53 PM
Response to Reply #49
51. And lo, the cougars had a mighty feast!
;)
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Jim__ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 02:52 PM
Response to Original message
52. It doesn't sound like foxes come off too well in Berlin's essay ...
... although if you are a fox, you are in some good company. You can read the first 10 pages of Berlin's essay, then you have to pay.

A sample:

THERE is a line among the fragments of the Greek
poet Archilochus which says:' The fox knows many
things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing'. 1
Scholars have differed about the correct interpeta-
tion of these dark words, which may mean no more
than that the fox, for all his cunning, is defeated by
the hedgehog's one defence. But, taken figuratively,
the words can be made to yield a sense in which they
mark one of the deepest differences which divide
writers and thinkers, and, it may be, human beings in
general. For there exists a great chasm between
those, on one side, who relate everything to a single
central vision, one system less or more coherent or
articulate, in terms of which they understand, think
and feel--a single, universal, organizing principle in
terms of which alone all that they are and say has
significance--and, on the other side, those who pursue
many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory,
connected, if at all, only in some de facto way, for some
psychological or physiological cause, related by no
moral or aesthetic principle; these last lead lives,
perform acts, and entertain ideas that are centrifugal
rather than centripetal, their thought is scattered or
diffused, moving on many levels, seizing upon the
essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects for
what they are in themselves, without, consciously or
unconsciously, seeking to fit them into, or exclude
them from, any one unchanging, all-embracing,
sometimes self-contradictory and incomplete, at times
fanatical, unitary inner vision. The first kind of
intellectual and artistic personality belongs to the
hedgehogs, the second to the foxes;
and without
insisting on a rigid classification, we may, without too
much fear of contradiction, say that, in this sense,
Dante belongs to the first category, Shakespeare to the
second; Plato, Lucretius, Pascal, Hegel, Dostoevsky,
Nietzsche, Ibsen, Proust are, in varying degrees, hedge-
hogs; Herodotus, Aristotle, Montaigne, Erasmus,
Molire, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzac, Joyce are foxes.

...

I do not propose in this essay to formulate a reply to
this question, since this would involve nothing less than
a critical examination of the art and thought of Tolstoy
as a whole. I shall confine myself to suggesting that the
difficulty may be, at least in part, due to the fact that
Tolstoy was himself not unaware of the problem, and
did his best to falsify the answer. The hypothesis I wish
to offer is that Tolstoy was by nature a fox, but
believed in being a hedgehog; that his gifts and
achievement are one thing, and his beliefs, and conse-
quently his interpretation of his own achievement,
another; and that consequently his ideals have led
him, and those whom his genius for persuasion has
taken in, into a systematic misinterpretation of what
he and others were doing or should be doing. No one
can complain that he has left his readers in any doubt
as to what he thought about this topic: his views on
this subject permeate all his discursive writings--
diaries, recorded obiter dicta, autobiographical essays
and stories, social and religious tracts, literary criti-
cism, letters to private and public correspondents. But
the conflict between what he was and what he believed
emerges nowhere so clearly as in his view of history
to which some of his most brilliant and most para-
doxical pages are devoted. This essay is an attempt to
deal with his historical doctrines, and to consider both
his motives for holding the views he holds and some of
their probable sources. In short, it is an attempt to take
Tolstoy's attitude to history as seriously as he himself
meant his readers to take it, although for a somewhat
different reason--for the light it casts on a single man
of genius rather than on the fate of all mankind.



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snake in the grass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 03:03 PM
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54. k/r
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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-13-09 07:02 PM
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55. too simplistic... there are way too many people who don't fully fit into either category
i'm curious why you consider Lincoln a hedgehog, along with LBJ??

What was Teddy Roosevelt? Truman? Madison? Wilson? Andrew Jackson? JFK?

And while I understand your general idea, IMO the 'fox' way of doing things is better suited for a proportional representation system of government...But under our current winner-take-all, more often than not, for better or worse, the hedgehog gets things done (especially in times of partisan polarization)
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