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June 06, 2008

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P

As a conservative(ish?) from the East Bay, I agree with items 1-5 completely. On item 6, I guess I wouldn't bring up political discussion, but there's no way I'd ever soft-pedal my views if someone asked me about 'em. Really; if you can't discuss and disagree about serious matters with your friends and remain friends, those friends aren't much worth having. If you only discuss things you can agree on, why discuss anything?

John

P,

Thanks. Of course I don't advocate actually lying. Avoiding the use of the "c"-word can be helpful, though, because it enables the conversation to proceed in such a way that you actually end up focusing on the points where you (surprisingly!) agree, instead of just bickering. Admitting that you accidentally supported Bush in 2000 can be a real party-killer.

Andy

Living in Berkeley has transformed me from a secular progressive into a Catholic crypto-conservative. I arrived here in 2000 from Las Vegas, eager to embrace Bay Area values. After eight years and countless late-night conversations (some of them with other people), I have a somewhat different opinion of those values.
Partly it was the self-righteousness, the unreflective presumption that this is the one pinpoint of light in a dark dark land. Then there's the unmistakably angry vibe of downtown Berkeley...several generations of Liberation movements, and the people here don't seem terribly free. Self-expression and universal tolerance, it turns out, do not in themselves comprise all the virtues.
But, to echo John: the saving grace of this place is that scrappy can-do ethic, the remnants of the Stewart Brand "Whole Earth Catalog" New Left ethic. "I found a cache of supermarket coolers and I'm building a greenhouse out of them"--that sort of thing.
That and the food.

John

Andy:

You mean there are TWO of us? Have we met? Drop me a line and we'll talk shop over a beer at Beckett's.

Clinton

It's getting difficult to tell what exactly 'conservatives' are, the spectrum is so broad that it seems to include nearly everyone.

The most visible aspect seems to be hypocrisy,
but of course many liberals do a fine job of that as well.

As for conservative men of a hypothetical draft age, one wonders why they aren't in the Middle East doing their patriotic duty. Other priorities, perhaps? Much easier (and far safer!) to whine about liberals?

Sheila

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Sheila Kippley, volunteer
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fbc

Conservative does not equal support to stupid foreign wars.

pb

As for conservative men of a hypothetical draft age, one wonders why they aren't in the Middle East doing their patriotic duty. Other priorities, perhaps? Much easier (and far safer!) to whine about liberals?

It's because patriotism didn't require us to be in Iraq in the first place. Or haven't you heard? Not all conservatives are neoconservatives.

Erinthebeekeeper

Love it. My husband is a graduate of Berkeley, we lived for years in the gourmet ghetto, and plan on returning to the east bay after he is out of the Navy. Best place to live in the country AND it made us way more conservative than living, for example, in Omaha Nebraska.

It also taught us about good coffee (Peets or Gaylords on Piedmont Ave) and good pizza (Zacharies and Cheeseboard)

And I will support raw milk until I die of some weird foodbourne illness from drinking it!

John Bejarano

John,

Thanks very much for the response to my quandry before.

1. Eat right.

Well, I suppose it depends on what you mean by eating right. My waistline betrays a tendency that I'm not "eating right" in the sense that most health professionals mean it. But, if eating right means enjoying all of the local flavors and options, then yes, I'm eating quite well. Come over to the Peninsula some time, and we'll have dinner at Creo La (San Carlos), Iron Gate (Belmont), or if my wallet feels a little too fat, 231 Ellsworth (San Mateo) sometime.

2. Support raw milk.

When I was a kid, I probably went through a half-gallon a day. Most of my dairy now comes in other forms, and I rarely have straight milk, so I don't know that I'd have much impact on this particular fight much either way. I mistrust the government quite well enough to support the thwarting of any nanny-state initiatives, but I'm not really anti-corporate enough to restrict myself to all things Whole Foods or co-op.

3. Have kids, or get to know people who do.

Hasn't worked out yet for my wife and I. But we're friends with quite a variety of adults from many walks of life. And, if you leave adults alone long enough, well, you end up knowing kids as well. Our annual Easter Egg Hunt used to be geared strictly for adults, but now there are seven kids (all boys!) none of whom were born when we moved to this house, who regularly participate. While I've been a bit of a curmudgeon since even my own childhood, it has been fun to see these kids begin to grow up and have fun at this event.

4. Admire the initiative of the locals.

On this point, I can't agree more. Living in the northern extremity of Silicon Valley (San Mateo), my heart is warmed as I not only see before my eyes but participate in the most important cultural revolution since the Industrial Revolution. And none of it has to do with policies churned out by some corrupted pol or "blue-ribbon" panel of "experts." I witness problems being solved in the most dramatic fashion by people with real solutions every day. It's practically Randian sometimes. It's one of the reasons I've always loved the heavy use of stock options or other equity incentives for employees. If you give to every employee equity in the corporation (not just a token, but enough to "feel" it), you'd always have motivated employees, and you'd never have labor unions. Everyone from the CEO to the part-time substitute weekend assistant janitor are all on the same page and feel the real worth of what they do.

5. Do not stoop to taking advice from someone like Ann Coulter.

No problems there. Ann Coulter is a corrosive poison to the political discourse of the nation. I've seen her take otherwise thinking conservatives and whip them into heavy-breathing frenzies detached from their reason. She is in this way a perfect mirror-image to Michael Moore. The only reason I mentioned her name in the question is she has that book about "talking to liberals", but she's hardly the type of gasbag from whom I'd want to take advice on that.

6. Duck.

Sadly, this is too often what is required. I used to work for a brief period for Macromedia in San Francisco. As you can well imagine, the building was generously peopled with the motivated progressive-types that you would imagine it would be. One time when discussing one issue that they had been gnawing on for weeks, I practically genuflected with respect for their opinions while bringing up some somewhat more conservative viewpoints. Many of them wouldn't speak to me again even though I didn't toss out anything even remotely controversial and took great pains to acknowledge and accept their point of view. It was a jarring experience.

The note about presenting myself as libertarian is thankfully not only more helpful in those surroundings I've learned since then, but has the added benefit of being true. I'm growing more and more libertarian every year it seems. Maybe I'm not quite as glib about the threats in the Middle East as the folks over at Reason magazine (which I love, BTW), but using a term that is divorced from the bible-thumpers of the conservative movement, whom I've always resented anyway, makes me feel more comfortable in my skin.

Stay well.

Mike

Some of this is applicable in other situations. I am trying to work with factors 4-6 on a listserv where most people are way to my left.

On the other side, in one of my social circles where I live (the Jewish community, or at least its right wing) I am trying to deal with being a non-interventionist in Neoconland.

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