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99 and 44/100-percent pure crap

I recently had an e-mail exchange with a reader who was a smidgen disappointed with something I wrote. I won't go into the particulars, but one thing that came up as a tangent I thought bore expanding into a full posting on its own.

"Purity" is, to me, an overrated concept -- at least in the "homogenous, not containing any foreign elements" context. The idea of something being composed of exactly one thing and one thing alone as a paragon and ideal strikes me as a notion that is not borne out by reality.

For example, let's look at metallurgy. Iron is a very useful substance, but there's very little use for it. It's only when it is combined with carbon and other elements that we get steel, which is superior in almost every way.

Then there's chemistry. Most "pure" chemicals will kill. Pure oxygen is toxic. Sodium and chlorine will kill you. But blend the oxygen with other gases, and it's a necessity of life. And sodium and chlorine together give us salt, another necessity of life.

And botany. "Pure" strains of crops are vulnerable to a host of diseases. The hybrid strains, such as found in corn and wheat, are much hardier and useful -- and often tastier.

Then there's zoology. "Pure-bred" dogs are highly prized, but are susceptible to a host of genetic ailments. Displaced joints, chronic conditions, and a host of other problems (I'm reminded about the stories I've heard about how the bulldog breed has been bred and refined to the point where it can't conceive and deliver puppies without help from humans) beset the "best in show" candidates. But it's the rare purebred that can compete with a good old fashioned mutt on simple survival. And the so-called "thoroughbred" race horses originated from crossing Arabian stallions with English mares.

Then there are the nuts who go on and on about "racial purity" in humans. I hold a special place of contempt for them, as a good chunk of my heritage would qualify me for Hitler's "Master Race," and I get livid when they start presuming to speak for me. In World War II, the United States was up against two powers who both proclaimed to be The Master Race, and we -- the biggest bunch of mongrels, mutts, half-breeds, mixed-bloods, and race-traitors the world has ever seen -- crushed them both. And to this day, we remain the world's only true superpower. (In fact, I've heard some say that we have transcended "superpower," and are tossing around the term "hyperpower." I'm not quite sure I like that, but it's certainly something to consider.)

It's continuing in politics, as well. The extremists on both sides tend to test everyone on their "purity" to their ideals, and cast aside or turn on those who fall short of their goals. The Democrats are doing that with people like Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman, and the Republicans have their own history of turning on the moderates in their ranks. They both seem to forget that in a democratic republic like we have, numbers count -- and chasing away people is not a very good way to expand one's influence and advance one's agenda.

A while ago, in my ongoing quarter-hearted effort to lose some weight (I'll let you know when it gets to half-hearted), I started piling lettuce on my sandwiches. The idea was to add bulk to the meal so I'd feel fuller, without actually eating more stuff that will add to my weight problem. Now, when I eat sandwiches without lettuce, I notice that I'm hungrier after. I think both political parties could use a little time in the kitchen, because it's that added "bulk" in the party that often makes the difference between tasting victory and still being left hungry after the election.

Now, "purity" does have a second meaning -- uncorrupted, unsullied, untainted. Those are, indeed, things to be valued. But the two meanings are non synonymous, and those who attempt to blur the lines between them do so to their own detriment.


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Comments (34)

Actually, Jay, metallurgy i... (Below threshold)

Actually, Jay, metallurgy isn't a good example. Think of gold or silver. Or even copper. The purer the copper or silver, for instance, even to the degree of drawing it into single crystal configuration, the better it functions in communication applications. In medical or high-end audio applications, .9999 silver or copper single crystal (the purest available) is frequently used (at a significant cost) for its ability to deliver the finest and most accurate performance. Nit picking, yes, but sometimes purity is important to avoid contamination...like in sex!

You leave out one type of p... (Below threshold)

You leave out one type of purity with undeniable consequences. That would be genetic engineering of humans. It has the same likely end point as too much in-breeding in dogs does, a single presently unknown desease, and we are all toast. That's why I come down against the clone and embryonic stem cell science. Genetic diversity, that's for me. Leave how it all works as unknown.

Purity -- It's a setup for large systems failure, sort of like the cops saying they can protect everyone from everything, until the crook shows up on your doorstep late at night -- now where is that gun I turned in, sigh.

By the same token, this eff... (Below threshold)

By the same token, this effects the world of gemstones, too.

Aluminum Oxide = Corundum (which is Sapphire). Pure Corundum is clear or "colorless". Add other mineral contaminants and you'll get blue sapphires, yellow sapphires, or pink sapphires (just about any color is possible)...and, in fact, bi- or tri-colored sapphires are a reality. Another fact is: Red Corundum = Ruby. Ruby and Sapphire are Corundum and are brother & sister gems. They're related!

Pure Topaz works the same way... and pure Beryl: Green beryl is Emerald, Blue Beryl is Aquamarine and Red Beryl (the rarest of colors) is Bixbite a mineral found only in Utah and quite expensive!

Quartz: purple quarts is Amethyst, Yellow-Green quartz is Oro Verde Quartz, Yellow-orange Quartz is Citrine, etc...

So, to me purity in a natural sense has little appeal when the "variations" themselves are so appealing. Without the various contaminants in the soil of this earth, we wouldn't have all the lovely and exotic gemstones. Remember, almost all gems are a mix of minerals or chemical elements. Only pure white (or colorless) diamonds are singlularly elemental -- that being pure carbon. Even colored diamonds are mixed with other chemicals in the soil.

Spiritual "purity", on the other hand, is more important to me.

John makes an interesting p... (Below threshold)

John makes an interesting point- it costs more and more to get progressively higher levels of purity. In some cases, it matters, in most, the cost curve and the benefit curve cross far earlier.

The second law of thermodynamics works against you too- even a perfect crystal (wrt composition) will have defects in its structure at any temperature above absolute zero. Brr.

Biology seems to be thinking this direction as well- since a big hunk of real estate in our guts is devoted to the liver, responsible for detoxification.

Jay,Without contex... (Below threshold)


Without context, it is hard to argue or refute your point, but I would like to add something to it. I agree that having idealogical purity in a party will kill it. Just look at the Dems. On the other hand, Republicans (and other parties) should have the backbone to drop kick self-aggrandizing "moderates", such as McCain, because while they might be bulk in the political diet, they are a withered, unhealthy form of lettuce. There is a huge difference between being a leader and being a maverick. Leaders bring new ideas to the table and convince others of the merits of following them. Mavericks, like McCain, just go off in their own direction causing more damage to their cause than helping. Yes, they might have a few sycophant followers, but mavericks are not leaders.

What good does it do for Re... (Below threshold)

What good does it do for Republicans to win elections if we capitulate on every single point? Elections are won so that you can do something in the 2/4/6 years that you are elected to. Balancing the judiciary was an important one until the Gang of 12 gave Harry Reid exactly what he wanted: a pass to filibuster Supreme Court appointments. "Impurity" and differences of opinion are fine but backbone is important, too, and we should remember that in the 2008 primaries.


Oh grumble grumble, I thoug... (Below threshold)

Oh grumble grumble, I thought Kevin had a wonderful point when applied to idealogical purity, but I see the "yeah buts" have already started pushing back.

Am I the ONLY genuine conservative commenting here that DOESN'T get upset with the notion that compromise and negotiation are useful tools in the arsenal of the governing majority?

"Am I the ONLY genuine c... (Below threshold)

"Am I the ONLY genuine conservative commenting here that DOESN'T get upset with the notion that compromise and negotiation are useful tools in the arsenal of the governing majority?"


GAWWWWDBLESSYA Mike. Hope ... (Below threshold)

GAWWWWDBLESSYA Mike. Hope ya got a good helmet, budy.

Wavemaker:I now we... (Below threshold)


I now wear two Kevlar helmets at the same time, in order to tolerate all the 2X4's whacking me over the head for defending the filibuster compromise over at Ace of Spades. So excuse me if I leave it to you to be the voice of sanity on this site. My ears are ringing.

And pardon me whilst I get ... (Below threshold)

And pardon me whilst I get out my personal ClueBat for use on those who support the Seven Dwarfs.

In politics, there are votes, and then there are votes. What the Seven Dwarfs did was tantamount to what Jumpin' Jim Jeffords did back in 2001 - he handed over actual control of the Senate to Daschle and the Donks.

The Seven Dwarfs have now ceded de facto control of the Senate to Dingy Harry. That compromise was a direct slap in the face to the POTUS and to the Republican Party, an organization which poured millions of dollars and uncounted man-hours to get these chuckleheads elected and/or re-elected.

Quite frankly, those assholes should be tossed out of the GOP bag and baggage. Their action has so pissed off and demoralized the base (including myself) that it is only through the magic of Howard Dean that the GOP stands any chance of retaining either chamber in 2006.

The GOP base has worked too damned hard in the last two election cycles to see the possibility of a balancing of the bench be destroyed because of McCain's Personal Strawberry Hunt.

How many does the GOP have to elect to the Senate before they get true control? 60? 65? 70?!?

This constitutional option vote was an opportunity for Republicans to act like Republicans.

Regrettably, they did so.

THUNK!*Michael adj... (Below threshold)


*Michael adjusts helmuts*

Didn't hurt at all. Just another conservative wingnut venting his spleen. Doesn't bother me at all. Just wish my ears would stop ringing.

The fact is that the so-called "compromise" on the filibuster is a bunch of meaningless blather that doesn't add anything to the Senate's "advice and consent" power. It just allowed everyone to retreat from the field without too much indignity, and in the meantime we get a bunch of conservative judges approved.

How bad is that?

I hope that all of those de... (Below threshold)

I hope that all of those defenders of the filibuster 'compromise' will still be so satisfied in '06 or '08 when the trend of Republicans picking up seats in Congress comes to an abrupt end because of all those Republicans who got turned off by Snow Reid and the Seven Dwarves and simply stay at home.

The Republican Party found out about the joys of compromise in '92, when they sold out their base to please their moderates. Remember what happened then, Mike? Remember how well THAT adventure in collegiality turned out? Well you don't have to, because you're about to see it happen all over again.

THUNK!Hardly felt ... (Below threshold)


Hardly felt it, Dave, even though I agree that '92 was a disaster. This is just not the same situation.

The fact is that t... (Below threshold)
The fact is that the so-called "compromise" on the filibuster is a bunch of meaningless blather that doesn't add anything to the Senate's "advice and consent" power. It just allowed everyone to retreat from the field without too much indignity, and in the meantime we get a bunch of conservative judges approved.

I wasn't aware that three out of seven constituted a "bunch." I suppose if you are playing baseball it's a pretty good average, but that also means that over 50% of the candidates you send up get put in judicial confirmation limbo - approved by the Judiciary Committee, waiting for debate on the floor while Sheets reads from the Canterbury Tales.

As to whether this is "another conservative wingnut" venting his spleen or not, your rather trite analogy doesn't get in the way of pure, hard facts.

So put on your helmet, pragmatist boy, as the facts is this: As of right now, the Republican Party, having won 54 seats in the Senate, is now in the effective legislative minority. It will probably require Dingy Harry filibustering the promotion of anyone outside of Ruth Bader Ginsburg for promotion to Chief when Rehnquist moves on for you folks to get that through your plastic-encased skulls.

Unless, of course, you're fine with the Executive Branch submitting its judicial nominees to a self-appointed group of "moderates". If that is the case, then there is nothing that can convince you, for your head is far too gone in the clouds of "pragmatism" to see what is happening in front of your face.

Winning elections matter. Winning elections - especially the Presidency - should not require asking "mother, may I" to a bunch of self-styled kingmakers.

THUNK!I'm actually... (Below threshold)


I'm actually starting to enjoy this, JD. I must be some kind of masochist.

Or, I'm just not an idiot like you. So, stop and think tactically for a moment. The real issue is the upcoming Supreme Court nominee. And whether the Republicans can get away with the nuclear option when the Dems opt out of the deal because they brand the nominee as too extreme.

No, don't touch your keyboard. Stop and think.

Hey WQvemaker.You'... (Below threshold)

Hey WQvemaker.

You're supposed to be dealing with the retards on this site.

I suspect Michael is right,... (Below threshold)

I suspect Michael is right, this is all about the inevitable Supreme Court nomination. Something tells me that this "compromise" is going to wind up being another Bush-style rope-a-dope manuever. The Democrats will believe they've won the day right up until they overplay their hands and walk away with nothing.

'Just another conservative ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

'Just another conservative wingnut venting his spleen.'

'Or, I'm just not an idiot like you.'

'You're supposed to be dealing with the retards on this site.'

Why doesn't Michael just give his point of view and stop with the childish name-calling? This isn't D.U.

Why doesn't Micha... (Below threshold)

Why doesn't Michael just give his point of view and stop with the childish name-calling? i>

Well, Les, because I'm basically childish. It's a gift. It's why I know that you have a small penis.

C'mon. This is the internet. We're supposed to be having fun.

That's all well and good, M... (Below threshold)

That's all well and good, Michael, except that I don't consider people I disagree with as "idiots" or as having a "small penis." The fact that you do suggests to me that the problem lies with your argumentation abilities, and not with those who disagree with you.

Here's the challenge for YOU to stop and think for a moment: What on earth makes you think that the signatories on the MOU will vote for cloture in any situation, whatsoever?

Read the MOU. Was there anything in that MOU regarding USSC justices? No. It just covered the three named judges, Rogers-Brown, Owen and Pryor. It also effectively threw Saad and Myers under the bus. It left the definition of "extreme" circumstances entirely under the subjective approach of THE DONKS!

IOW, there is no reason for any of the signatories of the MOU to invoke cloture on any judicial filibuster. There is absolutely no legal reason for them to do so. And now that they are the Talk Of The Town in DC, there is also no social reason for them to do so, either.

Bottom line - IMHO, you are dead wrong on this one. You can point fingers and call me silly names all you want, but the facts and the history are on my side of the argument. And that's not going to change no matter how many schoolyard insults you throw up into my (or anyone else's) face.

I supported the Republican ... (Below threshold)

I supported the Republican Party because at one time their ideals relatively represented mine.

Now the Democrats are becoming Socialists (or God knows what?) and the Republicans are becoming Democrats to opportunistically fill the void being created.

So I'm suppose to piss on everything I believe is right and stick with the Replicrats because its more important that the name 'Republican' controls the House & Presidency eventhough in spirit they will have little in common with what I liked about the Party when I first align with it (or what many other assume it is still like).

I see the McCain, Guiliani, & Arnold writing on the wall. That's not who I am. It's not who many other are. They have yet to realize what is going on. I suspect many see this opportunity as cementing Republican dominance for decades.

Go blindly down this path and there will be a Third Party from the split of the Republican Party.

Nice. A D.U.er or a KosKid.... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Nice. A D.U.er or a KosKid.
Adults play here, Mikey. Come back when you are one.

"Bottom line - IMHO, you... (Below threshold)

"Bottom line - IMHO, you are dead wrong on this one. You can point fingers and call me silly names all you want, but the facts and the history are on my side "

We'll see. Maybe you're right. But take note of my email address, so you can apologize later on.

Hmmmm.Three is not... (Below threshold)


Three is not a "bunch".

Considering that Bush has nominated over 200 judges in his Presidency, I suspect that far more liberal judges have been appointed than *three*.

As I've pointed out elsewhere I could've gotten the same result from a Democrat controlled senate. All the current defintion of "negotiation" and "bipartisanship" means is that Democrats/liberals get what they want and conservatives get screwed.

Frankly I want no part of it. Once the GOP can show that it is capable of actually confronting the Democrats, and actually implementing at least one conservative issue, then I'll reconsider my support.

Until then the GOP can go screw itself.

"That's all well and goo... (Below threshold)

"That's all well and good, Michael, except that I don't consider people I disagree with as "idiots" or as having a "small penis." "

Neither do I. Good Grief. You guys are way too serious for late-night blogging. Can't take a penis joke? I made fun of my own here:


Hey Les:I loved... (Below threshold)

Hey Les:

I loved the episode where Johney Fever jumped behind the couch to hide from the phone cops. Being a former phone cop myself, I thought this was hilarious.

Michael, we can "take a pen... (Below threshold)

Michael, we can "take a penis joke"... we just have NO respect for a clown who throws them into a serious commentary.

Jeez Mike, I went to bed to... (Below threshold)

Jeez Mike, I went to bed too early.

Well, comments here are no different from the blogosphere at large --- conservatives differ on whether the MoU was a good idea or a lousy idea. I took the position in No Squish Here that supporting the preservation of the filibuster did not make one a "squish." You might go there and review Russell Kirk's Ten Principles of Conservatism.

As far as the notion that this compromise would result in the loss (or failure to gain) of seats in a Congressional election cycle is rather farfetched. Adamancy of opinion here notwithstanding, the vast majority of people who vote in Congressional elections do not make their choices based upon a candidate's position on a particular issue, certainly not one as arcane or obscure as the Senate's rules -- and even, dare I say, whether or not the President gets to put a right winger on the Supreme Court. And if anyone IS paying attention to such issues, bear in mind that Congressmen have nothing to do with the Senate's advice and consent --

Remember that the theme of Jay's post is PURITY -- idealogical purity -- and I think he hit the nail on the (not Mike's) head when he said "chasing away people is not a very good way to expand one's influence and advance one's agenda."

Senators represent only the people of their home states. It is to them, and only them, that Senators answer every six years. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins would not survive a re-election in Maine hewing the party-line you fellas advocate. Ditto Linc Chaffee. Do you really prefer getting rid of them (RINOs, you may call them, as if you own the only true definition of what a Republican is) is preferable?

Don't like the idea of The Big Tent? Would we be at 55 without it? Prefer your ideaology monolithicly applied?

President Reagan proved tha... (Below threshold)

President Reagan proved that uncompromising Conservative principles are more appealing to a majority of people when communicated well and without the MSM's left-skewing filter.

Regardless, on the MoU, it is not idealogical purity that makes many of us hold our nose, it's the complete capitulation. Read the damn thing. The Republicans got nothing that they wouldn't have gotten if they had gone ahead and adjusted the rules. In fact, they got less. That really doesn't matter though, as Frist can implement the rule change if the Dems try to filibuster Meyers and Saad. McCain's dirty dozen+2 have only bought some time and gotten their faces plastered all over the papers. And there inlies their real motivation behind the compromise.

I ask you, who was being uncompromising before the MoU, the Dems or the Reps? Through 4 years of declining power in the Senate and the loss of their Senate leader, the Dems continued to do everything they could to stymie the Republican majority. They would not have been as effective had McCain and his ilk been more concerned for getting the Republican agenda through (or at least the parts with which they agreed) over the constant whining and objections of the minority than looking good for the press.

It would be different if the Dems had been presenting alternatives for the past 4 years, but you can't negotiate and compromise with someone whose only answer to every question is "no". That is, you can't make a compromise with them without complete capitulation.

The MoU? It was an opportunity to slap the Dems down hard. They've been pissing on the rugs, chewing up the slippers, and drinking out of the toilet for far too long. Frist was just wielding his rolled up newspaper and ready to smack them on the nose when McCain came along and snatched it out of his hand.

What on earth makes you ... (Below threshold)
Michael A. Meyer:

What on earth makes you think that the signatories on the MOU will vote for cloture in any situation, whatsoever?

I don't necessarily think that. I have no idea what they are going to do. And that doesn't change my position.

I'll try one more time to explain (seriously, no jokes or insults) why I'm pretty relaxed about the so-called compromise.

The Dems had a stroke of genius when they came up with the phrase "nuclear option." In my view, the real nuclear option was their strategy of repeatedly abusing the filibuster. An up-or-down vote on judicial nominees ought to considered business as usual, not nuclear.

Nevertheless, the term stuck and the PR battle was lost. The nuclear option was widely unpopular, and Republicans were reasonably concerned that it would galvanize the Democratic base and possibly influence swing voters who might (unfairly) be concerned that Republicans were appointing "extreme" judges.

The Dems, on the other hand, were losing political capital with a large segment of the public who were fed up with their unprecedented obstructionist tactics.

The whole fracas was a lose-lose situation; neither side was really scoring any points. So both sides decided to quit.

Which is really all the compromise amounts to. Neither side really gave up much of anything. They just decided to keep their powder dry for another day. Like a nomination to the Supreme Court.

Thus, my conclusion is: No big deal. Just politics as usual. If we're going to pull the trigger on the nuclear option, let's do so to get the right kind of judge on the Supreme Court.

KB, it's all a matter of pe... (Below threshold)

KB, it's all a matter of perspective, my man. Your reading of the MoU is certainly one of the more pessimistic, other pundits have a rosier take on it. I think it's a combination of (as they say) "kicking the can down the road" (which is harmless) and avoiding the uncertainty of a close vote, which, if lost (and there was a genuine risk of losing), would have had some real impact.

I'm just glad we all rememb... (Below threshold)

I'm just glad we all remember that the last time the filibuster was used in this way, it was by the same senators now calling for its removal.

I'm just glad that we all r... (Below threshold)

I'm just glad that we all remember that the last time an attempt was made to change the filibuster rule in this way, it was by some of the same senators now howling about "214 years of tradition" and "comity".






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