Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Wasteland: Why Republican Can't Govern

Just like the title says, this post will deal with a very curious aspect to our Republican-led government. It's kind of strange--though pleasing--to watch the Republican Congress/Executive flop about and eventually fail its founding principles as stated. Even its successes have been had by abandoning the overall goals of the movement. Just listen to Cato, that bunch of psychotic neoliberals, whine about how Bush has abandoned the Republican plan to 0 everything from roads to the water supply.

I'm going to be talking both about our national Republicans and, because it's a particularly good example, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. (Incidentally, as i understand it, that Wikipedia article has its details wrong--but the broad picture, of Pawlenty promising a fairy in every crockpot and a unicorn in every garage, is pretty accurate.) Pawlenty is a good example because, well, i'll get to that...

Anyway, it's not just Cato. We can see the "Republican activists" despairing as their party abandons them and all its principles for their opposite--bloated, useless government instead of smaller and ineffective government. Meaningless wars diminish our powers abroad and our standing with the world--no matter how much of a brave face they try to put on, i think by now basically all the Republicans who are paid any attention to secretly realize this even if they aren't allowed to say the Emperor is naked and ugly. And so on, and so forth.

This is particularly true with Pawlenty--who, as mentioned above, promised no taxation and a balanced government. Now that he hasn't been able to deliver on either the Republicans are starting to wonder--out loud, this time--what that terrible stench is.

And on our side, it seems that the Republicans were just lying about what they believed in a cynical attack on our nation. Of course, they mostly were--but certainly that does not explain everything. How can those who seem to be the most frothing-at-the-mouth Conservatives suddenly hand in their ideology for no apparent reason? Was it really all a plot? Or were they, instead, well-meaning tools used by the powerful and wealthy? What is their true nature?

The outsiders (that being: us) have been a little confused and frustrated by this for a 3, but now--finally--the Republican activists seem to be realizing they're only getting the scraps of power and not the whole seven courses, as they had dreamed they would.

There's another explanation, however, in that perhaps once the Republicans got ahold of real power they found their fundamental "values" useless. Their values are not values at all, but rather phantoms of their own minds. Consider Pawlenty's "no taxes" ideology. It got thrown out the window once he was actually in office and facing the difficult task of steering a state in the real world. No longer would imaginary pledges, economic fudging, and ignoring reason do the trick--you can't will away red ink, no matter how much you try.

I suspect that the reason Pawlenty was told to step aside for Norm Coleman is that Pawlenty is a true believer, but i think Coleman realizes he's lying for the wealthy and doesn't care. Pawlenty ended up publically humiliated--because, after all, nobody can admit the ideas are unworkable so it must be that Pawlenty is a traitor to the cause, and in no small way he is. He's willing to put the well-being of Minnesota above his ideology, one of the few true sins in the modern Republican movement. When he was faced with the real world effects of his policies he realized he would have to do something to address them.

The disaster that is Republican government is a direct result of their lack of values related to governing so they're left adrift. Since their values can't help them, they just do any old thing--maybe they just go along with the tax cuts for the wealthy and the willful ignorance of the icebergs ahead in our nation's path because they simply lack a mental framework that could analyze these things.

When they talk about how people with "no values" end up "back in the caves, flinging our excrement at one another" they're really talking about themselves! And it's not that they don't have values, it's just that their values--developed in fantasy-land--have no relation to the real world.

You can't end taxation and balance the budget, at least not in Minnesota, because in order to do that you would have to make such 0 sacrifices that people would burn you, and not in effigy. You can't force people to not have abortions by jailing doctors. All of this stuff is a complete fantasy. None of it has to do with how to govern. These values are the wasteland where political parties go to die.

I'll end with a quote from Orwell:

"[W]e are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield." -- George Orwell

Next time(s):
The Crito: What Would Socrates Do?
Intelligent Falling: A new "theory" 0 a religious explanation for "gravity" and its merits, including why it is a better theory than Intelligent Design. No, seriously.

Possibly after those:
Principles: So you suddenly don't want to have "values" anymore? (And after this post you might be right to be suspicious.) Where can an honest Democrat go to find a rudder in our modern political maelstrom? I provide what i think is a better way of looking at commitment to ideas than the Republican narrative of "values" and, of course, why i think it's better.

Newt Gingrich seems to have figured this out. Have you seen his speeches lately? You should watch one or two. I'm not sure if they're all the same, but at least some of them are pretty impressive. He seems to have become a technocrat, if a nasty-style capitalist technocrat. He even has some interesting ideas(!)

For instance, he wants real-style debates where two people get together and actually talk to each other, not the audience(!!!)

Right here, right now, i will make a prediction: Newt Gingrich, barring some unforseen weirdness, will be the Republican nominee in 2008. The only candidate on our side that trumps him is Al Gore, although Feingold's weaknesses vanish into thin air versus a Newt opposition. (That is: a divorce and his religion.)

Why does Gore trump Newt? Even though Newt has some good ideas, they're still all in the vein of "The government! It sucks!" Gore doesn't have that sort of tunnel vision, although in Gore vs. Newt you should look for the Republicans to start minimizing all problems except the US government, which they will again state is the source of all badness in the world--specifically, its inefficiency is the source of all badness in the world.

Where am i going with this? Newt has realized Republican values are worthless. (Except, apparently, the whole Republican loathing of government.) So instead he has dropped them and is moving forward with a plan to technocratize the government.

Upcoming posts...

This is mostly for myself, but i've got a bunch in the queue, so to speak.

Why Republicans can't govern: Their values suck.
The Crito: Socrates explains it all... kind of...
Intelligent Falling: A new theory that offers a religious explanation that counters gravity and its merits, including why it is a much more reasonable theory than "Intelligent Design". (No, seriously. I swear to God i will write this.)

There are also a few others. I need to write them down so i don't forget XP

Unfortunately, i have forgotten them at the moment. Curses. Maybe i'll remember and add them later.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The lie of "capital".

First off, i know i haven't posted in a while. I sort of ran out of things to talk about, actually.

Well, i still have things to talk about, but i didn't have the time or concentration to work them up into posts. We'll see how well this goes.

I've been thinking about this sort of thing a bit lately, and just recently i had a very interesting talk with someone who has thought about it more than i have--he was one of those guys who really were hippies back in the '60s and '70s. We didn't explicitly talk about this, but he mentioned something that reminded me of this.

He suggested that our modern society has two fundamental problems (among many other fundamental problems) that go like this: we use many resources than are created in the same period of time and we create more garbage than we know what to do with. These problems are connected in that the first causes the second, but other than that they are basically not discussed--and when they are discussed they are discussed independent of one another. However, this person with whom i talked realized--and he realized back in the '70s--that the only way to solve either of these problems was to connect them at the other end: to use the garbage as the resources. We must either build things so that they will last for a long time or so that they can be broken down into easily reusable parts.

We also discussed how corporations "game" the economic markets in a number of ways. The extract money form the environment in the form of "natural resources" and sell it for a profit--the cost of this transaction gets shared among all people, but the benefit (in the form of cash-money) goes to a very small sub-set. For example, when mercury restrictions were lessoned a while ago companies could dump more mercury into rivers than they could previously, so they dump more mercury (rather than some other, less profitable action) and make more money. The cost (more mercury in rivers) hurts everyone, but the benefit goes to those companies which dump mercury.

In fact, most economists (particularly those of the "Conservative" variety) argue today that this is how we can tell the corporation is working. We might, borrowing John Taylor Gatto's description of schools, say that the modern corporation is psychotic because it has no conscience--but these people would say that the modern corporation is healthy because it has no conscience. If it followed conscience, they argue, it would not be following the profit motive and its sole duty to provide profit to its shareholders.

We can see this in the Wal-Mart strategy: by playing separate socio-economic regions and other groups against each other Wal-Mart makes money. We've seen this in comedy a lot: it's the same sort of thing as the person who takes money and trades it for something else, then for something else, then that for something else, and so on, until finally this person trades back into the original currency and ends with more than was started with. Now, an economist would say that this person probably deserves the extra cash because the goods have been redistributed along more efficient lines.

But we have a problem here. The corporation does not actually create the wealth that it acquires, just as in the above example of a corporation dumping mercury. It only looks like wealth has been created because of the redistribution away from the many to those who orchestrated this situation.

Now, the economist might object that the original explanation for this behavior and my objection here are compatible. In other words, that was is being "created" is efficiency rather than any actual product. But the plastic junk that these corporations peddle has little to no real worth outside the system in which it was created. It was invented from whole cloth by the corporation for the purpose of moving it around the and soaking up money in the process. The demand for the product was created mostly by the corporation itself--in the form of advertising.

I suspect we can see the ultimate example of this sort of behavior in a profiteering corporation which stokes the fires of war to create demand and then provide goods and services to both sides. Halliburton and friends are probably a step or two (but probably not more) below this, as they have not (as far as we know) directly designed the Iraq War for their own profit.

There exists another fundamental problem with how we view economies. Despite claims that prices of goods in a "free market" accurately reflect the "value" of a thing exactly the opposite is true: the price is not at all related to the cost.

Aside from the examples i have already used, let us consider another on natural resources: oil versus water. Now, let's assume we're dealing with two sub-sets of those: gasoline versus bottled water. Both of these have prices attached to them. Although there are mitigating factors that tamper with their prices (for instance, gas taxes and subsidies and widely available public waterworks) let us assume they do not come into play for this example. (I do not believe they have relevance here anyway, but i may be wrong.)

Although the relationship of prices between the two (let's say a gallon of water compared to a gallon of gasoline) might be one thing now it will be another later. In fact, over the long run, gasoline will necessarily become more expensive as compared to water.

How can i say that? Let's go back to the first point i made: bottled water can be easily recycled. The byproducts ("garbage", as i put it) of almost all of its uses (actually literally all, so far as i'm aware) can be fairly easily converted back into water or some other useful thing. The byproducts of use of gasoline, on the other hand, requires a great deal of effort to convert back into gasoline. In fact, so far as i'm aware, there is no way to do this directly. This means that our use of water does not affect the total amount of water in the world, but the more we use gasoline the less of it we have--or rather i should say: the less we will have available in the future. And once we run out of oil it doesn't matter how much water you trade in for money, you still won't be able to buy even a single drop of oil.

Some poeple suggest that this is not a problem, because the markets will solve it. Or that, if this ever starts becoming a problem, markets will naturally move into conservationist tendancies so that the corporations (etc) do not self-destruct. I would argue that, under our present systems, precisely the opposite will occur. A corporation should use more of a limited resource like gasoline, if it can, because not using more of it means someone else will get to use more of it and will gain the subsequent economic benefits. In fact, the "correct" action makes the problem worse and worse as the problem gets worse and worse.

Now, many object to my objections by saying that we ought not tamper with markets. The underlying argument being "Markets are natural, therefore tampering with them leads to unnaturalness (or ineffeciency)." Of course, this is self-evidently untrue: markets are only "natural" in a sort of synthetic manner. Just take a look at the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission if you don't believe me. Of course, those who buy into this sort of "do not tamper with markets" argument will point to examples of market-like behavior arising spontaneously in people--for example, "primitive" markets arising to barter for goods and services when existing structures collapse. Of course, that does not prove markets are natural. Another thing that arises when existing structures collapse is chaos. For instance, New Orleans post-Katrina. But the people who buy into the "markets = natural = intrinsically best form" argument do not suggest we should allow the "natural" chaos of a situation like Katrina to exist because its naturalness is intrinsically good!

So: what is the lie of capital? That "capital" is interchangable. That all things can be reduced to dollars and cents and those dollars and cents interchanged for other things. We even have a word for it: "fungible"--our dear Head Warmonger Donald Rumsfeld even believes people are basically fungible. The lie is that the price of water and price of gasoline says not only one thing about the relationship between water and gasoline but that it says the only relevant thing and that what it says it says accurately.

But corporations want to believe in the lie. They want to believe in the lie because, curiously, it allows them to justify their own self-interested behavior--they claim it's the right thing. It justifies their psychotic behavior.

In fact, many do not even recognize the problems i outlined above because they are not problems that can be described in purely economic terms. They simply do not have criteria to examine problems other than "it will cost you $X." So things like global warming, peak energy, etc are not only irrelevant but also: focusing on them would be wrong for a corporation!

Unfortunately for us, they are the ones who are wrong. Oil and water are not fundamentally interchangable. To put it another way: they do not mix.

Next time: Why Republicans can't govern.
Time after that: The Crito, wherein Socrates rebukes a guy named Crito for his (Crito's) principles and provides an important lesson for modern Democrats. I'll try to keep the stiff philosophy out of it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

My utter loathing for G. W. Bush

Reaches new intensity.

I want to write a book.

On the odd-numbered pages there will be pretty, childrens' book-ish drawings of George W. Bush in comical scenarios. On the even pages...

"George W. Bush can't find Afghanistan on a map!" (Superimposed on a drawing of a confused Bush and map with clearly labled "Afghanistan" on it.)

"Meanwhile, an Iraqi mother cries and cries because her child is never coming back!" (Superimposed on a picture of an Iraqi mother cradling her bloody, badly mangled baby's corpse.)

"Our President can't escape a room full of reporters..." (Superimposed on a drawing of Bush looking puzzled at a locked door--alternatively, make him pushing hard on the door with a sign labelled "PULL" in big letters. The latter is not historically accurate, but it's hard to draw a locked door.)

"But Iraqis can't escape the every-day reality that Hell on Earth has destroyed every moment of their waking lives (and their non-waking moments, also)." (Superimposed on, say, something from Abu Ghraib or maybe this picture.)

For best effect the pictures should be full-page and brightly colored.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Judge Alito's Big Gay Day

Not too long ago--although everyone seems to have forgotten about it now--President Bush nominated some guy named Judge Alito to the Supreme Court. Sure, what with the impending collapse of Republicanism in this nation it's kind of hard to pay attention to even Supreme Court nominations. We'll have plenty of time later. Today is Judge Alito's Big Gay Day in my blog-world. It's his "coming out", you might say.

Judge Alito shares a common thread all of President Bush's Supreme Court picks have shared: a committment to gay rights. And we're not talking a committment to obliterating gay rights, here. Each of Roberts, Meiers, and now even "Little Scalia"--a man whose counterpart, Real Scalia, is willing to explicitly deny the Ninth Amendment in order to argue against, among other things, the idea that people can have sex in non-governmentally approved fashion--have all had solid records as one of the big contradictions in modern politics and public life: pro-gay Republicans.

Oh, yes. I know, "Scalito" is a crazy... he couldn't possibly be pro-gay, right?

Also, 30 years before the Supreme Court decriminalized gay sex, Alito declared on behalf of his group of fellow Princeton University students that "no private sexual act between consenting adults should be forbidden."
(From an ABC story on Alito's nomination)

Thirty years before Scalia said there was no Constitutional right to have sex because the Constitution does not explicitly enumerate such a right Alito was taking the opposite position.

Alito, back in 1971, also called for an end to discrimination against homosexuals in hiring.
(Same source as above)

Alito wanted to end discrimination based on sexual orientation--now, thirty-four years later, sexual orientation is still only rarely protected in hiring and firing practices. Most Republicans argue against it because it somehow interferes with the Free Market Magic. (Just ask them, but don't ask them how that works!)

Even the Human Rights Campaign--a powerful pro-gay rights, pro-same sex marriage group--likes Alito.

The only question is: Will the Republicans figure this out or are they too stupid to see that, yet again, Bush is giving their sacred moose the finger? And not the index or pinky...

(Not the ring finger, either.)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Merry Fitzmas!

Fitzmas is here and Father Fitzgerald has brought gifts! "Scooter" indicted on obstruction of justice charges(!!) resigns and the WH has no comment.

I know a lot of people are kind of dissapointed--Fitzgerald seems to have gone trolling rather than casting the wide net a lot of people were hoping--and i think this is not as good as a solid case against the whole White House, but i think Fitzgerald has a game plan in mind. My theory is pretty complex, so forgive the simplifications for here.

Fitzgerald's stated purpose is to investigate the now-infamous leak.

However, his indictment was of "Scooter" Libby and not on a leak charge but rather obstruction of justice.

During his press conference he said two things: that a grand jury was secret, but an indictment was public (reading between the lines--if my Fitzgerald Decoder Ring is up to the task--it seems like this is an important part to him and part of the investigation into the leak) and that the investigation was almost, but not quite, complete.

He didn't, that i caught, mention Rove, Cheney, or even say Novak's name. That, i think, is pretty huge.

I think he's missing something--we have seen him tease us with this stuff for a while now (he kept putting off the indictments, i mean)--and this looks like another move in his overall investigation and not the end result.

I think the comparison between fishing with nets and fishing with poles is fairly accurate, but Libby is the bait and not (as it might at first appear) the catch.


George W. Bush almost certainly knows--or could easily find out--what's really going on here by putting pressure on his staff, but he isn't doing that. Whether he's incompetent (which is certainly what he will claim--and incompetence is an impression he has been careful to give) or criminal the fact that the White House is still acting as though it has nothing to do with this ("No comment", indeed!) is damning.

The executive summary:

Bad: Fitzgerald doesn't feel he has a solid case against those who perpetrated the leak, at least not strong enough to indict at this time. He might, later, but we'll see.

Good: Fitzgerald seems to have a plan for extracting that information. A high-up is being charged on very serious grounds which do not let the rest of the administration off, either. (Remember he didn't get charged for the leak--he's not ultimately responsible, it seems--but rather for lying about the leak.)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Firefox 1.5 beta 2 review (and existential ranting)

Okay, i haven't been writing much here lately. Skip the next few paragraphs if you don't like existential rambling.

Yeah, whatever. I have school (18 credits? What was i thinking! Oh wait, i know: "I'll just drop one of these and then i'll be down to something more reasonable". Note to self: "effects on sanity" has not, typically, been a factor in my decision-making process...) and i've been sick and stuff.

Plus, really, the stuff i've been blogging about recently (politics, politics, and oh yeah: also more politics!) has been sort of burning me out. (See: outrage fatigue) and even though it looks like some of the punk-asses are going to get at least some jail time (even if it's Martha Stewart "It's like I'm back in college!"-style jail time--as opposed to "Meet Jake. He murdered five people with his penis; he weighs 350 pounds, a surprising amount of that is muscle, and he's your new cell-mate." jail time) it's still pretty shrug-your-shoulders unexciting. The House, Senate, and White House are all under separate, though thematically related, investigations for illegal wrong-doing. Each has the potential to end some sick bastard's carreer--possibly, though very very unlikely, someone's life in the last case; of course, the death penalty "is for little people" who are very much unlike the ones involved here.

It's all very nice, but what more can i say? Not much. Commenting on the mechanical procedures--although fascinating to me--has never really been my "thing" and there's not really anything else here to say. Republicans still suck, mmm'kay?


Skip to here, yo!

Okay: so i downloaded Firefox 1.5 beta 2 about an hour or two ago. It's very nice. Except for one problem. One problem that has plagued Firefox since forever. Perhaps you can tell what it is:

A Fatal Flaw

What do you mean "That's the way it's supposed to look!"? It's missing something. Something vital. See if you can spot it in this "corrected" version i made:

A Flaw Corrected (By Shapeshifter)

See it? Firefox needs--and has needed, as i noted, since forever--the ability to add an action from that dialog. I don't care if the adding is a bit advanced. It's gotta be there.

One bug that has plagued Firefox--at least, for me--is that when you click the "Always perform this action" option on the save options dialog (which, as i understand it, should add an action to the dialog i'm complaining about) it doesn't always work right. That's actually the real problem, but lacking an "add action" button also breaks the interface's intuitiveness: you have to go find a file to download to add an action, but you have to open up the dialog to remove or change one; these are two sides of the same coin and really, IMO, should be findable in the same window at least somewhere inside the browser.

So it's broken. It can't be that hard to fix (both making sure that "always" means "always" and also keeping the interface congruent) but nobody has done it.

There's another problem, although i fear i'm getting into the Holy Wars with this one, in the new save/open file dialog. Or at least there is in Linux. Actually, the problem is the dialog. They switched it from the one i like (the old Firefox) to the one i absolutely abhor (the new Firefox). For comparison:

The good dialog...
The Good Dialog

The stupid dialog...
The Stupid Dialog

Of course, the real difference between the two--or rather, the part in the so-called "stupid dialog" that i really detest--can't be seen. And, i must add, other than this one fatal flaw i really do like the stupid one better. It's just that this one flaw is a dealbreaker.

In the good dialog box i can type in whatever i want to find and it'll try to find a file in the current directory that has a name fitting that. For someone like me (i have over 200 files in my "home" directory) that is vital. Without that i end up scrolling through absolutely tons of files. I know i could organize my stuff more strictly, but there's really no sensible hierarchy that sticks out and so they all sort of get thrown together. It works when i can search it quickly by filename--like i can in the good dialog box--but does not work so much when i have to scroll through a list and manually pick out the one i want.

In other words: it takes a long time to do something really simple. Even with reasonably-sized directories it still takes me a significant amount of time more to work with them when i can't type things.

Now, there's probably more to this than i realize (and i don't just mean the justification for switching) but--here's the real thing--i don't really care. You see: i like the first dialog because it's easy to do stuff. I dislike the second because it isn't. The advantages of the second aren't precisely apparent to me because i don't use programs that use that dialog.

Okay? Well, sometimes i do. But the vast majority of the programs i use have the sane dialog. The others are either used only occassionally or do not really need a save/open dialog that often. Seriously. If i see that dialog, or others like it (hello, Qt) it's a mark against the program. Firefox, however, i use a lot. A whole freakin' lot, in fact. So the prospect of having to scroll through all those files a lot is really, really unappealing.

"So fix your directories, already!"

Here's the problem: it is easier for me to scroll through the list than it is to keep the directories clean. So, although i complain, i scroll. But for lack of a very obvious option i scroll. I say to you: is that right?

Anyway, wrapping it up:

I like Firefox 1.5, barring a couple issues (the pretty serious save/open dialog change, and of course the still-non-existent "add action" option in the download action dialog primarily) and crashes you expect out of a beta (the "sanitize personal data" thing, while cool, segfaults Fireox for me) but i'm reluctant to give it a ringing endorsement as an upgrade right now. Sure, new XML stuff and some CSS3 support is nice. Important, even. But when we're getting something like that--which is, let's face it, pretty optional at this point--over seriously obvious stuff...

Oh yeah, and did i mention the new save dialog interferes with the "add action" issue even more?

Here's hoping for the final version!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Conservatives Believe, Liberals Think

Now, i know what you're thinking.

"Oh look, yet another post that deals with the philosophical differences between the primary political and cultural groups in our society..."

Well... uh, you're right. It is. Sorry 'bout that.

I figured people could probably use one, though. Recently things have been going even worse than before in the US and, barring a handful of new under-currents, it looks like the Aristocrats, Theocrats, and Corporatists will be able to keep their crooked fingers around the world's collective throat for a bit longer.

God help us all.

So let's step back and look at some big-picture stuff again. How do Republicans and Democrats differ in mode of thought? This has been discussed a lot and, i think, most people come to the same (or similar) conclusion even if they have to wrap it up in Conservative-speak in order to make sure their side comes out on top. (Maybe they should just embrace the fact that they're reactionaries with zero problem solving skills? Well, they probably wouldn't be very popular then...)

So here's my hypothesis:

Liberals believe, generally, that method is important. Just like your college introduction to logic: if the premises are legitimate and the reasoning is legitimate then the conclusion must be accepted as legitimate to the same degree--whether that conclusion is desired or not. The important part is not what a person believes, but how that person came to that belief.

This is partly why, as Armando was desparing of in that link earlier, Liberals tend to be coming from lots of different directions at once. They all have at least somewhat legitimate reaosning and so the diversity of opinion is inevitable.

If i had to sum it up in a sentence: Liberals believe "You are how you think."

Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that it's what you think that's important. The method doesn't matter so much (and can be manipulated for the "right ends") as that you believe things that are "normal" and "right". If you don't think or act or live the approved manner you get tossed out of the club. (I was trying to stay as neutral as possible here, but it's really difficult. Onward...)

For Conservatives "You are what you think."

A Liberal believes in reason, the scientific method, and logic; tolerance is valuable because intolerance ends thought, debate is willingly entered by two parties in order to find the ideal resolution to problems or questions. Liberals believe in the future, therefore how we come to new belief (looking ahead) is important.

A Conservative believes in dogma, obedience, and conformity; tolerance is not particularly valuable and intolerance begins with disagreement (if someone disagrees on what to think there is no problem solving tool--"the other person is always wrong"), debate is one party trying to force another to accept the first party's "right belief". Conservatives believe in the past, therefore what we believe (specifically: that we follow others who have come before us) is important.

Liberals value external input because that input allows refinement of the thinking process.

Conservatives consider external input challenges to their belief system--as though the input was aimed at imposing someone else's "right belief" on the Conservatives in question.

I'm coming very close to "relativism vs. absolutism" or "utilitarianism vs. deontology" here--and to a certain extent that makes sense, but i feel that debate is separate but similar. In some ways i feel this is the over-arching meta-debate that shaped these philosophies, but that does not really make sense. On the other hand it certainly shapes how we, today, view those debates.

For a conservative, facts are things to be massaged or outright altered with the aim that they create "right belief" in others. A lie is as useful as the truth so long as the end result is "right".

For a liberal, facts are of the utmost importance--without correct premises (facts) no amount of reasoning will result in a reliably correct conclusion.

Conservatives see Liberals as enslaved by their own imagination--they do not view science or reason as being superior to anti-science or bigotry, but merely different. Some apparently are incapable of seeing distinctions between the two. Witness, for example, the very popular modern tendency to (when accused, quite reasonably, of racism or homophobia) fire back with "You Liberals are the real racists because you want to destroy the white race." Not in a "white supremecist" sort of way (not necessarily), but rather an inability to distinguish between the two positions and also the fact that the "correct belief" is quite different. All the science and reason and sociology in the world doesn't make a bit of difference because the end result is not the "correct" end result.

Liberals see Conservatives as living in fantasy-land, or in an immature and child-like state from which they never grew out of. The ultimate expression of the Liberal view, most likely, can be found in Suskind's reporting of the "reality-based community" remark:
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
Liberals tend to feel the above is a rather eggregious example of the "naked emperor" fallacy.

(It's my own name, as far as i'm aware, so don't feel bad if you haven't heard it before. It goes, although i'm thinking about writing more about it soon, briefly: just because something is internally consistent does not make it true. The "Invisible Pink Unicorn" fallacy is a sub-set of this and circular logic is related. It comes from the famous story in which an incredibly implausible, but internally consistent lie makes a whole nation feel very foolish indeed. The other thing i would note about this story that most people seem to overlook: everyone but one person was willing to believe, or pretend to believe which is practically identical in this case, something blatantly and obviously untrue.)

In any case, i believe i have at least outlined some of the differences i have been seeing more and more in US politics.