Introspective open thread

Introspective open thread


This thread on Paul Ryan’s SOTU response took a detour when Loviatar described Kranky Kritter as a “sensible conservative”.

Kranky refuted the statement and, after some back and forth, Loviatar asserted that Donklephant is a center-right blog and that Kranky is clearly conservative.

There was some more back and forth, I jumped in to give my perspective of this blog and Kranky’s “Devil’s Advocating” and Kranky ultimately described himself as:

an independent and a utilitarian first, rather than as a centrist.

I’d like to humbly ask Kranky to tell us why he prefers to think of himself this way and where and how this perspective fits into the current political landscape.

I’d also like to invite all the regular posters and commenters to tell us how you think of yourself and why.

I think each of us could point to another Donklephanter and say “left” or “right” but that doesn’t address any nuance (real or perceived) and I’m curious to see how everybody in this community likes to think about themselves (and what everybody else thinks about these self-perspectives).

We come here for a reason. We tolerate opposing points of view with poise and grace, and sometimes we even learn something here at the Donk.

Sometime today (when my four year old isn’t demanding I “take her to the ball” and then go sledding) I’ll tell you my story – which, over the past 2 years, has been significantly influenced by the dialogue here.

Have fun and be nice!

  • Rich Horton

    How I see it:

    Justin: Ceter/Left, but comes across more left than center.
    Donar: Left
    Michael: Center/Right, but comes across more right than center.
    Myself: Center/Right, but comes across more right than center.

    As Justin is the dominate voice on the blog, Donklephant comes across more Donkey and less Elephant.

    It could only by viewed as “conservtive” by a Marxist.

  • Jim S

    It could only by viewed as “conservtive” by a Marxist.

    I hope that Rich doesn't have a problem understanding why he comes across as a real right winger.

  • Jim S

    Man, I really wish we could edit our own posts.

  • Jim S

    I think that I’m viewed as a liberal in large part because I just don’t buy into what I see as the basis for conservative thought. Their economics, IMO, is that an overarching philosophy that guides their beliefs concerning economics, which is a very narrow view of what capitalism consists of, is an eternal truth, unchanged by changes in our world that have occurred since the days of Adam Smith and David Ricardo. They do not believe that either the modern global economic insfrastructure (That neither 18th Century economist could have foreseen.) or changes in technology that would have been equally unforeseeable to those who created the foundation for our understanding of capitalism means that some assumptions need to be re-examined in the light of new data. I also don’t care for the extremely strong influence of the religious right that has grown considerably since I started voting in the 1970’s. I don’t think you can seriously claim you support individual freedom and constrict the freedom of others in the name of “decency” as defined by conservative Christianity. The Republican Party does believe this, including the Pauls, who are far too commonly referred to as libertarians when they are not.

  • Rich Horton

    “I hope that Rich doesn’t have a problem understanding why he comes across as a real right winger.”

    No, its just that anyone who reads Justin’s posts and thinks “he’s SO conservative” (as opposed to centrist or center/left) must be looking at it from a perspective so far left it would fall in the Marxian camp. For example, I dont believe Bernie Sanders would read Justin’s work and declare him as anything other than a liberal in the American political context. So, you tell me, what’s LEFT of Sanders?

    I guess believing terms have meanings makes me a raving reactionary.

  • Jim S

    But the question is, what do you think a real Marxist believes?

  • Jacob

    Rich: Agreed about Justin. No right-thinking person is gonna peg him as a conservative. But what is your definition of “Center/Right”? You say that you come off as more Right, so can you tell why you put the Center in there?

    Jim S: Thanks for the insight. I can’t speak to the economic argument you make, only to ask you to be more specific in your descriptions. Subsequent to that, I’d love to hear MW’s or Tully’s take.

    About me:

    I mentioned I have a degree in Government and Public Policy. My passion is Political Philosophy, human nature, tragedy of the commons kind of stuff.

    I grew up Republican. I changed teams sometime after ’94. By 2000 I was like a reformed whore – if Republicanism was my whoring. I spent the next 8 years as a thoughtless partisan for the left. There was no middle ground, I had nothing but vitriol for the right and lived in this unburstable liberal bubble where nobody on the right had anything worthwhile to contribute.

    I stumbled upon Donklephant through a link from Crooks and Liars and the thoughtful, respectful, honest dialogue brought me back to reality. The past couple of years reading the threads here, following the links and participating in the dialogue has honed my critical thinking and made me optimistic for the future of the country that I truly love.

    More about me:

    I’m a bit of a Pollyanna

    I would prefer a 3-dimensional analogical model of the political spectrum. To describe myself as Center/Left would be wrong, instead draw lines from these three points on the right and these six points on the left, where they intersect is me.

    I’m pro-life and believe that abortion should be 100% legal. I don’t think there’s a contradiction there.

    I’m pro-gun. I hope to God that we never have to rise up against our government, but I’m not naive enough ignore the history of CIVILIZATION and dismiss it as out of the realm of possibility. If it does happen – we’re going to need assault weapons, RPG’s … the works.

    That last one’s gonna get my name put on a list

    I believe we could make a single-payer, universal health care system work in this country. And I believe we should.

    Where do you think I’m right? Where am I wrong? What more should I say?

  • WHQ

    I’m a liberal, or a progressive, depending on how you define those things.

    I don’t know that the labels are all that useful, since I have specific views on specific issues, which might not line up with someone else’s expectations as based on those labels. I mean, people who apply those labels to themselves don’t always agree with each other on what they mean, let alone with people who use them as insults.

    I’m also a pragmatist, and a partisan as I think necessary at any given time. Right now I think the GOP is in an intellectual funk, so, right now, I’m agin’ ’em. But many of my views would have been shared with many Republicans, say, 30 years ago. And the Democrats don’t give me much of a warm, fuzzy feeling most of the time, either, sometimes because they aren’t strong enough in their liberal convictions, and sometimes because they are, only in self-defeating and un-pragmatic ways.

    It’s a tough nut, this politics thing.

  • michael mcEachran

    I want desperately to be conservative. I believe in small(er) government, lower taxes, a libertarian sense of keeping other people’s opinions and policies out of my personal life. I believe in good business, fair play, and free markets. I believe in strong, sane, defense, and loath the idea of nationbuilding. In most respects, I feel like a conservative. I also feel sometimes like I live in bizarro land where the “conservative” party says they believe in these things but creates policy that are exactly the opposite.

    I am agry at the Republicans, the religious right, anti-intellectualism, FOX News hypocracy, and the win-at-all-costs-and-the-country-be-damned mentalityof the right wing. The only sanity I have seen in politics over the last two decades has come primarily from National Democrats. (I am generally an skeptical of local Dems – I live in NYC, FYI). George Bush II put me over the edge. I’m not sure when I’ll forgive the right wing for that one, and I still think they owe this country a formal appology.

    Anger aside, I’m center right, anti-religious, science advocate, with a sane tinge of libertarianism.

  • Solomon Kleinsmith

    Having read this blog for years… this does seem to me to be more of a left leaning site, but well within the “big tent centrist” or moderate range.

    I also agree that you’d have to be pretty left wing if you read this blog and saw a conservative site. Not necessarily a Marxist, but certainly someone who’s view is so skewed by their ideology that it twists what they see here far out of proportion.

  • kranky kritter

    It’s interesting to ask folks where they think they stand politically. It’s also interesting to ask them to look at which party or parties they have actually voted for in governor’s, congressional, and Presidential elections. Here’s the thing: among folks who identify as philosophically independent, there’s a rough third on each side who are, functionally speaking, partisans.

    In other words, if you think you are an independent but have voted for one party over the other almost every single time, maybe you need to be a little more honest about yourself.

  • Mike A.

    I don’t know what I am, at this point. Used to consider myself to be fiscally conservative, socially liberal. That was up to the point where fiscal conservatism morphed into allowing out of control spending on defense (and offense) while simultaneously slashing or privatizing all social safety nets. Since then, I have become more progressive and have accepted that government truly has a role to play in our lives and our businesses.

  • Rich Horton

    @ Jacob,

    I’ve found that in the midst of debates online, particularly on a site like this one, I trend to being contrarian. Sometimes I simply poke at people to see if I can get a reaction (I’m SUCH a jerk sometimes), but mostly I’m interested to see how people defend their opinions. Its a professional liability. I’m a professor of philosophy and political science who mostly teaches college freshmen and sophomores intro Philosophy (mostly political) classes, and Political Ideologies. So its my job to poke holes into over-inflated and ill-formed opinions, not because I’m going to replace it with THE TRUTH, but because I want my students to be able to better support their own arguments and opinions. I also believe being able to better do that will also make it more likely they could engage in the occasional round of critical self examination.

    My centrist credentials center around my utter rejection of utopian schemes of either the left or right, and my embracing the bulwarks of liberal society (i.e. a Millian defense of freedom of thought/speech, and the defense of minority rights from majoritarian overreach.)

  • kranky kritter

    I grew up blue collar and was the first in my family to finish 4-year college. I worked in deeply male subculture while living at home and paying my own way through college. So I had the almost daily experience of being insufficiently liberal at school and then becoming the archliberal at work and at home.

    I posted and them blogged for some time at the centrist coalition, and became quite agnostic on the merits of that formulation. Branding yourself a centrist or a moderate leaves you open to all sorts of unpleasant attacks from partisans about being mushy, unable to make a decision, always wanting to imply split the difference,and so on. Though these canards are easily enough refuted, they’re a nuisance.

    That’s why I prefer the independent moniker. It rejects both partisan views without implying that your political views are a matter of averaging I am in the middle on some issues, but on others I strongly agree with one side or the other. For instance, I am pretty conservative on money and other numbers issues. But I am pretty liberal on some aspects of social issues.

    As part of earning my master’s in critical and creative thinking, I took two semesters of something called the dialogue process. My primary takeaway from that was that conflict can’t be resolved without a commitment from both sides to a good faith process of setting aside blame while doing one’s best to understand and respect the insights and issues of the other side.

    That’s one of the reasons why I have repeatedly encouraged Donklephant to have a weekly open thread on the chance that it would build some general good will. talking about beer and movies and weather and what your area is like helps us to see each other as fellow citizens. And for some reason, getting a recommendation for a good beer makes you less likely to call someone a douchebag. And that’s a good thing.

    As to the utilitarian moniker? I sometimes think it’s in my DNA. But maybe part of it has to do with the joy of being able to achieve excellence in those few areas that are really under my control. Critical Thinking pedagogy says that thinking should start with open and uncritical info-gathering, and then maybe move to the consideration and application of appropriate models. Importantly, it also says that critical thinking should often be decision-oriented.

    As a utilitarian, than makes me always ask “will that work?” Over time, it means I spend a ton of time looking at ideas that failed when they were applied, and looking for patterns. Which leads me to thinking a lot about human motivation and the limits of idealism in light of my evolving best estimate of human nature.

    In areas where I come across as conservative, it often has to do with my skepticism that some ideal can be achieved, because people aren’t up to the task. When it comes to economic issues, my sense is that liberal ideology fails to account for the true nature of human motivation.

    In areas where I come across as liberal, it either means that I’m more personally able to be idealistic, or maybe that I think an important ideal that has proven its efficacy is underappreciated by conservatives. For example, I think many social conservatives fail to appreciate just how much the antiestablishment clause has helped us thrive in comparison to nations where the government and religion are bundled in one app.

    It’s sort of a shame that one of religion’s main bugs is an overemphasis on methodology over the establishment of useful social mores and norms. That means that we lots of folks arguing about which religion is the right story, and not enough of us focusing on which values and virtues we’d like to emerge, and how.

  • kranky kritter

    Rich, it’s really hard not to be a contrarian in blog comments, ain’t it? I mean, if you read a post and then the thread comments, usually you’re most compelled to respond to whichever bit seems the most objectionable.

    Some folks have mentioned economic issues here. These days, I find myself thinking that there is an emergent middle on economic issues that is neither financially liberal nor financial conservative, but rather financially responsible. Between partisans, there is this ongoing debate about the appropriate role of government. I see that as philosophical, which makes it an argument that democratic voters can solve via their choices. We get to pick.

    But where we don’t get to pick is in the domain of solvency and sustainability. Over the long term, we ‘ll get only what we can afford, and no more.

    Now, I’ll happily grant that when we choose which government philosophy we want, there’s an interaction effect with economic growth and competition between nations.

    Even so, I think we need to come together on balancing inputs and outputs first and foremost. And that doing so means that BOTH sides should be willing to compromise a little on the philosophical issue because it’s less important than the solvency/sustainability issue.

  • michael mcEachran

    Kranky – I’m a big fan of Boddington’s Pub Ale. I recommend it highly.

  • WHQ

    I just had Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale from Yards Brewing Company (Philadelphia) this weekend. They have a line of “Ales of the Revolution,” based on recipies from some of the founding fathers.

    I previously had Poor Richard’s (i.e. Ben Franklin’s) Tavern Spruce Ale, which used spruce sprigs as a substitute for hops. It was interesting, but I won’t drink it again. TJ’s brew is way better, and strong (8% ABV).

    I still have to try George Washington’s Tavern Porter. Maybe I’ll have that during the Super Bowl.

  • WHQ

    Oh, I almost forgot: Kranky, you’re a doucebag!

  • WHQ

    or douchebag…

  • kranky kritter

    Kind of interesting to see someone else marketing beer on the basis of american history, like Sam Adams.

    Are the brews mentioned here regional?I have a good “packie” (what a liquor store is called in ny neck o the woods) with lots of American craft beers. Most of them seem to come from the new england states and new york. For imported beers, the majority of the 4 and 6 back stuff is the usual suspects. There are lots of interesting single bottle imported beers, but most of them are over 10 bucks each. If you do the math on the number of ounces and the higher alcohol content, they’re probably not that much more pricey. But I’m still hesitant.

    I did buy that Maredsous Tripel, but I want to share that with someone else. It’s a lot more fun to try something unusual when you can try it with someone else and compare perceptions.

    Pine as beer flavor seems to be an idea more than one brewery is trying. Your experience (interesting, but I won’t try it again) is enough to make me wait until someone else offers it to me. I just caught a “good eats” on smoking which suggested that soft woods like pine were bad for smoking because some chemicals in that type of wood give an off taste. Maybe hard woods are better for beer flavorings.

    The Sam Adams Noble Pils is out again. I though it was awesome last year. This year’s brew has me wondering whether they tweaked the recipe. Last year it felt like a hops punch in the face with a clean finish, This year I don’t get that punch. But it could be that I’ve grown accustomed to a high hops taste as I’ve tried various replacements for the noble pils since it disappeared. I think the regular sierra nevada is among the best. Still do like the noble pils though.

    Another thing i’ve seen tried in beer by several outfits is rye. I really like rye whiskey when I can find it. Michter’s Rye is like momma’s milk, So I tried a Mayflower Rye Ale last fall, and that was very very good. I just tried Wachusett “Ryed” Ale. It’s a nice enough beer, but nothing really stands out in its flavor profile.

    Is Boddington’s domestic or imported?

  • WHQ

    Boddington’s is English. I’d call it a session beer, ’cause you can drink a lot of it. It goes down easy. It comes in generally the same type of can as Guiness Pub Draft, with the nitrogen charge in it. It has the same cascading type of head, which looks weird at first in a beer that isn’t dark brown, but golden. It’s like having only been exposed to chocolate ice cream for your whole life and being served vanilla one day. Same appearance (other than color) and texture, but different color and flavor.

    Michelob, of all brands, had a rye ale I could get for a while called RyePA. It only came in a mixed 12 pack with a pale ale, a porter and a wheat beer. It was pretty damned good, especially for the price. It was 11 and change for the 12 pack. The porter was really good too. And the others weren’t bad. They don’t sell it at my regular store anymore, which was the only place I had ever seen it.

  • Mike A.

    Funny, I just tried the Maredsous Tripel two weekends ago on the recommendation of someone on this site. Really enjoyed it.

  • theWord

    So, you tell me, what’s LEFT of Sanders?

    Most of Western Europe

  • Jacob



    At sites “like this” Time may be the biggest obstacle people face when defending their opinion (or comprehending yours). Thinking clearly is difficult enough, writing concisely and cohesively about your thought could take forever.

    I want my students to be able to better support their own arguments and opinions. I also believe being able to better do that will also make it more likely they could engage in the occasional round of critical self examination.

    Very nice. That’s the purpose of good dialogue, for students and teachers alike.

    Kranky: Thanks. Point well taken about the open thread. I’ll make sure to post one once a week.

    Your Neal Stephenson is showing (“bugs” in religion, “bundled in one app”) I love it!

    Wow. I’d like to try the Ales of the Revolution! A lawyer friend of mine makes Egg Nog every Christmas that he swears is George Washington’s recipe. It’s delicious and packs an unholy wallop.

    My all time favorite craft brewer is Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon – Mirror Pond Pale Ale and The Black Butte Porter. We moved back east about 5 years ago and they haven’t made it to east coast yet, but every December I try to have a 12 pack shipped out for my wife.

    We’ve also been enjoying Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale for the past two holiday seasons. It’s really an excellent beer.

    Thanks everybody for sharing. This was a great thread.

  • Jim S

    The problem with KK’s definition of partisan as someone who votes for a particular party most of the time is that it ignores the passage of time and the changes in the parties. Neither party is like it was when I started voting. I voted for moderate Republicans back then. Democrats were alsoi more liberal then than now, in spite of the claims of the Tea Party and Fox News. In my part of the country there are at this time absolutely no moderate Republicans running for office. Also, the national party is completely dominated by the extremely conservative wing of the party. So no matter what Republican I vote for I am giving power to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. If the Republicans ever become more balanced again then things might change. But I don’t see that happening for years, if ever again in my lifetime.

  • WHQ

    Also, voting patterns are not fine-grained enough to define one as a partisan in a clear way. You might consistently find that one party is (maybe just a bit) better than the other, but you might also disagree with and openly criticize that (perhaps slightly) better party on individual issues regularly, while also occasionally agreeing with and praising that (perhaps slightly) worse party.

    And partisanship isn’t a black/white, yes/no thing. It comes in degrees of strength. For some, party is like religion, in a fundamentalist way. To others, it’s virtually meaningless. Then there’s a bunch of people across the spectrum in between.

  • Mike A.

    I’ve met many people who vote one way in national elections and the other for state and local elections. Is this a centrist approach, a balanced approach or an approach for those who can’t make up their minds?

  • kranky kritter

    Sounds like an independent approach to me. I take every vote on a case by case basis. Party affiliation is seldom a deciding factor. I don’t see what that has to do with being unable to make up your mind. To the contrary, it has much to do with being eager to make up your OWN mind. If you’re choosing a candidate based on party affiliation, then you’re using the party as proxy instead of making your own informed decision.

    I’ve tried SN celebration and liked it, but I think their regular pale ale is better.

    Jim, your point about the passage of time is well taken. I wasn’t trying to define anything, though. Only pointing out that for some folks their self-image may be belied by their actions. There are plenty of folks who identify as independent, but still vote exclusively for one party. There’s nothing wrong with getting someone to notice that while they think they’re an independent, they vote like a partisan.

  • Jim S

    I even voted for Jim Inhofe as mayor of Tulsa. Nowadays I think the man needs a straightjacket and nice quiet place to live out his life while he rants about how most of the climatologists in the world are involved in a massive conspiracy.

  • blackout

    @KK: “if you think you are an independent but have voted for one party over the other almost every single time, maybe you need to be a little more honest about yourself.”

    I’m not sure that follows, and you’d absolutely have to qualify it as separate examinations of voting records in local, state and federal categories. For some of the same reasons WHQ and Mick McE cite above, voting for the GOP on the federal level has been difficult for me, though Ohio has fortunately proposed some reasonable conservatives since I relocated here including Rob Portman and (yes, he’s reasonable to me) John Boehner. Sadly I live in Jean Schmidt’s district and had to vote for the idealistic and inexperienced Surya Yalamanchili in an ‘anyone but Schmidt’ bid. In terms of state and local office my voting record is much more varied, and a function of both parties proposing strong candidates. Cincinnati’s city council is interesting as there is a consistent third party presence in the form of the Charterites. They’re less motivated by the entrenched partisanship of the lib-con members, and, unlike lib-cons, they’re rarely using the seat as a springboard to higher office. Regardless, our local politicians are a rather feckless lot, symptomatic of the lack of consensus seen in many such cities dealing with the inevitable tension between the urban core and the rapidly metastasizing suburban and exurban rings.

    I feel that ideologies are insufficient at best, and damagingly contradictory at worst. Anyone who reads history knows the crucial role that party politics has played in shaping the nation, but we also see that parties shift and change over time, or simply die. At this point I can’t help but feel that movement and identity politics has become perilously counter-productive.

    Think about the assumptions implicit in Kranky writing, “It rejects both partisan views”, and how that speaks to the corner into which we’ve painted ourselves. Framing every issue as having two sides is at the root of our problems, and works only to divide and alienate us. The possible saving grace of a diverse constituency under each tent has been undermined by purification efforts in each camp.

    I grew up in a very educated extended family with political views that run the gamut. I have conservatives in my family that are just this side of Birchers, though most were what would have been referred to as New England Republicans before they went to the way of the dodo. Those of my parents generation, like many baby Boomers, tended to be concerned with social justice to a far greater degree than their elders, and that added a necessary dimension to my worldview. It’s to my benefit I think that politics was almost never spoken of in terms of parties, but rather in terms of problem solving, logic, and the mediation of self-interest and our obligation to others. I’ve never been affiliated with a party and have little interest in them outside of morbid curiosity and the necessity of remaining informed.

    I haven’t had much beer the last few months thanks to a stab at solidarity with my pregnant wife, but when I do indulge my go-to brews are anything by regional stalwarts Great Lakes Brewing Co. out of Cleveland and Bell’s out of Kalamazoo. I also highly recommend the Suffolk-based St. Peters. For IPA fans theirs is remarkably smooth for the genre, and their bottling is absolutely beautiful. The best new brew I was introduced last year was New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk. I’d advise trying to find it on draft.

  • kranky kritter

    Old school New England republicans are not quite extinct. Scott Brown is a good example, along with Olympia Snowe, and losing gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker seems to fit that mold.

    The breed is sort of bipolar, though. To be a viable candidate for congress or governor you need brad appeal, and that means either not having or obscuring any very socially conservative views.

    But farther down the ticket, parochialism reigns, and you run into some scary ideologues. As a result, here in MA the GOP is mostly a sad joke. They’ve been an afterthought in our state legislature for an entire generation, and they won’t make a comeback until they star to match the brand of the figures further up the ticket. I hate to oversimplify it, but really boils down to stressing fiscal issues and leaving old school social conservatism (pro-life, anti-gay, bible thumping) at the door. But grassroots stalwarts are loathe to let that happen.

    And it’s really a shame. Not because the really kooky conservatives are excluded. Not at all. Eff them. It’s because one-party rule hasn’t done anyone any good. Too many of our democrats are lazy, indulgent, entitled, and prone to overweening nannyism. We lack any vital ongoing competitive dialogue. Some times I wish I lived in a swing state.

  • WHQ


    New Jersey is somewhat of a swing state, but the local levels are still dominated by Democrats in the areas near NYC and Philly, so you end up with the same lazy, indulgent, entitled Democrats, though I’d replace the nannyism with cronyism. I live in the Philly area, where one-party rule is alive and well, swing state or no.

    But I know what you mean.

  • theWord

    New Jersey is also the home of best-selling author Snooki :-)

    Philly is home to my favorite bar in the US and the only place you’d ever need to go for Beer. Eulogy Bar. Home to the 300 Best Beers You’ve Never Heard Of.

  • WHQ

    I’ve been to Eulogy. It’s one of the places in the world where I can go and feel completely at peace, especially on a nice spring day. Monk’s is another good one in Philly. You can get some pretty damned good food at either one, too, which helps maintain the constitution when swilling strong beers. Man, I don’t feel like being at work right now.

  • kranky kritter

    And I’ll add cronyism to my list as well. That’s one of the worst features of one-party rule…the iffy relationships grow stronger and more crooked.

    It’s not even that one party is necessarily less corrupt than the other. It’s that switching which party is in power is like flushing the toilet, so you can start with a clean bowl for the new dump.

    We’ve had a number of corruption cases here, The last 3 state speakers have resigned in disgrace IIRC. Awarding big no bid contracts to buddies, caught cheating on redistricting, that sort of stuff. The latest is a big story about blatant ongoing patronage in the parole department, which was the preferred dumping ground for unskilled relatives of state reps and their big campaign contributors.

    And the local GOP has been so inept that it still has only 25% of the state rep seats.

  • theWord

    And what were your favorite ales and food at said establishment? Say Hi to Dave from his friend in Chicago next time you are there

  • WHQ

    I honestly don’t remember what I ate at Eulogy. I just remember liking it a lot. It was a while ago. It might have been a really good burger. That just sparked something – really good fries. I remember them, with remoulade sauce.

    At Monk’s, the mussels are a must.

    I usually go with something from Belgium at either bar, but I think I tried Old Rasputin Imperial Stout for the first time at Eulogy. That creepy face on the label drew me in. And how can you not try something with a name like that? It’s hard to pick favorites, but Chimay is always a safe bet. I also like those strong beers from Quebec, primarily Fin Du Monde.

    I’m a little low on cash right now, so my next trip to Eulogy might not be for a while, but I’ll ask for Dave if I remember.

  • Mike A.

    Been to Eulogy (from NJ). Good belgium beer. Trappist beers are still my favorite. FWIW andy religion that includes brewing beer is probably the best spiritual fit for me. There’s another bar close to the art museum that has good beer…but can’t remember the name. Philly’s a good city.

  • WHQ

    Bishop’s Collar? There’s a Belgian bar not too far that I’ve been to, but I can’t remember the name. Brigid’s? There’s also the Belgian Cafe, but I haven’t been there, at least not since it became the Belgian Cafe, if it’s where I think it is.

  • Rich Horton

    WHQ said:

    I’ve been to Eulogy. It’s one of the places in the world where I can go and feel completely at peace, especially on a nice spring day. Monk’s is another good one in Philly.

    That’s the sign of a bar that is doing it right. I’ve only been to Philly once (last January in fact), and I didn’t hit Eulogy. But I go to Monk’s before a concert at the Kimmel. Good place. Real good place.

    Speaking of good Beligans… If you ever find yourself in Auckland, New Zealand be sure to hit the Occidental.

    Now, if I could only find a great place here in the Twin Cities (well…. St. Paul really. Minneapolis is simply too far away from home base.) I’ve found a couple of good places…but nothing great yet.

  • Mike A.

    It’s Bishop’s Collar. I’ve been meaning to get there.
    Spent a lot of time in Belgium and really came to appreciate their passion for beer. I’ve been to small pubs where they have over 300 local beers on the menu…and they are always served in the brewer’s custom designed glass. If the glasses are being used (think of their inventory!), you have to wait until one frees up. I’ve had to give the bartender one of my shoes as a deposit to get a Kwok glass, as they are frequently stolen. Wonderful county. Beer is to Beglium as wine is to France. It’s an integral part of their culture.

  • WHQ

    I have a family friend from Jersey who lives in Belgium. He brought be a Leffe glass after seeing me drinking Leffe at one of his parents’ parties. Sadly, it was later broken somehow. Now I have to drink Leffe from a Stella glass that I got at some bar give-away. It’s really a shame … oh, the humanity.

    Seriously, though, he said to me, “Dude, you have to drink Leffe from a Leffe glass. I’ll get you one!”, like it was vitally important to my well-being. He really drank the koolaid, er, um, beer over there.

  • Justin Gardner

    In the ideal state, this site would have contributors from all walks of the political life writing consistently. So it would be completely balanced. I’m not a pure centrist and have never claimed to be. I’m a moderate Dem and that’s what you’ll see from my posts. But as the years go by I’m almost certain you’ll come to think of this site as a place where you can hear from all sides…except the really craven, partisan ones.

    Also, agreed that you’d be hard pressed to describe this as a conservative site unless you’re one of the Daily Kos crowd. But let’s lose the “marxist” labels. Even the more liberal commenters on this site don’t come anywhere close to that. They just don’t like the right’s handling of foreign and domestic policy. And let’s be honest…there’s a lot there to get angry about. Not saying Dems don’t have their faults, but I find it really hard to justify a vote for a Republican politician these days.

  • WHQ

    If you ever find yourself in Auckland, New Zealand

    I wish. Thanks for the tip, though, Rich. It doesn’t seem like a likely prospect for me right now, but one never knows.

  • Rich Horton

    “But let’s lose the “marxist” labels.”

    I don’t think we can and still have an honest discussion. It is a part of the intellectual landscape, like it or not. Someone was buying all those copies of Hardt and Negri’s “Empire” – and at my old bookshop in very Democratic Washington DC there were a LOT of those someones – and that was indeed a Marxist book. I get kids in my classes all the time claiming to be socialists or communists, and they are not talking about Fourier or Eduard Bernstein.

    The only way this site could be attacked as “conservative” would be by a perspective that is attacking liberalism itself. In Marxian terms “clinging” to liberalism would be considered reactionary, i.e. conservative. No other ideological perspective would see it that way.

  • theWord

    So you need some glasses.

    In Iowa City (and you can order online)

    In Portland, OR
    Not sure if they ship but this and the Horse Brass Pub are worth an afternoon’s time if you are ever near.

    At Eulogy the Sausage Trio or the Toasted Cheese (Boursin, Gouda and Cheddar) w/ Applewood Smoked Bacon on Sourdough is to die for.

  • Mike A.

    @WHQ….sounds like it’s time to visit your family friend…recommend a weekend at Brugge….it’s like New Hope (if you know where that is) but much quainter…

  • mw

    As I may have mentioned on this site from time to time, I find it expedient to change sides depending on the current situation. I used to be a card carrying member in good standing of the Illuminati, but have since become a confirmed Discordian.

    Red Seal Ale out of North Coast Brewing in Mendocino Country is my favorite brew in a bottle. It is particularly good on a sunny day on the tee at the turn, or on the beach after getting out of the water with a limit of abalone. fnord. Actually – under those conditions, it is perfection in a bottle.