Wednesday, January 12, 2005




When I used to live in Pasadena, I subscribed to the local paper. Often they published the articles of Gerald Plessner. Mr. Plessner has been consistently described as a local businessman and commentator. I always thought he should be described as "uninformed and emotive thinker of the left."

After I moved to Glendale, I switched papers taken at the homestead from the anti-Semitic and liberal Los Angeles Times to the Los Angeles Daily News. Unfortunately, the Daily News is no longer the center-right answer to the Times. Once I discovered this, I simply read the sports and comic pages, leaving the internet, radio, magazines and journals as my sources for news (I rarely watch any news on television).

I do not know why, but I actually flipped to the opinion pages of the Daily News on Sunday and saw my old irritant, Gerald Plessner. Here was his latest diatribe advocating the glories of the left, demonizing the right while failing to provide any substance to support either position. (please note that the above link may send you to a differnt column depending on the date on which you click it. If you cannot find the article referenced specifically below, try here.) My responses to his points are in italics.

Latest Commentary

As published in the
Pasadena Star-News - January 6, 2005
San Gabriel Valley Tribune - January 6, 2005
Whittier Daily News - January 6, 2005

What is so wonderful about conservative political ideals?
Gerald Plessner

What is so wonderful about conservative political ideals? I have spent the last two years, on and off, thinking about that question.

After reading the entire commentary, it is obviouis that most of the last two years your brain has been "off."

What was so wonderful about the first third of the Twentieth Century that we should revisit the pain of the Great Depression, the racial hatred and discrimination of Jim Crow or the lack of the medical advancements that save lives today? Should we return to the limited opportunities for women or the neglect of the aged, poor or disabled that was so much more prevalent then?

This paragraph shows the working of a myopic and selective mind. Modern conservatism looks at the totality of the American experience and advocates conserving that which makes America great... like the freedom of the press (established by law in the 18th century) that allows Mr. Plessner to ramble like he does.

What did conservative principles do to rid us of such problems? Did conservatives initiate Social Security, the G.I. Bill of Rights or the Voting Rights Acts? Did they bring us the Internet or enact laws that help deserving young people of all backgrounds go to pre-school or college?

Huh? Mr. Plessner fails to show any knowledge that conservatives, in the modern sense, look back with great pride on what their party, the Republicans, have done.

Let's look at his questions one-by-one:

Conservatives have consistently attacked the socialist Social Security system since its inception (which, by the way, was a scam from its liberal inception by FDR since the average age of those who might qualify at the time of its inception was older than the average age of death) as another tax which has driven up the cost of hiring people. In fact, the original idea of Social Security has been expanded so many times that it is now guaranteed to collapse under its own economic weight unless the United States enacts more taxes which will most likely stifle job growth. For a clear explanation of FDR's errors on Social Security and many other economic issues, one should read Jim Powell's FDR's Folly.

The G.I. Bill of Rights: Conservatives like this one! In fact, they have recently supported its extension to include all four years of college according to the Navy recruiter who presented in my classroom about two months ago.

The Voting Rights Act: Plessner's selective amnesia is readily apparent on this topic. It was the REPUBLICAN party that led the charge against slavery and for the adoption of the 13th and 14th Amendments. Conservative DEMOCRATS attempted to block the civil rights laws of DEMOCRAT President Johnson in the 1960s. Republicans took up the mantle and led the charge in face of DEMOCRATIC opposition in the Senate.

The Internet: Who are you? Al Gore's lackey? You cannot be serious!

Democrats help people go to pre-school and college: Yes, and conservatives sacrifice "black, brown, red and yellow" babies on the altar of capitalism while decorating the grounds of the racist temple with crosses filled with minorities on fire. Please, if you do not want to cite specifics, don't slam the opposition.

I asked a number of friends who know history to tell me what advancements of science or human understanding, exclusive of tools of war, were produced under conservative regimes. I got only one answer: "Columbus' voyage to prove the earth was round was financed by a pretty oppressive regime." And that was 500 years ago!

Your friends are either horrifically biased and/or as ignorant as you are.

Although I could list more, I will list one of the best:

The conservative Ronald Reagan won the Cold War based on his Christian driven ideology, thus helping to FREE the lives and souls of hundreds of millions of people. Try reading Paul Kengor's God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life.

Conservatives like to view progress through a rear-view mirror. Every advancement that makes them uncomfortable prompts a yearning for the good old days, for a return to the traditional values of another time.

Conservatives like to know where they are now by understanding from where they came. This does not mean that conservatives necessarily like all that preceeded them. If one latches on to a dictionary defintion of conservatism, which, it appears, Mr. Plessner has done, it is easy although irresponsible, to lambast Conservatives. The "conservative" armament systems (like the ones proposed by F. Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson) helped create a system that Reagan evenutally used to win the cold war. Additionally much of the pending on the military also led to many innovations in modern life that we all enjoy (like faster plane travel, better computers, advances in medicine, etc).

But the good old days are what you get on Main Street at Disneyland. The rear-view mentality is of little value in our daily lives. People need progress to prosper, not withdrawal from the real world. Progress calls for investment, research and experimentation. It requires an open mind, even when results don't fit our established beliefs and ideas. It commands and produces ingenuity which benefits everyone.

Mr. Plessner's conclusion: Conservatives withdraw from the real world. Let's apply that... The following nations have withdrawn from the real world on the issue of terrorism (but not from the oil-for-food scam): France, Russia, China, Germany...

Mr. Plessner cannot discern the difference between having an open mind and having holes in one's head.

Progress is the rising tide that Ronald Reagan spoke of so eloquently --- the one that raises all ships.

Contrary to what too many conservatives seem to think, progress is a good thing. And government actions which support progress and not curtail it are a good thing as well.

Mr. Plessner's citing of Ronald Reagan on economics is akin to Stalin citing Cornelius Vanderbilt on secondary eduation. Of course, Plessner cites Reagan out of historical context in order to "prove" his point.

That is why it is worrisome to contemplate the near future when the following might happen:


Well, at least his scare tactics are consistent with the MODERN Democratic Party during elections

A group of lawyers --- states' rights conservatives --- are seeking to bring cases to the Supreme Court that would repeal the social legislation of the New Deal. They would attack Federal laws that make all states treat certain issues uniformly. They would change laws that give citizens protection from things like discrimination, unsafe working conditions and unfair business practices.

The president's opposition to stem cell research further limits research that might benefit millions of living human beings and the precedent is extended to other issues.

The continued attacks on a woman's right to control her own body and be advised by her doctor without interference from the government, overturns Roe v. Wade.

Religious conservatives continue to attack public education for telling young people the truth about the risks and responsibilities of sexual expression. And after three-quarters of a century of debate, they continue to attack the teaching of evolution, advocating their beliefs over science.

Increased militarism in response to the atrocities of September 11, 2001 result in an ever-growing defense budget that rewards industry at the expense of vital programs that help ordinary citizens.

Civilians in government again manipulate our elected officials and the public, taking the United States into another war to advance their neo-imperialist dreams.

The president's nominees to the Federal bench, and especially the Supreme Court, meet the litmus test of willingness to roll back individual rights such as a woman's right to choose, protections under workplace rules and issues of habeas corpus raised by our response to international terrorism.

Where do conservative principle guide us on such issues? Will they show us what is so wonderful about conservative political ideals?

About the author: Gerald Plessner is a Southern California businessman who writes regularly on issues of politics and culture. He would be pleased to hear from you and may be reached at
Use the below link to link directly to the latest Commentary:


Since his premise is ludicrous, it is only reasonable that his conclusion would match.

I can only pray (a conservative concept) that you reach a conclusion other than Mr. Plessner's.

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