Sometimes I think the biggest obstacle to writing a blog post is the attempt to come up with a pithy title. Well, the hell with that. Have some free ice cream:
First we have a post by Ross Douthat:
- Some advice for Democrats (NYT blogs; mind the dumbworms)
(HT: Andrew Sullivan.)
If Democrats expect to win political battles in an era of divided government, they need to behave as if winning those battles actually matters to them. If they don’t want the Republican Party to demand concessions in exchange for voting to raise the debt ceiling, don’t concede their premise (it’s an odd sort of hostage situation when the hostage seems to want to be there) and enter into months of negotiation over the size and scope of the deficit cuts; do what Bill Clinton did and actually call the Republicans’ bluff. If you want the G.O.P. to agree to a grand bargain on taxes, make it clear that you’re as willing to raise taxes as they are (or at least as Paul Ryan and the House Republicans are) to cut entitlements. If they don’t want Republicans to use what leverage they have against you, then use what leverage you have against them.
This puts me in mind of a blog post I wrote a while back, when Democratic shitbags — by which I mean elected politicians and party apparatchiki, not real people who happen to vote Democratic on a regular basis — were whinging about how doggone unfair it was that Scott Brown had won his by-election, the GOP now had a 41-seat majority in the Senate, and it would be like OMG impossible to pass any bills EVAR. Given the context of the Iraq war, the PATRIOT Act, and the buggaboo-of-the-day Bush tax cuts, I wondered:
If the minority party in the Senate can dictate national policy simply by whispering “filibuster” under a full moon at midnight, why the fuck didn’t [the Democrats] do it when they had the chance?
Fortunately, I have occasional commenters who come in to set me straight. This time, commenter Volkai told me, quite simply:
Because Democrats aren’t dicks [...].
Yeah, how’s that working out for you? We’ve lost a fantastic chance to actually do something about the medium-term debt
problem cataclysmic fuckup because, while the Republican shitbags were trying to figure out how far they could push their platform, the Democratic shitbags engaged in an iterated game of argumentum ad temparantiam. When they “somehow” found themselves pushed into a position in which they actually had to make a stand (turns out Zeno’s Paradox doesn’t apply to the political process), it was too late to do anything more useful than kicking the can down the road a few months.
But that’s totally not a dick move.
Speaking of the debt-ceiling negotiations, Eric Crampton directs us to an outstanding editorial by Dan Gardner on the subject of the New Civility:
- The other side sure does use some ugly rhetoric (Ottawa Citizen — mind the dumbworms)
Referencing the righteously indignant backlash against “violent right-wing rhetoric” after Loughner went apeshit and the now-infamous Joe Nocera “Tea Party terrorists waging debt-ceiling jihad in suicide vests” rant, Gardner writes:
The point here is simply the contrast: At the beginning of the year, liberals passionately condemned the violent rhetoric of conservatives; seven months later, a liberal columnist, in a liberal newspaper, launched a rhetorical blitzkrieg.
Conservatives went bananas, naturally. But liberals? There were hundreds of comments about Nocera’s column in the Times’s website. Most are long, informed, and articulate. Most agree with Nocera that the behaviour of Tea Party Republicans has been astonishingly foolish. (For the record, so do I.) But very, very few condemn Nocera’s language, and most of those appear to have been written by conservatives.
Shitbags demonstrate themselves to be hypocrites; film at eleven.
Identify yourself with a tribe, work passionately for the tribe, make the tribe’s advance your highest goal, and the tribe shapes what you see and think and believe. You still talk of evidence and reason. You insist your beliefs are determined by careful consideration of all the facts and competing arguments. But this is nonsense. In reality, the facts and arguments you cite are determined by your beliefs, and your beliefs are determined by the tribe.
All this is obvious in the other tribe, the bad tribe, the dishonest and deluded tribe. But your tribe is entirely free of this irrationalism. Why, it is precisely because your tribe is reasonable that you adore it.
Am I right? For the committed conservatives among you, were you delighted to read about liberal hypocrisy? Yes, you were.
And you committed liberals: Were you vaguely annoyed? Did you find yourself struggling to come up with some reason why violent rhetoric directed at the other side is completely different than the violent rhetoric of conservatives you condemned seven months ago? Of course you did.
Gosh, it’s a good thing I’m an entirely-rational empiricist anarchocapitalist who Sees Things As They Are and has no connections to anything in the way of knee-jerk tribal-affiliation thinking. (And… sarcasm tag.)
Finally, here’s a Chris Rhodes post that connects a bunch of things I’ve been half-assedly thinking about blogging for a while now:
- When innovation meets the old guard (Techdirt)
By now you’ve probably run into the Wired Khan Academy article, with its rather rosy descriptions of how much bright kids learn from KA and how
Khan’s programmer, Ben Kamens, has heard from teachers who’ve seen Khan Academy presentations and loved the idea but wondered whether they could modify it “to stop students from becoming this advanced.”
Attitudes like those displayed by these notional teachers bite me right on the glans. Rhodes continues, touching on subjects like copyright, law enforcement, and the regulatory state in general:
People get so caught up in “the way things are done” that they can’t possibly comprehend any other way of doing things. Therefore, when you show them a child learning faster than his or her peers, the focus is not on how fantastic it is, but on how we’ll be able to keep that child in the same class as other kids their age. [...] The educational system was created to teach children; now it exists to perpetuate the current educational system.
[...] You can show how an artist is making more money than they ever had before by encouraging sharing rather than sending in the lawyers, and your average maximalist will say, “It’s great that they are making more money, but how do we keep control of the content?” [...]
Laws against child pornography were created to prevent the victimization of children, now we use them to try to ruin the lives of children. We threaten vegetable growers, arrest DIY roofers, and send SWAT teams after orchid importers and raw milk sellers. Our system of law was created to promote justice; now it exists to make criminals.
Perhaps we should make people — or at least adults — pass a comprehensive public choice examination before we let them
vote out in public unsupervised. Of course, I’m one of those snooty Rothbardian anarchocapitalist types who thinks that objective morality derives from the Principle of Nonaggression, so I’ll have to emigrate to a micronation or seastead* where everyone agrees to study public choice or stay at home, and leave the rest of you sorry bastards to wonder why Johnny, who can’t add, is in prison (and on the list of registered sex offenders) for running a lemonade stand.
* Or perhaps New Zealand