Tuesday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Christ is Risen … all together now.
  2. Memory eternal .. in Poland, here and here.
  3. Monkabee #2, heh.
  4. Taxes too high you think? Guess what’s coming down the pike.
  5. Threats on the rise … or at least reports of threats. Those who complain that the GOP is too quick to pull the victim gambit stay silent as their side does.
  6. Kitty got teeth.
  7. Background reading on the VAT tax.
  8. One more from the Gentlemen on porn.
  9. The “anti-Christian position that our beliefs are not chosen?” Huh?
  10. On FDR and the actual “Great” Depression.
  11. Swiss and firearms.
  12. Tea party plug.
  13. Planned Parenthood still spouting nonsense.
  14. I would have guessed 2-4 percent.

43 Responses to Tuesday Highlights

  1. Taxes too high you think?

    For someone who claims not to believe in polling, you sure quote them a lot when you think they support “your side.” I do believe in polling, but this one is worthless. Obviously most people are going to say they think they pay too much in taxes. But then if you ask them if they support budget deficits, well they’re against those too. And spending cuts for programs they like? No way!

    Go poll the line at a movie theater and ask if they think ticket prices are too high. I’m sure you’ll find similar results.

    Threats on the rise … or at least reports of threats.

    WTF? If you think “I do pack, and I will not blink when I’m confronted. … It’s not a threat; it’s a guarantee” is not a threat then you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. The others could very well be threats. Calling Pelosi at home using “extremely crude and vulgar language” sounds like a threat to me. I’m sure you’d feel threatened for your wife if strange men were calling her late at night and screaming obscenities at her.

    Way to come to these monsters’ defense, though. As long as they’re on your side, huh?

    The “anti-Christian position that our beliefs are not chosen?”

    I don’t know what the official position of Christianity on the subject is, if any, but I do think that religious people are much more likely to believe that you can choose what to believe in. That’s because a lot of them have chosen to act and talk and think as if they believe because they believe in belief.

    Think about Pascal’s Wager. It’s incoherent if you can’t choose belief.

    I think you can’t choose what to believe. You can choose what evidence and arguments to expose yourself to, but you believe what you believe. Choosing to believe is really choosing to pretend to believe.

    On FDR and the actual “Great” Depression.

    OMG! A couple who have earned their living pushing right-wing arguments for various think tanks writing in the New York Times — LOL, I’m just kidding, the Wall Street Journal — thinks that a great Democrat wasn’t so great and that mainstream economics and general historical understanding is wrong while right-wing, Austrian-style economics are right?? I’m shocked — SHOCKED! Who could have predicted such a crazy thing? :-)

  2. JA,
    Polls are good to start discussions, which is why I link to them. And yes, people think taxes are too high and government spending is too large. And they’re not wonkish enough by and large to figure out how do to that. So, what?

    Calling Pelosi at home using “extremely crude and vulgar language” sounds like a threat to me.

    For a guy who says “words have meanings” apparently … they don’t. Threat is a word. It has a meaning. Or at least it used to.

    I don’t know what the official position of Christianity on the subject is

    It is my understanding that orthodox Christian teaching is that your choice to believe in Christ and the Resurrection is not made by you.

    On FDR, I’ll have to remember that argument. You used it yesterday but I didn’t get around to noting it on climate. Let’s see this way I can ignore anything coming out of liberal think tanks, academia, and the NYTimes just because their being a particular source disqualifies their argument.

  3. And yes, people think taxes are too high and government spending is too large. And they’re not wonkish enough by and large to figure out how do to that. So, what?

    So it’s silly to point out that they’re against taxes when no kidding — who isn’t, in a vacuum?

    Let’s see this way I can ignore anything coming out of liberal think tanks, academia, and the NYTimes just because their being a particular source disqualifies their argument.

    It’s more that the *only* source for most of these Republican arguments comes from these people paid to make those arguments and is pushed by media organizations dedicated to pushing those arguments. Liberal think tanks are equivalent, yes, but academia and the NYT — not remotely. Academia is a collection of experts. Republicans hate it because reality has a well-known liberal bias, but the experts on most subjects really do support the Dem side. That’s why Republicans have to be so anti-intellectual and anti-elite. The NYT is a center-right organization militarily, center economically, and center-left socially. Comparing it to the WSJ op-ed page is insanely dishonest.

    How many frickin’ former Bush staffers write regularly for the NYT? 3? Some left-wing equivalent of the WSJ. Come on, even most of the right knows that the WSJ op-ed page is propaganda.

  4. JA,
    In a vacuum? Why do you think the question is absent context?

    It’s more that the *only* source for most of these Republican arguments

    Untrue. The “expert” economic unravelling of the consequences of FDRs policies and the end of the Depression is not settled … even if you pretend it is not. So in this case, you’re claim that the “only” source for dissent are conservative think tanks is just wrong. It really seems to me that your entire argument here is not merrely it’s a conservative idea and therefore it is wrong.

  5. How many frickin’ former Bush staffers write regularly for the NYT? 3? Some left-wing equivalent of the WSJ. Come on, even most of the right knows that the WSJ op-ed page is propaganda.

    When the NYT conducts itself like the WSJ’s editorial page I’ll be happy to dismiss it from serious consideration. Likewise if CNN conducts itself like Fox News I’ll have no problem with it not being taken seriously any more. I refuse to allow them to be considered equilivant simply because the right likes to pretend they are.

    In a vacuum? Why do you think the question is absent context?

    Ask people “would you like to have an operation?” and most would say no. Does this indicate a huge groundswell of support for the ideas of Christian Science?

    Untrue. The “expert” economic unravelling of the consequences of FDRs policies and the end of the Depression is not settled … even if you pretend it is not.

    Simply pointing out that an area of inquiry is ‘unsettled’ does nothing to bolster the credibility of an ‘alternative theory’.

  6. In a vacuum? Why do you think the question is absent context?

    Boonton covered this pretty well, but I’ll just add that by “in a vacuum” I meant that there was no concept of a tradeoff in the question. (At least according to the blogpost that you quote or to the article to which it links.) “Do you think taxes are too high?” will get you a different answer than “Would you prefer to have lower taxes if it meant cutting the military?” which would get a different answer than “would you prefer to have lower taxes if it meant cutting Medicaid.” “Do you think taxes are too high?” is like asking “Would you like it if you made twice as much money?” Uh, sure.

    So in this case, you’re claim that the “only” source for dissent are conservative think tanks is just wrong.

    How about the “primary” source? And not just think tanks, but the WSJ op-ed page, FOX, and Republican operatives, of course. Haven’t you noticed that on issue after issue, Republicans have to find a way to argue that the majority of non-partisan experts on the subject are wrong and that their paid “experts” are right? Really, it’s ridiculous. They have to maintain that the media are left-biased, academia is left-biased, scientists are left-biased, the entertainment industry is left-biased, the AMA is left-biased, all industrialized nations other than the U.S. are left-biased, etc. etc.

    Is that really a more parsimonious (or true) explanation than the idea that the American right is just wrong on most issues?

  7. JA,
    It seems to me the implicit context is how much you pay vs how much value you perceive being given. Feeling that taxes are too high comes as a corollary to historically high dissatisfaction with government performance.

    They have to maintain that the media are left-biased, academia is left-biased, scientists are left-biased, the entertainment industry is left-biased, the AMA is left-biased, all industrialized nations other than the U.S. are left-biased, etc. etc.

    Which of these do you think is true? Just curious.

    Boonton,
    I’m not a consumer of news TV, but I get snippets in hotels/airports when travelling (the former more often Fox the latter CNN). Granting that limited sample, I did spend 30 minutes one evening waiting for a flight actually paying some attention to CNN and considering bias. I thought it clearly evident if not always in their presentation but more clearly in their selection of what stories to present and the implicit POV. Look, here’s the thing, you (both actually) are liberals. I submit it is harder for you to perceive implicit biases that agree with yours than not. You see FOX as horribly biased (and I’m talking about their news not opinion shows). What you don’t realise (apparently) it seems is that half of the country sees CNN/NBC/ABC/CBS/MSNBC as just as biased in the other direction as FOX because of our particular bias. Here’s an experiment for you. Imagine that there were a half dozen FOX news outlets and only one that you saw as slightly biased to your POV and One (or two) newspapers instead of 40. Would you complain then that the one or two newspapers don’t provide an “opposing” staff a problem? Or would you more reasonably offer that the opposing slant is well represented already. You don’t need to seek it out, it’s not hard to find.

  8. Except CNN simply does not equal Fox in its bias. CNN+NBC+ABC+CBS does not equal Fox in its bias. I’m sorry it just doesn’t and you’re asking me to accept it on faith that I just can’t see it because I’m biased. Since we are talking about a totally subjective experience I suppose there’s no way to settle this argument.

  9. It seems to me the implicit context is how much you pay vs how much value you perceive being given. Feeling that taxes are too high comes as a corollary to historically high dissatisfaction with government performance.

    That’s a good point. Still, it doesn’t do too much good to say taxes are too high when nobody can agree on what spending should be cut.

    Which of these do you think is true? Just curious.

    Well it’s hard to say. What’s biased? Is it left-biased for 90-whatever% of climate scientists to believe in global warming? Is it left-biased for the majority of economists to think that legal and illegal immigration provide a net-plus to the economy? Is it left-biased for the AMA to support universal health care coverage?

    How do you tell the difference between believing something out of bias and believing something because that’s what the evidence shows, and it just so happens that Republicans believe the opposite thing?

    Probably 99.99% of doctors think that smoking seriously increases your risk of lung-cancer. Are they left-biased because the scientist you linked to the other day believes that it doesn’t?

    Academia certainly leans left. I’d say they are even biased that way, to some extent. However, that’s probably because conservatives have been opposed to every new piece of understanding academia has ever given to the world. You’ve just got the chicken and the egg mixed up.

    The media do not at all lean left. The NYT takes the right-wing side of incredibly important issues (Iraq war, torture, some economic stuff) all the time. The WSJ NEVER takes the left-wing side. Isn’t that a crazy coincidence? Even by accident, they never take the left-wing side? Is that because the left-wing side is always wrong?

  10. JA,

    Still, it doesn’t do too much good to say taxes are too high when nobody can agree on what spending should be cut.

    A general agreement that spending should be cut is a good starting point. Then it’s just horse-trading and politics to figure out what to cut.

    As for your discussion about Liberal/Progressive/Left and various categories, I’m very very confused. I asked you to consider the media, academia, scientists, entertainment industry, the AMA and other industrialized nations as compared with the US norms regarding being L/P/L and you gave the answer above. Now, if you asked me, being conservative vs L/P/L is a measure of how you view structures and institutions set up before, how you view the power of the state, how you view our ability to effect societal changes purposefully for the better. And for those answers, conservatives have different stock answers to those questions. Yet, in your answer, you offer,

    Is it left-biased for 90-whatever% of climate scientists to believe in global warming? Is it left-biased for the majority of economists to think that legal and illegal immigration provide a net-plus to the economy? Is it left-biased for the AMA to support universal health care coverage?

    As I said, I don’t understand your response. So let me re-ask the question. For the 6 groups of people do you think compared to the median US position are these more or less liberal in the context of the three questions posed (past institutions, power of state, ability to effect purposeful change)? I think it is indisputable that these groups are more liberal and it is not even a question that can be resonably disputed, although apparently as you demonstrated the question can be mocked.

    As for the WSJ, do you read the WSJ regularly? Do you really want to take the position the WSJ “never” takes the left wing side. Did you read for instance today’s op-ed about ways to wean ourself from foreign oil? Let’s see, alternative fuels, plug in hyrbrids and electric only vehicles, converting trucks and buses to CH4, methane -> methanol conversion … this is “right wing side only” stuff? Really? That’s just today.

  11. or the 6 groups of people do you think compared to the median US position are these more or less liberal in the context of the three questions posed

    You and I agree that they are more liberal. I’m arguing that they are more liberal not because they are biased but because they are knowledgeable. It’s the median US position that is out of whack. Compared to the median British position or the median German position or the median French position, these groups are not more liberal.

    That’s my whole point — they seem biased to you because your particular group is an outlier that just happens to be overrepresented in America, in the same way (and probably for similar reasons) that religiosity is overrepresented in America compared to other industrialized nations.

    Look, over half of Americans do not believe in evolution. Does that mean that if the WaPo believes that evolution is true, they’re biased?

    Weaning ourselves off foreign oil is not a left-only issue. Everybody agrees on that one.

  12. JA,

    Weaning ourselves off foreign oil is not a left-only issue. Everybody agrees on that one.

    Everybody agrees that plugin hybrids and electric vehicles are the way to go? News to me.

    I’m arguing that they are more liberal not because they are biased but because they are knowledgeable.

    That statement is just wrong. As I defined it (and you did not disagree) the difference between conservative/liberal hinged on three things:

    1. view of the value of set institutions and structures.
    2. view toward the power of the state to effect good things.
    3. view of our ability to effect purposeful changes for the better.

    I’d argue, especially in the light of the 20th century in which a big liberal push/program ended with 100s of milions killed, that any knowledgeable person should be conservative seeing that basically every big thing that went wrong in the last 100 years has been a result of liberal overreach.

  13. As I defined it (and you did not disagree) the difference between conservative/liberal hinged on three things:

    1. view of the value of set institutions and structures.
    2. view toward the power of the state to effect good things.
    3. view of our ability to effect purposeful changes for the better.

    In this case climate scientists would not be learning left. As far as I know their general consensus is that CO2 (and other gasses) cause global warming which has the potential to be very costly. I’m not aware of any general consensus among them on the structure of institutions, the power of the state etc.

    I think you reveal what is becoming a real problem IMO….where right wing or conservative isn’t so much about a view of those three things but a feeling that one has the right to a preferred set of facts.

  14. Boonton,
    I think climate scientists lean left as give by the criteria above, but not by virtue of their view on AGW, which is what confused me about JA’s reply, which cited the same. Do you think they do not?

    I think you reveal what is becoming a real problem IMO….where right wing or conservative isn’t so much about a view of those three things but a feeling that one has the right to a preferred set of facts.

    Cite? Or do you just prefer believing that.

  15. Everybody agrees that plugin hybrids and electric vehicles are the way to go? News to me.

    Who opposes them??

    That statement is just wrong. As I defined it (and you did not disagree) the difference between conservative/liberal hinged on three things:

    1. view of the value of set institutions and structures.
    2. view toward the power of the state to effect good things.
    3. view of our ability to effect purposeful changes for the better.

    I don’t approach things from a philosophical level the way that you do. I’m more concerned with the facts on the ground, i.e. reality. And the facts on the ground are that the Republicans are factually incorrect on a number of issues and that to the extent that academia disagrees with them, it’s largely because of that fact. Economists don’t disagree with the Austrians because they’re biased but because they’re more empirical than the Austrians, who seem to have a disdain for empiricism. Scientists don’t disagree with the climate change deniers because they’re biased but because of their models and their empirical data.

    (Social conservatism is a somewhat different story, and I would agree that academia and the media are “biased” against it, mostly because both fields attract people who place value on open-mindedness rather than dogma, while social conservatism is all about dogma. You may claim that it’s about traditions and institutions, but conservatives are very selective about *which* traditions and institutions.)

    I’d argue, especially in the light of the 20th century in which a big liberal push/program ended with 100s of milions killed, that any knowledgeable person should be conservative seeing that basically every big thing that went wrong in the last 100 years has been a result of liberal overreach.

    *eyeroll*

  16. I think climate scientists lean left as give by the criteria above, but not by virtue of their view on AGW, which is what confused me about JA’s reply, which cited the same. Do you think they do not?

    The criteria you gave above has nothing to do with global warming. What exactly does the power of the state to effect good things, our ability to effect purposeful change for the better, and ‘the value of set institution and structures’ have to do with the nature of the CO2 molecule and the dynamics of infrared light?

  17. JA,
    Facts are meaningless without theory. What you measure and find significant is driven by theory. Now, you can say you are driven entirely by empiricism and not by theory, but that just means you’re not examining and testing your theory at all.

    Look, if you’re going to sit there and argue that every good thing in society has occurred because of liberal/progressive reforms, it seems only right to inform you that basically every bad change in society has also occurred as a result of liberal/progressive reforms. Now, if “eyeroll” is your preferred response to that, perhaps my initial response to your claim should have been “eyeroll” instead, no?

    Oh, btw, regarding your claim that the WSF “never” has left opinion pieces, this weekend the Journal published a Penn Jillette opinion piece. Is he a noted conservative? or not?

    Boonton,

    I think you reveal what is becoming a real problem IMO….where right wing or conservative isn’t so much about a view of those three things but a feeling that one has the right to a preferred set of facts.

    That goes for the left too. What’s your point?

    The criteria you gave above has nothing to do with global warming.

    I agree. Which is why I was confused when JA offered climate science re AGW as an example. I offered that 6 institutions leaned left, and to counter that JA started talking about AGW and other things, your criticism needs to be aimed at him.

  18. Facts are meaningless without theory. What you measure and find significant is driven by theory. Now, you can say you are driven entirely by empiricism and not by theory, but that just means you’re not examining and testing your theory at all.

    Sure, theories based on facts (like Keynesian economics) are very useful. Theories not based on facts (Austrian economics, although I might be overstating a little) are not.

    Look, if you’re going to sit there and argue that every good thing in society has occurred because of liberal/progressive reforms

    *Every* good thing? I’m not arguing that at all. A lot of good things? Yes, of course. That’s simply historical record.

    it seems only right to inform you that basically every bad change in society has also occurred as a result of liberal/progressive reforms. Now, if “eyeroll” is your preferred response to that, perhaps my initial response to your claim should have been “eyeroll” instead, no?

    The eyeroll was at your feigned inability to distinguish between democratic liberalism and totalitarian communism.

    Oh, btw, regarding your claim that the WSF “never” has left opinion pieces, this weekend the Journal published a Penn Jillette opinion piece. Is he a noted conservative? or not?

    “Never” was probably an overstatement, but Jillette is a noted libertarian. (Even a Libertarian, I think.) He is NOT a liberal.

    Or would you call Ron Paul a liberal? Ayn Rand?

  19. JA,
    No, the eyeroll was to distinguish between democratic liberalism and totalitarian liberalism. As you say that’s simply historical record. To be honest you have to take the bad with the good. You can add prohibition to your democratic liberal list if you wish.

    I guess that means Mr Jillette is a conservative, after all that’s how your target Ms McArdle.

    Ron Paul, Ayn Rand … look at the three criteria and how would they answer.

  20. Mark,

    No, the eyeroll was to distinguish between democratic liberalism and totalitarian liberalism.

    No it was to distinguish between murdering many millions of people and anything the American left has ever done or ever will do. Acting like health care reform might have the unforeseen consequence of leading to mass-murder on an incomprehensible scale is fucking stupid and you know better. The eyeroll was a way to dismiss it without actually calling you out for being fucking stupid. If you prefer this way, okay.

    I guess that means Mr Jillette is a conservative, after all that’s how your target Ms McArdle.

    You want to talk about ivory-tower boxes, but we’re talking about real-world politics. In real-world politics, “conservatives” and “libertarians” have been aligned for some time. We are specifically talking about right-wing propaganda, where of course libertarians are the useful fools of the sort of people the WSJ carries water for. “Conservative” doesn’t even really mean anything, economically, except for some sort of quasi-libertarianism that supports corporations and extremely wealthy people.

    Ron Paul, Ayn Rand … look at the three criteria and how would they answer.

    I don’t accept your three criteria any more than I accept your criteria for intelligent design. They seem aimed more at rhetorical effect than at elucidation.

  21. Sure, theories based on facts (like Keynesian economics) are very useful. Theories not based on facts (Austrian economics, although I might be overstating a little) are not.

    People who turn to economics because they have a financial stake in knowing whats going on (say people making projections of tax revenue, forecasts of corporate profits, projections of future default rates on loans etc.) tend to purchase advice from those using Keynesian models or monetary models (basically the same thing but with more emphasis on monetary policy). The Austrian school seems primarily supported not by those who have a financial need to get the economy as right as possible but have a financial need to be able to quickly purchase rhetorical talking points.

  22. JA,
    Oddly enough, I watched part of a Nova program on ID and Evolution and their definition of ID as presented seemed to match mine quite well.

    So, you figure Mr Jillette regularly votes for GOP candidates? I doubt it too … so what “real world” are you talking about.

    I haven’t pretended that healthcare reform will lead to the unforseen consequence of death camps and the gulag … but hey, if you want to be stupid enough to pretend I did, okay. The totalitarian excesses of the 20th century had the same liberal ideals that the left holds today … the only difference is that the American left has a great deal more restraint.

    I don’t accept your three criteria …

    Then why didn’t we begin by discussing that. Your notion of liberal seems to be that one is a liberal vs conservative if they take particular policy positions, AGW, abortion (?), single payer. Yet how does that translate to an era or time when those particular policy questions are not salient. My three criteria are not aimed at rhetorical effect but moving to a definition that does not depend on particularities of policy. So, I’ll kick it back. Absent particular policy question, i.e., more abstractly, how do you distinguish between conservative and liberal.

  23. So, you figure Mr Jillette regularly votes for GOP candidates? I doubt it too … so what “real world” are you talking about.

    I don’t know if he does or doesn’t (and I can’t figure it out by google and OpenSecrets doesn’t seem to be working) but it’s not relevant. I didn’t say the WSJ is a Republican propaganda outlet. They are propaganda for a particular kind of economics — one without a progressive tax, fewer restraints on businesses, etc. etc.

    The totalitarian excesses of the 20th century had the same liberal ideals that the left holds today …

    Um, yeah. That’s the assumption that’s fucking stupid.

    Your notion of liberal seems to be that one is a liberal vs conservative if they take particular policy positions, AGW, abortion (?), single payer. Yet how does that translate to an era or time when those particular policy questions are not salient.

    Always platonic ideals with you. We’re talking about politics and people’s political views as they stand today. What the underlying philosophies are for “liberal” or “conservative” people is a whole different story that probably goes nowhere but No True Scotsman land.

    My three criteria are not aimed at rhetorical effect but moving to a definition that does not depend on particularities of policy. So, I’ll kick it back. Absent particular policy question, i.e., more abstractly, how do you distinguish between conservative and liberal.

    I don’t think either term has been consistent over time and I don’t think people reason out well-formed philosophies and then come to a decision about whether they are a conservative or a liberal. I think people come to a decision about whether they are a conservative or a liberal (or whatever) and then rationalize those decisions.

  24. JA,

    I didn’t say the WSJ is a Republican propaganda outlet. They are propaganda for a particular kind of economics — one without a progressive tax, fewer restraints on businesses, etc. etc.

    You had said,

    The WSJ NEVER takes the left-wing side. Isn’t that a crazy coincidence? Even by accident, they never take the left-wing side? Is that because the left-wing side is always wrong?

    In the last days since posted, I’ve noted an article supporting CAFE and EV and plugin hybrids as well as alternative fuels (Methane for powering buses trucks for instance) and now another opinion piece by Mr Jillette. It seems to me that just about every day there is at least one piece that doesn’t fit your model. There was also a book review (I bought the book subsequently) of a historical work that works through the thesis that the Russian and Tsar Alexander not the British and Wellington were the primary factor in Napoleon’s downfall. Is that the sort of reading material what you expect offered by a right-wing (or “Soviet/Russia=evil”) mindset?

    Of course in addition you have to either suffer cognitive dissonance or admit there is a problem with your past denial that the left/progressive platform is less conducive to freedom than the right given that you’ve basically said that the libertarian is a fold within the right coalition. The only reason that would occur is if the libertarian (who finds freedom most important) has more common ground with the right than the left.

    As to the “f-ing stupid” remark, you know its sad that today’s kids no so little of the past. It is not by accident that through from the 20s through the 80s the left felt comfortable with the Soviet and Maoist regimes. It’s because they shared goals and aspirations. The American left (more today than in the past) realises the importance of democratic institutions and the evils of totalitarianism. But … calling the notion “f-ing stupid” that today’s progressive/left does not have significant overlap with the aspirations and even rhetoric of the progressive thinkers from the late 19th to the early 20th century is to modify your phrase slightly, resoundingly ignorant.

    I don’t think either term has been consistent over time and I don’t think people reason out well-formed philosophies and then come to a decision about whether they are a conservative or a liberal. I think people come to a decision about whether they are a conservative or a liberal (or whatever) and then rationalize those decisions.

    Well, that seems quite backwards to me.

  25. In the last days since posted, I’ve noted an article supporting CAFE and EV and plugin hybrids as well as alternative fuels (Methane for powering buses trucks for instance) and now another opinion piece by Mr Jillette. It seems to me that just about every day there is at least one piece that doesn’t fit your model.

    You’re mischaracterizing the first piece and Mr Jilette’s piece was in no way left wing.

    There was also a book review

    I was referring to their op-ed page specifically. I know their news department has a good reputation. I don’t know anything about their book reviews.

    you’ve basically said that the libertarian is a fold within the right coalition.

    Mark, I really don’t know what it is. I think I write clearly enough. Libertarians, I said, and I quote, are “useful fools of the sort of people the WSJ carries water for.” Libertarianism itself, as I’ve written many times, lies on an axis orthogonal to the right/left axis opposite totalitarianism. In America, the Democrats are much more libertarian on social issues, for example, than the Republicans are. Libertarians only get “folded into” the right on economic issues, where a hands-off policy favors the powerful and screws the little guy.

    It is not by accident that through from the 20s through the 80s the left felt comfortable with the Soviet and Maoist regimes.

    And here you shift the goalposts to “feeling comfortable” or whatever. The problem with Stalin was that he was a bloodthirsty psychopath not that he supported freaking universal health care. By your logic, vegeterianism could lead to a Holocaust because Hitler was a vegetarian. Or improvements to the trains’ timetables, etc.

    Well, that seems quite backwards to me.

    The real world doesn’t work like the ivory tower.

  26. JA,
    Mr Jillette’s piece was not left wing. It was also not right wing. You stated that they had one POV only on their op-ed pages. Their book reviews are on the op-ed page (on the ebook version anyhow).

    The problem with Stalin was that he was a bloodthirsty psychopath not that he supported freaking universal health care.

    In the previous freakin’ paragraph you note that you think that totalitarianism and the left/right axis are orthogonal. I’m agreeing with you and making the point that the great criminal (yes totalitarian) were also left wing/progressive. On the freakin’ left/right axis they were left. They had the same answers to my ‘abstract’ criteria as you do therefore they were progressives. And why bring up Stalin when I had previously mentioned the founding principals and movements of these regimes. Stalin was 2nd generation … he was not a philosophical founder of the Soviet regime … so why mention him?

    The real world doesn’t work like the ivory tower.

    So, is that how you arrived at your religious and political views. You decided what camp you wanted to join and matched your beliefs to that? Or did you do the reverse? If you did the “reverse” … then why do you suggest the “real world” doesn’t work like we do? Are we not real?

  27. ’m agreeing with you and making the point that the great criminal (yes totalitarian) were also left wing/progressive. On the freakin’ left/right axis they were left. They had the same answers to my ‘abstract’ criteria as you do therefore they were progressives.

    Even if that were true, which it isn’t, how is it remotely relevant? As I wrote above, that’s like pointing out that Hitler was a vegetarian and implying that vegetarianism could lead to another Holocaust?

    And why bring up Stalin when I had previously mentioned the founding principals and movements of these regimes. Stalin was 2nd generation … he was not a philosophical founder of the Soviet regime … so why mention him?

    Because he was the one who killed everybody?

    So, is that how you arrived at your religious and political views. You decided what camp you wanted to join and matched your beliefs to that? Or did you do the reverse? If you did the “reverse” … then why do you suggest the “real world” doesn’t work like we do? Are we not real?

    No, I’m an empiricist. I don’t depend on pure reason (and therefore dubious axioms) the way you do. I started out with a camp that I wanted to live in religiously, because everybody I knew and loved was in it and I had decades of experience and training to remain in it. If I were like most people, I would have just not asked too many questions or parroted the familiar apologetics. But, fortunately or not, I’m not like most people. I have this weird desire to know what’s actually true, not to just believe what’s comfortable. My honest investigation into what’s true led me to atheism.

    Politically, I’ve always been a liberal. My parents are both Democrats, although my father is more conservative while my mom is liberal. However, I applied the same process to my politics that I did to my religion, and my politics (mostly) stood up. (I changed positions on a few issues like gun control.)

    I do think I’m unusual in that respect. Most people seem to be more interested, in practice, in believing what they prefer to believe than in believing in what’s true. Many simply don’t have the skills to do their own critical thinking, while others (you, for example) seem to treat it as a game of who can come up with the most clever rationalization for their already-arrived-at conclusion.

    Just think about the notion of dogma and adiaphora. Nobody like me could even have a category of dogma that they adhere to. It’s just like begging to be wrong about something. The whole notion of being allowed to believe in certain things but not others is ludicrous and incompatible with the honest search for truth.

  28. JA,
    Re: Stalin and “Because he was the one who killed everybody?”

    First off, he wasn’t “the one” who killed everybody. Lenin, Mao, Hitler, and Mussulini and every other Marxist leader killed lots of people. So, given that I spoke of the founding ideas at the turn of the century which proved as the basis for these movements, … why mention Stalin?

    Just think about the notion of dogma and adiaphora. Nobody like me could even have a category of dogma that they adhere to.

    Yet you do. You define liberal, gay rights supporters and many other groups by exactly that principle. Dogmas are doctrines or beliefs that define a group. If you have that beliefs or hold to that practice, then you are “in”. Adiaphora are those things which don’t matter. To be in the US Armed services you have to hold to certain oaths and codes. These are dogmas. You can however like watermelon or not. That is adiaphora. If you look around the notion of dogmas and adiaphora surrounds you everywhere.

    I don’t “depend” on pure reason they way you claim I do. And you don’t hold to pure empiricism the way you claim to either. However, in the we are much alike:

    I have this weird desire to know what’s actually true, not to just believe what’s comfortable. My honest investigation into what’s true led me to atheism.

    Except my investigation led me to a different place. I’m not a Christian because I think it’s comfortable. First of all, it is not (if you do it right) and secondly I believe because I think it is true.

  29. Lenin, Mao, Hitler, and Mussulini and every other Marxist leader

    So *Hitler* was a Marxist now? Mussolini? I’m so tired of these rhetorical games…

    You define liberal, gay rights supporters and many other groups by exactly that principle. Dogmas are doctrines or beliefs that define a group.

    Interesting turn. I was looking at it more as if you’re X, you must believe Y rather than if you believe Y you are X. For me, dogma carries the connotation of claims that you are *obligated* in some way to believe. Yes, liberals are liberal because they believe in liberal things, but there’s no Liberal Church declaring YOU SHALL BELIEVE. On the other hand, you Nicene Christians have a creed. Liberals have no creed.

    Boonton asked what would happen if you came to believe that one of those claims you consider Orthodox dogma is untrue. Hard to imagine you giving such a belief the chance to take root. Wouldn’t you do everything possible to avoid it? Rather than doing everything possible to find out if it’s *actually* true?

    I believe because I think it is true.

    I honestly don’t believe you. You don’t, e.g., believe that Christ was resurrected “because you think it’s true.” I suspect that you believe that because it lets you be a member of this group and lets you attach some kind of grand meaning or purpose to your life. Is that honestly not the case? How sure are you?

  30. Let’s put it this way. Say it turns out we atheists are right and Jesus really was just another mortal and someone could actually convince you of it if you gave them a chance. Would you want to know? Or would you prefer to keep your faith even if it isn’t true?

  31. JA,
    Hitler was a totalitarian progressive, unless of course you think the only 20th century progressives were Marxists.

    If the tomb was not empty then my faith is in vain, it is vanity and lies … and I would not believe. Mother Theresa had doubt. Why do you not think that many of us Christians do not honestly believe as what we do for the same reasons and with the same honesty as you. Why can you not accept that there are people of faith who are honest? I think that superiority complex of yours in that sense is a form of bigotry.

  32. Hitler was a totalitarian progressive,

    WTF Mark. How am I supposed to believe that you come by your positions honestly when you make obviously bullshit, inflammatory arguments like that one? Hitler was the anti-progressive. Progressives are for civil rights and equality. Hitler was for murdering Jews and gays and all kind of “others” that today more or less make up the Democratic party.

    Are you nothing but a pathetic little troll? This is ridiculous!

    Why do you not think that many of us Christians do not honestly believe as what we do for the same reasons and with the same honesty as you.

    Because the things you claim to believe in (virgin births, resurrection, etc.) do not seem believable by an honest, educated person.

  33. JA,
    Uhm, hello? Did you read my criteria for what distinguishes progressive/conservative? Regime change by and large in an of itself is almost always a progressive movement. Progressive is not defined by particular policy it is defined by a movement away from the status quo towards something which is seen as better and which depends on government and institutions to effect that change. How does Hitler not fit that description?

    … do not seem believable by an honest, educated person.

    Oh, please. Grow up. Look around you. The notion that you and those “like” you are the only honest educated people is just backwards bigotry. Your position requires that you insist that any religious person who is as educated (or more) and as smart (or more) than you must be dishonest is not believable by, well, an honest educated person.

  34. If Hitler meets your criteria for being progressive, you need to rethink your criteria. It’s a reductio ad absurdum.

    Your position requires that you insist that any religious person who is as educated (or more) and as smart (or more) than you must be dishonest is not believable by, well, an honest educated person.

    No, I know plenty of intelligent, educated religious people who admit they don’t necessarily believe that Mary was really a virgin or that Jesus was literally God, etc. Even they use some psychological defense mechanisms (e.g. rather than admitting “I don’t believe that” they’ll say “I probably don’t believe that.”) I also know plenty of intelligent, educated religious people who when pressed will admit that they choose not to think about certain questions, etc.

    Honestly, I think most smart, educated religious people who believe in supernatural events like the resurrection and virgin birth are deceiving themselves and are even aware of that deception on some level.

  35. JA,
    Why rethink my criteria? Just to make you feel better about being a progressive? Ms Delsol points out any number of social policy aspirations that go along with the same thoughts from the late 19th -> early 20th that led to the rise of those powers which align quite well with modern progressive trends.

    Honestly, I think most smart, educated religious people who believe in supernatural events like the resurrection and virgin birth are deceiving themselves and are even aware of that deception on some level.

    Which somehow excludes the notion that a smart educated honest person can believe. Which in turn means that in your mind every smart educated believer is either dishonest or fail to reflect on the consequences of their belief. People like Fr Polkinghorne then for you just don’t exist because they are impossible. Your theory needs work.

  36. Why rethink my criteria?

    Because it’s ridiculous to argue that Hitler was a progressive!

    Which somehow excludes the notion that a smart educated honest person can believe.

    Well, what do you think is going on psychologically for an educated smart honest person who believes in, say, Scientology? I’m really asking.

  37. JA,
    Y’all regularly decide who is or isn’t representative or a member of groups to which I belong. Turnabout is fair play, no?

  38. JA,
    I know next to nothing about Scientology. Do you have someone in mind as an example?

    Here’s the thing, I think person who appears to be self-examined, honest and educated … by default should be accepted as such. I think the suggestion that they are by default either intentionally or unaware of self deception and one’s self is not … is either uncharitable and/or as I said bigoted. Racial bigotry depended on a belief that one’s own race as “better” than the other. How is this any different.

  39. Y’all regularly decide who is or isn’t representative or a member of groups to which I belong. Turnabout is fair play, no?

    So you’re just playing some kind of game here?

    Here’s the thing, I think person who appears to be self-examined, honest and educated … by default should be accepted as such.

    I don’t think most religious people appear to be self-examined and honest *about* their religious beliefs. They constantly offer arguments that are ridiculous on their face and have a double standard regarding how they question other religious beliefs and how they question their own.

    Someone in mind? Well there are plenty of celebrity Scientologists. However, even I’ll admit that some of them (Cruise, Travolta) seem just more *weird* than Christians and the rest are probably too obscure. So perhaps we should go with Mormonism, and Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is by all accounts a smart, educated man. And yet he is a Mormon and was in fact a Mormon Bishop at one point. Presumably he believes (or claims to believe) that: Jesus visited the Americas, Joseph Smith’s golden plates, that native Americans are descendants of Jews, etc.

    So what’s your take on that? You think he wholly and honestly believes those things? Or is he lying? Or does he prefer not to think about that? Or is he in psychological denial?

    All I’m saying is it’s probably not that he “wholly and honestly believes those things.” Just as I don’t believe you wholly and honestly believe in the virgin birth. On at least some level, you’re aware of deceiving yourself by at least compartmentalizing.

  40. JA,
    I’m not “playing games”, it was an afterthought not a preplanned rhetorical strategy. That is is occurred to me late in this conversation that your complaint to me mirrored (with roles reversed) a discussion had earlier.

    While I don’t know if Mr Romney is a self-reflective man or whether his actions demonstrate as such .. unlike you who have predetermined that everybody except those who agree with you are self-deceivers or liars (I reserve that sort of judgment only to politicians). This seems to me to be an unreasonable default position, i.e., to assume the other person is unlike yourself.

    Is this an imagination thing? You can’t imagine an intelligent honest self-examined person holds these beliefs therefore that thing must not exist?

  41. Is this an imagination thing? You can’t imagine an intelligent honest self-examined person holds these beliefs therefore that thing must not exist?

    Yes, that’s it. Possibly my imagination is too limited. But I’ve known so many intelligent religious folks and every one of them, in my opinion, AVOIDS asking certain questions and areas of knowledge. They do not want to know. Or they’ll just retreat and retreat until their religious beliefs are indistinguishable from no beliefs. One religious person told me, “Well, I always thought that if there is a God, God is sort of the community.” Another admitted he was a weak deist. Another, a Christian minister, said he “probably doesn’t believe most of the stuff” in the Nicene Creed.

    And those are the sophisticates, the intellectuals.

    I also know some of the Bible Code type guys, even one of the big names in that “field.” The young-Earth creationists. They’re just nuts with very little connection to reality.

    So maybe if I ever met somebody or read somebody who was clearly not just unafraid of the truth but passionate for it who believed, I’d start believing they exist. For now, yes, my imagination is limited. Every intelligent educated believer I’ve personally (or by reading) come across has been either functionally agnostic, blatantly in denial, or avoiding the subject even in his own mind.

  42. Let me put it another way. Everybody I’ve met who’s primarily interested in what’s true is not a believer. Most of the believers I’ve met are primarily interested in believing.

  43. JA,
    You need to get out more. ;) Now, granted I don’t look for people who are not are “primarily interested in believing” … but I’ve never had any real difficulty finding people who are unafraid of introspection at churches I’ve attended.

    You still need to read Fr. Polikinghorne. and Michael Polanyi both of them don’t fit your mold.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>