Monday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. California as the world.
  2. California schools.
  3. The Southwestern US states are not the only ones with water issues.
  4. A word, Coming soon to the US care of your ever-growing government.
  5. The Democrats complained when their remarks during the Iraq fighting were cited as abetting the enemy. Hypocrites.
  6. A canned response for Mr Paul (HT: A Gentleman Ordinary).
  7. The future of iconography … is bright.
  8. A passing noted.
  9. Likely true.
  10. Seeking strategy.
  11. The future of US Medicine … a cash economy. 
  12. Those much touted Iran sanctions, kind of sieve like.
  13. Asking about Ms Clinton.

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22 comments

  1. A canned response for Mr Paul

    A true response for Mr Paul:

    “The reality is, I have no principles. “Libertarianism” is a convenient word to throw around because it lets me oppose popular laws that I don’t like by claiming higher principle. If I had principles, I’d have to support the separation of church and state and gay marriage and ending the drug war and all sorts of things that a genuine libertarian would support. Since I don’t, I get to pick and choose. And I choose to quibble with the Civil Rights Act, because really I don’t think desegregation was such a good idea.”

    Very reminiscent of Republicans who are only fiscal conservatives when the other party is in power.

  2. Boonton says:

    Actually these are deviations from ‘libertarian orthodoxy’ by Paul:

    1. Opposes giving illegal immigrants any reasonable path to lawful status.

    2. Opposes Medicare cuts to physician payments because “physicians should have a comfortable lifestyle”

    3. Opposes drug legalization.

    4. Supports gov’t banning abortion.

    There’s nothing wrong with playing a little “Cafeteria Catholic” and saying you generally support a particular ideology but have several differences with it. I have to wonder, though, if you’re going to deviate from orthodoxy out of political necessity why not make a deviation for the Civil Rights Act, which everyone supports and no one wants to repeal?

  3. why not make a deviation for the Civil Rights Act, which everyone supports and no one wants to repeal?

    Because not “everyone” supports it. There’s a lot more “we want our country back!” folks out there than people might think.

  4. Mark says:

    JA,

    “The reality is, I have no principles.

    If you were a Paul fan you’d call him pragmatic.

  5. Mark says:

    JA,

    There’s a lot more “we want our country back!” folks out there than people might think.

    What leads you to say that?

  6. If you were a Paul fan you’d call him pragmatic.

    If I were a Palin fan I’d call her a genius. WTF?

    What leads you to say that?

    They’re barely hiding it.

  7. Boonton says:

    First you assert you’re against the Civil Rights bill, then you dither about it, then you say you wouldn’t vote to repeal it and you’d would have voted for it in ’68.

    That’s pragmatic?

  8. Mark says:

    JA,

    If I were a Palin fan I’d call her a genius.

    Truly? That’s a fairly unique position as I don’t think her actual supporters call her that.

    They’re barely hiding it.

    Who?

  9. Mark says:

    JA,
    Look, apparently your not making the connection. You’ve remarked on any number of times your admiration for Mr Obama and his “pragmatic” approach to politics. I’ve offered more than once that saying someone is pragmatic is just another way of saying are unprincipled. You offered that Mr Rand was unprincipled and I pointed out that if you were a fan you’d call that pragmatic.

    And before you start telling me how Mr Obama is indeed pragmatic and that differs from his being unprincipled … remind yourself that you are a fan of his and that’s part of the puzzle, i.e., exactly your expected response as such.

  10. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    That’s pragmatic?

    You are not a fan of his. Right?

  11. Truly? That’s a fairly unique position as I don’t think her actual supporters call her that.

    And Paul supporters call him a pragmatist?

    Who?

    1) The confederate flag wavers
    2) The Obama-was-born-in-Kenya crowd
    3) The people wailing about redistribution and welfare queens
    4) The Steve Sailer/Half-Sigma/”HBD” crowd
    5) Pat Buchannan and the Paleocons
    6) 20%ish of Appalachian White Democrats

    I assume there’s a lot of overlap with the anti-brown-immigration crowd as well.

  12. ’ve offered more than once that saying someone is pragmatic is just another way of saying are unprincipled.

    Obama is open about pragmatism. It’s really the core of his message and has been since the start of the campaign. He’s all about working together, there’s no red and blue America, etc. etc.

    Paul poses as a man of strong principle, but he wields that principle very selectively. In other words, he’s a hypocrite. Obama is not.

    Chalk it up to bias if you want, but I don’t think so.

  13. Boonton says:

    You offered that Mr Rand was unprincipled and I pointed out that if you were a fan you’d call that pragmatic.

    Pragmatism can’t be a principle? If Rand had stated something like “Look the Civil Rights bills violate orthodox libertarian ideas which I generally support but ideology has its limits. I think the bills were and are needed to preserve and protect liberty in the US. Maybe a smarter libertarian than me can articulate exactly how this follows from libertarian principles but I can’t. Nonetheless I think the bills were the right things to do.” I would say that would be very principled, very pragmatic and quite sensible.

    Of course a lot of people speak like this. Obama certainly does. Libertarians, though, tend to think of their positions as though they were geometry theorems, proven beyond doubt with air tight logic and reasoning from first axioms. That being the case they tend to dismiss any who disagree as either using less reputable axioms to begin their reasoning or simply being irrational and unable to apply their lofty logical reasoning. I suppose this is the movement’s Ayn Rand hangover. Needless to say, when the ideology gets one of its first encounters with the real world it is quite clumsy and falls on its face.

  14. Check out this piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates:

    Reason magazine has a nice link packaging all of their recent journalism on the civil rights acts of the 60s. In one piece, Glenn Garvin talks about how shocked the non-racist Barry Goldwater was to see bigots flocking to his banner. He’s especially revolted by George Wallace of, all people, offering to switch parties and run as his vice-president. Of course Goldwater and Wallace deserved each other, because Wallace was also a non-racist.

    Wallace was less principled, but he was also much clearer. Goldwater’s sin was naivety, and a dangerous underestimation of the precise nature and vintage of evil then stalking the South. Wallace understood the evil too well, and thus set about manipulating it. Wallace knew that this was more than abstract theory, that there was real power at stake.

    In that sense, Goldwater is the more appropriate hero for today’s generation of blissfully ignorant (“How did that ‘White slavery’ sign get there?”) non-racist Republican. It’s not so much that they hate you, it’s they are shocked–shocked–to discover that some of their fellow travelers hate you. When discussing them, all bloggers are required to begin their missives by quickly dispensing with with the “Are they racist?” strawman. Answering in the affirmative has been outlawed in polite company, where there are no actual racists. And so we are left, as I’ve said, with imbecility as an explanation, and a much more troubling query–“Are they stupid?” (“Are you so stupid that you would allow racist newsletters to be published in your name?” “Are you so stupid that you would have a campaign manager with “Happy Nigger day” on his Myspace page?”)

    The original contains links to more information.

  15. Boonton says:

    Paul poses as a man of strong principle, but he wields that principle very selectively. In other words, he’s a hypocrite. Obama is not.

    I’m going to disagree a bit here. He is a man of strong principle and he takes reasoning from those principles very seriously IMO. But he has done so in a bubble chamber of fellow believers who contribute little but reinforcement, not unlike salon Marxists whose chief activities were writing obtuse papers that only their peers bothered to read. Encountering the real world, though, revales the most fundamental truth which is that reality exists and trumps any imaginary reality embodied in intellectual models. Short version of his story, his reasoning is sloppy because he ‘trained’ with a bunch of nerdy fanboys who could do nothing better than give him straw men to joust with and pat him on his back.

    Conservatism is much more stable IMO, (and I’m talking Burke here, not Palin or the modern GOP) since it begins with an assumption that reasoning is likely to be faulty.

    I do think it’s interesting to see how many pragmatic adjustments Paul has already made. I’m not sure if he is really aware of making them, though. Perhaps he just doesn’t associate much with illegal immigrants or people convicted of drug crimes that he doesn’t recognize the huge deviation from Libertarian orthodoxy he is making by ditching those planks while getting upset that BP Exectuvies got a little verbal lashing over destroying the Gulf of Mexico. I think blacks are right to raise their eyebrows at a party that so casually ditches orthodoxy in other cases but in this case finds it has to struggle to do so.

  16. Boonton:

    He is a man of strong principle and he takes reasoning from those principles very seriously IMO.

    I don’t get that impression at all. You don’t need to associate with people convicted of drug crimes to know that locking people up in cages for possessing plants or chemicals unapproved by the government is the antithesis of libertarianism. No amount of “reasoning” from libertarian principles gets you there.

    Goldwater was a man of strong principle and reason. Rand Paul pretends to be such a man when it’s convenient.

    Conservatism is much more stable IMO, (and I’m talking Burke here, not Palin or the modern GOP) since it begins with an assumption that reasoning is likely to be faulty.

    I’ve been imploring Mark to consider that assumption since I began commenting on this blog. That the intellectual elite of the GOP (such as it is) has abandoned that assumption is THE problem in Republican thinking (and in right-wing religion) today. Mark and many GOP intellectuals I know personally trust their own reasoning against the empiricism of the majority of experts in several fields, economics being the best example.

    I know reason alone cannot be trusted because I grew up with Orthodox (Jewish) fundamentalists who were steeped in centuries of Talmudic and halakhic (Jewish legal) reasoning. Reason is subordinate to psychological defense mechanisms in the human brain and always has been. Also errors compound on themselves in a chain of reason just as errors in the message in the game “telephone” do.

    Plato was a brilliant, brilliant man. But read anything he ever reasoned about the natural world and he seems like a moron. Give me a guy with a slightly above-average IQ and the scientific method over Plato any day, if you want results to be… you know, true.

  17. Boonton says:

    David Brooks has a good column today on this very topic. I think the relevant feature of Burke is that while he accepted tradition he also accepted change. He probably would be a slight global warming skeptic but he would also probably favor a carbon tax or cap n trade as an ‘adjustment’ policy ‘just in case’ things turned out the way theory said they would.

    In contrast the Neocon invasion of Iraq smacks very much of Paine type thinking. Get rid of the ‘bad guy’ and everything will fall into place. One neocon, I believe, asserted that the only post-invasion nation building that would be required would be numerous copies of The Federalist to be handed out in the local language.

  18. Mark says:

    JA,
    Well, it seems that in your view practically everybody is a racist. Now, in my view either that is either understating the matter and that everybody is a racist in their own way … or it is misstating it completely. Look for example at the remnants of the Western folkway as racist … and the Western folkway indeed does have its influence on the Civil War flag crowd, is that they aren’t racist but dislike outsiders … race isn’t relevant, they dislike whites, foreigners and lots of others quite indiscriminately.

    Regarding Obama/Paul and pragmatism … that was quite an amusing response.

    Regarding racism. Mr Boonton has supported the thesis that racism, especially Black/White, racism is the most important factor in American history. I think Mr Coates would agree. It is not, alas.

    On pragmatism, Lenin viewed himself as a pragmatic man.

    On your last remark about reason. You are somewhat confused and your remarks don’t hold up internally under inspection.

    You trust the reasoning of, for example, the majority of so-called experts in climate. On the other hand, you offer that “reason is subordinate to psychological defense mechanisms”. Exactly. What I promote regarding climate science is purely skeptical. I don’t believe we know either that there is or isn’t global climate change driven by anthropogenic origins. I think those that think there isn’t and that those that think there is such are both driven primarily by their “psychological defense mechanisms” if you prefer. Likewise economics, every time I’ve offered my opinion of economics is that the mathematical foundations of economics which are primarily founded on linear assumptions are wrong. That doesn’t mean the “Austrians are right” it only means that our ignorance is predominate. My consistent position regarding economics is to doubt the certainty of experts.

    I read about the first half (so far .. I’ll get back to it) of a book on neurological research into decision making. I was struck how much of it was spot on in agreement with the intuitions and conclusions about mind and thought that was held by the Church Fathers of Eastern Rome in late antiquity. Apparently however, what introspection arrives at isn’t reliable unless some white coated dude says it is so and then only if said so in the last few decades.

    I should note however, that your notions of reason and its relation to “psychological defense mechanisms” doesn’t hold as being as significant as you pretend in the aforementioned work.

    Boonton,

    I think the relevant feature of Burke is that while he accepted tradition he also accepted change

    Which is why I announced last week that I’m now a progressive, in a very Burke-ean mode in fact.

    I don’t know why you think I’m going to defend neo-cons. I barely know what comprises one being a neo-con vs not being one. I wasn’t blogging at the time and didn’t follow politics to the degree I do now … however I might point out while I didn’t express any strong opinion of whether we should go to Iraq or not … once we were committed I firmly supported “doing the job right” a position I hold about any task or activity one undertakes. That is the time to debate “whether” we go to war or commit to reconstruction is prior to going to war. After we start, that debate is over. The only question then is how to do it right. The left never clued in in that regard.

    Libertarians have quite a variety of ways of coming to think they are in that particular tent. I don’t have any idea how Mr Paul arrived at his Libertarian ideas but that doesn’t mean that your particular assumptions about Libertarian modes of thought and common conclusions necessarily apply to him.

  19. On pragmatism, Lenin viewed himself as a pragmatic man.

    WTF. Why bother talking.

  20. Mark says:

    JA,
    I was responding to what I saw as a joke of yours referring to Mr Obama putative bi-partisanship. Apparently you weren’t joking. Hmm.

    Actually within that rejoinder of mine there is a point being made. When you use the term “pragmatic” in reference to a politician this seems to me not to be a reference to reconciliation or a willing movement toward things the “other” side holds in preference to your own to foster agreement but the much more common and standard view that pragmatism in a politician is the willingness to abandon any and every principle in favor or practical considerations. Those practical considerations typically involve the keeping or attaining positions of power. Which by the by is what Lenin meant when he noted himself as being a pragmatic man. And for a Mr Obama whose primary and principal theme in his career has been self-interest and a striving for the highest post, pragmatism seems more likely those like myself who are not enamored of Mr Obama is the meaning that is typically heard when the term pragmatic is used.

    The real point being is one of hermeneutic and meaning of words. When you say “pragmatic” you apparently see bi-partisanship. Just realize that when you assign that quality to Mr Obama, those on the other side see the willingness of tyrants to abandon past principles to keep or gather power, which I offer is the more common meaning in political contexts.

  21. I can’t believe that your definition of pragmatism is more common than mine. Look it up in any dictionary and you’ll find something very much like “The theory that political problems should be met with practical solutions rather than ideological ones.”

    Also, I think there might be some Obama derangement syndrome going on here. He went above and beyond to try to work across the aisle, even when he had a majority of Democrats in Congress and didn’t actually need Republican votes. He compromised preemptively on several issues even though he *still* got no Republican votes. Many of us Democrats actually found this incredibly frustrating. He really appears to be genuinely interested in healing the divide.

  22. Mark says:

    JA,
    “The theory that political problems should be met with practical solutions rather than ideological ones.” … sounds like “realpolitik”? no? And where does ‘bi-partisanship’ and a putative push to ignore labels and boundaries come in to play there?

    He went above and beyond to try to work across the aisle, even when he had a majority of Democrats in Congress and didn’t actually need Republican votes. He compromised preemptively on several issues even though he *still* got no Republican votes. Many of us Democrats actually found this incredibly frustrating. He really appears to be genuinely interested in healing the divide.

    LOL. Bullcrap. Given his repeated use of “bi-partisanship” as a rhetorical weapon, i.e., after dishing out his measure of divisive and partisan talk turning around and winsomely noting that “why can’t we be bi-partisan and set aside this divisive rhetoric” as a response to attacks from the other side. Name an instance where you think he was genuinely interested in healing the divide.

    And even if true that is an interesting turnabout. Seems to me I recall right at the start of the Bush presidency a much more clear reaching across the aisle on education which got roundly slapped by a Kennedy led opposition. Seeing that compromise got slapped in a prior admin … there should be no surprise that the other side, steeped in the same culture, responds the same way.