Tuesday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Ooh, more cost estimates of Obamacare.
  2. A clearly offensive mural,  Huh?
  3. A radical(?) global economic strategy suggested for America, don’t change the game-plan.
  4. Five meanings of judicial activism defined, two are touted as useful three as not. Which one do you think the President was referring to in his speech? #5?
  5. An ugly side of the world we have made.
  6. Hiring practices and Mr Obama.
  7. An artist died … Another post on that event noted that Mr Kinkade worked with animator Ralph Bakshi on some projects. I found that tidbit interesting.
  8. For your country … is that enough?
  9. What does “trademarked” mean in this context, legally speaking?
  10. A “new” Bubba? Who was the old one, Bubba Smith?
  11. Is that for Pascha/Easter or Palm Sunday I wonder?
  12. Duty, honor and disaster … some statistics.
  13. A primary rhetorical (fallacy) utilized so often on the left, the omnipresent ad hominem.
  14. On Obama’s use of the term “social darwinism.” Let’s see the left defend that one.

24 Responses to Tuesday Highlights

  1. 14.On Obama’s use of the term “social darwinism.” Let’s see the left defend that one.

    It requires a defense? why?

  2. Boonton,
    I’ll remember that you think that when the right calls the left shoe is on the other foot

    What if an Obama opponent called Obama’s approach to government “socialism” or “communism” or “fascism”? Would you swallow an argument that extracted a couple “core theses” from those ideologies and characterized the inapplicable elements as non-core and expected listeners to disentangle those things?

    That you figure that’s just peachy and requires no explanation or defense.

  3. You do understand that words like socialism, communism, facism, capitalism, social darwinism, corporatism and so on are not simply names to call people (some worse than others), but actual labels that denote ideological systems. Wait should I make that assumption? Maybe that’s too much to hope for.

    If you want to call Obama a socialist, then do so. But if you can’t coherently explain what makes him a socialist that would not make, say, Reagan or Romney a socialist then don’t expect to be taken seriously.

    So let’s return to basics, do you or do you not understand that ‘social darwinism’ and, say, ‘fascism’ are two different things?

  4. Boonton,
    OK. I guess I was making too many assuptions. These terms are political pejoratives in today’s social/political climate.

    If you want to call Obama a socialist, then do so. But if you can’t coherently explain what makes him a socialist that would not make, say, Reagan or Romney a socialist then don’t expect to be taken seriously.

    OK. I guess I really have spell this out for you. Apparently you don’t realize “defend his statement” means you have to justify calling Mr Ryan an advocate of social darwinism in a meaninful way, i.e., not one which extracts a few “core theses” and leaves those unsavory “inapplicable” elements out … expecting listeners to disentangle those things.

  5. Yes in ‘today’s climate’ the terms may be pejoratives but that doesn’t alter the fact that they are terms with actual meanings behind it. A typical parody of a radical leftist might be a hippie type character who calls everyone who doesn’t give him exactly what he wants a fascist. It’s a parody because such a character has forgotton that fascism is an actual ideology, not merely someone whose annoying you in some way.

    With that in mind, I refer you to http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/origin-of-speciousness/ for a brief discussion. I think the essence of social darwinism is “the notion that harsh inequality is both necessary and right”. Now this may include those who were outright eugenicists, racists and other types of generally bad people(tm), but it is an ideology that one can have and defend without requiring one to be a racist or want to see ‘inferiors’ herded off to liquidation camps.

    So with that in mind the fact is ideas are real and have consquences. How many rallies railed on about ‘producers versus eaters’? How many times does one hold up Atlast Shrugged as a manifasto of what they are talking about? How much fawning over high earners as ‘job creators’ has been going on? Dude, that’s a social darwinist ideology and Ryan in particular is social darwinist.

  6. 1.Ooh, more cost estimates of Obamacare.

    Another fraud (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/10/another-bogus-attack-on-health-reform/)

  7. 4.Five meanings of judicial activism defined, two are touted as useful three as not. Which one do you think the President was referring to in his speech? #5?

    IMO the fifth isn’t really a type of activism. It would seem to me activism implies the court actually doing something. If one simply thought the court was wrong, well that could apply just as easily to a decision to not hear a case or a decision to not strike down some law in dispute.

    The fourth is sociological, is the court striking down laws more or less often? It’s only a descriptive statement, though. A court’s activism or timidness may or may not be justified under given circumstances.

    The third is clearly important. All human language is ambiguious which means that multiple paths are possible in reading some law or Constitutional phrase. Precedent sets down a marker for which path will be followed which allows future decisions to be consistent rather than incoherent.

    USing a simple example, take free speech. If you were quite the literal type, you might read the First Amendment as outlawing any attempt to make speech punishable in any way. That would mean things like fraud, theft by deception, making bomb/death threats etc. should not be outlawed. A person educated in our legal heritage would know, though, that the law has long made a distinction between speech and action that may entail the use of speech. Hence a crime like holding a child for ransom would be considered an action that merely entailed the use of speech. If tomorrow the SC announced the first path would be followed, all hell would break loose.

    IMO if the court strikes down the law it would be an example of the first type of activism although I’m not sure it’s so much about a preferred outcome (no mandate) as much as a preferred political alliance. I strongly suspect in the alternate universe where President McCain enacted a law very close to the one we have now ushered in by his Sec. of Health Mitt Romney, few of the conservative justices on the SC would be sympathetic to the challenge.

  8. Boonton,
    Krugman is not a reliable witness where politics is involved.

  9. Boonton,

    So with that in mind the fact is ideas are real and have consquences. How many rallies railed on about ‘producers versus eaters’? How many times does one hold up Atlast Shrugged as a manifasto of what they are talking about? How much fawning over high earners as ‘job creators’ has been going on? Dude, that’s a social darwinist ideology and Ryan in particular is social darwinist.

    You fail to connect “rallies railed on …” and “hold up Atlas Shrugged …” to Mr Ryan, or for that matter even to connect Ms Rand’s Objectivism to social darwinism.

    Recall Ms Rand, you aren’t here to have the speaker disentangle the less salubrious parts of social darwinism, e.g., that moral significance was applied to those who were wealthy. Social Darwinism also implied that one was better “fit” (or just better) if one was not poor. This too was an essential part of social darwinism. Connect that to Mr Ryan if you will, or drop the defense as impossible.

    You contend as a matter that there is a need to demonstrate how, in your example, Mr Obama if claimed a socialist is such in a way in which others, like say Mr Romney is not. You have also failed this criteria. Mr Ryan in these particular pieces is claimed a social darwinist in the context of cuts in the rate of growth of entitlement/social spending. Such spending is what, 50, 60%, of the budget. If debt is to be tackled are you making the claim that this 60% chunk is off the table and if you consider cuts in that, you are a social darwinist? That my dear, is childish at best. It’s in a par with “consider the children” and “you’re a racist/nazi/bigot” catcalls at every thing you don’t like.

    (I’d ask you to compare Mr Ryan’s cost cutting budget to the Democrat equivalent, alas the Dems aren’t seriously enough engaged in this discussion to produce any budget).

  10. Boonton,

    I strongly suspect in the alternate universe where President McCain enacted a law very close to the one we have now ushered in by his Sec. of Health Mitt Romney, few of the conservative justices on the SC would be sympathetic to the challenge.

    Who in that case (in a universe in which McCain enacted the same law) would challenge? Don’t you think the challengers are more not less connected to politicial partisanship than the jurists?

    And no, I don’t think the jurists are as motivated by partisanship as you do. Do you seriously think, for example, that if this law was sponsored by a McCain that Mr Thomas would rule differently?

  11. Krugman is not a reliable witness where politics is involved

    More reliable than you. More importantly I’ll strike this bit of non-responsiveness as a loss on your part. If someone is wrong you should be able to explain why they are wrong. If you cannot, then such an assertion offered without evidence can be dismised without evidence. Your attempt to argue that Krugman is wrong because he is Krugman just illustrates you’re a non-serious commentator on the health bill. Which I didn’t need Krugman to know but it’s always good to have someone who agrees with you.

    You fail to connect “rallies railed on …” and “hold up Atlas Shrugged …” to Mr Ryan, or for that matter even to connect Ms Rand’s Objectivism to social darwinism.

    I didn’t say that a social darwinist had to be a fan of Ayn Rand. That would certainly be silly as there were social darwinists long before Ayn Rand was anything but a spec in her father’s eye. Social Darwinism is defined as per my initial comment. In that I don’t think it’s seriously an issue of whether that could be fairly applied to Ryan and many other Republicans.

    Who in that case (in a universe in which McCain enacted the same law) would challenge? Don’t you think the challengers are more not less connected to politicial partisanship than the jurists?

    I suppose its possible the Cato Institute might mount a challenge given their libertarian streak, but I suspect even they might be somewhat modest. I think it would have went down much like Bush’s Medicare D, with nary a peep from the right.

  12. Boonton,

    I suppose its possible the Cato Institute might mount a challenge given their libertarian streak, but I suspect even they might be somewhat modest. I think it would have went down much like Bush’s Medicare D, with nary a peep from the right.

    Which kinda makes your attack on the integrity of the high court jurists specious, seeing as you now decide no challenge would be raised. I guess such inconsistency is a sign that you too are a “non-serious” commentator on the health bill.

    If someone is wrong you should be able to explain why they are wrong.

    Apparently you and JA are allowed to disallow testimony based on source, but I am not. Explain your “non-serious” point again? Are you trying to infer I’m not professionally tracking data, costs, and benefits on the health care bill? That’s right. I’m not. Neither are you, and for that matter neither is Mr Krugman. It’s not his, yours, or my job. The cost analysis highlighted double counting on the cost savings side. Mr Krugman didn’t merely made the unsupported claim that the double counting assertion was wrong, in that he just repeated the White House assertion that it wasn’t … without support.

    I didn’t say that a social darwinist had to be a fan of Ayn Rand.

    No. I think your set logic went the other way. Not that SDs were AR-fans but the reverse that the set of AR-fans was a subset of SDs. Social Darwinism, as Ms Althouse pointed out wasn’t “just” defined by your initial comment, historically it came along with moral conclusions as well, that rich people were “better” than poor, wealth being a sign of social fitness. This was a big part of social Darwinism and you seem to have decided it’s not important. It certainly was important in the heyday of social Darwinism in the 19th century … and the reason that negative connotations are attached to it.

    Question: Paul Collier wrote The Bottom Billion about poverty in the third world and mistaken assumption people (on both right and left) make about it. One of his findings was that social unrest was not correlated with wealth inequities. He stated that finding. Is that support (or is he therefore) a social darwinist? Why not (seeing as you define it in terms of not caring about wealth inequalities).

  13. Which kinda makes your attack on the integrity of the high court jurists specious, seeing as you now decide no challenge would be raised. I guess such inconsistency is a sign that you too are a “non-serious” commentator on the health bill.

    Why would it make my attack sprecious? You’re saying that in my alternative universe the SC may never get to judge the bill because many of those who are seriously attacking it today would have little or no interest in mounting a legal challenge to it. That wouldn’t alter my judgement that I believe at least a portion of the right wingers on the courts animous to the law is motivated by bias against the President and Democratic Party.

    Apparently you and JA are allowed to disallow testimony based on source, but I am not.

    I didn’t disallow anything based on the source. I argued that the analysis was false and I linked to a very good explanation why (which BTW was only indirectly Krugman, he was quoting Kevin Drum). You announced that anything by Krugman would not be accepted because he’s biased. Coming from you that would be like Larry Flint announcing Mitt Romney is unacceptable to be President because he once was caught telling a mildly dirty joke.

    Social Darwinists:
    No. I think your set logic went the other way. Not that SDs were AR-fans but the reverse that the set of AR-fans was a subset of SDs. Social Darwinism, as Ms Althouse pointed out wasn’t “just” defined by your initial comment, historically it came along with moral conclusions as well, that rich people were “better” than poor, wealth being a sign of social fitness. This was a big part of social Darwinism and you seem to have decided it’s not important.

    Actually that’s exactly what many in the GOP think and lines up exactly with the definition I provided. Not just that wealth was a ‘sign’ of fitness but also that dramatic wealth inequalies were in themselves a good thing.

    Question: Paul Collier wrote The Bottom Billion about poverty in the third world and mistaken assumption people (on both right and left) make about it. One of his findings was that social unrest was not correlated with wealth inequities. He stated that finding. Is that support (or is he therefore) a social darwinist? Why not (seeing as you define it in terms of not caring about wealth inequalities).

    On the contrary, I don’t define it as not caring about wealth inequalities. That implies a total indifference to them, whatever they may be. In fact the Social Darwinist cares greatly about protecting many wealth inequalities because he views them as a driver of growth and prosperity. This is the theme of Atlas Shrugged (Galt and his crew are the supermen who create prosperity and all goes to hell when they finally get fed up with trying to meet all the petty, meddlesome demands of the common people). It’s also the theme of that the ‘job creators’ must be nurtured with various tax cuts, incentives and other schemes all paid for only but reducing or gutting spending that has marginal or no benefit to those with great wealth. Not sure what that would have to do with Collier’s book, as I haven’t read it I can’t really say if he is a Social Darwinist or not.

  14. Boonton,

    which BTW was only indirectly Krugman, he was quoting Kevin Drum

    Then why link Krugman at all? Who did Mr Drum link?

    That wouldn’t alter my judgement that I believe at least a portion of the right wingers on the courts animous to the law is motivated by bias against the President and Democratic Party.

    Who? Let’s be frank here. Thomas? Scalia? Roberts? Alito? Kennedy? Who? Which of these jurists do you think is politically motivated? Why? What case/cases lead you to this accusation?

    I didn’t disallow anything based on the source

    I don’t recall if you have. JA has done it many times.

    Actually that’s exactly what many in the GOP think and lines up exactly with the definition I provided. Not just that wealth was a ‘sign’ of fitness but also that dramatic wealth inequalies were in themselves a good thing.

    But not for that reason. They may think wealth inequality is a sign of a healthy economy … but not because they think the rich are “fitter”, “better” or morally superior like the Social Darwinists believed. Pick a sport, say baseball or basketball. Would you say an “inequality” of performance (statistical) is a sign of a healthy sport or not. If everyone in baseball had the same ERA, same BPA would that be a sign of … what? Health? Or rampant cheating?

    On the contrary, I don’t define it as not caring about wealth inequalities

    OK. You are right, your definition was

    I think the essence of social darwinism is “the notion that harsh inequality is both necessary and right”.

    Which as I noted drops the essential value judgement on wealth/not-wealth that was a big part of social Darwinism.

  15. Boonton,
    In US politics being seen as “a Communist” has strong negative connotations. What you are doing with “Social Darwinism” is akin to “defining” communism as “Communism is the idea that workers should have a majority stake in corporations” and tarring anyone who is pro-union as equivalent to a commie. This disregards lots of other essential features of that particular ideology and is the essential Althouse criticism that you require the reader to disentangle unrelated negative elements.

    I think holding Mr Ryan as a Social Darwinist is intellectually lazy at best but more likely is just plain dishonest. Pick your poison.

  16. But not for that reason. They may think wealth inequality is a sign of a healthy economy … but not because they think the rich are “fitter”, “better” or morally superior like the Social Darwinists believed. Pick a sport, say baseball or basketball. Would you say an “inequality” of performance (statistical) is a sign of a healthy sport or not.

    Well let’s imagine an extreme example of inequality in sports. Here’s one, make you an NFL quarterback and all other players kindergarten kids. (Or if you don’t like the image of running over little kids, imagine Superman as an NFL quarterback). The lucky team scores everytime the ball is snapped. No matter where they are, no passing is required. Just run the ball down the field plowing through the defense. Doesn’t sound like it would keep a lot of fans does it? Hence many sports try to use some mechanism to force some measure of equality (salary caps, drafts, trades, leagues of players with similiar ability and so on).

    This dynamic does not impact the Ayn Randian model of the world. The gifted metalurgist creates a new type of steel that makes for faster trains that cost less money. The railroad magnet knows how to schedule stops so that there’s always a train when you need one but the railroad never has to pay to run trains that are nearly empty.

    In this model the inequality is not just a sign of a healthy economy (i.e. the economy picking up faster in some areas than others) but superior people People who make the world work better than the ‘average’ person with his merely ‘average’ contributions. Granted they don’t think all rich people are better. They admit that since we don’t have a perfect market system some people are rich due to taking advantage of things (bailouts, fraud, special interest laws and so on), but no they do think the rich are better in general, rewarding them with greater inequality is likewise a good thing since that encourages them to make everyone’s life better.

    Note, for example, the rhetoric used against the Buffet rule. that it harms ‘job creators’. Or note the rhetoric surrounding Herman Cain, that he was a ‘job creator’ because he was a highly paid exectutive of Godfather’s Pizza. The view is essentially that jobs, growth, progress all flows down from the top of an elite core of ‘supermen’ in a healthy economy.

    A reverse view would be to say that Godfather’s pizza created lots of jobs because lots of little people decided to buy pizza which enabled Godfather’s to hire cooks, drivers, and so on. If they didn’t, other pizza outlets would have done so. In only some circumstances is this due to the efforts of the highly paid person. If, for example, he came up with an amazing marketing campaign or new receip that caused a massive explosion of sales or a new system that enabled pizza to be made more reliably and efficiently. Such people tend to be rare. Of all the highly paid computer executives, only a few are like Steve Jobs and it’s unlikely that Steve Jobs was created by vast amounts of inequality.

    If everyone in baseball had the same ERA, same BPA would that be a sign of … what? Health? Or rampant cheating?

    I agree with you extreme equality is not a good ideal. But isn’t it interesting that many Social Darwinists choose to center their defense around this strawman? Unless you’re talking about maybe North Korea or Cambodia in the 1970′s there really isn’t anyone real who advocates strict equality.

    I would pose that Social Darwinists raise the extreme equality counter-argument partially as a strawman and also partially because they themselves are extremists. They have the view the vast inequality is a good thing in itself.

    Then why link Krugman at all? Who did Mr Drum link?

    I’m like writing a few thousand words a week on your blog already. Must I summarize the argument when two well crafted paragraphs do the job pretty well IMO? If you’re willing to add me to your payroll and header I’d be more than happy to consider contributing more and linking less.

    Who? Let’s be frank here. Thomas? Scalia? Roberts? Alito? Kennedy? Who? Which of these jurists do you think is politically motivated? Why? What case/cases lead you to this accusation?

    Toss Alito between Thomas and Roberts and you nailed them in order of most to least likely IMO! Amazing.

    Cases? None specifically just a gut instinct born of my judgement of them using my superior social skills of discernment. I notice you haven’t exactly disagreed with me. Assuming the alternative universe where a President McCain enacted the law do you think the court would have received a suit against it exactly the same as it did in the universe in which we live?

  17. Boonton,

    Toss Alito between Thomas and Roberts and you nailed them in order of most to least likely IMO! Amazing.

    Interesting. I’d have pegged Thomas as the least connected to political moods of all the justices. His writing/judgement it seems to me to be highly internally consistent to his method of reading Constitutional law. I’d also have said that we don’t have enough history behind either Alito or Roberts to judge. I don’t follow the court enough to know about Kennedy, who I think probably is most vulnerable to this claim being called the swingy voter.

    Scalia has often been accused of this … so I’d figure he’d (and possibly) Kennedy would be the only ones on that list.

    Amazing? That you got it basically completely wrong? Hmmm.

  18. Amazing? That you got it basically completely wrong? Hmmm.

    I did? Have you recently returned from a trip to the alternate universe? That would explain quite a few of your posts and comments.

  19. Boonton,
    OK. Let’s take the most extreme case. I said Thomas was least influence you said most influenced (by outside political currents). You said that Thomas was most likely to be affected by partisan politics. What leads you to this conclusion? What in his opinions? Isn’t he the most likely to offer his separate opinion on cases? Do you think his differences are due to political winds? Why?

    Political currents are changeable. I’d offer that his jurisprudence is the most consistently judged than anyone else on the court and that he is the most rigorous in following his methodology and ignoring the political consequences of his decision than any other.

    Pick a case where he was the sole dissent (you’re the lawyer I’ll let you pick). Let’s look at his opinion and compare to the others and see if your support for his dissenting based on politics stands examination.

  20. Boonton,
    Or perhaps we should read this.

  21. Boonton,
    The point is you repeat over and over how I need to support my claims. You’ve claimed Mr Thomas is the most influenced by political currents. Support that claim, I think you have no basis for that opinion.

  22. I said Thomas was least influence you said most influenced (by outside political currents). You said that Thomas was most likely to be affected by partisan politics. What leads you to this conclusion? What in his opinions? Isn’t he the most likely to offer his separate opinion on cases? Do you think his differences are due to political winds? Why?

    I think a better way to describe it would be Thomas is the most partisan IMO. Not ‘influenced’ by political winds, whatever that means.

    The point is you repeat over and over how I need to support my claims. You’ve claimed Mr Thomas is the most influenced by political currents. Support that claim, I think you have no basis for that opinion.

    I admit my hypothesis about a plausible alternative universe where the health care law is enacted under a President McCain will not be greatly supported by sources external to myself. It is an educated judgement based on my observations, but I grant you it’s subjective so you’re free to dismiss it if you wish….your continued comments, though, would seem to indicate that is not your wish…even though you may say it is.

  23. Boonton,
    I think Thomas is the strongest and most constistenly conservative voice, hewing a consistent reading of the Constitution. If the GOP passed a bill, which did not stick to those standards, he is the least likely to change his vote based on which party sponsored the legislation, not the most likely. That is what I”m saying. Do you agree or not?

    Again, cite a case where you think he violated his principles to pass a GOP supported law. Again and again you ask me to support my claims. So, support your own. Give me a judgement or two that backs your claim. Pick two to four cases. I’ll read and blog about them, we can talk ‘Thomas’ a bit. That might be interesting.

  24. Boonton,
    Oh, those cases should be one where he authored an opinion of course.

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