Wednesday Highlights

Good day (if just a tad hot).

  1. On rights and the 4th. Those who thing rights important or useful need to deal with Rousseau’s (if I remember correctly) criticism that rights are insufficient against government which can redefine/define them as they see fit for their purposes … and we see that in action today.
  2. A reading/viewing list … interesting intersection, I’m trying to read Moby Dick in parallel with China Meiville’s Railsea, as the latter seemed from the outset to draw a lot from the former and my memory of Mr Ahab and company is dim.
  3. Slipped through the liberal eugenics screening programme.
  4. Making it a law … as if everything were free and adding ~$2k to the cost of a table saw is inconsequential.
  5. A liberal/progressive maxim … “the US is no longer the greatest country in the world” which oddly enough never proposes an alternative. The reason is that the statement is false. Others may be catching up, but in the words of UK educational maxims (as expressed in this wonderful book) if the US is not “top nation” who is? China with $4/day labor? India? France? Germany? Sweden? Cuba? Get real. If you want to name the US as not “top nation” you need to indicate which nation replaced the US.
  6. Of taxation and consent.
  7. Which founder?
  8. Oooh, I did this (sort of) for my kids. When they were little and worried about the noise from the freight trains going through town … I told them, don’t worry, if it gets off the rails, the “snake” will get it.
  9. To what purpose.
  10. A Saint and romance.
  11. Unnoticed and forgotten peoples.
  12. There will always be war?
  13. On union labor and freedom.

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28 comments

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    If you want to name the US as not “top nation” you need to indicate which nation replaced the US.

    The U.S. in 1964.

    We are not “the greatest nation in the world” that those who invoke the phrase remember. That’s exactly the problem. Refusal to understand that we can make improvements, and especially that we should and must make improvements is a key cause of our national fall. For example, asking “who else is greatest?” assumes that so long as we can claim to be better than Somalia, or Myanmar, or China, or Ecuador, on some measure, we can relax and rest on the laurels of our fathers, grandfathers and forefathers (and, to be clear, mothers, grandmothers and foremothers).

    Cuba has higher literacy and lower infant mortality. Finland’s teachers are happy, better paid, honored, and more successful as a group that we find in the U.S. education system. China backs its solar cell innovators to try to knock Germany’s industry off of the top spot, instead of claiming that government help for industry means President Obama is corrupt. Heart disease rates are lower in almost every other industrialized nation. Poor people get great health care in France, and Germany, and Japan.

    There used to be a dairy near Boston who tweaked Carnation on its slogan, “Our milk comes from contented cows.” The little dairy said, “Our cows are not content; they always try to do better.”

    You appear to have succumbed to the dangerous and deadly idea that we don’t need to do anything to keep America great, that we can elect Romneys all day long and God will bail us out of trouble, rather as everyone knows, God protects drunks, infants and toddlers.

    Sorkin’s rant is spot on. You can refuse to acknowledge it, and that refusal pushes America’s glory a bit farther to the back, a bit deeper into the past, a bit more out of reach of our children.

    Why would anyone do that?

    The problems Sorkin names are problems we can overcome, if we first agree to overcome them. We can count you out of the Keep America Exceptional movement?

  2. Ed Darrell says:

    One more indication: In 1994, Newt Gingrich and the renegades in the House of Representatives took great delight in killing the Superconducting Supercollider in Texas.

    Today, in Europe, CERN announced the Large Hadron Collider had found the evidence of the Higgs boson, the “God particle,” in experiments conducted there.

    Was there even an American on the team that will get the Nobel?

    Gingrich, and Boehner, and McConnell, and especially Kantor, argue that America cannot afford to be great anymore.

    Shame on all of them.

  3. Mark says:

    Ed,
    I see the nation in the world that you see to challenge US dominance is …. a mirage. Your first example, “the US 38 years ago” (during race riots and massive meltdowns of the US military) and large confusions over whether Communism (killing 100s of millions) was a bad thing or not. You might also want to compare adjusted/real GDP then to now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

    Moving on from there, your next suggestion is, wait for it, …. Cuba (!?) … (median income $15/month), a totalitarian/authoritarian state, in which human rights mean next to nothing at all. Gotcha. Go ahead, emigrate.

    Look. Your point apparently is that we could do better, that we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. I get that. We all do. We all agree. We don’t agree on how to best accomplish that, which really isn’t the point. See, the rest of us don’t try to sell the point by telling outright lies. That ruins your credibility, if you have/want any. Remember the drug education scares in the 40s and 50s … where they’d tell kids if they tried marijuana all sorts of horrible (untrue) things would happen? So then what happens to a kid who tries it and those horrible things don’t actually occur? He figures the experts were lying and his buddy has all the facts right. That didn’t work then. It’s not working with climate change. And it won’t work with “America is not the greatest nation.” We are … right now, and you agree. Seeing as you can’t name a plausible alternative.

    Was there even an American on the team that will get the Nobel?

    Which team? The theory team .. no. That would be led by Peter Higgs from the UK and (as was linked the other day here) Mr Englebert is from Belgium. On the experimental team? Of course there were Americans. Physics is an International sport, they get their teams from all over the world, which includes CERN too. You knew that too.

    Oh, and the SSC was well killed off before 1996. I left Physics and academia in 1990 and it was dead as a doornail then, as I recall. Go listen to how Mr Mondale was against the space program, he was a big GOP fellow too, right? Oops, sorry he wasn’t. As far as science and physics advancement, you’d be better off tweaking those in your own party. You’ve got a whole passel of Luddites and economic obstructionists over there. Oh wait, you’re one of the obstructionists yourself. Never mind.

    You might also consider the SSC and its expense … read this

    But we have a diminishing return on investment. Not so surprisingly – it’s the consequence of our increasingly better understanding that it takes more effort to find something new. And to make that effort of blue sky fundamental research, we need societies who can afford it. There’s an economic question here, about the way mankind will develop, it’s the question whether or not we’ll be able to take care of our survival needs, and still continue to have enough resources to push the boundary of nature’s secrets back further.

    (and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts Ms Hosenfelder isn’t exactly sitting on the same side of the aisle with me). Diminishing return … do you know what that means. It means money for the SSC (or a bigger/better Lepton machine, which might do better than a hadron collider) might fund an whole lot more tabletop solid state “little” (but fundamental) physics. We’re in a recession you see, bang for buck makes sense right now.

  4. Boonton says:

    5.A liberal/progressive maxim … “the US is no longer the greatest country in the world” which oddly enough never proposes an alternative.

    Not sure I ever actually heard a real liberal/progressive say that. This sounds to me like another case of the imaginary liberal….the liberal who exists inside the heads of conservatives who they like to debate rather than debating real liberals (and it also exists inside the heads of liberals and moderates….which they feel the need to sometimes come to his defense when he’s attacked).

    And the idea is hardly unique to conservatives. Conservatives often play the same game. A liberal may like Cuba’s universal health coverage (although Canada or most European countries are probably better examples) but conservatives have gleefully cited foreign countries as being better than the US. Signapore, for example, is often cited as being ‘more free’ in terms of markets (although many right wing economist types neglect the odd fact that the gov’t owns something like 50% of all major corporations there). Countries with supposedly higher rates of religiousity, likewise, often come in for praise. Even China, of all places, has been cited by conservatives as being ‘better’….but this is mostly imagination. Conservatives hear stories about surging Chinese buisnesses ‘freed’ from the old Communist Party regulations and imagine this is a counter-example to the US…although the fact is the most free enterprise orientated Chinese business is more tightly controlled than the most regulated US business..

    But this question can only be address two ways:

    Objective – Make up some definition that is based on totally objective facts. Choose whatever you like (literacy, economic growth, pollution, even combined metrics of ‘happiness’) and the US may or may not be the greatest. What’s interesting, though, neither Ed nor the clip seem to take that view. If they did then one country would be cited as greatest and others as less great. Instead we have a slew of countries who all beat the US on one or two metrics but clearly no metric is cited as being the sole indication of ‘greatest’. Cuba may have universal coverage, but China pushes its solar panel industry. But both can’t be ‘greatest’ as China’s health coverage is truely terrifying unless you’re a well compensated individual and Cuba has no solar industry besides tanning at its resorts.

    Subjective – This is less about any objective facts but more about who your solidarity is with. Here the contrast is both real but less dramatic than conservatives like to imagine. Both liberals and conservatives do in fact think the US is ‘the greatest’. Conservatives choose to express this most often by signaling, liberals by concern. The video nicely illustrates that. Why is Cuba’s health coverage cited? Not because Cuba is better, but because those loyal to the US should be alarmed by another nation beating the US at something basic. If liberals really thought Cuba was greater, they would be critical of Cuba! Not for nothing when people talk about ‘conservative elements’ in some foreign country, it often has nothing to do with actual conservative doctrines. In the USSR, for example, it was ‘conservatives’ who tried to stop Yeltsin and and Gorbochev with an attempted coup, it isn’t important that strictly looking at their actual policies, they were probably not well lined up with the formal policy prescriptions advocated by Burke or William F Buckley. But that doesn’t matter, it’s missing the point.

    If you want an analogy, conservatives approach to the subjective question of ‘which is greatest’ is like a rabid fan in the stadium. He shows up to every game naked from the waist up painted in the team’s colors screaming they are the greatest….no matter how many games they loose or how pathetic their actual game is. The liberal approach is like the coach who, even after a great win, will berate the team in the locker room….”you think you did good out there! That interception was a damm gift, and it was only dumb luck that stupid play which half of you didn’t even do correctly ended up in a touchdown. You think this shit is going to work when you play a real team?!”

    IMO I think most of us, in our sober moments at least, will acknowledge that both approaches are necessary and quite often an individual person will take both approaches at different times. But ironically to do either approach correctly, you have to do it full heartedly. The guy painted blue screaming in the stands can’t calmly discuss with the guy next to him the fact that the other team’s quarterback is better. The same guy, possibly calling a sports talk show days later can’t just start screaming ‘we’re #1’.

  5. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    Not sure I ever actually heard a real liberal/progressive say that.

    Ed just did. I don’t get cable, but I’m pretty sure that’s what Mr Daniel’s character said.

    And yes, as I noted, there is no reason to be complacent. That however, is not a good excuse for fabricating nonsense to make things seem worse than they are.

  6. Boonton says:

    Ed just did. I don’t get cable, but I’m pretty sure that’s what Mr Daniel’s character said.

    He did not. He cited a bunch of other countries who beat us on a bunch of metrics, but he lacks consistent standards of measurement. If it was *just* about solar panels, he wouldn’t be citing Cuba. If it was just about healthcare and infant mortality he wouldn’t be citing China. If he was centering his standard of greatness on an ‘objective metric’ then he would clearly have a ranking of countries and we could say who was above the US and who was below and graph how that has changed over time.

    He clearly, though, is following the subjective view and its given away by his statement:

    “. For example, asking “who else is greatest?” assumes that so long as we can claim to be better than Somalia, or Myanmar, or China, or Ecuador, on some measure, we can relax and rest on the laurels of our fathers, grandfathers and forefathers (and, to be clear, mothers, grandmothers and foremothers). ”

    He is, again, like the tough minded coach who chides his team for celebrating an easy victory over a pathetic rival. He, in fact, feels his team is great and chides it because he wants them to act like it at all times in all places. This is what the ‘liberal’ character in the HBO clip is following with the help of his cue card carrying friend in the audience.

    As I said, if he really felt, say, Cuba, was the greatest country he would be highly critical of Cuba! He would expect his country to show the US up on all levels, not just a few like infant mortality!

    What is confusing you is that you can’t get your mind around that liberals just tend to appreciate greatness from a critical mindset while conservatives do so from an uncritical one.

  7. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Uhm, he did in the original post in fact it was the title.

  8. Boonton says:

    Why bother having a post at all if you can get all the meaning from just reading the title? You’re missing the point here. There’s two roles, the coach and the cheerleader. Both feel the team is great but express it in different ways. The cheerleader is not very subtle, is jingoistic and loud about their feelings. The coach is the opposite, he is highly critical and seeks to maintain and expand greatness by keeping the team on its toes.

    The cheerleader you can just take literally because their ideas do not require much thought to digest. The coach you cannot, he is purposefully avoiding praise because he expresses his appreciation of greatness by *demanding* much from greatness.

    Read his post carefully, who is he demanding much from? The US, he wants the US to match Cuba’s best literacy rate, match China’s solar panels, match Finland’s happiness metrics, match Canada’s health coverage, match Europe’s rate of health outcomes, match Korea’s test scores and so on.

    See the truth behind his feelings is revealed as you ask what country is currently greater than the US? If he had simply said ‘Cuba’ (or more plausibly something like ‘Canada’ or ‘France’) then you’d be in the ‘objective’ mode of argument and you could twaddle back and forth whether we should measure greatness only on things like infant mortality or GDP per capita etc. Instead he brings out a host of different countries who beat the US on individual metrics but no one country he cites beats the US on all the cited metrics. On top of that he goes a step beyond asserting it isn’t ‘good enough’ even if the US wins on every metric you can think of.

    Clearly he is demanding that the US not only beat other countries but he expects it to match what he would expect of a Platonically ideal nation. In other words he makes the greatest demands on the nation he thinks is the greatest.

  9. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Except that he didn’t argue that point. He allowed that the best country was “The US in 1964” which was superior to today’s US. Economically? Nope. Race relations? Nope? Healthcare? Nope. In what way is 1964 superior … well, for one it didn’t have people like him thinking some other country was “top nation” (oh, and the book link I missed was 1066 and All That which if you know any English history will have you laughing out loud). Was the 1964 America “best” in everything. I suspect not.

    Clearly he is not demanding the best, but that more likely clearly he is delusional.

  10. Boonton says:

    Except that he didn’t argue that point. He allowed that the best country was “The US in 1964″ which was superior to today’s US. Economically? ..

    You guys think you’re hot shots, your crap. You couldn’t hold a candle to your fathers!

    Should a coach who screams that be taken literally? Will the stats on how the team did 30-40 years ago literally bear him out?

    But I’ll grant you assuming the past was a golden age is a common delusion. I’ve caught you in it a few times in regards to education levels.

  11. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Yep. And the anti-drug ads in the 50s/60s worked so well using similar methods (outright lies and exaggerations instead of sticking to verifiable data). Cuban medical care is better than the US. This is wrong. You know it. I know it, heck, Ed likely knows it. But what the heck, say its worse and that will stir people from their complacency. Except it won’t because you’ve lost credibility.

    A coach who screams how crappy you are when you’re the number one team … has credibility to burn. You don’t … and you’re not helping yourself by saying silly things.

  12. Ed Darrell says:

    And yes, as I noted, there is no reason to be complacent. That however, is not a good excuse for fabricating nonsense to make things seem worse than they are.

    Sometimes we even get beaten at aphorisms, like the Chinese aphorism, “I cannot hear what you are saying — your actions speak so loudly!”

    No reason to be complacent, but cut taxes for the wealthy? No reason to be complacent, but stop spending the $3 million it would have taken to eradicate measles from the U.S.? (Actual policy decision made in 1981. $3 million . . . the cost of three hospitalizations for complications of measles.) No reason to be complacent, but complaining when I mention that we can’t even beat the commies in Cuba at literacy and infant mortality — you get all complacent on us and claim we can’t beat Cuba? CUBA?

    Surrender monkeys of the right are so irritating both because they don’t understand they are monkeys, and because they do the old Doublespeak Dance: “It’s not really surrendering to evil and the Dark Side if we call it a tax cut!”

    Mark, you missed the whole point of the fictional newsman’s rant. What makes us “no longer” the greatest nation on Earth isn’t that we have things pretty good, but that we fail to work to preserve the pretty good we’ve got, and we appear unable to muster the necessary collective guts to face up to our problems and work to do better.

    It’s the denial that we have a problem, and worse, the denial that we can and should do better, that kills us.

    I see the nation in the world that you see to challenge US dominance is …. a mirage.

    See? Your first defense is denial.

    Your first example, “the US 38 years ago” (during race riots and massive meltdowns of the US military) and large confusions over whether Communism (killing 100s of millions) was a bad thing or not.

    No race riots in 1964. One year to go to the Watts riots of 1965. But the year following Kennedy’s assassination and the astonishing damage that did to our national hopeful psyche. Still, in 1964 while debating whether the Cold War was worth the heavy costs, while dealing with the metaphysical arguments, we were building our military (no meltdown at all), and we were ready to create great new opportunities for higher education, ready to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, working hard to overcome 100 years of invidious racial segregation in the South, nationally calling for people to vote instead of shoot, and to allow minorities to vote instead of lynching them. We stood at a vexing precipice of scientific achievement — was space to be conquered only so we could put bombs up there to “beat the Russkies,” or were there other purposes, for science, for exploration? Though we “couldn’t afford it,” we appropriated the money to explore space because we couldn’t afford not to charge boldly into the future even without knowing exactly what was at stake, let alone how much it would cost. Would we fulfill the Truman Doctrine, and live up to the words of Kennedy’s inaugural address to “go anywhere and pay any price” to defend freedom, in — where? — Vietnam (“Where in the hell is that?”) or would we pull in our horns and save the money.

    I argue that our taking up the challenge helped make us great, even though we didn’t achieve what we hoped to achieve in Vietnam.

    We honor our soldiers better today, but I fear it’s out of a conservative knee-jerk, thoughtless reaction to avoid looking like hippies, and not due to our gratitude to the soldiers. Your denial of the problems helps convince me the honorings are shallow, and for the wrong reasons.

    There was no confusion over massive killings by communists. There was great concern about whether any attempts to interfere, by overt or covert military methods, might result in nuclear war. We at least had a robust discussion of the issues, with several sides represented in wide-open-to-the-public debate — it was the year of the movie “Fail Safe” as well as the movie “Dr. Strangelove,” either one of which delved deeper into the serious issues of nuclear armament than the Republican Party can possibly muster today to discuss nuclear proliferation in Iran. When Stanley Kubrick’s comedy masterpiece is deeper than the military/foreign policy position of the Republican Party, we have a serious problem.

    In 1964, we had widespread agreement that something must be done, on many fronts — education, health care, poverty, containing communism, building education, even building roads, bridges and dams. In 1964, for the sixth time since Eisenhower left office, the debt ceiling was raised to accommodate the functioning of the U.S. government — and this was done with bi-partisan support, despite the fact we had recently had our last balanced budget, because even people who called themselves conservatives understood that Alexander Hamilton’s gift was not a perpetual endowment without need of maintenance. Regardless how Goldwater voted on the debt ceiling — and I don’t know which way he went — he didn’t try to take America’s future hostage for cheap political points on Fox News. Goldwater understood that, to keep America great, the government must function. Today’s conservatives are easily as destructive to our government as Fidel Castro ever hoped to be in 1964.

    You might also want to compare adjusted/real GDP then to now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

    Real wages for Americans were rising, not falling. The great captains of industry made, perhaps, 40 or 50 times what the factory-floor worker made — not 500 times. Wealth was distributed fairly, with working people understanding that they had a great shot to work hard and get paid fairly for their work. Unions had clout, and workers needed it — and conservatives complained, but understood that the strength of America was in the working people, and not in the millionaires. Mitt Romney scoffs at that social contract today with the support of millions of dupes.

    GDP is higher today. Poverty is increasing, too. You take pride in the GDP, but you should be ashamed that we can’t eliminate poverty with our greater national earning power. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for about the same thing, according to the prophet Ezekiel. I should think Christians would be in the forefront of the protests, and they would be spreading that jeremiad from Aaron Sorkin all over the internet, as far and as fast as their fingers would type.

    You, however, deny we have a problem. I smell brimstone.

  13. Boonton says:

    Yep. And the anti-drug ads in the 50s/60s worked so well using similar methods (outright lies and exaggerations instead of sticking to verifiable data). Cuban medical care is better than the US. This is wrong.

    He didn’t say Cuban medical care, he said infant mortality which is but a single metric loosely tied to medical care. Want to play this game then play it, you have to read every word literally if that’s what you want to do, not just selectively to make cheap rhetorical points. Typical cheerleader.

    A coach who screams how crappy you are when you’re the number one team … has credibility to burn.

    Since the team here is the United States, you’ve just said the US isn’t the greatest country. OK let’s turn this around, answer your own question, who is the greatest country then and when did they take that spot?

  14. Mark says:

    Ed,
    Apparently the real source of our problem is that educators (If I recall that describes you) can’t read.

    You write: “Your first defense is denial.” … except that what I wrote was: “Look. Your point apparently is that we could do better, that we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. I get that. We all do. We all agree. We don’t agree on how to best accomplish that, which really isn’t the point.” That for you is “denial”. See. Your biggest problem is that you can’t read!.

    Second. Unlike Mr Boonton’s assertion that “nobody is claiming that we’re not ‘top nation'” … you are in fact making that claim. Except that the nation you think is on top is almost 40 light years away in the past light cone. Hello?

    “What makes us “no longer” the greatest nation on Earth isn’t that we have things pretty good, but that we fail to work to preserve the pretty good we’ve got, and we appear unable to muster the necessary collective guts to face up to our problems and work to do better.” .. Look. If we are actually(!!!!) not the greatest nation then you have to name a greater nation. Here. Today. Now. Lying isn’t the solution. See the point (which you keep ignoring). Telling lies doesn’t improve your credibility. If you want to point out problems, the way to do it is not be prefacing it with falsehoods.

    Real wages for Americans were rising, not falling.

    Uhm. Apparently you confuse the value of a thing for its first derivative. Go take a calculus class. You seem to have failed that too alongside your reading comprehension classes.

    Look. You think that “government” is the solution. The way to fix things is to hand buckets of money to squabbling neanderthals in Congress and/or the knuckle-dragging idiots in the White HOuse and they will make all things better. That is not the solution! “More government” isn’t a fix. It never was. If you think “something must be done” pretend you’re an American and go do it.

    You, however, deny we have a problem. I smell brimstone.

    I see? Now you see “Satan” in the GOP? Just today I linked a proud liberal who thought it apt to compare the Democrats and GOP with the Nazi/Jew relationship … and that putting the Democrats as the Nazis was the best way of putting it. Brimstone indeed.

    There was no confusion over massive killings by communists.

    Huh? That’s right. No confusion at all. Just denial that it was happening at all (see NYTimes). See anti-war protests. No confusion at all, that is unless you figure denial and ignorance means no confusion. The left was just had finished being all wobbly and writing apologetics for Stalin, Holodomor, the Terror, it didn’t have whispers in its halls about Katyn forest and the Kolyma mines (and that’s just Russia … How about Mao and the millions he murdered or … &etc). Solzhenitsyn et al hadn’t been published in the West … and when he got here …. how well received was his Harvard address by the left? Hmmm? Well? You didn’t want to go there. The left’s love affair with Communism and its apologetics and ignoring/ignorance of mass murder is too widespread too criminal and too often repeated for you to get all snippy about the left and its anti-Communism.

  15. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Cuba infant mortality? Compare apples to apples.

    OK let’s turn this around, answer your own question, who is the greatest country then and when did they take that spot?

    I’ve not said we’re not and you know it.

  16. Boonton says:

    Cuba infant mortality?…

    This would only be important for someone who thought Cuba was greatest. What is being done here is the demand that the US be on a par with the Platonic ideal of a country, and a person who demands that clearly feels much more patriotism for the US than someone who wants to boast about beating Cuba. To be charitable, I’d say people like Ed are locating the Platonic ideal partially in the mythic past which we might as well treat as real as the mythic future….this is a bit unusual because usually the right feels more confortable putting the ideal in the past whereas the left puts it in the future, but both work.

    I’ve not said we’re not and you know it.

    watch your double negatives again. Are you saying we are? Or are you not saying we are (which may or may not be the same as saying we are not)? Confusing….

    Anyway:

    A coach who screams how crappy you are when you’re the number one team … has credibility to burn.

    Fact is time and time again the ‘tough coach’ who never has a good thing to say to either the player or the team is a staple of sports literature, always associated with greatness. You miss the point of credibility here. The point of such a speech is not to provide information about Cuban infant mortality rates anymore than one would want a coach for getting objective evaluations of other teams. The point is to demand greatness and one demands greatness from something worthy of greatness. The cheerleader mode, while respectable in itself, does not fulfill that need. Cheerleaders like you are fine, but when they try tarring coaches as disloyal then they should be put firmly in their proper place.

  17. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    This would only be important for someone who thought Cuba was greatest.

    Or someone who thought credibility important (which apparently does not apply to Mr Darrel or yourself).

    To be charitable, I’d say people like Ed are locating the Platonic ideal partially in the mythic past which we might as well treat as real as the mythic future.

    Mr Darrel doesn’t think its mythic. He thinks the mythic is real. Putting the mythic as real is either fiction or deceit. Either way you’re going to have a credibility problem.

    watch your double negatives again. Are you saying we are?

    I don’t see an alternative. Do you? Mr Darrel’s alternative is almost 40 light years away (and mythic to boot).

    You miss the point of credibility here.

    Yes and if you smoke marijuana your penis will fall off, you’ll have insane rages and kill your friends and neighbors, and will vote for the wrong guy. Seriously. Advert campaigns that are knowingly false typically signal that. Mr Darrel doesn’t think his claim is false. However, then again he doesn’t know the difference between a first derivative and the value of a function, which might be the root of his error.

    Cheerleaders like you are fine, but when they try tarring coaches as disloyal then they should be put firmly in their proper place.

    I didn’t call him unAmerican anti-American or disloyal. I said lying to make a point doesn’t work. Even if you have a point (such as we should try to do better) basing that on falsehood doesn’t help. He (and you) still can’t name an alternative “top nation”. Right? And you know it (he does too). So saying we aren’t is a lie. The real question is, why do you keep doing this. Drugs. Climate. Now about the nation. Do you think your arguments are so weak that you have to exaggerate so far that you’re telling lies. As noted before, when the listener figures out you are lying all the time why is he supposed to trust you’re main point as not a also a lie?

  18. Boonton says:

    Mr Darrel doesn’t think its mythic. He thinks the mythic is real. Putting the mythic as real is either fiction or deceit. Either way you’re going to have a credibility problem.

    Well to be fair with him I think he also stated he felt the *orientation* was right in 1964, meaning that the US was pointing in the direction towards greatness while today, at least in some areas, we are pointing away. There is nothing incoherent about saying that while also saying we might be better than 1964 on a wide array of measures.

    As for the mythic not being real, the question is are Platonic ideals real? As for credibility, on each metric he appears to be reporting the truth. You are the one that swaps his metrics (say infant mortality) out with other metrics (like health care in general).

    I don’t see an alternative. Do you? Mr Darrel’s alternative is almost 40 light years away (and mythic to boot).

    So your view of patriotism is about setting a very low bar for your country, Mr Darrel’s is about setting it too high? I suppose that’s a fair point, the US is probably never going to beat every country on every metric and then go a step beyond. I can’t really jump on top of someone for wanting that for their nation anymore than it really makes sense to say a coach who wants his team to always play perfectly and win every game has a ‘credibility problem’.

    I didn’t call him unAmerican anti-American or disloyal. I said lying to make a point doesn’t work. Even if you have a point (such as we should try to do better) basing that on falsehood doesn’t help.

    Yet you haven’t been able to identify a single falsehood.

  19. Ed Darrell says:

    Cuba infant mortality? Compare apples to apples.

    Assume it’s accurate, the point remains. The U.S. is not the lowest in infant mortality. Why not?

    What happened to all those screaming “right to life” yahoos? It’s a right to life only if it pains someone else, but it’s not a right to life if we try to collect on it?

    Here, pick your list, the UN’s measure, or the CIA Factbook measure: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_infant_mortality_rate

    Either way there are 20 or 30 “socialized medicine” countries with lower infant mortality rates than the U.S., including Cuba.

    What happened to the “best medical care on Earth?” On this one very important measure of how a nation works, why is the U.S. so far down the list, below Cyprus, below the Czech Republic, below Brunei, Macau, Croatia, the Marianas Islands (which are a territory of the U.S., for pity’s sake!)?

    Mark, real wages have been falling for the past 20 years or more. In 1964, real wages were rising.

    But answer my real questions, will you? What happened to the America that said education was important, important enough to open it up to thousands of people in hopes of replicating the GI Bill education miracle? Hell, we can’t get Republicans to agree to give education rights to GIs any more.

    We’re #1 in rates of incarceration. We have more people locked up than any other nation, and I see by some counts we have surpassed China, which has three times our population. We’re #1 in divorce rate. We’re #1 in CO2 emissions. We’re #1 in teen birth rates (but making progress). We’re #1 in heart attacks (many for lack of simple preventive medicine). We’re #1 in rape rate, and in total crimes.

    I hear what you’re saying, Mark. “We can’t afford to be great anymore.” It’s time to retire that idea. The old road is rapidly aging — get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand, you know?

  20. Ed Darrell says:

    I’ve not said we’re not and you know it.

    On what measure can we look ahead a decade and say, “We’ll be leading the world then, too?” On what measures can we make an argument that we are a beacon of freedom? Foreign aid? Wars prevented? Kids educated at home, kids educated overseas? Refugees saved from political or economic slavery? Nobel prizes? We’re rapidly losing ground there — right now most Nobels have gone to Americans educated in the public schools. That won’t be true in a decade. For the past 40 years, most Nobels went to Americans. That probably won’t be true — we’re not producing Nobel winning people any more. “Can’t afford those Pell and Stafford grants.”

    Make your case — where is Sorkin wrong? You claim the U.S. is #1? Convince me. And convince me that on any measure where we might stake a claim, our claim is not eroding rapidly.

    We used to console ourselves that, when we screwed up, when we trampled a small nation like Colombia to steal the Panama Canal, for example, at least we had highly noble intentions. Where do we even have noble intentions any more?

  21. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    As for credibility, on each metric he appears to be reporting the truth. You are the one that swaps his metrics (say infant mortality) out with other metrics (like health care in general).

    Almost every statistic (like the Cuba one) was misleading or false. Cuba for example reports lower infant mortality because if a fetus looks like there might have problems is aborted (without consent). Is that how you want to get “better”? Do you need me to run through his other examples (like “Gingrich” killed the SSC … during a Clinton Presidency with Democrats controlling House and Senate … but it was on Gingrich and GOP leaders who he lays the blame).

    Iraq had extremely high literacy rates after a very quick program to boost literacy. But it’s easy to boost literacy if you have a death penalty for illiteracy enforced by terror squads. Single factor high metrics for particulars of education for totalitarian states leads moronic liberal pundits (Friedman?) to wax poetic about the wonders of how easy Chinese totalitarian state decrees can just “fix” things in way the messy Democracies cannot. Apparently that stupidity carries over to those like yourself (as his defender) and Mr Darrel. I didn’t think you needed me to fisk point by point his claims about how misleading his comparisons were.

    I can’t really jump on top of someone for wanting that for their nation anymore than it really makes sense to say a coach who wants his team to always play perfectly and win every game has a ‘credibility problem’.

    His credibility problem is not about wanting to win. It’s about distorting things to make his point. If he can make the same point without lying. Why lie? Just like global warming. Why fudge data? Why hide data? Why tell outright lies? Either you are right and you can make your case or you’re not. Lying makes it seem that you have to lie, that the truth isn’t on you end of the argument. If America has a first derivative problem in various metrics, don’t try to make the point by saying the actual values of those metrics are lower. You’ve pointed out to me in arguments that Americas poor are far far better off today than 40 years ago, yet you take in this context as correct the nonsense about the problems of the gap between rich and poor is significant. Value vs derivative. If you have a problem with a derivative don’t confuse that with the value.

    Dan Rather might have been right about Mr Bush and his service record and time. But by forging documents to make his case … he lost any and all credibility in that arena (not to speak of all news related arenas). “I forged the document but I’m right” isn’t an argument anybody is going to believe. Perhaps there was funny business in Mr Bush’s past. But the chance to demonstrate that is completely ruined by forging (really lamely) documents to make the case. Similarly “We’re not top nation” (when we are by any reasonable set of value oriented metrics) is going to kill your credibility about our sagging first derivative. As I’ve said over and over (and you’ve ignored) if you tell me my penis is going to fall off if I smoke some weed (or if you try heroin once you’ll be addicted for life) … when I smoke weed (or whatever) and nothing happens like that … then I’m not going to believe the other warnings, some of might be true, about illicit drugs. It’s important to be accurate when you are making claims … because if you get the easy verifiable parts wrong, why believe you about anything.

  22. Boonton says:

    Almost every statistic (like the Cuba one) was misleading or false. Cuba for example reports lower infant mortality because if a fetus looks like there might have problems is aborted (without consent). Is that how you want to get “better”?

    Does the US report abortions as infant mortality? If so then you have a valid gripe, otherwise you don’t.

    Iraq had extremely high literacy rates after a very quick program to boost literacy. But it’s easy to boost literacy if you have a death penalty for illiteracy enforced by terror squads.

    I don’t buy that Iraq’s death squads were engaged in killing people for not doing their homework. More likely they just misreported literacy numbers. But both these examples continue to miss the point. Ed never said that the US should use those country’s methods to achieve their metrics, he said we should achieve all those metrics while leave mechanisms out of the discussion.

    Dan Rather might have been right about Mr Bush and his service record and time. But by forging documents to make his case

    Dan Rather forged documents? Wow, at what Orthodox Vatican Council did your Church decide to remove bearing false witness as one of the Ten?

  23. Mark says:

    Ed,

    On what measure can we look ahead a decade and say, “We’ll be leading the world then, too?”

    I can’t predict the future and neither can you. You cherry pick and think that’s significant. Mr Boonton is making athletic analogies. “Top nation” is more like the decathalon (pent- hept-) than anything else. You cherry pick and say (often using misleading statistics) “Nation X is better at Y”. That’s like “A guy from Germany beat Ashton Eaton at the 100 meter dash (or Mr Eaton was beaten by 9 guys in the 100m dash) Therefore, that German guy is (or all those other guys are) a better a athelete.” Except that the decathalon is a 10 event trial and you need aggregate excellence to win (Mr Eaton beat the world record at the 2012 Olympic trials).

    You claim the U.S. is #1?

    Yes. Clearly so. And it is proved by your complete laughable attempts to suggest an alternative.

    And convince me that on any measure where we might stake a claim, our claim is not eroding rapidly.

    You know after 2 rounds of comments where you are reminded that confusing value with the first derivative is a category mistake, why do you continue? Talk to one of your math teacher buddies for a brief refresher. Clue in. I’m not claiming that there is no problem (as you pretend). My claim is that your primary claim, that we are not now #1 is false and further mixing claims about a real problem with exaggerations and lies ruins your credibility, which is counter productive. I’ve given examples of that on which you have been silent. You keep pressing issues on which I am not disagreeing while not defending those on which we disagree. Why is that?

    Where do we even have noble intentions any more?

    Remind me which nation gives more in charity worldwide than the US? Oh, wait. There isn’t one. Apparently some of us have noble intentions even if you forget. Who provided most of the aid in the wake of the Tsunami? Which carrier came over and airlifted aid, water, food, and medicines? Which nation could even pretend to do that? Hmmm? If it happened today, would you expect any different?

    Boonton,
    Re: Mr Rather … apparently you forgot about that. “and that even if the documents are false, that the underlying story is true” … My point is that “even if true” basing your campaign on falsehoods kills your credibility. Don’t do it.

  24. Boonton says:

    Re: Mr Rather … apparently you forgot about that. “and that even if the documents are false, that the underlying story is true” … My point is that “even if true” basing your campaign on falsehoods kills your credibility.

    This presumes that Rather knew the documents were forged but choose to use them anyway because he felt the story itself was true. Again you leave yourself in the ‘false witness corner’. What evidence to have to merit this rather big charge versus the much more mundane one that someone duped the organization with a forged document?

  25. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    This presumes that Rather knew the documents were forged but choose to use them anyway because he felt the story itself was true.

    That is the only explanation for his continued denial. If he was objective he’d have glommed onto the forgery very quickly.

  26. Boonton says:

    The quote you cited didn’t sound like a denial, but more importantly you’re mixing up the standards in your attempt to free yourself from being a false witness. Rather, being reluctant to believe something he thought was true, was actually false upon increased analysis, would be an example of not being objective. It would not, however, be an example of ‘basing your campaign on falsehoods’ which requires believing something to be false but using it anyway because it will carry more weight in your argument.

    Also speaking of using falsehoods and ruining your credibility, you seem to have just done it again. From the very source you cited, the original news story aired on Sep 8th 2004. On Sep 20th 2004, not even two weeks later, Rather is quoted as saying ” “if I knew then what I know now – I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question,” Yet you present the argument that makes it appear that Rather refuses to this day to acknowledge the documents should not have been used given their authentication problems.

  27. Ed Darrell says:

    Clue in. I’m not claiming that there is no problem (as you pretend). My claim is that your primary claim, that we are not now #1 is false and further mixing claims about a real problem with exaggerations and lies ruins your credibility, which is counter productive. I’ve given examples of that on which you have been silent. You keep pressing issues on which I am not disagreeing while not defending those on which we disagree. Why is that?

    The problem is the claim that we’re #1, coupled with the not-implicit claim that we deserve it (“American exceptionalism”) and therefore we need do nothing noble, but can instead give tax cuts to the very, very rich and the poor, tired and huddled masses of our own shores and others should just shut up, wave the flag, and be grateful Mitch McConnell lets us live here and doesn’t let Jan Brewer deport us to Godknowswheristan.

    The claim, “we’re the greatest nation on Earth” isn’t made to honor the work of people who might have gotten us there — it’s a polemical rebuke to the entire idea that we might hope for change to something better, or even — Boehner forbid! — work to make things better.

    All attempts to justify the claim smack of the pseudo-patriotic smugness in which the claim is made, and therein lies the danger and the problem.

    You don’t have cable? I don’t have HBO, either. Did you watch the rant? See it here: http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/america-is-not-the-greatest-country-in-the-world-anymore-but-we-could-be/

    The rant is not a claim that we are evil. It’s a response an overweening, blindered claim that those of us who call for change are misguided and wrong, probably communist, and should be shut out of government and the public fora.

    I asked: Where do we even have noble intentions any more?

    Remind me which nation gives more in charity worldwide than the US? Oh, wait. There isn’t one.

    That’s not really accurate. As a percentage of GDP or GNI, we’re not #1 in most categories. As a percentage of GDP, our foreign aid is way down the list.

    Total? Are you sure the EU doesn’t rank ahead of the U.S.? If one totals the EU as a unit, the U.S. is not in first place. We can gloat that we gave more than China, I suppose, EU ranking behind China in total economy.

    But on a fair measure, the U.S. is not the largest charitable giver in the world; we give the greatest total of economic development aid, but again, only if we disaggregate the EU.

    Apparently some of us have noble intentions even if you forget. Who provided most of the aid in the wake of the Tsunami? Which carrier came over and airlifted aid, water, food, and medicines? Which nation could even pretend to do that? Hmmm? If it happened today, would you expect any different?

    Past glories, if accurate. You forget Katrina, and the U.S. government’s churlish refusal of aid from other nations, in a case where clearly we were not up the task ourselves (and have not done the job yet). Yeah, we sent a lot of bottled water and tarps to Haiti. Good on us for that. How is Haiti, today?

    We’re not dong what we could do, as a nation we’re not carrying our fair share of the load of economic development aid. While we’re good at dumping used blankets and coats on victims of natural disasters, those don’t help much in the Sudan, Congo, Haiti, and other places. The goal of several billions a year to conquer malaria has never been met (not by many nations, and the U.S. is only the richest of the slackards).

    Today we have great unemployment, and severe underemployment. There is great need in the world — a new nation in Libya, literally, a new start for Egypt. Iraq and Afghanistan need great assistance in everything other than weapons (where we’re #1!).

    We need a new Marshal Plan, for Africa, for the Middle East, for Central Asia, for Indonesia and the Philippines. We need a new series of serious trade agreements with South and Central America. We need to have serious education and industrial development in Mexico, but instead we offer bricks and mortar topped with concertina wire.

    The U.S. has the resources, and we have the people who could use to be employed to do the work. What prevents us?

    One stumbling block is the silly idea that “we are the greatest nation on Earth” and therefore don’t need to act, and act now, and act wisely.

  28. Mark says:

    Ed,
    Between the lies and the straw men, I’m flabbergasted.

    Let’s see the #1 “nation” in your book is …. not a nation at all, but 17 closely allied nations? Is that it? Furthermore, apparently you think the EU “trends” are better than our own? Have you read any papers lately? Between demographics and financial crises and so on do you really think the EU “trends” are worse than our own? Interesting. But alas, the EU is not a nation. It’s like pretending that NATO is a bigger better Nation than the US. Tell France that they aren’t a nation because Mr Darrel says so. Or Germany, or Greece, or Italy &etc.

    The problem is the claim that we’re #1, coupled with the not-implicit claim that we deserve it (“American exceptionalism”) and therefore we need do nothing noble, but can instead give tax cuts to the very, very rich and the poor, tired and huddled masses of our own shores and others should just shut up, wave the flag, and be grateful Mitch McConnell lets us live here and doesn’t let Jan Brewer deport us to Godknowswheristan.

    Uhm. Wow. The “non-implicit” straw man to the rescue. Gotcha. You surely failed debate class. Or is that a technique to assume lots of erroneous things about the other’s POV so you can attack that and not what is being discussed. I’m not claiming we deserve it. Quote me where you find that “non-implicit” (which mean I guess explicit … so cite!!!!). I’m not carrying water for the GOP Congressional leaders. Putting their claims for me to defend is another straw argument. So quote me (!) when you make claims that you want me to defend.

    As a debater you are getting an F so far, which I guess is just as well to go along with your failing basic calculus.

    So. I’m still waiting for your alternative nation. Zzzzzz.

    One stumbling block is the silly idea that “we are the greatest nation on Earth” and therefore don’t need to act, and act now, and act wisely.

    Apparently you fail logic as well. I’d have to point out that whether or not we are the greatest nation or not, we should “act and act wisely” which is my question? Why make up crap about not being the greatest nation. You ruin your credibility. The conclusion is not warranted (although perhaps your the statement you’d like to make “we are not the greatest nation on earth therefore xyz” is true no matter what you insert into the statement xyz because all if/then statements are true if the “if” part of the statement is false.