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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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72 Responses

  1. Avatar Brett says:

    And at the end of the day, I think this is largely a false assumption, or at best a great big societal band-aid. Europe’s social democracies are successful attempts at extrapolating this line of thinking into actual governance, but they are also small, easily managed and racially homogenous nations that are not forced to spend much if anything on defense. These things matter.

    I’m not sure I entirely buy this line of argument. For one thing, the biggest European nations, while smaller than the US, are still very large compared with, say, Denmark. They all have large minority populations numbering in the millions, and frequently a number of ethnic divisions (Scots, Welsh, North Irish in the UK, Basque in Spain, and the like).

    Then, of course, there’s Canada, complete with binationalism, significant minority population, federal government – and a European-style social welfare net.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    My suggestion is that the Republicans haven’t even come *CLOSE* to having spent time in the wilderness. Koz provides a spectacular example of this (not Koz qua Koz, but the fact that leaders are saying things similar to the things he says). The main carrot you have to give or deny the Republicans is your vote.

    Until they start talking like they understand *WHY* folks like you are disillusioned, withhold the carrot.

    Go third party (you don’t, after all, want to communicate to the Democrats that you think that they’re doing a bang-up job… unless, of course, that is what you want to communicate). If there is a libertarian candidate, vote for him. If there is a Boston Tea candidate, vote for him. Hell, if there is an Objectivist candidate, vote for him.

    Just communicate that you are one guy out there who cares enough to show up and wants to say that you have confidence in neither Tweedledee nor Tweedledum. If the ballot only has Tweedledee or Tweedledum on it… leave it blank.

    That’s what I do. I find that I sleep better than I did when I voted for “real” candidates, for what that’s worth.Report

    • Avatar gregiank in reply to Jaybird says:

      @Jaybird, well yeah voting for holograms is not a good idea.Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

      Ah yes, this whole thread looks like bait for me. In any case I’ll bite.

      “Koz provides a spectacular example of this (not Koz qua Koz, but the fact that leaders are saying things similar to the things he says).”

      First of all, I’m interested to know, which Republican leaders (and what public statements) do you perceive to be on the same page as what I’ve been arguing here?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

        @Koz, the ones who argue that the Republicans are the only hope for a fiscally responsible future?

        Erm… do you seriously need me to find citations out there?

        Or am I misunderstanding what you’ve been arguing?Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

          “Erm… do you seriously need me to find citations out there?”

          Please. To be precise, I think it’s very difficult to talk about the role of liberals and Democrats in the context of our current economic affairs/fiscal affairs/health care bill without giving them too much credit.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

            @Koz, no no no no. I’m not talking about liberals and Democrats.

            I’m talking about Republicans.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

              Right. Typically, most prominent Republican public officials don’t talk the way I do about the mentality of D’s and liberals, ie why the GOP is the best hope for prosperity and limited government. In fact, I can’t think of any offhand, Tom Coburn maybe.

              In any case, your larger point seemed to be that I am representative of some characteristic of the Republican party that makes them unsupportable for you (and should be for Erik). My response is that I am hardly representative of anything Republican (and we’d be in much better shape if I were).

              More than that, I just want you to clarify your train of thought so we can go from there.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

              @Koz, whether or not the Republicans walk the walk, they are talking many of the talks you’ve thrown out there.

              Boehner, for example, talks about Republicans being the bearers of the Fiscal Sanity the voters have been demanding. ( http://gopleader.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=188738 )

              Now, you may not be understanding what I see as your argument.

              It’s not “Republicans need to be more like Koz.”

              Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. I dunno. I do know that that is not the message you’ve been sending. The message you’ve been sending is that Republicans are the only hope for fiscal sanity.

              And, lemme tell ya, that argument communicates a great deal.

              The wacky thing is that it’s *SOOO* spinnable. You could give the same (seriously, the exact same) argument by prefacing it with “The American People punished the Republicans in 2006 and 2008 because they acted like Democrats. Republicans have heard the message of the Tea Parties and the American People LOUD AND CLEAR. Look at the new candidates replacing the old ones! Truly, The Republican Party is the only hope for Fiscal Sanity.”

              See? How hard was that?

              Instead, there is an absolute refusal to admit that, maybe, the Republicans screwed up. There is an absolute refusal to admit *ANY* fault for *ANY* loss at all.

              Instead… you bring up the liberals and the Democrats.

              This is something that I see as part of the problem.

              Not because of you, per se. You be you, my man. Keep being you.

              It’s because you provide such an excellent repetition of Republican Talking Points that we can see that those in charge of talking point creation are not, in any way, interested in acknowledging that they screwed up and screwed up bad.

              Instead they want to talk about the liberals and the Democrats and hammer about how the Republicans are the only hope for Fiscal Sanity.

              As if those in the audience were pretty stupid and weren’t paying attention for the last 10 years.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

              Easy to see why that comment got moderated. How subversive.

              First of all, to some extent I think we disagree about the GOP’s message. I don’t disagree with anything in particular about Boehner’s message, but it seems pretty weak tea to me.

              But let’s put that aside for now. According to you, GOP spin holds that they were punished in 2006 and 2008 for behaving like Democrats so now they’ve turned their act around so vote GOP. Then apparently they’re not willing to admit fault. Those two things are a fair bit contradictory.

              More than that, this train of thought betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of political leverage, how it works and what it’s supposed to accomplish.

              It might make more sense if the point of the whole exercise was to haul the GOP before the dock. But unless you’re arguing something different than you have so far, that’s a problem with you, not them.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

              @Koz, “According to you, GOP spin holds that they were punished in 2006 and 2008 for behaving like Democrats so now they’ve turned their act around so vote GOP.”

              No.

              According to me, GOP spin is this:

              “LET’S TALK ABOUT DEMOCRATS AND LIBERALS.”

              My take is that GOP spin ought to be “we screwed up, we need to make amends.”

              You strike me as emblematic of GOP spin. I try to explain why your spin won’t be sustainable.

              The Republicans deserve the wilderness after what they did. Nothing they’ve said has convinced me that they’ve stopped deserving the wilderness. Hell, nothing they’ve said has convinced me that they understand why they might even be there.

              Here’s your opportunity to respond to my post by talking about the Democrats, liberals, and how Republicans are the only hope for fiscal sanity.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

              “The Republicans deserve the wilderness after what they did. Nothing they’ve said has convinced me that they’ve stopped deserving the wilderness. Hell, nothing they’ve said has convinced me that they understand why they might even be there.”

              Yeah, yeah, got it, got it, got it.

              “Here’s your opportunity to respond to my post by talking about the Democrats, liberals, and how Republicans are the only hope for fiscal sanity.”

              No no no a hundred times no. Let’s say the GOP showed appropriate contrition or did some penance satisfactory to you. Obviously that would give you substantial emotional satisfaction.

              After that, then what? What is there, outside in the big bad world, besides your own personal sense of retribution, that we should hope can be accomplished by this. Try to connect some fkkking dots already, Jay. My guess is that it will be quite difficult for you. But whether it’s
              difficult or easy, it’s definitely something that you haven’t done yet, at least here.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

              @Kos, “What is there, outside in the big bad world, besides your own personal sense of retribution, that we should hope can be accomplished by this. ”

              Well, for one thing, it would communicate that, maybe (just maybe), they aren’t the same folks who screwed up the last time they were given the keys to the till.

              As it stands, it strikes me that Republicans are pretty much indistinguishable from Democrats.

              When given power, they acted like the Dems.

              Now that they don’t have power they’re promising to be different without explaining that they understand why they lost power.

              It’s not about my personal sense of retribution, Koz.

              It’s about Republicans acknowledging that, maybe (just maybe), they don’t have power anymore because they fucked up.

              Remember the 12 Steps?

              What’s the first one?Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

              “It’s not about my personal sense of retribution, Koz.”

              Really?

              “It’s about Republicans acknowledging that, maybe (just maybe), they don’t have power anymore because they fucked up.”

              And then what? And then what, and then what? Connect some dots already, wrt to the larger economic, cultural, or political context.

              What you’ve written so far has been about why you don’t like or trust Republicans (which is a mistake on its own terms). But what does this have to do with the future of the GOP (which has been leading every generic ballot poll for like four months or something), the economy or the future of our American polity?Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

              @Jaybird, Well a few things have been suggested by people outside the echo chamber that has been resolutely ignored by the GOP. I’m sure Jay has some more libertarian pertinant ones of his own to add. Here are a couple specifics:

              -The GOP says that taxes cannot be raised and that the budget must be balanced by spending cuts. Not to defense of course (defense is sacred, praise Jesus!) but social programs and aid to foreign gumments. But when anyone asks “Well then what exactly would you propose be cut?” The conservatives either send up an ink cloud of “waste and fraud” or simply run away. Propose specific cuts? Anger actual interest groups? Certainly not!

              -The GOP doesn’t like Obama’s health care plan. That’s understandable; it’s not a lovable plan to say the least. What’s less understandable is how it’s in most ways a clone of the GOP healthcare alternative from 1994 and a child of Romney’s GOP plan in Massachusetts. So they were for it before they were against it? I thought that kind of flip-flopping only happens to Kerry?
              But setting that aside; they want to repeal it so of course people ask “what are you going to replace it with?” From the GOP: crickets. Ideas are for libruls.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

              @Koz, “And then what? And then what, and then what? Connect some dots already, wrt to the larger economic, cultural, or political context. ”

              At that point maybe I’d be willing to believe that they weren’t lying when they were talking about Fiscal Sanity.

              “But what does this have to do with the future of the GOP (which has been leading every generic ballot poll for like four months or something), the economy or the future of our American polity?”

              Of course they are. The Democrats are absolutely awful and aren’t coming close to fulfilling their promises (explicit or implied).

              As for what it has to do with the Future of the Republicans?

              Well, because the Republicans are *OBVIOUSLY* lying, it’s obvious that they will immediately start stabbing the American People in the back all over again.

              Do you know what will happen shortly thereafter, Koz?

              Generic Democrat will start kicking the shit out of Generic Republican in the polls.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

              “At that point maybe I’d be willing to believe that they weren’t lying when they were talking about Fiscal Sanity.”

              Now we’re back to you again. Under some circumstances, it would reasonable to use your own opinion of John Boehner as a proxy for bondholders or blue state independents or second-generation Hispanics or whatever, but in other circumstances it’s not. And as near as I can tell you haven’t made any attempt to sort out the difference.

              It’s important to note that my contention is that the GOP is the best hope for prosperity and limited government in America now. Not that it’s the best hope for prosperity and limited government that you happen to support. You can always put your hands over your ears and go la-la-la-I’m-not-listening to falsify the latter proposition.

              “Well, because the Republicans are *OBVIOUSLY* lying, ….”

              I don’t know what you’re talking about so it’s not obvious to me. In fact, if we showed this thread to ten random people on the street, no more than two of them would have any idea what you’re trying to get at.

              I want to say this is an exercise in narcissism but that’s not quite right. As I understand it, a narcissist is a person who is so enamored of himself that it’s not worth it to consider anything outside his own interest, and that’s not you. But in any case, I don’t think you’ve quite considered the consequences of the fact that other people have intentions different from yours, and quite often the other people’s intentions will carry the day.

              As it happens I agree with you to a significant extent. For the all of our sake, the GOP needs a big win this November. To that end, people are going to have to be emotionally comfortable with GOP as a big majority, not simply a counterweight for the D’s. But even there, for the people who count it’s a forward-looking matter. The people who’s vote is going to swing depending on whether the GOP apologizes for the Iraq war or whatever aren’t going to matter very much one way or the other.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

              “The American People punished the Republicans in 2006 and 2008 because they acted like Democrats. Republicans have heard the message of the Tea Parties and the American People LOUD AND CLEAR. Look at the new candidates replacing the old ones! Truly, The Republican Party is the only hope for Fiscal Sanity.”

              I think I misread you. You’re saying that GOP hasn’t argued this. I thought so were saying they did. In either case I don’t think it makes much of a difference.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

              “The conservatives either send up an ink cloud of “waste and fraud” or simply run away. “

              The GOP opposes the Obama health care bill and the stimulus package(s). That’s quite a bit more than an ink cloud, considering how much money has been committed there.

              Let’s also note that the repudiation of folk Marxism includes fiscal conservativism, but that’s not the sum total of it. Reformulating and clarifying the appropriate assumptions underlying government programs or interventions in the economy is valuable in its own right.

              The GOP is or ought to be the vehicle whereby the bulk of apolitical Americans repudiates folk Marxism and invokes their sovereignty to insist that preference be reflected in our public policies. That goes way deeper than any one fiscal issue.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

              @Jaybird, Koz me lad, the GOP has opposed every single initiative the Dem’s have done since the last election -including- things that they supported when it was being done by them. Mindless obstruction isn’t principled; it’s just mindless obstruction. I won’t go so far as to call it nihilist; there’s a strategy to it. It’s just not one that concerns itself with the welfare of the country.

              Consider for a counterexample the only Bush president worth remembering; HW Bush. Bartlette has an excellent article up discussing how Bush I’s principled compromising and policy making coupled with Democrats meeting him part way and Clinton following a similar path in 93 laid the foundations for a decade of prosperity and fiscal stability.

              Where you and Jay seem to part ways is that you seem to genuinely believe that the GOP stands for things that it doesn’t. Jay doesn’t see any evidence that the GOP is the “best hope for prosperity and limited government in America now” and neither do I. What on earth do you see when you look at the GOP that makes you think such a thing?? I understand that faith based politics is an in thing on the right but this is ridiculous. You even imitate the debating points that the modern GOP does. When asked what specifically they propose to do or cut or reform you (and they) simply blather twenty year old platitudes and then fall back on unsupported assertions. For goodness sakes it’s not like zombie Regan is going to pop up and lead the party to victory. Hell even Regan raised taxes and compromised with the other party.

              Also your stuff about the GOP being the instrument of the silent apolitical majority of Americans is also self contradictory. If this so called silent majority (I note, yet another twenty year old recycled concept) is apolitical then it can’t and wouldn’t want the GOP to be imposing it’s preferences politically. Such a desire would be political and thus the supposed majority would not be apolitical.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

              @Koz, my argument is, and has been, the following:

              For the last few cycles, the only reason Party X has won the White House, House of Representatives, or Senate is because Party Y has been actively malicious when they were in power.

              The Republicans will win this fall.

              Why?

              Because the Democrats are actively malicious.

              Once the Democrats are in the minority, it will be the Republicans’ turn to be actively malicious.

              With luck, they will strangle anything Obama tries to do and Obama will strangle anything they try to do. Sweet, sweet gridlock.

              And once the Republicans are in power, real power, again… they will go back to being the feckless, reckless, unprincipled charlatans that they were last time.

              And, again, they will lose shortly thereafter.

              And your inability to see how someone might see 2002-2006 as representative of Republican rule is honestly flabbergasting to me.

              Do you work for them? You seem to be a smart guy who can finish a sentence… is it money that makes you say such obvious twaddle?Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

              “For the last few cycles, the only reason Party X has won the White House, House of Representatives, or Senate is because Party Y has been actively malicious when they were in power.”

              It’s surprising to me, for as much as you seem to care about these issues, how little you’ve really thought about them. This idea above, for example, is probably a useful heuristic, but is wildly incomplete on its own.

              Should we conclude that President Obama caused the Gulf oil spill? Maybe he created the health care planet to put into debt servitude to the Chinese? Of course not. Therefore, even if we believe that power tends to corrupt, there are other considerations in play as well.

              If you ignore all other considerations, the idea that the GOP is the best hope for prosperity and limited government won’t make any sense. But you should also understand, that as a practical matter it’s not something you have a veto over.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

              “Where you and Jay seem to part ways is that you seem to genuinely believe that the GOP stands for things that it doesn’t. Jay doesn’t see any evidence that the GOP is the “best hope for prosperity and limited government in America now” and neither do I. What on earth do you see when you look at the GOP that makes you think such a thing??”

              I know, this is really disappointing considering as how I’ve killed trillions of pixels concretely explaining that very thing. The point being is that you actually have to listen to what’s being said before you start clouding the whole business with your own unexamined suppositions which are probably wrong in the first place.

              As far as the silent majority thing goes, as I mentioned below that’s not exactly the same thing as it was taken to be in the Nixon era. Among other things, the science of polling has gotten better since then.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

              “Koz me lad, the GOP has opposed every single initiative the Dem’s have done since the last election -including- things that they supported when it was being done by them. Mindless obstruction isn’t principled; it’s just mindless obstruction.”

              Well of course. The GOP does get some things right. What in particular do you think the GOP should have supported?Report

  3. Avatar Observer says:

    Greenwald leading revolutions, no. One man parade, yes.

    He’s not a consensus builder. He excels however at ad hominem and shouting down debate. Whatever light he sheds where light is needed is extinguished by his behavior.Report

    • Avatar Bob in reply to Observer says:

      @Observer,

      Here is one definition of arguing ad hominem, replying to an argument or assertion by addressing the person presenting the argument or assertion rather than the argument itself. Seems to me that is what you are doing, attacking Greenwald rather than any of his positions.

      Here’s the deal, if you wish to cast stones at someone at least have the courtesy to provide a few examples.

      “Shouting down debate,” you must be kidding. He seems to relish debate.

      And, exactly what sort of “behavior” are you talking about? As far as I can tell his behavior is pretty much sitting at his computer and typing.Report

  4. Avatar Simon K says:

    Very interesting article ED. Certainly got me thinking, especially this bit: “Wonks on the left have a lot of good ideas … built on the assumption that taxing and spending in the public sector will lead to a more egalitarian society.” My first instinct was to argue with you about this – after all its unfair to claim, as the hacks and charlatans you mention tend to, that the modern democratic left aspires to impose state control as the solution to every problem. But what you say is still basically true – the solutions to various social ills that the left peddles almost always come down to giving or taking money based on some condition or another.

    The problem is that we – meaning less statist liberals, more left-leaning libertarians and conservatives of a redder persuasion, including me – haven’t really put forward any realistic alternative framework for helping the less fortunate in a way that doesn’t involve interventions by the centralized state. Generally we appeal to institutions that are more voluntary than central government – local government, charitable organizations, voluntary government schemes, and so on depending on preference.

    But those no bought into the ideological back-story find these ideas rather unconvincing precisely because they are more voluntary – at this point in history we just don’t have the ties of family, locality and loyalty that once made it advisable for a wealthy quaker businessman in Manchester or Pennsylvania to contribute to taking care of the local poor – now he could simply move to a gated community, move the factory to Malaysia and spend his money on new golf clubs. Philip Blond wants to blame Liberalism for this. I’m more inclined to blame air travel and fibre optic cable. Its much harder to rely on voluntary institutions when they’re not just voluntary, but failing to participate in them can be made cost-free.

    In order to rely on voluntary institutions to promote social welfare we would need limits to make sure that people who can volunteer see day-to-day with the positive consequences of doing so, and have to live with the negative consequences of not doing so. Once upon a time distance and expense provided those limits. They no longer do. I certainly wouldn’t want to put new limits in place coercively, and I doubt you would either. So the question arises of how you create institutions that make people want to stay within their towns, families, firms and so on, when they always have the option of not doing so? I don’t see how to do it – I certainly don’t see their being any particular disincentives in place that we can simply remove, conservative rambling to the contrary.

    If it turns out that the nannying, busy-body, interfering managerial welfare state is the cost that we have to pay for the benefits in wealth and freedom that come from a liberal society, then I’m reluctantly okay with paying it, although I’m with you on trying to make it as efficient and straightforward as possible. As an interesting aside, countries like Sweden that have more universal welfare states, also tend to be much more efficient at running them.Report

    • Avatar gregiank in reply to Simon K says:

      @Simon K, I think you and ED are using a common but weak criticism of liberal thought. You state “giving or taking money based on some condition or another.” Well yeah that is the tax and spend trope. But usually when some liberal like me wants to spend money on something it is to do some specific service or action, not just hand out twenties. So if a lib wants HCR means changing regulations, setting up new or modified systems. yes there is an element of using money to help people who cannot pay, but there is also a lot more to it in terms of bending the cost curve providing preventative care, etc. There is enough truth in your claim to sound reasonable, but enough wrong to make a bit of a strawman.Report

      • Avatar Simon K in reply to gregiank says:

        @gregiank, I was trying not to burn that particular straw man. I guess he got slightly singed anyway. I agree that generally speaking liberal policy means spending money on some particular service – its not usually simply a transfer from one person to another, but its meant to achieve some additional gain. This is fine.

        My practical objection (leaving principle aside for now) isn’t to the spending or even to the transfer as such but to the mechanisms employed to raise and spend the money, which often unintentionally undermine the goal. Health care reform is a very complicated case, so lets start with an easy one: Unemployment insurance is meant to cushion to blow of losing your job, but it also creates an incentive to remain unemployed rather than taking a job. Giving people an incentive to remain unemployed retards economic growth, thus making it less likely that unemployed people will find new jobs and reducing the tax revenues required to pay for unemployment insurance. Note that this isn’t an argument against unemployment insurance – there may be some refinements you can make to the system to improve it, but you definitely need to have something – its an argument that these kinds of programs do harm as well as good and that since the distribution of the harms is wide and unpredictable, care is needed when piling on more and more such programs.

        Which leads us to healthcare reform. Its a huge topic, but let me just say two things. Firstly, I agree with the goal of universal access to necessary care, and not just through emergency rooms. Secondly, the reform act that passed isn’t the worst possible thing, but it pays too little attention to incentives and efficiency – the main thing preventing universal coverage in the US is cost, the things driving costs up are a tax structure that encourages people to take their compensation as health insurance and to expand the scope of that insurance, and medicare which diverts resources towards the care for people who are very old and very sick. There are other issues (lack of integrated care is certainly one) but those are the big macro level problems. In the absence of a fix for those, the mandate plus subsidies simply creates either an open-ended liability or an unfulfilled promise. Given the nature of US politics the former is the most likely. Efforts to “bend the cost curve” are pointless without fixing the incentives.Report

        • Avatar gregiank in reply to Simon K says:

          @Simon K, fair enough. i completely agree that many issues are complex and incentives do matter. I somewhat question the belief that unemployment insurance is that big an incentive to not work. if you have a mortgage or kids or need health insurance or want to retire or feel better when working then unemployment insurance is just what it is supposed to be, a safety net.Report

          • Avatar Simon K in reply to gregiank says:

            @gregiank, Its an incentive at the margin – ie. for some people and to some extent. Fewer people will seek work with unemployment insurance that would without it and those that do will take longer to take a job. These unintended consequences invariably crop up whenever the state steps in to separate the people paying for a service from the people providing it – the causation can be complicated but the reasons this happens is pretty straightforward.Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to Simon K says:

      “The problem is that we – meaning less statist liberals, more left-leaning libertarians and conservatives of a redder persuasion, including me – haven’t really put forward any realistic alternative framework for helping the less fortunate in a way that doesn’t involve interventions by the centralized state.”

      This is true as far as it goes, but for me there’s an easy way around it. Instead of concluding that we should endorse the welfare state for lack of anything better, we ought to start from the perspective of asking ourselves what can reasonably be accomplished for the less fortunate.

      If we give up trying assert some kind of omniscience or omnipotence we can take a much more limited view of what can be accomplished and then go about those things.

      It also needs to be noted, especially as it relates to America, there is great percentage of the welfare state that has nothing to do with improving the lives of the less fortunate or even any pretense to it.Report

      • Avatar Simon K in reply to Koz says:

        @Koz, Yes, that was my question: What alternative set of institutional arrangements is there? Whilst I’m in favour of the idea in principle, nothing I’ve heard suggested seems even remotely workable within a modern, individualistic society.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Simon K says:

          I don’t think we alternative institutional arrangements. If we take a wider view of feasibility and affordability, we get a very useful criterion for unwinding or modifying the institutions we already have.Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to Simon K says:

      “If it turns out that the nannying, busy-body, interfering managerial welfare state is the cost that we have to pay for the benefits in wealth and freedom that come from a liberal society, then I’m reluctantly okay with paying it,….”

      That is, you’re willing to compel other people to pay it, let’s not forget that one.Report

      • Avatar Simon K in reply to Koz says:

        @Koz, Since most people are in favour of the welfare state, and even those who are against in it principle concede there’s a need for alternative institutions that would probably end up looking remarkably similar, and even more importantly its institutions are part of the fabric of society that people plan their lives around, isn’t it beside the point to complain about compulsion?Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Simon K says:

          I think the popularity of the welfare state has taken a big hit as people are starting to internalize a more comprehensive view of the costs and consequences of it.

          Furthermore, those who oppose it in principle concede the existence of it on the prudential ground of trying to change too many things at once.

          I think the compulsion complaint is more important now than ever. It’s a prime mover for people who are going to spend a great deal of energy trying to find ways of conducting economic activity outside onerous jurisdictions.Report

  5. Avatar trizzlor says:

    I’m not particularly swayed by all this talk of epistemic closure on the right

    Not to wade into this all over again, but if you consider epistemic closure in it’s original context – as tribalism rather than open mindedness – I think it is absolutely a culprit. The issue is not weather conservatives debate new/controversial ideas from within their social circle, even Beck and O’Reilly frequently disagree on basic principles, but weather conservatives can accept or are even willing to listen to ideas from outside their circle. And while this is now a systemic problem for both political parties, it is especially pernicious for the GOP because they are now in the wilderness and need to be doubly receptive to outsider ideas if they want to regain power in the long term.

    The classic example of this problem is what happened after Jon Stewart went on “Crossfire” and slammed their right/left talking-head gimmick: “Crossfire” was dropped, but instead of “Hannity & Colmes”, we ended up with “Hannity’s America”. That, I think, is at the heart of the decline in intelligent political discourse in general.

    Sadly, I see this as an issue that is getting worse rather than better. But I will echo some of the comments above, that the best way to fight this is to promote multiple parties as a principle. Specifically, working towards a “preferential voting” system or even just a “none of the above” option, at the local level, could lay the foundation for non-partisan candidates to get into office and start chipping away at the left/right pendulum to nowhere.Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to trizzlor says:

      “Not to wade into this all over again, but if you consider epistemic closure in it’s original context – as tribalism rather than open mindedness – I think it is absolutely a culprit. The issue is not weather conservatives debate new/controversial ideas from within their social circle, even Beck and O’Reilly frequently disagree on basic principles, but weather conservatives can accept or are even willing to listen to ideas from outside their circle.”

      This is a very good point. I’d state it just a bit differently. What conservatives insist on (and are very defensive about) is their ability to make a decision and execute a course of action once there is substantial agreement between the conservative intelligentsia, the conservative base, and the mass of mostly apolitical Americans. Ie, resistance from politicians, other government employees and others who are or ought to accountable to the government somehow is to be defeated as comprehensively as possible.

      This is responsible for most of the heat behind immigration issues, among other things.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Koz says:

        insist” is the key word here. The main difference between liberals and conservatives in that respect is that conservatives have convinced themselves that their viewpoint is in line with a deep but silent majority (toddlers?), and liberals simply think they know better. You can see this in every press release, where the R’s conclude with an omniscient “… and surely the American people agree with our position” and the D’s claim “… and surely the American people will learn to love our position“.

        Raising the specter of the silent majority is all well and good when your party is winning seats, it’s even okay when you’re catching the pendulum every other other cycle. But it starts to ring hollow when you’ve choked two elections in a row, your star party candidates are splitting the conservative vote and producing elected Democrats, and you’re alienating the only two demographics whose voting share is growing (minorities and college grads, as even Hillary would acknowledge).

        The same proportional votes that Obama swept in with are what cost Carter his second term. If someone brought me that news I wouldn’t be looking for a return to the past.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to trizzlor says:

          “Raising the specter of the silent majority is all well and good when your party is winning seats, it’s even okay when you’re catching the pendulum every other other cycle. But it starts to ring hollow when you’ve choked two elections in a row,…..”

          North mentioned something similar above, and there is a point worth clarifying. Ie, this is related to the Nixon-era silent majority, but not exactly the same thing.

          Unlike then conservatives know better than to think that there is a silent majority that agrees with whatever they want. Nonetheless, it’s pretty clear that some of the time there is clear vocal majority behind the conservative position, eg, the health care bill.

          Where that does happen, we do insist (you’re correct that that’s the right word) on being able to make a decision and follow it.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    This awaiting moderation thing…Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

      You’re so subversive, Jay.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Koz says:

        @Koz, I wrote something yesterday, saw that it was awaiting, figured “hey, no biggie” and then, after I got off work, took Maribou on a date (we went to see Toy Story 3 in 3D at the Imax) and, by the time I got home, was in no hurry to check the computer and pretty much just showered and went to bed.

        And it’s still in moderation.

        If that’s subversive, just call me Flavor Flav.Report

  7. The left is in a debate on how quickly to advance statism. The right is in a debate about the seriousness of their limited government rhetoric. The current moderation between extremes is misguided in that it’s not putting the center in perspective. For moderates to become relevant they have to clearly establish a position on principles, limits on government power and the role of the private sector in modern society. Moderates have been like pinballs in a pinball machine controlled by political ideologies flipping the control levers.Report

    • @Mike Farmer,
      In addition, moderates have to move beyond process and methods, such as compromise and bipartisanship, and embrace a vision of what compromise and bipartisanship should accomplish. As an example, if moderates believe that Republicans should work with Democrats to reform energy policy, then they have to address the danger of higher unemployment and energy costs and how this will eventually be good for America, how quickly alternative energy sources can become viable, and what role oil and natural gas should play — they also have to show how these government efforts to regulate and guide energy use is better than a free market, organic approach based on supply and demand, consumer costs and innovation. Too often, mderates have simply blustered about the Party of No, and how cooperation is needed, without presenting a comprehensive vision of what cooperation should accomplish and why government intervention is needed in the first place. It’s easy to play referee and penalize the team they think has made a foul, but it’s difficult to be a player and develop a game plan and strategy to succeed with what’s best for everyone — without trampling on rights and sacrificing liberty.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird says:

      @Jaybird, Man it truely is a pity that matoko_chan got banned out of here for being so ungentleman(lady?)ish. Koz and h(he?) would have gotten along like a bic and a bucket of naptha.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North says:

        @North, they could trade sentences.

        “the WEC party is on the cups of death and good riddance”

        “The Republican party is the best hope for prosperity and limited government in America now.”

        “the WECs are dying dying dead and you dont see it because wood alcohol made you blind”

        “The Republican party is the best hope for prosperity and limited government in America now.”Report

  8. Avatar Bob says:

    Bruce Bartlett shares your view,

    “What I think this poll shows is that taxes and spending are not by any means the only issues that define TPM members; they are largely united in being unsympathetic to African Americans, militant in their hostility toward illegal immigrants, and very conservative socially. At a minimum, these data throw cold water on the view that the TPM is essentially libertarian. Based on these data, I would say that TPM members have much more in common with social conservatives that welcome government intervention as long as it’s in support of their agenda.”

    http://capitalgainsandgames.com/blog/bruce-bartlett/1768/tea-party-extremismReport

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Bob says:

      @Bob, erm, that’s not my view. I certainly don’t hold that the tea partiers are “unsympathetic to African Americans”.

      He poisons the rest of what he says with such an observation.

      Isn’t it enough to say that “they’re like us, they just have different ends”?Report

      • Avatar Bob in reply to Jaybird says:

        @Jaybird, Here is where I saw you in agreement with BB, “I would say that TPM members have much more in common with social conservatives that welcome government intervention as long as it’s in support of their agenda.”

        I saw your, “They’re just populists who want their own morality imposed on others,” as substantially in agreement with Bartlett.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Bob says:

          @Bob, oh, indeed.

          It’s just that I see the tea partiers as not particularly any more immoral or venial than the people on the other side who want the government to tell me how I ought to live.Report

          • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

            @Jaybird, …the TPers I know want limited gummint. However, they are not necessarily in favor of eliminating SS or Medicare but they want additional gummint spending stopped because it is indeed wrecking the country. They are not ‘racist’ but they are tired of generational welfare recipients, e.g. the producers working for the parasites.
            They have informed the neocon wing of the GOP to be ready to be cast into political hell, and they will do it even if it mean electing an ‘independent’ TPer. I kinda like ’em and I’ll probably vote for their independent, limited gummint candidates. Also, Sarah Palin is not one of them though she presents herself as such, she’s a neo-con, war mamma…if she gets her head out of her a.. on that, I’ll vote for her…I’d take the community college over Harvard anyday!Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

            @Jaybird, its just so sweet that you think you don’t want to tell others what they can and can’t do with their government.Report

          • Avatar Bob in reply to Jaybird says:

            @Jaybird, well I clearly do not share your view regarding equivalency but I’m very use to that trope around here. No, the theocons and neocons and just plain old cons scare me a lot more than tax and spend liberals.

            And why bring morality into it? Your views differ from mine but I would never accuse you of holding immoral positions.

            Venial? I don’t understand that at all. Venial to me denotes something of little or no importance, something easily forgiven. I’m sure you will set me straight on how you are using it.Report

  9. I think the whole “Tea Party” movement has been analyzed to the point of absurdity. It’s too early to tell, but my understanding is that a large part of the public is beginning to resist statism. The Tea Party has been cherry-picked to be whatever the picker wants it to be — but it’s mainly just one outgrowth of dissatisfaction with government over-reach — and I might be just another cherry-picker. But, we’ll see after the elections if my theory is correct. If Republicans regain power and use statism again to create more government power, and if there is no resistance to the Republican power-grab, then we’ll know that the movement was simply statist reaction on the right. I don’t think this will be the case, though. There are a lot of smart and collectively powerful people invested in an empowered private sector, free of government intervention, and I believe they are fighting back. This whole deal of command and control from above doesn’t fit the 21st century zeitgeist, at least not for the great majority. People are waking up to the monster created in Washington DC, and around 100 million don’t usually vote — but they might start voting.Report

  10. Avatar silentbeep says:

    Kaine:

    Maybe it’s time for you to give it all up and start listening to liberaltarians like Brink Lindsay and Will Wilkinson. Or at the very least, give up on trying to belong to a tribe and become some strange idiosyncratic disaffected liberaltarian in your own unique way. Belonging is overrated, and you know straight ticket voting is hugely overrated as well. Vote for who you want, regardless of party affiliation. See was that so hard? 😉Report

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