In God We Trust! (In the GOP? Not so much…)

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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405 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    You do realize that you’ve just written 99% of a Balloon Juice post,  All you need to add is the keyword Clown Shoes.  (Balloon Juice is not a liberal blog. It’s a stuff-that-pisses-off-John-Cole blog, and that’s largely the GOP.)Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

      Now now, RTod, don’t be a humbug and read too much into this.  Randy Forbes is a back-backbencher who does little but generate God-talk resolutions, most of which don’t pass or even get a vote.

      And besides, I’d like to know who would vote against such a sentiment as In God We Trust.  I’m fine with atheists, but I’m not crazy about anti-theists, who seek to destroy, not demur.

      For if I were an atheist member of Congress, I’d still follow GWash on the political and social utility of religion.  No big deal.  Religion, like paying taxes, is for the little people.

      The Farewell Address:

      <i>”Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. <b>In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness</b>, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.”</i>

      Washington just called such humbugs unpatriotic douchebags.  As a social and political theorist, I’m with him on this.

       

       Report

      • Avatar b-psycho says:

        I personally don’t care what is on the money as long as I can actually obtain some of it.  That said…if whether or not god is invoked on money really means that much to ones faith, I’d question its depth.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

          I’m fine with atheists, but I’m not crazy about anti-theists, who seek to destroy, not demur.

        That sounds an awful lot like, “I’m fine with atheists as long as the STFU and don’t actually try to have any influence.”

        Welcome to freedomville.Report

      • Avatar Matty says:

        Morality is advancd by encouraging other people to believe something you yourself think is false?

        As for patriotism, the best way to express my own views is to misquote C.S Lewis. “Loyaly is far too important a virtue to be wasted on political abstractions”Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Tom, I would agree with your analysis of Forbes; but I wouldn’t have been cheesed enough to write about it had this not received the full court FOX & GOP press.  The fact that it is happening right now, a year after Obama made his slip up, at a time when they are getting no positive national press, is not coincidental.  (I will admit being ignorant of this until yesterday, but if you google this story under news you will see that the TV version of FOX has been covering this bill big time for weeks.)  So it isn’t Rhodes that has me cheesed so much as the machinery behind him.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

          Tod, I’ll stick with GWash.  We still haven’t got around “endowed by the creator” as our theory of rights; indeed I passed on a rather incoherent discussion of the nature of rights here recently.  Modern theories cannot even ground they are unalienable and pre-political.

          On the hubbub side, I think you’re looking therough jaundice-colored glasses. There may have been some chat on Fox news, but the Huffington Post is far more interested in this than National Review Online and that GOP subsidiary, Red State, who let it pass without notice.

          “Without notice” would have applied—as it does to most of these things like naming post offices—if not for the backlash.  The President today tried to make some hay of it, again flogging his unpassable “jobs bill,” which won’t even get a vote in the Dem-controlled senate.

          Now, there’s a topic of genuine interest, at least more than the Forbes bill.

          [On a personal level, I thank at least one of my usual ankle-biters for once again misrepresenting my position, above.  Never fails to disappoint.]Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            Well, Mr. Van Dyke, since you began it by misrepresenting atheists, you really don’t have much to complain about.  Of course you could have made a plain statement that nobody could possibly misrepresent, but then making yourself clear just isn’t your style, is it?

            Love ya, man, don’t ever change!Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

              James, you elided the distinction I made between atheists and anti-theists.  You are tiresome, and correcting your distortions and elisions doubles the time it takes to respond.  [Clearly, you knew it was you who distorted my point, although I left him unnamed.  The guilty accuse themselves…]

              My point is the same as GWash’s, so take it up with him.

              “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness…”

              And further, if you are capable of principled argument, the assertion that the American theory of rights rests on the “self-evident truth” that they come from God.

              “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?  That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? “—Jefferson, on slavery in Notes on Virginia

              [Jefferson, of course, being among the least religious of the Founders.]

               

              ______________

              LATE ADD:  “I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work,” Obama said.

              Uh-huh.  Anti-theists unite, and bring the pain.

              http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/11/02/obama_pushes_jobs_bill_god_wants_to_see_us_put_people_back_to_work.htmlReport

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Tom, since I know you don’t like James (or me, for that matter), I think you’re being uncharitable. You haven’t really fleshed out what an anti-theist is, and what you’ve said about them sounds an awful lot like what James is accusing you of: atheists are quiet, anti-theists don’t know when to shut up. I suspect that’s actually part of your definition of an anti-theist, because I know how you feel about people expressing views different from yours, but I also suspect that’s not all there is to your distinction. Perhaps if, instead of sniping, you were just clear about what you mean by an anti-theist, you might actually be able to have a discussion with him, or with someone, on the topic.

                Personally, even as an atheist who is anti-theism and anti-religion in some ways, but not others, I find the fervent New Atheist types really, really annoying, and counterproductive to boot (and smug, and anti-intellectual, and unintentionally self-parodic, and…). My impression is that’s the sort you mean, and while I don’t think they’re harmful to anyone but other atheists, I definitely agree that they suck. But I’m inferring that’s the type you mean, because as is your wont, you haven’t really said anything straightforwardly or clearly on the subject.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I feel pretty much the way Chris does.  Sam Harris, for example, is at best relentlessly annoying in my book.

                But is someone like Harris really trying to destroy?  What is he trying to destroy?  It just seems like imputing such bad faith to one’s ideological opponents, no better than when conservatives say liberals are purposely trying to destroy the country or when liberals say the same thing about conservatives.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Tom’s larger point, namely that a particular sort of metaphysical belief (even if it is an untrue belief) is required in order for most people (perhaps all, but it’s not clear from Tom’s comments whether it’s all or just most) to believe in the universeality an inalienability of certain rights or values is an old one, as his quotes show, and one that was at one time held by even the most fervent critics of religion and religious pratices (Voltaire said something to the effect, once upon a time). It is not just old, however. Unless one actually buys such a metaphysics, it is also outdated. Tom’s problem, per usual, is that he stopped reading at 1793. A little Nietzsche or anyone who was influenced him might help (hell, even a little Kant, where the relationship between the metaphysics and the values is reversed). Granted, Nietzsche says we can’t handle the truth, but only for now (or then, though I think still now), which is why (according to Nietzsche) people like Tom still cling to falsehoods. Tom, it must be said, is more honest than most in that he admits it is only the belief, not the truth of the belief, that is necessary, but even that is a form of clinging.

                Tom, I imagine, gets his view of atheism and materialism and so on from the New Atheists and their little blogospheric epigones, but there are other breeds of atheism out there, and other philosophical lineages that aren’t merely the reincarnation of A.J. Ayer. Maybe we won’t get universal and inalienable rights like Tom thinks we need, but maybe that’s the true errot Tom’s making (and even if he’s right, maybe there are other ways of getting there — Tom wouldn’t know, because 1793 misses a good 218 years of thought).Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                That’s more fair, Chris, although I’m up on the modern view: I don’t see where it’s an improvement.  Nietzsche’s

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_man

                is today’s Europe.  The American of 1793 held greater promise, and I hope still does in 2011.

                Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                That’s more fair, Chris, although I’m up on the modern view: I don’t see where it’s an improvement.  Nietzsche’s

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_man

                 

                is today’s Europe.  The American of 1793 held greater promise, and I hope still does in 2011.

                 

                [As for “anti-theist, I use it only socio-politically here, as in GWash’s Farewell Address.  Pretty straightforward.]Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Nietzsche’s Last Man is today’s Europe.

                It’s easy to say, but not so easy to persuasively demonstrate to the unbiased mind.

                Certainly the World Values Survey showed that about 2/3 of Germans (for example) thought that success in life is mostly determined by forces beyond the individual’s control, compared to only 1/3 of Americans, which would seem to support Tom’s claim. But curiously, European countries these days tend to have a higher percentage of small businesses as part of their economies, which suggests they’re actually more individually motivated, or, to draw from the Wiki article he linked to, “more able to dream, not merely earning a living and keeping warm.”

                The problem with such broad sweeping claims as “Europe is Nietzsche’s last man,” is that they’re essentially unfalsifiable because they’re ideological (not even philosophical, i’d argue) claims, rather than being remotely empirical. Data points can be cherry-picked on each side, but without ultimately proving anything beyond what a waste of time such abstract, non-operationalizable, concepts are.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Tom, the last man was of course a rhetorical device (all of Zarathustra was a device), but I’d rather say that we, not they, are the last men. Europe isn’t that much beyond it, but it’s at least further than our consumerist, 40-hour work week, 2-weeks vacation a year, fast food, reality TV, last man culture. Still, like I said, it’s a device, and one that he in a sense abandons in his very next published work (along with the Ubermensch). And it’s starting with that work that one should read Nietzsche in order to get at these questions. But one shouldn’t end with Nietzsche, of course.

                 

                Also, your anti-theist is clearly not as clear as you think.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Could be right, Chris. Nietz doesn’t threaten me,; I quite enjoy him, so we can leave *ME* out of this. He’s always right, of course, but that leaves us…nowhere.

                I do like George Washington. There was something about that time and place, poised between the ancient and the modern, where the Important Questions came into clearer relief.

                Perhaps they didn’t have all the answers, but the questions remain the same, and often with greater clarity than we manage these days.

                And what I’m reasonably certain of is that few of our youngbloods know of the Farewell Address and its sentiments. My point would be that we should at least be aware of them before we reject them in the name of “progress.”Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I suspect most of us have encountered Washington’s address at some point.

                And the point is not to fear Nietzsche, but to address him (and those who came after him). And part of what addressing him requires is an argument for why the things you feel require a certain metaphysical belief to maintain (among some or all of us) are good. He, as you may recall, argues that they aren’t. And that’s part of the point: for some of us, the questions are entirely different now. We’ve moved on.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                But I’m not discussing metaphysics, Chris, or the existence of God as a reality.  Just not going there.  George Washington, is all.

                 

                Perhaps you’ve moved on, but I’m quite at arm’s length from discussing either one of us.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                OK, let’s go back to Washington.  Here’s what you wrote.

                [Washington’s Farewell”Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.”
                .
                Washington just called such humbugs unpatriotic douchebags.  As a social and political theorist, I’m with him on this.

                You oddly follow this up by saying you’re ok with atheists, even though the clear thrust of both Washington’s statement and yours is that atheists are, as you put it, “unpatriotic douchebags.” You try for some distinction between atheists and anti-theists, but in terms of what Washington wrote, that just doesn’t work. Atheists don’t believe in religion’s relevance, and that in itself works to subvert religion because they deny it is a “prop for duties of men and citizens.” Any time an atheist votes based on their non-religious conviction they are laboring to subvert religion as a supposed “pillar of human happiness.” The very existence of people who are atheist, happy, prosperous, and dutiful is a fundamental challenge to Washington’s claim.

                Furthermore, we now have cross-national empirical data on these things. And it turns out that non-religious countries are not less prosperous, less happy, and less dutiful than religious ones. The northern and western European countries should be miserable, impoverished and very undutiful. I don’t think that can be shown to be the case. If it could be shown to be true, I’d have to seriously reconsider my position.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                James, you asked me to ignore your misrepresentations of my position, so I’ll do my best, starting now.  But I object to you hijacking any possible discussion of my actual ideas.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I’m seriously not trying to, Tom.  But apparently Chris has misinterpreted you, too, so maybe you ought to seriously consider the possibility that you’ve failed to make a clear statement of your position.

                But notice that above you said, “My point is the same as GWash’s, so take it up with him.” Since I <i>did</i> critique Washington’s point,  it would seem I was also critiquing yours.  But if perhaps we’ve interpreted Washington differently, will you please make a plain statement of what your point is?Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Tom, if you disagree with Washington’s point, that’s fine. So do I. My disagreement amounts to a.) thinking that belief in a theistic metaphysical view, regardless of its veracity, is not necessary in order to believe in certain universal truths (including perhaps rights, but certainly values), and b.) I don’t think those universal things are good things. Instead, I think they’re quite harmful in the long run, because they become ossified in a way that… well, it’s not good (to stave off an objection, I’m all fine with saying that “Free speech” is universal, as long as we recognize that those words do not have a universal, invariant, ahistorical, acontextual meaning).Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Chris, I agree with GWashington’s point.  Why else would I post it?  I’m flattered by the attention from you guys, but this is just too difficult and unenjoyable.  If you’re interested in my thoughts, they’re being fleshed out on other threads.  I can’t get off Square One here and really don’t enjoy the adversarial method of discourse anymore.

                Short version: I’d rather be governed by Mitt Romney than Friedrich Nietzsche, although I’d rather have a beer with Fred.  [Esp since Mitt don’t drink.]

                 

                Cheers.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I agree with GWashington’s point. 

                And yet when I critiqued Washington’s point, you accused me of missing your point.

                You personify the 5 Ds of dodgeball: “Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge.”

                 Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                James,

                Europe, as ever, is floating in the breeze of contemporary thought. Since it is now believed that small businesses help societies progress, they are using their economic might to create more of them. (see Germany’s subsidies for new small businesses, and Schodtt’s work on the sociology of it all)Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I’m getting to this late, for which I’m kicking myself.  But here is my question for Tom, James and Chris:

                Why is the question of whether or not non-believers can be upstanding moral citizens dependent on which philosopher’s writing you choose?  In fact, why is the issue of what any philosopher has ever written pertinent?

                Are there nonbelievers that live among us?  Do they lead good positive lives?  Doe they marry, have children, and contribute to society?  Are they happy, or at least as happy as others around them?

                Why are the answers to those questions not what anyone is hanging their hat on?  This is what drives me crazy about people that rely on philosophical reasoning.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                James, it’s that I prefer you not hijack any possible discussion of my point with distortions.  You are the one obliged to ignore me, not vice-versa, esp if you insist on distorting my meaning.

                 

                Chris, I have no animus towards you; James has animus towards me.

                 

                To the substance—whatever’s left of it—I use “anti-theist” here in the socio-political sense, precisely in the sense of George Washington’s Farewell Address [see above].  It’s rather straightforward to the gentle reader.  The rest is all grist for the mill as it should be.  I particularly enjoy Christopher Hitchens’ vicious attacks on Mother Teresa.  I’m a big boy and can take it—I wouldn’t firebomb his office, say.

                 

                http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/muslims-condemn-paper-arson-attack-6255979.htmlReport

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Yeah, I ignored a distinction you made up out of whole cloth to suit yourself.  Imagine that.

              As to the American theory of rights apparently only being able to rest on the words of guys two centuries dead, well we could have a whole long debate that would go absolutely nowhere about how amazed I am with the brilliance of that idea!

              Sorry to tire you out, Mr. Van Dyke.  Is it really that impossible to just ignore me?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I’d have voted against it as a way of saying “I can’t believe we’re fishing wasting time on this.”  Of course, I’d also have voted against every Bush-era emergency bill to fund the wars as a way of saying “This belongs in the budget.”Report

  2. Avatar trizzlor says:

    “The Motto America Needs Right Now” is actually an editorial in favor of the E Pluribus Unum motto and against the whole re-affirmation process. In fact, while it’s written by a Rabbit, it has such a distinct secular progressive style to it that I’m guessing FOX didn’t read past the by-line. It also includes a few classic borscht belt lines such as “I am a rabbi, for God’s sake – literally.” [rimshot]Report

  3. Avatar James Hanley says:

    As much as I tend to dislike the Democratic Party, the Republicans always seems to find a way to make the D’s seem the far more palatable choice.

    That’s what pisses me off the most about the Republicans!Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller says:

      Dude, me too!Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Which parses as “I want to like Republicans.”  But why?  They hold exactly the view of capitalism you accuse Democrats of: they believe it’s a system under which the wealthy can ruthlessly oppress and exploit the rest of the world.  It’s just that Republicans think that’s a good thing.Report

      • Avatar James K says:

        I read it more as “I want the Republicans to stop being abysmal so the Democrats won’t be able to get away with merely being terrible”.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        James K is correct; Mike, not so muc.

        Every time I look at the Democrats and am appalled, I turn around and look at the Republicans and am reminded what truly appalling really is.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        I miss midwestern and new england republicans. The party used to be kinda cool, dammit!Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Michelle Bachman is from Minnesota. Midwestern is far from synonimous with rational.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi says:

            Pennsyltucky is called that for a reason… 😉Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            Yeah, but Kimmi did say “used to be.”  Odds of Bachmann getting elected in Minnesota 25 years ago?  A lot slimmer than today.  The northern GOP got infected by all that old southern  Dem conservatism when those SOBs jumped ship, scaring off all the old northern moderates, so now the Midwestern GOP is largely composed of people who really wouldn’t be out of place in a remote Afghan village.Report

            • Avatar Kimmi says:

              I get along with Thornburgh. He may not govern the way I would prefer, but he governed better than any Dem I can name! (PA sucks, in terms of elected representation. Sucks! Sestak was a good guy, but other than that…)

              It’s fun reading Pensey’s magazine. They’re from Wisconsin, and are businesspeople who woulda been Republicans, forty years ago. They’re up in arms about the current republicans — but what’s funny is how they put things — that quintessentially conservative and patriotic tone they strike. “My grandfather, who fought in world war two, would say something about those who would shirk their duty to help people in need.”(I’m paraphrasing. can’t be arsed to google the quote)

              It’s, quite frankly, deeply sad to see straight-laced decent folk (the type who kept their mouth shut this past decade) who have had it up to their neck with these stupid austerity measures.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Fair enough james. I became self aware politically in the mid 90’s so you can imagine what kind of mental picture I have of the American political scene.Report

  4. Avatar MFarmer says:

    Choosing the cast of Glee to fill congress and the presidency would be more palatable than four more years of Democrats. I’m waiting for a third party.Report

    • Avatar wardsmith says:

      Ever since Buckley opined about those 2 thousand names in the Boston phone book, they’ve have been stacking that deck with a bunch of Democrats named Asomebody.- just in case. The cast of Glee ain’t a bad idea tho, and CSpan would be much more interesting with song and dance numbers, instead of the song and dance the current members have been sticking us with.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Choosing the cast of Glee to fill congress and the presidency would be more palatable than four more years of Democrats.

      But you have to admit, the press conferences would be awesome!  And afterwards we could sell them on iTunes.Report

      • Avatar kenB says:

        “Now that they’re all senators, they’ve really got the chance

        To give the public…… a song and dance!”

         

        [Adapted from a Tom Lehrer song about George Murphy]Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          Plus, we’d all kinds of side stories about this congress person secretly having a crush on that Senator – if only they would just break up with that White House staffer that is cheating on them!Report

  5. Avatar Steve S. says:

    “In God We Trust”

    Odd sentiment, since God states repeatedly in the Bible that He is prone to emotional outbursts.  What exactly would you trust Him with?

     Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Same reason I trust my wife.

      RIMSHOT!Report

    • Avatar William Wordsworth says:

      Not that we have a choice, but I guess the whole, entire universe?  Do you have any better guys you would recommend?   I’m going to start really worrying when he gets bored.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Do you have any better guys you would recommend? 

        I’m crossing posts here from another thread, but how about Mark Cuban?  He’s been great for the Mavs.Report

      • Avatar Steve S. says:

        “Do you have any better guys you would recommend?”

        I’d recommend a restraining order more than “trust”, given Yahweh’s documented behavior.Report

        • Avatar Baron von Trapp says:

          How would you like to deliver THAT restraining order?  God, you’ve been  ordered by  a court of law to stay 100 trillion miles away from earth.   And please, don’t play the race card.   Again.  And the eugenics thing makes you a sadist.

          Can God go to Confession?  All things considered, I think I love His Son more than He.  Did Jesus have a choice?   Or His Mother?  How would you like to be his Mother, you know, just cleaning the house, washing clothes, scrubbing the floors and here comes some guy knocking on the door.  Oh today’s you lucky day, Mary—no, you didn’t win the Publisher Clearing House contest, but you are going to give birth, a virginal birth to none other than the Son of God.  Imagine if Kevorkian was around then…I guess everything that has to happen, happens.  Otherwise the universe would make absolutely NO sense.  Does it now?Report

  6. Avatar dhex says:

    http://wordsmith.org/anagram/anagram.cgi?anagram=in+god+we+trust&t=1000&a=n

    i am particularly fond of “Undergo Twits” – a motto i could finally believe in.Report

  7. Avatar Scott says:

    If the anti-religious lefties thought they could expunge in god we trust you know they would.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Ah, this would explain the fact that only six House member voted against.  Because there are only six Dems in the House.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        Half point.  Too easy.Report

      • Avatar Scott says:

        That doesn’t change the fact I’m right.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          It also doesn’t change the fact that the presence of “God” anywhere in the political lexicon is entirely cosmetic and thus expunging it would have absolutely zero effect on the country.

          Except of course that the people who really actually do want their religion established would lose their freaking minds, so there’s that.Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

            And, back to the issue. Younz guys, for the most part, have abandoned God in all matters immanent (not to mention transcendent). In fact the thread above gives examples of puerile, middle-school mockery, which significantly lowers the Leauge’s long noted penchant to exhibit ‘class’ in debate and testifies to Hegel’s (and others) analysis that when the question arises it is always assumed that the discussion among the derailed and confused (even though they owe thousands in student loans that testify to their great knowledge) is that we are discussiong not the immanent abscence of God but the rise of the dominance of ‘man.’ Thus, we circle back around to the Enlightenment, and it’s inevitable challenge of God, and we find that, in reality, we are discussing one of the four ‘misconstructions of political institutions,’ e.g. “Modern gnosis-the immanentization of the idea and its combination with the second, apocalyptic form.”  Obviously, a discussion of political institutions is in order.

             

             Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Robert,  You’re the king of the snarky jab here, and you’re going to suddenly take offense at a lack of high level discussion?  Remind me just why a superstition without any empirical basis deserves particular respect?  And then explain to me why that same respect shouldn’t be extended to astrology?Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                James, ‘king of the snarky jabs,’ please. I rather see my insightful and always hepful ‘comments’ as refreshing interludes of reason and common sense. Re: your critique of the Word allow this: perhaps you’ve erred along the lines of say, Marx, who was aware of the centrality of Aristotle’s etiological arguement concerning  human existence. In your essentially Marxist position, in rejecting the notion that man does not exist as a result of his own efforts but rather exists as a product of “the divine ground of all reality,” you’ve freely chosen to embrace some ideology or other (I’m not sure which, and it doesn’t matter) and good luck with that, I’m pretty big into Free Will (see von Schilling). At least Marx had the decency to know he couldn’t address the etiological problem and have any chance in destroying man’s humanity.

                Chris, admittedly Hegel’s difficult, brilliant, and perhaps incomparable in philosophy, he’s also a egocentric sneak. Even Marx, who knew his history of philosophy, distorted Hegel’s writings,Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                <i>Even Marx, who knew his history of philosophy, distorted Hegel’s writings</i>

                You should at least read one of those two before saying something like that, eh? And you’ve pretty much admitted not having read either.

                 

                Also, the Hegel thing was a jab. The rest was an actual plea. I get the impression that you want to say something interesting, but you hide it in word salad because you’re so set on using Voegelin’s terminology. Just say what you mean. It might actually promote discussion.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                In your essentially Marxist position

                I don’t think I ever actually thought of you as stupid before, but it’s hard to square this with something written by an intelligent person.  Because while being a Marxist makes one a materialist, being a materialist does not make one a Marxist.

                Basic set theory.  The kind of thing my 4th grader is learning.

                 Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                James, you might wanna re-read my reply to you (or maybe not?). I believe I referred to you as an ‘ideologist’ of one stripe or another, though I believe you’re embracing a particular Marxist position because your system fails without it. I hope your churchin’ up the boy, a little?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I believe you’re embracing a particular Marxist position because your system fails without it.

                Oh, well that clears it up.

                Oh, wait, no it doesn’t.  It’s still a load of BS; just another conservative mindlessly slapping “MArxist!11!” onto anything he doesn’t like.

                 Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                James, calm down, I really don’t want you to have the big one! The problem, at least from the Greek, is that you’re not totally/completely human. You’ve chosen to abandon or ignore what Soc/Plato/Aris. defined as the ‘tension of existence,’ that defines humanity, the complete being, in ontological-teleological terms. The result is this obvious angst, alienation, and kind of mindless aggressiveness you so oft exhibit. However, your reactions are rather typical, Cicero mentioned them in his ‘Disputations’, and they’ve been analyized by any number of philosophers, shrinks, etc. The good news is that many of your contemporaries share your position, the bad news is that most of them aren’t as dedicated to the psychopathology as you appear to be.

                 Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Plenty calm here, Mr. Cheeks.  Just laughing at your pretenses about understanding Marxism and what not.

                Soc/Plat/Ari?  Turns out abandoning them doesn’t do much to diminish our humanity, seeing as that’s just a consequence of a few billion years of evolution.  It’s really a shame guys as smart as them couldn’t be brought back learn about it.  Aristotle, being something of a biologist, would surely have been fascinated and updated his thoughts accordingly.

                Psychopathology and whatnot–gotta love it.  Throw in enough big words and surely eventually it means something, right?

                And how did you know “Tensions of Existence” was my second favorite death rock band (right behind Southern Death Cult)?

                Marxist….hee hee.  Wake me when you’ve read him. (Or rather, call me when you plan to read him and I’ll come wake you–bit of a bore, really.)Report

            • Avatar Chris says:

              Bob, I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: you really need to write those comments in your own words. The way you’ve written this one, like so many others, it is basically gobbledygook. I think you have an idea, but in trying to express it in a language that is not yours, and that you clearly don’t fully grasp (and by the way, you’ve clearly never read Hegel), you turn it into little more than word salad. If you want to complain about the lack of high level discussion, the least you could do is attempt that discussion in your own words so that you make sense.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              I’m an agnostic Bob so take this as you will. But what with God being supposedly omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent I’d hazard to guess that she probably could be rationally expected to have a spectacular sense of humor.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I’m trying to guess which part of this will make Bob cringe more, North.  That God might laugh at your jokes, or that you used the word “she.”Report

              • Avatar North says:

                If there is a God I earnestly hope he/she laughs at my jokes. I’d hate to spend eternity in the lake ‘o fire even if Jason, Boe, my partner and Liza are there with me.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                If there is a God I earnestly hope he/she laughs at my jokes.

                North, I’m quite sure she does. I used to tell my evangalizing Christian friends that if God gave me free-will fully expecting me to use it, she cannot punish me for coming to the reasonable conclusion that she doesn’t exist.

                I give God too much credit to think otherwise, all the talk about jealousy and vengefulness notwithstanding.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Stillwater, from your lips to God(ess)’s ear.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                The missus is working on it! We’d like to meet you sometime!Report

              • Avatar North says:

                If I and my Significant Other ever happen to be out in your neck of the woods you can be sure we’ll let you know. First drink is on me but I’m not buying you any smokes (I know you like the expensive kind).

                And being as I’m half Canadian and he’s polite we’ll both bow our heads if the Missus would like to say grace too.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                We will be looking forward to it.

                Sadly, I no longer smoke..no longer the faint wisp of smoke curling, seductively toward the ceiling, no longer the taste of a gracious tobacco lingering on the palate. Alas.

                North, thank you for your continuing graciousness.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                RTod, I usually don’t ‘cringe’ in God debates, knowing that blasphemy is usually dealt with, sometimes rather swiftly. Any chest pains?

                I happily defend your right of free speech, even to the barricades, while considering your opinions….well, disagreeable, considering the potential.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                @Bob ” knowing that blasphemy is usually dealt with, sometimes rather swiftly”

                This is true.  Though those that deal with it swiftly tend to be the True Believers, not God.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Of course, she made men after all, and what are men if not less hairy apes with pretensions of grandeur?Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              Bob:

              The country got along just fine with no official motto for a hunnerd-fiddy odd years.  I don’t think going back to the previous unofficial one represents anything other than an acknowledgment that the 50s are over.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Pat, my point is an anti-enlightenment one in that I’d prefer the acknowledgement of God permeating immancence as opposed to either ignoring the etiological argument, as mentioned above. It’s not my problem how to symbolize that in lieu of modernity but I’d happily contribute ideas.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Write a guest post.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I’d prefer the acknowledgement of God permeating immancence

                Yeah, it’s something of a pisser that the Constitution resolutely refuses to do so, so we need to slip it one way or another.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                James, you’re angry, let it out!

                Frankly, I like you. I see a smart man wrestling with the challenges of modernity, and raising at least one child. That’s a good thing, even though it can be a struggle, to some. But the everlasting questions of mortality, reason, order and disorder, the divine are, for some, always beckoning in an age that, as Voegelin tells us, fully and at every turn embrace a process of immanentization that has purged our culture of the enduring myth and symbols and has for some time placed our disordered nations, with their sundry psychotic and spiritual pathologies (Voegelin identified the phenomenon as the ‘egophanic revolt’) on the cusp of apocalyptic collapse.

                My question, James, is, if you had the opportunity to turn away from this ‘revolt’ and embrace the metalepsis, the divine/human encounter, in order to save your son from the horror of social collapse, or to save yourself, would you do it?

                 Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                This begs four questions: that social collapse is inevitable, that it is bad, that embracing the metalepsis can prevent it, and it does so in a way that is worth it.

                I’m someone on board with giving the first one a pass (although collapse of civilizations is historically a certainty, things might always be different this time).  I’m not so sure that this is a bad thing, though (although it certainly sucks to live through).  I mean, the U.S. came out of a collapsed empire, and it’s better than the one it replaced, right?  Maybe the crucible of collapse is necessary for the next thing to be better than this one.

                I’m not inclined to give a free pass to the third, or the fourth.  Again historically: societies predicated on divine revelation have all sorts of horrid characteristics.  Although to be fair, again, things might always be different this time.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                PatC, I dig Voegelin, although his use of terms is rightfully objected to by the LOOG as idiosyncratic.  He arrogates the meaning of words, say “gnosticism,”

                When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

                So there’s that.

                I think of him more as a prophet or poet. Once you wade in a little, you get what he’s on about, just like Cheeks in his echoes.  Had Voegelin not appropriated the meaning of certain words, he’d have been obliged to invent new ones.  He was onto live wires, not obfuscation.  Language limited his ideas: he was no sophistic manipulator of it.

                And so, when Cheeks goes Voegelin, I get it, and I’m not steeped in Voegelinese by any means; it’s just as a Spaniard can sort of puzzle out an Italian.  I find the objections either la-la-la-fingers-in-the-ears or just intentionally obtuse.

                Reading their objections, I think most of RCheeks’ hostile interlocutors know exactly what he means, and they just don’t funcking like it, so they play the disingenuousness game.

                Because if they really wanted to know what he actually means, they would funcking ask him, but they mostly don’t…Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Tom, I’d have no problem with his use of Voegelin’s terminology a.) if he were using them the way Voegelin did (imagine an Italian trying to understand Spanish spoken by a Japanese person who’s only exposure to Spanish is a few TV novelas, to make your analogy more accurate) and b.) he didn’t at the same time just throw the different Voegelinian points together somewhat willy nilly. Like I said, I think Bob has a genuine viewpoint (not like some people who throw around terminology like that just to sound smart), and to some extent an interesting one that’s not all that different from yours, only more extreme perhaps. I just think it gets lost in his tossed Voegelin word salad.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs says:

                Plenty of people have asked him plenty of times to actually use different words, more easily accessible words, to describe what he is saying.  In fact, Chris did just that upthread a bit. 

                I find the objections either la-la-la-fingers-in-the-ears or just intentionally obtuse.

                Probably because you agree with him.  I’m not even sure what he’s funcking saying so I’m not sure where I stand.  Although, in full confession, the way Cheeks seems to condescend to everyone like he’s the only one who has it all figured out makes me want to disagree with him just to watch him double down on the Voeglin mad lib.  Which brings me back to the hope that someday, just once, he will use words us little people can understand to describe his (and Voegelin’s) ideas.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Mr. Boggs, I understand what Cheeks’ Voegelinese means.  If you don’t, kindly ask him.  Anything else, esp hostility, would be disingenuous.

                Which I suspect many of his detractors are being.  I think they get the gist of it just fine.  😉

                I understand y’all just fine no matter what which language you’re speaking.  Every once in awhile somebody says something original or interesting, but I’m quick to apologize if I glossed over it out of numbness to the usual fare.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs says:

                Since it appears you missed it, I’ll say it again.  He has been asked numerous times to put it in his own words.  I think he is basically saying that because people turn away from God we’re going in the shitter.  Yeah, I disagree with that mostly because his premise assumes the existence of a God.  Also because it assumes we’re going in the shitter.

                But it sounds like you’re saying that Mr. Cheeks, who is so often contentious in his own dialogue, refuses to put things into his own words simply to be belligerent with those who are hostile to his ideas.  Like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men telling Tom Cruise he has to ask him nicely for Santiago’s transfer orders.  As you would say, “Meh.” 

                If he can’t put it into any other words than Voegelin’s, I can only assume he really doesn’t understand it out of the confines of Voegelin’s language.  Or it may simply be that it’s less likely he’ll get any rebuttals that he can’t continue to counter with inaccessible language.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Pat, that’s a fine analysis. I think the ‘apocalyptic’ aspect/category is grounded on ‘man’s’ sin, primarily the Orignial one. Then there’s the Voegelinian critique of the ‘metastatic apocalypse’ running through and revealed in the Israelite prophets, St. Paul, and proceeding into “…Christian sectarian movements right up to the Renaissance.” And, while the issue is deliciously complex (even Marx and Hegel couldn’t put the puzzle together) it seems to end up in an (demonic?) immanentization that Voegelin says had to become secularist because of the rejection of the WORD. In the end we become a culture/nation with our significant symbols and myths lying broken, with nothing to fall back upon, and forced to confront what Voegelin describes as the ‘egophanic revolt’, a movement that abrogates the natural theophanic constitution of man in politics.  

                I think the phenomenon of collapse is ‘natural’ in the sense the man is a flawed creature (Kimmi can fill us in) and while we can tip our hat to the Aristotle’s et al who sought the best political condition, the fact is there are very good reasons why the Greeks, Romans, et al empires are now found in the history books. Interestingly, and perhaps you agree, one of the primary reasons for their demise lies in the fact that they too, engaged in the ‘egophanic revolt’ in one way or another.

                Oh, and Pat, moving toward and seeking the love of the Divine will always, and everytime, result in the best situation. To turn one’s life over to God, to give back the freedom of the Will to the Creator, is to become a ‘child of God,’ a new ‘creature’ in God, the good, Christian hill people say.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Robert,

                Anger, forsooth.  I’m sure it’s convenient for you to think so, so my demurrals will surely fall on deaf ears.

                As to wrestling with the challenges of modernity, indeed, because that’s all that’s worth wrestling with.   Your whole approach is based on assumptions that I find as tenable as the assumption that my coffeepot has a mind of its own.

                It’s somewhat interesting as an intellectual exercise to draw out logical implications of an argument based on assumptions one doesn’t hold, but when it comes to trying to persuade someone that the particular line of thinking partakes of some substantial degree of absolute truth, well, I don’t think any chain of logic extending from my coffeepot’s consciousness would persuade you of anything.

                Even if I were inclined to accept your assumption of the divine, the assumption of social collapse when turning away from the divine simply doesn’t follow, at least not without a lot of very tenuous links in the logical chain.  I’m an empiricist–all I have to do is look at northern and western Europe to realize that there’s no “horror of social collapse” going on in those increasingly agnostic and atheistic societies.

                Of course we may have different values for operationalizing social collapse.  For some it’s just the falling away of the old order as it evolves into a new, unfamiliar (and because of that unfamiliarity, intimidating) order.  For others, it means civil war, collapse of exchange and social trust, starvation; in short, a Hobbesian State of Nature (see, Rwanda, Lebanese Civil War, Somalia).  Not that northern Europe is remotely my ideal society, but I can’t support a claim it’s had that kind of collapse, even though they are the least religious societies on Earth.

                So would I embrace the divine/human encounter to prevent <i>my</i> understanding of social collapse, <i>if</i> there was such a thing as the divine and <i>if</i> embracing it could prevent the Hobbesian war of all against all?  Well, as a pragmatical utilitarian I’m sure I would.  Of course I’d screw a porcupine if doing so would prevent that kind of social collapse.  Agreeing to a hypothetical is not the same as being persuaded it actually is meaningful in any way.Report

          • Avatar Scott says:

            Pat:

            Funny then that Barry is claiming that God wants Congress to pass his jobs bill.  As the article point out liberals would get their panties in a twist if a Repub said the same thing.

            http://dailycaller.com/2011/11/03/sounds-like-bitter-clinging-to-me-mr-president/Report

    • Avatar Plinko says:

      Fortunately for you, there are only about three members of the actual Left holding Congressional seats.Report

  8. Avatar Koz says:

    “The big knock on today’s GOP, of course, is that it is a party completely unserious about policy or governing. Critics say it’s reliance on talk radio and FOX news has left it a laughable shell of cultural dog whistles and sound bites.”

    Oddly enough, I used to be kinda sympathetic to thoughts like this. I don’t any more. Whatever the faults of the GOP (and they are many) the Obama Administration has conclusively proved that we need them more than they need us.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Wait… who is the “they” and who is the “us” here?Report

      • Avatar Koz says:

        “They” is the GOP political establishment, or the GOP political establishment and allied media, so I’m willing to throw in FOX news if you want.

        “We” are the intelligent private sector Americans, interested in politics but not professionally involved in it.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          Got it.  Wanted to make sure that we disagree, which we do.  And this being you and me, it probably means that the Apocalypse hasn’t hit quite yet.Report

          • Avatar Koz says:

            Oh, I sure we do.

            I might write more about this later, but the Obama-era GOP goes well beyond competence to something approaching actual greatness. And it’s frustrating that people such as yourself just can’t resist having to take them down a peg because of penny-ante crap like this.

            It’s like holding against all evidence that MJ is the 113th greatest player in the history of the NBA, ‘cuz hey, he sucked at baseball and golf and lost money gambling too.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              Koz, if there wasn’t so much penny-ante crap, I’d be compelled to come to your defense, here.

              But seriously, this (by this, I mean from 1998-today) is the worst batch of GOP participants in the legislative process, like… ever.  This raft of Presidential candidates in particular is seriously messed up.

              On the other side, the Democrats haven’t been much better.  So there’s that.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “Koz, if there wasn’t so much penny-ante crap, I’d be compelled to come to your defense, here.”

                That that can be irritating but I don’t think the regulars here are comprehending within orders of magnitude true greatness of the Republican Party. At a time where the President Obama has been manifestly and horrifically incompetent and nothing would be easier than just to go along to get along, the GOP has fought the good fight for limited government with perseverance, moral courage and competent execution for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do. I’d be shocked if I didn’t see it with my own eyes, and I have seen it with my own eyes and I’m still shocked.

                “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”
                — Mahatma GandhiReport

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                ZIRP for ever! Austerity will make the pain go away! How do you throw money at the problem, when you’re at ZIRP?Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Drivebys are ok, incoherence is not.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Apologies for your ignorance.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZIRP

                And perhaps I should say liquidity trap forever?Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I’ll second Koz’s complaint. What is a ZIRP?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                you need to read more calculated risk, or other blogs that discuss fiscal policy in detail (how the hell can yinz all know about all these dull philosophers and crap, and not know about reasonably simple terms?? My mind is seriously boggled here. It’s not like I’m referencing Breton Woods! — which is something else to read and understand, but a great deal more obscure)Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                It’s the supposed zero bound representing a constraint on controlling monetary policy by typical central bank interest rate moves. Suffice to say, it has nothing to do with the price of tea in China from the post she was responding to.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                snark aside, your support of something that has never worked in the past seems a-conservative at best, and supportive of the “powers that be” at worst.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                This is why Kimmi has thousands of posts to my hundreds. She doesn’t bother with links, she doesn’t bother explaining herself and loves to use obscurantist references. She even thinks “ZIRP” has something to do with Republicans. LOLReport

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                ward,

                as if you’ve never heard Republicans quote Friedman-as-gospel.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “She doesn’t bother with links, she doesn’t bother explaining herself and loves to use obscurantist references.”

                Yeah, like it’s supposed to be your fault that she’s a thousand miles away from being coherent or relevant. Btw Kimmi, Breton Woods is much less obscure than ZIRP.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

              This would be worth hashing out, because I can’t even begin to guess where you’re getting greatness from… so clearly I’m not yet seeing where you’re coming from.  (And I’ve found when you are patient with me I usually get there.  And occasionally agree.)

              And for what it’s worth, it’s not that I “can’t resist” taking them down.  It’s that I see them as being all style and no substance, at a time when this country could really, really use an intelligent opposition party.  To me the problem is that the penny ante stuff is all I see from them.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                To be fair, I didn’t see it until the Obama Administration and truth be told it was pretty hard to see before then.

                But when you look at the all the more or less free political parties all over the world, and narrow it down further to the center-right parties of the first world, basically they all sold out to the self-dealing managerial class. The Tories in the UK, whatever party Chirac came from (it was the French conservative party, I forget its exact name) the various continental Christian Democrats, it was so much easier for the political class to organize against against the people and as a result Europe is what it is. The Euro and almost all sovereign finance are imploding and the possibility of prosperity and economic civilization are being foreclosed there, for a long time and quite possibly forever.

                By some miracle the American Republican party hasn’t done this. Frankly for the duration of the Obama Administration they’ve executed at a level or two better than the American people deserve and limited government is in with a fighting shot.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I think this is where our disconnect it: my cynicism.

                When I look at the GOP, I just don’t see a group of people that really believe all of those things.  I see a group of people trying to find ways to bang on the other guys until they are returned to power, where I will expect they will “curb government” in the way they always do when they are in power: by expanding it greatly.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I don’t think the issue is cynicism as much as too-narrow context.

                The trick is that you have too look at more than the inside game. Even the outside game within America is illustrative. I don’t think you are appreciating how much the mere existence of the Republican Party empowers Americans from sea to shining sea.

                I remember going over this with Mark when he was writing about his decision to vote for some irrelevant third party candidate for governor (and not Chris Christie). It’s not so much that Chris Christie is a great statesman and the things he’s doing in office are great (though for the most part I believe those things).

                It’s the fact that at any time the voters of New Jersey want to have citizenship, free enterprise and (lower case r) republican government (which has certainly not happened yet), the Republican Party is there to vote for and put in power.

                And this goes well beyond the existence of any typical opposition (or majority) party. The Republican Party, for all its faults, has proven itself willing to attack the Leviathan managerial state at its weakest and its strongest. Therefore, the people in America are still, barely, sovereign in a way that they’re not in other supposedly advanced democracies.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                Koz, great job. The fact that there were those in the GOP willing to call for cuts and present their work for public examination makes the contemporary GOP far superior to the epigonic Marxists in the commie-Dem Party.Report

              • Avatar Scott says:

                Todd:

                What do you see when you look at Dems, people full of the milk of human kindness, that only want power so they can uplift their fellow man? Yea what BS.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                I see the only boots on the ground in Flint. But hell, I actually talk to people.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                @Scott: What do you see when you look at Dems, people full of the milk of human kindness, that only want power so they can uplift their fellow man? Yea what BS.

                What did I say that led you to believe I think this?  Was it this?

                “I tend to dislike the Democratic Party”

                Which would have been hard to miss, Scott, seeing as how I buried it in the beginning of the first sentence of my post.  

                You want to defend the capabilities of today’s GOP?  Go ahead.  But declaring any critic a hippie Marxist isn’t an argument; it’s just lazy.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                <i>To be fair, I didn’t see it until the Obama Administration and truth be told it was pretty hard to see before then.</i>

                Yeah, maybe because before then, say 2000-2008, they made absolutely no effort to seriously restrain government, tripling discretionary non-defense spending, jacking up the national debt to record levels, passing legislation that sought to gut the Bill of Rights, thrusting us into an unnecessary war in Iraq (and thereby extending the length of the necessary war in Afghanistan).

                If that’s what you call limiting government, you must be getting all your word definitions from conservapedia.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Bzzt James. You’re absolutely not allowed to bring up 2000-2006 with Koz (you can discuss 2006-2008 a little since he has a Dem congress to blame at that point). You need to understand that for his narratives and internal models to work 2000-2006 never happened.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                But, but, but… I remember those years!  Don’t I?  Or am I just trapped in the matrix?Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Don’t think; just vote GOP (not that the Dems have been covering themselves in glory mind you).Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                To be fair to Koz, 2000-2006 should have been educational for people who vote Democrat, too.  And it wasn’t.

                I’ll give this to the GOP: when they’re in the minority, they fight.  Their goals might be questionable, but they have gumption.

                When the Democrats are in the minority, they mewl like newborn kittens, and they’re about as fierce.  I don’t think the Democrats got one principled concession out of 2000-2006.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Heh. Awesome point. That’s true.

                “If the Republicans are in power, they’ll shrink government until it’s gone! It’ll be anarchy! They’ll kill senior citizens! They’ll ban abortion! They’ll censor radio stations!!!!”

                “Dude. Remember 2002-2006?”

                Koz voice: “Why do you always bring that up as if it’s relevant?”Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Jay, IIRC for as long as we’ve been corresponding I have never said that anything that happened between 2002 and 2006 is not relevant. You keep trying that move but it doesn’t work.

                I know you’re not Mark but for this purpose I think it’s fair enough to conflate you because I think that you’re pretty much in agreement with each other on this point.

                Given that, when has a libertarian (or Libertarian) ever done anything important for limited government where they weren’t associated with the mainstream Right in America? Maybe Balko but I’d guess a fair number of the people here would lump him in with the Right anyway. After that, I’m blanking. I can’t even come up with prospectives.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                @Pat: To be fair to Koz, 2000-2006 should have been educational for people who vote Democrat, too.  And it wasn’t.

                +1, many times overReport

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                You left out turning the DoJ into a arm of the Republican party.  Not just firing a US Attorney who refused to influence an election, but the railroading of Don Siegelman, and making it the mission of the Civil Rights division to disenfranchise voters. .Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                Clinton fired EVERY U.S. attorney, Bush’s crime was he didn’t fire them all apparently. Oh and the Democrat PR machine is vastly superior to the Republican’s obviously. Chutzpah indeed.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                ward,

                you still up in arms about the Pittsburgh US attny not being fired when Obama came into power and she refused to resign?

                … if not, you should be. Fucking waster of taxpayer money…Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Such obvious sophistry.  Clinton replaced all of them with his own guys, as is the custom.  Bush fired the ones of his own guys who wouldn’t break the law for him.  This is not moral equivalence.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Such obvious sophistry.  Clinton replaced all of them with his own guys, as is the custom.

                Mike is correct.  Every single appointed person in the executive branch is replaceable by the incoming president, except those who have fixed terms (like the Fed Chair).  The norm is that every single one of those persons tenders their resignation when the new prez comes in.  If he wants them to stay on, he’ll ask them (like Obama asking Gates to stay on as SecDef).

                In Clinton’s case, iirc, some G.H.W.B. appointees decided to buck that tradition and not resign. That was ill-mannered, perhaps, but not actually illegitimate, since they aren’t legally required to.  But that’s why he fired them–so that like every president before them he could appoint his own people.

                W.’s administration also came into office and appointed new U.S. attorneys.  Perfectly legitimate and traditional.  But they fired some for not cooking up legal attacks against partisan opponents or for not stopping legal actions against supporters, and that smacks of corruption and obstruction of justice.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                Of course, and we’re not going to see any *(more) obstruction of justice under Obama, esp concerning “Fast and Furious” will we? Would have typed more but coffee was coming out my nose I was laughing so hard. One thing the left can always count on is a massive army of unpaid useful idiots carrying their water for them. Apologists all.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                ward,

                Am I not the bitch saying that Carnegie was a kinda cool guy (better than the current Scaife)?

                You want me to bitch about Obama’s DoJ? I know more than you do about miscarriage of justice, I’ll bet.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Of course, and we’re not going to see any *(more) obstruction of justice under Obama,

                Ward, can you point to any place I suggested that?  I’m just pointing out that your understanding of the history of replacing US Attorneys is wrong. Funny how, when faced with that, you neither bother to either rebut it or admit error, but just move the goalposts to talk about the future instead of the past.

                As a matter of fact, given everything I’ve seen from Obama so far, obstruction of justice wouldn’t surprise me in the least.  But what he might do has no bearing on what either Clinton or W. actually did do.

                 Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                Um, James. The words “of course” were meant to convey that “of course” you have a point. Why would I keep arguing about it? The US Attorneys work at the PLEASURE of the president and can be fired at any time for any reason.

                Partisans like Schilling can never remove their blue colored glasses long enough to realize they’re being bamboozled by both sides here (and not just the ones wearing red glasses). The professional political class is in business to stay in (or regain) power, nothing more nothing less. My goal in life is to see the professional politicians unemployed. We need Cincinnatus government servants.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Eh, ok.  In the context of what followed I read them as sarcastic.  Obama is still irrelevant to anything I wrote, though.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                When I state some facts and you first deny them (inaccurately) and then come back with “the other side is just as bad”, it’s not me who’s acting as a mindless partisan.

                And no, firing a subordinate who refuses to break the law for you is not excused by his serving at your pleasure.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                Mike you’re still being partisan. Or is it your current “pleasure” that the DoJ is NOW an arm of the Democratic party? For every tit, I can bring up a tat. This is spy vs spy on the partisan scale. I’m waiting for you to break free from the bondage you’re putting yourself into willingly.

                The ONLY thing the two party system is good for (and getting us back on track for the OP in a roundabout way) is that they are constantly foiling the other so we have something congruent to a balance of power in this country. The courts are often and heavily co-opted. Bush’s strategy with the US Attorneys was to get around Senate “holds” on appointments. The “professional” politicians on the Dem side refused to even allow an up or down vote on hundreds of judicial appointments (as you’d recall if the blinders weren’t ahem, blinding you). This is gamesmanship, not piloting the ship of state.

                When I say there are bad apples and you only want to focus on the red ones, ignoring the greens (or blue as the case may be) you demonstrate your partisanship. Saying anything else doesn’t change the fact, just others’ opinion of your honesty. Say it with me now and be free. BOTH SIDES SUCK SWAMP WATER!Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Ward,

                The fact that both sides are bad in terms of miscarriage of justice does not justify Bush’s scapegoating of Cinncinatus-style Republican (particularly in the CIA/FBI/DoJ) civil servants — something unprecedented in modern American history.

                If all Obama does is get us our Civil Service back, he’s done a damn lot of good. Hate politicians, but most (federal) civil servants do their job, and they do it well.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                <i> For every tit, I can bring up a tat.</i>

                Do it then. Be specific.  Where’s the equivalent of firing David Iglesias because he wouldn’t influence an election?Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                Let’s see, he was fired for not going after this guy? Finding dirty Democrats is like shooting fish in a barrel. We’ll take up this discussion in another OP when there’s more room.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Clinton fired EVERY U.S. attorney, Bush’s crime was he didn’t fire them all apparently. Oh and the Democrat PR machine is vastly superior to the Republican’s obviously. Chutzpah indeed.

                Yeah, but Wordsmith, c’mon.  The accusation in the scandal wasn’t that the Gonzlez’s department fired people.  It’s that they fired people who refused to file bogus charges on Democratic candidates in tight races.  Which, if there was any inkling of truth in it, ought to be a jail-able offense, not just a political black eye.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “Yeah, maybe because before then, say 2000-2008, they made absolutely no effort to seriously…”

                I might care more about that if, with very few exceptions, all of here at the League weren’t out cheerleading the further expansion of government during the Obama Administration, after fall 2008 when the economy was in a freefall and long after George W Bush had done his damage.

                And of those who were exceptions, most of them were Left-libertarians, dissident conservatives or whatever, disdaining the Tea Party who were actively working for limited government. Even in times of crisis, our liberaltarian friends only support limited government if they get to be in charge of it.

                The problem isn’t them, it’s us.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Wait.. you’ll go back 50 years to criticise the Tories but you won’t go back five to criticise the GOP? What’d the British conservatives ever do to you old boy? Did they refuse to send you a Will&Kate comemmorative mug or something?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                “I might care more about the issue you brought up if I suspected that people who may or may not be you also cared about it.”

                This seems fallacious to me.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “This seems fallacious to me.”

                Not at all. The critics of George W Bush here, started where W left off and piled on from there.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Dude, I was complaining about Dumbya from the Steel Tariffs and Farm Bill.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                ” all of here at the League weren’t out cheerleading the further expansion of government during the Obama Administration”

                You must be reading a different League.  Are you talking about Erik’s posts about it being okay to spend money because the government can pretty much borrow it zero percent interest at the moment?  That’s been about the only theme that’s even apologetic about “expansion of government”.

                Who at the League (you can use the postings count thread for reference) is a big government guy/gal?  Compare the limited government people.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                In fairness, I have been advocating the Federal Government declare the NBA lockout illegal.

                (Also, have been calling for a mandated recall of all Kenny G albums.)Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “Who at the League (you can use the postings count thread for reference) is a big government guy/gal? Compare the limited government people.”

                Great question. Basically, every regular on this site supported PPACA when it came around. There are a few exceptions: me and Bob Cheeks, of course. Probably a few other conservatives too: TVD, Kowal, Density Duck, ward, though for the most part I’m not as familiar with their thoughts on the subject and they might have started contributing after the PPACA wars anyway.

                Then there’s some of the libertarian contributors, specifically Jay, Mark Thompson and Jason. Earlier I had thought, in error, that they supported PPACA because everybody else did and I didn’t happen to recall everything different from them. After all, who can bother with a new multitrillion dollar government behemoth when there’s coverture and marijuana dispensaries to worry about. People got priorities, right?

                That aside, that’s basically it. Therefore, everybody here was kosher with our new blubbery entitlement after George W Bush did whatever. I mean, for real. If you don’t like Medicare Part D, you’ve got all the seats in Congress, get rid of it.

                But that didn’t happen. Once the libs got in power, they kept everything George W Bush did, plus the stimulus package, plus PPACA. And from what I remember everybody here who wasn’t a pretty much a clear conservative was on board with PPACA: Erik, Blaise, BSK, North, Freddie, Katherine, M Schilling, M Drew, stillwater, greg, m_c (thank God she’s gone), Cascadian, ECG, Barrett, anybody named Scott from Canada, anybody from Canada (except maybe Rufus who might be on the fence), anybody close to Canada, the Chris’s, dexter, Elias, Jesse, trizz, Boonton, TPG, Barry, and probably a few others I’m forgetting.

                Really, I’m not paranoid and I’m not making sttt up. There’s a real there there.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                I guess, yes, I’d be on the fence. I didn’t feel the need to oppose the PPACA as the tipping point between freedom and tyranny like some people did; nor did I feel any need to support it as something that would, in any real sense, work. Of course, I live in Canada, so it’s not a pressing concern either way.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Koz, this is my countdown:

                Erik, Blaise, BSK, North, Freddie, Katherine, M Schilling, M Drew, stillwater, greg, m_c (thank God she’s gone), Cascadian, ECG, Barrett, anybody named Scott from Canada, the Chris’s, dexter, Elias, Jesse, trizz, Boonton, TPG, Barry

                vs.

                Koz, Bob Cheeks, TVD, Kowal, Density Duck, ward, Me (on the fence regarding Constitutionality, very much not in favor of practicality), Jaybird, Will T, Mark Thompson, and Jason against.

                with Rufus on the fence.  Not sure about Burt, I don’t recall his inclinations (not even sure he weighed in?)

                I think in weight of overall “people who comment a lot”, the League is more anti-HCR than pro.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                “The League,” PatC, & thx for the stats, is “Republicans suck more than Democrats,” based on our most recent sample, which was kind of a duh.

                If one mostly consumes the League’s front page and mainstream/lefto media to inform their worldview, there is no other reasonable conclusion.

                I maintain our nation’s problems remain epistemological, although whenever a Republican wins an election anywhere, I wonder how that came to be so I maintain hope that media and money aren’t all there is to the American polity.

                I like us, and since most all politicians are toejam, I have no choice but to trust us, we the people and all that.

                [And God as in “In God We Trust,” but that was another thread. Free will entitles us to trust ourselves instead, but I do like Him as our backstop.]

                [He might not be on our side, but I think it’s OK if we pray to be on His.]

                 Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “I think in weight of overall “people who comment a lot”, the League is more anti-HCR than pro.”

                Really? This is obviously an unscientific sample but by your grouping I have the count at 23-11-1 in favor (Go Rufus!) Plus, I think the people we left off would break more lopsided than that. For me at least, the conservatives tend to stick out a bit more here.

                But for me the real issue is the willingness of the liberaltarians (here most prominently Erik, Mark T, Jay, Jason) to piss on the sovereignty of the citizens the moment it becomes convenient. When you take them out of the pile of opponents to PPACA and add them to the straight-up libs, the difference really does become overwhelming.

                By contrast, I find that reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States to be a tolerable annoyance. For the real big-ticket screwups, the problems isn’t them, it’s us.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                you can put me down on the “pro” side (and completely POed at the process), and last I checked DD was in favor of single payer (his words not mine — DD, plz correct me if I’m wrong!)Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                But for me the real issue is the willingness of the liberaltarians (here most prominently Erik, Mark T, Jay, Jason) to piss on the sovereignty of the citizens the moment it becomes convenient. When you take them out of the pile of opponents to PPACA and add them to the straight-up libs, the difference really does become overwhelming.

                Oh, Koz, I thought we were done with sovereignty-of-the-citizens tablebanging.  We’d already established that this is not your true rejection to anything.  If a majority of the citizens wanted open borders, you’d be out there opposing them.

                Guess what?  A majority of the citizens wants us to spend 10% of our budget on foreign aid.  Do you support that, too? A majority wants legalized pot.  Up for that?  A majority favors legal abortion.  All in for that?
                Now, my own opinions on these questions, in order, are “no, yes, and ehhh… I suppose.”  But I do know  better than to say “the majority wants it” is a good argument.  It’s ultimately not much different from “might makes right.”  Consider abortion, and I’m guessing you’d agree.

                 

                PS, the new comment system is atrocious.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                We’d already established that this is not your true rejection to anything

                “True rejection.”  What a marvelous concept.  That should be the official (or at least unofficially official) theme of the League.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “Oh, Koz, I thought we were done with sovereignty-of-the-citizens tablebanging.”

                Wtf?

                “We’d already established that this is not your true rejection to anything. If a majority of the citizens wanted open borders, you’d be out there opposing them.”

                What motivates you to write that? Is some way I could write clearer to assure you that’s not the case?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                @ Koz:

                “Really? This is obviously an unscientific sample but by your grouping I have the count at 23-11-1 in favor”

                Again, look at who is for and who is against and their relative comment count.  A lot of the regulars who comment less often are in the “for” camp.  Nearly everybody who is in the “against” camp is pretty high volume, in the commentary sense; even discounting Jaybird.

                This is easy enough to solve.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Speaking specifically about health care since my vote is being assumed, I was in favor of the PPACA, but largely because I understood it was the best thing possible that Ben Nelson (for conservaDem reasons) and Joe Lieberman (for being an asshole reasons) would vote for. I would’ve preferred a public option, but the increase in eligibility for Medicare and the subsidies makes me less pissed off about the individual mandate than other liberals.

                On the ‘majority is against the PPACA’ question, yes, the majority of people ‘disapprove’ of the PPACA or Obama’s health care bill if you ask them. But, if you ask them about the major plans of the health care bill (expansion of Medicaid, rise in max age kids can be on health care plans, no discrimination on preexisting conditions, etc.), you get majority support for everything accept for the individual mandate. I’m sure I can see multiple bills that Koz supports with far less support when you break them down piece by piece. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Koz,

                You are correct, and I erred.  I seem to have entirely misremembered your comment.

                So… how about abortion?  Same deal there?  If Americans say fetuses aren’t citizens, are you still with them?Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Actually, I see abortion as another example of the same. We would have a more restrictive abortion regime if the various judicial actors didn’t give themselves license to ignore the American people.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                Didn’t a lot of those Republicans get unceremoniously booted from office? Didn’t the Democrats end up with a (what the pundits were calling a multi generation) stunning majority? Is the braindead analysis that because /those/ Republicans are gone, the remainder are exactly the same?

                Here’s the real problem with this entire narrative. Because the name on the door says, “Democrat” or “Republican”, everyone assumes there is this monolithic beast. Some here can probably recall when it was the Democrats who were the perennially racist party with proud KKK members serving as governors, senators and congresscritters. Due to superior PR, the Democrats escaped much of that label as some Dems switched party lines. But the narrative continues.

                Assuming either party today is the same is as ridiculous as assuming the DowJones Industrial Average is made up of the same 30 stocks as 50 years ago. In the DJIA this is called “reconstituting” in politics it’s called “losing”.

                I leaned Democrat when they had people like “Scoop” Jackson and Mike Mansfield. They have no such personage today, nor one who could hold a candle to them. Both parties are flawed, but I’ll side today with the party that gives the individual more rights. I also do not consider it a “right” to take from Peter to give to Paul, although Paul is certain to vote in favor.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                This is a somewhat fair point, Ward.  They’re not *all* gone.

                Unfortunately, the only test that counts is what happens when the GOP is back in the majority.  Until you’ve got power, we don’t know what you’re going to do with it.  I’m cynical enough to say that if the GOP gets back to a double majority, you’ll see 2000-2006 all over again.

                You want to convince me that the GOP is actually serious?  Let them clean their own house.

                Double unfortunately, I think the country actually could do something productive if everyone actually argued in good faith.  I think the last time that happened was in 1994, though, so I’m not holding my breath.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                How about Webb, who wore combat boots throughout his campaign because his son was serving overseas?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Webb is a little nuts.  I like the guy, though.  I suspect he’s actually honest.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Patrick, the Democrats don’t fitght regardless of whether they’re in power. Kitten is an apt comparison.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Koz, you may wanna leave the international politics out of it because you appear to be badly misinformed. The UK, for instance, has a joint Tory/Lib Dem (Conservative/libertarianish) government and they have enacted the rights dream policy there in response to the recession. There were only very small tax increases, some targetted tax cuts and enormous spending cuts. The UK economy has responded by sputtering in at about half the US’s GDP growth.

                Honestly, the conservatives in the UK make american conservatives look like utter pikers in all matters fiscal. But since they don’t wrap themselves in social conservatism like the GOP does they apparently aren’t proper rightists. Unsurprising coming from the GOP but a very dissapointing sentiment coming from you as you claim to be indifferent to the social conservative aspect of things.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “The UK, for instance, has a joint Tory/Lib Dem (Conservative/libertarianish) government and they have enacted the rights dream policy there in response to the recession.”

                No North, the UK has Tories, not Republicans and Tories suck, that’s the whole point, or at least a lot of it. If the Tories were doing in 1960 what they’re doing now, the UK would be a much different country and much better. But they didn’t do that, and now they’re trying a Chanson de Roland reprise, and so far they’re not doing much better than Roland.

                The things we’re doing here are trying to prevent what’s happening there, which has happened largely because the UK has no real economy (Think of the UK as New York City or New York state writ large).

                As a pretty good rule of thumb, nothing good has happened in post WWII UK without Margaret Thatcher being prominently involved.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                You do like to head back to the 60’s don’t you? I pointed out that Tories in the UK today are doing what the GOP (today) claims we should be doing in the US. The response; Tories suck (except Maggie who was, by the way, a Tory) because of stuff that went on in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s. Why not address the Tories as they are, well, now?Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “The response; Tories suck (except Maggie who was, by the way, a Tory) because of stuff that went on in the 60?s 70?s and 80?s.”

                Pretty much (though I’d say 50s, 60s and 70s, Maggie was around during the 80s).

                “Why not address the Tories as they are, well, now?”

                ‘Cuz we’re trying to prevent getting to where the UK is now and having to do the things the Tories are doing. Taking that as a given, what the Tories are doing are is probably as best as you could hope for, it’s not like they have much choice.Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. says:

              Koz: but the Obama-era GOP goes well beyond competence to something approaching actual greatness.

              For the record, though, they were mainly approaching greatness to make sure it was in the country legally.

               Report

  9. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    If any Democratic congresscritter is reading this blog, I will pay you $5 and light a candle for you on every Easter from now until I die if you introduce a bill tomorrow morning on the floor to change the U.S. motto to, “E Pluribus Unum”.

    Bonus points if the legislative summary includes scathing commentary regarding how appropriate this is to focus on now, in the time of the country’s great troubles.Report

  10. Avatar trizzlor says:

    Really, there is no good reason that our government is spending time on this.

    I think this is a bit naive to the way Congress actually works. Go to the THOMAS multi-congress search, check all the available sessions, and see how productive they’ve been on certain topics (my recommendations: “NASCAR” , “commemorative coin” , “football team”). Here’s a perfect illustrative example.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      The search has timed out.  What was it?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Yeah, Triz, I totally get that.  But here are two other data points – the first is that when this congress started, the made a rule that they would not pass any of this lkind of legislation because the stakes were too high.  And when the seals got Bin Laden, they famously refused to do the traditional thing and honor the service people, saying that they just couldn’t because their no useless legislation rule was so important (and, oh by the way, would make the President look good).  And now this – which in and of itself, but with the tying into Obama talking to Muslims a year ago, with the full court press on FOX…

      I don’t get it. I really don’t.   If you’re right wing, why doesn’t this piss you off?Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        Because the rightwing understands that they’re a minority party, and that only by rabblerousing the ignorant can they actually accomplish their goals of preserving the money’s state Right Where It Should Be (in the Pockets of the Currently Rich — which includes the boomers I might add)Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

          Kimmi, we disagree much but I believe you try to accurately interpret data as best you can. Will you please give me the polled percentages of “libruls, conservatives, and independents?” I’ve thought, for the longest time, that you people were the minority. Perhaps I’m wrong?Report

          • Avatar Kimmi says:

            Depends. Polling shows broad support for Every Policy the Democrats suggest, but broad skepticism on them actually being able to implement it. Also, nearly everyone who says they’re a moderate is actually a Democrat.

            If you con the question into “liberal/conservative and independent” independent wins every time — but nobody’s a true independent (except a few that make decisions purely on “character”)

            You can tell that conservatives are the minority party because they concentrate on making it harder to vote — a poor strategic move if most people will vote for you.Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

              In that case, my dear, it strikes me that we’d already be “The Peoples States United.” But, we aren’t? There’s significant political resistance to the policies of our Kenyan-Marxist president. Whas up wid dat? If we’re on the cusp of “the Socialist Man (Chris where are you?) I really don’t see it. In fact it ‘appears’ the evil, malicious, God-fearing RIGHT is growing. Talk to me sweetie, and be smart..I want smart, not stupid Left.

              BTW, I live overhere in Columbiana County, and I’m heavily armed.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                … are we getting into a penis-waving contest over guns? Again? Sorry, not gonna play this time.

                The right is powerful, not numerous. Koch, Scaife and a buncha other rich old men who are panicking because they are unable to run their damn companies (or keep their dicks in their pants), and because they’ve stolen a lot of money from the poor folks, and are afraid we’ll catch on.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

                …..just feeding the paranoia, Kim.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                see, I’ve studied Argentina. And I know someone who’s made a profit off RW paranoia.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                You two crazy kids are so cute together.Report

  11. Avatar b-psycho says:

    It’s not that “god” is under attack. Rather, this is yet another instance of using “god” as a weapon.  It’s as if they think libruls are vampires and little crap like this is equivalent to wielding supersoakers filled with holy water.

    “a-HAH!  Take THAT, filthy librul bloodsuckers! We’re reaffirming GOD in your presence!  You GODless scum can’t stand to hear us praise GOD, huh?  Are your ears bleeding?  GOD!  GODGODGODGODGOD…*breaks into a jig*”

     Report

  12. Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

    How on earth did this country survive for 180 years without affirming god as our most trusted fictional-character-from-a-book?

    It seems very true that:

    The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.

    It would be funny if it were not so pathetic.Report

  13. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Think of it this way:

    If they weren’t working on stuff like this, they might be breaking something actually important.Report

    • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

      So it’s “Nihilism today, Nihilism tomorrow, Nihilism forever!”?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Maybe we could try “Hope”? Perhaps “Change”?Report

        • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

          I thought the country already decided to try that. To mixed results.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            If we’re cool with mixed results, I don’t see the problem with nihilism. The upsides and downsides are well within acceptable parameters (assuming that those other things fall within them).Report

            • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

              But, don’t the nihilists have all the power in that situation?

              Whatever they don’t like, can’t happen. Talk about the tyranny of the majority minority!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, imagine this:

                The somethingists say “vote for me and I will give you X!”

                People vote for the somethingists and X does not show up. We have even less X, actually. Plus a whole lot of Y and, lemme tell ya, nobody said NOTHING about Y.

                From here, it seems that the criticism of “just because you like it and you promise it doesn’t mean that it’ll show up once you’re in power”.

                Even if it would be nice if it happened.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                Well, imagine this:

                The nihilists say “vote for me and I will give you jobs A!”

                People vote for the nihilists, and they do nothing about jobs and block the somethingists from actually trying to do something about jobs.

                Is that better? Who exactly is that better for?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Those aren’t very good nihilists. I’d redefine them, at the very least, as A-ists.

                Say what you will about the tenets of any ethos but at least nihilism doesn’t stand for anything.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                This was awesome.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                You’re evading, Jaybird, so let’s go back to the beginning:

                When would it ever be a good idea for any politician to do anything of importance? Wouldn’t there always be the potential to break that important something?

                Perhaps we shouldn’t try to regulate the financial sector. We might break something important.

                Perhaps we shouldn’t repeal laws that grant greater liberty to citizens. We might break something important.

                Perhaps we shouldn’t try to form a new country based on Enlightenment principles. We might break something important.

                Your evading the meat of the discussion to make one-liners. That’s fine, for what it is. I enjoy a good one-liner as much as the anyone. But, it is still evading the important stuff.

                Though, I realize that might actually be your point. Don’t even talk about the important stuff. You might break something important.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                To clarify my intent for this one:

                Perhaps we shouldn’t repeal laws so that we can grant greater liberty to citizens.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Perhaps we shouldn’t repeal laws so that we can grant greater liberty to citizens.

                I’m enough of a nihilist that I think that laws ought to have automatic sunset provisions. A law that passes in 1972 might not be able to be passed again in 1992. Why should it stay on the books if it couldn’t pass a second time?Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                Couldn’t the automatic sunsetting of laws potentially break something important?

                You see where I’m going with this, I’m sure. You’re just evading admitting it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Ironically, I can easily envision a system where a law would fail a vote to have it repealed, but not garner the votes to have it re-instated.

                Hell, go back to 1910 levels of representation and repeal the 17th, we might get things back on the road to recovery in no time.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Couldn’t the automatic sunsetting of laws potentially break something important?

                Of course it could.

                The question comes down to one of probabilities. Is it more likely that our ancestors 20 years ago would have foreseen today’s legal needs and would have addressed them in this legislation or is it more likely that we will need to build something from the ground up to address them?

                I think that it’d be easy to re-pass laws devoted to, say, protecting civil rights and less easy to re-pass laws devoted to, say, extending copyright to 75 years after the death of the creator.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                So can I. Like the FLSA. Let’s get those kids back to work!

                While we’re at it, let’s repeal the 19th too, and take care of that unemployment problem in one fell swoop.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                I think that it’d be easy to re-pass laws devoted to, say, protecting civil rights and less easy to re-pass laws devoted to, say, extending copyright to 75 years after the death of the creator.

                You’re kidding, right? Laws that protect business (the bigger ones) would be the first ones passed – like copyright. Do you actually see what Congress passed over the past 10 or 20 or 30 years?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So you’re of the opinion that our legislature no longer represents you or people like you and only represents corporations?

                Grab your gun and go out into the street.

                If you are the only person in the street, go back inside… it’s not time yet.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                So you’re of the opinion that our legislature no longer represents you or people like you and only represents corporations?

                Can’t speak for what Griffin believes, but is that really that far-fetched an opinion these days?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It’s not far-fetched at all.

                I wonder why nihilism isn’t a superior response to hoping they pass more laws.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                The only problem with nihilists is the bomb throwing. Other than that, cool people, dressing in black, moping, being all superfluous… again, except for the bomb throwing.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Government doesn’t create inequality, in and of itself.

                Sometimes it does.  It’s government, not corporations, that makes people felons for possessing an ounce of pot but not for possessing gallons of hard liquor.  And it’s government, not corporations, that bans same-sex marriage.

                But economically, of course not.  And despite your weasely attempts to pretend that I said it did, I never actually did.  Government creates inequality at the behest of corporations.  So they’re both implicated.  But the important question is, if corporations are so effective at creating inequality, why do they turn to government to make it happen?  Answer, they’re not actually that good at it absent the power of government to make the inequality stick.

                Look at societies throughout history, and the places where you find really serious inequality you always find it is reinforced by government.  The best way to eliminate rigid inequalities is to take away government’s power to pass laws and regulations that create those inequalities.  This won’t end corporations’ desire to create inequalities in their favor, but it will mean they have to do it in the market, instead of using government, and it’s just so damn hard for them to do it in the market, which is why they always do end up turning to government and asking it to do the job for them.

                 Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                @ JHG

                Let me ask you a practical question.  First, I shall have to set a stage.  I will give you a warning: I offer a similar version of this question to the Righties around here and to date none of them has actually impressed in the slightest me with their answer.  Let’s see if you do better!

                Here is an image:

                Looking at that graph, can you identify the time periods that have the greatest slope?  I’m not talking about the highest point, mind you.  I’m talking about the rate of increase of the highest 1%.

                By my eyeball judge, the time period between 1981 and 1991 was skittish.  The time period between 1991 and 1999 saw a huge increase in income disparity.  There is a significant dip when the dot com boom busted, but between 2003 and 2007 the slope is essentially the same as between 1991 and 1999.

                I will now ask my question:

                Who was President of the United States between those time periods?  Which political party was in charge of the House, and which political party was in charge of the Senate?

                Please establish a credible causal link between Democratic politicians (who presumably have been trying to address income inequality) and the outcomes shown on that graph.  Please establish as well a credible causal link between Republican politicians (who presumably are concerned only with the top 1%) and the outcomes shown on that graph.  Can you do this fairly straightforwardly, or does this require quite an awful lot of special pleading?

                If you cannot establish a credible link between government intervention in the economy as espoused by your team and enacted over the last 20 years… and the actual outcomes as shown on that graph… why is it that you believe that giving “more” power to either party is going to improve the future outcomes of that graph?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                PC, this is about the best and clearest way I have ever seen this point laid out.  Very nice.

                (Also, I am toying with a post for which these graphs might come in handy.  Can I pirate them from you?)Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                I stole ’em from Mother Jones, so they’re hardly mine 🙂Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I don’t want to harsh Pat too much but, for both questions, the one to JHG and the right wing counterpart he gave to me, the implied causality is really really weak.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Spoiler:  Koz, that was actually a big part of my point.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                I’m sure both JHG would make the same point I would, Clinton didn’t do much standard Democratic things that decrease inequality. He was a perfectly nice moderate Republican who happened to have a D after his name.

                Also, I don’t have the exact stats but if I remember correctly, the ‘best’ years for the bottom 50 to 90% were the mid-to-late 90’s. I’ll see if I can dredge up the exact numbers.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                @ Jesse

                “Clinton didn’t do much standard Democratic things that decrease inequality. He was a perfectly nice moderate Republican who happened to have a D after his name.”

                Okay.

                How would you judge Obama?

                How would you suggest we judge the next gal or guy who gets the nod, prior to them going into office?

                If your party affiliation label has no effective ability to signal to me, as a voter, that politicos of your party are better suited to solve this problem (note: I grant that it is an actual problem, most of the other folk around here that are taking my side of the argument don’t), then I have one of two/three possible conclusions:

                (1) Government cannot tackle this problem, and Jaybird is right, taking power away from government is indeed the most plausibly effective next thing to try, because at the very least it likely won’t get worse and it might actually work.

                (2) Your party is full of shit.  So is the other one.  They’re both contributing to this problem instead of fixing it.  They will continue to contribute to this problem instead of fixing it until we change the parties and how they are composed.

                (3) Both parties are somewhat correct, and somewhat wrong, and their constant back-and-forth of implementations will produce these sorts of results until one party is in complete control of the entire government for an extended period of time.  I find this to be politically implausible as a solution, thus in practice this is the same as #1.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                With just the stimulus, Obama has proved himself to be more of a liberal than Clinton. Throw in the expansion of Medicaid in the health care bill, Lily Ledbetter, and various other things, I feel comfortable that Obama is in the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Not as far left as I’d like, but I’d be the first to admit I’m in the most-left ten to fifteen percent of the population.

                 Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                Well, you’re putting a lot of words in my mouth there, Jaybird.

                Didn’t say “only” or “no longer”. Said that laws that benefit business would be the first ones passed. Same as it ever was (for the past 30 years).

                For example, see the link in my response to Scott immediately below. Even the commie-dem Obama Administration is doing their best to forgive the crimes of the banks and giving them even more money.

                I prefer non-violent resistance or civil disobedience to change my country (like Gandhi, King, Walesa, or Tolstoy). But, it is a curious thing that you immediately turn to guns.

                Guns are not the only option to make change. They are certainly not the first option.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Let me know how the other options work out for you.

                Hey, we finally got Health Care, right?Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                Well, let’s see:

                Up until a few weeks ago, deficit mania was the main thing talked about by pundits, Congress, the Obama Administration, and cable news. A non-violent resistance movement started, talking about inequality and jobs, which then spread to other countries. Now, inequality and jobs are being discussed and deficit mania has disappeared.

                I’m exhausted by your one liners and attempts at witty reparte. You don’t seem to want a discussion, so much as ending (winning?) the discussion with something witty or barbed (or both). Let me know how that works out for you. TFATF.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                J,

                we got healthcare that Benefits Corporations. Rinse wash repeat.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                A non-violent resistance movement started, talking about inequality and jobs, which then spread to other countries.  Now, inequality and jobs are being discussed and deficit mania has disappeared.

                Fair enough. That’s one way to look at it.

                I am also looking at, say, Greece.

                “Inequality” does not bother me, particularly (and I suspect that it does not bother those who claim to be bothered by it anywhere to the degree that they claim to be… that is, they care insofar as when they see themselves in relationship to those above. When they look at those whom they are above, the subject changes to one of culture, society, locality, etc.)

                Where OWS is particularly interesting, it’s where it happened to overlap with the Tea Parties but both groups are more interested in disliking the other than in the government responsibile for creating the messes that inspired them to write things on signs.

                You don’t seem to want a discussion, so much as ending (winning?) the discussion with something witty or barbed (or both).

                I’d love one. What’s your goal? To get me to admit… what? That the government has, in fact, sometimes worked and the circumstances around which it did? Would I be allowed to ask if the government was smaller at that point without being accused of trying to end the discussion?

                 Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                Well, I can’t speak for everyone in regards to inequality, I can only speak for myself. Inequality bothers me a great deal, not just for myself and those of my strata, but much more for those below me. So much so that I work (in IT) for a non-profit organization that primarily helps those in strata below me to succeed. I could earn much (much!) more money by not working for this non-profit, and instead working for the capitalists. In fact, I have worked for the capitalists in the past and earned several times more. But, I consciously chose to do this. My family lives meagerly on my small salary and my wife’s. We live paycheck to paycheck – no money available to put away for retirement. I’m walking the talk, and it isn’t easy. I’m not a Christian, I am a proud Athiest. But, isn’t what I’m doing what Christ preached?

                I would guess that inequality doesn’t bother you much because you’re not in the “below classes”. You’ve got yours. Correct me if I’m wrong here.

                The Tea Parties aren’t against government (see: Keep Government out of my Medicare). They are against the Kenyan Muslim Socialist Usurper in the White House. Where were they during the Bush years? How many of them supported the Iraq War? How many of them are acting out their gun fantasies of overthrowing the government? And, I must have missed all the news stories about how the Tea Party spread to other countries.

                Your laser focus on government as the only problem is a tired trope. It is a plutocracy (or oligarchy, if you prefer) – the combination of the government and corporations and mega-rich that are to blame. Why do you think the government does what it does? Hint: where does the money come from to get elected? who gets the beneficial laws when those people get elected? Yeah, they throw a bone to the lower classes every once in a while to keep them docile, but Health Care (for example) was was a giveaway to the corporations.

                I’d love one. What’s your goal? To get me to admit… what? That the government has, in fact, sometimes worked and the circumstances around which it did? Would I be allowed to ask if the government was smaller at that point without being accused of trying to end the discussion?

                Well, this discussion started with you stating “If they weren’t working on stuff like this, they might be breaking something actually important.”

                That is a very nihilistic view, and focuses entirely on the government being the source of all problems (a common libertarian view, I know).

                I understand that you think that rules and laws and government-in-general is oppressive to your liberty. But, we live in a much more complex world than at previous times when the government was smaller. You benefit from things that are beyond the control of many people (e.g. those with brown skin). Is that fair? Should we do anything to make the playing field more equal, even if this infringes on your liberty?

                We also live in a world where the power has been shifting from people to corporations for some time (see: Eisenhower Military-Industrial speech). Yet, all I seem to hear from you is “Government is Bad, Fewer Laws are Good”. Or, it’s better if the government doesn’t do anything because they might make more laws.

                I think your comment is furthering the discussion, because you’ve engaged more with the complexity of the real world. It is the one-offs that try to end the discussion with grad student simplicity, where you are trying to end the discussion. The world is complicated, but the one-offs treat everything as being solvable with simple ideology. The world doesn’t work that way. It’s messy and unclear what is the best path to take. Doing nothing is either nihilism or waiting for anarchism, when we are confronted with what is going on in the world right now.

                My goal is to have a discussion. I state my position and thoughts, and others respond with their position and thoughts. With respect. Sometimes this is possible at the League, but very often it is not. One liners are dismissive. But, I’m sure they make you feel good, which is something.

                Regarding Greece, it is an example of the road we are on, but further down that road. The Port of Oakland was peacefully closed yesterday. Even the Oakland Police union is sympathetic. Is that a riot? If it had been a Tea Party protest, how many people would have been carrying their assault rifles? Guns would have made things worse, I think.

                You may not think much of non-violent protests, but there are many examples showing that they work quite well. It just takes time. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Additionally, I don’t think that our representatives represent us, I don’t think our Senators represent our states, and I think that Obama represents the upper limit of “Goodness” that we can expect on the part of our executive.

                It seems to me that the proper response is not to keep doubling down.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                I agree. That is why OWS has so much traction, not just here but around the world.

                So, what is the proper response? Applauding the Republicans for doing worthless things while Rome burns?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I would guess that inequality doesn’t bother you much because you’re not in the “below classes”. You’ve got yours. Correct me if I’m wrong here.

                Do you want my “I am the 53%” story? I’ve got one. It’s in a notepad file. Lemme know.  I’m sure that if I told you the entire story, I would put a great deal of emphasis on the choices that I made in response to the options I had before me and others would point out the opportunities I had before me based on the amazing amount of cultural capital I have (which includes such things as the ability to see/make the choices that I made). To answer your question: there were points in my life (in the last 10 years, even… well, 15) where I would have been offended at the suggestion that I had mine. In the last 10 years, that situation has, in fact, changed.

                The Tea Parties aren’t against government (see: Keep Government out of my Medicare). 

                Indeed they aren’t. Neither, however, are they for bailouts of Wall Street.

                They are against the Kenyan Muslim Socialist Usurper in the White House. Where were they during the Bush years? How many of them supported the Iraq War? How many of them are acting out their gun fantasies of overthrowing the government?

                Well, there was the “Porkbusters” movement that started way back in 2005. Does that count?

                I supported the Iraq War, I just didn’t support the Iraq occupation. What we did in Libya? That’s what we should have done in Iraq. The “Pottery Barn” doctrine has always struck me as bullshit. That’s me though, I can’t speak for the Tea Parties. As for the gun fantasies, it seems to me that none of them are.

                And, I must have missed all the news stories about how the Tea Party spread to other countries.

                I see the Tea Parties as a fairly American phenomenon. The OWS phenomenon… not so much.

                Your laser focus on government as the only problem is a tired trope. It is a plutocracy (or oligarchy, if you prefer) – the combination of the government and corporations and mega-rich that are to blame. Why do you think the government does what it does? Hint: where does the money come from to get elected? who gets the beneficial laws when those people get elected? Yeah, they throw a bone to the lower classes every once in a while to keep them docile, but Health Care (for example) was was a giveaway to the corporations.

                Given that the other option is always given as “we need even more government oversight over government oversight over government! With principled people this time! Who aren’t in thrall to Corporations!” and since that option always fails, It seems to me that the other options are either that of Koz (Republicans are Better!) or saying “No. Let’s try something else.”

                Let’s try something else.

                That is a very nihilistic view, and focuses entirely on the government being the source of all problems

                No. The government is not the source of all problems. It is, however, the source of the problem of too much government collusion with corporations.

                It’s an iatrogenic disease.

                The cure is to stop giving so much medicine.

                You benefit from things that are beyond the control of many people (e.g. those with brown skin).

                I would say that the greatest benefit in my life is my spouse and the fact that we remain in love and married to each other. There are a great many other, weirder, benefits that I get from such things as “reading non-fiction for fun” or “not having cable”. There is a great deal of cultural currency just sitting out there. People step over it to get in line for trash.

                We also live in a world where the power has been shifting from people to corporations for some time (see: Eisenhower Military-Industrial speech). Yet, all I seem to hear from you is “Government is Bad, Fewer Laws are Good”. Or, it’s better if the government doesn’t do anything because they might make more laws.

                The last X times that the government has tried to address this, it has resulted in legislative capture.

                I have stopped thinking that X+1 will work.

                Regarding Greece, it is an example of the road we are on, but further down that road. The Port of Oakland was peacefully closed yesterday. Even the Oakland Police union is sympathetic. Is that a riot? If it had been a Tea Party protest, how many people would have been carrying their assault rifles? Guns would have made things worse, I think.

                How many riots did the Tea Parties have? It seems unfair to suspect that they would have had one in the absence of another one to point to. Is it unfair of me to wonder when the next OWS riot will happen?

                You may not think much of non-violent protests, but there are many examples showing that they work quite well. It just takes time. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did?

                They work when you protest against the civilized. When you protest against the uncivilized, they don’t work. There are any number of governments that I would *NOT* wish to stage a peaceful protest against… and the Ancient Romans are included.

                Though Pilate did the best he could.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                We also live in a world where the power has been shifting from people to corporations for some time (see: Eisenhower Military-Industrial speech).

                I just so love it when people use examples that so vividly undermine their own arguments!Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                I just so love it when people use examples that so vividly undermine their own arguments!

                “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”

                I just so love it when people use one sentence to attempt to refudiate something without any explanation or citation!Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                Do you want my “I am the 53%” story? I’ve got one. It’s in a notepad file. Lemme know. I’m sure that if I told you the entire story, I would put a great deal of emphasis on the choices that I made in response to the options I had before me and others would point out the opportunities I had before me based on the amazing amount of cultural capital I have (which includes such things as the ability to see/make the choices that I made). To answer your question: there were points in my life (in the last 10 years, even… well, 15) where I would have been offended at the suggestion that I had mine. In the last 10 years, that situation has, in fact, changed.

                This is tiresome, but I’ll try. Let me guess. It was never easy for you. You were born a poor black child. You remember the days, sittin’ on the porch with your family, singin’ and dancin’ down in Mississippi. You pulled yourself up by your bootstraps. No one helped you. You never took handouts from the government. You didn’t have any advantages, but you’ve managed to succeed because you’re just better, smarter, and dog-gonnit, people like you. You made better choices. You worked three jobs. You have a house you can’t sell. Your family insurance costs are outrageous. But, you don’t blame Wall Street. Suck it up you whiners. You are the 53% subsidizing those “other people” so that they can hang out on Wall Street and complain.

                Did I miss anything?

                Indeed they aren’t. Neither, however, are they for bailouts of Wall Street.

                Other than listening to Rick Santelli rage about losers on Main Street getting money, which was the start of the Tea Party (after he supported the banks getting bailed out), no they weren’t for bailouts of Wall Street.

                I see the Tea Parties as a fairly American phenomenon. The OWS phenomenon… not so much.

                Ahh, I wondered when “they’re not Real ‘Murkins” would show up. Nice way to slip that in, Jaybird.

                Given that the other option is always given as “we need even more government oversight over government oversight over government! With principled people this time! Who aren’t in thrall to Corporations!” and since that option always fails, It seems to me that the other options are either that of Koz (Republicans are Better!) or saying “No. Let’s try something else.”

                Let’s try something else.

                Hmmm. Maybe world-wide non-violent civil disobedience and protests about inequality and plutocracy are a form of trying something else? No? Ok, move along. Nothing to see here.

                No. The government is not the source of all problems. It is, however, the source of the problem of too much government collusion with corporations.

                It’s an iatrogenic disease.

                The cure is to stop giving so much medicine.

                Didn’t I call it a plutocracy? Didn’t I say exactly the same thing, but using different words?

                But, I want to really understand what you are saying: the government is to blame for the corporations giving them all that money in return for favors? It sounds like the Mafia is blameless, then. They were just giving money to politicians to further their own ends, but it’s really the politicians’ fault!

                I would say that the greatest benefit in my life is my spouse and the fact that we remain in love and married to each other. There are a great many other, weirder, benefits that I get from such things as “reading non-fiction for fun” or “not having cable”. There is a great deal of cultural currency just sitting out there. People step over it to get in line for trash.

                That’s great! Wonderful! Congratulations! I truly hope you stay married and in love for the rest of your lives. There is nothing better than having someone to share your life with and keep you honest! I cherish my wife in the same way.

                Not sure what this has to do with the fact that you have advantages that are not possible for some people. Do you really think that as long as someone with brown skin reads non-fiction for fun it will make up for their having brown skin?

                The last X times that the government has tried to address this, it has resulted in legislative capture.

                I have stopped thinking that X+1 will work.

                But, somehow that vague, unrealized libertarian utopia of extreme liberty and no laws is going to magically fix all this? Not Somalia. Jaybirdtopia. It’s too vague, though. I don’t understand how that world won’t have capture, unless it’s just an anarcho-libertarian utopia. I think there will still be capture, though, by who has the most guns. Your apparently favorite topic!

                How many riots did the Tea Parties have? It seems unfair to suspect that they would have had one in the absence of another one to point to. Is it unfair of me to wonder when the next OWS riot will happen?

                I don’t think I said any Tea Party events had riots. Wait, let me check. Nope. Didn’t say that. I asked if shutting down the port by Occupy Oakland was a riot. Then asked what might have happened if there had been assault rifles in the crowd. So, sure, wonder away. Will it be ok to dismiss OWS if there is a riot? I just want to know when I should stop talking about it because they’re not important anymore.

                They work when you protest against the civilized. When you protest against the uncivilized, they don’t work. There are any number of governments that I would *NOT* wish to stage a peaceful protest against… and the Ancient Romans are included.

                Though Pilate did the best he could.

                Ok, wait. I’m confused. Did Jesus non-violent protests work or not? Were the Ancient Romans civilized or not? Is our society civilized or not? You seem to be arguing in circles here.

                And, for what it is worth, you are too frightened of your own death, as are most people.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                JHG,  The military-industrial complex is not just about corporations; it’s about corporations capturing government agencies and congressional committees (the m/i complex is actually an iron triangle involving defense contractors, the military, and the congressional Armed Services committees).

                So as an argument against corporations and for government, it only half works.  In fact it’s actually far more of the type of problem Jaybird is talking about,which is why he says it’s a mistake to double down.  Instead, if we radically diminish the size of the relevant government agency the corporate problem largely goes away.

                That’s what I mean by saying it undermines your argument.  It’s really an example more suitable to Jaybird’s counterarguments.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                JHG, The military-industrial complex is not just about corporations; it’s about corporations capturing government agencies and congressional committees (the m/i complex is actually an iron triangle involving defense contractors, the military, and the congressional Armed Services committees).

                I agree. In fact, that is what I wrote: “We also live in a world where the power has been shifting from people to corporations for some time.”

                I wasn’t arguing for government. I was arguing that corporations have been getting more power over time, and the people less power.

                In regards to government, I was arguing that nihilism does nothing, and certainly doesn’t break up the iron triangle. Jaybird’s first comment (which I responded to, unfortunately for all of you having to read my diatribes) was “If they weren’t working on stuff like this, they might be breaking something actually important.” Breaking something important, like maybe the military-industrial complex?

                So as an argument against corporations and for government, it only half works. In fact it’s actually far more of the type of problem Jaybird is talking about,which is why he says it’s a mistake to double down. Instead, if we radically diminish the size of the relevant government agency the corporate problem largely goes away.

                That’s what I mean by saying it undermines your argument. It’s really an example more suitable to Jaybird’s counterarguments.

                Again with this? So, the Mafia isn’t the problem, it’s the politicians who took their money? The myopia of that view is truly staggering. I agree that government is PART of the problem.

                But, you and Jaybird seem to think that changing government fixes the entire problem. I think you are wrong. If we diminish the relevant government agency, the problem doesn’t go away.

                Here’s a good example: if we reduce the size of the government agency, but leave Citizen’s United on the books, what changes? Wouldn’t corporations just use their personhood and speech (money) to install those who will make the size of the government agency big again?

                In other words, how do you reduce the size of the government agency, when corporations control the government?

                I argue that if you reduce the influence of corporate money on politics, the problem is easier to fix. You (and Jaybird) seem to be arguing that all you have to do is fix government, and then the corporate money influence will go away. It won’t go away. It will just find another door to use, after you close that single door.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                JHG,

                But you keep focusing on the power of the corporation, when the real problem is the power of the government.  The key is not that the power is shifting to this party or the other, it’s that nobody should have the fishing power in the first place.

                You want to give government the power to rectify inequality, you’re giving it power that can be captured by those who are already more equal than others.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Did I miss anything?

                I’ll assume that you don’t want to hear it. Fair enough.

                Other than listening to Rick Santelli rage about losers on Main Street getting money, which was the start of the Tea Party (after he supported the banks getting bailed out), no they weren’t for bailouts of Wall Street.

                Would you think it inaccurate if I made judgments about OWS based on Joe Therrien?

                Ahh, I wondered when “they’re not Real ‘Murkins” would show up. Nice way to slip that in, Jaybird.

                I believe that America is a country that is also an Idea in a way that Great Britain, or Germany, or Greece is not. Imagine a person in a Space Suit with a British flag on it… and they take off their helmet. You know what they look like, right? A Chinese flag. A Japanese flag. A Mexican flag.

                Now see the person with an American flag on their spacesuit taking their helmet off.

                It could be *ANYBODY*.

                America is something special. Something unique. The Tea Parties, like it or not, are quintessentially American.

                OWS? It’s much more internationally accessible.

                But, I want to really understand what you are saying

                Instead of giving the government more power and oversight over corporations in response to this latest crisis, let’s try giving it less.

                Not sure what this has to do with the fact that you have advantages that are not possible for some people. Do you really think that as long as someone with brown skin reads non-fiction for fun it will make up for their having brown skin?

                It seems to me that the advantages that I have that are not possible for some people are the third or fourth most important advantages in my life. The first couple of advantages that I have are available to pretty much everybody. The opportunity to be part of a team. The opportunity to better oneself in one’s off-time. The opportunity to enjoy active entertainments rather than passive ones.

                I’m sorry that society is such that folks who have brown skin have many things tougher than folks who have white skin. For what it’s worth, there are huge numbers of folks with white skin who screw up pretty much every opportunity they get. I’m related to a surprising chunk of them.

                But, somehow that vague, unrealized libertarian utopia of extreme liberty and no laws is going to magically fix all this? Not Somalia. Jaybirdtopia. It’s too vague, though. I don’t understand how that world won’t have capture, unless it’s just an anarcho-libertarian utopia. I think there will still be capture, though, by who has the most guns. Your apparently favorite topic!

                I do not aspire to libertopia. Though, I will say, Jaybirdtopia exists. It’s in my house, with my wife, and my cats, and my books, and my games, and my friends. The food is pretty good, there is wine on Friday nights, and there are extra chairs for those who wish to come over and just sit quietly.

                I can’t save you, JHG. I realized that I can’t even save myself.

                I can sit quietly, however. Sitting quietly is Jaybirdtopia.

                You are free to visit.

                Will it be ok to dismiss OWS if there is a riot?

                It certainly puts suspicions that the tea partiers would have had a riot had they been the ones doing this sort of thing into perspective.

                Did Jesus non-violent protests work or not? Were the Ancient Romans civilized or not? Is our society civilized or not? You seem to be arguing in circles here.

                And, for what it is worth, you are too frightened of your own death, as are most people.

                I am under the impression that Jesus’s non-violent protests failed. Do you consider Constantine a victory? Luther?

                Were the Romans Civilized? That’s a question for the ages, isn’t it? Was the senate civilized? Was the Colosseum? Was the cross?

                you are too frightened of your own death

                I died when I was in my mid-20’s. This is gravy. Everything is gravy.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                “For what it’s worth, there are huge numbers of folks with white skin who screw up pretty much every opportunity they get. I’m related to a surprising chunk of them.”

                Another piece in the “ways in which I am like Jaybird” puzzle.

                I wonder how much of our worldview is informed by watching people within a couple of branches of the family tree screw up badly?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You kept enough hope to still have children though.

                I didn’t manage that.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Maybe I’m *more* pessimistic than you are, but I’m also a bigger masochist than you are, or a bigger sadist than you are.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Jaybird, that long response was beautiful. And i mean that seriously.

                But I wonder to what extent Jaybirdtopia – the ability to sit quietly surrounded by friends and cats – is the product of a government rather than existing despite government. And if it exists despite government, why do you think government is a problem since you achieved Jaybirdtopia?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                But I wonder to what extent Jaybirdtopia – the ability to sit quietly surrounded by friends and cats – is the product of a government rather than existing despite government. And if it exists despite government, why do you think government is a problem since you achieved Jaybirdtopia?

                I suspect that, insofar as it’s related to government, it’s related to local government (law enforcement, say).

                For the most part, it’s related to culture.

                I’ll also point out that it’s related to luck. I’m a couple of standard deviations to the right. Maribou is too. The vast majority of my friends are. We can sit around a table and tell stories and laugh and be entertained by laughing and telling stories.

                I’ve met people who find that to be boring. Not something that they’d plan an evening around. Fair enough.

                When it comes to the government’s involvement, it’s mostly the government’s non-intervention that makes its continued possibilities possible.

                (Now when it comes to having a nice house within which to sit, I’ll agree and talk about buying less house than we could have afforded and less car than we could have afforded and less stuff than we could have afforded so that we could buy more books and games than we have storage for. There’s a theory I have about what’s necessary to end poverty and it definitely involves having space to oneself with *DOORS* between one’s own space and the space of another (even a lover’s). But that’s not really that dependent upon government either.)

                Additionally, I suspect that much of my ability to sit quietly has to do with the fact that I am no longer in my 20s. The government doesn’t have a whole lot to do with that either.

                I imagine that, in 15 years, most of those OWSers will be fine, sitting quietly, watching someone else’s kids protest something and shaking their heads.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                James Hanley,

                But you keep focusing on the power of the corporation, when the real problem is the power of the government. The key is not that the power is shifting to this party or the other, it’s that nobody should have the fishing power in the first place.

                What to do about the inequality baked into society, then? How does this get magically addressed? The anarcho-libertarian utopia? Sorry, but I think you are naive. Do families operate as this utopia, or do parents have more power than the kids? Should they have that unbalanced power, or should kids be allowed to do what they wish? Scale up the imbalance of power in a family and you have a society. You may not like it, but that’s how it works in the real world outside of discussions of ideals.

                You want to give government the power to rectify inequality, you’re giving it power that can be captured by those who are already more equal than others.

                By not giving anyone the power to address inequality, you are saying that the status quo is acceptable. I am saying it is not acceptable. You keep avoiding the question of how you address inequality in a society.

                I understand. You think government is the problem. Ok. But, how does a society address problems that the society creates? Even tiny villages of aboriginal peoples have a council of elders, with power over their people. Is even this level unacceptable? Let me know, cause then I can stop engaging with this sophistry.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                Jaybird,

                Would you think it inaccurate if I made judgments about OWS based on Joe Therrien?

                Oh, no. Because Joe Thierren was on television, just like Rick Santelli. And, as I’m sure you know, most everyone agrees that when Joe started making puppets, that’s what started OWS.

                Give me a break, Jaybird. Get some better dogs, cause that dog won’t hunt.

                I believe that America is a country that is also an Idea in a way that Great Britain, or Germany, or Greece is not. Imagine a person in a Space Suit with a British flag on it… and they take off their helmet. You know what they look like, right? A Chinese flag. A Japanese flag. A Mexican flag.

                Now see the person with an American flag on their spacesuit taking their helmet off.

                It could be *ANYBODY*.

                America is something special. Something unique. The Tea Parties, like it or not, are quintessentially American.

                OWS? It’s much more internationally accessible.

                Well, that’s a whole pile of tribalism there, Jaybird.

                I imagine similar sentiments were said of all Empires through the ages. “We’re better, and here’s why…”

                The Idea died a long time ago. And Americans killed it, and keep killing it a little more each day. Our greed killed it. You do realize that this Idea only stays alive because it lives off the suffering and destruction of other people, right? It is the very definition of an Empire in decline.

                Better that we should have invented a society based on freedom and liberty and then stopped inventing things.

                Here’s where you and I differ: I see human beings, not Americans or “others”. This is your biggest blindness, I think.

                Instead of giving the government more power and oversight over corporations in response to this latest crisis, let’s try giving it less.

                Great! Why didn’t I think of that?! Then the inequality and problems of society will just magically fix themselves, because….well, because you say so!

                I am beginning to realize that you are just a closet anarcho-libertarian that doesn’t really want to admit it.

                It seems to me that the advantages that I have that are not possible for some people are the third or fourth most important advantages in my life. The first couple of advantages that I have are available to pretty much everybody. The opportunity to be part of a team. The opportunity to better oneself in one’s off-time. The opportunity to enjoy active entertainments rather than passive ones.

                Spoken like someone who doesn’t have brown skin. Bravo!

                Let me tell you, it’s different for those without white skin. Or who are not male. Or heterosexual. Or…

                I’m sorry that society is such that folks who have brown skin have many things tougher than folks who have white skin. For what it’s worth, there are huge numbers of folks with white skin who screw up pretty much every opportunity they get. I’m related to a surprising chunk of them.

                Ok.

                I know a lot of people with brown skin (or who are female, or god-forbid female with brown skin) who do everything right (and I mean everything), and still can’t get ahead as much as some of the dumbest people with white skin can. But, we can’t do anything about that, because the government is not to be trusted and needs less power, and there is no one else that could possible address it. Well, except god, but she doesn’t make house calls.

                I do not aspire to libertopia. Though, I will say, Jaybirdtopia exists. It’s in my house, with my wife, and my cats, and my books, and my games, and my friends. The food is pretty good, there is wine on Friday nights, and there are extra chairs for those who wish to come over and just sit quietly.

                Good for you. But that isn’t a society, and that isn’t possible for a lot of people because they do not have some of the advantages that you have. I think that you either can’t see what I am talking about, don’t want to, or are being deliberately obtuse. I’m going to go with “can’t see it”, because it’s the nicest thing to think. So I’ll just leave it there. I’m glad, in a sense, that you can’t see it. But, I’m much more saddened by it.

                It certainly puts suspicions that the tea partiers would have had a riot had they been the ones doing this sort of thing into perspective.

                Well, the OWS protesters aren’t Real Americans, so I guess that’s ok then.

                I am under the impression that Jesus’s non-violent protests failed. Do you consider Constantine a victory? Luther?

                I take it you are not a Christian and believe that Jesus Christ (god) was just a character in some stories, as I do. Even so, it seems the stories about him try to portray it as a very convincing win – the prize is getting wings and a 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet in a place called heaven. Too bad about the “no sex” part of heaven, though. I’m curious: Do you follow a religion?

                I died when I was in my mid-20?s. This is gravy. Everything is gravy.

                Yeah, I died when I was in my early 20’s too. For 6 minutes and 18 seconds. This isn’t gravy. It’s called life. You spend too much time thinking your life is poetic. Trust me, it isn’t. It’s just life.

                I’m also going to have to disagree with your “sitting in silence” here. You spend far too much time writing comments on blogs. Imagine what you could have done with the time you have spent writing fourteen thousand comments on just this one blog? Of course, it’s your choice. But, it isn’t “sitting in silence”, as much as that might soothe your soul to think it. Unless, that is, you don’t work much and have plenty of other time to sit in silence. I, too, enjoy sitting in silence, but do not have much time when I am not working or taking care of my family to do it. It’s why I rarely comment or read beyond the original post. Which reminds me…Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Great! Why didn’t I think of that?! Then the inequality and problems of society will just magically fix themselves, because….well, because you say so!

                The only one who is talking about fixing everything is you. I’m talking about not making things worse and how doing nothing will, at least, not make them worse and how, the last X times we’ve tried something, it’s made them worse.

                I want to stop making things worse. This is not the same thing as fixing inequality.

                Spoken like someone who doesn’t have brown skin.

                It makes me sad to think that a short paragraph about loving my wife and loving to read makes me sound “white”.

                I know a lot of people with brown skin (or who are female, or god-forbid female with brown skin) who do everything right (and I mean everything), and still can’t get ahead as much as some of the dumbest people with white skin can. But, we can’t do anything about that, because the government is not to be trusted and needs less power, and there is no one else that could possible address it. Well, except god, but she doesn’t make house calls.

                What do you think the government ought to be doing that it failed to do over the past few years that could best help your brown and/or female friends that it has not done?

                What laws would you like to see passed that would achieve the same things as God showing up?

                Good for you. But that isn’t a society, and that isn’t possible for a lot of people because they do not have some of the advantages that you have. I think that you either can’t see what I am talking about, don’t want to, or are being deliberately obtuse. I’m going to go with “can’t see it”, because it’s the nicest thing to think. So I’ll just leave it there. I’m glad, in a sense, that you can’t see it. But, I’m much more saddened by it.

                The ability to enjoy a quiet evening with friends on a regular basis is not something that the government can give you.

                Maybe it’s something that culture can give you but if you want a culture capable of giving things like “sitting quietly”, you’re going to have to adopt it. It can’t be imposed from without.

                Well, the OWS protesters aren’t Real Americans, so I guess that’s ok then.

                That’s not what I said. I said that the OWS had a sensibility that was much more international in scope.

                The Tea Partiers are much more, how do you say, “tribal”.

                I take it you are not a Christian and believe that Jesus Christ (god) was just a character in some stories, as I do.

                I believe that there was a guy who got the death penalty a couple thousand years ago. I don’t think he did anything particularly miraculous, though.

                Do you follow a religion?

                The way I follow sports. I mostly read about them after the fact. Any moral intuitions I have are founded upon the importance of moral agency and I appreciate religion insofar as it is capable of cultivating such and making people better but I dislike religion insofar as it is likely to oppress, harm, and otherwise squash moral agency in the name of laws written by long-dead people for long-dead people in the name of even longer-dead ancestors. Insofar as religion is harmless, it strikes me as a nice hobby.

                You spend too much time thinking your life is poetic.

                I’m sure that I will stop someday.

                I’m also going to have to disagree with your “sitting in silence” here. You spend far too much time writing comments on blogs. Imagine what you could have done with the time you have spent writing fourteen thousand comments on just this one blog?

                To be honest, I write most of the comments while I work in the lab, or drive here or there, or have conversations with Maribou, or walking between places. I usually just have to transcribe comments that are already written. That’s much easier.

                The wheels turn in the head as stuff happens throughout the day. Otherwise the cycles are wasted.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                The only one who is talking about fixing everything is you. I’m talking about not making things worse and how doing nothing will, at least, not make them worse and how, the last X times we’ve tried something, it’s made them worse.

                I want to stop making things worse. This is not the same thing as fixing inequality.

                Thanks for the clarification. It must be wonderful to live in a world that is so clear cut: the last X times hasn’t done anything. Ok. You see nothing happening that is so terrible or egregious that you want to take a chance on fixing it. Understood.

                It makes me sad to think that a short paragraph about loving my wife and loving to read makes me sound “white”.

                No, you need to re-read it. You wrote this:

                “It seems to me that the advantages that I have that are not possible for some people are the third or fourth most important advantages in my life. The first couple of advantages that I have are available to pretty much everybody. The opportunity to be part of a team. The opportunity to better oneself in one’s off-time. The opportunity to enjoy active entertainments rather than passive ones.”

                Nothing about your wife or reading in there.

                and I wrote this about that section:

                “Spoken like someone who doesn’t have brown skin. Bravo!”

                What you think of as third or fourth advantages are the primary advantages that other people see.

                What do you think the government ought to be doing that it failed to do over the past few years that could best help your brown and/or female friends that it has not done?

                What laws would you like to see passed that would achieve the same things as God showing up?

                This is not worth discussing. You are an anarcho-libertarian who does not see anything worth fixing. There is nothing left for us to talk about, except perhaps within the narrow subject of games. I do not discuss much of anything with anarcho-libertarians. What’s the point? The only subject they want to talk about is how the government has too much power, and how much everyone will be better off if the government had less (as x approaches 0, y approaches infinity). That’s just a tiresome filled with sophistry.

                The ability to enjoy a quiet evening with friends on a regular basis is not something that the government can give you.

                Maybe it’s something that culture can give you but if you want a culture capable of giving things like “sitting quietly”, you’re going to have to adopt it. It can’t be imposed from without.

                I’m sure they think the same thing in war torn regions of the world. I hear they spend a lot of quiet evenings with friends on a regular basis in Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Or Syria. Or Libya. Or Somalia. At least, it’s quiet until the explosions.

                That’s not what I said. I said that the OWS had a sensibility that was much more international in scope.

                The Tea Partiers are much more, how do you say, “tribal”.

                Again, you need to read not just what I wrote, but what you wrote:

                “America is something special. Something unique. The Tea Parties, like it or not, are quintessentially American.

                OWS? It’s much more internationally accessible.”

                To me, that looks like you are saying that the Tea Parties are something special, something unique. And OWS is just more internationally accessible (therefore not special, not unique).

                To be honest, I write most of the comments while I work in the lab, or drive here or there, or have conversations with Maribou, or walking between places. I usually just have to transcribe comments that are already written. That’s much easier.

                The wheels turn in the head as stuff happens throughout the day. Otherwise the cycles are wasted.

                Thanks for the reminder about wasting. I have wasted enough of my time and your time (and anyone else unfortunate enough to read my comments).Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                JHG,

                What to do about the inequality baked into society, then? How does this get magically addressed? The anarcho-libertarian utopia? Sorry, but I think you are naive

                And here’s where the inherent incoherence of your position comes into focus.  You’re concerned about a plutocracy of corporate/government embeddedness.  But you think the answer is to promote more of that government that corporations are chasing after, rather than to reduce that part of the plutocracy and deprive corporations of that power.

                Sure, there’s always going to be inequalities in a society.  (If you want to talk about utopias, show me the government that’s eliminated inequality.)  My argument is that the very inequality you’re complaining about here is a product of government, but you aren’t willing to consider that maybe the logical conclusion to draw from that is that we should have less of the product that’s creating the inequality.

                By not giving anyone the power to address inequality, you are saying that the status quo is acceptable

                Absolutely wrong.  The status quo is the power that has helped to create the inequality.  By taking away that power to create inequality reinforced by the power of law, we are absolutely not saying the status quo is ok.  You aren’t seriously going to argue about a corporate/goverment plutocracy and then pretend the government isn’t part of the cause of the inequality, are you?

                I understand. You think government is the problem.

                But so do you!  The moment you said military/industrial complex you were implicating the government.

                Even tiny villages of aboriginal peoples have a council of elders, with power over their people. Is even this level unacceptable? Let me know, cause then I can stop engaging with this sophistry.

                I don’t come here regularly enough to know how long you’ve been here.  If you’re new here, I’m forgiving of this misunderstanding of libertarianism.  If you’ve been here a while, I’m not. We’re not anarchists who are chanting “no government ever!”  As to sophistry, someone who appears to deny government is an essential part of the problem while using the military/industrial complex as their primary example might want to be careful about using that word against others.

                 Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                the last X times hasn’t done anything.

                Is that what I said? I thought I said that the last X times has made it worse (“it” being “inequality”).

                Do you think inequality is being addressed and rectified by the laws “they” are passing without “our” input?

                Nothing about your wife or reading in there.

                The team I made reference to? Was the team of me and my wife. The bettering myself in my free time was a reference to reading (well, and arguing on the ‘tubes). The active rather than passive entertainments were references to such things as arguing on the ‘tubes as well. I like to think that these entertainments improve (or, at least, exercise) skills that are important in this job, in my next job, and in the job after that.

                I’ve seen hobbies out there that, lemme tell ya, don’t involve getting better at anything. At all.

                What you think of as third or fourth advantages are the primary advantages that other people see. 

                And, again, the greatest advantage that I have is the foundational relationship in my life. This partnership that I have with my spouse is something that most folks would be able to create an analogue of.

                I appreciate that homosexuals haven’t had the option to be left alone to create and enjoy a life with their partners. I support gay marriage and oppose the mostly mindless bigotries that argue against two folks who aren’t hurting each other to be left alone.

                This is not worth discussing.  You are an anarcho-libertarian who does not see anything worth fixing.  There is nothing left for us to talk about, except perhaps within the narrow subject of games.  I do not discuss much of anything with anarcho-libertarians.  What’s the point?  The only subject they want to talk about is how the government has too much power, and how much everyone will be better off if the government had less (as x approaches 0, y approaches infinity). 

                Well, how’s this? Let’s watch and see what laws pass in the wake of the coming months and years and let’s see how inequality is addressed and whether it is strengthened or weakened.

                If it gets worse, I’d just like you to remember that I pushed for it *NOT* getting worse.

                If it gets better, awesome.

                 I hear they spend a lot of quiet evenings with friends on a regular basis in Iraq.  Or Afghanistan.  Or Syria.  Or Libya.  Or Somalia.  At least, it’s quiet until the explosions.

                My general rule of thumb to judge a society involves whether the society requires “secret police” to maintain itself. If it does, then it’s a sick, toxic society that pretty much ought to be overthrown. I’m pleased that a nice sampling of the worst despots of the Middle East have been overthrown in the last decade. I’m concerned that the despots were manifestations of the pathologies of the society rather than the pathologies of the society were manifestations of the despotism… but we’ll see.

                To me, that looks like you are saying that the Tea Parties are something special, something unique.  And OWS is just more internationally accessible (therefore not special, not unique).

                It’s also what you pointed out. You pointed out that Tea Parties were stuck here in America but OWS was something that had been picked up in other countries.

                Thanks for the reminder about wasting.  I have wasted enough of my time and your time (and anyone else unfortunate enough to read my comments).

                It’s my time to waste. I suspect the same for anyone who is still here. I am pleased that you chose to spend your time here. Thanks.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                James Hanley,

                And here’s where the inherent incoherence of your position comes into focus. You’re concerned about a plutocracy of corporate/government embeddedness. But you think the answer is to promote more of that government that corporations are chasing after, rather than to reduce that part of the plutocracy and deprive corporations of that power.

                First, of course the government is part of the problem. But it can also be part of the solution. It isn’t a binary choice.

                There are governments and societies that have much less plutocracy and inequality than America. Those people were able to do it – with their government. Why can’t we? The U.S. is almost at the bottom on the inequality scales.

                Sure, there’s always going to be inequalities in a society. (If you want to talk about utopias, show me the government that’s eliminated inequality.) My argument is that the very inequality you’re complaining about here is a product of government, but you aren’t willing to consider that maybe the logical conclusion to draw from that is that we should have less of the product that’s creating the inequality.

                Government doesn’t create inequality, in and of itself. It is how the government operates that creates or diminishes the inequality. Look at the OECD list (Society at a Glance 2011) of inequality. The U.S. has the fourth highest rate of income inequality and relative poverty. Many people think that we are more diverse than other countries, but 11 out of 34 OECD countries have a higher share of foreign born population. The U.S. has a life expectancy of 77.9 years (lower than the OECD average), despite having the highest public and private spending on health at 16 percent of GDP, considerably higher than the OECD average of 9 percent. The U.S. spends the least amount of time per day on cooking and time eating, but has the highest rate of obesity in the OECD (one third of all Americans!). We don’t even have the highest household income in the OECD. But we do spend the most time volunteering time, giving money and helping strangers, so that’s something to be proud of.

                Has the government really done all that on it’s own?

                Absolutely wrong. The status quo is the power that has helped to create the inequality. By taking away that power to create inequality reinforced by the power of law, we are absolutely not saying the status quo is ok. You aren’t seriously going to argue about a corporate/goverment plutocracy and then pretend the government isn’t part of the cause of the inequality, are you?

                Ah, so the government DID do all of that inequality on its own. Ok. But, the government can’t undo all the inequality, except by taking power away from the government. I understand your position. I just think you are wrong.

                But so do you! The moment you said military/industrial complex you were implicating the government.

                Never said I didn’t. I just think the solution is different than you do.

                I don’t come here regularly enough to know how long you’ve been here. If you’re new here, I’m forgiving of this misunderstanding of libertarianism. If you’ve been here a while, I’m not. We’re not anarchists who are chanting “no government ever!” As to sophistry, someone who appears to deny government is an essential part of the problem while using the military/industrial complex as their primary example might want to be careful about using that word against others.

                Didn’t deny that government was part of the problem. Read my comments. Been here for a while, so don’t forgive me. Didn’t say you were anarchists (though, in a sense, you are). Said you were anarcho-libertarians, which is different. Of course, you do know that the word libertarian comes from the French word libertaire which in French means…..anarchist.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                Jaybird,

                Is that what I said? I thought I said that the last X times has made it worse (“it” being “inequality”).

                Do you think inequality is being addressed and rectified by the laws “they” are passing without “our” input?

                You are correct. That is not what you said.

                Regarding the second point, it can be. I know you don’t like ACA, but it reduced inequality (just a single example), though it benefited corporations much more. Single payer would have been much better, but was not possible because of the Nihilist Party (and some Corporatist Democrats).

                The team I made reference to? Was the team of me and my wife. The bettering myself in my free time was a reference to reading (well, and arguing on the ‘tubes). The active rather than passive entertainments were references to such things as arguing on the ‘tubes as well. I like to think that these entertainments improve (or, at least, exercise) skills that are important in this job, in my next job, and in the job after that.

                I’ve seen hobbies out there that, lemme tell ya, don’t involve getting better at anything. At all.

                Didn’t read it that way. There are many ways to read team or better oneself.

                And, again, the greatest advantage that I have is the foundational relationship in my life. This partnership that I have with my spouse is something that most folks would be able to create an analogue of.

                Yet, it does not give them the same advantages. It helps, but doesn’t change some basic, unalterable facts. I don’t think you can really understand what a difference the color of your skin makes out in the world.

                Well, how’s this? Let’s watch and see what laws pass in the wake of the coming months and years and let’s see how inequality is addressed and whether it is strengthened or weakened.

                If it gets worse, I’d just like you to remember that I pushed for it *NOT* getting worse.

                If it gets better, awesome.

                Ok, let’s do that. But, I won’t be holding my breath that anarcho-libertarians will suddenly realize that government can resolve some problems (without that resolution only being less power for the government). Whereas, I freely admit that government can create problems, and often does, because of the power it wields.

                My general rule of thumb to judge a society involves whether the society requires “secret police” to maintain itself. If it does, then it’s a sick, toxic society that pretty much ought to be overthrown. I’m pleased that a nice sampling of the worst despots of the Middle East have been overthrown in the last decade. I’m concerned that the despots were manifestations of the pathologies of the society rather than the pathologies of the society were manifestations of the despotism… but we’ll see.

                My point was just that your ability to sit quietly with friends depends a great deal on the country and government that you have. You were claiming that it didn’t.

                It’s my time to waste. I suspect the same for anyone who is still here. I am pleased that you chose to spend your time here. Thanks.

                Thank you for engaging in the discussion, as well. We are the blind men and the elephant. We will not agree on this.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I know you don’t like ACA, but it reduced inequality (just a single example), though it benefited corporations much more.

                Whenever I say “the PPACA did this”, people point out that it hasn’t been implemented yet.

                How is that not an appropriate response to what you’ve said?

                Yet, it does not give them the same advantages. It helps, but doesn’t change some basic, unalterable facts. I don’t think you can really understand what a difference the color of your skin makes out in the world.

                So let’s say that I cannot understand that. Fair enough.

                So then what?

                My point was just that your ability to sit quietly with friends depends a great deal on the country and government that you have. You were claiming that it didn’t.

                In my post to Stillwater, I acknowledged that local law enforcement had something to do with it but most of the heavy lifting was done by culture.

                The whole “sitting around a table arguing about whether the government should change this or that policy” thing is something that, if it changes, will only change for the worse. If it only changes for the worse, it’ll be because government actually decides to get involved.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                Jaybird,

                Whenever I say “the PPACA did this”, people point out that it hasn’t been implemented yet.

                How is that not an appropriate response to what you’ve said?

                There are parts of PPACA that have already gone into effect, and other parts that will go into effect at a later time. For those parts that have gone into effect, it has reduced inequality. For those parts that have yet to go into effect, it will reduce inequality further.

                So, no, it’s not a correct statement to say that it isn’t implemented yet, though it is correct to say that it isn’t fully implemented yet. And, that makes it an inappropriate response to what I’ve said.

                So let’s say that I cannot understand that. Fair enough.

                So then what?

                Well, for starters, let’s not limit the conversation to only reducing the power of government. Then, let’s stipulate that other actions can be taken by the government, and argue about what those things might be.

                In my post to Stillwater, I acknowledged that local law enforcement had something to do with it but most of the heavy lifting was done by culture.

                So government isn’t part of the culture?

                The whole “sitting around a table arguing about whether the government should change this or that policy” thing is something that, if it changes, will only change for the worse. If it only changes for the worse, it’ll be because government actually decides to get involved.

                I have no idea what you are saying there.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So government isn’t part of the culture?

                Local government tends to be. State government much less so. Federal government? I’m skeptical that their circles and the circles of the 99% come into contact outside of catered events.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I have no idea what you are saying there.

                One of the things that my friends and I do (that is apparently indicative of privilege on my part) is sit around a table and tell stories and argue.

                I don’t see how getting the government involved will make this choice more available for people who aren’t like me. It seems to me that getting the government involved will do more to squelch the dialog than cultivate it.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                Jaybird,

                Local government tends to be. State government much less so. Federal government? I’m skeptical that their circles and the circles of the 99% come into contact outside of catered events.

                Wow! I can’t believe how much wrong is in that paragraph, and don’t even know where to start, so I’ll just write this:

                “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

                Yep, the 99% rarely come into contact with the Federal government outside of catered events.

                Let’s use a house as an analogy:

                The Federal government is the framing of the house.
                The State government is the walls, floors and ceilings.
                The Local government is the paint, carpeting, lighting and decorations.

                So, yeah, you mostly see the paint, carpeting, lighting and decorations. You see the walls, floors and ceiling a little bit. But, you don’t really see the framing. Yet isn’t that the most important part of the house, upon which everything else is built?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                There are a lot of statements that were true when those words were written that are not true today.

                I wouldn’t mind if many of those statements were true once again.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Jaybird,

                You’re assuming those words were true then.  But does anyone really believe that even a bare majority of the people got to weigh in on the ratification of the Constitution?  It was pretty much white propertied males only, no?  “We, the people,” is lovely boilerplate, but to mistake it for a statement of fact about how connected people are to their government, as JHG seems to do, is a bit much.

                Sure, the Fed Gov’t is part of our culture, as he claims.  It’s such a broad claim it would be hard to be wrong. (Jersey Shore is part of our culture, too, not that I’ve ever watched it.)  And yes, as he suggests, the Fed Gov’t impacts our lives in numerous ways.  But I think your point, Jaybird, is that most people don’t really feel connected to it, able to influence  it, or represented by it. And I think the evidence strongly suggests that’s true.

                 Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Mr. Griffin: “Something is better than nothing” is not always true.  There exists an infinity of bad choices.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                When someone is getting kicked out of their house, or spending their savings because they have been out of work for 9 months, people don’t care what is done as long as something is done.

                When a political party is devoted to doing nothing, this ensures much pain for many people at the bottom.

                Do you support doing anything, or are you a closet anarcho-libertarian like Jaybird? I don’t know your politics well enough to know, but you sound like one in this comment.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                @ JHG:

                “When someone is getting kicked out of their house, or spending their savings because they have been out of work for 9 months, people don’t care what is done as long as something is done.”

                Oh, that’s true, right there.  You can convince a lot of people to do all sorts of crazy shit when that is going on though.  (joke)  “You know who else came to power when an economy was in the crapper…?” (/joke).

                When a political party is devoted to doing nothing, this ensures much pain for many people at the bottom.

                One would assume this does not bode well for that political party at the next election.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                Oh, that’s true, right there. You can convince a lot of people to do all sorts of crazy shit when that is going on though.

                Exactly my point. So, what do we do? Nothing? Something?

                Do we allow the fact that crazy things COULD happen (the infinity of bad choices) paralyze us from doing anything? Do we listen to the people who want to try something? Or do we go the authoritarian route and say that we know better than they do what should or should not be done?

                One would assume this does not bode well for that political party at the next election.

                Hasn’t boded ill for them yet. I wouldn’t count on it having much of a negative impact in the next election.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                You can convince a lot of people to do all sorts of crazy shit when that is going on though.
                Exactly my point. So, what do we do? Nothing?

                Well, if the likely outcome is really crazy shit, there’s a good case to be made that the right strategy for the moment is in fact to do very little.

                My experience in risk-fraught situations is that it’s normally better to calm down and analyze the situation before acting*. People who rush into action more often make things worse, rather than better. Demanding that we slow down and think more before acting may not win votes, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do.

                [*Warning: This principle does not hold when you’re standing in the street with a big bus coming at you at full speed. It does hold for most analogies to standing in the street with a big bus coming at you at full speed.]Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                James Hanley,

                How long do we analyze and wait?

                Income inequality has been steadily growing for 30 years, while tax rates on the rich (and corporations) have been steadily falling for 30 years. Hmmm, maybe there is a connection in there somewhere, but I can’t quite see it.Report

              • Avatar Joecitizen says:

                There are choices made in times of:

                -Fear

                -Desperation

                -Prosperity

                -Lucid Logic

                the results of these choices can vary greatly for each individual.

                with the full speed bus scenario, there needs to be enough applied logic that you don’t run in a circleReport

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                JHG,

                I don’t find growing income inequality itself something that demands a government response.  I’m far less concerned about relative well-being than I am about absolute well-being, and for the most part middle-class Americans are, despite all the media frenzy playing to middle-class fears, better off than they were 30 years ago.  Our standards of living demonstrate it really well.

                From a 2008 Minneapolis Fed report:

                Historically, society has gauged progress by the growth in “things obtained”—whether it be housing, health care, education, entertainment or sundry consumer goods and services—because people tend to purchase things that make life more convenient, pleasurable and productive. And virtually across the board, the middle class is consuming more of everything, which makes the notion of a stagnant middle class an argument that doesn’t fit well in the garage.

                Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                James, personal private debt was at 100% of GDP that year, wasn’t it?

                (in short, yeah, if we were actually fiscally solvent, you’d be right.)Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Kimmi,

                Which takes us back to people buying too goddam much house.

                And spending too much on cars.

                But in terms of access to low price consumer goods, the personal debt issue isn’t nearly that significant.Report

              • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

                James Hanley,

                Whatever you do, don’t read this. Beware, the “socialist whore”, who I can’t wait to be elected in my Commonwealth, is included in there.

                If you do look at it, look at the charts that compare median household income with GDP per capita (for the US), and compare it with the charts for other rich countries (Sweden and the UK). Pages 90 and 91. When did the lines start to diverge in the US? What’s that? About 30 years ago? And, the lines don’t diverge in the other rich countries? Hmm. Isn’t that interesting.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor says:

                James, sorry to but in but measuring the stability of the middle class based on access to goods seems faulty for a few reasons: (a) since it’s not the job of the state to directly provide for such access, it’s growth isn’t really telling us how well government is working and (b) it’s difficult to compare this to a control – we expect goods to naturally get cheaper over time, but how much cheaper is good enough?

                Here are my metrics (links have been butchered to fool the spam filter):

                * health-care-related bankruptcy has increased by 23% from 2001-2007 (w w w .pnhp.org/new_bankruptcy_study/Bankruptcy-2009.pdf)
                * education-related debt has nearly doubled from 1996-2008 (w w w .projectonstudentdebt.org/files/File/Debt_Facts_and_Sources.pdf)
                * costs related to both have grown at a pace much faster than cost of living (w w w .freakonomics.com/2011/10/27/cost-of-college-on-the-rise-again/)
                * food security, something we would expect to increase with technology and cost of living, has actually remained steady since 1998 (w w w .ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR125/ERR125.pdf)

                Moreover, we see that class mobility (up and down) has decreased significantly over the past 30 years and is nearly the lowest when compared to the developed world (w w w .rajpatel.org/2010/01/29/class-mobility-in-the-united-states/ – source NYTimes). And there is significant correlation between access to social programs the level of mobility (w w w .oecd.org/dataoecd/2/7/45002641.pdf).

                I think it’s fair to conclude that the government has not served us well over the past 30 years, and that this has a striking correlation with rising income inequality, and, more importantly, decreased income mobility.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                JHG–Did I ever claim there wasn’t income or wealth divergence in the U.S. that was greater than that of other countries?  I said I’m not that worried about it, as long as the absolute well-being of those on the lesser end  of that continues to improve.  So showing me that there’s more divergence here than elsewhere is just showing me that something I think is mostly irrelevant is irrelevantly happening to a greater degree here than it’s irrelevantly happening there.

                Trizzlor–But why do you assume things get cheaper over time? That’s an implicit assumption that markets actually work.  So it suggests we ought to be careful about intervening in the markets too much.  You know what isn’t getting cheaper in the U.S.?  Food prices.  And that’s all because of government agricultural policies.  Who gets hurt the most by high food prices?  Lower class and lower middle class people, of course.

                You know what else didn’t get cheaper over time for a couple decades?  Car prices.  Again, because the government intervened in the market by limiting imports.

                My point there is we can’t just blithely assume things get cheaper over the time if we’re going to be generally in favor of government intervention in the market.

                I would agree that government hasn’t served us well in the past 30 years.  I would also argue that except for a few high profile deregulatory actions in the ’70s and ’80s (telecom, airlines, trucking, and rail), we haven’t had any significant reduction of federal intervention in the market, but in fact have had an on-going increase in economic regulation.  So how can you be sure that your claim that government hasn’t served us well equates to a claim that we need government to do more, rather than to have it do less?  Or put another way, what is your basis for assuming that it’s actually market factors that are causing the inequalities more than the government policies? (For example, education-related debt: Everyone sees this as justification for expanding access to financial aid for students.  But the expansion in college-tuition tracks the expansion in financial aid.  As much as I favor helping students get a degree, I think it’s quite obvious that colleges find it a lot easier to jack up tuition when the pool of students can actually get access to loans to cover the higher rates. I.e., subsidized education has led to more costly education.)Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                GlassSteagal doesn’t ring a bell?

                I don’t assume that things get cheaper over time. A good soundboard costs ~100 dollars now. It used to cost ~1. Soundblaster to the Rescue!

                Food prices are rising because of oil prices rising… (which, while also meddled with, is a different question)

                The claim that “Markets are working” seems rather antithetical to the claim that “Reagan’s revision of pension law created a Ponzi Scheme in the stock market.” Or does it?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Kimmi,

                Wrong, as usual.  Glass-Stegall deregulated one part of the financial services sector, and no, it would not have prevented the financial crisis, not that I want to get into that argument.

                As to food prices rising because of increasing energy costs, that’s only part of the issue.  Subsidies for ethanol, tariffs on imports, payments to not-farm, and widespread cartelization of agriculture play a major role, and serve only to transfer money from consumers to producers.

                Trust me; if you have not spent some time reading up on agricultural policy in the U.S., you do not want to get into this with me.  It’s one of those things I can go on about until everyone’s naseous.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                James,

                So we’re in agreement that repealing GlassStegal was in fact a deregulation perpetuated on the American public/free market by the gov’t?

                I’ll bow to your superior reading on the subject (how often does one person say “it’s because of a!” and the other person says “but it’s because of B!” sanity point to you for recognizing that we’re both addressing a larger problem)Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Kimmi,

                Yes, but Jesus Christ, you are perpetually giving single data points as responses to cumulative data. Ugh, that kind of things is precisely why my students are required to take a methodology class.

                The fact that G/S was a de-reg says precisely nothing about the overall amount of increasing regulation in the ’90s and 2000s.  Something like G/S gets attention, precisely because it’s so phenomenally rare, but all that attention causes people to become aware of it and then think it’s the norm.  What doesn’t get reported for the most part is the thousands of new regulations per annum put out by the executive branch agencies, so the average person has no awareness of how much of it goes on.  When I hear about Reagan’s deregulation being the cause of our economic problems I laugh my ass off.  Whatever we want to criticize Reagan for, the areas of the economy that he and Carter most notably deregulated, like telecom and transportation, are areas that have been strengths for the last several decades.

                How many folks here know that trucking routes between cities used to be regulated, so that anyone else wanting to take a particular product between particular cities often was barred from doing so unless they actually took a roundabout route?  That airline fares were regulated so that the airlines could not legally compete on price, which meant only the rich could afford to fly (there’s more of that government policy creating inequality, and the market erasing much of it)?  Yes, liberals always solemnly shake their heads and say, “Oh, well we don’t want to do that.”  But liberals did do that, and in their eagerness to regulate market outcomes they do end up supporting policies that have the same types of effect.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                It was liberals who did much of the deregulation of the late 70’s, considering a lot of it was led by Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter and ya’ know, they held Congress. Of course, liberals make mistakes in regulation. That’s obvious. But, I’ll take the mistakes of regulation over the mistakes of overregulation.

                That’s also just ignoring the fact that for the most part, most regulations don’t slow down the economy. Conservatives and libertarians point to a some bad regulations mostly put in place during World War II that were repealed and led to positive outcomes and extrapolate that to the fact that regulation is bad and horrible and we should eliminate as many as possible.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Jesse,

                It was liberals who did much of the deregulation of the late 70?s, considering a lot of it was led by Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter and ya’ know, they held Congress.

                A) I’ve never heard that TK was one of the forces behind the Carter deregulation acts.  I’m willing to be shown that I’m wrong, but it would be news to me.

                B) Carter was not a liberal; he was a moderate southern Dem.

                C) My understanding is that the deregulation acts were primarily passed by a combination of Republicans and their conservative southern Dem cohorts (the boll weevils), the same group that gave Reagan a working conservative legislative majority when he was prez.  To say Dems passed something back then is not remotely the same thing as saying it was a liberal policy.

                 That’s also just ignoring the fact that for the most part, most regulations don’t slow down the economy.

                I’m just going to say balderdash and leave it at that, as that’s a whole thread’s worth of argument in which I doubt you or I could sway each other an inch.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                I need to look up the actual voting on the trucking and airline acts, but here’s something from Reason in the aftermath of Kennedy’s death.

                http://www.reason.com/news/show/135658.html

                [quote]There is, buried deep within Kennedy’s legislative legacy, a different set of policies worth exhuming and examining, precisely because they were truly a break with the normal way of doing business in Washington. During the 1970s, Kennedy was instrumental in deregulating the interstate trucking industry and airline ticket prices, two innovations that have vastly improved the quality of life in America even as-or more precisely, because-they pushed power out of D.C. and into the pocketbooks of everyday Americans. We are incalculably richer and better off because something like actual prices replaced regulatory fiat in trucking and flying. Because they do not fit the Ted Kennedy narrative preferred by his admirers and detractors alike, these accomplishments rarely get mentioned in stories about the late senator. But they are exactly the sort of legislation that we should be celebrating in his honor, and using as a model in today’s debates about health care, education, and virtually every aspect of government action.[/quote]Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                On Kennedy. Here ya’ go, from Reason.

                There is, buried deep within Kennedy’s legislative legacy, a different set of policies worth exhuming and examining, precisely because they were truly a break with the normal way of doing business in Washington. During the 1970s, Kennedy was instrumental in deregulating the interstate trucking industry and airline ticket prices, two innovations that have vastly improved the quality of life in America even as-or more precisely, because-they pushed power out of D.C. and into the pocketbooks of everyday Americans. We are incalculably richer and better off because something like actual prices replaced regulatory fiat in trucking and flying. Because they do not fit the Ted Kennedy narrative preferred by his admirers and detractors alike, these accomplishments rarely get mentioned in stories about the late senator. But they are exactly the sort of legislation that we should be celebrating in his honor, and using as a model in today’s debates about health care, education, and virtually every aspect of government action.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Jesse,

                Nice, thanks.  I’m glad to learn that.

                I should add that the deregulation of airlines, trucking, telecom, and rail were fairly bipartisan.  The over-regulation of those industries was based on a belief promulgated by certain economists like Galbraith who believed that central organization of economic activity was feasible.  By the late ’70s, most economists had given up on that, and the politicians mostly had, too.  The evidence was so strong that only the most left-leaning pols could really object at that point.

                But it’s very important in understanding the story to point out that the belief in that kind of central organization came from the liberal side of the spectrum, and the calls for deregulation came from the right and libertarian side of the spectrum and took a number of years to become mainstream (and now to the point where a liberal can even claim liberals are really responsible for it!).Report

              • Avatar trizzlor says:

                @ Pat, Clinton is the outlier:

                gini index by president

                [ source ]Report

              • Avatar trizzlor says:

                Something’s up with the image, but look at the last figure: Gini inequality broken down by party as the source I linked.Report

          • Avatar Scott says:

            JHG:

            No Barry needs atleast another four years before any hope or change might be possible and when it fails it will still be Bush’s fault.Report

            • Avatar John Howard Griffin says:

              It is certainly an uphill climb.

              But the details of the banking deal that the Administration (i.e. Geithner) is proposing make me think that Obama is choosing to do some very wrong things and is listening to the wrong people.Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

          I snorted coffee on the screen……..stop it!Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Think of it this way: If they weren’t working on stuff like this, they might be breaking something actually important.

      J’Bird, I love the way you can look at an issue in a glass-is-half-full way that is so deeply embedded in a glass-is-half-empty view.Report

  14. Avatar kenB says:

    We have a book on parenting teenagers that talked about “MBA” issues — Minor But Aggravating.  The idea was that a lot of unpleasantness between parent and teen occurs over stuff that really doesn’t matter much but that just really pisses you off, and you’re better off recognizing that it’s minor and saving your energy.  I’d put this in that category — not a big deal,  both sides have to put on a show for their base after all, but it happens to drive you up a wall if you’re not among the intended audience.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Blowing off steam occasionally does prevent you from becoming psychotic, though.

      That’s important in the parenting scheme of things.Report

      • Avatar kenB says:

        Yeah, there’s a difference between letting things roll off your back vs just stifling your natural reaction over and over again until it comes bursting out of every pore, shaking the rafters and sending your kid to therapy.

        This book had some good advice, but a lot of it was firmly in the “easier said than done” category.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          I think it’s important for children to learn that their parents are not infallible gods.

          On the other hand, blowing up ought to be done under controlled circumstances, of course.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      The only difference is, the Republican base is at the right end of the party’s spectrum, while the Democratic base is also at the right end of the party’s spectrum. The Democratic left gets very few bones thrown to it.Report

      • Avatar kenB says:

        I dunno, I suspect the conservative base would feel the much same way the liberal base does, at least as far as things actually getting done vs just talked about.Report

  15. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    “As much as I tend to dislike the Democratic Party, the Republicans always seems to find a way to make the D’s seem the far more palatable choice. The big knock on today’s GOP, of course, is that it is a party completely unserious about policy or governing. Critics say it’s reliance on talk radio and FOX news has left it a laughable shell of cultural dog whistles and sound bites. I so want to not believe generalizations like this…

    I’ll admit a bit of nostalgia for the days when the people who called themselves conservatives were among the sharpest critics of cultural decline, as opposed to generally serving as agents of that decline.

    But, I have to admit that when people say that the grandstanding of one party makes the other a more palatable choice for them, I sort of assume they were going in that direction anyway and found the grandstanding to be comforting confirmation of their preferences.

    Also, while I hear you about the GOP, I’m starting to wonder if other people differ from me in having some sort of vague hopes that the Democrats could govern seriously if only the Republicans would get on board with them. In my experience, the Democratic Party is fairly adept at seizing the initiative and fishing up all on their own when times are tough.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Fair enough.  But for me, I look at it like this:

      You have two potential re-hire employees, neither of which was a particularly great hire to begin with.   When interviewing them, one earnestly tells you that they are going to take their job tasks seriously if you re-hire them.  The other lets you know they have no interest in taking those tasks seriously.

      Who do you hire, if you have to pick one?  I think you have to pick the one that is at least trying to take the job seriously.Report

      • Avatar kenB says:

        In that case, what you may really be doing is picking the one who knows which lies you prefer to hear.Report

        • Avatar Plinko says:

          So you should hire the other one then?Report

          • Avatar KenB says:

            You need to look past what they’re saying and focus on what they’ve done and what they’re likely to do.  In the case of the political parties, the God talk is a distraction — how much God-related legislation was passed during the days of the “permanent” Republican majority in the previous decade?  My point here is basically the same as above — this is minor, superficial stuff, certainly not an indication of how “serious” the party is.  Basing your party or candidate selection on this isn’t much different than the “who would you rather have a beer with” criterion.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        “I am the 53%” vs. “I am the 99%”?Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. says:

          I work hard, I pay taxes, I can’t do math. I am the 103%!Report

          • Avatar MFarmer says:

            Are the guys and gals right below the 1% evil? Say, if one of their investments does unusually well and they rise from the 99% to the 1%, do they go from righteousness to evil at the point of crossing? Then, if they have a bad month and go back to the 99%, are they then righteous? Or, if you ever get to the 1%, even for a week, does that make you permanently evil? I don’t know the rules.Report

            • Avatar Kimmi says:

              1) people who steal my money and go unpunished are evil.

              2) people who buy other people are evil.

              3) people who actively destroy our entire economy are evil.

              4) people who commit acts of economic terrorism are evil.

              Lamont’s none of these things, and I’m pretty sure he’s in the 1%. Can’t think of many other examples off the top of my head.

              The 1% is a convenient shorthand for 1/3/4. The sociopathic rich do 2, but only because they can…Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      The democrats took 40 years to get as corrupt as the Republicans did in about 6. Voting democratic, because I’d really rather see someone trying to be fiscally and economically responsible.

      When fiscal stimulus fails, what do you do? Republicans seem to say “give out more free money!” I’d respect them more if their response was “start a new carry trade”Report

  16. Avatar MFarmer says:

    What if they held an election and no one came?Report

  17. Avatar Joecitizen says:

    “Random acts of Election”Report

  18. Avatar Joecitizen says:

    tag your it, HaReport

  19. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    Chris, I sustained your objection to Voegelinese on behalf of the League.

    But do you not understand what Cheeks is on about?  I have no problem, as a multi-lingual.  I understand Leftese/Bearded Spock Universe, right-wing normal, Cheeks/Voegelin, and even Sam Harris/you.  I even get Dr. James Hanley PhD, who when writing affirmatively and not @ me, is remarkably lucid.

    I maintain the crap Cheeks gets is because people understand him all too well.Report

  20. Avatar trizzlor says:

    @ James Hanley (from above): “I would agree that government hasn’t served us well in the past 30 years. I would also argue that except for a few high profile deregulatory actions in the ’70s and ’80s (telecom, airlines, trucking, and rail), we haven’t had any significant reduction of federal intervention in the market, but in fact have had an on-going increase in economic regulation.

    Okay, so we’re on the same page with regards to the decline in social-services/general-welfare over the past 30 years, but is that in spite of government or because of it? My glib response would be that nearly every other developed nation has a firmer government hand in these areas and manages to keep costs lower without losing class mobility. If you can find a reproducible correlation between regulation/”big government” and either the absolute or derivative of any of my metrics (access to: housing, food, health-care, education) I would love to see it (seriously!).

    A less glib response would be to re-iterate the OECD inequality findings (figures 5.7-5.11) that show direct correlation between liberal social & tax policies and class mobility. I’m young enough where mobility is my sole objective function, so if you can show me that right/libertarian social & tax policies lead to increased class mobility I’ll gladly put on the GOP cologne in the morning and vote Red for the rest of my life (or until I get old and want the government to subsidize my Hoveround).Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Trizz (if I may),

      I’m going to have to bow off the nets for the weekend, but my glib response is that our pro-corporate (not pro-market) policies are what’s causing the problem, rather than a lack of social programs per se.

      And I would argue that American culture plays a big-ass role. How’s government really supposed to help people when such a small proportion of our citizenry takes education seriously?

      If you can show me that right/libertarian social & tax policies lead to increased class mobility I’ll gladly put on the GOP cologne in the morning and vote Red for the rest of my life

      Why the fish would you do that?  Republicans aren’t pro-free market, they’re pro-corporation.  And even if they weren’t, I’m not sure becoming more free-market, as much as I’d like that, would be worth putting up with all the other crap that comes from them.  I’m a staunch free-marketer, but the civil liberties issues actually matter far more to me–I just don’t argue them here as much because we’re mostly all in agreement on those.   (Heck, I can count the number of times I’ve voted Republican on one hand–and two of those were this year; one for governor of my state because the Dem was such an outrageously foolish person and the Republican was moderate, the other in my state senatorial election when I actually liked both the candidates (and both of whom I’ve had personal, non-political, conversations with) but decided that the Republican was just a bit sharper and more thoughtful.  You know, the types of Republicans that are now a nearly extinct species.)Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        When you get back from your weekend stuff, James, I would consider it a favor if you went more in depth with how you see the difference between being pro-market and pro-corporate.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          This popped up in my email while I was doing something else, but I can give you a quickie answer at least.

          Pro-market means favoring free exchange that is only lightly regulated, and those regulations are designed primarily to prevent market failures like coercion, fraud, externalities, etc., and they are generally applicable, not designed to benefit a particular market entity.*  An ideal regulation meets both of those standards.  A well-functioning market means corporations have to compete against each other for customers, and in classic economic theory that means they must innovate and drive down prices.  We do find this happening in the most competitive markets, whereas in tightly regulated markets we normally do not.  Competitive markets, in this theory, work to the benefit of consumers, by making corporations fight each other for our business; they are not necessarily an ideal situation for a corporation because it’s forced to compete with other firms.

          Pro-corporate means rigging the market to protect particular businesses from competition, or protecting all businesses from consumers. As far as protecting particular businesses from competition, I’m thinking of agricultural cartels that ensure producers always have a high price because they don’t actually compete against each other, tariffs and quotas on imports, subsidies to prop up businesses that can’t stand on their own, and legal barriers to entry that make it hard for new businesses to challenge established ones.  As far as protecting all businesses from consumers I’m thinking of something like tort reform, about which I’m exceptionally dubious, because even though I think it’s gotten rather ridiculous, those most heavily advocating it too often want to protect businesses from harmed consumers, which is not a market ideal.  Or the crazy idea once pitched to me by a conservative to ban Consumers Reports because they made it harder for businesses to sell lousy products, which, he claimed, was unfair to those businesses.

          In general, I take my distinction from Adam Smith, who favored competitive markets but cast a very jaundiced eye upon businessmen, noting that “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”  Likewise, I once asked John Baden, a free market economist who is Chairman of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (http://www.free-eco.org), who knows more businessmen than most businessmen, if he knew any businessmen who were truly pro-free market (i.e., would prefer to operate in a free market rather than one rigged to their benefit).  He instantly said no, then hesitated, and said, “well, one, I know one.”

          My take on the great majority of conservative politicians is that when they say they believe in free markets they are either lying or mistaken, because in fact they want to protect corporations–at least the ones in their districts–from the rigors of competition in the market.  This is an area where conservatives and liberals agree, because the latter also tend to mistakenly think that pro-market = pro-corporate.

          You should ask James K about this, too.  I think he’ll say much the same thing, but probably more eloquently and with deeper insight.

          * Please, before anyone reading this gives me a “libertarians just want to let markets screw people over” rant, read that bit carefully.

          ** I don’t claim they maximize our spiritual, social, or emotional well-being, just our material well-being.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

            Dude!  This is a quick answer? Thanks.

            SInce it will be a few days till you can get back, I will reread this tonight and get back with the follow ups I know I will have.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              This is a quick answer?

              Actually, yeah. It’s a distinction I’ve had to make so often, not just on the blogs but in my political economy class, that it’s kind of a standard boilerplate speech for me. In other words, I’ve thought about it so many times that I can now spew it out without giving it much thought at all. (I really hope that last clause doesn’t come out all wrong!)

              There are lots of qualifiers, supporting arguments, and so on, that actually would take some real time to write, of course.Report