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Ebola: One more symptom that we are on our own, courtesy of the Hedonist-in-Chief.

It is not a total surprise that the mainstream media has picked up on the Ebola story or the (for the moment) more worrisome enterovirus D68.  Of course, it is not unheard of for them to fabricate a crisis ex nihilo, or ignore a crisis that doesn’t jibe with their ideology, but they still have to make a buck.  They still have to keep tabs on the pulse of America, and right now America’s heart is beating furiously.  What is surprising to me is that the American public does not seem to be comforted one iota by the assurances spilling out of the Federal government, and the CDC in particular.  I find that surprising, because there has been plenty of reason to be leery long before now.

I should clarify:  I am talking about people who normally are on the side of ‘big government’ interventions.  I detected the collective gasp when CDC chief Thomas Frieden stated that taking measures to keep Ebola out of the country would actually make matters worse.  He has since doubled-down on this, and to his credit the argument now at least has the appearance of being rational, but the damage is done.  The cat is out of the bag, the core doctrine stated so succinctly and directly that only the deliberately obtuse can ignore.  People aren’t willing to be obtuse this time, even for the ’cause,’ because, well, they perceive that life, maybe their life, conceivably hangs in the balance.  It’s all well and good… until someone dies… and that person is you.

Don’t get me wrong.  The roots of this discontent go back.  It isn’t an ebola-only issue, which is kind of my point.  More than one ‘average’ Democrat voter I am acquainted with found our efforts to ‘rescue’ Bowe Bergdahl bizarre, but the real head-scratching occurs when they are also aware of the case of marine Andrew Tahmooressi, who was at the time, and remains even now, languishing in a Mexican prison.  Apparently our government will move heaven and earth, even negotiating with terrorists, in order to liberate a man who is almost certainly a deserter, and most likely anti-American, but will lift nary a finger to liberate a man who served his country who is behind held on a ridiculous charge by, ostensibly, an ally.

Many things become clear when we understand that the White House is currently occupied by the Utilitarian in Chief and the CDC likewise has at its head a utilitarian.

Utilitarianism operates on just two basic principles:  “The most good for the most people” and “Eliminate as much suffering as you can.”  The latter stems directly from the failure of philosophical naturalists to come up with any way of defining ‘good’ in a non-transcendental manner.  All they are left with is the shaky invocation of ‘happiness’ which they would also much rather leave undefined (lest they are forced to defend the pedophile’s happiness, the rapist’s happiness, etc, etc).  This in turn forces them to define ‘suffering’ in very broad terms, such that it does not only include physical pain, but also mental pain.  And from there, you are one short hop, skip, and a jump away from endorsing assisted suicide for the terminally ill to endorsing it for those suffering from treatable mental illnesses, like depression.  The slippery slope of utilitarianism turns out to offer no friction whatsoever.

On the face of it, the utilitarian principle makes good sense for the public health, but it is not hard to spot the weak point in the sentence, the word ‘most.’  ‘Most’ necessitates that there will be some people who will not experience ‘good.’  Worse, some people may actually have to suffer, in order to enact the program of the ‘most people for the most good.’

This is the kind of calculation that men of war have to make when forced by dire circumstances to send some men to their certain death in order to (hopefully) save others or achieve a higher objective.  In other words, it is a moral stance of last resort.  When it comes to public health, however, it is the standard operating procedure.  It takes a special kind of person to knowingly enact programs where it is known with certainty some people will suffer as a result in pursuit of a ‘higher aim.’  Dr. Frieden is such a man.

But that’s not meant necessarily as a pejorative.  Here is what I think is happening:  people who normally could accept the utilitarian method at least assumed that the government agencies ostensibly dedicated to preserving the health and ‘happiness’ of Americans would ensure, at minimum, that if anyone were going to suffer, it wouldn’t be Americans!

In the refusal to take definitive steps to keep Ebola outside of America, the argument was made that in the long run, it would be worse for us.  This by itself stretched credulity.  Worse is what it implied: our government was willing to abide a certain number of American deaths in the short term in order to obtain a long term victory.   Even if Americans aren’t privy to the exact calculations made, they sensed that a decision had been made to see some of them–and it really could be any of us–as expendable.

But even that isn’t the really noxious part.

Probably, most Americans would be willing to accede to such cold calculating if by ‘victory’ it meant the eradication and elimination of the pestilence.  While they wouldn’t be too pleased if it was announced that 100 must die in order to save 1,000,000 and certainly would chafe if they learned they were among the 100, they could still accept that it was a ‘war’ worth waging because in principle, at least, the goal was to protect the interests of the American people.   Lurking in the backs of everyone’s minds, though, is that this is not the ‘victory’ that is in view.  If it was, then other simple steps, such as the blisteringly obvious one of closing down the southern border, would naturally follow.  Not only has this not happened, but Frieden’s statements against sealing our borders from the African countries where ebola is endemic seem to be designed to fend off arguments for sealing our own border.

In sum, the ‘victory’ that some Americans may die for might in the final analysis be the survival of Obama’s efforts to enact amnesty for millions of illegal aliens.  People may have been willing to fork over money to Obama’s immigration efforts, or pay more in taxes, but they were not prepared to pay with their lives for a political position.  The situation is compounded by the “children’s crusade” that the Obama administration has facilitated, importing tens of thousands of unaccompanied children and teenagers and depositing them surreptitiously around the country.  Rumors abound that there is a correlation between these deposits and enterovirus D68.  Amnesty seemed a great idea until public health bombs were deliberately placed in countless American cities, poised to explode with such intensity that even pro-amnesty folks might get sick and die.  That is a bridge too far.

It is hard to imagine that the health and well-being of Americans are being put at risk in order to further the political agenda of the commander-in-chief, but my sense is that more and more Americans fear that is precisely what is happening.  It doesn’t matter what the government says.  What it does speaks louder.  Everything the government has done over the last few years seems calibrated to undermine America’s security and buttress the fortunes of just one man:

Barack Obama.

Obama is also a utilitarian, but his utilitarianism belongs to a sub-category called hedonistic utilitarianism.  We could summarize this brand of utilitarianism as, “The most good for me, as defined as the most happiness and least amount of suffering for me.”  We are of course always happy when a hedonistic utilitarian takes pleasure in giving other people and could almost tolerate such a viewpoint.  The impending ebola outbreak seems to suggest that Obama is perfectly willing to sacrifice some Americans in order to preserve his political future.  To be fair, I’m sure Obama hopes to sacrifice as few Americans as possible.

I find it shocking how many people I know, have met, have overheard, who used to be pro-Obama, or at least neutral, in the name of ‘patriotism,’ who have completely soured.  I do think that we have collectively adduced that Obama views the American presidency as a tedious ‘hoop’ he had to go through, a stepping stone on his way to something greater, perhaps in the United Nations.  It isn’t because of anything he has said.  No one cares what he says anymore.  They only care about what he is doing.. or not doing… while golfing.  “Obama golfed, people died”?

Ultimately, though, we need to look hard at the utilitarian mindset and ask ourselves if that’s the framework we want to base our country’s important decisions on.  This might be the first glaring example where Americans themselves seemed to be among those excluded from the ‘most’ category, but really, one can never actually know how often or extensively that exercise has been performed.  Between the utilitarian ethics and the Federal government’s insistence on secrecy in every matter, the truth is we’ll never know in what ways Americans have had to sacrifice for which ‘victories.’

Hence, more and more Americans have realized they are effectively “on their own.” They cannot count on their own government to look to their interests. Their government has gone off the rails, and every sign and symptom suggests that the government itself, as an entity, has adopted a hedonistic utilitarian outlook, that is: “The most good for the government, with the least amount of suffering for the government.”

I for one cannot imagine anything more corrosive to a healthy republic than that.

 

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50 Responses to Ebola: One more symptom that we are on our own, courtesy of the Hedonist-in-Chief.

  1. Prime example of how Martin Neimoller got it right. Some people just can’t see the danger till it’s their necks on the chopping block.

  2. Oh good, more public health stuff.

    So your preferred solution to Ebola is for all borders to be closed?  Is that only to people of Mexican and African origin, or would you also advocate denying white Americans who have been in Liberia or Sierra Leone for humanitarian reasons re-entry to the US?  Seems to me that alternatives which hurt or inconvenience no one at all may be harder to come by than you think, which weakens your critique of the US government and public health establishment on this point.  A refusal to undertake any action which had even the possibility of negative consequences for a single person would inevitably lead to no action being taken at all, which would in turn result in stringent criticism from the usual suspects for not doing more to protect Americans.  Such inaction would obviously be taken as further proof of the existence of whatever sinister motives and schemes the individual critic happened to already attribute to the government.

    For example:

    I take it that you have read Morgan Brittany in WND who suggests that Obama may have “orchestrated” Ebola in the US so that “martial law can be declared, guns can be seized and the populace can be controlled”.  Or Phyllis Schlafly, in (again) WND, who believes that Obama has allowed carriers of the disease to enter the country because he “doesn’t want America to believe that [it is] exceptional”‘ and thinks that “if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too”.  Fox News’ resident psychiatrist Keith Ablow concurs, suggesting that the president “may literally believe we should suffer along with less fortunate nations”.  Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, on the other hand, says it looks to him like Obama wants America to suffer an Ebola epidemic in order to punish the country for its history of racism.  Meanwhile, Laurie Roth (a two-time CPAC speaker) wins the award for right-wing conspiracy theory Mad-Libs with the suggestion that Obama is working with ISIS to spread Ebola carriers all over the country in order to provide the pretext for martial law and a “forced vaccination plan” that will “release something potentially fatal into our system, but also act as a tracker”.

    There’s no shortage of people willing to make any assumption required in order to interpret the situation as a clear endorsement of what they already believe to be the case.  The variance arises in the precise details of the conspiracy proposed and the nature of the motives attributed, depending on the agenda of the critic in question, which strongly suggests to me that these attacks are ideologically- rather than factually-based.

    You engage in some of this yourself, citing “rumours” that an outbreak of enterovirus D68 is linked to illegal Mexican child immigrants.  I will again stress the word “rumours”, because you don’t hesitate to assume their truth when describing the situation as that of “public health bombs” being “deliberately placed in countless American cities”.  Not only do you assume that the totally unsubstantiated connection between these children and this disease is solid, you go further and state that the consequences are “deliberate”.  As with the Columbian vaccine panic, this is verging on the conscious manufacture of evidence. 

    Even the normally conspiracy-hungry WND admits that enteroviruses are not uncommon at this time of year and that the current outbreak includes cases in states such as Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, which have very few illegal minors.  Arizona, on the other hand, has no reported cases as yet – make of that what you will.  However, this was in an article generally sympathetic to the idea that the government is responsible for the outbreak, so I shouldn’t give them too much credit.  Still, they didn’t go as far as TheConservativeTreehouse.com which ran an article titled  “Obama is Complicit in the Murder of Five Children – Illegal South American Immigrants Introduce Deadly Virus to U.S. Children”.  Isn’t evidence of SOME sort required to make that kind of accusation?

    Apparently not.

    It’s also very noticeable to me the way that people who are ideologically opposed to having a strong public health system also have a tendency to make wild accusations when confronted with circumstances which better health protection measures might have helped to prevent.  It can’t just be a natural disease process running relatively unchecked because of people like me – no, it MUST be caused by malicious human activity.

    A tendency to see agency where none exists plus a natural desire to find alternative explanations for the negative consequences of ones own belief system, I suppose.  Plus, it’s always pretty easy to diagnose other people’s biases and psychological or ideological shortcomings.  Harder to do so for your own.

    Thats a life lesson right there.

    Peace out

  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDEdV_MicSw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Seems like this situation can be interpreted as supporting almost any agenda!

  4. I haven’t read any of the things you just mentioned. Obviously I’m more intimate with people of a conservative bent, but I still know people who are ‘left’ and ‘liberal.’ Plus, I read their websites, and I read the comments. Let’s not forget the possibility that I may be related to them. The ‘rumours’ are being by ‘them.’

    This is an aside: I made it clear in my comment about the Colombian vaccination issue that the thing that caught my interest was the fact that vaccines were taken off of the table from the beginning. Bully for you that (according to you… I didn’t check) people without vaccines suffered the same illnesses. That doesn’t change my core interest, which I explicitly stated.

    I have come to the conclusion that you do not know what the word ‘explicitly’ means. It may be an American/English difference. When something is ‘explicit’ we have in hand a direct quote, a clear demonstration, unequivocal intent. You have this cute habit of dismissing the explicit evidence I present as rumor mongering. If I was the prosecutor and you the defense attorney, if I extracted this confession from the accused, “Yes, I did kill the man, and enjoyed every minute of it” you would cite this as right wing conspiracy subject to interpretation.

    I think the problem is you make too many unwarranted assumptions–about me and my position, and those in the world around you.

    “Seems like this situation can be interpreted as supporting almost any agenda!”

    This is actually closer to the matter than you realize. Indeed, you can’t trust a utilitarian, because you can never know if you belong to the ‘most’ category or the category that will, regrettably, be made to suffer for the ‘greater good.’ A utilitarian is ethically warranted to say and do anything, even lie, if the ‘good’ requires it. This is classic Alinsky: The ends DO justify the means. It is also classic taqiyya, the Muslim doctrine justifying deception.

    When you are dealing with people who embrace this mindset as valid, then there really could be any agenda lying in the back. I’m sure that most Americans, including (and especially) the liberal democrat ones that I led off the article with, are ignorant about taqiyya, Alinsky, and even utilitarianism. But my sense is that nonetheless, the ‘logic’ of the CDC smells dirty rotten, and they are NOT comforted by assertions that this is really in the long run, best.

    That is precisely what the CDC is saying, but it is self-evident that even if this is the case, what it means for the short term is that they have decided that it is better for all Americans if some Americans die ‘until they deal with it in Africa.’ As I said–and you ignored–Americans might be able to get behind that, IF they thought that was really the true goal. But the whole thing smells as if the goal is that it serves Obama’s interests. That is something that even Obama supporters find vile.

    Taqiyya yes, if it is for the sake of Allah. But not, it seems, for the sake of Obama’s political ambitions.

    Anyway, it is precisely because all we have is the stench and not hard facts that I think people across the political spectrum are crying foul. Here in America at least, or so it seems to me.

  5. Tony,

    “You have this cute habit of dismissing the explicit evidence I present as rumor mongering.”

    I am open to the possibility that I may have done this in the past, but in the context of this discussion I don’t think so.  Where is the evidence, explicit or otherwise, supporting your contention that illegal Mexican child immigrants are the deliberately-placed source of the enterovirus?  If you presented any, I missed it, and in the absence of such evidence (for quite a serious accusation) I think rumour mongering is about right.

    By the way, it’s “rumour” Mr Anglophile, not “rumor”.  I’m doubting everything you’ve ever told me now.  🙂

    “I think the problem is you make too many unwarranted assumptions–about me and my position, and those in the world around you.”

    Again, this is entirely possible.  However, unless you’re NOT the same guy who just accused the US government of deliberately spreading potentially fatal diseases by depositing infected Mexican children in major cities based on speculation from conservative websites, this feels a little like the Socratic pot-kettle dialogue.

    “A utilitarian is ethically warranted to say and do anything, even lie, if the ‘good’ requires it. This is classic Alinsky: The ends DO justify the means. It is also classic taqiyya, the Muslim doctrine justifying deception.  When you are dealing with people who embrace this mindset as valid, then there really could be any agenda lying in the back.”

    I am not advocating any naive trust in the veracity of public statements by politicians, but this is extremely selective reasoning (with a little red meat for the “Obama is a Muslim” lunatic fringe thrown in).  Any agenda could be lying at the back of any statement made by any person – that does not mean that all speculation on the nature of those agendas is reasonable.

    Did you know that our old friend Rushdoony preached a sermon on the biblical morality of lying?  I’m just not sure how you’d feel about me using that as a justification for attributing diabolical motives to anyone I can associate with his theology.

    http://www.pocketcollege.com/transcripts/10 Million Word Project 12-06-12/52. IBL09 Ninth Commandment – Carol McIntyre/paid – RR130AZ94 – Tempting God.docx

  6. Huh, that link messed up for some reason. Just google RR130AZ94 rushdoony and the sermon transcript is the top result.

  7. “Where is the evidence, explicit or otherwise, supporting your contention that illegal Mexican child immigrants are the deliberately-placed source of the enterovirus?”

    And where did I contend that they are?

    “n the absence of such evidence (for quite a serious accusation) I think rumour mongering is about right.”

    Hmmmm. I believe I even used the word ‘rumor.’ I just can’t remember!

    “By the way, it’s “rumour” Mr Anglophile, not “rumor”. I’m doubting everything you’ve ever told me now. :-)”

    I almost quoted you, saying [sic]. 🙂

    “Again, this is entirely possible.”

    Probable. See above. I didn’t say that I believed that. I only said that there are rumors, and you confirmed that there are. The only thing I’ve added is that I don’t see this ‘rumor mongering’ confined to the far right.

    “However, unless you’re NOT the same guy who just accused the US government of deliberately spreading potentially fatal diseases by depositing infected Mexican children”

    Look more closely at my actual accusation. My actual accusation is defensible and probably true. Instead of limiting yourself to what I actually (explicitly!) say, you react to what you think I actually mean.

    I’m willing to allow that there are some things that I both say and mean that you won’t agree with, but if I had wanted to argue certain points, I would have made them EXPLICIT.

    “Any agenda could be lying at the back of any statement made by any person – that does not mean that all speculation on the nature of those agendas is reasonable.”

    That’s not true, and that’s the problem.

    “Did you know that our old friend Rushdoony preached a sermon on the biblical morality of lying?”

    You sure seem to know an awful lot about a guy who is a tiny blip in American culture. According to your method, if I assert that there are rumors, this is the same as believing those rumors are true. Thus, we must suppose that since you cite Rushdoony, you must agree with his positions.

    🙂

    sic.

  8. “Any agenda could be lying at the back of any statement made by any person – that does not mean that all speculation on the nature of those agendas is reasonable.”
    “”That’s not true, and that’s the problem.””

    Allow me to clarify.

    In principle, this is logically true. This is why all that business about ‘associations’ we were arguing about is important, because I endeavored to show you that in some cases, it is actually impossible to A., infer the existence of an agenda and B, detect its implications. You know, if they EXPLICITLY say they have an agenda and then they EXPLICITLY do the things consistent with that agenda, then it is reasonable to suspect they aren’t just whistling dixie.

    Nonetheless, there are worldviews where truth is upheld. You know, like mine. 🙂 I could be lying, but if I was caught lying that would discredit me, and reveal that I am not acting consistently with my worldview. But on the Alinsky view, to be caught lying is only to be doing… well, exactly what Alinsky upheld. Big diff.

  9. You mentioned the rumors [sic] and then said “Amnesty seemed a great idea until public health bombs were deliberately placed in countless American cities”.

    You said “WERE deliberately placed” – a past tense statement of fact.  You are free to tell me that you misspoke and that you don’t actually believe that, although I notice that you haven’t yet gone quite that far.  It is a much shiftier move to merely assert that you “didn’t SAY you believe that” whilst simultaneously spreading the rumour far and wide, just like you disingenuously state that you “don’t know” whether or not President Obama is a Muslim while making underhanded Taqiyya references that feed the conspiracy theory while still allowing you to maintain a safety net of deniability.  You’re not thinking of running for political office are you?

    “I don’t see this ‘rumor mongering’ confined to the far right.”

    It isn’t.  It is a human tendency which is exacerbated by a feeling of not having your political views represented by those in power.  There was more of it on the liberal end of the spectrum during the Bush years, although not to the extent that it is now present on the Right.  Something to do with the Manichean and anti-intellectual worldview of modern US conservatism I suspect.

    “My actual accusation is defensible and probably true.”

    Do you mean the enterovirus accusation?  If so that has yet to be demonstrated.

    “You sure seem to know an awful lot about a guy who is a tiny blip in American culture.”

    Said the Alinsky expert!  🙂

    “According to your method, if I assert that there are rumors, this is the same as believing those rumors are true. Thus, we must suppose that since you cite Rushdoony, you must agree with his positions.”

    That is silly.  If I cite rumours which I subsequently paraphrase as facts in support of my overall argument then you would be entirely justified to ask me to defend them.  As I implied above, I consider Rushdoony to be the Alinsky of the modern Christian Right, so it is quite reasonable for me to have done a bit of research on him, wouldn’t you say?

    “Nonetheless, there are worldviews where truth is upheld. You know, like mine.”

    Ok, so DO you believe that Obama is a Muslim who has deliberately orchestrated the placement of infected Mexican children around the US in order to spread a seasonal enterovirus?  Less deniable insinuation and more honest statements of belief please.

  10. “You said “WERE deliberately placed” – a past tense statement of fact.”

    Context my boy, context. The whole thrust is that this is how things are appearing to people. Hence words the inclusion of words like “seems” there and elsewhere. My use of such words are deliberate. For example, see:

    “but my sense is that more and more Americans fear that is precisely what is happening. It doesn’t matter what the government says. What it does speaks louder. Everything the government has done over the last few years seems calibrated to undermine America’s security”

    The context clearly refers to “my sense”, a phrase that very directly implies I am not invoking an empirical fact; “more Americans fear’ EXPLICITLY refers to my perception (sense) about what OTHERS are thinking, not myself, which leads to the good faith interpretation that when I say “Everything the government… seems…” I am trying to put into words a pervasive public sentiment, and not state my own view.

    You see, this is just basic literary analysis. Contrast with a comment such as,

    “Here is what I think is happening…”

    The phrase “I think” plainly denotes my own conclusion. It would foolish to take this phrase to mean that I am claiming that all Americans think that this is what is happening. It is just as foolish to take a phrase referring to a pervasive American sentiment as denoting my own position.

    This stems from your belief that you no matter what I say, YOU know what I really think.

    “although I notice that you haven’t yet gone quite that far.”

    Well, if that’s what I wanted to argue about, that’s what I would have written about.

    Come now, Dannyboy. You don’t think I’m afraid of what people are going to think about me, do you? You know better than that. I am very purposeful in what I write. I know that I sometimes write with more length than is ideal, but I often do so to head off just the kind of statements you are making. I guess I should learn by now that it doesn’t matter.

    So, you concede that ‘rumor mongering’ is not limited to those on the right. You gave me a bunch of stuff from conservative sites (that I hadn’t even read, nor was I aware of), despite the fact that I took pains to say,

    “I should clarify: I am talking about people who normally are on the side of ‘big government’ interventions.”

    Compare that with your statement:

    “It is a human tendency which is exacerbated by a feeling of not having your political views represented by those in power. There was more of it on the liberal end of the spectrum during the Bush years”

    So, what does it mean if I am observing people on the more ‘liberal end of the spectrum’ voicing the same ‘rumors’ you dismiss as conservative fear-mongering? I’d tell you what it means, but I wrote the original post, and I’d just be repeating myself, and we’d just be wondering why you didn’t react to what I had originally written in the first place! 😉

    “Do you mean the enterovirus accusation? If so that has yet to be demonstrated.”

    Literacy, my man. Literacy.

    The statement I was referring to, which I’m pretty sure I already singled out as the statement I was referring to: “The situation is compounded by the “children’s crusade” that the Obama administration has facilitated, importing tens of thousands of unaccompanied children and teenagers and depositing them surreptitiously around the country.”

    It is undeniable that Obama policies have led to a significant influx of unaccompanied young people to this country, and that they have taken measures to quietly distribute them around the country. Eminently defensible, especially in light of documents revealed showing that it was all planned well in advance.

    “That is silly.”

    I agree; so far, your argument.

    “DO you believe that Obama is a Muslim who has deliberately orchestrated the placement of infected Mexican children around the US in order to spread a seasonal enterovirus? Less deniable insinuation and more honest statements of belief please.”

    The problem with this question is that it does not even reflect what even the ‘rumors’ maintain. People* are not saying that Obama is intentionally trying to infect Americans. People are saying he didn’t give a **** if they were healthy or not.

    I definitely believe that.

    * (You seem to be more well-versed in these ‘conspiracies’ than I am, so perhaps you know of other people who make the charge in your question to me. Two things. 1., I’m only going off my own sense, not YOUR sense. 2., my post reflects MY sense, not yours. I did not say that these immigrants were sprinkled about in order to make Americans sick; you read that into it. If it wasn’t clear before what I meant, it should be clear now (but why do I bother clarifying?) that my take is people think the hedonist-in-chief was indifferent to public health altogether, and was merely trying to manufacture political capital for his DREAMs.

  11. It is a small thing, but I would like to add that you characterized this as another “public health” post, but it isn’t. It is about the utilitarian ethics that Frieden EXPLICITLY has (see original link I gave to substantiate this) and the hedonistic ethic that Obama *seems* to exhibit.

    The public health side is, as far as this particular post goes, incidental.

  12. The first person to be infected who did not get the disease from Africa is being reported in Texas. I found this article on the DailyBeast, a liberal site:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2014/10/12/dallas-health-worker-contracts-ebola.html

    I know the sample size is fairly small (the news is only an hour old), but the first 2 comments made me think of this post.

    They keep telling us: We got this. We know how to control it. They’re following full CDC guidelines.

    But people keep getting infected.

    and

    Did the doctors in texas give the patient a tylenol or did they prefer aspirin?

    The dailybeast is a liberal site. I don’t see a high degree of confidence in our leaders reflected in these comments.

  13. I understand. You’re speaking for the people – articulating a “pervasive public sentiment”.

    Just out of curiosity, do the public ever have any pervasive sentiments that don’t neatly dovetail into your current argument, and if so, could you point me in the direction of your non-partisan articulation of those views? Otherwise it might seem that you are simply legitimising your own beliefs by placing them in the mouths of some shadowy collective constituent, also helpfully removing, in your own mind at least, the necessity of actually supporting them.

    “People are not saying that Obama is intentionally trying to infect Americans.”

    Well, some people ARE saying that, as I pointed out earlier. If any of those people read your blog post they would quite reasonably infer that you shared their belief. They would still be none the wiser, even if they took the time to scroll this far down the comments, because despite being given several opportunities to elucidate your position, all you will allow yourself to say is that you “did not say that these immigrants were sprinkled about in order to make Americans sick”. Sure, you just mentioned the rumours, referred to them as if they were factual, incorporated them into your argument, and have now dodged repeated opportunities to disavow them. It’s a little more than just me “reading that into it”.

    I don’t object to you blogging the findings of your convenience-sampling opinion polls about trust in the government. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that confidence in officialdom was particularly low at the moment, although I would prefer to rely on an organisation with more of a track record of scientific and non-partisan polling if I was going to use that information with any confidence. I DO object to what I consider to be the irresponsible dissemination of conspiracy theories – that, in your words, is a bridge too far.

  14. “Just out of curiosity, do the public ever have any pervasive sentiments that don’t neatly dovetail into your current argument,”

    Now you’re just being silly.

    “Well, some people ARE saying that, as I pointed out earlier.”

    And as I pointed out, that was not what I was referencing, and when given the opportunity to clarify further, I made that plain. You have your own agenda driving your comments, drawing your support from some shadowy experiences that are yours–and not mine–and imputing what you have heard elsewhere on my comments.

    You can’t stop someone from doing that. On the other hand, you can’t make me defend the assertions of someone else that makes someone with their own interests in the conversation draw inferences outside of what I’ve written. And I won’t.

    I think you are quite right that there will be others who are unable to take what I’ve written on its face. That’s not my problem, that’s their problem, and probably goes right back to the education they received. At any rate, its out of my control.

    I mean what I say and say what I mean. That’s really all there is left to say.

  15. https://twitter.com/markknoller/status/521342907455143936

    Evidently, right after that, he went golfing. That’s his golf jacket he’s wearing there.

    Yea, its a shock that the ‘shadowy collective’ might be starting to get nervous. I’m *sure* I’m just making a baseless claim.

  16. I didn’t say that you were making a baseless claim (about public trust in the government and the CDC, that is).   I said that you do not have the resources or qualifications to reliably assess the views of the US population en masse.  The plural of “anecdote” is not “data”.  But thank you for directing my attention to MORE self-selecting and therefore unrepresentative opinion.  Perhaps there’s a Fox News poll about Obama’s perceived competence that you’d like to use to complete your case?  🙂

    You’re not necessarily wrong, by the way.  If all you want to do is to talk about your “sense” of how Americans are feeling then I have no quarrel.  Just don’t pretend that sense can be verified by talking to people you know and cherry-picking Twitter.

    Serious question: what do you think the government should have done, and when should they have done it (regarding Ebola)?  As someone who I take to be generally in favour of cutting public health funding, I am most interested to know.

  17. Also, while I intensely dislike golf, is it really worthy of note unless you’re just looking for things to criticise someone for? George W Bush played quite a lot of golf, as I recall. During periods of national emergency too. But I’m searching in vain for a record of any conservative condemnation of this habit.

    No doubt you wouldn’t accept any implication of double standards applying to yourself. You weren’t making any personal judgement about Obama playing golf – dear me no! You were just mentioning it in the course of your duties as the unofficial spokesman of America. 🙂

  18. “I said that you do not have the resources or qualifications to reliably assess the views of the US population en masse. The plural of “anecdote” is not “data”.”

    I would wonder what “resources or qualifications” are needed to make a personal observation beyond having eyes and ears and just generally paying attention. You may say polling data, but given you then turned around and dismissed it when it’s from a source you don’t like, we can see how far that would go.

    Perhaps being from across the Pond, the tone of the American populace is lost to you otherwise, but being people who actually live here, I think we can indeed make our own observations and speak to them. None more prominent in that the Congressional Elections are at it’s final hour, and I’ve seen little of the Democrats up for reelection making any great lengths to associate with Obama in the public eye (and I’m from one of those contested States, so I do indeed know). Safe to say this is a drastic departure when the man was first elected to office on “Hope and Change.”

    “If all you want to do is to talk about your “sense” of how Americans are feeling then I have no quarrel.”

    SJ’s observations being primarily focused on a certain group was explicitly (need a reminder on what that means?;) ) stated in the first sentence, second paragraph. Didn’t stop you from going on this tangent anyway, did it?

    “George W Bush played quite a lot of golf, as I recall. During periods of national emergency too. But I’m searching in vain for a record of any conservative condemnation of this habit.”

    Mostly because he only played 24 rounds and stopped in 2003 during the war, when it looked inappropriate. Obama played through right after addressing the Foley beheading. He’s played 186 total by the way. Interestingly, Bush has come out and defended Obama playing golf, and as a guy who sat in that chair we can defer that he’s got a better insight into the pressures the job comes with.

    But it’s less a matter of the man needing to unwind in itself, and more a matter of his timing and frequency when doing so give the appearance that he just doesn’t care what else is going on. Which just goes back to SJ’s point about people suspecting that the goal of whatever he does is about the most good for himself.

  19. Just when I think I’m not writing in English, EB comes along to reassure me. Thanks, EB.

  20. Hi EB,

    “I would wonder what “resources or qualifications” are needed to make a personal observation beyond having eyes and ears and just generally paying attention.”

    It depends how seriously you want that personal observation to be taken, and how far you want to generalise it.  However, speaking authoritatively to the mood of even a subset of the US population without referencing anything more systematic than reading online comments and talking to people you know is both grandiose and naive.  That is just a personal observation which does not require me to act as if I had canvased the opinions of millions of people.

    “You may say polling data, but given you then turned around and dismissed it when it’s from a source you don’t like, we can see how far that would go.”

    Polling data isn’t perfect.  Some of it may be compromised by deep methodological flaws.  But if done well it’s at least 100% more reliable than the personal sense of one individual whose interactions and observations are necessarily coloured (as everyone’s are) by bias and selective attention.  Unless you only acknowledge the existence of bias in people you disagree with (something I wouldn’t be totally surprised by, coming from you) then you have pretty much just made my point for me.  Well done!

    “….being people who actually live here, I think we can indeed make our own observations and speak to them”

    You can say whatever you want, as can Tony.  I think I also have the right to comment when your “observations” are insufficiently evidenced and apparently strongly motivated by ideology.

    “SJ’s observations being primarily focused on a certain group was explicitly (need a reminder on what that means?;) ) stated in the first sentence, second paragraph.”

    That seems irrelevant, unless you are suggesting that the group he was referring to was small enough that he could have talked to a representative sample and thereby be justified in discoursing about what “they” think.  Are you suggesting that?

    On the Obama vs Bush golf comparison – you’re absolutely right (I looked it up).  That was an example of my biases informing my statements.  Gotta watch out for that.

    Bush took a lot more holiday time though.  🙂

    Tony,

    Any word on the free market solution to tackling Ebola?

  21. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jsOBtTJSdA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    This is where the dog whistle conspiracy theorising that you engaged in a little of here starts to drift into the audible range. I’m sure this sort of thing is completely unrelated to any lack of trust in the government though.

  22. Re: Free market;

    A., I doubt a free market solution is really that difficult, even to this. However,

    B., you suffer under the illusion that I (and probably all like me) see no place at all for government. Indeed, in my post you declined to comment at length on, I wrote:

    Some government is necessary, but still vulnerable to such machinations. But a smaller government is easier to monitor and hold accountable, and it is easier to pay attention to who is in charge and what their beliefs and values are.

    I don’t take people very seriously when they conflate the EXPLICIT characterization of ‘small government’ as being the same as ‘no government.’ I’m not saying that you are doing that, although I do sometimes get that distinct impression from you. Certainly, it diminishes the credibility of the bulk of liberal progressives who are either unable or unwilling to recognize this distinction.

    There are certain guiding principles for good governing, where by ‘good’ I mean basically ‘consisting of as little tyranny as possible.’ The US Constitution, as written (as if this matters anymore), comes pretty close to striking the right posture re: these principles.

    For example, one of the principles of limited government radicals like myself is that problems related to our ‘life together’ should be handled at the level at which they manifest. To illustrate, the content of the curriculum of the local school, as well as the menu in their cafeterias, is an eminently local issue. Problems, if they surface, are local, and their solutions, likewise, are local. Therefore, they are best handled locally.

    Big problems occur the ‘bigger’ the governmental oversight brought to bear on such issues, and I think the school system of America illustrates these nicely, actually. I’m not arguing it though, just illustrating.

    Now, something like defending the nation itself, eg, preserving the integrity of the borders, or punching a foreign nation in the nose, is a ‘problem’ that manifests at a ‘higher level’ and therefore is properly addressed by a ‘higher level’ of governance. The explicit role and purpose of the Federal government, per the US Constitution, was to defend American citizens against threats that were bigger than the individual states that comprised the nation.

    The best thing about this approach is that it allows some measure of objectivity. On the model of liberal progressives, everyone has their own ideas on how much they want to micromanage their fellow man. One progressive thinks its EVIL for kids to have lemonade stands, and would create Federal laws against it if they could. Another progressive thinks that it asinine, but thinks there should be a national war on dust, a la through the EPA characterizing dust from local farms as a ‘pollutant.’ Another progressive thinks both of those folks are MORONS but thinks…

    The net result is that every person acts on their own personal whims on what they think would be good and then–in deference to experts, of course–feels they can rightly enforce those whims on 300 million other people. The result of THAT is that this cacophony of preferences, 95% of which are regarded as asinine by their own fellow travelers, all merge and converge and are implemented. And since they are implemented at the Federal level, rather than state or local, there is no practical way to get rid of them.

    But if you tailor your governmental actions to the level at which they occur, then it is usually pretty simple to tell which ones are best handled locally (the local kids lemonade stand and the local farmer’s dust… locally, by their own NEIGHBORS), which needs coordination at the county level, or the state, and finally the whole nation.

    Preventing people infected from Ebola in West Africa from getting to the United States appears to me to self-evidently NOT be a matter best handled locally. It is a damn shame that here we have something that really is best handled Federally, and these yahoos can’t even do THAT. But they can reach into the lunch menus of tiny schools in the middle of the country and enforce their preferred dietary standards in some ostensible ‘war on fat people.’

    What a bunch of clowns.

    So, the premise of your question is flawed and does not accurately handle the position as ‘limited government’ folks actually defend it.

  23. “Big problems occur the ‘bigger’ the governmental oversight brought to bear on such”

    should be

    “occur when”

  24. “It depends how seriously you want that personal observation to be taken, and how far you want to generalise it. However, speaking authoritatively to the mood of even a subset of the US population without referencing anything more systematic than reading online comments and talking to people you know is both grandiose and naive.”

    I would say it depends on how thorough the personal observation is. If SJ just saw one primarily liberal site, and talked to one average liberal personally, then you’d have a point. If it included visiting several sites, and talking to several people, it becomes more substantial. Probably even more so than impersonal polling data, because it actually involves interacting with people beyond a Yes/No questionnaire.

    “Polling data isn’t perfect.”

    I’ll be sure to keep this in mind the next time you want to tout polls as proof of most Americans supporting [insert here].

    “Unless you only acknowledge the existence of bias in people you disagree with (something I wouldn’t be totally surprised by, coming from you) then you have pretty much just made my point for me.

    I think I also have the right to comment when your “observations” are insufficiently evidenced and apparently strongly motivated by ideology.”

    I believe this goes back to a comment I made in a previous discussion about your habit of acknowledging everyone is bias in one breath, and turning around and dismissing arguments you disagree with on the grounds of bias in the next.

    “That seems irrelevant, unless you are suggesting that the group he was referring to was small enough that he could have talked to a representative sample and thereby be justified in discoursing about what “they” think. Are you suggesting that?”

    I’m suggesting that SJ explicitly laid out where his comments were coming from in the beginning in order to make a point, and instead of addressing what the post is actually about, you are clearly trying to poison the well in order to justify dismissing it entirely.

    You don’t think SJ is on the mark about liberals being disillusioned, that’s fine. I’m certain you can find people who are on the side of big government who still keep the faith inspite of everything. The thing about generalizations is they are generalizations for a reason, rather than absolutes. Frankly, I find it informative that any liberals are disenchanted with the current administration (which I note, is an assertion you never specifically disagreed with).

  25. EB,

    So if I tell you that I visited “several” conservative websites, and talked to “several” conservative people, you would presumably take whatever “sense” I told you I had generated from that non-impersonal survey extremely seriously?  

    Could you try to make your bias a little MORE obvious?

    “I’ll be sure to keep this in mind the next time you want to tout polls as proof of most Americans supporting [insert here].”

    Evidence, not proof.  Polls are only as good as their methodology and implementation, but so long as you uncritically accept (and even defend as a superior form of evidence!) blatantly motivated speculation which happens to coincide with your beliefs you have zero credibility to criticise polling data.

    “I believe this goes back to a comment I made in a previous discussion about your habit of acknowledging everyone is bias in one breath, and turning around and dismissing arguments you disagree with on the grounds of bias in the next.”

    Are you disputing that we all have biases?  I would assume not, although I have certainly never seen you acknowledge any of your own.  If you agree that we all have biases, does that mean all arguments are equally valid, and that no one else can be criticised for biased reasoning?  Unless I’m misunderstanding your critique here you seem to be saying that either not everyone is biased (foolish) or that no one can criticise anyone else (hypocritical).  Otherwise, what is your point here?

    “You don’t think SJ is on the mark about liberals being disillusioned, that’s fine. I’m certain you can find people who are on the side of big government who still keep the faith inspite of everything.”

    Again, you make my point for me.  There is always a significant diversity of opinion out there which is why convenience samples are unrepresentative – you can usually find someone who supports the view that you already favour.  That’s why SJ’s claim to have encapsulated the political views of a significant proportion of the US populace is unreliable.

    And, just to correct your inevitable misunderstanding – I said “unreliable”, not “necessarily wrong”.  He could well be right, the way a blindfolded sharp-shooter might manage to hit the target.  Still doesn’t make it a good way of achieving that objective.

    “I find it informative that any liberals are disenchanted with the current administration”

    Speaking just for myself, I don’t like a lot of things that Obama has done.  I’d be happy to discuss them further if you would like.  I’m still pretty sure that he was and is preferable to either the McCain/Palin or Romney/Ryan trainwrecks though.  So long as conservatives in the US can’t come up with anything more credible than that, the Democrats should (and probably will) keep winning.

  26. “So if I tell you that I visited “several” conservative websites, and talked to “several” conservative people, you would presumably take whatever “sense” I told you I had generated from that non-impersonal survey extremely seriously?

    Could you try to make your bias a little MORE obvious?”

    *raises eyebrow* Is this an implicit statement that you would be intentionally deceitful?

    If not, than yeah, I’d take it seriously. Especially when it happened to coincide with my own experiences, or a general attitude I can see for myself (again, I note you don’t ever really dispute the underlining assertion of Democrats being largely unhappy with the current admin).

    “Evidence, not proof. Polls are only as good as their methodology and implementation, but so long as you uncritically accept (and even defend as a superior form of evidence!) blatantly motivated speculation which happens to coincide with your beliefs you have zero credibility to criticise polling data.”

    In comparison to your blatantly motivated quest to try to downplay, and dismiss anything that doesn’t jibe with YOUR beliefs? Because from your comments on this discussion we would have to dismiss basically every form of “evidence and/or/isthereadistinction proof” in both polls and our own first-hand experiences when they don’t coincide with your world view.

    “Are you disputing that we all have biases?”

    I’m pointing out your inherent hypocrisy in admitting your bias in one corner of your mouth and criticizing others on the basis of being biased as implied evidence of being wrong in the other. Or more accurately being biased is essentially the MAIN reasoning you seem to present in most discussions.

    Yeah, I’m biased about certain things. For instance I’m extremely biased to the concept 2+2=4. If you come up to me and try to argue 2+2=sausages, and the argument consists mainly of how I’m sticking with my original concept instead of being open to yours due to an inherent bias, while admitting your also biased all the while (but it’s ok for you), I somehow doubt that makes me inherently wrong in my initial view.

    So if you want your arguments to be taken more seriously, you need to rely on more than ‘you’re biased’ in them.

    “And, just to correct your inevitable misunderstanding – I said “unreliable”, not “necessarily wrong”. He could well be right, the way a blindfolded sharp-shooter might manage to hit the target. Still doesn’t make it a good way of achieving that objective.”

    With you, the two are practically synonyms. Or at least that’s the impression you’ve given in this discussion. Otherwise you wouldn’t be arguing this doggedly over it.

    “I’m still pretty sure that he was and is preferable to either the McCain/Palin or Romney/Ryan trainwrecks though. So long as conservatives in the US can’t come up with anything more credible than that, the Democrats should (and probably will) keep winning.”

    Yeah, that’s why I find the notion of any liberals being disenchanted (or the simple possibility) to be informative, when faced with liberals such as yourself that would still cling to their partisan party/views even in the face of the MANY issues Obama has caused either directly or indirectly through action or inaction. Considering liberalism is largely fueled emotionally and idealistically, it’s far more likely for them to continue to let anyone sit in the driver seat even if he headed directly for a cliff, so long as it’s “their” man.

    I guess such an attitude could only be the result of an inherent bias, wouldn’t you say? 😉

  27. Let’s not forget the most important point, which is that demonstrating that there is liberal discontent is not the point or purpose of the post. I refer to my own personal experiences which, almost by definition, cannot be false. Sure, I could be lying when I say that I’ve interacted with, have family members that are, and seen numerous comments that coincide, etc, but assuming that I’m not lying (and I’m not) my assertions cannot be falsified.

    But the really silly thing is that the context makes it clear that these reflections on my personal experiences are an introduction to what is really on my mind, which is true or false quite independent of the contents of my introduction. It would be as if I had a post talking about the relative health merits of dairy products and I introduced it by saying I was led to think about it because of a trip to the ice cream shop… and my readers completely ignored the obvious point of the post (health merits of dairy products) and quibbled over whether or not what I saw at the ice cream shop really happened or could be more broadly extended.

    But I can understand why you would ignore the substance of the post. The utilitarianism of the CDC is undeniable–I give a link to a source that makes it EXPLICITLY clear that he is. I suppose you could argue with me on whether or not Obama is really a hedonist, but at any rate, that would be an argument worth having, because if he really is a hedonist, this has profound implications. And certainly, you could perhaps address the overriding objection to utilitarian reasoning having the necessary corollary that SOME will NOT be included in the “most people.”

    Yes, I can see why that last point in particular you would not want to touch… it might hit a *wee* close to home.

    But by all means, focus on the admittedly anecdotal introductory material!

    By the by, we have an election coming up, and we’ll get a real nice glimpse into whether or not my reflections touch on deeper realities or not.

  28. “By the by, we have an election coming up, and we’ll get a real nice glimpse into whether or not my reflections touch on deeper realities or not.”

    With a recent report of an electronic voting machine registering Republican votes as a vote for Democrats, maybe not.

  29. more utilitarianism… vote stealing is for the common good, you see, if the people would have voted against their own self-interests (an assertion I’ve seen liberals make frequently about people who don’t vote liberal)

  30. I am happy to talk about the motives and strategies of public health officials if that is what you’d prefer.  If you recall, I started off my initial response to this piece by asking, as a useful point of contrast, how you personally would have wanted the Ebola situation to be handled in the US (thereby helping myself and others to understand what a non-utilitarian response would look like) – you could start us off by answering that, if you like.  I will only accept a maximum 50% of the responsibility for the development of this epistemological tangent.

    And yes, you have an election coming up.  And although you confidently say that “we’ll get a real nice glimpse into whether or not my reflections touch on deeper realities” from that, I seem to remember that you got some fairly direct feedback on the dubious wisdom of extrapolating public opinion from mid-term results during the 2012 election cycle.   You explained that prophetic failure of yours away using the phantom of voter fraud as I recall, entirely neglecting the point which I’d been making for a while, that what brings people out for a mid-term is not necessarily the same as what brings them out for a general election.

    As for the idea of people voting “against their interests”, I wouldn’t totally dismiss the idea.  That was the basis of the Southern Strategy, after all.  The strategic conflation and recruitment of culture war issues and racial anxiety intended to drive poor whites to support an economic agenda which disproportionately benefits the extremely wealthy.  Dog whistle racism has been camouflaged in right wing narratives from Reagan’s “Welfare Queen” and “States’ Rights” through to Gingrich’s “Food Stamp President”.  And voter fraud – of course!

    “With a recent report of an electronic voting machine registering Republican votes as a vote for Democrats, maybe not.”

    Oh good, more rumours.  They spread like wildfire among those who are motivated to believe in them regardless of whether or not they can be even remotely substantiated.  By the way, the enterovirus conspiracy theory has now also popped up on VDARE – a mere snack in the banquet of racist batsh!ttery they are serving up.  Reactionary white Americans were actually complaining about uninvited foreign immigrants bringing deadly diseases into the country ON COLUMBUS DAY!  We may have now achieved Peak Irony.

    Not to mention that this President who the Right is continuously tarring with sly implications of foreignness, UnAmerican-ness and Ethno/religious otherness (why the “illegal” immigrant line makes for such an effective dog whistle) has actually deported substantially more people back across the Southern border than his predecessor.  As of mid-2012 the Obama administration had deported 1.4million undocumented immigrants, over 95% of them Hispanic, at a rate 50% higher than George W Bush managed.  That’s just a fact, but kind of an inconvenient one for the “Illegal Immigrant Sympathiser in the White House” meme that is being advanced here.

    A lot of criticism of liberal policies takes the form of a kind of soft porn racism – mobilising white animosity and anxiety about non-whites getting above their station without ever actually mentioning race at all, thereby allowing plausible deniability for the speaker and a clear conscience for those in the audience who want to consider themselves unencumbered by all those nasty racial prejudices.  But we DO all have racial prejudices, and if you don’t at a minimum recognise that then it is a lot harder to notice when your own are being subtly manipulated.  If your only concept of racism is an explicit expression of racial supremacy or hatred (I’m looking at you here EB) then you make yourself blind to both the under-the-radar coded dog whistle appeals which some politicians deploy to win white votes AND the structural, systemic racism which disadvantages people of colour and gives the lie to the individualistic fantasy of the American Dream.

    There is a clear line of continuity between the modern Christian Right and the race-baiting segregationist commie-hunting conspiratorial Conservative movement of the 1950s and 60s.  Were you aware, for example, that the Koch brothers’ father, Fred C Koch, was a founding member of the John Birch Society?  Fast-forward to the present and the incessant conservative agonising over ACORN and voter fraud, the subtext of which is very difficult to disentangle from historical anxieties about poor non-whites being allowed to vote.

    To be clear, I am aware that suggesting a link between deliberately deployed strategic racism and a thing that the two of you are – i have no reason to doubt – genuinely concerned about may appear to be somewhat inflammatory.  I am not, on this occasion, doing this merely to demonstrate that the cute six-degrees-of-separation game that SJ plays as evidence for the “Liberal Culture of Death” can be played just as easily on the Right as it can on the Left.  I really think that this is an issue that honest & honourable people on the Right must be encouraged to confront and repudiate, just as those of us on the Left need to be mindful and clear about the progressive history of eugenical thinking, among other intellectual and moral failures.

    There, in case you were still wondering EB, is the difference between your bias and mine.  We are all instinctively biased in favour of evidence which bolsters our preexisting beliefs, and against that which undermines them.  We can, however, learn to at least partially overcome these impulses.  I have already admitted in this conversation that I am somewhat biased against George W Bush, and I certainly recognise that I have a preference for sources which support my liberal beliefs.  In recognising that I am able to scrutinise my own motivations for attending to certain news sources over others, and can more objectively assess evidence that “my side” has not historically (and does not currently) always have the best ideas.

    You on the other hand will apparently admit to no bias except one in favour of objective reality (as if that is an unusual claim for people who are dead wrong to naively reassure themselves with) and enjoy discoursing on the irrational drivers of liberal beliefs, but never of conservative ones.  To my knowledge you have never expressed anything even resembling an honest critique of any piece of evidence which supports your ideology, but are adept at raining scorn on the purported veracity of any facts which count against it.  I guess you just got really lucky being brought up in the one worldview that is objectively correct eh?  Why bother examining it critically?

    Just as 1960s John Birch Society members understood the civil rights movement as part of a sinister plot to further the assumed communist takeover of the United States, many modern conservatives see the efforts of minority groups to obtain their democratic rights as a part of a creeping assault on their way of life.  It is worth stating from the outset that the basic decency of the majority of 2014 conservatives, and of 1960s Birchers, is a place to start, not to end this discussion.  A susceptibility to conspiratorial dog whistle racism does not imply malicious racist bigotry on the part of conservatives.  But it does suggest the need for a frank examination of one’s underlying beliefs and prejudices.

    Or there’s the safer option of dismissing all of the above with a knee-jerk accusation of white liberal guilt. That works to, on one level.

    Hope the conference went well.
    Dan

  31. Hi Tony,

    I wonder if you are aware that you yourself already apply a certain degree of utilitarianism in your own thinking… specifically in relation to gun ownership?

    I will assume you know what I am getting at, but happy to expand on this if not.

    Tim

  32. So, I didn’t get a notification of DB’s message, but I did get one of Tim’s. I came here to answer Tim’s. I don’t know if I’ll hang around to answer DB’s.

    Tim,

    First of all, I want to point out that I did allow for certain contexts where a utilitarian-style thinking might be appropriate. They were in cases of ‘last resort.’ These circumstances are generally rare, unless of course one creates conditions where they are the only calculation suitable, or allowed. Secularism has steadily created precisely this sort of situation, because it has undermined the basis for recognizing other ways to ascertain rights, and, at any rate, tends to expressly forbid people from bringing those other bases to the table, working under the guise of ‘separation of church and state.’ Utilitarian thinking is about the only ‘neutral’ thing left when you do that.

    That should give you a hint to where I think the differences lie. Utilitarianism typically boils moral choices down to simply the reduction of pain/suffering and the promotion of happiness/pleasure. It would be absurd to think that the other ethical systems available are indifferent to pain, suffering, pleasure, etc. The question is… are they the ONLY considerations?

    And the answer to that is NO. Let me illustrate by using an extreme example.

    If one were really interested in reducing pain/suffering and promoting happiness, and this was taken as the single and solitary ‘moral’ virtue, than one would be justified in advocating for AND attempting to implement a system whereby everybody was hooked up to machines and medicated into a euphoric limbo. Since this is impractical, it might be better yet to do as Singer suggested (a utilitarian to the core) and advocate for the end of the human race by universal ‘voluntary’ sterilizations. But, if he had been really consistent, he would advocate for the entire annihilation of the human race by any means possible because, A., even ‘lives worth living’ contain suffering so B., the only way to end human suffering is to… end human existence.

    If ‘suffering’ is your highest concern, this is the sort of reasoning you are driven to. Such a scheme would be thwarted, of course, by the millions and even billions of people who are very concerned about suffering, but still recognize intrinsic value to human lives and consequently a myriad of other important values and ethical principles.

    One of these being the right of the individual to defend themselves and their families.

  33. Ok, DB, your reply looks more like a rant. It seems to be directed at me at the beginning and the end but the middle seems to be a muddled bit of general lashing out. 🙂

    You will recall that I explained why I thought something was mighty strange about the 2012 election and YOU ACTUALLY AGREED with me that it was strange. Unless you were blowing smoke up my skirt. 😉

    I’m not going to hash out the specifics for why my ‘six degrees’ logic is valid and your objections are not. I have thoroughly defended these with honest-to-God irrefutable causes for concern. You have frequently poo-pooed my remarks about the population control freaks of the 1960s and other crazies (like Singer, I suppose) as outliers, despite the fact that they are NOT outliers (they are certainly crazies). Singer being a prominent professor of ethics at Princeton TODAY and John Holdren the highest ‘science’ official in the Obama administration. But NSSM-200 undeniably shows that the ‘crazies’ of the 1960s acted, with an eye towards the year 2000 AD as the time horizon by which to achieve their aims; you may not be aware of the fact that this was just 14 years ago.

    More to the point, there is no documentary evidence that I am aware of that says that the policies implemented by these ‘outliers’ has been revoked.

    I have demonstrated my argument at a level rarely seen in Internet discourse, or even discourse in general. I have at least–AT MINIMUM–shown why we have a legitimate reason to be concerned… unless, of course, one finds themselves partial to the goals and objectives and the reasoning that drove the people to implement NSSM-200 in the first place.

    You have provided absolutely nothing that even comes close to what I have provided. I can only imagine your crowing if you had come up with a John Birch equivalent to NSSM-200. Your arguments on this score are a candle compared to the million watt search light I’ve produced. I was going to say “like bringing a knife to a gunfight” but even that doesn’t capture it; more like “like bringing a toothpick to a tactical nuke” might be better. 🙂

    Sorry, that’s all I have time for right now. The conference sucked a lot out of me and I have many loose ends to tie up. I guess it is hit and miss if I get notices of your comments.

  34. Sorry, I had to make one more point about a distinction that you seem to be completely oblivious about Dannyboy. I have made this distinction before. You really should give it some weight.

    Let’s see if you can figure it out yourself using one of your own examples.

    Answer: Is the John Birch Society a public or private enterprise? Are the Koch brothers elected officials or private citizens? Do the Koch brothers and their ilk prefer government involvement, or less government involvement. Proceed to next section.

    Now Answer: Is NSSM-200 the product of a public or private enterprise? Was Kissinger and Rockefeller, etc, acting in public or private capacity? Do the advocates of the policies IMPLEMENTED in NSSM-200 prefer more or less government involvement?

    For my own brief rant: the Koch brothers use their OWN money. The US Government uses MY money. The Koch brothers have NO COERCIVE POWERS. The US Government has the authority and ability to tax, arrest, detain, and even execute. If the Koch brothers or JBS succeed, it is because they have won on the merits of their arguments in the open market of ideas. By contrast the success of the folks I have been highlighting has come through lies and subterfuge backed by the brute, coercive force of government, funded by the American taxpayer.

    That’s why NSSM-200 was kept secret as long as they possibly could keep it secret. If it really reflected “the will of the people” it wouldn’t have needed to be hidden.

    Rant over.

    Do you not see the categorical difference between private individuals using their own money to advocate for more individual civil liberties and governmental agents and agencies using public funds to expand the powers of those agents and agencies “for the public good”?

  35. Hi Tony, will get to your other reply in a moment, but firstly, do you really believe the Koch brothers have no coercive powers? You seem to, as you put it in capitals, and I realise that you look like you’re referring to their ability to coerce YOU into doing things, but it seems like a slightly oblivious thing to say, given their known propensity for lobbying the big government they apparently despise.

  36. Come on, Tim. You know full well that there is a BIG difference between the influence that comes from lobbying and the powers that come through government. That’s why big corporations like Monsanto try to get their policies enacted through the government and don’t send out their own private army. The Koch brothers and Monsanto and Soros and Microsoft, etc, do not have the power to tax, arrest, prosecute, and execute.

    Of course, once they do get their hands on the levers of power, they have access to truly coercive powers. The solution to this is to reduce the number of levers of power, which is something I’ve advocated before, for precisely these reasons.

    Many corporations only get involved in politics in the first place because big government types come after them. That’s why I mentioned Microsoft, which initially tried to stay a-political, and then got creamed by government-initiated lawsuits. Now, they are one of the biggest spending lobbyist groups.

    At any rate, there is a clear categorical difference between the coercive powers of the government over and against the powers of corporations or individuals. If you see any ‘melding’ of the two, its your fault, and the fault of liberals, progressives, secular humanists, and others who can’t resist getting the government involved in every nook and cranny of our existence. If you create a lever of power, it is inevitable that people and organizations with more access to cash than you and I are going to be the ones pressing those levers.

    Typical big government answers to this corporate cronyism and other fascist (used in the technical sense) activities is to create even MORE levers of power and even MORE government ‘oversight’ ad nauseum. Which only creates more levers of power for corrupt people to exert influence over.

    I could join you in expressing annoyance at the manipulation of government by the wealthy, if only you could see the intrinsic difference between the wealthy and the government in the first place.

  37. No, I recognise those differences. But to say that the Koch brothers have NO COERCIVE powers is naive at best. Especially coming from someone who seems to have a rather keen eye for conspiracies. 🙂

  38. Perhaps as in so many other cases, we have different understandings of what a word means, in this case, ‘coercive.’ I think under standard American English one would be really straining to call anything a private citizen or corporation does as ‘coercive’, merely because they spend money lobbying or broadcast their viewpoints. On your broad use, my publishing this comment is ‘coercive.’ Why, if I spend a little money to advertise it, I’m practically imposing my viewpoint on others. If I go to my elected representative and present the ideas within it, I’m darn near a tyrant.

    You can fit the Koch brothers (and lobbying in general) into this use of the word but it just strikes me as petty and contrived.

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘conspiracies.’ NSSM-200 certainly was a conspiracy of sorts, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist, and is not being implemented to this day. Google it.

  39. No, it’s not petty.

    It is obviously true in a technical sense that the Koch brothers don’t “force” people to do anything. This, however, is a misleading and ultimately unhelpful way of assessing their influence on the American political process.

    I could just as easily say that the US government doesn’t “force” people to pay taxes, or the Australian government doesn’t “force” me to vote (voting is compulsory in Australia). Both statements are technically true, but neither is an accurate representation of the true state of affairs.

    Just admit that private enterprises can and do use their money to influence politics, and hence indirectly interfere in the lives of ordinary Americans, and we can move on. 🙂

  40. “It is obviously true in a technical sense that the Koch brothers don’t “force” people to do anything.”

    So, I’m right. Petty.

    I can speak to the Australian system, but to say that the US government does not “force” people to pay taxes is just patently absurd. It is amazing the lengths you guys will go to try to salvage your position. I’m really not going to sit here and debate whether or not compulsory taxation is coercive or not. I mean, you are officially off your rocker on this one.

    I don’t have any objection to the idea that private enterprises do influence politics “and hence indirectly interfere” etc. That is precisely why I maintain that there should be fewer avenues by which politics can be influenced. Ie, a ‘limited government.’

    But their influence only becomes ‘coercive’ after it is endowed with government force and authority, via legislation, regulation, etc. Unless these organizations have private armies I am unaware of that will arrest you if you do not buy their products or services?

    Actually, one of the things I am keenly sensitive about is the use of these corporations, in concert with the government, to get people to do what they want (‘buy their products or services’, etc) when they wouldn’t normally do so, by manipulating their education, the information available to them, what ‘experts’ say, etc, etc. But I wouldn’t call this coercion. We have other words for a reason! The right word for the right meaning, please! Is that so much to ask? 😉

  41. It’s not absurd at all.

    The Australian government doesn’t “force” people to pay taxes, in the sense that you mean when you say the Koch brothers have no coercive powers. Yes, taxes are compulsory. And yes, there are large penalties if you don’t pay them and you get caught, but you can sit there and not pay your taxes as much as you like. You might end up in gaol, but at least they didn’t “force” you to pay your taxes, did they? Which I guess means they can’t actually coerce you to pay taxes at all, right

    What a helpful observation.

  42. to say that the US government does not “force” people to pay taxes is just patently absurd

    Eeeeeeexactly. That is precisely my point.

    Think about it.

  43. And before you scream that I’ve contradicted myself… my first comment above is sarcastic.

  44. “Oh good, more rumours.”

    Uh, more like reported incidents. Unless you think CBS is a ultra-conservative network jumping at shadows.

    http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2014/10/28/ballot-switch-claims/

    If you think elections are not being manipulated or have never been manipulated (by either party) in the entire history of this nation than you’re simply naïve. Now I genuinely don’t know if these particular incidents of electronic ballots are such an example. This is the government that can’t even get a website running for their prized healthcare system in a timely manner after all, so it wouldn’t surprise me one way or the other. I simply put that example in because either way, it reflected on SJ’s statement about outcomes not necessarily being evidence of people’s will.

    But on a closer example, my own State once had an election regarding abortion-on-demand, where the wording on the ballot was made in such a way that if you voted ‘No’ in the negative, it meant you were actually ‘For’ the amendment in the positive. And that’s how it got passed in my home State despite the majority being against it.

    That’s less ‘conspiracy and rumor-mongering’ and simply experience, which as SJ noted, can not be false.

    As for the rest of your little rant, it’s just the same inherent-hypocrisy typically shown by the left in general and you in particular. You always admit you’re equally as guilty of ‘bigotry, bias, racism, etc.’ as the other side. And this is usually easy when the meanings of such words have been inflated that the umbrella becomes big enough to encompass all of humanity, so that they might as well have as much impact as saying ‘the sun is bright’. But while it’s always wielded as a means of contempt and criticism against those you and liberals oppose, for your own it’s usually met with a shrug of the shoulders and a sound-byte of ‘yes, but I try to not let it affect me, while you don’t so you’re wrong.’

    However, you can understand how this rings as little more than lip-service when almost every post you’ve made on this site is less self-scrutiny and more of a long string of dismissals of ‘outliers, six-degrees, honest mistakes, rumors, conspiracy-theory’ etc. etc. as SJ noted. All it seems to be is that an easy admittance that you “could” be wrong due to bias seems to give liberals a free pass to continue to act like they’re not.

    But in the face of actual incidents, recorded statements, and even documented evidence, that SJ has supplied for years, I suppose falling back to easy justifications to maintain your worldview is all you CAN do.

  45. I would just like to take this moment here to acknowledge that my read of the American populace was WAAAAAAAAAAAAY off.

    Not only did Democrats sweep practically every election, local, state and Federal, but several states that have consistently gone Republican for year after year have now, quite unexpectedly, gone Democrat. This illustrates that even Republicans have bailed on the GOP.

    My bad. My bad.

    Of course, mid-terms are totally different than general presidential elections… thus explaining the 2006 mid-term followed by the 2008 election of Obama. So who knows what anything means, right?\

  46. You two are a regular comedy double act.

    This deep and touching concern that the democratic process must truly and fairly represent the will of the people seems noble until it becomes painfully clear that you define “the will of the people” by the results of whatever recent election happens to coincide with your own beliefs.

    With objectivity thus flung to the wind, I suppose it makes sense to automatically discredit any election or poll results which go against that narrative, using tactics ranging from the grandiosely conspiratorial (“The 2012 election was stolen, Alinsky-style”) to the transparently feeble (“I would hazard a guess that this polling data is inaccurate”).  Reports of a single malfunctioning voting machine are seized upon because they support the narrative, whilst widespread and widely-reported Voter ID laws pushed through by GOP lawmakers with the obvious (and sometimes explicitly stated) intention of disenfranchising poor Black traditionally-Democrat-voting citizens are entirely ignored because they don’t.  

    Huge influxes of dark money?  
    Ignored.  

    Differences between midterm and presidential election voter demographics and turnout?  
    Ignored.  

    Blatantly undemocratic gerrymandering by GOP lawmakers?  
    Ho hum.

    But sure, let’s focus on that one dodgy voting machine.  You know, because of democracy and stuff.

    The results of the 2014 midterms, which explicitly go against your Democrat vote-rigging speculations, are seen as the cause NOT for rethinking your underlying assumptions, but for celebratory sarcasm about how you were right all along in your “read of the American People”.  Incidentally, before victory was assured you were employing the defence that you weren’t really trying to speak for the entire US populace in the OP, just disenchanted liberals.  Interesting to see that things having worked out in your favour you’ve dropped that pretence.

    Another test of your intellectual consistency is now forthcoming.  With the Tea Party/GOP in control of more branches of government, we will all get to see what they do.  Will they shrink the size of government?  It seems unlikely – I don’t know of any alleged small government conservative in the last fifty years who has actually done so when given the opportunity.  I consider it far more likely that we are merely going to see a US government which still spends equal amounts of YOUR money, just perhaps on things fractionally more to your liking.  I recall how vocal the two of you were about government overreach during the Bush presidency.  Or actually I don’t, since to the best of my knowledge you weren’t.  At all.

    So we’ll now get to see whether your objection is really about the brute coercive force of big government, or more about the way that force is currently not being used in quite the way you would like.  That’ll help to clarify our discussions a bit, I would think.

  47. I’ll let EB respond to the voting machine stuff since that was his offering.

    Your comments about my silence about government overreach are slightly off base. I’ve made it clear in the past that there were things I didn’t approve of in the Bush years and I have characterized my stance for a long time as having a strong libertarian bent to it. I resonate with something I once heard Glenn Beck say: “The Democrats made me Republican… the Republicans made me Libertarian.” But your whole “Tea Party/Will they shrink the size of government” bit, as some kind of attack on MY position, as absurd. After all, I wrote this back in 2010, and personally believe it still applies:

    http://sntjohnny.com/front/a-warning-to-the-tea-party-to-resist-the-urge-to-tinker/1108.html

    MY intellectual consistency is not put into doubt just because the GOP cannot be trusted to enact its platform.

    Nonetheless, your comments about “dark money” and differences about midterm versus general election are specious and self-serving. I note that you didn’t say anything about my reference to the 2006 mid-terms, which in my opinion call into question your dismissal of the import of the 2010 and now the 2014 ones. Similarly, the financing thing works both ways. Or, am I to believe that when the GOP wins, its because of ‘dark money’ but when the Dems win, its because this really represents the will of the people?

    You’re right, of course, that I said something to the effect of, “Incidentally, before victory was assured you were employing the defence that you weren’t really trying to speak for the entire US populace in the OP, just disenchanted liberals.”

    Uh, Dannyboy… that’s why I made the facetious remark about GOP governors going Dem… of course, it was quite the opposite. For the first time in a very, very long time, undeniably liberal states voted GOP.

    http://dailysignal.com/2014/11/07/republican-romp-extended-legislative-races-coast-coast/

    But the high-water mark for Republicans came in Maryland, a state with only 900,000 registered Republicans and more than 2 million registered Democrats. That’s where Republican businessman Larry Hogan pulled the shocker of the night when he handily defeated Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, hand-picked successor of two-term Gov. Martin O’Malley, dealing a major blow to O’Malley’s 2016 presidential hopes.

    Not to mention Illinois and Massachusetts. (that link mentions others).

    I would say that corroborates PRECISELY my observation that even people normally voting Democrat were souring on Obama. I don’t know what else you would like. I suppose you would prefer opinion polls over actual election results?

    As far as “Alinsky-style” I think you’re just not being fair. There is ample reason to be suspicious about the 2012 election. First, there is the fact that it was bracketed by two GOP wave elections in 2010 and 2014. Second, there are clear signs that the Dems targeted Tea Party groups, in particular by obstructing their ability to do their work by using the machinations of the IRS, without similar obstruction given to their rivals. As I said, there is more than one way to steal an election. On the other hand, I will concede that the GOP did itself no favor by putting up a liberal as its candidate. After all, even allowing that the GOP has had massive victories even in normally liberal areas, those candidates (now elected) don’t tend to be the ones vocally conservative.

    Not surprisingly, you blame the results on gerrymandering when it is GOP but you give no hint that the previous Dem control over 40 years could itself have been similarly caused.

    In fact, to hear you tell it, there is no way at all to discern significance from a GOP landslide (“This deep and touching concern that the democratic process must truly and fairly represent the will of the people”) but we can well expect that if only we took the money out of politics and the lines were drawn more fairly (ie, drawn by Democrats!), THEN the results really would “truly and fairly represent the will of the people.”

    Your whole argument sounds like a lot of special pleading and more than a little sadness that the election didn’t go your way, and perhaps worst of all, you were the one who had to eat a little crow this time, and I didn’t have to eat any! 😉

    And personally, while I cannot speak to all states, since I am very familiar with Wisconsin, I continue to find it mystifying that the state would overwhelmingly vote GOP in 2010, 2012, and 2014, and yet in 2012 end up as a victory for Obama. This is the state where Walker riled up the liberals like in no other state, and even won a recall election just a couple of months before the 2012 election. Something smells fishy there, if you ask me. In my opinion, if ever there was a state where vote fraud needed to be investigated significantly, its in Wisconsin. Starting in Milwaukee.

    Finally, you would be wrong in thinking that I am very excited about all this. I have no confidence that the GOP is going to represent my values in any consistent manner. I am, however, a little pleased that I didn’t have to eat any crow, and hoping you are enjoying yours. 🙂

  48. SJ summed it up best. This is nothing more than simple grumbling. I particularly found the ‘define “will of the people” when it coincides with your beliefs’ bit worthy of a special roll of the eyes, given the excuses you make for why things don’t go as you would have liked it. *grumble* “dark money” *grumble* “demographics different” *grumble* “gerrymandering” *grumble* But two separate incidents of voting machines making the same error that’s in favor of a desperate party (that you’re in favor of), nooooooo that’s not worthy of even a raised eyebrow.

    Give me a break. The double standard is so thick, it should be a special at McDonald’s. Along with that crow, of course. 😉

  49. We may also consider the question of the actual impact of the billions of dollars spent on campaigns this cycle. According to the viewpoint that abhors corporations and large donors from contributing to campaigns (on the assumptions that 1., people are idiots and easily swayed by ads and 2., if not for this money, everyone would vote Democrat), money spent determines the election outlook, so there is no basis for interpreting election results (if they go in favor of the GOP. See assumption #2, above).

    But hundreds and hundreds of billions are spent by various governmental agencies in promotion of their various agendas, using public tax money; it is no secret that governmental agencies attract those who think it is a mighty fine idea to use the government to solve all of our problems.

    It is, therefore no surprise that these promotions tend to favor Democrat/liberal causes. This tax money spent surpasses exponentially whatever is spent in the campaign, whether it be GOP or Dem, and has the added benefit of being integrated into the normal course of our daily lives; people don’t even know they are being subjected to propaganda.

    But, since money dictates everything, and people are idiots, then clearly we cannot make anything of the fact even that anyone votes Dem. It also does not “truly and fairly represent the will of the people.” :L)

  50. Tony,

    “MY intellectual consistency is not put into doubt just because the GOP cannot be trusted to enact its platform.”

    I didn’t say that it was.  Your intellectual consistency IS in doubt if you rail against “big government” interventions only when those interventions are conducted by liberals, however.  This is the test that I suggested was ahead of us.

    Perhaps you’ll notice that I haven’t made any claims whatsoever about the Democrats’ record of electoral probity.  Big donors corrupt the democratic process on both sides, but to suggest that the respective platforms of the two parties attract donations from massive corporate interests in equal measure is just silly (one party is manifestly more favourable to unregulated free market profiteering than the other).  And the publicly-available evidence of voter disenfranchisement and gerrymandering by the GOP is very clear.  You seem to think that pure speculation about what Democrats might or might not possibly have done balances that out.  It does not.

    And despite your triumphalist crow-eating remarks, I did not say that you were necessarily wrong about the mood of the electorate.  I just told you, correctly, that you were overreaching the boundaries of what you could credibly claim to know.  You responded to this by initially backing-off the more extreme interpretation of your words (i.e. that you were accurately representing the mood of the US electorate) only to then double-down on them and wear out your shoulder patting yourself on the back over the outcome of a statistical coin-toss.  If you need a win that badly then who am I to stand in your way.  Go nuts!

    “I note that you didn’t say anything about my reference to the 2006 mid-terms, which in my opinion call into question your dismissal of the import of the 2010 and now the 2014 ones.”

    I haven’t dismissed them at all, I have said that they bring out a significantly different demographic electorate than presidential elections (that is indisputable from the turnout numbers alone) and that they may not be a good guide to the overall mood of the nation, if such a politically diverse country can even be said to have an average “mood”.  Incumbent presidents’ parties tend to fare badly in midterms, don’t they – that fact alone does a better job of explaining the last three midterm results than you have done so far.

    “I would say that corroborates PRECISELY my observation that even people normally voting Democrat were souring on Obama. I don’t know what else you would like. I suppose you would prefer opinion polls over actual election results?”

    I think I have made my standard pretty clear.  Polls AND elections both have their problems, but I think it’s fair to say that large well-conducted polls are a better gauge of public opinion than midterm elections, given the limited and partisan nature of their usual turnout.  What is your standard (apart from the aforementioned whatever-supports-the-narrative one)?  If elections are your sole reliable measure of public opinion then aren’t elections with the largest turnout most reliable?  Apparently not, because have no hesitation about using midterm results as “evidence” for why the presidential election must have been stolen.  Your failure to notice the differences that I have repeatedly pointed out to you seems… what’s the word….. specious and self-serving. 🙂

    “As far as “Alinsky-style” I think you’re just not being fair.”

    I was quoting you.  How is that unfair?  Or are you saying it is unfair to describe it as a conspiratorial claim?

    If so, please apply the same basic logical questions that you would to any other such claim – how many people would have to have been involved in the proposed plot, and how much could any one of those people have subsequently made by selling their story?  I noticed just this last week that the small Navy Seals team who killed Bin Laden is still apparently too many people to keep a secret of that magnitude.

    Observe the option of descending even further down the crazy rabbit hole that this kind of argument opens up.  Maybe Obama had all the vote riggers silenced afterwards, just like he killed-off Breitbart!!  I hope you will perceive that in this approximate direction Alex Jones style tinfoil-hattery lies.

    “I will concede that the GOP did itself no favor by putting up a liberal as its candidate. After all, even allowing that the GOP has had massive victories even in normally liberal areas, those candidates (now elected) don’t tend to be the ones vocally conservative.”

    Being a conservative (by your standards) doesn’t seem to be a successful electoral strategy, does it.  Everyone has to at least pretend to be some kind of centrist in order to win a presidential election.

    “…you were the one who had to eat a little crow this time, and I didn’t have to eat any!”

    You seem practically giddy about that!  Odd, since I don’t recall you eating any crow after being dead wrong about how the last two presidential elections would pan out.  In my case, I actually didn’t make any incorrect predictions that would now require me to eat any (why eat crow anyway?  It’s an American idiom I have never understood).  So either way, your crow-eating remarks seem off the mark.

    “According to the viewpoint that abhors corporations and large donors from contributing to campaigns (on the assumptions that 1., people are idiots and easily swayed by ads and 2., if not for this money, everyone would vote Democrat), money spent determines the election outlook, so there is no basis for interpreting election results”

    That’s an extremely naive view of political campaigning.  First of all, if ads didn’t make any difference, why do you think corporations and political parties spend so much money on them?  Are they just amusing themselves?  Obviously adverts make a difference.  Secondly, saying that voting patterns are affected by ads is not the same as suggesting that “people are idiots”.  Another false dichotomy is the suggestion implicit in point 2 that either campaign donations are irrelevant to the outcome of elections OR that without them everyone would vote Democrat.  I don’t think I need to say anything more about that.  The robustness of your arguments tells its own story.

    Also, your logic here is explicitly contradicted by your ongoing “Culture of Death” argument on Facebook.  If giving someone $14 is the equivalent of “forcing” them to undergo a dangerous sterilisation procedure, even in the poorer areas of India, then your “people have total free will, incentives make no difference to behaviour” spiel is all bull.  Me, I’m more consistent.  Bribing people sunk in poverty to make irreversible decisions about their future fertility is wrong, just as the immense pots of money sunk into misleading-but-effective campaign ads by AstroTurf political groups is.

    “But hundreds and hundreds of billions are spent by various governmental agencies in promotion of their various agendas, using public tax money; ….It is, therefore no surprise that these promotions tend to favor Democrat/liberal causes.”

    Wait, I thought you said that people aren’t idiots, so this kind of monetary pressure doesn’t account for anything?  Or is it only POOR people that are idiots?  Anyway, defence spending in the US is roughly 150% higher than spending on welfare, so how does that favour the Left again?

    EB,

    No intellectual content = no response required.

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