Commenter Archive

Comments by CK MacLeod

On “Limbaugh over the line

@ Rex Caruthers:
THE POSSESSED/DEVILS is one of my favorites, but you get into a kind of paranoid anything-is-anything-ism when you implicitly compare the Obami to nihilists and revolutionaries bringing chaos to a Russian province.

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Geoffrey Britain wrote:

How can Obama’s actions, in regard to the economy, be anything other than intentional? He has to know the long term effect of his deficits. He has to know that they will lead to economic collapse.

But that's not "known." It's an hypothesis, like any other. The likes of Krugman and Romer believe that deficits don't matter much on their own - a respectable position among conservative economists as well, in fact a critical difference between the Reaganauts and the "tax collectors for the welfare state" - and that at the current economic conjuncture replacing the precipitous drop-off in aggregate demand following the credit collapse is more important than anything else. Failing to run a sizable deficit, from this neo-Keynesian perspective, is just reproducing the mistakes of the '30s.

The Obami took that position ahead of the stimulus. As a political matter, they larded it up with what they needed to hold their coalition together. Presumably, the economists judged the compromised product the best they could get, and crossed their fingers that it was close enough to the ideal. It's all criticizeable. There might even have been people who embraced a worst case political calculation of the sort you describe.

That's an interesting discussion - also whether other aspects of our system make debt and deficits of this size sustainable economically and politically, and whether they damage the economy and our prospects unjustifiably - but it is not prima facie evidence of a secret plot to destroy the country or force a constitutional dam burst.

The rest, I have to say, is ideological imposition, an insistence on seeing political adversaries as political objects rather than as thinking subjects - especially to the extent it follows from the economic conspiracy premise.

If we can't see the human beings on the other side, then we aren't qualified to hold power over them, in a democratic society. Leftists are not devils or demons. Mostly.

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Ritchie Emmons wrote:

Is Limbaugh *that* far off with this assessment?

Just far enough to have said something that, if there's any doubt about it, it must be left unsaid for a civil, democratic conversation to proceed in good faith.

It's similar to the notion of presumption of innocence in criminal matters. Even people whom we believe to be guilty are entitled to the presumption - as much for our sake and for the sake of all the others, as for the sake of the defendant.

I won't speculate about Bill Clinton, but I suspect he's right up to a point that an atmosphere of expressly anti-government ferment encourages the McVeighs of the world - which isn't the same as saying talk radio or any particular set of talkers are implicated in the OKC bombing. Even if they were, I could accept it as a price worth paying for a free society, and trivial compared to the price of unfreedom.

We cannot have a country worth living in, or at all, unless people who disagree resolve their differences peacefully. A rhetoric that implies otherwise is faulty rhetoric in a democratic society, whether from the right or the left, regardless of who's guilty of more of it. Since most people are deaf to their own rhetoric and blind to their own ideology, we also have to begin with the presumption that, though we may hear in the exchange of insults between the two sides a ratio of 5 or 10 or 100 to 1 of their infractions compared to ours, they very likely hear the opposite ratio.

It's obvious, for instance, that the defenders of Rush and Beck hear "truth," not insults. The defenders of Obama or others on the left hear a different truth - the "truth" that all of those crazy nutballs on the right want them dead, or gone, or destroyed.

It's all pretty darn sick, though not really very far out of the ordinary.

(Welcome to ZC, btw, Ritchie. I've seen you contributing at JED's blog, and of course remember you from Contentions. I'm glad you joined the rest of us...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qs8T4g6niQ

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@ David:
At times I've listened to Limbaugh on a regular basis.

There's a difference between having a different vision for this country and hating and seeking to destroy the country - which is also the difference between a political opponent in the American tradition, and an enemy that needs to be destroyed, that it would be dishonorable and a form of treason not to seek to destroy. The sense that Limbaugh is not always aware of the difference is part of the reason that I don't listen to him more often.

On “Is our politicians lurning?

@ narciso:
Frum's endorsement reads a lot better a year and a half later than it did the Saturday before the vote. He was part of the trashing of Palin, which harmed the campaign and the party, so a lot of people remember him as one of the Obamacons, and in a way he was, despite the late decision.

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You're aware that Frum didn't endorse Obama, right? He has been very critical of the O-crats on a number of issues. He's also raised some good questions about the R strategy - along with a number of bad questions... and a series of very difficult-to-forgive or -explain, excessively personal attacks on movement conservatives.

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@ Ken:
I think Cameron and Frum probably both thought they were thinking creatively, outside the "conventional" straight-line view. They just out-thought themselves or were, in the British phrase (very suitable in these circumstances), too clever by half.

They're not wrong that conservatives need to claim the middle to win and govern. Their ideas about doing that depend too much on accepting the opponents' premises and adopting the opponent's program piecemeal.

If an issue appears to be moving the voters, then a failure to address it in some meaningful way will harm a party's chances. That doesn't mean, though, that you just stop thinking or abandon your principles in order to look more like the other party.

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@ Rex Caruthers:
I've read 'em. They're not very good on Rules for Imperialists. They're more into other stuff.

Your comment has been posted. I don't think my own tragic tale stands for much of anything relevant to the discussion, so I'll spare us all the recitation.

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Rex Caruthers wrote:

You have a big problem thinking like an Imperialist.

That may be true. Know of an any on-line correspondence courses?

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@ Rex Caruthers:
Yeah, because it consisted of like 50% typical spam stuff - credit, debt, home equity, etc. If you had thrown in cheap drugs, "thank you, your blog was very helpful to me," "emmy rossum nude" you might have taken down the whole system. ;)

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@ Rex Caruthers:
If people lacked confidence in the dollar, they could take their exchange in energy or for that matter they could convert their barrel of oil into gold at whatever gold is going for. But that's a monetary question.

You've frequently proposed that we take over the world's oil fields as a source of new wealth, but any operation that cost us more than supporting $50/barrel (ca. 60% today's spot market price) would be counterproductive. If we have several trillions to spend on conquest, why not spend a fraction of that amount building gasification plants that solve the same problem without blood and larceny?

Just asking.

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@ Rex Caruthers:
I'm not convinced Ø is dead. It depends on the timing and character of the next crisis. It could reinforce his power if it comes at the right time (Jimmy Carter's popularity ROSE at the outset of the Iranian hostage crisis) or remain irrelevant to his electoral prospects (if the crisis takes place after 2012). If the crisis merely consists of structural unemployment, then the Dems will pose as the defenders of the downtrodden and the sponsors of government-guaranteed income and consumption support, casting the Rs as heartless purveyors of greed, etc. The old tune. Meanwhile, the R Congress may get little done, the economy may putter along gradually improving, and Triangulobama will pose as the guardian of the people's interest against the wild schemes of the free market ideologues who "got us into this mess."

On a different subject, how would we operate if we declared a floor on the price of oil at $50/barrel in 2008 dollars? At a stable $50/barrel, coal is economically convertible to gasoline, meaning that the U.S. possesses a ca. 1000-year supply. (Oil shale is convertible at ca. $75/barrel, another several millennia at current consumption.) Would we be better off with a carbon tax, proceeds to go to the debt, or with energy asset-backed certificates supplementing the currency?

If it's determined at some point that global warming really does pose a threat, set the floor higher.

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Zoltan Newberry wrote:

I think that this debate in this country has been over for quite some time now, with all Republicans (even Mc Cain) trying to channel the growing anger at the arrogance of the 0bamabots.

And that gets you how far? Maybe control of the House and balance in the Senate, a check on arrogance amidst dissipated anger, with six more years of Obama - welcome to the new power structure same as the old power structure.

On “The obligatory “problem with the problem with the Palin problem” post

@ narciso:
this admirable and galvanizing woman

We know that Sarah Palin shares our conservative values

supply-side conservatives are rightly thrilled at Palin's mayoral record as a tax-cutter

to her credit -- she spent most of her time fighting against ethical improprieties of others.

Chalk up a point for Palin's integrity

her legendary toughness

Few could possibly deny that she repeatedly challenged unethical and entrenched interests in Alaska.

ALL OF WHICH IS NOT TO SAY that Sarah Palin lacks the right stuff -- the right values, the right determination, the right gumption, the right toughness -- to serve our nation in high office. She certainly has abundant and admirable amounts and quality of all those virtues, no matter how viciously the left tries to smear her.

preternatural ability to turn a pithy phrase to convey powerful messages

brilliant ad-lib

The undeniable fact for conservatives is that when it comes to broad principles, Sarah Palin "gets it." And when it comes to pluck, she's overflowing.

The promise of Palin is that she has plenty of time to prepare

On “Faith-Based Politics In Place Of A Winning Program

@ JEM:
You sure you wouldn't rather be U238 or maybe 90SR? JK - I'll propose you as JEM + [first available serial number]. Check your e-mails for response probably from Allah Pundit.

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@ narciso:
Don't see the point of that - although from skimming the piece it makes me re-think my bending over badkwards to be evenhanded between him and RS McCain, since I think Kilgore may actually be a pretty thoughtful guy for a partisan Dem (I know, not saying much, but still).

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What a wonderful bench we have, especially if Meg Whitman wins in Ca. and if Paul Ryan continues to get face time.

You should see the ads that the true conservative or wanna-be true conservative is running against Whitman. She's not my dream ideal, but Poizner is claiming she "has Barack Obama's immigration policy" and "agrees with Barbara Boxer on taxes" or some such. "Isn't it time for a real Republican?" Nothing unusually vicious, and Whitman's been negative on him for a long time, so probably deserves to take some hits - and probably doesn't mind at all being painted as too squishy in a state where BO is still >+10 approval. Point is, I think she's far to the squishy left of the con-cons.

Don't get me started on that Ryan person.

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@ Ken:
I was thinking about Christie today, too, actually. But he's got a war to win first. Interesting also that he's NJ's first pro-life governor in ages. I would have guessed he was pro-choice just from where he is.

He's articulate and funny and I'd vote for him - but it seems unlikely he'll be even remotely ready for a presidential campaign as soon as 2012 - unless all of the conventional thinking about preparation is wrong (something I'm quite willing to consider, but not quite ready to bet on).

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@ Ken:
I think you're reading things into what I wrote - or defining anything that goes beyond furthest right lowest common denominator Tea Party principles as "squishy compromise with the Left." That attitude - not yours personally, since I don't know really where you stand - may turn out to be the best thing Obama has going for him when he runs for re-election, or further on down the line for the left generally, regardless of how 2012 turns out.

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@ Ken:
Tiananmen?

McCain seems to believe that just ardently being ardent constitutionalists will be enough to win power in 2012 and change history, and won't require any possibly uncomfortable self-reflection and coalition-building. I think he's wrong. The Tea Party is overall helpful, but it's not enough.

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@ narciso:
Well, I suggested that both may be whistling past their own graveyards. 2012 may not be a rewind of 2008 or of any other year, but simply assuming that the Tea Party just needs to keep protesting strikes me as rather unrealistic. Let's say the whole country has decided by 2012 that we have to do something big about the fiscal crisis: After 2 years of watching the Rs in Congress get nowhere, the electorate may very well choose the Obama-led stationary state/barrel over the falls with room for everyone, over "angry white chaos."

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Hey, JEM, sorry to hear you haven't been well, though I hope the fact that you've been working indicates that the illness hasn't been too serious. Have you been having e-mail problems, too!? What I need is an alternate user-name for HA, "JEM" having been taken.

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speaking of which, I still haven't heard back from JEM. I hope you don't mind if I give him to the end of the today before I bother the HA powers about the reg problems.

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@ fuster:
The line's also weak because it assumes some sympathy for his perspective, and I was struggling to find something nice to say while anticipating an HA or HA-ish response. I'll work on it.

On “Paul Ryan on Real Progressivism

@ Zoltan Newberry:
Z, not that the average thread-commenter at Hufflepuff or Stalin doesn't mean anything, but they don't stand for a lot. They're just one piece of the mosaic.

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