Quick Roundup 456

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Trial Balloon

LB informed me the other day of a story in the Nashua Telegraph concerning someone turned in to the White House snitch line for posting "fishy" comments.

On Thursday morning, NashuaDan found himself on the phone with a Secret Service agent explaining that his remarks were only philosophical and not intended to threaten Obama, he said.
While NashuaDan's comments did not strike me as implying a threat to the President, it is the job of the Secret Service to protect the person holding that office, and I have no problems with them erring on the side of caution.

However, ...

NashuaDan's subsequent phone conversation seems so innocuous that one just about can't help wondering whether the call itself was orchestrated, right along the lines of NashuaDan's comments. Let me explain...

Yes, the Secret Service ought to investigate threats made against the President, but don't forget about how they learned of this "threat." And don't forget that it isn't as if informant SLRNashuan could not have found another way to tip off the Secret Service to a legitimate threat against the President.

But the lack of a media ruckus indicates to me that this is exactly what is being forgotten or ignored. As a result, now that the snitch line has been used for an arguably legitimate purpose, it has an undeserved air of legitimacy. If President Obama is not called on this one, watch for his snitch line to gradually be used for its intended purpose, which is to end all public debate that hurts Barry's feelings.

The Secret Service exists to protect the President, not to monitor political debate. President Obama's snitch line is blurring the distinction between the former and the latter. Whether that is intentional is immaterial. That is the effect.

The Janitor-in-Chief

Our President seems to be a little bit confused about his job description ...

I don't know what I find most annoying about this silly pronouncement.

First, it is not his job to be "cleaning up" the financial catastrophes caused by the economic interventions of past administrations -- but to get out of the way himself so that the free market can function properly.

Second, his metaphor of people just shutting up and getting to work does not apply to a situation in which the first order of business is to have a frank discussion about what we ought to be doing.

Third, his condescendingly common (if affected) air of doing us all a favor by cleaning up for us clearly distracts his most vocal fans in the audience from the fact that his idea of "cleaning up" is no different from the "solutions" his predecessors have had.

Having Barack Obama for President is like we hired an un-paper-trained puppy to do a janitor's work when we should have hired a security guard.

Don't "Do a Lot of Talking" ...

... if you have a disabled son and are worried about one of the "cleaning" methods -- i.e., rationing -- the Janitor-in-Chief wants to employ with the medical mess.

I am unfamiliar with Mike Sola's overall position in the medical care debate, but his inexcusable treatment at the hands of "Representative" John Dingell and the late-night harassment he has received at home are worth noting. (HT: Dismuke)

The Democrats plainly have abandoned the ideal of representative government: Who in his right mind would want to put his medical decisions in the hands of the kind of people who would insult him (at best) over a difference of opinion and show up at his home to threaten him at night?

And if those hints aren't enough, Sola asks why Congress won't use the plan themselves and Mike N reports that the plan won't go into effect until the Democrats have gotten to run another election first. But if all that isn't enough to make you not want this clunker of a plan, then I suggest reading it. John Lewis did, and he has posted a fine executive summary over at Principles in Practice.

Mike Dingell and President Obama would do well to consider the above political cartoon, but they will not. Will their bosses, the American people, have the sense to fire them?

And Speaking of Cleaning up...

The American electorate need look no further than about ninety miles south of Florida to see where socialism can take us if Obama gets his way:
Cuba, in the grip of a serious economic crisis, is running short of toilet paper and may not get sufficient supplies until the end of the year, officials with state-run companies said on Friday.
To use a metaphor of my own, central planning has made Cuba unable to wipe its own behind.

Vendor Lock-in Hell

Glenn Reynolds notes that an Apple netbook has the potential to introduce the iPhone commercial model to computing in general. I'm not happy to hear that, but no, I don't want Obama to step in to "save" personal computing.

-- CAV


Andrew Dalton said...

That political cartoon reminds me of an ongoing pet peeve of mine regarding the Left and their view of protests and "mass movements."

It seems that leftists try to distinguish between "authentic" versus "manufactured" (or "astroturf") movements. Now, much of this rhetoric is transparently self-serving (that is, only leftist movements are judged to be authentic), but there is a deeper error here.

The problem is that all successful political movements are "manufactured" to some degree. That's what intellectual and political leadership does. The notion that political movements ought to be a spontaneous outpouring from the masses is completely anti-historical.

Gus Van Horn said...

Excellent comment, and it brings to my mind another aspect of Leftism: Leftists generally seem blind to many of their views AS leftism (e.g., Dan Rather's "middle of the road" self-description).

They (and many previously leftist libertarians) seem to equate their views with rationality, and to have an almost deterministic view of what being rational entails (i.e., that you will agree with them if you are a "thinking man"). Conversely, if you don't toe the left-wing party line, you're just not rational (or, as in the "astroturf" accusation, insincere).

This is an interesting parallel to the many Christians who evade the fact that religion is, in fact, a type of ideology. THEY, too are often equating the use of reason with leftism (or at least its faults or what they might call its "excesses") when they do this.

I think that what you have is a sort of culture-wide package-dealing of reason with leftist ideology.

There can be many reasons each side would want to maintain the status quo, but I think that pragmatism helps it along by making people unaware of the nature of principles.

This is an incomplete thought on my part, but your comment has brought an interesting issue/set of issues to my attention or caused me to think about them from a slightly different angle, anyway.

Richard said...

I just wanted to point out one other manifestation of this kind of thinking.

The word "bias" is also associated with ideology and is used as a smear whenever it doesn't suit the accusers views. For example, leftists will often dismiss informational sources out of hand if it appears they advocate any right leaning ideas. Whether or not the information they contain is true or false is irrelevant (or whether or not the source *acted* in favor of their bias as against the truth). Only sources that agree with leftist ideals are valid and unbiased.

Gus Van Horn said...


Examples on the right are not as easy to identify, but they are not exactly in short supply.

Just point out to some conservative the similarity between what Bush was doing to the economy and Obama's bailouts -- and then duck. Many conservatives take "whatever the GOP wants to do in the economy" as capitalism. Often, that is simply not the case.

Having said that, I suspect that it's easier to find people on the right who will admit that some Republicans are not exactly capitalists...

madmax said...

"Leftists generally seem blind to many of their views AS leftism...I think that what you have is a sort of culture-wide package-dealing of reason with leftist ideology."

This phenomenon is definitely true and it is one that can drive me mad. The leftists I know all assume that they are the spokesman for rationality and that their views are not ideology but just good, common sense. Its the right that are "ideologues" not them.

The right, in turn, views the left as the spokesmen of "materialist" reason; ie a reason which only accepts material things and rejects the divine and spiritual "realities" that "reason points to". And the right shares with the left the belief that everyone but them is an advocate of ideology because, as they see it, the left is an exponent of "pure reason" or the left is a champion of the "unaided intellect". And of course, every true conservative knows that the "unaided intellect" could never arrive at "truth". That would require "non-materialist" thinking that recognized "supernatural reality". I think you said once that the right doesn't see themselves as exponents of ideology because they see ideology as a man-made phenomenon and they believe in supernatural (non-man-made) "realities". I have seen this over and over with all types of conservatives; from basically noble ones like Thomas Sowell to real bastards like Larry Auster. To a conservative, reason must be supplemented with either faith, traditions or genetics (as with the racialists).

So what it comes down to is that leftists think they are superior because they are skeptics and subjectivists and the conservatives think they are superior because they blend reason with mysticism. And both of them think Objectivists are part of the evil "other"; ie leftists see us as absolutist conservatives and conservatives see us as godless, soulless, subjectivist, utopian liberals.

Mo said...

I noticed that too. If say a particular piece of paper comes from a think tank with a right leaning flavour, they accuse it of "bias" with or without reading it.

Gus Van Horn said...

"I think you said once that the right doesn't see themselves as exponents of ideology because they see ideology as a man-made phenomenon and they believe in supernatural (non-man-made) 'realities'."

So I did, and thanks for reminding me of that.

I think your analysis ties together much of what I was fumbling for here.

Burgess Laughlin said...

The mystical notion of "the people" is to secular statists what the mystical notion of "God" is to religious statists: the wellspring of all facts worthy of attention and all values worth pursuing.

In this sense, the metaphysics underlying both ideologies is supernaturalism. Conservatives and progressives differ only in the particulars, not in the principles.

Anonymous said...

Excellent insight Mr. Gus Van Horn, regarding the dangerous precedent of blurring the line between protecting the PUSA and monitoring free political speech. This article needs to be spread throughout the WWW. Great work and great website.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you, Anon.

Agreed on that point, Burgess. Thanks for making that explicit.

Stop obamacare said...

It is amazing how those people on the left have in the past made an equation between the rights of man (which cannot be provided by others) and products and services which can only be provided by man. What they don't get is that when you confuse them, you destroy both.

Gus Van Horn said...

"What they don't get..."

Oh, many of them DO get it. These are not nice people.

Altruism is anything BUT benevolent.