Re: Chicken Little

1

I'm saying "not at all imminent" on the grounds that it would be very difficult for the Israelis to even reach Iran with enough strike aircraft, and if they could the programme is so dispersed and dug in that they couldn't hope to hit all of it or even do much beyond slow things down for a few months.

Let's not forget that we STILL DO NOT KNOW WHETHER IRAN IS IN FACT BUILDING A BOMB AT ALL. I personally don't believe they are. They are putting a lot of civilian nuclear stuff in large reinforced bunkers, but that's what people do with their valuable stuff when the US spends a decade threatening to blow it up.

Two reasons:
1) they dropped their warhead design programme in 2003 and there is no convincing evidence that they have restarted it. That's not just me saying it, that's the CIA and all their mates.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/25/world/middleeast/us-agencies-see-no-move-by-iran-to-build-a-bomb.html

2) the common and frequently expressed position on nuclear stuff across the Iranian political sphere is that a) civil nuclear power is Iran's right as an independent nation and would come in jolly handy; b) control of the entire fuel cycle within Iran's borders is important because otherwise they're putting themselves at the mercy of the US; c) nuclear weapons are an abomination and an affront to God, and anyone who builds them, far less uses them, is a tool of evil.

So, in summary, this is me sticking my neck out:

There will be no Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities this year;

There will be no Iranian nuclear test this year or indeed next year or the year after that for that matter.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 8:48 AM
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I hope you're right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 8:51 AM
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White House Coy

A front-page article in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv on Thursday said Obama had told Netanyahu that Washington would supply Israel with upgraded military equipment in return for assurances that there would be no attack on Iran in 2012.

Bunker Busters Request Confirmed


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 8:53 AM
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Hasn't an Israeli attack on Iran been "imminent" for, like, years? I swear, this saber-rattling seems to make the media rounds every 6 to 18 months. Whats different this time?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 8:54 AM
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I will be heartbroken if we attack Iran. I had an Iranian stepfather for ten years, and got drawn in to Persian culture. Liked the Iranians I met quite a bit. I could have the same reason for being heartbroken about attacking anywhere, but by chance, it was Iran. This talk of war scares me and makes me feel awful.

I was so pleased when Pres. Obama did that No Ruz greeting two years ago. Come to think of it, No Ruz is coming up. I should be growing baby greens.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 8:56 AM
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4: yes, as has Iran's nuclear weapon. It's been 18 months away from completion since about 1993. It's Mullah Nukem Forever.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 8:56 AM
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Of course, some previous rounds of this were defused by Israel's successful cyber-attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities, a couple years back.... I don't think that trick is going to work twice.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 8:57 AM
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The Andrew Sullivan theory that Netanyahu would get something like that going to help Romney's campaign is frightening. I don't actually expect such a thing to happen, but wouldn't put it past either N or R to use some pretty wild talk to draw a contrast with O.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:03 AM
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Unknown assailants have also killed four senior Iranian scientists working on the program. The killings were pretty well organized-- magnetic car bombs in the streets of Tehran.

Iran hasn't asked the International Criminal Court to investigate.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:03 AM
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The thing about the Israelis is that they are like all other truly dangerous and violent people. If they're going to smack you one, they don't spend ages talking about how they're going to smack you one first; they just do it. [1] The first anyone knew about their intention to blow up Syria's Big Blue Box Building was when it blew up. Ditto Osirak.

The fact that Israel has spent so long saying that they are going to smack Iran one, any moment now, if Iran gives them any more cheek, any more, I mean it, grr, basically makes me confident that it is not actually about to do anything of the kind.

[1] This is a common logical process known as the argumentum ad dsquared.

(Reactions to the Osirak raid, via Wikipedia:
"Armed attack in such circumstances cannot be justified. It represents a grave breach of international law," -- Margaret Thatcher.
"Israel's sneak attack...was an act of inexcusable and short-sighted aggression," -- New York Times.
"State-sponsored terrorism". -- Los Angeles Times )


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:06 AM
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It's always hard to interpret news stories that say "We've got inside knowledge that something big is about to happen!" even if all the news outlets seem to agree.

Dinosaur big!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:07 AM
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Let's not forget that we STILL DO NOT KNOW WHETHER IRAN IS IN FACT BUILDING A BOMB AT ALL. I personally don't believe they are.

I'm still with you on that. Playing now-you-see-em-now-you-don't has been Iran's one leverage point in its continuing attempt to negotiate a new normalcy with the rest of the world. Not that they've always played the game well, or with a unified voice, but they don't want to give the whole game away by verifiably giving up nuclear capability.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:11 AM
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6 is great.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:11 AM
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Some discussion of Iranian/Israeli/US/etc Brinkmanship over at the Agonist. Comments are decent.

Whatever. Spring 2013 will be fucking world-historical awesome in its many-flavoured disappointment in someone new we now know is an asshole, but most will be able to say they were not voting for horrible policy "X" but voting against horrible policy "Y." The nature of post-modern managed democracy is exactly its effectiveness at excluding the electorate from responsibility and guilt.

I am so far from caring about my own Evil Empire and its pusillanimous enabling citizens that I am fully and enthusiastically rooting for Iran to defend itself in any way it can to the limit of its abilities. Wherever the opportunity presents itself. I would cheer the sinking of a carrier.

Note to FBI: but I will not actively support in any material way America's enemies. Promise.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:30 AM
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I appreciated Eric Cantor's explicit call to let Israel have veto rights on our American foreign policy. You may insert a Mearsheimer and Walt joke here, if you want.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:33 AM
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"Oh, please please I hope President Obama doesn't help, directly or indirectly, Israel bomb bomb Iran and kill thousands to tens of thousands of its people for no good reason. As an American, I would just feel so bad about that I might cry."

Fuck You. All.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:37 AM
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nuclear weapons are an abomination and an affront to God, and anyone who builds them, far less uses them, is a tool of evil
This is interesting. Source? It means that at least on this issue Iranian politics are far more humane and reasonable than all of the West.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:38 AM
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16: I would have to go shopping to feel better. Fortunately, I live near a huge outlet mall with great deals on name brands.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:44 AM
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17: here for example is Ahmedinejad: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8627143.stm

and Moussavi, who ran against him in the elections:
"In regard to nuclear energy, there are two issues. One is our right to nuclear energy, which is non-negotiable. The second issue is related to concerns about the diversion of this program toward weaponization. Personally, I view this second part, which is both technical and political, as negotiable. We will not accept our country's deprivation from the right to nuclear energy."

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1904343,00.html#ixzz1odglfueM

and the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei - the man in charge of Iran's defences, and also its nuclear programme:
"the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous."



Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:48 AM
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As an American, I would just feel so bad about that I might cry.

Whereas Bob is already so upset that he might just leave some angry blog comments. If only we could match that geopolitical efficacy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:53 AM
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Oh, bob! You're such a maverick!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:54 AM
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Pretend 21 came before 20.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:55 AM
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In a just world American politicians wouldn't even be allowed to talk about Iran.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:56 AM
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The thing about the Israelis is that they are like all other truly dangerous and violent people.

I don't think you wanted to go there.

Netanyahu is dangerous and violent. The Israeli public as a whole right now is too far to the right for anyone's comfort. However, when you start saying "the Israelis are dangerous and violent people" it sounds like you are making a statement about a fixed essence of everyone who lives in the country.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:01 AM
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10 seems basically correct. The bluster is about influencing politics, both within Israel and in the US.

I don't doubt that Israel has a set of plans labelled "Attack on Iran" sitting on the shelf and regularly updated, but the actual intention to do something seems to be lacking. They wouldn't be sending a message to Iran to put maximum effort into preparing for an attack if they actually intended to launch one.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:01 AM
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I don't think you wanted to go there.

Really?


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:07 AM
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24: I think it's pretty bloody obvious to everyone here that "the Israelis" is being used as a metonym for "the current and former governments of Israel".
You wouldn't call someone out for saying "the British left India in 1947" on the grounds that most of the British were actually in Britain already and had never set foot in India in their lives.
So, enough of that.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:08 AM
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Oh, I thought rob was responding to somebody else. Carry on!


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:09 AM
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I think it's pretty bloody obvious to everyone here that "the Israelis" is being used as a metonym for "the current and former governments of Israel".

In this context, I don't think things are that obvious. However, I accept your clarification.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:12 AM
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Ajay seemed pretty clear to me and hinting at anti-semitism in any sort of critique of Israel's foreign policy is silencing.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:14 AM
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The problem nowadays is that we don't have enough traditions of how to refer to a State without either personalizing it by referring to a single person, or making it sound like we're referring to a Nation. I always like when history books refer to "Whitehall" or "The Sublime Porte" deciding to do something.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:15 AM
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We spend a lot of time in our public processes clarifying whether we mean the state government or the geographic state and everyone who lives here. State with a capital S means the state government, which is a lot of meaning for one capital letter to carry.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:20 AM
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I originally read 10 like rob, fwiw. 24 seemed fair. Although, so does 27. And 29.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:22 AM
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30: thanks oud. The kind of passive-aggressive "of course I know you don't really mean that but you can see why other people think it might" thing in 24 is a perfect case.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:24 AM
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The thing that makes it sound racist is the use of "people" instead of "country."


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:24 AM
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You wouldn't call someone out for saying "the British left India in 1947" on the grounds that most of the British were actually in Britain already and had never set foot in India in their lives.

I would say that "The British left India" could suggest that the British people in India went somewhere else. The Indians left Uganda in 1972.

"The British" or "The Israelis" is not a good metonymy for their respective national governments.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:25 AM
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30: I thought of myself as heading off that sort of silencing attack, rather launching it. But I can see how that might have come off as concern trolling.

Personally, I've always hated it when history books or political commentators use the capital of a country as a stand in for the whole nation. It goes along with thinking of international politics as a great game and erasing the interests of everyone who is not in the ruling class of their country.

In any case, I think Ajay and I are in agreement on the substantial points.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:27 AM
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34 to 35.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:27 AM
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Seems to me the trouble here is the ambiguity between "people" as plural or as collective-singular. I read it as the former, but I could see it taken as the latter.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:28 AM
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"The British" or "The Israelis" is not a good metonymy for their respective national governments.

Be that as it may, it's one that is very widely used indeed.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:28 AM
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39: no, because then it would have been "they are like all other truly dangerous and violent peoples".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:29 AM
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The Indians left Uganda in 1972.

Which I only just learned about, incidentally, through Life on Mars. For a time I was wondering if there was some ethnic group I'd never heard of called the Ugandanasians.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:29 AM
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36: It's like you've never even read le Carré!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:30 AM
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41: Oh, true.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:30 AM
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42: It's like you've never even seen Mississippi Masala!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:31 AM
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||

And you who philosophize, and criticize all fears, take the rag away from your face, 'cause now ain't the time for your tears.

||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:31 AM
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45: It's even more than like it.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:34 AM
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A SMALL AND UNREPRESENTATIVE MINORITY OF THE BRITISH ARE COMING! A SMALL AND UNREPRESENTATIVE MINORITY OF THE BRITISH ARE COMING!


Posted by: Revised Paul Revere | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:34 AM
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They fight with their feet
And fuck with their face
The French (oratleastthatpartofthemaleheterosexualpopulationwhoaresexuallyactiveandtrainedinsavate), they are a curious race


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:42 AM
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re: 49

Heh.

The female savate trained population are quite scary, also.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:51 AM
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You know, I go back and forth on this question of "the Israelis" vs. "the far-right in Israel and its international supporters". I do think that average people in the US have some culpability for not resisting the worst policies and programs of our government. Why should that not go for Israel as well? I do think white people, including most of my ancestors, who came here to take land that was (often very recently) stolen from indigenous people committed a grave injustice and that there should be some kind of reparations and unwinding of those claims. Why not for Israel too? Admittedly, just as in the US there are Israeli radicals and peaceniks and fellow travelers who have faced repression from the government and far-right paramilitaries. I wish them every success, just as I support my friends here who occupy the analogous positions. I do think that the broad mass of US people is not in any way resisting or working to transform society for the better. I've seen some statistics that seem to indicate that this is not necessarily the case in Israel, and that there are really significant segments of the population who are actively opposing far-right policies. I'm not sure if those are accurate, but in any case, if there is a larger plurality there, that's great, but they're still not the majority.

So yeah, I don't see it as at all inconsistent with my anarchist politics to condemn "the Israelis" for the actions of their government, far-right parties and military. Many of them are just as guilty as many people in the US of crimes against humanity.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:03 AM
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My last day at the old firm; I start at the new one on Tuesday. I wouldn't have come in today, but my bosses wanted to take me to lunch. Now one's in a conference call, and we're all waiting for him. I am fucking starving, and am bored out of my mind. Already finished my projects, got all the files up to date, cleaned my desk, and stole all the IP I want. Now I'm talking to you folk (which I never do when at work) and watching UNC kill UMD remotely. Now it seems we might go. Thank god.


Posted by: Alfrek MacSteinie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:05 AM
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I mean, how can you read the linked article in 46 and not think "I hate Americans"?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:11 AM
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46 is not surprising, but it's still shocking. It wasn't even the police, but the stupid neighborhood watch guy.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:12 AM
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19: the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei - the man in charge of Iran's defences, and also its nuclear programme: "the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous."

Hm. Christianne Amanpour said recently that her discussions with various Iranian persons reveal that Khamenei is considering issuing a fatwa to the effect that nuclear weapons are a sin against Islam.

Googling, however, I see that he already did that in 2005, and has apparently reaffirmed it recently. There is perhaps some wiggle room involved in the exact language? e.g. the development and production (or, possession) of nuclear weapons might be distinct from their use.

This is the most official statement I find on a quick, i.e. half-assed, search:

We believe that using nuclear weapons is haraam and prohibited and that it is everybody's duty to make efforts to protect humanity against this great disaster.

The rest of that page is filled with offended outrage and posturing of various sorts; it's hard to make out how serious it is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:22 AM
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Tangential to 53: I've just finished watching the BBC "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" series. Infinitely better than the film. Ian Richardson! Joss Ackland, who only gets one scene as Jerry Westaby, but walks away with it! Alec Guinness!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:22 AM
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hinting at anti-semitism in any sort of critique of Israel's foreign policy is silencing.

Well but, by the same token, hinting at preemptive hinting at antisemitism in any critique of any critique of...ok, that way lies madness.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:24 AM
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hinting at anti-semitism in any sort of critique of Israel's foreign policy is silencing

Why should this be silencing? If you're not anti-semitic, just say so, and explain why what you said isn't anti-semitic either. That's exactly what ajay did, which worked fine. And it's pretty obvious that rob wasn't intending to "silence" ajay.

More generally, if accusations of anti-semitism (much less "hinting" at anti-semitism) are enough to silence any critique of Israel's foreign policy, then there can be no sustained critique of Isreal's foreign policy. Because there will inevitably be accusations of anti-semitism.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:35 AM
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53: By not generalizing from that segment of the population who are violent douchebags to Americans as a whole. People are assholes. There's nothing about Americans that makes them special in this department.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:35 AM
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I think "The Israelis" should give up their nukes before bitching about the ones Iran may or may not be developing. As long as Israel has the bomb, why the hell wouldn't Iran want one too?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:36 AM
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There is perhaps some wiggle room involved in the exact language? e.g. the development and production (or, possession) of nuclear weapons might be distinct from their use.

There is wiggle room in what constitutes "possession" of nuclear weapons as well. If I have all the pieces of a 1978 MGB roadster in separate crates in my garage, can I be said to possess a 1978 MGB roadster? Does it depend on how quickly I would be able to reassemble the pieces of said roadster into a car that could actually drive?

Its the same deal with nuclear weapons possession... Iran may well choose to develop all the independent pieces of a nuclear weapon, without assembling them. Depending on who you ask, that would either be inside or outside the letter of the law (i.e., their obligations as per the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.)


Posted by: Grover Cleveland | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:47 AM
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http://www.theonion.com/articles/iran-worried-us-might-be-building-8500th-nuclear-w,27325/

I don't think the US has any standing to tell other countries not to have nuclear weapons while we still possess our own.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:47 AM
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I think "The Israelis" should give up their nukes before bitching about the ones Iran may or may not be developing.

As should "The Americans."

Wouldn't it be great if an American leader of some sort declared nuclear weapons sinful?

I honestly can't think of any situation where the use of nuclear weapons would be ethical, or anything short of a war crime.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:49 AM
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It was a banal metonym of the sort we use every day here ("Actually, dsquared, some Americans are in fact familiar with electric trains.") And being hyperconcerned about this language use in only this instance struck me as concern trolling. Rob says he wasn't, so that's cool.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:51 AM
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President Cleveland is afraid we'll steal his roadster if we know his real pseud.

Poking fun aside, nuclear latency appears to be exactly what the Iranians are trying for. IOW they want to be in a position where a functioning nuclear weapon is a matter of weeks or a few months away, if not days or hours. There is no reason for them to be conducting tests on triggers if they just want a closed domestic nuclear fuel cycle.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:54 AM
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62: What? We're responsible; it's been ages since we used ours.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:58 AM
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My last day at the old firm; I start at the new one on Tuesday.

I guess this means your offer didn't get rescinded after all, so that's good.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:59 AM
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But again, I don't think it was just hyperconcern on Rob's part--I initially read the phrase the same way, and I don't even like Jews. ajay's explanation makes perfect sense, but it was inelegant phrasing.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:59 AM
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President Cleveland is afraid we'll steal his roadster if we know his real pseud.

Sorry, its stupid, but I have a professional relationship to the topic and its best not to mix business with fucking around on the internet.

I honestly can't think of any situation where the use of nuclear weapons would be ethical, or anything short of a war crime.

There has been some NGO activity to that effect...


Posted by: Grover Cleveland | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:00 PM
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65: For god's sake, Alvy, even Freud speaks of a nuclear latency period.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:02 PM
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Why is 61 presidential, Grover? Although, casting back, I think some "Grover" has commented here before.

But yes, it looks as though using nuclear weapons is verboten, which just brings us back around to the concern various foreign policy statespeople voice, that it's not so much a fear that Iran will actually nuke anybody as that it will be able to engage in blackmail of various sorts. (There's a concern that Iran will be able to manipulate oil prices, for example. I don't fully understand why it wouldn't be able to do that anyway ... but I'm fuzzy on the regional specifics of how the oil markets work.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:04 PM
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I have to confess that the abuse of antisemitism charges by the right has caused me to reflexively get annoyed by comments like rob's (even though he was obviously well-intentioned and had a reasonable point about the phrasing).


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:05 PM
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Oh, sorry. I should have previewed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:05 PM
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Sometimes I honestly think a person could become better informed by reading The Onion than by watching Fox News.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:05 PM
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74 to 62, loosely.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:05 PM
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I think we should stop all this Spring Forward nonsense with the daylight savings time. Fall Back is totally fine, I support that, but NO SPRING FORWARDS! (Anyone who disagrees with me is an anti-Semite.)


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:14 PM
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72: this. Though I also have to confess that I read Ajay's original comment not as even remotely antisemitic but as somewhat careless, given the topic at hand and the historical context. And I initially read oud's follow-up as weirdly over the top, given that Rob was the one who called out Ajay. That said, because it was Ajay, Rob, and oudemia who wrote the comments in question, I dismissed my concerns immediately. Tribalism!

Note: I am not implying that Ajay is Jewish. Though it would be fine if he were.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:15 PM
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Anyone who disagrees with me is an anti-Semite.

This is printed on the back of my business cards.

Actually, funny (not really) story: a friend was recently called an "aspiring toadie", which I really do want to have in place of my actual title when next I have business cards printed. Wait, do the kids even have business cards these days? Or do they just beam each other their digits?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:17 PM
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Eventually I'm going to tell you who I thought rob was responding to and that'll be hilarious.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:19 PM
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Note: I am not implying that Ajay is Jewish. Though it would be fine if he were.

I initially read this as "I am not implying that Ajay is Jewish, like myself, rob and oudemia", and didn't think a thing about it. Then, a little later, I was like "what the".


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:20 PM
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79: did you hand in your test? Did you put a swastika bird on the plastic binder that you no doubt used to improve your presentation grade?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:20 PM
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80: I meant the other kind of tribalism. Sort of. Well, not really. I meant the other tribe. If you see what I mean.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:21 PM
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83

I danced my test. You got bored with the other thread where I was talking about it?


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:21 PM
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82: ajay went to S/t. J/hns?


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:22 PM
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82: I no longer have a clue what anyone is talking about.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:35 PM
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85: That's it, you're out of the tribe.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:36 PM
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The thing about the Israelis is that they are like all other truly dangerous and violent people. If they're going to smack you one, they don't spend ages talking about how they're going to smack you one first; they just do it

I generally agree with you about Israel, but disagree with your generalization about "truly dangerous and violent people."

Are there any people more "truly dangerous and violent" than the U.S. Americans? And did the U.S. not announce over and over that it was going to smack Iraq? And then proceed to smack Iraq?

It is a question of the relative power dynamics whether a country announces its intentions or attempts to surprise.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:36 PM
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You got bored with the other thread where I was talking about it?

He seems to be studiously ignoring that thread ever since I answered his question.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:37 PM
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65: There is no reason for them to be conducting tests on triggers if they just want a closed domestic nuclear fuel cycle.

I didn't realize we knew this beyond what we might call a reasonable doubt -- about Iran conducting tests on triggers.

I pay too much attention to domestic issues and not enough to foreign ones. I know that, and am ashamed. It's deeply frustrating, in any case, that so many 'Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid! They are doing this, they are doing that!' messages are issued by (mostly) Republicans and go unquestioned by much of the mainstream media. We were misled so badly by false reports and alleged certainty in the run-up to the Iraq invasion that I tend to dismiss most of what I hear as unproven.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:37 PM
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It had occurred to me that Netanyahu's goal with all the sabre-rattling about Iran could have been to distract attention from the West Bank, but I didn't expect Jeffrey Goldberg of all people to confirm it.

Netanyahu won a crucial battle in Washington this past week. No one brought up the Palestinians (including, I should note, yours truly, in my interview with the President, who also didn't mention the Palestinian issue). Netanyahu has quite masterfully shifted the conversation to the subject of Iran. This may be good for Israel in the short-term, but it's bad for Israel in the long.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/8-observations-about-aipac-iran-obama-and-netanyahu/254154/


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:43 PM
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87: did the U.S. not announce over and over that it was going to smack Iraq? And then proceed to smack Iraq?

The US needed to do that in order to build up public support -- including, significantly, Congressional support -- for the smacking. I don't know whether Israel needs to do that, but at a guess, they might.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:43 PM
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89: I don't think we do know beyond reasonable doubt, just that it seems to be the simplest explanation for some of the things that have been observed. Most recently there has been a big clean-up ahead of the latest round of inspections, which is a little hard to explain if everything is above-board.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 12:55 PM
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92: Okay. I take this to mean that we really don't know, though. This news about clean-ups is coming from the IAEA? Given that the stakes involved are pretty dramatically high, we need more. (I realize this is obvious, but this ain't no fooling around.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 1:09 PM
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Eh, 72 was basically where I was at.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 1:11 PM
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93: There certainly isn't enough evidence in the press to justify an attack as far as I've seen, even assuming that a nuclear Iran is worse than the consequences of an attack. What there is in the press (stripping away the hysteria) is a bunch of things that are strongly suggestive and hard to square with a purely peaceful program.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 1:26 PM
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95: I understand.

I wonder whether there's anything to rumors that Khamenei and Ahmedinejad are at war against one another, to the point that the former is trying to set things up against the latter, so that Ahmedinejad might be impeached by the newly-elected parliament. I haven't followed much of anything on this. They just had parliamentary elections, no?

I think I am sounding very stupid now, alluding to things I barely understand.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 1:38 PM
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84: wait, what? Which one?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 2:43 PM
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Small college in Maryland that Rob, Oudemia, and my big sister attended.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 2:44 PM
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It simultaneously exists in New Mexico.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 2:46 PM
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And in Oxford, Cambridge and Newfoundland.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 2:52 PM
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No, I mean, the very college that is in Maryland is also in New Mexico. Oxford, Cambridge, and Newfoundland have distinct colleges that just have the same name.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 2:54 PM
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I don't get it. Did the ones inf Oxford, Cambridge, and Newfoundland evolve from the others?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 2:57 PM
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John is actually a popular saint.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 3:00 PM
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REALLY, WE MOSTLY THOUGHT HE WAS A DRIP.


Posted by: OPINIONATED APOSTLES | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 3:08 PM
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Did the ones inf Oxford, Cambridge, and Newfoundland evolve from the others?

Other way around, actually. (More or less.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 3:18 PM
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Small college in Maryland that Rob, Oudemia, and my big sister attended.

As did everyone in my family except me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 3:19 PM
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There is no St. John's College in Newfoundland, although that's the only place I know of where there is a city literally called "St. John's", as opposed to "St. John" or "Saint John".

St. John's University in NYC is named after John the Baptist. I can't tell who St. John's University in Minnesota is named after, although it is associated with an actual Benedictine monastery with an extensive website. Or St. John's College in Winnipeg. St. John Fisher College in Rochester is named after John Fisher, or as he is now know, St. John Fisher.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 3:20 PM
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The MD/NM one is named after the one at either Oxford or Cambridge (I'm not sure which).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 3:22 PM
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I also know a person who went there.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 3:25 PM
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More than one person, actually. And I mean other than the people here, who I suppose I sort of know, sort of.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 3:26 PM
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The Oxford one is named after the Baptist, the Cambridge one after the Evangelist.
I know people who went to each.
As regards my Jewishness, I regret that I have no ancestors of that gifted race, as Tolkien said.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 4:14 PM
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Are any of the above colleges pronounced Sinjins? I know the Maryland and NYC ones aren't, but I don't know about the rest.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 4:23 PM
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"The story of Our Lord Jesus Christ as told in the three Synoptic Gospels as well as by that creep John."

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 4:32 PM
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Huh, looks like I was wrong in 108:

In 1784 the state of Maryland finally (after seven failed attempts) chartered a college, which was named St. John's, probably in honor of St. John the Evangelist, a favorite of the Masons and of George Washington--both influential forces in the budding nation.

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 4:33 PM
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It would be kind of wonderful to go around referring to the St. John's in NYC as "Sinjins."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 4:40 PM
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Neither of the two I mentioned. I think "sinjin" is only when its a personal name.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 4:46 PM
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Re 112

Not in Oxford, that I remember.

(I used to go to rekcaH P's 'seminars' there - mentioned mildly Beck's style only because nosflow mentioned him once)


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 4:48 PM
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We should have a Tournament of St. Johns. John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, John the Revelator, and John of the Cross can be the number one seeds in their brackets, with John Chrysosom as a trendy upset pick and John Neumann as a potential sleeper due to home court advantage. (John the Grating has awesome mic skills is only so-so in the ring; John the Wonderworking Unmercenary has a novelty gimmick that really only works in tag-team partnership.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 5:00 PM
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107: I can't tell who St. John's University in Minnesota is named after

Yes, they're awfully cagy about that, aren't they? I suspect some sort of Papist plot.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 6:28 PM
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Much like the fiction that Maryland is named after Queen Henrietta Maria, I imagine.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 6:52 PM
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112: The New Mexico one is also not pronounced "Sinjins."


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:19 PM
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84: Wait, Von Wafer went there?!

Based on the number of graduates I've encountered, one of these three things is highly likely to be true:

1) Enrollment at the college is much higher than I'd thought.

2) The world, or at least American, population is much lower than I'd thought.

3) Lots of people are lying about the college they attended.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:23 PM
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I guess I should also consider:

4) We tend to have similar interests, that are unusual in the general population

But that's the least interesting conclusion to draw.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:24 PM
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But that's the least interesting conclusion to draw.

Ain't that always the way.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:34 PM
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5) Synchronicity
6) You are the star of The Benquo Show


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:40 PM
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Wait, Von Wafer went there?!

Not AFAIK. Although the number of Johnnies and people who know Johnnies in the Unfogged population does seem to be exceptionally high. I'm sure your 4 is the correct explanation for this.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:49 PM
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Based on the local sample, it sometimes seems like a handful of American schools educate a heck of a lot of people: Harvard (College and University), U. of Chicago, Cornell, Sinjin(s), Oberlin, Reed, and a bunch of the usual suspects.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:51 PM
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124: True, if I have a good prior.

127: It wouldn't shock me if explanation (3) were true of Harvard, but for the others, I think I have to accept explanation (4).


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 9:55 PM
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Me, I went to state schools. And lots of 'em!


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:00 PM
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Sarah Palin!


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:03 PM
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To be honest that aspect of her biography made me quite sympathetic.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:03 PM
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I must be slacking off in my normally diligent tracking of who did what where because I can off the top of my head think of only two (2) Reedies and no (zero) Oberlin…ites.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:07 PM
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No Oberlinians under that description, that is; doubtless I can think otherwise of the apparently many that there are.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:07 PM
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132: I would have assumed "Oberliners".


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:08 PM
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I aim to make the familiar strange.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:16 PM
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Oberlinden?


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:28 PM
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Now I'm trying to list to myself all the schools that I know unfoggeders went to for undergrad.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:32 PM
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Nun bin ich manche Stunden entfernt von diesem Ort, und immer hör' ich's rauschen, du fändest Sir Kraab dort.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:33 PM
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131. an lecturer acquaintance of mine said that Palin's pattern of schooling made him suspect repeated but unproven disciplinary offences, probably academic dishonesty of one kind or another.

How fair that is is pretty much up to you; I tend towards thinking it pretty unfair. Still, it's a good rumour.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:40 PM
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an lecturer acquaintance of mine said that Palin's pattern of schooling made him suspect repeated but unproven disciplinary offences, probably academic dishonesty of one kind or another.

Sounds like Sifu's got some 'splainin' to do.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:42 PM
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Well, we knew that.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:43 PM
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Hah! I may have been a terrible student, but I was scrupulously honest and fair. Really you have to be to fail as many classes as I did.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:49 PM
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I had a whole list of colleges people had attended but I accidentally deleted it. No Princeton that I can think of, thank goodness.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 10:52 PM
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I was scrupulously honest and fair. Really you have to be to fail as many classes as I did.

Be sure to say this on your cv.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:01 PM
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But of course!

Have I told you guys about the revised and annotated version of my transcript I made to present to my current advisor when applying? So useful.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:07 PM
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I don't think so, but you might have. Tell us again anyway.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:12 PM
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Well, you know. I sent him the full one too. But some of the semesters on that didn't really reflect anything useful about my academic potential, so I sent him a second one with the high points and a little bit of a narrative. In truth I'm not sure he looked at either.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:14 PM
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One of my friends in history grad school got F's in history in college. I think he majored in geography. There was a about a 15-20 year gap between college and grad school for him.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:14 PM
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Were they real Fs, though? Way I figure it, if you sign up for a class, mostly never go to the class, never do any work for the class, but you also never both the professor or the TA and you save load on the underfunded public school's computer systems by not logging in to drop the class, that's sort of a gentleman's drop. A "Frop", as it were.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:17 PM
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||
ok, this foot pain stuff is just getting absurd. i got up to let my housemate in, and somehow managed to aggravate the pain in my right foot to the point that i can't sleep. it burns. ow.

||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:19 PM
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I have no idea how the grades were "earned." He didn't sound like a dedicated student until much later.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:21 PM
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Oo, that's horrible.

The trouble is that the papers I never went to class for are often the ones I did best in.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:24 PM
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149: I hope that your annotated transcript consisted entirely of such reasoning: and this, look, this was the class where the lecturer was clearly sick of marking papers. So I helped him out!


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:26 PM
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"never both" should have been "never bother".


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:27 PM
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not logging in to drop the class, that's sort of a gentleman's drop

Even in my day, dropping after the halfway point had to be done in person, not the computer. You got a "W" on your transcript. The first time I did it, on the day of the midterm for a class I had attended but had done no reading or preparation for, I felt guilty about it, like I'd failed somehow (except without failing).

The second time, the following term, I'd already stopped attending the course I was going to drop weeks earlier and I was just waiting for the halfway point in the term because the drop would put me under the minimum number of units for a semester and that wasn't allowed through legitimate channels. However, you could get a W at any time up to the final day of instruction. So the first day I was eligible, I walked into the appropriate college administration office and told them I needed a W and that was that.

When I applied to grad school, the first draft of my personal statement alluded to the Ws. I ran it by a professor of mine and the advice was , just don't mention it, it was all before your junior year anyway. So I didn't.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:32 PM
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Oh man. I would have been set if I only had Ws.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:33 PM
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Just how many Fs are we talking about here?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:46 PM
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I think next month all the Is and Ns on my grad school transcript (that would be 4, out of 18 total classes) will finally and irrevocably, this time we really really mean it, no, we're serious this time, turn into Fs, which will probably help me accept that that bridge is well and truly burned, and move on. The fact that I'm letting this stress me out a bit--why don't I just write those papers? then maybe I could finish the dissertation someday...--suggests that I have not yet fully moved on.

Sigh.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:47 PM
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157: across all the schools? Not really sure.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03- 9-12 11:51 PM
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that's sort of a gentleman's drop

Hear, hear! Your only indiscretion was taxing the resources of one school severely enough to "graduate". How frightfully common.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 12:17 AM
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It's not clear what I'd have done without the W option. I was in no position to take the test in that first class. The second time around I'd have just studied and stuck it out, since I knew what I was in for. Probably.

It's also still not clear to me if it would have been better to drop out completely, which I was leaning towards doing for a while. Instead, I hit the absolute minimum for units required for the degree - I even petitioned to take below the minimum-per-term in my final term, just because you could if you were graduating.

A few months later, while taking a really crappy language course, it dawned on me that I had just squandered a chance to take advantage of a world-class education. I really wish I had figured out how to enjoy my life. Classes were fine when I was motivated.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 12:19 AM
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To my knowledge there are at least three (I think "Obies" is the cloying semi-official term) who comment with some regularity here. I believe there are also several folks who had sibs attend that have been mentioned in comments which perhaps makes the pool seem larger.

I will note that for what I believe to have been a relatively brief period time at DFH college (which happily (or not) coincided with my attendance) there were no Fs (and maybe even no Ds*), merely 'NE" for No Entry which lived up to its name by eventually disappearing from the transcript. I have no idea if I would have adapted in the interests of sports eligibility if it had been otherwise**, but my actual record mapped into a grading system with traditional consequences would trend Sifuesque. Will never know, but one of my kids basically tried my approach--sadly unmodified--at large Public State University with very predictable results.

*Helped the GPA, but actually made it more difficult to earn credits toward graduation by just squeaking by in a course. Quit going to those suckers early.

**Or God forbid if there had been an internet.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 12:30 AM
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161.2 &.3 have a very familiar ring. I "should" have dropped out, and in the absence of the swim team (and unrelated fin aid) I am pretty sure I would have*. Better in the long term? Who knows?

My last semester was also precisely aimed at the minimum hours, and I aggressively flirted with fucking that up. I took the intro Chem sequence Credit/No Entry (another DFH feature at the time) my senior year and got staggeringly stoned before the 2nd semester final, went in and put my head down and took a nap for the first 20 minutes or so to collect myself. I viewed it as a test.

*The alternative history I sometimes think about involves me attending the D-1 school I was set on until the very end of the choice period. I can predict with near certainty that I would have blown off the team in a year or two, and I suspect out of school and into the big wide world at the same time.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 12:49 AM
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163.2.last is worryingly familiar.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 12:58 AM
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I also finished high school a term early. I'd completed the requirements and didn't see any point in taking more classes. It's almost like I've never liked school, and yet...


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 1:04 AM
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Isn't it weird to think that Madame Nhu was still alive a year ago?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 2:26 AM
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My first attempt at university I dropped out at the end of 1st year, and I only kept going to the end of that as I had a grant. British universities are different, though. All the not-finishing courses, dropping courses half-way through a year, Ws and whatever, is fairly alien.

I just did really badly in the exams, and decided not to bother with re-sits as I hated the course/people-on-it. I had stopped attending classes a good while earlier, though. Except psychology, which I got really high marks for. They tried to persuade me to resit maths and computer science, to get the passing mark, and then transfer to social-sciences/humanities, but by that point I couldn't give a shit.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 3:03 AM
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Like ttaM, I dropped out of a British university at the end of the first year. Unlike him, I wasn't even allowed to sit the exams, since I'd skipped too many labs.

But fortunately, after I came to New York, the CUNY colleges were still free.


Posted by: jim | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 7:01 AM
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NMM to Peter Bergman. Shoes for the dead! indeeed.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 7:15 AM
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My experience with NEs was very similar to Stromcrow's. I kept signing up for those 0800 Calc classes. I kept on being unable to awake in time. I did this three times!


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 7:23 AM
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My first attempt at college I went for one semester, got a 3.9 but hated it, transferred, liked that school okay but dropped out (without dropping any of my classes, so I think I got 4 Fs there). Ten years later went back, did great for a while, transferred, stopped showing up, got a bunch more Fs (and a couple of unaccountable Ds for classes that I stopped attending entirely), left for a while, went back, did awesome enough to graduate. And now I'm taking fifteen hour exams. Where did I go wrong?!?


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 7:38 AM
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In a just world[the current crop of] American politicians wouldn't even be allowed


Posted by: FTFY | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 8:06 AM
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172: I DON'T EVEN SEE IRAN

FROM MY HOUSE


Posted by: OPINIONATED SARAH PALIN | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 8:40 AM
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OT: is there a canonical post that defines the different kinds of trolls?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 9:15 AM
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174: Implicitly? Or Explicitly?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 9:17 AM
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Since this seems the active-ish thread, per Megan's rules: Just a reminder to any Bay Area lurkers--there's a meetup TODAY, 4pm, in SF, at Rosamunde on Mission and 24th St.! Come! As always, the secret password is "Who wants to sex Motombo?"


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 9:56 AM
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However if you misspell his name he may well decline said sex outright.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 9:59 AM
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Oops sorry meant to move the post up.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 10:03 AM
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174: On reflection, you could do worse than reading this ... in its entirety.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 10:04 AM
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165: It's almost like I've never liked school, and yet...

Keep trying! One of these time's you'll love it.

I had a first cousin once removed (I think that's right) who was the only child of well-to-do parents who did manage to do the nearly-perpetual student thing As I recall he had an MLS, an MD, a JD, and one if not two PhDs in English/Humanities. Also pretty sure he never practiced as a doctor or lawyer, but did at some time work as a librarian. Unfortunately based on the few times I met him (and even more on tales of family matters from my mother) he appeared to be a total dick (at least in family situations*, maybe he was a prince in more academic settings). Then he unexpectedly died of a heart attack in his late 40s or early 50s.

*In retrospect, their attitude towards him might have gone some way towards explaining his attitude towards them.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 10:28 AM
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Further on pathological relationships to higher education, after having been granted a degree in recognition of my ability to pass a freshman Chem final while toked to the gills, I proceeded to blunder into a Masters program. From that experience I learned that if your main reason for going to graduate school is because it looks to be the easiest way to continue drinking beer, doing drugs and playing rugby it will sooner or later lead to unpleasantness and hard feelings. Protip: For maximum family fun do it in your hometown and in a department where you mother is acquainted with several members of the faculty. (This should actually be in the Dirty Laundry thread since in retrospect just about every interaction that year was my most embarrassing moment ever.) That was my Bad Year* (Smearcase had one the other day that involved grad school, right? But the FA are letting me down.)

*And as long as I'm over-sharing, the Bad Year triumphantly ended with my moving to Houston to get engaged to a Hall & Oates fan who was first attracted to me because I showed up at student dive bar in a suit (several us had come from a wedding). This resulted in The Even Worse Six Months.

The lesson for you kids watching at home is drop out of school. Now.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 10:50 AM
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I dropped out of college after one semester + one quarter (so about a year's worth of credits, if you include the classes I took when I was still in HS). Temped, worked at a brokerage, wrote, and finally went back after 9 years, at which point the classes which had been easy enough to cruise through at 18 were now ridiculously basic, with only a couple of exceptions. Opportunity cost for going back to school was, at a minimum something like $120,000, based on wages and benefits not earned at the brokerage. Now I have a job that requires a 4-year degree, and extensive relevant experience, and I make about as much as my housemate, who bartends at a campus dive bar 3 and a half shifts a week. BUT! I have many interesting things to say at cocktail parties or on Unfogged. And I can make up plausible sounding bits of critical theory jargon.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 10:59 AM
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PS I am so fucking bored with being partially immobilized. I want to go do stuff and see movies and what not. I would actually even like to do a bunch of cleaning and laundry too. But my right foot is in really bad shape and I have got to stay off of it if I want to have any chance of healing. Sigh. And I need longer crutches, goddammit. My empire of counterpane is going to suffer some kind of palace coup if it doesn't get more interesting soon.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 11:04 AM
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||
Libertarians take on hipsters at Reason. This is one where you should read the comments.
|>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 11:14 AM
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180: is this your cousin?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 11:40 AM
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184: Why? I tried and failed.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 1:19 PM
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||

Santorum wins Kansas.

|>


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 3:52 PM
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It's right in the heart of the Santorum Belt


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 3:54 PM
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Natilo--what are the doctors saying?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 3:55 PM
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188: Yeah, I don't think anyone's surprised.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 3:57 PM
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189: I haven't been in to see one in awhile -- I have a follow-up visit with the surgeon who did the gall bladder removal on Monday, and another appt with my regular doctor later in the month, but I'm going to see if I can get a sooner one. This is really frustrating, and it's been going on so long that I'm a little worried it's not just gout.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 4:54 PM
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184: Libertarians take on hipsters at Reason.

Heaven help me, I'm on the hipsters' side(s). This is the kind of sort-of-cagematch it takes to make a person answer some hard questions about herself.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 5:50 PM
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184 made me curious about Reason (in part because of the hoohaw lately about their, or Cato's, fight with the Koch brothers). Just what do they think about things, anyway? They profess to harbor carefully considered opinions -- they are not mouth-breathers. On the sidebar I saw that one of most viewed stories had something to do with Ron Paul's chances for success in the Republican primary.

Since I'm still a little unclear why Reasonites -- or Catoites -- would endorse Ron Paul (remember, he wants to eliminate the Departments of Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education, and I'd like to see an actually reasoned defense of that), I read that sidebar piece: it became clear that readers were expected to know, of course, why we support him.

But I don't! Explain it to me! Visiting around on the Reason website didn't turn up anything expository: just pieces assuming that we support him.

So, do liberal/progressive/Democratic sites do this, this badly? Do we just assume everyone knows? I'm thinking of the exchange here recently with LizSpigot, a confessed Republican. I was pretty shocked that someone (who considers herself a thinking person) wouldn't already know what's wrong with that: it's not tribal, there are reasoned explanations, but we might not do a very good job repeating them as an intro to everything we say.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 7:32 PM
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Santorum wins Kansas.

Romney wins Guam, the Northern Marianas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Wyoming.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 7:55 PM
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194: A strong coalition when Wyoming gets its aircraft carriers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 8:14 PM
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195. Why did Tom Lehrer quit?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 8:22 PM
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Just what do they think about things, anyway?

They're libertarians.

remember, he wants to eliminate the Departments of Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education, and I'd like to see an actually reasoned defense of that

As libertarians, they would presumably reply that the government shouldn't be doing any of that stuff.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 8:27 PM
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I'm now eagerly awaiting parsimon's principled, reasoned justification for the existence of the Department of Commerce.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 8:33 PM
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197.last: But that's the problem. I went over to Radley Balko's blog to again see whether he had anything substantive to say about Ron Paul (who he's defended in passing before), and there he had an enthusiastic post about the awesome photos the Library of Congress has been archiving and making available lately.

But the LOC is government funded in a way that might be considered an utter federal spending lark by a hard-core libertarian. No? Either there's some serious double-think going on there, or there's a rationale I haven't had explained. I want an explanation. !


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 8:36 PM
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198: I might have to outsource that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 8:38 PM
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Either there's some serious double-think going on there, or there's a rationale I haven't had explained. I want an explanation. !

You might take a look at Holbo's latest CT post, which basically attributes Cato's problems to double-think. It's not really clear to me what you think needs explaining, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 8:43 PM
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200: Now who's the libertarian?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 8:43 PM
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Those LOC photos were taken by the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information. Libertarians just love the New Deal and FDR era!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 8:46 PM
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202: I will not be baited like this, teo. (Seriously, though, I can't explain what would go wrong if we eliminated the Dept. of Commerce, because I'm not an economist or political scientist or government staffer; I'm pretty sure it would fuck things up badly. I take your point, but I don't think it's a forceful one.)

201: I want Balko to explain why he lurrves the LOC but thinks we should eliminate very significant operational segments of the federal government. I bet I could ask him. I'm not looking for a generalized third-party account of libertarian double-think: I'd like them to explain it themselves. And no, I don't know why this irritates me so much, but it does.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 8:51 PM
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I got the link to the Reason thread at Unqualified Offerings when I was looking for the classic Blog thread linked in 179. You could go read some of the older stuff there.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 8:53 PM
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As I've said before, and as should be obvious from a cursory examination of the internet, the vast majority of libertarian Ron Paul supporters have absolutely no clue about his actual, stated political positions. It's all right there on his website -- the racism, the misogyny, the support for virtually every rightwing, Republican plank -- and yet all these netlibs refuse to take the minute and a half out of their day that it would take to educate themselves. All they hear is his specious claims to be isolationist (which would last about 2 and half seconds after he took the oath of office) and that's good enough for them. For a subculture that prides itself on how thoroughly and dispassionately they evaluate politics, they sure get suckered easily by the smallest of crumbs thrown to them. Of course, you could say that about a lot of uncritical Obama supporters too.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 9:05 PM
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205: Will do, thanks. I could also probably look at Cato themselves. I really don't think they should make me work this hard for it, though. hrmph.

If libertarian sentiments are going to be making their way increasingly into both Dem and Republican (or, liberal and conservative) thinking, we need to have a talk with them, publicly. I don't think the rarified air at CT takes care of it -- let's have it out.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 9:07 PM
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If libertarian sentiments are going to be making their way increasingly into both Dem and Republican (or, liberal and conservative) thinking, we need to have a talk with them, publicly.

You keep saying stuff like this, but I don't see where you're getting the idea that libertarian ideas are either new or increasingly prominent in political discourse. This stuff has a long, long history in American politics.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 9:16 PM
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YOU TELL 'EM, TEO!


Posted by: OPINIONATED FREE SILVER ADVOCATE | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 9:20 PM
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208: I don't think they're new, but do think they're increasingly prominent. LizS said after a bit (in that other thread) that she probably wasn't so much a Republican as a libertarian, and thought Ron Paul was the best, though not ideal, of the candidates; of course she is just one person.

The 'sovereign citizen' movement has been growing, hasn't it? And militias, and small-government conservatism. The Tea Party is as much libertarian as it is Republican; the Republican party is general is becoming more libertarian. The significant growth of libertarian sentiment seems pretty evident to me.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 9:32 PM
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The 'sovereign citizen' movement has been growing, hasn't it? And militias, and small-government conservatism. The Tea Party is as much libertarian as it is Republican; the Republican party is general is becoming more libertarian. The significant growth of libertarian sentiment seems pretty evident to me.

Goldwater. Reagan. McVeigh.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 9:36 PM
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And Goldwater crashed and burned. Reagan wasn't a small-government conservative, despite his initial rhetoric.

I'm not sure I see your point. If it's just that we're seeing a resurgence of previous trends, fine: my point would be that it's a problem, and I'd like to see it put on the table rather than let the muttering continue as just a mutter. Now that we have Ron Paul on the stump, let's interrogate him.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 10:01 PM
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My point is that libertarian rhetoric about government being not the solution but the problem has been overwhelmingly dominant in American political discourse for literally my entire life, mostly pushed by Republicans but with Democrats mostly playing along rather than pushing back. It's true that the level of passion has ebbed and flowed, and that the past few years have seen an increase from a relative lull during the Bush era, but there's nothing new here at all.

We don't need to guess what these people think, or interrogate them. They've been telling us in no uncertain terms exactly what they think and why, for decades. I agree that it's a problem, but it's not a new problem. It's the same problem we've been dealing with for ages.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-10-12 10:23 PM
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The 'sovereign citizen' movement has been growing, hasn't it? And militias

Dude, what Teo said. McVeigh, Ruby Ridge, Montana Freemen, etc. Did the east coast skip the 90's or something?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:10 AM
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We were too busy with the Tupac-Biggie feud to waste our attention on a bunch of crazy crackers in flyover country.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 5:03 AM
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204

I will not be baited like this, teo. (Seriously, though, I can't explain what would go wrong if we eliminated the Dept. of Commerce, because I'm not an economist or political scientist or government staffer; I'm pretty sure it would fuck things up badly. I take your point, but I don't think it's a forceful one.)

You probably think the same about the Department of Education but since it didn't even exist (in its current form) before 1979 it's doubtful that eliminating it would be all that harmful.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 5:49 AM
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212

And Goldwater crashed and burned. Reagan wasn't a small-government conservative, despite his initial rhetoric.

Reagan gave a 1975 interview to Reason which I think is interesting.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 6:08 AM
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I'm a little dubious about calling the Sovereign Citizens/militia/et. al. "libertarian" -- their ideology has some overlap with libertarianism, sure, but there's just as much overlap with fascism and some other political positions (like autarchy) that don't really have a single ideology to be associated with. The world those guys want to see is much, much different from the one the editors of Reason would support.

A couple of points on libertarianism: First, of course, it's a complete misnomer. A group of extremist social Darwinist capitalists somehow latched on to one of the synonyms for anarchism and have been commendably tenacious about never letting it fall from their jaws. That doesn't mean it's an accurate descriptor though. Additionally, I think what we're seeing with the rise of internet libertarianism is a mile wide and an inch deep. Just as the fascist parties troll the disaffected and disenfranchised segments of the white working class for recruits, so too do the libertarians focus on the mid-middle and upper-middle class white guys who feel like they've been cheated by, and estranged from, mainstream political and economic processes. But when you look at what these recruits do, it's much less committed than the actions that new fascists take. Basically they get turned into heavy duty internet trolls and wind up buying a bunch of crappy Ayn Rand literature and that's it. So despite this explosive growth in people claiming the title "libertarian", you've still got a Libertarian Party that is the domain of some pathetic old cranks, with virtually no influence on any part of the political system.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:32 AM
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218

... with virtually no influence on any part of the political system.

I am not so sure about that. All the public schools are failing nonsense seems heavily influenced by libertarian ideas.

And of course there is the reluctance to defend taxes.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:49 AM
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My point is that libertarian rhetoric about government being not the solution but the problem has been overwhelmingly dominant in American political discourse for literally my entire life,

It basically feels the same way to me too, although I am older than you, because for the small period of time that it wasn't completely dominant, I was really just into my Star Trek footie pajamas.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:51 AM
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[M]y flammable Star Trek footie pajamas, in the land of the libertarians.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:57 AM
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Of course it all depends on what 'getting rid of' means. We're not going to stop having the census: not without a constitutional amendment, anyway. Or the PTO, for that matter. NOAA might not be constitutionally mandated, but it's a really good idea. NIST was started over 100 years ago -- if your privatized the function, you'd just be paying more for it. Or you'd have some self-appointed academics running their own NIST, charging for it. I've worked some with the ITA, back in the mists of time: I guess you could let private businesses do their own work, and hire their own experts, for dumping and countervailing duty cases (until libertarianism takes over the whole world!) but that would really raise the already high costs of protecting yourself from unfair foreign competition.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 8:15 AM
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BIS I've never worked with (although I've been peripheral on some ITAR stuff) and I guess libertarians see nothing wrong with selling foreigners whatever sensitive stuff they want to buy. Because they'll surely respect property rights, right?

In reality, they really just want to get rid of the MBDA. Hey, it'll save 30 million dollars.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 8:23 AM
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219: I would question just how separate from mainstream conservatism either of those positions has ever been.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 8:45 AM
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224

I would question just how separate from mainstream conservatism either of those positions has ever been.

Vouchers seem like a relatively new idea. And I don't remember anti-tax sentiment being as intense when I was younger.

Of course most ideas have some sort of long history but I think some libertarian memes have become more influential fairly recently.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 8:51 AM
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Thanks for 218, Natilo. It seems right.

But when you look at what these recruits do, it's much less committed than the actions that new fascists take. Basically they get turned into heavy duty internet trolls and wind up buying a bunch of crappy Ayn Rand literature and that's it.

I'd modify that. I think my chief concern is the extent to which 'libertarian' notions are filtering down/in to the mainstream way of thinking. Witness LizS. I'd like to see more pushback than we're seeing -- in the public discourse writ large -- against the notion that government isn't the solution, but the problem. It's not enough to reply: Nah, that's not necessary, as this 'libertarianism' has been with us for at least, oh, 40 years.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 9:35 AM
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193.last:

As one former libertarian (now agnostic), I may not be representative of the type of person you're trying to convince, but I can tell you what part of the argument seems like it's missing to me too often, in arguing for preserving or expanding regulatory authority or funded programs.

Many left-liberals I know will argue straight from "Leaving X up to private individuals makes a mess of things because they abuse their power/act irresponsibly" to "We should empower the government to solve this problem."

The missing premise is of course that entrusting whatever it is to the state - the actually existing state, where sometimes bad people are in power, subject to regulatory capture and bizarre popular passions - will be less bad.

As it turns out this is in fact often (but not always!) the case. I think that American left-liberals have four common blind spots:

A) They underestimate how familiar their audience is with examples of government doing any particular thing well. For obvious reasons left-liberals find specific examples of effective governance more interesting than do libertarians or right-conservatives, so they will be exposed to more such evidence in the first place, and the examples they do know will more readily come to mind.

They therefore spend too little time showing examples of a program similar to the proposed one working well.

B) There's a tendency to elide the fact that in practice, any power awarded to the state will be exercised about half the time by people with different interests, opinions, and values.

I don't care how well a program would work if left-liberals ran the country forever; I want to hear about liberal innovations so good that the Republicans can't screw it up so bad as to make it fail.

C) They underestimate both the frequency with which empowering the state fails, and the availability of those examples to their audience. Unfortunately a lot of people really seriously do think that expanding government means making more parts of their life look like the DMV or the liquidation of the Kulaks.

It would be helpful to hear more explanations of why examples of failure failed, and what's different about the proposed program.

D) For actually existing government programs, there's a (natural and understandable) tendency to conflate the fact that government is right now the primary or exclusive provider of a service or good, with the claim that were it not for government, the service or good would not be provided. (For example if the gov't didn't fund transportation infrastructure, we might have an inferior transportation infrastructure, but it's extremely unlikely that we would have no way to get around, or even that we'd have no road.)

Of course this is not true of all liberals, and I may not be a typical example of the sort of person you're trying to convince. I just thought that your query shouldn't go unrespondedto.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 10:52 AM
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Little-known fact: when Ron Paul talks about abolishing the Department of Education, he actually means he wants to resurrect HEW.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 11:11 AM
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I want to hear about liberal innovations so good that the Republicans can't screw it up so bad as to make it fail.

I know you're talking in broad, emotional terms. But you must recognize that this is an absurd standard: you want government programs that can't be damaged even when run by people trying to break them?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 11:14 AM
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Thanks Benquo. Good stuff.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 11:17 AM
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229: That one is problematic on the face of it. It seems to put the burden of proof entirely on the left/liberal proposer of a program to convince us that a magic pony will be provided.

More charitably, though, it just means that a proposal shouldn't contain enough loopholes or backdoor nefariousness in general as to make it vulnerable to manipulation. (Not a few objections to the health care bill were, and are, of that form: it's further entrenching the power of private insurance companies, etc., which is exactly what we didn't want and were trying to get away from.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 11:25 AM
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The extent of the unreality one always encounters from libertarians (and libertarian-leaners) convinces me, in extremely short order each time I forget, that engagement is a colossal waste of time. Parsi, with such a high tolerance for unreality that she can actually watch multiple Republican debates, clearly has varying mileage. Best of luck to you!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 11:29 AM
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I think my chief concern is the extent to which 'libertarian' notions are filtering down/in to the mainstream way of thinking. Witness LizS.

Except that she wasn't actually espousing a libertarian view whatsoever. She just wants the government to spend money on the things *she* thinks are important.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 11:31 AM
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I'm not sure B is salient to the same people to whom A, C, and D are.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 11:47 AM
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222: There are a lot of initials in that comment I don't recognize.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 11:54 AM
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235 -- http://www.commerce.gov/ See the link box on the right side.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 11:56 AM
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Charley, I think I only watched 2.5 of them. I tend to think you need to know your enemy in order to defeat him.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 11:59 AM
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At the meetup, there was for some reason a question as to arranging a cage-match between me & Parsi. (I didn't understand why even at the time, parsi.) I hypothesized that we wouldn't fight, we would bake something good and then sit down & talk things through.

In light of 237, I feel likely right and more skeert.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 12:10 PM
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Meanwhile I took up JP's advice in 205 to read further at Jim Henley's place, and I came upon this post, which is a bit into the weeds, but includes this from one Thoreau:

For a long time, I was kind of amazed by the libertarian rhetoric of the GOP, the way that somebody could argue for torture and corporate welfare and unchecked police powers and massive deficits and a global empire, and then follow it up with "Because I believe in limited government and the free market." The cognitive dissonance wasn't what bugged me (I'm cynical enough to take it as a given that politicians know how to lie) but rather that they would even bother appealing to the small government crowd that they feel free to screw over.

The remainder of the post muses further about "the dog whistles that libertarians respond to whenever Republicans blow the whistle".

Free markets? Intellectual cover [on the GOP's part] for corporate welfare.

I must say, true libertarians, whoever exactly they are, are in a pretty bad position.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 12:13 PM
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That's praise, not criticism!

I don't have any problem with moving NOAA to Interior, the Census and measuring bureaus to Labor, or the other things the Admin has proposed re Commerce. Can they really save that much money moving stuff around? I've no reason to doubt it. That's not really what the Know Nothings are hollering about, though.

233 -- Pretty common, imo, wrt "libertarians." Plenty to spend on protecting private property, not so much interest in ameliorating suffering. As if, as a society, we couldn't reasonably decide we care just [some non-trivial fraction] as much about the one as the other.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 12:17 PM
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238: ! clew, I'm not much of a baker, and think you're terrific. You don't swing both ways, do you? I think we may have argued one time, a long time ago, when you thought I was dissing knitting, but that was a misunderstanding.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 12:17 PM
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sewing, I think, and it was no thing. Perhaps the drunken reprobates will explain when the hangovers stop, but I doubt they remember.

Anyhoo. Back to libertarinism.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 12:38 PM
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229: To be clear, I don't want to impose the unrealistic test of a government run entirely by evildoers; just that long-term proposals should be robust to moderate shifts in the balance of power.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 12:52 PM
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242: Right, it was sewing, I do recall. I did not mean to be untoward with the swinging both ways bit -- it's a compliment.

Back to libertarianism. Benquo's prescriptions in 227 are offered in good faith, and I take them seriously. I think I at one time fussed here about how there should be an online FAQ, or liberalism for dummies, or some informational clearinghouse, which people could go to for clarification of ideas.

I think Witt (to my surprise) said I was a fool, since such sites abound, and everybody knows that nobody reads them, so it's a waste of time. I don't really know what to do at this point.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 12:52 PM
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Another way to meet that test would be to explain that, even if a program can be abused and a net negative when the wrong party is in power, that those harms are small relative to the goods done when the right party is in power.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:00 PM
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233

... She just wants the government to spend money on the things *she* thinks are important.

I suspect few of us want the government to spend money on things we think are unimportant.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:07 PM
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245: Sure, that would be a cost/benefit analysis of sorts. That's also pretty much the argument for the health care reform law: it's not perfect, it's subject to chicanery, but it's a start that will get better with the right party in power.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:09 PM
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As I recall, you were worried that making one's own clothes was open only to those who were already unusually fortunate. Now, working out where exactly the injustices in the system are would be interesting, but *more* interesting *right now* is that it was, like 244.3, a case of you holding the world to a very high standard. Which, among this crowd of depraved cynics, is refreshing.

....So, what are you wearing? Is it a really gauzy skirt?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:10 PM
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I'm happy for the government to spend some money on things I think are unimportant. This for two reasons. First the optimal amount of waste is nonzero because it's expensive to root out. Second, part of living in a country with other people is compromise. In some cases I'd rather compromise to higher spending rather than lower.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:13 PM
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244.3 -- Of course it's a waste of time. Libertarianism is more like a religion than a dispassionate assessment of how best to tackle the challenges we all face. How many 6 Day Creationists are going to spend their time on websites that systematically show that the earth is billions of years old? People who believe that government programs usually [or even non-trivially] fail (for reasons other than (i) underfunding or (ii) regulatory capture by Capital) are too far gone to reason with.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:28 PM
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I'm happy for the government to spend some money on things I think are unimportant. This for two reasons. First the optimal amount of waste is nonzero because it's expensive to root out. Second, part of living in a country with other people is compromise. In some cases I'd rather compromise to higher spending rather than lower.

Tolerating a low level of some things like crime or waste because it isn't cost effective to eliminate it isn't the same thing as wanting it. Nor is accepting something you don't want in exchange for something you do want.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:29 PM
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248.last: Good grief, woman, it's only the ides of March. It did make me laugh, though.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:31 PM
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(Except stupid programs, designed only with ideology in mind, like abstinence only education.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:31 PM
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(Or the creation of a democratic paradise in Iraq.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:33 PM
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250

... People who believe that government programs usually [or even non-trivially] fail (for reasons other than (i) underfunding or (ii) regulatory capture by Capital) are too far gone to reason with.

Failure because of unrealistic goals happens a non-trivial amount of the time. Consider the war in Afghanistan. I suppose you could try to claim that this is really an underfunding problem but I don't think that is a very good way of looking at it.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:36 PM
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251 -- I don't disagree with this. It's the pretense that these preferences are driven by dispassionate application of a set of eternal principles. 'I don't have anything against poor people, and I would support helping them if only a program to do so could be designed that meets my impossible to meet test. But since it can't, sorry, no help for poor people.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:38 PM
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250: People who believe that government programs usually [or even non-trivially] fail (for reasons other than (i) underfunding or (ii) regulatory capture by Capital) are too far gone to reason with.

I thought Benquo up in 227 was trying to say something to that. I may have missed some development.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:46 PM
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255 -- You're right. Liberalism is refuted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by abstinence-only programs.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:50 PM
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257 -- Oh, right, it's also refuted (227C) by the liquidation of the Kulaks.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 1:53 PM
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Liquid kulak goes great on a hot day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 2:22 PM
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IME the self-designation "libertarian" is often adopted by people with fairly liberal views who live in very conservative places and people with fairly conservative views who live in very liberal places. The views of these people don't necessarily overlap much with the libertarianism of the Libertarian Party or the Cato/Reason crowd (though of course they may).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 2:36 PM
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... Liberalism is refuted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ...

Not liberalism, your claim about why government programs fail.

Other programs which didn't fail for your cited reasons, the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, numerous computer modernization programs, the Mars Climate Orbiter, Prohibition and the Kansas City schools program (which I have cited before).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 2:40 PM
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I'd like to see more pushback than we're seeing -- in the public discourse writ large -- against the notion that government isn't the solution, but the problem. It's not enough to reply: Nah, that's not necessary, as this 'libertarianism' has been with us for at least, oh, 40 years.

Well, that certainly isn't what I was saying. Pushback is definitely necessary, and if we'd had more of it over those 40 years we might not have ended up where we are now. But there's no need to reinvent the wheel. Anti-libertarian arguments have been around for just as long as libertarianism.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 2:44 PM
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250

Of course it's a waste of time. Libertarianism is more like a religion than a dispassionate assessment of how best to tackle the challenges we all face. How many 6 Day Creationists are going to spend their time on websites that systematically show that the earth is billions of years old? ...

But you might find such a site useful if you were arguing with a 6 Day Creationist. Btw I have encountered people on web with doubts about evolution but if I recall correctly they all believed the earth was old so young earth believers seem to be fairly rare. Perhaps because most people are not totally impervious to empirical evidence.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 3:14 PM
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I believe the Earth is young and filled itself with the byproducts of hundreds of millions of years of radioactive decay as a fake ID to let it buy beer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 3:20 PM
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I suspect few of us want the government to spend money on things we think are unimportant.

But the argument is with people who supposedly believe the government shouldn't be spending much money on much of anything at all.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 3:26 PM
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One of the bizarre things about the ID movement is that it makes basically no claims. You can be a member in good standing of the movement and believe 100% of the theory of evolution as long as you think God had to have designed *something* (the first life, the universe, etc.) and are willing to say mean things about secular science.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 3:39 PM
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Young earth creationism is at least a scientific theory (a false one, but scientific nonetheless) while ID is explicitly on its own terms a political coalition with no underlying scientific theory.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 3:43 PM
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But the argument is with people who supposedly believe the government shouldn't be spending much money on much of anything at all.

Only if you are defining a strawman version of libertarianism as exemplified by some of its nuttier proponents.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 3:45 PM
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244: What are a few examples of those FAQs?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 4:15 PM
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243 seems very reasonable.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 4:32 PM
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262 -- I didn't mean to imply that I thought that every government initiative ever undertaken has failed only for two reasons. I do think, though, that the narrative of liberal government program failure is way overblown in libertarian circles, and I don't think your examples (some of which are trivial) do much to contradict that.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 4:52 PM
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271: If a "moderate shifts in the balance of power" means a change in President, do any regulations survive this test?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 4:57 PM
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271: It sounds nice, but it only actually makes me smarter if I ask the same question of both sides; otherwise it's just a clever kind of stupid.

Probably I don't ask myself that question as often as I should.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 4:58 PM
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I must say, to be perfectly honest, I kind of despise self-described libertarians for reasons of taste and style as much as any political philosophy (though I deeply disagree with the political philosophy, and hope that one day it's roughly as shameful as to be a blanket anti-government libertarian as it is a young earth creationist). I just associate it with annoying snide selfish guys (mostly guys) who seem like total cocks.*

*Though I actually know the OG libertarian who is interviewing Reagan in the interview linked above very well. Nice guy, but a true nutjob -- I once spent an hour with him on a plane listening to various pie in the sky schemes about private roads.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 5:09 PM
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273: I think so. A new president could take Medicare and make it function poorly without too much trouble, but that would be making things not much worse than before you had Medicare. It would be hard to cross into actual evil starting with Medicare. I suppose a new president could turn Medicaid into an black-op military organization, but it certainly seems more robust against abuse than, for example, cutting oversight of the CIA or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 5:14 PM
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I don't think any US government program can survive a President and Congress determined to overcome them, but the constitutional system we have (and the regulatory system we have) makes it very hard to change things. I actually can't think of a government program right now in the US that (a) as originally drafted, was a great idea and made a lot of sense but (b) has been completely undermined/made counterproductive in its implementation by an administration with a different agenda. I'm sure there are such examples, but the usual thing is either to (a) change the program or regulation or (b) have it roll along in a not-that-well funded way with a bunch of political appointees trying to undermine it, but the program still has momentum and kind of muddles through.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 5:18 PM
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276 -- There are regs and there are statutes. I'm not sure how much damage a president could do to Medicare -- probably quite a bit -- but whatever it is, it pales beside the damage a shift in control of Congress can do. My preferred solution is not getting rid of Medicare, or of the military, (or the federal courts, the GSA, NASA, and the Dept of Energy) but trying to avoid and mitigate the effects of changes of the balance of power.

Taking Iraq as an example: what's the solution to poorly thought out, and yet democratically approved (and Congress was not doing something unpopular when it signed on to this) uses of military force? No military force might be one, but that's a fringe proposal in the 21st century US (fringe of fringe). Ditto insufficient force to engage in stupid shit. No, the only solution is an educated and realistic populace willing to look at wild schemes and ask hard questions. This does not come from people engaging in thought experiments about what we could have instead of a public transportation infrastructure, or people who think the DMV is some sort of intolerable affront to the principles of liberty.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 5:26 PM
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272

... (some of which are trivial) ...

Which are trivial?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 5:30 PM
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As program failures go, I'd say computer modernizations, the Mars satellite, and KC are all trivial. And, I think, really off the point. Would you suggest that the government never modernize its computers? That it not have computers at all? Or maybe that specs be more robust and performance bonds be claimed against when they are not met?

KC proves that you have to have systems, and that you can't expect to overwhelm the systems and meet the goals. Good intentions are not sufficient. The answer isn't to stop having schools, or to fund them at a level that is clearly inadequate.

The Mars thing was a human mistake. I know that our libertarian friends would like to replace human judgment with a robot-like sensibility, and maybe when you're looking at technical questions like what went wrong on this one, you'd be right. Using this is an example of anything, though, is shocking even for you. Is the SS program a failure if a check gets lost in the mail? Or is miscalculated.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 5:45 PM
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Prohibition was religious, and I won't claim it. YM is failing because it's (a) a huge subsidy to an industry that does not directly benefit important stakeholder groups and (b) the risks of the thing fall disproportionately on people who can do something about it.

The libertarian solution -- let some private entity build a storage facility, and if it fails hold them accountable for all the harm -- is loopy enough to be a refutation of libertarianism.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 5:50 PM
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Libertarianism makes people stupid because it provides a vocabulary for the unfortunate idea that all incentive and information problems can be magically solved by "markets" instead of "government" (which is doomed to always fail). And somehow the libertarians who perceive the fundamental unreliability of selfish and self-serving public officials never get around to applying that logic to themselves (why would a Mercatus Center professor who has never held a private sector job state anything but the purest truths?)


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 6:03 PM
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277: I actually can't think of a government program right now in the US that (a) as originally drafted, was a great idea and made a lot of sense but (b) has been completely undermined/made counterproductive in its implementation by an administration with a different agenda.

If you extend it to administrations I'd be tempted to say the Supreme Court and the DOJ. A bit too cynical, however.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 6:32 PM
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No, the only solution is an educated and realistic populace willing to look at wild schemes and ask hard questions.

Not that I disagree, but that's only practical in comparison to something like letting a private company build a nuclear waste facility.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 6:38 PM
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CC seems to be employing a lot of acronyms.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 6:47 PM
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He's a job creator.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 6:50 PM
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And they've been scarce there since the tire factories moved out.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:03 PM
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280

As program failures go, I'd say computer modernizations, the Mars satellite, and KC are all trivial. And, I think, really off the point. Would you suggest that the government never modernize its computers? That it not have computers at all? Or maybe that specs be more robust and performance bonds be claimed against when they are not met?

You are moving the goal posts. You claimed (in effect) that government programs almost never fail because they are too ambitious. In fact that is a typical reason computer modernization efforts fail (in private industry as well) and the repeated failure of government computer modernization programs is not trivial in the aggregate. It is of course important for the government to have good computer systems but that doesn't magically change failures into successes.

The same is true of education, the NCLB act seems to be a disaster for basically the same reason as the KC initative, the goals are too ambitious and were set based on wishful thinking rather than what is realistically possible.

The Mars satellite failure like other space program failures is an example of the failures that are likely when you are trying to push the state of the art. They may be justified as part of the cost of progress but they are still failures which were not primarily caused by insufficient funding or regulatory capture.

The Mars thing was a human mistake. I know that our libertarian friends would like to replace human judgment with a robot-like sensibility, and maybe when you're looking at technical questions like what went wrong on this one, you'd be right. Using this is an example of anything, though, is shocking even for you. Is the SS program a failure if a check gets lost in the mail? Or is miscalculated.

It's an example of human error causing a failure, a cause not allowed for in your simplistic explanation of why programs fail. Social security is not a (total) failure if one check gets lost if most checks get through. Similarly the Mars probe would not have been a total failure if just a few pictures were lost because of an error. As it was however it was a total failure and it is fair to say so.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:10 PM
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The same is true of education, the NCLB act seems to be a disaster for basically the same reason as the KC initative, the goals are too ambitious and were set based on wishful thinking rather than what is realistically possible.

NCLB was a failure because it was written by ETS, whose interest is selling a lot of tests. It was well understood at the time that NCLB passed that testing is excellent in aggregate for telling you about broad trends, but disastrous when used to give information about any individual student, and that high-stakes testing magnifies all the problems of using results individually.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:13 PM
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... YM is failing because it's (a) a huge subsidy to an industry ...

To date the government has collected about $30 billion (from a $.001/kwh tax on nuclear electricity) to build a nuclear waste storage facility and has basically squandered the entire amount. Strange sort of subsidy.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:17 PM
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... but disastrous when used to give information about any individual student ...

Do you give your students tests?

As for the NCLB act the very title guarantees failure.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:20 PM
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The "Fuck the Bottom 20% of the Children Act" wasn't testing well with focus groups.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:22 PM
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Do you give your students tests?

I do, but it's definitely problematic. Some kids test horribly. Some kids get hung up on reading the problems. It's a pretty stupid skill which doesn't show up in most careers.

But I'm showing up in their 13th-17th year of conventional schooling, and I'm nowhere near ambitious enough to think it's a good idea to retrain them about working hard in the absence of grade anxiety. So I use tests to light a fire under their butt and make them study. Also it's just a dumb math class.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:24 PM
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As for the NCLB act the very title guarantees failure.

Love it. Where are your salt mines, anyhow, Shearer? They must be doing extravagantly well if you have so much need for good American workers.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:24 PM
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292: That's lower than the good parts.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:25 PM
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... Some kids get hung up on reading the problems. It's a pretty stupid skill which doesn't show up in most careers.

Reading comprehension is unimportant?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:34 PM
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I don't see how the test-giving experience among college students reflects on NCLB, which applies to elementary and high school students: does it apply in college as well, and I never realized that?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-11-12 7:44 PM
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292

The "Fuck the Bottom 20% of the Children Act" wasn't testing well with focus groups.

So enact a bunch of ponies for all programs and then when the promised ponies don't materialize act mystified about why distrust of the government is increasing.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-12-12 5:30 AM
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I don't see how the test-giving experience among college students reflects on NCLB, which applies to elementary and high school students: does it apply in college as well, and I never realized that?

I thought it was strange that hg was claiming that testing individual students is disastrous while also giving tests herself. I suppose you could claim that tests are reliable for college students but not for younger children but I am not aware of any evidence for this.

In fact tests can be a reasonably reliable way of evaluating students. But student tests scores are a very unreliable way of evaluating their teachers because teachers have little influence on them (absent cheating or otherwise gaming the system).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-12-12 5:38 AM
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Tests are problematic, so I don't use it as the sole measure of evaluating students. I use a bunch of different assignments, and then I don't worry about it overmuch, because who cares.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-12-12 7:53 AM
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Actually, I would like the government to spend money on things I'm not interested in. To me, it's quite an important part of the function of government to do just that. For example, I'm not hugely interested in the driving test syllabus, but I do appreciate the fact you can't just head out on the streets, let rip, and learn to drive by trial and error.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-12-12 8:28 AM
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In 3000 Alex hits exactly what I was thinking with regard to that question.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-12-12 9:17 AM
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It's going to take us forever to find out what that is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-12-12 9:26 AM
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Indeed, probably none of us will still be around come the year 3000. Thanks for nothing, ObamaCare.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-12-12 9:36 AM
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