16 February 2010

Tab Clearing: Obama, The UN Fallacy, Obama again, and Presidents' Day

Stellar ranty post from Lab Rat: "Job Interview vs. Job"

I don't even want to pull a paragraph to quote because it's all worth reading, but this at least gives you a sense of the topic:

In order to accomplish a policy agenda, you have to legislate, not message. It is IMPOSSIBLE to turn to Congress and go, “Deliver for me comprehensive health care reform that eases the burden on the American taxpayer and creates a stronger safety net for the people currently falling through the cracks, and do not let the special interests have a say.”, and have that actually occur. In order for Congress to legislate policy, they have to come up with a big passel of specific little laws written in boring language, and they have to get a whole bunch of people to agree to it, even a bunch of the people wearing the same initial on their team letter jackets.
Obama has spent half of his career pre-4 November 2008 campaigning for higher office. (That doesn't count campaigning for re-election to posts he already held.) It's no wonder that when he feels pressured he reverts to whatever has worked for him on the campaign trail, but that's no way to govern a country.

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Will Wilkinson | Sen on the U.N. Fallacy

There are, more formally, two ["United Nations"] fallacies: (1) analytical nationalism and (2) normative nationalism. Analytical nationalism takes states as basic units of explanatory and comparative significance. This error leads to absurdities like comparing social indicators of geographically immense, populous, diverse nation states, such as the U.S. or China, with those of tiny principalities and island states, such as Liechtenstein or Tuvalu. Normative nationalism takes states as basic units of significance in social morality. This error tends to cause us to overlook the immense importance of questions about the justice of the principles that determine inclusion and exclusion in political and economic institutions. So we worry about whether relatively poor people in rich nations are rich enough for our tastes rather than about whether the global system of borders and passports wrongfully traps the world’s poorest people in places with corrupt, immiserating institutions.
Morality is not affected by lines on a map.

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The Agitator | Radley Balko | Obama. Taxes. Lies.

Obama, during the 2008 campaign:
“If you are a family making less than $ 250,000 a year……you will not see your taxes go up. Not your capital gains tax, not your payroll tax, not your income Tax, no taxes. Your taxes will not go up.”
Obama in an interview with Bloomberg this week:
President Barack Obama said he is “agnostic” about raising taxes on households making less than $250,000 as part of a broad effort to rein in the budget deficit.
Why in the name of Epimenides do people continue to believe the promises of people campaigning for office? And what does it say about us that we routinely reward politicians who promise things they know they won't be able to deliver in order to get a promotion?

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Threat Quality Press | Braak | Some Notes on Presidents’ Day

Washington’s reputation as honest to a fault finds its source in the story that he refers to in his quote there: he chopped down a cherry tree (the reasons are lost; perhaps an unspoken grudge against cherries?) and when his father asked him who did it, he admitted his guilt. There’s probably a point to be made that in America, the highest act of personal, ethical heroism one can attain is admitting that you did what you, in fact, actually did – but we’ll leave that for another time. What concerns me now is that the story is apocryphal; that is, the story is itself a lie.

A man is trying to sell me a leather couch by lying about his identity and pretending to be someone else; lying about what that persona may or may not think; all to exploit a reputation for honesty that is also inauthentic. It is only the vaguest appearance of honesty that’s required for salesmanship, it seems — a lie compounded on a lie compounded on a lie can still be trustworthy, just so long as it asserts its honesty.
WTF is the point of Presidents' Day? Like we don't fawn over Presidents enough? Bulls**t on toast. Go read The Cult of the Presidency: America's Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power and forget about buying sofas from people in bad George Washington costumes.

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