Monday, November 14, 2016

Live by the political sword, die by the political sword (3)

The New York Times reports that Obama has left the door open to strong security tactics by Trump:
Over and over, Mr. Obama has imposed limits on his use of such powers but has not closed the door on them — a flexible approach premised on the idea that he and his successors could be trusted to use them prudently. Mr. Trump can now sweep away those limits and open the throttle on policies that Mr. Obama endorsed as lawful and legitimate for sparing use, like targeted killings in drone strikes and the use of indefinite detention and military tribunals for terrorism suspects. [emphasis added]
Whether you think that Obama or Trump can be trusted to use such powers more prudently, the emphasized part shows a problem that I have noted before here and here. Namely, just because those who are in political power now agree with you, you should not assume that those who agree with you will always hold political power. If you want to trust government with power that you do not want your worst political enemies to exercise, remember that it's a safe bet that your worst political enemies will eventually get to exercise that power. I have heard the response that we should just keep those enemies from ever gaining power, but life does not work that way.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Someone actually said this: Republicans, cities, and small government

In today's New York Times, we read why Republicans no longer compete in America's big cities and how they could do so:
“If you compete in cities, you don’t have to win in them,” said Thomas Ogorzalek, a political scientist at Northwestern. “If you go 70-30 in Chicago, instead of 90-10 like Trump is going to do, you can win Illinois. That’s not a bad strategy.”

Mr. Goldsmith, the former Republican mayor of Indianapolis, says the idea isn’t far-fetched. Picture a Republican who runs on effective government instead of against government: a Michael Bloomberg type minus the nanny-state laws. Or a school-choice advocate, but not a culture warrior. Or someone who talks about crime without caricaturing the communities that confront the worst of it.

Which Republicans are running against government? When last I checked, Donald Trump was not doing so.

Also, how would the hypothetical Republicans be running "on effective government instead of against government"? A Republican who did not follow Bloomberg on nanny-state laws, the socially conservative take on the culture wars, or law-and-order conservatism would be running against government on those issues, or at least against increased government. It seems that those hypothetical Republicans would run "on effective government instead of against government" by jettisoning some of the GOP's big-government excesses.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Peter Thiel is no true gay Scotsman.

A while back, I wrote about the no-true-Scotsman fallacy and its use to argue away dissent in the LGBT community:
Orthodox queer people also use [the fallacy] to dismiss any viewpoint diversity within the LGBT ranks. People have answered my disagreement with the party line by saying, "Yeah, but you're not really gay."
Now, in The Advocate, Jim Downs writes,
Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who made news this summer for endorsing Donald Trump at the Republican convention, is a man who has sex with other men. But is he gay?

* * *

By the logic of gay liberation, Thiel is an example of a man who has sex with other men, but not a gay man. Because he does not embrace the struggle of people to embrace their distinctive identity.

* * *

The gay liberation movement has left us a powerful legacy, and protecting that legacy requires understanding the meaning of the term "gay" and not using it simply as a synonym for same-sex desire and intimacy.

Regardless of one's views on Thiel's politics, it remains that case that last paragraph, Downs effectively admits to pulling a no-true-Scotsman on Thiel. The good news is that even on a site like The Advocate, the commentariat is overwhelmingly calling shenanigans on Downs's reasoning.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The rule of blame

The rule of blame: All of the credit goes to our side; all of the blame goes to someone else.

Corollaries:

1. If one politician of the other party has any role in a matter, no matter how minor, everything automatically becomes that other party's fault. Perhaps we should call this one Hogan's law.

2. If a profit-making entity has any role in a matter, no matter how minor or how rent-seeking, everything automatically becomes the fault of free markets.

3. If by following this rule, you contradict yourself, just remember the power of doublethink

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Schrödinger's Gay Man

Schrödinger's gay man is extremely picky about whom he's attracted to and simultaneously is willing to sleep with whatever moves.

Schrödinger's gay man wouldn't be caught dead in jeans and a T-shirt and simultaneously makes that his uniform.

Schrödinger's gay man disdains physical activity and simultaneously spends all of his free time working out.

Schrödinger's gay man imposes on the rest of us the culture that he has developed (and no, you may not ask how he does so) and simultaneously has developed no culture of his own.

Schrödinger's gay man cannot be monogamous to save his life and simultaneously imposes heteronormative standards of monogamy on the queer community.

Schrödinger's gay man is attracted only to hypermasculine men and simultaneously is attracted only to ephebic, unmasculine twinks.

Schrödinger's gay man uncritically latches onto any big-government leftist idea and simultaneously limits his interest in politics to what will protect his investment portfolio.

Schrödinger's gay man shirks his duty to become involved in the LGBT movement and simultaneously has completely coopted the LGBT movement.

Schrödinger's gay man shirked his duty to push for marriage equality, instead leaving it up to lesbians, and simultaneously pushed marriage equality on lesbians, who were too enlightened to want it.

Schrödinger's gay man lives down to the stereotypes, thus proving how morally deficient he is, and simultaneously doesn't live down to the stereotypes, thus proving how self-loathing he is.

Schrödinger's gay man is part of the economic elite and is simultaneously part of the net-tax-consuming economic underclass.

Schrödinger's gay man wants nothing to do with sports and simultaneously thinks of nothing else.

Whatever position you take on the controversy between radical feminists and the transgender community, Schrödinger's gay man takes the exact opposite position. It therefore makes perfect sense that both sides blame each other on Schrödinger's gay man.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

People actually say this: Larry Hogan and the blame game

Now that Maryland has a Republican governor, it is a truth universally acknowledged that everything bad that happens in Maryland is his fault. No, you may not ask about Maryland's not exactly deep red legislature, its previous governors, local councils and executives, or things beyond politicians' control. Once, when I brought up the composition of the General Assembly with someone espousing that view, that person first appealed to ridicule and then pointedly refused to acknowledge that Maryland even has a legislature. I suppose that Hogan has been the absolute monarch of Maryland since the dawn of time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Faux News op-ed: I Am Down with the Working Class

One might think that as an undergraduate majoring in identity studies at Uxbridge University, I would consider the concerns of working-class people to be beneath me. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I pride myself on being down with the working class.

I make a point of acquainting myself with working-class culture by asking the working-class people I know: at home, the maid and the gardener, and on campus, the cafeteria workers and the maintenance people. They seem less pleased to answer my questions than I assumed they would be and sometimes downright resentful. For this, I blame false consciousness engendered by capitalism.

I believe that this is important because, like all of my friends, I grew up in the banal environment of upper-middle-class suburbia. I can now connect to the more vibrant and authentic cultures of people who are free from this burden.

It also helps me see the solution to their plight. Just as my parents pay my tuition, room, and board and give me a healthy allowance, surely society can afford to do likewise for working-class people.

I have one classmate, however, who inexplicably does not see things my way. Given where he came from, he cannot expected to be so enlightened as the rest of us, but would it kill him to keep his stupid redneck hick opinions to himself?