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Politicians Deserve No Privacy


Imagine yourself in her position: there you are, seventeen years old, pregnant, unmarried. Maybe you understand what happened and why; and maybe your parents and friends do as well. But zillions of bloggers and reporters and pundits are about to make the most personal details of your life into a political issue, and they don't understand it at all. And yet, despite that, they are about to use you and your unborn child to score points on one another, without any regard whatsoever for you and your actual situation.

I will respect a politician's privacy (and the privacy of their family) when they start respecting ours. Politics is all about making the most personal details of our lives into political issues without any regard whatsoever for individual concerns; that's why it's called politics. Politicians don't get to use their families as human shields to deflect media criticism. They shouldn't be trying to run our lives in the first place.

That's a story about whether or not Sarah Palin sticks to her beliefs when they affect her own family, not about her daughter. But it is not fair game to use her daughter, or any of her kids, as pawns in a political argument. To my mind, this extends to using her daughter as evidence that abstinence-only education doesn't work: presumably, no one thinks that it works 100% of the time, and that's the only claim to which this one counterexample could possibly be relevant. (That's why God created large-scale studies.)

What a ridiculous double standard. Political stump speeches are all about colorful use of anecdote, not double-blind, peer-reviewed academic studies. So long as it's fair game for politicians to use little old ladies who must choose between cat food and medicine or people food and no medicine, it is fair game for us to reference their personal lives as a reason they should not be running anyone else's.

Google Chrome

"Old Condescension Under The Guise Of Environmentalism"

As if the environmental food elitist movement wasn't bad enough, now the holier-than-thou-ism is spreading to fashion. Kyle Eliason has much, much more in a great post on The 'Verse: Vanguard Fed Up with Fashion Stealing Proles.

As I've said before,

Economic progressives are not entitled to claim concern for the poor while at the same time making their lives significantly more difficult. Pick one.

Obama/Biden '08

On first pass, doesn't Obama/Biden look (and sound) an awful lot like Osama bin Laden?

Given the prior existence of the false email rumors, did any marketing people in the campaign consider this a problem? Or did the sheer appeal - dare I say, gravitas - of Biden override?

Nationalism As Nepotism

Madduckdes rightly describes the nationalist sentiment behind "Buy American" as ugly nepotism:

Your whole analogy was about helping your closer brothers rather than your more distanct cousins. It doesn't matter that you weren't talking about a blood relationship with the farmers in question. If I hire my little brother simply because he's my little brother and not because he is awesomer than the other candidates - and if lots of people do the same thing - that becomes a societal problem. It is still a societal problem if I hire only Seattleites but not qualified applicants from Portland. (Portlanders?) Or if I only hire people from the west coast but discriminate against applicants from Boston. The decision about who to hire should be based on merit, not based on who we feel coziest with or who lives closest.

The Worst Sort Of Elitism

Steve Horwitz has some powerful things to say to Wal-Mart's critics:

Let me also suggest that my colleagues and students here at SLU who find Wal-Mart to be so troublesome may well be trapped in the very same “SLU Bubble” of complacency and elitism that they imagine themselves to be breaking out of....It's easy for us as the well-off minority to worry about protecting that “small-town” feel, or being concerned with every little bit of environmental impact or the aesthetics of big-box retailers (or just how much they offer in benefits). But to allow the concerns that wealth can afford to overshadow the real basic needs of the rest of our community is to live in a bubble, and it comes across to our fellow citizens as the worst sort of elitism.

The same sentiments could be said of much of the organic and "eat local" movements as well. Economic progressives are not entitled to claim concern for the poor while at the same time making their lives significantly more difficult. Pick one.

That IOZ Certainly Has A Way With Words

On the one hand, I know that Francis Fukuyama's "end of history" had something to do with Hegel or some shit, and it wasn't supposed to signify the literal conclusion of the accumulation of events or the cessation of the forward movement of time as perceived by human consciousness, but nonetheless I axe you: was ever so infelicitous a phrase so woefully misapplied? I mean, the guy got Hegel as interpreted by Strauss by way of that gloriously reactionary faggot, Allan Bloom, which is really the intellectual equivalent of putting a Cum Dump sign outside of one's private room at the bathhouse. You're certain to catch something, and whatever it is, it's not going to be good. Liberal Democracy has triumphed! Except where it hasn't! And when it hasn't! And it may decline again! But it's still triumphed! Also, something about genetic engineering.

Read the whole thing. Also, every other IOZ post contains a Lebowski reference, which is appreciated.


Protectionism And The National Security Argument

In a thread discussing food miles and the locavor movement, commenter Tracy W gives one of the best rebuttals I've ever seen to the national security argument for protectionism:

If you are dependent only on your local area, then you are very vulnerable to any supply disruptions in that area. If you can bring goods in from anywhere within 6000 miles, then if one of the areas within 6000 miles has a disruption another area within those 6000 miles can pick up the slack. Australia has been having a drought for the last few years which has massively reduced farm production, but there's no shortage of food in Australia because Australians can import food from the rest of the world.

If you want a little insurance, then go global, not local. Ships can be re-routed far faster than new crops can be grown if the locusts ate all this one.

International trade: like an Internet, which is a series of tubes.

Internet Meme Repository

My Very First /b/ Original Content Post

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, /b/?

And...straight to page 10.

"Failures of a system shouldn't be taken as evidence in its favor"

So writes Bob Murphy:

That's funny--it made me chuckle--but does everyone see that it proves my point? This is so typical when a libertarian calls for something to be privatized. People point to outrageous things that happen under State monopoly, as evidence of why the State needs the monopoly.

For example, Paulina Borsook ridiculed the idea of abolishing food safety inspectors, and her argument was that people in fast food restaurants had gotten sick the month before she wrote her op ed. See? The government needs to protect us from bad food, because people got sick under the government's protection.

Popper's Universalist Vision

I'm usually not a huge fan of Karl Popper, if only because far too many libertarians continue to subscribe to his outdated philosophy of science, but this I like:

Popper regarded the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire as an unmitigated disaster and held nationalism, especially German nationalism, responsible. His response to the predicament of the Jewish liberal and progressive syntheses of German nationalism and cosmopolitanism was to reject both German and Jewish nationalism in favour of uncompromising cosmopolitanism. This was an extremely rare response. It required an individual to give up both Jewish and German identity. Such radicalism left Popper a permanent exile, a citizen only in an imaginary Republic of Science. He freed progressivism from ambivalence about nationalism ... but still inherited progressive dilemmas. He was just as impatient, as they had been with multinational diversity. As an anti-nationalist, he defended diversity in the strongest terms, but it existed almost by default, a result of humanity's failure to realise cosmopolitanism fully. Discounting all national, ethnic and religious identity as culturally primitive and politically reactionary, Popper posited a universalist vision of the scientific community and the Open Society where none of them counted.

~p. 53 of Karl Popper: The formative years

via Catallaxy Files

Cowardice and Prudence

Bob Murphy criticizes a parent's reaction to a child in peril. It certainly seems like an odd reaction for a parent to have, but not being a parent and never having had to rescue someone from an animal attack leads me to a more cautious response and an attempt at understanding:

Maybe animal attacks bring out something primal in us, and by our nature we are pussies* in the face of monstrous beasts. It's not like we got to where we are as a species today through macho posturing and heroic rescues. We got to where we are by being smarter than the competition, and selfish.

Just going by the story as presented by Bob, I don't think we necessarily even have enough information to go on to judge these people. If the kid was already far enough gone, and the threat severe enough, it would be reckless - not courageous - to do much more than throw branches and stones from a distance.

* After reflecting back on this comment, I regret my word choice. "Pussies" brings gender into the equation, and it's precisely this sort of macho posturing that I'm questioning.

Ironically, I will now be accused of wimpiness in the face of political correctness for recognizing my mistake and correcting it.

Achilles in the Trench

It sometimes seems like our species hasn't learned much in three thousand years.