The Commenters of Unfogged: Richard Posner

The Commenters: Richard Posner: “Let’s not go overboard in our actual assessments of the man. His academic work as a champion of law and economics was extremely problematic, and his work as a practicing judge tends to suffer from a continuing assumption that he’s sufficiently smarter than everyone else (including Congress, the Supreme Court, agencies, district courts, and the parties in front of him) that he doesn’t need to listen to what they say. That said, if he would like respected center-left commentators to praise him for intellectual independence, integrity, and principled disagreement with judicial movement conservatism, I think it’s a fair deal for this and the same-sex marriage thing. He’s probably old enough that he has to be thinking about what his obituaries will say, after all….

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Could Somebody Please Teach Freddie de Boer to Read?

Once upon a time I left a comment on Freddie de Boer’s website after ]he had trashed Jonathan Chait](http://fredrikdeboer.com/2014/09/17/youll-never-get-that-window-open-say-men-nailing-it-shut/) for… what, exactly? Since there were no quotes of things that Jonathan Chait had written that de Boer thought were in any way erroneous, it was kinda hard to tell—what is clear is that he doesn’t like incrementalists, doesn’t like people who count, and doesn’t understand that Goldwater’s campaign was a disaster for the right because by temporarily destroying right-wing congressional power it gave Johnson the opportunity to create his Great Society programs.

My comment:

Optimism of the will is fine when attached either to optimism or pessimism of the the intellect. But optimism of the will combined with denial of the intellect is not a terribly effective rhetorical pose. You do realize that your arguments would be stronger if you had, like, actual quotes from Jonathan Chait saying things you think are wrong? And, like, actual explanations of why you think what Chait writes is wrong? Joining Tom Frank, Sally Quinn, and company in their War on Ezra Klein and Nate Silver really looks like a career-limiting move to me…

And now Freddie de Boer says:

[Ezra] Klein has always been one of those interesting media figures, at once a weather vane and the weather. Brad Delong once showed up in my comments to tell me that criticizing Klein is “career-limiting.” That amounts to essentially proving every criticism I’ve ever made about the media.

To which my response is: It’s not criticizing Ezra Klein, Nate Silver, and company that is career-limiting. It is criticizing them in the way that Tom Frank and Sally Quinn do that is career-limiting. Why is it career-limiting? Because it makes your readers think (with good reason) that you are stupid.

Learn to read, Freddie!

The Fog of Unreason: National Review Online

Matthew J. Franck: Marriage, Dred Scott, and the Fog of Unreason: “I referred to the trend of same-sex marriage rulings…

…now unfortunately sanctioned-by-omission by the Supreme Court, as a ‘slow-motion Dred Scott.’… No one who knows anything about constitutional law or the Dred Scott case had any real criticism…. Dred Scott is the paradigm case of judicial ‘statesmanship’ turned bad…. Did I therefore mean to say that same-sex marriage is the moral equivalent of slavery? Only someone who would struggle to earn a D in a basic logic course would draw that conclusion. I do indeed think state recognition of same-sex marriage is morally objectionable…. The fraudulent doctrine of substantive due process… is widely understood to have made its first appearance in Dred Scott…. I could have compared the marriage rulings to Lochner…. Would people infer that I thought same-sex marriage is the moral equivalent of ‘progressive’ interferences with the terms of employment arrangements in bakeries?… Or I could have compared today’s cases to Griswold…. Then people could have complained that I thought same-sex marriage is ‘just as bad as’… married men and women using condoms.  I can feel the waves of loathing…


Ah. Brian Leiter (“Manny Kant”) Sockpuppets Unfogged

Unf (May 2003): Unfogged: Philosomophy: “I defer to Ogged on all things philosophical…

…but I’m curious to hear what he thinks about this “ill tempered rant.” Personally, I found it hilarious in its idiocy. Leiter’s criticism of the Straussians (about whom I have no particular feelings, other than a certain maroon-tinged tribal loyalty) seems to boil down to, “the Straussians are not serious political philosophers because they are not considered as such by philosophers.” This, he says, should have been pointed out in a recent NYT article about how Straussians more or less dominate the current Administration. I’m sure Leiter’s is one good way to judge the worth of a school of philosophy. But this is the only valid way? It seems to me that one way to judge the importance of a school of political philosophy might be to judge (and you’ll just have to pardon my inherent pragmatism here) how successful said school has been in getting its ideas heard in government. And by that measure, the Straussians seem not at all like mere ideological hacks.

"Manny Kant": Unfogged: Comment on Philosomophy “Surfing the web, and found you guys. Are you for real?…

…I think you need to learn to read. I thought Leiter’s criticism was that Strauss is a lousy scholar, which explains why no one takes him seriously outside the “coterie.” Burnyeat makes that case, and Leiter invoked him and quoted him. Either rebut Burnyeat or be quiet.

Now you can go back to your navel gazing.

BAA: “Invoking Miles Burnyeat falls short of transcendental deduction, no?…

…Leiter, for whose Gourmet report I have much respect, is blustering. (and yes, I have read Burnyeat, and no, he does not provide a conclusive dismissal of Strauss).

Ogged: “I don’t know, Manny, if you’re criticizing Unf’s point…

…that Leiter’s contention is that “the Straussians are not serious political philosophers because they are not considered as such by philosophers,” or my later post about Leiter’s dismissiveness. That said, I agree that Leiter’s criticism is that Strauss is a lousy scholar and he certainly invokes Burnyeat, but Leiter doesn’t make or quote any arguments (BAA is exactly right on this). My reaction to Leiter is based not on my sympathy for Strauss, but on seeing a philosopher as influential as Leiter utterly abandon philosophical discourse in favor of characterizing disagreement with him as “pathology.”

Intellectual Garbage Cleanup: Politico

Balloon Juice: Sorry You Idiots Misunderstood: “Politico has edited the column that blamed Obama for his own potential assassination:

Editor’s note: Some readers have misinterpreted the original last line of Kessler’s article as somehow suggesting that the president should be held responsible in the event of his own assassination. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and we’re sorry if anyone interpreted Kessler’s meaning in any other way.

You simpletons. How could you possibly have interpreted things that way!? Here’s the update:

Agents tell me it’s a miracle an assassination has not already occurred. In typical Washington fashion, nothing gets reformed until a disaster happens. If anything unites Republicans and Democrats, it is that nobody wants to see a tragedy: We all just want the Secret Service fixed.

Here is the original:

Agents tell me it’s a miracle an assassination has not already occurred. Sadly, given Obama’s colossal lack of management judgment, that calamity may be the only catalyst that will reform the Secret Service.

It’s a mystery how anyone could have thought the author was blaming Obama.

Looks to Me Like Steven Salaita Is a Liar…

Steven Salaita: Steven Salaita: U. of I. destroyed my career: “The intent of my tweet…

…that [Israeli] settlers [beyond the Green Line in the West Bank] should ‘go missing’ was a call for an end to the settlements, which the international community largely agrees are counterproductive to peace, not a call to violence.

Ben Carson: Josh Israel Does the Intellectual Garbage Collection

Josh Israel: Top Republican Presidential Candidate Says Anarchy May Force Cancellation Of 2016 Election: “Dr. Ben Carson, a popular Tea Party activist…

…and Fox News contributor who says he will likely seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016, said on Sunday that he is seriously concerned that there will not be 2016 elections in the United States because the country could be in anarchy by that point. His reasons: the growing national debt, ISIS, and the U.S. Senate’s refusal to consider legislation passed by the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

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Steve Benen: Tom Cotton and the era of post-truth politics

Steve Benen: Tom Cotton and the era of post-truth politics: ” A couple of years ago, Mitt Romney developed a bad habit…

…As part of his national campaign, the Republican nominee would attack President Obama over some perceived failing. Then the attack would be fact-checked and be proven wrong. Romney, confronted with proof that he was lying, would repeat the claim anyway, convinced that it didn’t matter whether he told the truth or not. It happened over and over and over again. It underscored a dangerous development: the era of post-truth politics.

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Inappropriate Correspondence—To Say the Least!

It is a fact that on the Internet people post, e-mail, tweet, etc. from the center of their personal space—from the place where they are most secure and in which they expect the most deference from others—and that they do so instantaneously, without any of the time-based social mechanisms that allow people to think twice before they write something they really should not. If a gentleman (or a lady) is somebody who does not give offense unintentionally—who calibrates the tone of what they write to what is appropriate for the occasion given the substantive stakes and given the need for reciprocity and the stability of tit-for-tat—that it is remarkably hard work to be a gentleman (or a lady) on the internet.

However, the extreme data point for this has long been Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago. The saga continues:

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Mark Liberman Does the Intellectual Garbage Collection on Charles Krauthammer

Mark Liberman: Another casual lie from Charles Krauthammer: “‘Krauthammer: “Obama Clearly a Narcissist”…

"Lives In a Cocoon Surrounded By Sycophants", Fox News 9/16/2014:

This is all because, I mean, count the number of times he uses the word I in any speech, and compare that to any other president. Remember when he announced the killing of bin Laden? That speech I believe had 29 references to I – on my command, I ordered, as commander-in-chief, I was then told, I this. You’d think he’d pulled the trigger out there in Abbottabad. You know, this is a guy, you look at every one of his speeches, even the way he introduces high officials – I’d like to introduce my secretary of State. He once referred to ‘my intelligence community’. And in one speech, I no longer remember it, ‘my military’. For God’s sake, he talks like the emperor, Napoleon.

Since Krauthammer can’t be bothered to check on mere matters of fact, I found the transcript of President Obama’s speech about the death of Osama bin Laden, and checked the pronoun counts and rates. In fact, the speech contains 1396 words, of which 10 are ‘I’, for a rate of 0.7%. Perhaps Krauthammer was thinking of President Reagan’s Address to the Nation on Events in Lebanon and Grenada, which did have “29 references to I”—though the overall word count was higher, so that the rate was exactly the same, at 0.7%.

It’s a tribute to our nation’s culture that a man like Krauthammer, who so consistently expresses blatant quantitative falsehoods about national leaders, is not only out of jail but comfortably established as a commentator for a major media outlet…