Today’s utes

Kids today, they suck at moral reasoning.  I know this because David Brooks told me so.  He read a book by some Domers about it.  He takes this as his starting point.  He then concludes:

In most times and in most places, the group was seen to be the essential moral unit. A shared religion defined rules and practices. Cultures structured people’s imaginations and imposed moral disciplines. But now more people are led to assume that the free-floating individual is the essential moral unit. Morality was once revealed, inherited and shared, but now it’s thought of as something that emerges in the privacy of your own heart.

Way back, "cultures shaped people's imaginations and imposed moral disciplines" but now, "people are led to assume that the "free-floating individual is the essential moral unit."  Sorry for retyping those two sentences, but together they sound kind of funny.  On the one hand culture has no more moral force, but, on the other, in a masterwork of passive voice construction, people are "led to assume" stuff about morality.  By whom? I wonder.  Since we're talking about free-floating individual units, I imagine that Brooks is talking about Kant, or maybe John Rawls, whose views must have percolated down into the brains of the young ones these days.  Whatever is doing the assumption leading, after all, it's not culture.

It's silly.  The whole thing is even sillier.  Better just to read this blog: Shut up David Brooks.    

Tax code

There is probably an explanation for this, but this is one of those sentences that makes one giggle.  From NPR:

"If Google paid taxes at the full 35 percent rate on all of its profits, it would lose almost a quarter of its total profits," Bloomberg reporter Jesse Drucker tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.

35 percent is the new 25 percent.

The sleep of the just

Over at Fox News, Chris Wallace is complaining about liberal bias.  He does so in a way that reminds one of Steve Colbert's allegation that "reality has a well-known liberal bias."  Here's how Talking Points Memo reports it:

Chris Wallace appeared on Friday's Fox and Friends and assailed NBC's Brian Williams over his question to Rick Perry about whether he ever struggled to sleep at night over the potential innocence of one of his many executed inmates, calling it an example of a "liberal bias."

"Would you ask a liberal politician about sleeping at night if they favored abortion or choice? " Wallace argued. "It is so built into the drinking water, if you will, in some of these liberal outlets that they don't even understand it happens."

To be fair, Wallace was merely agreeing with the even more clownish Bernie Goldberg on the idea of persistent liberal bias in the media; and the video at the link makes this claim even more obviously silly.  The difference, in case you don't just grasp it out of hand, concerned whether Perry worried about the actual non-guitiness of anyone convicted of the death penalty in his death-penalty granting state.  Up or down innocence of an actual convicted criminal can be determined in a rather different manner than whether the fetus has moral personhood.  While the latter might be a true or false question, one must at least admit that it is not super obvious how one might determine that–i.e., in a way strictly analogous to whether someone committed a crime.

Had, of course, Williams asked Perry about whether the death penalty was just, that would have been different.  But he didn't.

That’s what he said

It's the tenth anniversary of the atrocity of September 11 (I like this way of describing it).  Nothing to add, except that Paul Krugman's sentiment seems (partially) right to me:

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

Sure, they're just pundits.  Here is Krugman's colleague Thomas Friedman (again, sorry to those who had mercifully forgotten these lines) on the relation between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq:

I think it [the invasion of Iraq] was unquestionably worth doing, Charlie.

We needed to go over there, basically, um, and um, uh, take out a very big stick right in the heart of that world and burst that bubble, and there was only one way to do it.

What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, "Which part of this sentence don't you understand?"

You don't think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we're just gonna let it grow?

Well Suck. On. This.


That Charlie was what this war was about. We could've hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. We coulda hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could. That's the real truth.

Suck.On.This.  Indeed.  Now we are all sucking on it.

Killin’ (clap, clap)

I'm still recovering from the Republican debates this Wednesday.  Another post tomorrow on them.  But a question about how to interpret the response from the audience when Rick Perry mentions his record in Texas on capital punishment.  See the video HERE

Brian WIlliams calls him on it.  To the effect: aren't you playing to the ghouls?   Perry's justification is that:

Americans understand justice. Americans are clearly, in the vast majority of cases, supportive of capital punishment. When you have committed heinous crimes against our citizens, and it is a state-by-state issue, but in the state of Texas our citizens have made that decision, and they made it clear:  they don't want you to commit those crimes against our citizens.  And if you do, you will face the ultimate justice. 

#1: That's no way to justify the policy.  #2: Nor is it any way to justify the response.  #3:  Unless those folks are people bussed in from Texas, they aren't representative of Texans (the debates were held in California).  The most that means is that the policy and the audience's response is justified, because the people of my state think that the policy is justified.  You know what I want? I want people clapping whenever I say something, too!  I expect it in the comments.  That is, unless you don't understand logic.

Let’s pretend you don’t know who I am

Cal Thomas has made the astute observation that Washington suffers from political logjam with budget issues.  What's worse is that partisan bickering has made it so that no one in one party trusts what the other party would propose to solve the problem.

The problem with so much of Washington today is that no Democrat will accept a good idea if it comes from a Republican and, conversely, Republicans will reject any good idea that comes from Democrats.

Okay. That sounds about accurate, but it's usually because they for the most part know what sorts of things the other side will propose.  But let's give him that.  So what's Thomas's plan?  To propose the following exercise:  report about a bold new plan to fix the budget crisis, but keep the author anonymous until we think hard about the plan.

So here's a plan whose author shall remain anonymous until the end of this column in hopes you will read on.

Excellent!  I love party games.  This time around, I'll listen to the plan and then weigh its worth based on the merits of what is contained in the plan.  Not on the basis of who proposes it.  That's, like, unique.  Okay. Let's hear the plan.

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, this author contends, "consumes 43 percent of today's federal spending." Most people might agree there is ample evidence the federal government is bloated, overextended and not living within its constitutional bounds, which has caused its dysfunction.

Elevators have weight limits. Put too many people on one and it might not run. The federal government has no "weight limits." Increasing numbers of us worry America may be overweight and in decline. We are mired in debt and government seems incapable of telling anyone "no" or "do for yourself" for fear of a backlash from entitlement addicts.

Oh my goodness.  Not knowing beforehand that the author of this plan is a rich, well-fed Republican makes me ever so much more sick to hear it.  And so, before I got to the bottom of Thomas's column, I tried to make a few guesses about who the author was.  Who'd slash 'entitlement spending,'  not have anything about tax revenue beyond proposing the flat tax, encourage self-sufficiency and not mention anything about safety nets for those who need help, and propose reducing the size of government?   Okay… here were my first three:

Cato Institute

Hoover Foundation


Cal Thomas himself

Make your predictions in the comments.  A hint:  I was wrong.

Can’t tell if trolling

Via the whole of the internet, here is the worst analogy in a long time:

Why are left-wing activist groups so keen on registering the poor to vote?

Because they know the poor can be counted on to vote themselves more benefits by electing redistributionist politicians. Welfare recipients are particularly open to demagoguery and bribery.

Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country — which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.

Can't tell if trolling or if just profoundly evil.

Happy Labor Day.