Monday, June 13

See, This Is Why I Never Took Poly-Sci 102

George Eff Will, "Government by the 'experts' ". June 10

“The legislative cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands. . . . The power of the legislative, being derived from the people . . . [is] only to make laws, and not to make legislators.

— John Locke

Second Treatise of Government

Italics and quotation marks, for both the quote and the (short) book-length work it's taken from? And the title placed a couple lines below the emboldened author, which manages to catch on the Comments and Twitterings sidebar and so wind up in an adjacent Congressional district? (Hell, it bothered me so much I checked it on three different browsers.) Does anyone even bother to look anymore? Ladies and Gents, I give you typography by the 'experts'. If you have to quote John Fucking Locke to begin an Op-Ed piece, at least have the courtesy to make it look like someone with a college education did the editing.

Or at least that someone did.

Okay, step two: is there any chance that within a couple more generations, assuming the Republic survives and still has the great-grandchildren of Anti-Fluoridationism running around loose, that "conservatives" will begin to produce intellectual arguments that are intellectual arguments? Which quote someone to make a point they proceed to expound on, and not the way a Southern baptist elder quotes Scripture? If someone'll tell me that, in 2087, David Brooks IV, or, hell, Zombie David Brooks, bedecked in whatever the Flash Gordon version of the Dialectical Bowtie is, quotes Edmund Burke like he's quoting some entertaining 18th century Tory, not like he's resolving every issue ever raised, I might decide to stick around.

Locke, well, Locke's okay, assuming you're the sort of person who enjoys reading the Declaration of Independence over and over again. But Eff Will doesn't quote him because Locke said just the thing to start a column off with--in fact, someone might have pointed out that if you're going to disparage expertise the Argument from Authority is not the way to go about it--but for the cachet. If John Locke said something which can be molded to a partisan political position of mine today, then the entire philosophical foundation of the Republic is on my side.


Is this not American Paleoconservatism in its appropriate container, the nutshell? I've been wondering about this stuff since I was old enough to watch Firing Line. Does it pay too much deference to the Highly Churched to permit them to insist on inerrant scriptural authority for their every utterance, on the grounds that their personal theological assurance suggests they must not know any better? Because they do. George Will doesn't believe the Washington Nationals should be managed by the first twenty-five names in the phone book. William Fuhbuckley didn't denounce the Harvard faculty because of some epistemological problem he had with expertise. He denounced it because it was The Other Side. He denounced it because the vast majority of 20th century academicians and intellectuals were not Catholic fascists with a yearning for the glory days of the British Empire, and considered Marx one of the towering intellects of the 19th century and not Satan's Own Procurer.
Here, however, is a paradox of sovereignty: The sovereign people, possessing the right to be governed as they choose, might find the exercise of that right tiresome and so might choose to be governed in perpetuity by a despot they cannot subsequently remove. Congress did something like that in passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare.

The point of PPACA is cost containment. This supposedly depends on the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB, which is a perfect expression of the progressive mind, is to be composed of 15 presidential appointees empowered to reduce Medicare spending — which is 13 percent of federal spending — to certain stipulated targets. IPAB is to do this by making “proposals” or “recommendations” to limit costs by limiting reimbursements to doctors. This, inevitably, will limit available treatments — and access to care when physicians leave the Medicare system.

Lemme ask you, Reader: do you remember voting for the CIA? The Air Force? Or any of their 'expert' procurers who brought you the Atomic-powered bomber, F-15 cost overruns precisely equal to the amount McDonnell Douglas lowered its bid in order to get the contract in the first place, techno-gimmicked "Stealth" bombers with no mission beyond NASCAR flyovers, South American Death Squads, Extraordinary Renditions, and a few uncounted billions gone missing in Iraq and elsewhere?

Neither do I.

And don't tell me the whole Defense Scam isn't a convenient tyranny we're stuck with in perpetuity. The difference here being that there's no mandate for cost cutting, now or ever. Your Congressman doesn't know anything about Defense; maybe if he's one of six or seven recognized Congressional experts--which means he was a fighter jock or lost an arm, a definition of expertise equal to turning over the Entertainment business to Metallica's roadies--he doesn't even read this shit. He rubber-stamps what the Pentagon asks for, because that's how We Remain Free, and then he closes his eyes to all those black-budget entries.

Although I'm sure now that I mention it the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute will be filing suit this week.
That principle may cause courts to dismiss the challenge by the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute to Congress’s delegation of its powers, because courts may say that Congress can just change its mind. Hence the court may spurn the institute’s argument on behalf of two Arizona congressmen, Jeff Flake and Trent Franks, that the entrenchment of the IPAB seriously burdens the legislators’ First Amendment rights.

This, mind you now, from the party which opposes Judicial Activism.

Can't we do anything about this? I don't mean about George Eff Will, whose very career celebrates the resourcefulness of the petty criminal. I mean, is there no expectation whatsoever that someone, anyone, in the "conservative" "movement" will say, out loud and in public, that maybe a flashing rate of cognitive dissonance that would give a barnstorming stunt pilot vertigo is not best for party or country? Lord knows it's not for lack of opportunity.

By the way: in Locke's time there was almost nothing we would recognize as medical training; knowing what phase of the moon various medicinal plants were to be harvested under competed with Which End of the Saw Goes Down for the student's attention. There was no germ theory of disease, and nothing resembling Public Health, to which government meddling in the name of "expertise" uncounted millions of Americans owe their lives today. When Jefferson borrowed the Declaration from Locke he was behaving as an educated man of his time in tune with his time. Suggesting that either they, or the other Framers, were mere peddlers of simple philosophic notions or quibblers over form is pure bunkum. Is it really too much to ask that we be led by modern men, not poseurs in virtual knee breeches?


mb said...

Riley, once again, having used up most of the available words, you leave me speechless with admiration. Bravo.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Lemme ask you, Reader: do you remember voting for the CIA?

I remember choosing between Hillary and Barack back in 2008, so I guess I must say yes.

Kathy said...

Water was shooting Monday into farmland

A sentence from APs report of yet more Mississippi eve's breaking.

How can one trust the info in the rest of the article after reading that sentence?

Kathy said...

Mississippi Levee's. Well, at least my error was a typo.

Rob said...

yeah, mb, he's the best. It's kinda frightening sometimes.

whetstone said...

If one of you will run as a Tea Party candidate on the platform of privatizing fluoridization, I'll chip in fifty bucks.

Anonymous said...

On the radio tonight they're talking about angels, we see them as showers of sparks like when a low rider goes down the highway. Orange and red sparks are the colors of the archangel Michael, and if you're going through changes Michael has your back.

Point is, Riley (you hoosier), what is the point? Have we already lost? Have you seen the sparks of angels low riding down the highway? Are you even looking? What colors are you seeing? And really, Michelle Bachman? Would you?

jackd said...

The line from Locke, and probably the typography to boot, is just what drifted up from the Quote Boy's desk in the basement. Pay it no mind.

FWill's essay leaves me with one question. Have conservative pundits always been this transparently partisan?

James Stripes said...

In addition to lacking formatting, punctuation, and proof reading skills, the general practice of hyper-conservatives these days emphasizes "scholarship" in order to adorn, rather than inform. Even worse, the quotes deployed rarely come from the quoter's reading. Rather he or she Google's "John Locke on freedom," or small government, or government-run health care, or .... This search leads to online quote mills where half the quotes are spurious--mistyped, modernized, misattributed--and a significant number of the rest are outright forgeries. Frequently the quest for something they wanted the Founders to have said will lead to something that originates with President Ford or one of President Reagan's propagandists. It must be so, because NO ONE in the eighteenth century ever said what today's reactionaries wanted them to have said. By today's standards of American politics, John Adams is a leftist Democrat. I don't need to tell your readers where that places Thomas Jefferson.

Big Jim Slade said...

Hey, cmon, G Eff Will just likes legislation done the way Locke would've approved - letting representatives from large corporations donate to their favored legislators, then write the legislation for them, too. Then pat them on the head and say, "good doggy."