This Tyler Cowen nonsense is a classic example of a conservative rhetorical technique that is particularly annoying. I’m not sure what to call it — the strawman tu quoque? It’s not quite the same thing as poetic justice as fairness. But it’s remarkable how proud conservative some commentators are of the idea that if you support some state regulations that a conservertarian doesn’t you must presumptively favor all state regulations, given how utterly asinine it is.
Cowen does, however, has to be given credit in a way for choosing an example that makes the silliness of his premise particularly obvious. Yes, indeed, many of the people appalled by Virginia’s reprehensible forthcoming abortion regulations favor other regulations that provide information to consumers. The “contradiction” is not terribly hard to understand if one thinks about it for a tenth of a second or so. On the one hand, the typical consumer regulation does not require consumers to pay substantial direct costs to undergo humiliating and invasive medical procedures without their consent. And on the other hand, the “information” provided to women by the regulation is worthless, since women are generally aware of what pregnancy entails. It’s not very complicated once you leave the Planet Strawman, on which liberals who favor any regulation must favor any other regulation, including those that entail substantial costs while providing no benefits. I’m hoping that Cowen’s twitter feed was hacked by an especially mean parodist…
Col. Mustard is very impressed with Pat Buchanan’s claims that he has been “censored” and “blacklisted” by liberals who “stigmatize as racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic any who contradict what George Orwell once called their ‘smelly little orthodoxies.’” Damn that radical leftist William F. Buckley, stigmatizing kindly old Pat Buchanan as an anti-Semite merely for saying anti-Semitic things.
Anyway, based on the new conservative orthodoxy that anyone who does not have the well-compensated media sinecure of their choosing is being “censored,” I would like to draw your attention to an even greater outrage. I have been systematically denied the right to make paid appearances on Fox News or to write op-eds for the Wall Street Journal. Without a hearing!!!!!!!! For that matter, I have also never had a paid job with MSNBC. When will someone stand up for my First Amendment rights against the politically correct censors of the right and left???????
Noted VERY SERIOUS POLITICAL WEBSITE (TM) Politico only employs the finest reporters. Take its political reporter Donovan Slack. In reporting on Obama’s visit to Wisconsin today, she determined to show Obama’s bias toward unions:
WH flies labor flag in Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE — It’s very clear what side President Obama is on here in Wisconsin.
Behind the stage where he will speak today are two flags: an American one, as usual, and right alongside it — and a flag for the local union, Wisconsin 1848.
What is the flag for Wisconsin Local 1848?
Yes, that’s right–the state flag of Wisconsin. Politico’s political reporter not only didn’t know what the state flag of Wisconsin looked like when she saw it on a stage, not only was she so determined to paint Obama as biased toward labor that she wrote a complete hack job, but she didn’t even realize that there’s no union called “Wisconsin.”
We have yet more comedy gold from the most useless website in the known universe. You will remember that Politifact’s “lie of the year” was given to Democratic arguments about Republican efforts to end Medicare that were, at a minimum, perfectly defensible. So how does it rate Marcio Rubio’s straightforwardly erroneous assertion that a majority of Americans are conservatives? Why, as “mostly true,” of course. Do they have data nobody else has access to? Nope; their argument is that a plurality is pretty much the same thing as a majority. Right.
So, to review, Democratic arguments that are consistent with the facts are “pants on fire” lies if they’re inconvenient to Republicans, while Republican statements that are straightforwardly factually wrong are actually true. Truly hacktacular.
Stop it, you’re killing me:
The federal courts are being reshaped by the Obama presidency, thanks to the disinclination of senate Republicans to block appointees.
If by “disinclination” you mean “more willing to block appointees than any Congress in history,” then yes.
Compounding the comedy, I also enjoyed McCarthy’s evidence for what radical judicial activists Obama’s appointees are: “I’m confident that the vast majority of Obama judges, maybe even all of them, would have no trouble holding that the HHS mandate (a) does not establish the Church of Obama as the state religion, and (b) being a neutral law of general application (i.e., it does not explicitly target religion in the text and applies to everyone equally), does not violate the First Amendment’s free-exercise clause.” Indeed they wouldn’t! Of course, at this point it seems worth noting that exactly the same thing would be true of judges that Republican Presidents would appoint. Oregon v. Smith, under which a free exercise claim against the regulation would be not merely certain to fail but frivolous, was written by known Trotskyite Antonin Scalia and joined by his comrade Chairman William Rehnquist. Although this is also beside the point — I think Smith was right, but I also think that the new regulation would easily satisfy the Sherbert test, not least because no individual’s rights are actually being burdened. Not only in the sense that very few Catholics adhere to the church’s doctrine on contraception, but because the mandate doesn’t actually require anybody to use contraception contrary to their religious beliefs. (If the argument is based an alleged subsidy, well, I’ll take that seriously as soon as Quakers are exempt from federal income tax because their tax dollars partially go to fund the military.)
It also seems worth noting that under McCarthy’s novel theory that neutral laws cannot in any way burden religious belief, Reynolds v. United States was clearly wrong. Jeez, and I thought it was same-sex marriage that was leading us on the slippery slope to legalized bigamy…
Shorter Tom Maguire: “If you arbitrarily define government programs that benefit you as not being part of the “safety net,” then people who complain about government spending while benefiting from government entitlements aren’t hypocrites.”
In a great catch by a commenter, we find Mr. Glenn Harlan Reynolds endorsing Megan McArdle’s “Obama caved to the Bishops!” post based on the original argument made in its title, which turned out to be based on a glaring factual error that renders her argument wrong on its face. It seems worth noting here that McArdle was writing more than 4 and Reynolds more than 7 hours after the details of the plan were first released, so unlike for those of us who wrote about it as the news was breaking it didn’t even require much effort to get the basic details of the plan right. Unless you get all of your news from a few PUMA dead-enders it was hard to miss the fact that both supporters and opponents of the new regulation believed that there was no substantive concession (let alone a “180.”)
But Reynolds doesn’t just stop with an endorsement of a post anyone who knew anything about the issue would know was based on an erroneous premise. No, he goes on to argue this imaginary “caving” proves that the Obama administration was “living in a bubble.” Right. Of course, in the real world Obama’s position is popular, including among Roman Catholics; it’s Romney, forced to pander to a minority of cultural reactionaries, whose position is extremely unpopular here. And anybody who finds this surprising must be living in a bubble.
I love the small update added to the extensive analysis (largely consisting of assumptions that feminists are total sellouts, because after all they just loved that recent Plan B decision) based on a transparently erroneous premise. Is Obama wrong because he caved and did a 180? Or is he wrong because he betrayed “Catholics” (McArdle’s odd description of “some Catholic leaders whose position on contraception for all intents and purposes hasn’t been followed by anybody in the laity since Pat Boone was popular”)? I dunno, but he’s wrong about something, and liberals must be hypocrites.
How does a guy like Skip Bayless keep working? Actually, I guess I know. He combines pugnacity with a complete lack of shame. I guess that makes good TV for a company like ESPN that has no interest in accountability or intelligence. In a related question, how does Stephen A. Smith also have a job?
Anyway, here’s one example of Bayless’ genius from 2001:
Two or three years from now you’ll look back and think: How could [Michael] Jordan have not taken DeSagana Diop No. 1? Diop is the one athletic freak in this draft. Diop is the only man alive age 18 or above with the potential to be better than Shaquille O’Neal.
Yeah, that’s definitely a question I’ve been asking for the past decade.
Whenever the courts strike down a law that discriminates against a group conservatives don’t like, every reactionary think and group blog must draw straws to see who gets to throw out the stale, transparently unprincipled cliches about judicial restraint. At the Heritage Foundation, the assignment apparently went to vote suppression guru Hans A. von Spakovsky, who delivers the goods:
As the Ninth Circuit writes, the question of how to define marriage “is currently a matter of great debate in our nation.” Unfortunately, instead of permitting that debate to occur through the political process, decisions like the one issued today remove the question from voters in favor of judicially imposed social policy.
Let’s leave aside the fact that judicial review is, in fact, a long-established part of the American political process. Given von Spakovsky’s deeply principled commitment to deferring to the judgment of legislators on contested constitutional questions, I wonder how he feels about the litigation attempting to get the signature policy achievement of the Obama administration ruled unconstitutional based on constitutional arguments nobody had thought of before 2010 (even when the same people were arguing for federal mandates to buy privatized annuities?) I think you know the answer!
Shorter Bobo: I find the “technocrats” in the Obama administration demoralizing because they don’t understand the core of any successful anti-poverty formula: unplanned pregnancies, and plenty of ‘em. And don’t kid yourself, there’s no way we can address poverty if Roman Catholic institutions employing civilians to perform secular work can’t engage in empty moralizing about contraception that hasn’t persuaded anybody since the Eisenhower administration. The causal logic may not seem obvious, but that’s because you’re some technocrat who doesn’t spend enough time at the Applebee’s salad bar.
Dan Foster, in the midst of taking an incoherent ride on the waambulance, is proud of a co-worker’s piece of anti-wisdom:
In the NROHQ kitchen just now, Charlie Cooke wondered aloud, and here I paraphrase: “Does anyone on the Left even ask the basic question of whether a private charitable organization has the right to dispose of its money as it sees fit?” But in fact, that anyone thinks there is a question here is a sign we’ve already lost.
The fact that nobody at the National Review seems to understand that Komen’s right to “dispose of its money as it sees fit” (which absolutely nobody denies) does not entail a right to be exempt from criticism — let alone a right to a permanent level of donations — is a sign that the National Review employs a lot of really dumb people.
…Simon Maloy has more.
…also unclear on this rather basic concept is the always hacktacular Jennifer Rubin. [via Jill.]