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December 03, 2007


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Today's Tom Tomorrow is also very nice:


Various lefty blogs have designated this the Sex On The City scandal.

Any more field reports from NH? I was in Keene again Saturday -- a lot more yard signs up, canvassees more engages but still heavily undecided.

Ha! That was beautiful! I particularly like the "WTF" cut-away.

Still gonna vote for 'im, though.

You're insane. Likeable, but quite simply insane. Seriously, Bernard. Go vote for Huckabee, please, but not a known liar with no analytic ability and a penchant for populism.

Or explain to me why it is not simply insane for you to support that man for president of the United States. Yes, that's a low bar.

Noel, it may be insane nationally, but by Texas standards, Bernard is now a liberal Republican.

(Yes, that's a low bar. I think a requirement is believing the Earth goes around the sun, not the other way around. I'm not joking. Google Warren Chisum.)

I admit, I'm a little shocked that you're not a Paulista, Bernard.

Carlos, given Bernard's stated opinions on the relative unimportance of civil liberties in the face of any sort of violent threat, I don't follow your logic. Or are you simply shocked that Bernard still holds the opinions that he holds?

Nah. Since all the Republican candidates seem to think civil liberties are relatively unimportant -- I know there are nuances, but it's like the difference between -25 F and -35 F -- that can't be the deciding factor. So I'd expect Bernard to go for the guy with a principled (if wingnut) stance on money and property rights.

Giuliani, I could see cheerfully expropriating pretty much anything for no other reason than because he had a wild hair up his skirt at the time. Paul, he's almost like Gromyko: Nyet. Nyet. Nyet.

Really, I think it's part of Bernard's evolution to becoming a Hillary supporter. There are ominous parallels.

Giuliani is like Gromyko?

Pardon me while I go, huh?

I've always thought of Giuliani as the hybrid lovechild of a feminized clone of Mussolini (Fascist Science!) and the despondent Hermann Goering, consummated during the wee hours of September 15, 1943.

Uh, the timing would be right.

Carlos: I see what you mean, but there are two problems.

The first is that Ron Paul actually doesn't seem to think that civil liberties are unimportant. Seriously. He's not 25 below, but practically at 110 above.

The second is that I have seen no signs that Bernard holds a principled opinion about property rights. He seems totally instrumental. (Viz tax postponements.) From an instrumental perspective, Giuliani is the most likely to maintain Bernard's tax postponements, and he is unlikely to negatively impact /Bernard's/ other property rights.

I think you're wrong on this, my friend, which holds out the disturbing implication that you may also be wrong to predict that Bernard is moving towards sanity.

NYCHSMT: No, no, /Paul? is like Gromyko. All clear now?

Noel, Paul doesn't believe in a lot of civil rights and liberties, because he subscribes to a variety of wingnut constitutionalism. For example, he doesn't believe in birthright citizenship. That's "goodbye, mofo" in my book.

He is _morally_ opposed to torture and the death penalty (but also abortion -- see above), which is a step up from the rest of those losers. But mainly, he's an anti-Federal-powers candidate.

Since he's from Texas, which has possibly the most abusive state and local government with regards to the rights of its citizens in the nation, if he _is_ truly concerned about civil liberties, I find his actions a little peculiar.

Careful ... you're changing the grounds of the argument. We are discussing the merits of your expectation that Bernard should support Ron Paul, not the merits of Ron Paul.

Ron Paul voted against the Patriot Act and supports closing Gitmo. These are touchstone positions, regardless of the logic by which he arrived at them. These are also very different from the rest of the GOP field. (John McCain is a partial exception.)

We can't make those differences go away by pointing out that he doesn't believe in the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment.

You can not like the guy because he misreads the Fourteenth Amendment, of course. I don't. Hell, I don't like him for lots of other reasons, too, all of which we both share.

But our mutual dislike of the man doesn't change two important facts:

(1) Ron Paul is strikingly different from the rest of the GOP field on civil liberties;

(2) Ron Paul is strikingly different from the rest of the GOP field in a way that we know Bernard doesn't like.

Thus, you were wrong in expecting Bernard to support Ron Paul. And I suspect that you are also wrong in thinking that Bernard is making a journey towards a saner political position.

I would, of course, like to be wrong.

I would model it differently. (Sorry to depersonalize you, Bernard.)

The reason I am "a little shocked" -- not very, just a little -- that Bernard is not a Paulista does not have to do with the candidates' current stated positions, but with the risk I see in those candidates _changing_ their positions should they get elected to higher office. To put it roughly, most of the Republican candidates have high betas -- and I'd say Giuliani has the highest -- while Paul has perhaps the lowest.

After all, why vote for a flibbertigibbet who might install Hillarycare *just to say he could*, should the mood of the country swing that way, instead of someone you might disagree with on a few issues -- say, killing random strangers -- but whose positions are predictable and largely akin to your own?

I see Bernard's hypothetical evolution towards Hillary as a realization that Giuliani is extremely weak-willed compared to Ms. Rodham, while she's just as mean (or meaner). I'm not sure if this qualifies as a saner political position.

"You're insane. Likeable, but quite simply insane."

I'm touched. I'll refrain from the obvious Sally Field crack.

The two of you just go on with the discussion. I find this fascinating, and I always like seeing my name in print. "Will he support Hillary?" "Does he really believe in property rights?" "Would he grant citizenship to an aborted fetus?" I'm not sure how it will end, myself!

-Noel's onto something with the "he seems totally instrumental viz tax postponements" bit, I think.

-Then again, Carlos' point about Paul's views on "jus soli" is well taken; I am not really an essentialist, unless somebody has managed to bottle the essential moi. And that particular view of Paul's might impact me, besides.

-The "principled stance on money" thing is clearly just a red herring. I think I've made my opinion on goldbugs known before. _All_ money is fiat money.

Not the entire story, but I'll take a page from J.J. Abrams and leave the rest of it wide open for as long as possible. Why spoil the show?

I see your point, but "shocked" was a bad word choice.

With a similar apology to Bernard for talking about him in the third person, I think you're underestimating how afraid he actually is. Everything he's ever written on the issue of "security" shows a man who seems to live in paralyzing fear of politically-motivated violence. (I doubt that he does, but that's the "insane" part.) Killing random strangers whom hold a higher-than-zero chance of killing him, therefore, is a very high political priority.

Or perhaps there is some actual reason for him to support Giuliani.

(BTW, I'd have to say that Romney has the highest beta. Giuliani can be machoed into stubbornness, and often seems to believe his own bullshit. Neither applies to Romney; thus, he has a higher chance of switching course once in office.)

"I see Bernard's hypothetical evolution towards Hillary as a realization that Giuliani is extremely weak-willed compared to Ms. Rodham, while she's just as mean (or meaner)."

I like this one! Truth be told, I think I'd vote for her over Ron.

I also like the "beta" analogy. But isn't a successful small-d democratic politician's job to model the market? With regards to politics, I don't think anybody is really seeking alpha. They might claim otherwise, but everybody balks when they are told _their_ pet beliefs are wrong. Then suddenly "leadership" = "intransigent jerk".

"Killing random strangers whom hold a higher-than-zero chance of killing him, therefore, is a very high political priority."

Hmmn. Non-zero can be an _awfully_ low number, Noel. That looks sub-optimal to me. And "random" is a term of art. Your usage here implies that we know nothing about the distribution of p(X is willing to kill Bernard for reasons religious, political or economic) despite a number of apparently correlated observables. Though I'll grant you that I could walk out of the office tonight and get run over by some loon having a bad hair day. Anything is possible.

"But isn't a successful small-d democratic politician's job to model the market? With regards to politics, I don't think anybody is really seeking alpha. They might claim otherwise, but everybody balks when they are told _their_ pet beliefs are wrong."

Well, I am used to stubborn. What's a few balks? This may be why Wisconsin votes in so many PITAs. Thank God the motherland doesn't need a diplomatic corps.

Some comments have been deleted due to the realization that my opinions on certain topics have become tinged with contempt.


You gusy are fascinating to watch and, gosh darn[1], I am so glad I am not being analyzed on said level.


Actually, Will, the real problem is that only one out of the threesome seems to be subjected to an analysis. In a perfect world [1], they'd all be.

I'm sort of wondering why Bernard decided to adopt a defensive posture instead of drafting his own psychopatological review regarding the politics and viewpoints of the other two.

Perpetuating the lack of discourse is not the right way to go. When you're being analyzed, analyze back.


J. J.

[1] I was going to write "perfect America", but the fundamental issues here are really universal.


To the contrary. An attempt to "analyze back" would be, in essence, defensive and unhelpful.

Being in a somewhat privileged position vis-a-vis this conversation as the only one who actually has the slightest idea what I'm thinking, this instead takes on the air of an experiment, from which I might draw useful observations.

I thought I was analyzing Giuliani and Paul?

Anyway, I claim no privileged insight into the inner workings of Bernard. I have a bunch of theories of mind, and I know none of them are very explanatory (though they're very good at predicting crazy people's behavior).

Actually, I think Bernard and I are probably closer in terms of William James-style pragmatism, while Noel has a more axiomatic approach.

It'd be a dull world if everyone thought the same way. Or terrifying.

William James' pragmatism. Hmmnn. Well, my paychecks for the last 6 years now are based ultimately on instrumentalism (not to use the dirty words "data mining"), so I suppose this makes sense.

Ok: How does pragmatism manage to encompass two guys as different as Milton Friedman and Richard Rorty? Discuss. I'll be back after I finish rereading "The Metaphysical Club" and rooting for FRE to end the day up.


Possibly, yes. However, as a, uh - innocent, uh huh, yeah, that's it - bystander, I'd have to say that all three ought to be tagged, bagged, and put on display for the rest of us. Their political positions, and comments on OTHERS positions, are fascinating. I'm wondering if I am seeing type specimens here.

Completely OT, but your girl will soon be back in charge of Ukraine. You should strongly encourage the Finnish gov to invite the newly reminted PM to visit. Just a warning though, Ukrainian women are ... exciting to deal with for every possible overloading of that term. YT will be an amped version of that. Good luck! ;)

? Will, my political positions are both dull and fairly common. I don't believe in anything particularly exotic, and I don't use exotic methods to get there. They haven't changed much since before my teens, and frankly, they're boring.

Well, I guess if you believe that every politician is an evil, venal liar who wants nothing more than power and fame, you can't do better than voting for one that will at least be honest about it.

I, for one, commend Bernard on his clarity of philosophy.

Who said anything about evil? :^)

Will, I have the experience.

Not that I actually believe in national or gender stereotypes myself, but surprisingly many East European women seem to do so. And when dealing with them, what _they_ believe is obviously more important than my own questionable views of reality.


J. J.

"Will, I have the experience."


"Not that I actually believe in national or gender stereotypes myself"

I didn't used to. My experience with the xUSSRites has had me reevaluate that some.

"And when dealing with them, what _they_ believe is obviously more important than my own questionable views of reality."


*wipes tears*



ok. That was a mistake reading this blog with my office door open. People looked in to see why I was laughing so loud.

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