1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown November 14-20 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dear Internet:

Go buy this book.  I read it this week and it's how we're going to begin Tendown 52.

The new America, instead, is fast becoming a vast ghetto in which all of us, conservatives and progressives, are being bled dry by a relatively tiny oligarchy of extremely clever financial criminals and their castrato henchmen in government, whose main job is to be good actors on TV and put on a good show. This invisible hive of high-class thieves stays in business because when we're not completely distracted and exhausted by our work and entertainments, we prefer not to ponder the dilemma of why gasoline went over four dollars a gallon, why our pension funds just lost 20 percent of their value, or why when we do the right thing by saving money, we keep being punished by interest rates that hover near zero, while banks that have been the opposite of prudent get rewarded with free billions.

I do a lot of grading; I'll ballpark this - grading takes up roughly 137% of my week.  Students, say in Ethics will occasionally ask something like "does it matter what we believe for our grade - is there a right answer"?

Often - the right answer is the consistent answer.  Say there are moral facts.  Say there are no moral facts.  Don't say both.  Demonstrate consistency.

Does the right wing want debt reduction?  Is reducing the debt, the burden that future generations will carry, the most important thing that needs done - which certainly was the battle cry since Obama was elected (in contrast to the battle cry over the previous 8 years, but let's put that aside).    That was the rationale this week when Republicans stopped the extension of unemployment benefits by saying we can't fund everything.

But one can't consistently hold the position that cutting the debt is the top priority and simultaneously say we need to extend the Bush tax cuts.

You can't hold both positions simultaneously.  You gotta pick.  Even if you take as an element of your faith, despite all of the years of counter-evidence, that handing money to the wealthy is going to have a stimulative effect that will juice the economy (not nearly as great, obviously, as unemployment benefits have.  Or food stamps.  But again, I digress) you can't hold the position that what it will do is reduce the deficit.  Incidentally, the archetype of the serious minded, principled conservative is to tsk/tsk at the concept of the "nanny state", that we grow weaker when we depend on government to do for us.  Let me suggest that all conservatives do is replace the teat; the right wing is constantly saying "give money to the wealthy and let them take care of you" - it's 30 years waiting for wealth to trickle down - and every year the gap between those wealthy and everyone else grows wider and wider - and somehow, despite this, conservatives remain able to get away with the tax cuts for the wealthy will create jobs canard.

You can't simultaneously wave your copy of the constitution, saying we need to get back to the principles of the founding fathers - while saying terrorism suspects don't deserve due process, or that Bush's admission of ordering torture should be celebrated. You're not against big government if you were for the Patriot Act.  I welcome the right wing criticism of the intrusive TSA patdown procedure this week; anytime they want to condemn warrantless wiretapping of Americans or the President claiming the ability to order the execution of US citizens without judicial oversight, they are welcome to join the cause.  Sure, when civil libertarians have been criticizing big government as overreaching in the war on terror for the past 8 years, the right called it treason - but when there's a Democrat in the White House and people are getting groped at the airport, now, suddenly, it's a constitutional crisis - but that's okay.  Better late than never.

You aren't in favor of a strict constructionist view of the constitution if you are for the show your papers law in Arizona.  And if you're going to campaign in favor of repealing "Obamacare" because:

the answer to the ever-rising cost of insurance is not the expansion of government-run or government-mandated insurance but, instead, common-sense market based solutions that ensure decisions are made by patients and their doctors

...then maybe demanding your special government provided health insurance sooner than the 30 days you have to wait for it after taking office is not the best way to kick off your congressional tenure.

Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but its opposite will earn you a paper filled with red marks.

After the jump - the rest of the tendown.  This week - you get 9.

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