Monday, September 22, 2003

Dividing Lines II Cont'd

Porphyrogenitus suggested that I run through du Toit's points & explain my disagreements with him, and my reasons for being disturbed by the false choices being presented. I figure this is a fair cop, and here it is:

Bush was selected, not elected

Look, I'm tired of getting caught in the crossfire on this one. I voted for Gore, I wanted to see it hammered out without the intervention of the Supreme Court, I thought it was a bad, messy decision and a terrible precedent. This doesn't mean that I want to argue the sodding merits three years later. He's president, it's over, enough already.

tax cuts favor the rich

This is that "tax cuts, right or wrong" bit I was bellyaching about. No, du Toit, this is not the uniform position; this is what they call a "straw man". You can think one set of tax cuts is "favoring the rich" without holding the blanket belief that all tax cuts are aimed at keeping little mustachio'd men in black silk top-hats.

And no, I'm not particularly enthused with Bush's bottomless barrel of big fat tax cuts. I'm a fiscal conservative - I believe in funding today's expenditures with today's taxes, thank you very sodding much.

we need a "single-payer", universal health care system

OK, here's one I'm on board for. I wasn't particularly impressed with this idea in the first Clinton administration, and further exposure to the reported performance of existing single-payer systems has not improved my impression of the wisdom of this particular nostrum.

the public school system just needs more money to help it work better

Here's one vague enough that it seems capable of encompassing the opinion of anyone who isn't actually a foot soldier for the American Federation of Teachers.

nobody "needs" an assault rifle.

Here's one that just screams "phatic harmonic". No, Mr. du Toit, no-one who is not in a war zone "needs" an assault rifle. You will not starve to death if you're forced to go hunting with a measly M-1, or, horrors, an actual hunting rifle. In fact, there are very few people in the United States who would go hungry if they were actually deprived of their *hunting rifles*, not that any sane segment of the political class is advocating *that* particular train-wreck. Try not to confuse rights, needs and wants, Mr. du Toit. As for "rights", well, that's a subject for debate. But let's not start the game on my twenty, yes?

the Constitution is a living document; our society is totally different today than anything the Founding Fathers could have foreseen, so we need to take this into account

Ah-hah. Phatic harmonic alert! This is code for "original intent" activism. See Glenn Reynolds' excellent paper on the subject. Let's say that I, like most social liberals, am less than sympathetic with "original intent" judicial activism's gleeful "Founding Fathers" sockpuppetry.

the Republican Party is in thrall to the religious fundamentalists

Straw man! Rephrase that as "the Republican Party has a large and embarrassing wing of religious fundamentalists and would-be theocrats of which I would be ashamed to be associated" and you've got a real winner, though, don't you? A valid point can be made that the Democrats have a similar problem with neoMarxist fundamentalists of their own. But don't try and hand-wave the Falwell-Moore wing away as if it doesn't exist, chebai.

the Electoral College is an outmoded institution: the candidate with the most votes should become President

Sigh. A touch, a definite touch. Too many Democrats (I'm looking at you, Hillary) started bewailing this one the moment it looked likely to crack them across the shins.

affirmative action is still necessary; there are still too many racial inequities in our society

Again, a valid point. Affirmative action is a creaking old embarrassment. Maybe when the boomers are put out to pasture we can be done with it.

gay couples should have the right to marry, just as heterosexuals do

I don't quite understand the paleoconservative fury against this one, unless somebody's confusing political principle with simple homophobia. I'm not in a position to say who, I suppose.

we should ratify the Kyoto treaty on the environment

There are interim positions between the Bush administration and the Kyotophiles, you know? Specifically, you can regret the Bush administration's corporate complicity with the energy industry while not drinking Kool-Aid with the global-warming ultras. In general, I'm inclined to stand back and let the two sides fight each other into a stalemate that doesn't favor either - my preferred position on the subject. Meanwhile, I'm all for crushing the ecofascists on the GMO issue. But that's a bit nuanced for our friend du Toit, isn't it?

war criminals need to be punished; we should join the rest of the world, and sign on to the International Criminal Court

This is a bizarre conflation. Is du Toit suggesting that the concept of "war criminal" ought to be done away with? Again, one can be unenthusiastic about transnational progressive totems like the ICC without spewing bile all over the basic idea.

Bush is trying to load the courts with conservative judges

What, you think he's putting forward a balanced slate? Of course, from du Toit's point of view, it might very well look like a balanced slate. With the way they were suppressing Estrada's record, who knows - it might very well have been so. But that's not the way to bet.

it was a mistake to invade Iraq when there was no proof that Iraq was linked to 9/11

Straw man argument. Even the nutbars aren't arguing this; they claim that the wide-spread "misbelief" in this connection makes the war illegitimate by way of invalidating the consensus in favor of the war (worst sort of Chomskyite nonsense, by the way). The "yes, but" people say the above about WMD, not the 9/11 connection; this argument infuriates me, but I won't be wedge-issued on this specific point in order to buy the rest of the bill of goods du Toit is selling.

the Supreme Court should interpret the law according to our modern society's mores

As opposed to somebody else's ill-educated notion of the mores of the "Founding Fathers" sockpuppets? Hell, yes.

our elections should reflect the will of all the people

I can't even figure out what the hell this means. Does somebody in the mainstream of Democratic thought believe in totalitarian, absolutist consensus?

No comments: