Another War of Jenkins' Ear

Resist The Pointless

Posts Tagged ‘democrats

The Parable of Little Men in the Television

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[I’m blatantly stealing a joke from Douglas Adams and re-purposing it as a critique of American media. With no further delay….]

In an interview with a Democratic politician, A Sunday Show said he was told that Republicans claim they didn’t understand how televisions work, and were convinced that there must be lots of little men inside the box, manipulating images at high speed. The Democrat explained to the Sunday Show host about high-frequency modulations of the electromagnetic spectrum, transmitters and receivers, amplifiers and cathode ray tubes, scan lines moving across and down a phosphorescent screen. The host listened to the engineer with careful attention, nodding his head at every step of the argument. At the end he pronounced himself satisfied. He really did now understand how televisions work. “But I expect there are just a few little men in there, aren’t there?”


If you don’t like this, blame me, not Adams…


Written by John Whitehouse

May 31, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Posted in News Media, Random

Tagged with , ,

A Song For The Budget

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I don’t post a lot about US domestic politics, mostly because I find the politics so inane (Republicans generally screw something up wildly and the Democrats have to pretend they understand and go halfway).

I thought this was an appropriate song to describe the ongoing budget negotiations:

I’ve been reading about the ongoing budget negotiations, and it seems like the range of expected outcomes is somewhere between the KFC doubledown version of a shit sandwich and just outright dousing the capital building with monkey feces.

Research shows that both parties in Congress are held responsible – just not executives. (It helps that unlike health care, Obama is keeping more distance from these negotiations publicly). That’s one reason we see Democrats moving to compromise at the end – if nothing else, there’s no massive belief among them that a shutdown will help their electoral chances. And the Republicans … well who knows, they’re all over the place. Some of the true believers want shutdown at all costs. Some of the more pragmatic want to use the true believers to get massive cuts. It’s just generally speaking a disaster.

I have no answers here – the voters gave us this Congress and we now have to live with it. Remember that next time an election comes around: no matter how similar two candidates are, they’re not the same. And that the difference between a Republican landslide and a Democratic one are the people who are pressed for time and resources getting to the polls to vote.

Let’s make 2012 better than 2010. We need it.

Written by John Whitehouse

March 29, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Vision for Foreign Policy and the Budget

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Matt Yglesias:

Basically DHE is saying here that thanks to Obama’s decision to go to war, the previous tensions that had been building up inside the conservative coalition on this point are now easing and the whole right-of-center establishment will get behind the idea that the Pentagon shouldn’t be cut.

This is one reason why I think left-of-center hawks have been way to blithe about dismissing the fiscal concerns surrounding this mission. It’s true that nothing about claiming that you’re going to establish a no-fly zone in Libya and then instead offering tactical air support to rebel groups forces you to slash spending on global public health. But the mission in Libya is a shot in the arm for the politics of wasteful defense spending, and unduly high equilibrium levels of defense spending encourage further cost-ineffective “humanitarian” military adventures.

There’s a reason the budget is so high, though, and it’s not missions like Libya – it’s missions like Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether Libya was the right humanitarian intervention is a question for another post. It seems reasonable to believe the United States will be doing some sort of low-risk medium-interest humanitarian interventions under Democratic Presidents going forward (see: Haiti, the Balkans, etc.). Some will be good ideas, some won’t be, some will have good planning, some won’t. But none of them are going to be particularly expensive.

What is expensive is maintaining expensive and mostly fruitless nation-building programs in Iraq and Afganistan. Juan Cole makes this point here, that Libya is the type of intervention the US should be doing, not Afghanistan. If we really want to lower defense spending in the long run, we need to start convincing legislators of lesser footprints of American military actions, even if that may come with lesser certainty as well.

The path to a small military is not through avoiding Libyas, for positive or negative; it’s through avoiding Afghanistans.

(So yes, the worst possible solution in Libya would be escalating. A stalemate is preferable in many meaningful ways to American interests – and some humanitarian ones.)

Written by John Whitehouse

March 29, 2011 at 2:06 pm

The Argument Versus The Delivery

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I think in large part the left and right are arguing past each other – but that is not to say that they are morally equivalent. Allow me to explain.

I came across* Jonah Goldberg saying this yesterday: “If I had to bet, we won’t hear a lot about how opposing Obamacare is necessarily racist or evil from Weigel.”

Now, as a liberal who supported “Obamacare” I don’t think that anyone who opposes Obamacare is racist or evil or a number of other over the top arguments. Perhaps they just oppose it on the merits.

But that’s not the charge that I think conservatives should be responding to. The argument from the left (and Obama made a version of this point in his address to the GOP caucus) is that the over the top response from TV pundits and conservative movement leaders incites racism and violence. This is the entire rationale behind the Stopbeck movement. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by John Whitehouse

April 7, 2010 at 8:32 pm