off topic open thread

Debate Night Open Thread

If anyone wants to talk about the debates, or anything else vaguely political, have at it here!

Also, I’m not exactly sure why someone wanted to make wax Romney and Obama heads, but I figured I’d put these up in case any of you were ever wondering what that would look like.

348 replies on “Debate Night Open Thread”

Diogenes the Naïf: Can you opt-out of it? If you can’t then thats a problem. I don’t see anything wrong with a privately funded social safety net, but I don’t get why everyone is opted in.

It’s called herd immunity.

I would much rather have the money I earn now, so I can invest it, and actually have something for retirement. Social security isn’t going to do that.

Wrong, and good for you that you weren’t lucky enough to have done that with plans to retire in 2008.

Ok, so rich people are wankholes. Whatever. I’m not concerned for them because they can take care of themselves. My question has still not been answered.

Actually, the answer to your question is in that statement.

katz: Yeah, that didn’t work as well when published. I should have trimmed the first half of the sentence.

Cassandra: I did a longish post about the difference in attitude between gov’t programs and charity. Charity has a moral aspect, and charity allows the giver to judge. If a religious group doesn’t like me, they can refuse to help me (e.g. I might be gay, or poly, or the wrong sort of religious person).

And it’s not as if people like Romney are really giving ’til it hurts. He made a profit of 20 million last year. He gave 25 percent of it away. Even if he only spent half of the remainder, he’ll still make more than 20 million next year (he seems to be making about 5 percent ROI).

So he’s taking a bigger share of the pie every year.

He also may have “deferred” his retirement to maintain his heath insurance, because Anne has MS, and insurers are notorious for excluding MS as a pre-existing condition.


Anytime is a good time!

So, you’ll agree he isn’t a priori a racist, but ipso facto what he intends to do disproportionately affects minorities? Thats your whole argument for why he is racist?

Also, I’m not an objectivist.


I don’t want the world to turn into a jungle! I’m all for laws that protect people from one another.

@Sir Bodsworth

I could do a lot better with it than the government. Investing is generally better than saving.


There was some m word that would fit in there.


If these people are so poor they can’t invest, why are we taking large chunks out of their paychecks now?


Yes, yes. Fuck me indeed.

What makers?

Why don’t you move to North Korea? Its already what you want.

That money has already been spent. Sorry.

As to Deadwood, how is it any different now?


This is what I said: Read book x.

This is how you responded: Literacy! RAWRRRRRRRR!!! Hulk Smash!


Who enables it more? I’m the one against rent-seeking.

I wonder how many times we need to call him an objectivist before he’ll get mad enough to leave.

I must say that his habit of responding without quoting to posts from several pages ago is kind of oddly amusing.

So, you’ll agree he isn’t a priori a racist, but ipso facto what he intends to do disproportionately affects minorities? Thats your whole argument for why he is racist?

What the fuck would it even mean for someone to be a racist a priori? Does it mean that he’s a racist independent of his experiences? That’d be… weird. Or do you mean that my evaluation of him as racist is a priori? Because that doesn’t make any sense either. How the fuck would I decide someone is racist without experience-based knowledge? Unless there’s some meaning of a priori I’m not familiar with, this use is completely inappropriate.

Anyway, your wack-ass attempt at ham-fistedly shoving academic terminology you don’t understand aside, yes, my “whole argument” for why he is racist is that his policies would directly contribute to the ongoing oppression of specific races. You make it sound like that’s not a big deal.


Your ignorance is profound and arrogantly worn. I stand by my previous characterization of libertarians: their beliefs are based on willful ignorance, wishful thinking, and privilege. Lots of privilege.

Didn’t we already establish how little Diogynes cares about people who are not Diogynes with the whole who cares about homeless people thing?

Is this a new game – randomly throwing academic/legal/Latin generally into sentences?


Diogenes the Naïf Is it reading time?

Try “Debt, The First 5,000 Years”.

As to why gov’t should have some power to coerce, I can explain that in one word, Smallpox. I may soon (Oh! Frabjous Day!) be able to say Polio in the same way.

Allow me to regale you with a comment by Leo Tolstoy.

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-
witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the
simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if
he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of
doubt, what is laid before him.”

Cloudiah: Subjectively he appears to, at the very least, in close alignment with them. I think he’s something of a paulian gLibertarian myself, but it’s possible he’s just a twit.

He completely ignores the fact that homeless people and poverty will still cause significant costs to society regardless of if we take away all social programs. In fact, they’ll probably get worse without said programs. Unless, of course, he’s advocating actual death camps for the “have nots.” Because that’s the only way you’re going to keep roving bands of homeless from creating cesspools of disease, setting large swaths of greenbelts on fire accidentally because cooking fires, and spreading massive pollution from overcrowded camping situations out in nature where feces and urine are not properly taken care of.

Just take a look at a South African shanty town where there’s no internal plumbing, and you’ll get a good idea of what you’re proposing.

The good news is that at least it will create a new market for a career- corpse disposal specialist- you know, from all the people who are dying of exposure and malnutrition and disease.

It’s like this only not humor:

In unrelated news, I spilled a jar of honey, my kitty stepped in it and tracked it around the house, and then I found a bug in my biscuit by biting into it. All in the past half hour.

You know, I was at a County Mental Health meeting today. Also in attendance were a lot of very capable and compassionate people who were, in a serious and earnest manner, trying to figure out how to allocate scarce resources to meet the needs of a very vulnerable population. And then I think of people like Diogenes, who neither know nor want to know all that goes in to trying help these folks. It’s not nearly enough, of course, and it’s certainly not perfect, but unlike the fevered imaginings of the glibertarians, it at least represents an effort to seriously address the issue. I shudder to think what would happen if people like him get their way.

I know of a guy who pulled his own eye out while psychotic. Should he be left to fend for himself? I know of a 3 year old who saw his parents murdered. Should he not receive some kind of mental health care to help address the trauma of that experience? I know of kids who have been kept in a filthy room and burned with cigarettes, so neglected that they scarcely knew how to talk at age 5. Does the free market have a solution here? Because I don’t think it does. And given the problems I see and hear about every day, I really have a hard time shedding tears for people who don’t like paying taxes, or who conflate helping the vulnerable with totalitarianism. I’m sorry, but that’s fucking privilege.


I was about to correct you, but I realized I fucked up on the translation. I was thinking “lechatchila”, as “to begin with” but traslated it to a priori. Well, this is embarassing.

His indifference to homelessness and poverty is what should embarrass him.

Fitzy, you may be onto something here. Maybe “what we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

This is gonna sound strange coming out of the mouth of a Haredi guy, but I think we’re pretty smart apes, and since apes are social, so are we. The majority of us are hardwired and socialized to have empathy.

Unfortunately, I had to move recently, but for the past few years I lived in Monsey, NY. Its an incredible place. Filled to the brim with the nicest, kindest people you could ever imagine. Despite the fact that some areas are impoverished, there isn’t any crime. There are a ton of people who devote themselves to charity. Communities like this exist. You can will them into existence where you are too. As an aside, guess who just bought the domain meyadleyad (from hand to hand) yup.

I’ll concede that there are people out there who suck, but they’re the minority. I honestly believe that the average poor person would be better off because a richer society could provide more for them. Also, it really isn’t charity when you vote for others to give to others.

Fitzy, you may be onto something here. Maybe “what we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

In the sense that you too dense to understand what anyone else is saying, yes.


Can you imagine a set of circumstances where it would make sense for someone to take their own life? Maybe they’re in terrible pain, or they don’t feel their lives are worth living, or they’ve decided that they got old enough, and they’re done. Why do we have to treat these people like there’s something wrong with them?

If someone wants to take their life, what right do we have to stop them? They own themselves.

The same goes for self-harm. Its self harm for a diabetic to eat sugar, or an obese person to eat cheeseburgers. If someone owns his own body, what right do we have to stop them from damaging it? I’m sure you’re for bodily autonomy when it comes to abortion, but can’t see why you wouldn’t extend self ownership to this as well. Now, I’m not saying its good that people are harming themselves. The person is obviously not rational when they pluck out their own eye, but his crime is against himself. How can an irrational person consent to being medicated?

Lets say they found Genie again. What do they do differently this time? I think she would have been better off having been adopted. I can concede the point to you about the child ward of the state. You’re absolutely correct that we should stop at nothing to help them. But when they become adults it becomes a moral dilemma.

I was going to reply to this guy and counter some of his points.. I think I might eat some pine cones instead. Or my desk.

I mean, sometimes replying to these people is fun even though you know they aren’t going to get it. This, not so much. Anyone else getting that, or is it just me?

I agree, Shade. Kiddo is in high school forensics here, creaming his pants because he just discovered Ayn Rand and OHMYGODSHEISSOBRILLIANT. Meanwhile everyone else is rolling their eyes over what a self-involved douche he is and he doesn’t notice because he thinks he has seen THE TRUTH ABOUT THE WORLD.

I honestly believe that the average poor person would be better off because a richer society could provide more for them.

The average poor person might be better off because they would have access to better scraps, but if wealth was properly divided, people wouldn’t have to eat scraps.

But don’t complain to me when the government blows up kids in another country because I wasn’t the one who supported statism.

So if I support “big government” in the form of social programs, I also support our bloated military and the bombing of civilians? Interesting leap of logic there.

If someone wants to take their life, what right do we have to stop them? They own themselves.

You’re aware that a person trying to harm or kill themselves due to depression or psychosis is not in their right mind, yes? There’s a reason we hold people less responsible for their crimes if they are non compos mentis. There’s a reason we prefer people to be “of sound mind” when they enter into contracts. And there’s a reason we try to keep people in the throes of a mental illness episode from doing something as irrevocable as ending their own life. And as someone who struggles with a mental illness, I say “thank god for that”.

I saw you ask earlier how a person who was that sick could consent to treatment. It’s a fair question. But if they’re too sick to consent to treatment, they’re also too sick to consent to die. And I, for one, would much prefer our doctors to err on the side of keeping me alive. Wouldn’t you?


I see. So the psychotic guy who plucked out his own eye…he was just exercising his freedom? Does that present a moral dilemma? Because it really doesn’t for me. Someone who is causing grievous harm to himself due to a mental illnesses needs to be prevented from taking out his other eye. Someone who is that psychotic isn’t making a free and informed decision. I’m sorry if this presents a moral dilemma for you, but for those of us who deal with the real world, the answer is pretty obvious.

In any event, such a person doesn’t just get locked away forever without recourse. Quite the contrary. It’s extraordinarily difficult to have someone involuntarily hospitalized for more than a few days, in part because of the scarcity of bed space, and in part due to the burden of proof required to commit someone involuntarily for any length of time. Typically, every effort is made to maintain chronically mentally ill people in the community, where, unfortunately, services are often woefully inadequate.

See, this why I think libertarianism is a piss poor philosophy for dealing with the real world, which is really more complex than most libertarians imagine.

Typically, every effort is made to maintain chronically mentally ill people in the community, where, unfortunately, services are often woefully inadequate.

And then they end up homeless. Which is much better than being institutionalized, if only because it doesn’t cost Diogenes anything.

That’s a very short-term (and simplistic) view of morality you have there, Diogynes. If a person is going through a psychotic episode, then they’re not capable of making rational decisions. If you don’t understand why maybe you should look up the clinical definition of “psychotic”. If someone who’s having a psychotic episode ends up being temporarily committed, and they later recover to the point where they’re capable of making rational decisions, how likely do you think they are to still feel like taking out their remaining eye?

Given your statements so far it’s pretty obvious that you don’t know very much about either psychology or psychiatry. Luckily there is a partial solution to this problem! Any good bookstore should have a psychology section. Start there. If you can get access to a university library, even better. Read every scholarly work on psychosis and depression that you can find (please note that what psychiatrists call depression is not what most laypeople mean when they talk about depression). After you’ve completed this homework assignment (and if you try to skip it there are enough people here who have a background in psychology that we’ll be able to tell if you skipped it, or just skimmed) then we will happily engage you in a discussion about how societies can and should deal with people who’re suffering from severe mental illness.

Until then, this is like trying to discuss calculus with a toddler.


I kind of want to drag him down to the Tenderloin in San Francisco and make him attempt to explain to people who’re homeless mostly due to lack of mental health services why he doesn’t think society owes them any help. The only reason I wouldn’t actually do it is that it would be unkind to the people he’d be talking to – they have enough crap to deal with already without adding frustrating conversations with clueless libertarians to the list.

Guys, we have to remember that Diogenes is a real one for thinking things through. Don’t forget his brilliant analysis of the MRA.

f MRA’s are advocating rape (and I don’t know if they are or aren’t, but you say they are) then I disagree with them because that removes personal autonomy from the woman (or man) being raped. The reason I’m skeptical about them advocating rape is that I haven’t looked into it myself, haven’t seen concrete proof, and would initially think that no one would say something that stupid. Dumb positions like that are hard to believe.

So the MRM doesn’t have any high profile people who advocate rape (or, one supposes, violence) because that would be stupid. So stupid that The Naïf doesn’t need to bother with checking.

Even if he does check, well it’s too incredible to accept.

Well, thank you. Reading that was frightening as it was enlightening. He says that to troll though, right? Its not serious stuff I assume.

Facts? What matter facts? Our little intellectual hero has reasoned it out, and it’s just not possible that people who say disgusting things might mean them. So all those pesky people who say they don’t care about the poor? The ones (like Paul Weyrich, and the brothers Koch) who say they want to prevent people from voting; so they can pursue a more extreme agenda than the one they are pushing through now…

They can’t really mean it, or they wouldn’t talk about it.

It just stands to reason.

That is the way he approaches things. That’s the level of insight he is applying to economics, and political theory.

How can we argue with such a mind?

FWIW, I’m in favor of terminally ill people being allowed to make end-of-life decisions, including dying with dignity. There’s big difference between that and allowing a person who is not in their right mind to harm themselves. The vast majority of people who are prevented from committing suicide are grateful for having been prevented from doing so. If someone’s up on a ledge, I’m going to try to get them down, and I won’t waste any time wringing my hands over hypothetical moral dilemmas. But that’s just me.

Diogenes, your Latin fuck-up was amusing but not really the point. The bigger issue is that you apparently don’t think the reinforcement of racist institutions and power structures is an example of racism.

(Oh, and I forgot to mention this before, but you want to be all “anti-statist” and shit, Jill Stein’s got Chomsky’s endorsement. This is because Noam Chomsky is a much smarter anti-authoritarian than you or any libertarian could possibly hope to be.)

Honestly, I think we should give Diogenes credit for having the ability to be embarrassed about what he says. Now he just has to apply that ability correctly.


Well, this is embarassing.

The fact that you misspelled “embarrassing?”

More that he tried to pass off misuse of a term as a mistake in translation.

Lechatchila is a Hebrew word (לכתחילה) and while it does mean, in direct translation, “to begin with” it’s more specifically used to mean “meets the minimum requirement of ritual”, and as a term of art; in the subject of mitzvot to mean “ideally”

So it would be at least as out of place as a priori was.

I mention this, not because in modern Hebrew the word isn’t used to mean, “to start with,”, or, “as a beginning”, but because to introduce a word/phrase from another language has connotative effect, just as “ab initio”, or “ex nihilo” have contextual meanings, as does “hoi polloi”, so too dragging in a phrase which has a legalistic use (as לכתחילה does) into a discussion is going to drag those legalistic aspects in.

Because the other people won’t have any other context for it.

Looking at it some more, I see I was reading it backwards. If I assume (from the limited data available) he is a native speaker of Hebrew, then he probably meant to say, “”you are starting from the premise”, and I misread it as he was thinking of using “lechatchila” where he used a priori.

So it’s not as egregious a fail as I first thought.

@Diogenes – I don’t know if what we have is only a communication failure. However, since we’re on the topic, there is one Libertarian who does communicate pretty effectively with this liberal at least. If you’ve never heard of Joel Salatin, you might want to check out his work (“Folks, This Ain’t Normal” is his most recent and policy-driven book). He’s a self-described “Christian Libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic.” He’s an advocate for greater food choices, environmental stewardship, and farmers’ (and entrepreneurs’) rights. He also champions a return to the community-based society. I don’t agree with half of what he says, but he does get me thinking about social issues as well as policy and its greater-reaching affects.

I’d say that the real area of conflict between Libertarians and liberals is values. Libertarians believe that the most amoral thing a government can do restrict the freedom of an upstanding individual. Liberals believe that the most amoral thing a government can do is ignore the needs of its citizens. We seem to have some areas of overlap – marriage and gender equality, freedom of expression – but where we diverge, boy howdy. What we liberals cherish as essential to human dignity – like access to health care – Libertarians tend to see as the smothering overreach of the nanny state. What Libertarians see as reasonably demanding people be accountable for their choices, liberals see as callous indifference to people in hardship. We each believe passionately in our version of right. And since my good is your evil, and vice versa, there is going to be conflict.

Systematically applied reason may be another stumbling block. Rational thought sees black and white. I see a lot of gray in the world, though. captainbathrobe’s case about the self-harming psychotic is an example. How can you apply reason to a person who is far beyond a rational state of mind? If he sat down and wrote a detailed list of why it’s a good idea to pull out his own eye, that’s one thing. However, the man’s brain chemistry went haywire, and he had the impulse to mutilate himself. Your body is your property no matter what your state of mind. But is it bad for someone to help you protect it from harm in a vulnerable moment, even if the harmer is the owner himself? You can apply black-and-white logic until the cats come home, but the gray of it is that a man’s greatest asset – his own body – was saved from greater harm by intervention, and that intervention came from people in a government agency. If you want to call that an attack on personal liberty and property, then attack mine in a similar fashion any day of the week.

Can there be any middle ground between us? Probably. I, for example, think it’s great that you promote charity and community building. I admire the drive and the optimism. I do volunteer work myself and donate as much as our budget will allow. But I will never think that it’s a great idea to cut the government safety net on the hopes that others will choose to be generous to the less fortunate. I studied globalization for my senior thesis in college, and I doubt that free trade will be the thing to raise the masses out of poverty. I don’t believe that markets can effortlessly police themselves (shoot, even Alan Greenspan has admitted that markets don’t self-regulate very well*). And I will always believe that a sick person should be healed because they are a person, not because they have an insurance card or a fat wallet.

So that’s my last word on the subject. Good luck to you!


So today the jobs report came out. And apparently since it was not 800,000 jobs in the negative (like at the start of the President’s term), it is proof that apparently the Bureau of Labor Statistics is in this grand conspiracy that well I will let Rep. Allen West show his lack of logic:

“Orwellian to say the least and representative of Saul Alinsky tactics from the book ‘Rules for Radicals.’”

Because you know, President Obama-the most cautious person in Washington-is a radical from that living in the same city that some other radical lived in. And that means he is somehow using the Rules For Radicals despite it not matching them at all. Nor could it be considered Orwellian because they just came out, and is not to show adoration of the leader or any of the other things that show something is Orwellian.

To follow up on the discussion about psychosis and self-harm, it’s not the we’re arguing that nobody should ever be allowed to choose to drastically alter their own body, or at least I’m not. We’re just saying that the middle of a psychotic episode is not the time to be making those kinds of decisions. There are people who choose to have limbs removed, for example, and although responses within the psych community are varied nobody reacts to those people making their case for why they want to, say, have their leg amputated in the same way they do to the person in CBs story, because those people tend to present as fairly rational. There’s definitely some grey area here, but person-is-clearly-psychotic-and-hurting-themselves is not part of that grey area.

Ok! Sorry! This is the one that I meant to bring back to life. Anybody else watching the veep debate tonight?

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