Friday, January 7, 2011

Hey , I Missed This

It seems that both of the Republicans who violated the constitution when screwing up their oaths we attending a fund-raising event that most likely violated the House's ethic rules.  The Founding Fathers would be so proud.

One Other Thing

Constitutional Conservatives like to ramble on about the Federalist Papers and their importance for understanding the Constitution's original intent or original meaning.  Thanks be to the intertrons, I would like to offer some quotes from Federalist Number 1:
Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished the obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument, and consequence of the offices they hold under the State establishments; and the perverted ambition of another class of men, who will either hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusions of their country, or will flatter themselves with fairer prospects of elevation from the subdivision of the empire into several partial confederacies than from its union under one government.
Somebody alert Glenn Beck, the Founding Fathers thought America was an imperial power and wanted a one [world] government.
To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty. An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.
Somebody alert Constitutional Conservatives, the Founding Fathers wanted an active, effective, and meddlesome federal government.

So there you have, the Founding Fathers in the Federalist Papers advocated for the opposite of what the Tea Party Patriots wanted, which suggests that they are dumb enough to listen to Glenn Beck and the Republican Party more generally.

A Republic, If You Can Keep It

In the past little while, Republicans, particularly in the House, have been busy covering themselves in silliness and related whatnotery.  There are the two congressmen who failed to take the oath, there is Representative Steve King (R-Unconstitutional) seeking to subvert the Constitution by passing a law invalidating its provisions for law of the soil citizenship thus neatly sidestepping the amendment process on the solid constitutional grounds of easier is better, there is Paul "it's spelt 100 billion dollar spending cut but its pronounced nearly none" Ryan and his pal John "I haven't a clue what to cut" Boehner irresponsible gobbledy gook on important matters of governance, there is the sophomoric let's not discuss the problem let's rather name a bill something silly style of governance, there's the let read the Constitution but ignore its evolution as a document style of historical understanding,  and that's just the first few days.

How long, one wonders, until the realization of being sold a bill of goods hits the radical Right? In Nevada, it seems, not particularly long.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Imaginary Realism

Matt Yglesias on his realism
Suppose I say, “DC’s barber licensing rules are bad.” You ask, what do you mean by that? Well, they reduce competition in the barbering field, leading to higher prices and worse service for customers. They reduce tax revenues and employment opportunities. They’re, you know, bad.(emphasis in original)
How many barber's are there in DC and its environs? Lots.  How much do you have to pay to get your hair cut?  As little or as much as you'd like.  How is service?  From excellent to lousy. In other words, not one of his justifications is true in the specific case of barbering but rather are only true in the abstract case of opposition to regulations, which can be applied to puppy mills just as easily.

As a example of a realistic critique of over-regulation, it's wrong to deny felons the right to be barbers, lawyers, and etc unless the crime is related to the occupation and, in all cases, felons ought to have the right to apply their exclusion.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why Democracies Fail

This Ian Buruma essay on Belgium is very interesting but it misses the essential point that Belgium does not,  in fact, exist.

Serious Sensible Man.

The title is one third correct, David Brooks is a man.  Today he writes some bizarre piece in which the maniacs of the Right turn out to be sober serious men and women, like the guy who declared the federal government unconstitutional, the decision to slash budgets without debate, or the guy who thinks Obama ought to man up and go to battlefield, or the decision to let business write their own regulations, whose primary interest will be governance. 

It's simply odd that a man this dedicated to saying and writing dumb things collects a check.


Andrew Sullivan accidentally makes sense.  He has a series of awards named after different bloggering types; one is for Yglesias, whose career Sullivan had something to do with, officially it's supposed to be for attacking your own side or being glibly contrarian.  Today, however, it seems he gives it to someone who, like Yglesias, can ignore reality:
As we sadly learned with all the sound and fury that attended the Republican Revolution of 1994, the real risk isn't that a tidal wave of right-wing kookery will wash over the land. The greater likelihood is that the GOP rebels will quickly lose their reformist spirit after a few fizzled confrontations with the bipartisan Beltway establishment and end up governing much like the Democrats they replaced," - W. James Antle III, The American Spectator
Yes, if you ignore Fox News, Clinton's impeachment, endless Republican investigations, Iraq, Afghanistan, don't tax yet spend policies, refusing to protect the needy and the week, larger ever larger defense budgets, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Tea Parties, and so on, there was no wave of right wing kookery.

Too Many Teachers

For many on the Right, the key to "fixing" the current "crisis" in education is firing teachers and shredding their unions because it's too hard to fire underperforming teachers.  It's worthwhile to considered that one reason there aren't more fired teachers is the extremely high attrition rate in the early years of public educators' careers with, by some measures, less effective teachers leaving in greater numbers.  It is also the case that there is an oversupply of teachers so that the whole process of getting a job is extremely competitive.

Consequently it's not really surprising that those who do make it past five years are good enough to stick around for a whole career.

Relatedly, if you are incompetent to comment on pedagogy, you are incompetent to comment on teaching reform.