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Posted at 8:43 AM ET, 02/ 7/2011

The Morning Plum

By Greg Sargent

* Obama and Chamber of Commerce to make nice: The President's speech to the Chamber today will prompt a lot of talk about a "thaw" in relations, but the truth is that the Chamber remains wholly committed on every level to the rollback of Obama's agenda, except perhaps his proposal to expand infrastructure spending.

* Darrell Issa will deliver big business from the scourge of government regulation: Indeed, right on cue, business and industry interests are bombarding Rep. Issa with dozens and dozens of requests to roll back government regulations that they insist are hurting their ability to create jobs.

* The HuffPost-AOL merger: Arianna Huffington announces the merger, which will "put all of AOL's content under a newly formed Huffington Post Media Group, with me as president and editor in chief." HuffPo is touting the deal as a harbinger of a "brand new media universe."

At first glance, the deal will dramatically expand HuffPo's ability to reach new audiences with its combination of original political reporting and aggregation, as well as expand the reach of the HuffPo behemoth's tentacles into coverage of countless other areas of American life. The question is whether the site can retain its left-leaning political voice and current freewheeling sense of community, reader participation and citizen journalism across far broader horizons, or if not, what its identity will evolve into next.

* And: HuffPo writer Howard Fineman says the expansion will test the limits of what reader-participatory online journalism can and can't do.

* A defining moment for John Boehner? What to watch now: How the new House Speaker handles a trio of defining challenges: The short term standoff over funding the government; the looming budget wars; and pressure from the Tea Party base to extract major "concessions" in exchange for raising the federal debt ceiling.

* Republican leaders in sync with Obama and Dems on Egypt: It must be awfully frustrating for some on the right that Republican officials, as E.J. Dionne notes, have reached a surprising degree of consensus with Obama and Dems on the limits of what American power can do to influence the outcome of the crisis.

* Is the Senate's fragile "truce" working? Carl Hulse says there are early signs that the Senate is beginning to function the way it's supposed to, but let's see what happens when the budget wars and efforts to defund health reform get started in earnest.

* After "forcible rape": Jonathan Capehart has the latest on the House GOP's drive to limit federal funding of abortions, and says it's a sign that the party's "right leaning social agenda" is back with a vengeance.

* Senate Dems growing confident in health care fight? It only took two years, but Senate Dems are increasingly confident that their new message, that Republicans want to deprive patients of their rights, is a political winner. A sign of new messaging chief Chuck Schumer's influence?

* Total repeal as the new Holy Grail: More very good reading on this topic: Steve Benen notes that the zealous commitment to complete repeal could make it impossible for Republicans to constructively move the law in their direction.

And Joan McCarter says that feeding the passionate intensity of the GOP base's desire for the destruction of "Obamacare" has become a litmus test for 2012 GOP hopefuls.

* Redefining the "center": Jon Walker makes the case that the progressive agenda is what's really "centrist."

* Intra-conservative war of the day: Bill Kristol notices that Glenn Beck is as nutty as a peanut farm, warning that the "hysterical" Beck is "marginalizing himself" with his rantings on Egypt, which bring to mind "no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society."

* History lesson of the day: Steve Kornacki and Will Bunch on the campaign to completely distort the historical record in order to recreate Ronald Reagan as a conservative demigod.

* And the fictional right-wing blogospheric nontroversy of the day: Conservative blogs went nuts over the London Daily Telegraph's "scoop" of a "secret deal" in which the U.S. provided info about the United Kingdom's submarine-based nuke stockpile to Russia, but the state department shoots down the story.

It's amazing but perhaps not surprising that folks on the right went nuts over this story even though it quoted literally no government sources confirming or denying the claim.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | February 7, 2011; 8:43 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security, Health reform, House GOPers, Morning Plum, Political media, Senate Dems, Senate Republicans, debt ceiling  
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Next: Palin says nothing in particular about Egypt, still gets headlines

Comments

Apparently some people on this blog believe that their offenses have been so great that they are going to be banned once the new softward comes in.

Among those: 12BarBluesAgain, who brought Cao to this blog, knowing full well what he would be like. She did this with a destructive intent, and she has admitted as such.

So, thinking she is smart, has created a new name for herself and is attempting to hide when the new software comes in.

Nice try, but we ALL see you in the open.


_________________________


Part of the problem here is the moderation policies are not spelled out - guidance has to be given.

There needs to be an "active warning system" to guide people when they have crossed the line. People don't get warnings, or even comments back stating clearly they have crossed the line.

The result has been that all the bad behavior has become the de facto guidance as to what is acceptable and what is not.

Also, moderation policy can not be influenced by political beliefs. There simply can not be the impression that liberals or conservatives are getting away with things that are enforced against the other side.


GUIDANCE - one easy way to do the "active warning system" would be to require all posters to stick to the issues - and avoid making personal nasty comments. These personal attacks have flared up recently. For me, I try to state my my opinions and CUT through the personal "ad hominem" attacks. People complain about that - however that is how I have dealt with the insanity here.


___________________________


If there are to be rules

1) The rules must be clearly defined

2) If the liberals break the rules, they get punished too.


3) You can't enforce rules ONLY against people whose views you don't like - that starts nasty lawsuits and ends careers.


Clearly

GUIDANCE - one easy way to do the "active warning system" would be to require all posters to stick to the issues - and avoid making personal nasty comments. These personal attacks have flared up recently. For me, I try to state my my opinions and CUT through the personal "ad hominem" attacks. People complain about that - however that is how I have dealt with the insanity here.

WASHINGTON POST - really should do something about the Obama paid trolls. There should be some contact made between the paper and Axelrod as to the ground rules BECAUSE if the Obama paid trolls start to harass people again like they did in 2008 and 2009, there will be a response.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | February 7, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

AOL ???

Didn't they go out of business???

This is like two dinosaurs merging - AOL should have been extinct already, and the liberals are becoming extinct. This is not evolution, it is devolution.


.\\.

Posted by: RainForestRising | February 7, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

"Republican leaders in sync with Obama and Dems on Egypt: It must be awfully frustrating for some on the right that Republican officials, as E.J. Dionne notes, have reached a surprising degree of consensus with Obama and Dems on the limits of what American power can do to influence the outcome of the crisis."

It really is a shame that John McCain became president in 2008.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 7, 2011 8:53 AM | Report abuse

@Greg

A few questions that I hope are not too personal. :-)

On Saturday’s open thread we had an interesting conversation about journalism in the internet age and in particular your role as a reporter and as an “aggregate” editor.

I’ve never participated as a professional in “Internet” journalism, only as a consumer.
It was my opinion that indeed you are a journalist “reporter” as well as the editor of the blog and someone who uses that editorial perogative to…shazzam write “editorials”.
Call them posts or whatever.

And so here are my (our) questions.

1.) Do you do any actual reporting as in pick up the phone to interview folks about stories? Or do you simply “edit” the PL by utilizing the internet’s common practice of “aggregate” reporting?

2.) Do you have a desire to “break” stories. In my former professional life journalists always seemed to enjoy “breaking” a story. While good motivation for investigation it can also lead to sometimes jumping the gun with an unsourced and sometimes innaccurate story. Do you struggle with these age old journalism questions?

3.) Do you view yourself as a reporter? Editor? Pundit? All of the aforementioned?

I don’t mean to invade your proprietary space. As a former journalist I’m simply very curious about the “new”journalism. You know from my many previous posts about you, that I genuinely respect your efforts to maintain credibility and a journalistic sense of fair play…but that’s my opinion of what you do here on the PL. What is your mission statement in your own eyes?

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 8:58 AM | Report abuse

"Jon Walker makes the case that the progressive agenda is what's really "centrist.""

I thought we have just proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Obama is a Progressive Centrist. But since Obama is far to the Right of that Centrist/Progressive agenda that makes Obama a Center Right president, a/k/a a Moderate Republican, a Third Wayer, a Triangulator or a Republicrat.

Now that our dictator is back in the saddle in Egypt, let's get on with the business of slashing government, bowing to multinational corporations and concentrated wealth, and punishing the Working Class, the Middle Class and the Poor. Let's see that WH budget.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 7, 2011 9:02 AM | Report abuse

The White House has still not complied with Rep. Issa's document request. Also, Obama HIMSELF said that no federal dollars would go to fund abortion (September 9, 2009).

quarterback1, you are right that Ted Kennedy used the politics of personal destruction. Someone leaked Bork's video rentals too. Keep up the good fight.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 7, 2011 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Seems like reviving the Pelvic Wars was the very last thing voters had in mind last November.

How does whipping the dead horse of abortion create any jobs?

What's next? Gay schoolteachers "recruiting" children?

Posted by: caothien9 | February 7, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

@wbgonne

"It really is a shame that John McCain became president in 2008."

Ouch! You're wandering into Rachel Maddow territory. Remember when she referred to Bill Clinton as the greatest "Republican" President since....

I get both of your points. Again I would suggest to anybody who wishes to inform themselves...google the 1956 Republican Platform...you'll see just how far to the right the Corporatists have pulled this nation.

Bernie does a great job of providing links and opinions as to the when,where,what,why, and who on that topic.

Personally I think it simply comes down to the "Benjamins"

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 9:07 AM | Report abuse

It really is a shame that John McCain became president in 2008.

==

Bite your tongue. Had McCain won there would be US troops in Iran and at least one other new country, getting their behinds kicked. And by thus time he would have ad a stroke and Palin would be demanding access to the nukes and being refused by the military.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 7, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Now that our dictator is back in the saddle in Egypt, in fact, so confident is he that he has announced the re-opening of the Egyptian stock market, albeit on Sunday. Still, he must be pretty sure things will be stable by then. "The exchange's benchmark index had plummeted 17 percent over two days before trading the market closed on Jan. 27." AP

Posted by: shrink2 | February 7, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

The Walker piece was a nice compilation of the polling and public opinion on just about all the progressive positions of the last two years. Funny, the professional left just became the pragmatic middle of the country. Unfortunately, no one in a position of leadership seems to care all that much. We're still the greatest threat to civilization evah.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 7, 2011 9:17 AM | Report abuse

"the professional left just became the pragmatic middle of the country. Unfortunately, no one in a position of leadership seems to care all that much"

Ims: that Walker piece says precisely what you and I have been saying for 2 years, only to be mocked by "The Realists" as being DFHs. Well, I guess the American People are a bunch of DFHs, too. In some ways, the gulf between American Political Leaders and the American People is as wide as that between the ME autocrats and their people.

BTW,

Posted by: wbgonne | February 7, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

@lmsinca & Wbgonne

I suspect that you, like me, are "Obama paid trolls."

Hope it's not too personal but might we compare salaries? And when do we get that first check...I'm still waiting and trust me I could use the $$$. :-)

BTW how much are we scheduled to earn?

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Shorter sockpuppetcentral AKA RFR, STRF, etc

Wahhh, Mommy the lefties are being mean to me...make them stop!!! Troll tears...

Posted by: srw3 | February 7, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

"Personally I think it simply comes down to the "Benjamins""

ruk:

Everything does in today's America.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 7, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

wbgonne, follow the money honey.

ruk, we'd probably have to register as Democrats to get paid. :)

Posted by: lmsinca | February 7, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

@lmsinca

It's pretty clear how wbgonne feels about Obama. :-)

How about you? And I don't really get to many other blogs..an occasional roll by HuffPo..but you seem to be informed about FDL. How does Jane view the Pres these days.

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 9:36 AM | Report abuse

"It's pretty clear how wbgonne feels about Obama"

And here I was thinking I was being subtle.

On the bright side: Just one week until Pitchers & Catchers report for Spring Training.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 7, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse

ruk

I don't follow Jane's musings too much and I'd say it's a safe bet that most of the commenters over there think Obama's a sham as a liberal. There are quite a few people there I read on a regular basis but my favorite is David Dayen. I think he's smart and understands policy better than just about anyone on the left.

My personal opinion re Obama, all I can say is missed opportunity. He's done some good things and a couple of great things but overall if you look at the position of the banks, the insurance and pharmaceutical industry, the chamber of commerce etc. versus the vast majority of the American people, we're not much, if any better off than we were a couple of years ago. Isn't that the metric we were all looking for?

Posted by: lmsinca | February 7, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

The Daily Telegraph story picked up by Drudge and such was a property of Canadian media mogul Conrad Black (now out of jail) and was sold to the Barclay brothers. As I've noted before, foreign papers (in English, so usually Brit) are commonly used to plant some story into the media here. Or a story originating there can be harvested here for political purposes. Obviously, right wing media in Britain is particularly helpful in this regard.

The Barclays are quite well off. Want to see their house?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Brecqhou_-_Barclay_Brothers_Castle.jpg

Posted by: bernielatham | February 7, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

@wbgonne

"On the bright side: Just one week until Pitchers & Catchers report for Spring Training."

Easy for you to say...you're a stinkin' Sox fan! You stole our best player!!!!

Speaking of your signing of Crawford and the weakness that is the current MLB...when a two hand touch football game..the NFL Pro Bowl outdraws game seven of a World Series...ouch..when the Super bowl gets TEN TIMES game seven double ouch.
Last time I read about it MLB has descended to NBA levels of popularity.
And why is this?

Bill Maher had a great closing rant about the NFL and MLB. Remember..at least I'm old enough..MLB used to be "The Nation's Pastime. No more as illustrated by the ratings and current lack of popularity for MLB

MLB is the perfect metaphor for right wing economic philsophy...IGMGFY! The rich get richer..you stinkin' Bosox folks..and the poor..we in Tampa get poorer. Ain't that America..land of the free...and little pink houses for you and me?

The NFL is the ulitimate socialistic experience. Those pinko commies take their largest source of income...TV $$$ and put in a big pot and share!!! Ohhh the humanity. It's worse..at the end of each season the NFL teams let the worst team select first in the draft while the most successful team selects last...or as the R's call it...punishing success!

And see how this plays out in real life.
The robber barons of MLB scr%wed the poor folks of Pittsburgh into building them a new stadium..despite five votes by the public that were against it...meanwhile the Pirates can't even make the playoffs...while the Steelers of that same city..participating in that socialist NFL are one of the winningest teams in league history.

I am an avid sports fan but I gave up on MLB long ago..it's boring to watch the same teams year after year..with the occasional surprise..like the Rays crashing the party. Of course the corporatists who run the MLB will make sure the Ray's get returned to their rightful place as a laughingstock...but not for a couple of years we have a stockpile of young talent we're still developing for the Red Sox and Yankees.

Yes the MLB is a perfect metaphor for todays right wing economic agenda. The NFL represents the good ole days when "labor" was respected by all...even R's!!!

And as fate would have it...the ultimate socialistic expression in today's professional sports world..MLB,NFL,NBA,NHL
The Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl.
Yeah the only team in all of major professional sports owned by....the people of Green Bay...what a concept.

BTW when Stu the former Goldman Sach's Board member Sternberg tried to shaft St. Petersburg out of a quarter to a half billion $$$...supported by the CoC...that was an argument I put forth...it would be cheaper for St. Petersburg to buy the team and operate it than to acquiesce to Stu the robber baron's request for lots and lots of corporate welfare $$$.

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Assange in court today and tomorrow...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/blog/2011/feb/07/assange-extradition-hearing

Posted by: bernielatham | February 7, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I guess the general consensus is that the protesters will accept some sort of negotiated transition from Mubarak to a more democratic and inclusive form of government. Not so fast say the protesters.

"" 8:52pm Reports of human chains created to block the army tanks from entering the Tahrir Square.

7:50pm Reports of gunshots fired by army into the air near the cordon they set up inside the barricades, near Egyptian museum.

Protesters clashed with army as they try to confine space available to protesters with barbed wire.

As has happened throughout the past 13 days, no one seems to be listening to the people in Tahrir Square and throughout Egypt who are still in the streets. They are not agreeing to the Suleiman/Obama-Clinton scheme and they really don’t like Suleiman:

“If Mubarak is still president, nothing will happen. If he will leave, then Omar Suleiman, no problem if he meets our demands,” said Amr Mahmoud, who has spent 12 days in the square with his wife, Reem. “But Suleiman was part of the old system. We want a new system.”

“Why does America want to work with this man?” asked Mahmoud. “He has not been good for Egypt. He has not been good for us. He has served Mubarak and he has served America. We do no trust him and if they have chosen him, then we do not trust America. We will stay here until we get what we want.”""

http://firedoglake.com/2011/02/07/concessions-meaningless-say-tahrir-protesters-we-want-a-new-system/

Posted by: lmsinca | February 7, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

"MLB is a perfect metaphor for todays right wing economic agenda."

Don't know about that. Baseball isn't exactly a free market b/c of the anti-trust exemption.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 7, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Wow, the S&P has climbed all the way back to top where it was in...wait for it...Spring, 2001. The only macro thing happening is widening income disparity.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 7, 2011 10:10 AM | Report abuse

The HuffPo has been unreadable for most of its existence. It's like the USA Today of blogs and yes, the celebrity pimping really was the last nail in the coffin. The HuffPo comments section pretty soon rivaled the high-toned discourse one normally finds only in YouTube comments threads.

Don't know about how this fits otherwise. I mean, it's great for Arianna, she gets a wad of cash. Wonder how her unpaid writers feel about that? Also, back in the day when a lot of people still didn't know that AOL was a joke and they had a lot of subscribers - over 10 years ago - they had a real rightward bent in their political coverage and forums. Have no idea if that has drifted over the years because - HELLO! - it's AOL and therefore irrelevant.

Can't see how this does anything for either AOL or HuffPo to really fix what's wrong with each of them, but like I said, I'm sure Arianna's happy with the deal.

Posted by: JennOfArk | February 7, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

RU -- I hope it's clear from this blog's content that I do a lot of original reporting...you read newsbreaks here that haven't been reported elsewhere and interviews with people in politics pretty regularly...I guess I'd say this is a blog of "reported opinion and opinionated reporting and aggregation"

Posted by: sargegreg | February 7, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

jenn, that is interesting, but I would also point out that HuffPo does do some really excellent work...the original reporting done by Sam Stein, Ryan Grim and others is very high quality, and take it from me, it's not easy to do the kind of reporting from the "left" that they are doing day in and day out. this could conceivably create a broader platform for that model

Posted by: sargegreg | February 7, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Yglesias on Bush and Switzerland...

"At any rate, I want Bush and other high-ranking current, former, and future American officials to know that Switzerland is a lovely country and my personal advice is that you should try and avoid doing anything that you think is likely to constrain your future travel for fear of war crimes prosecutions."

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2011/02/no-switzerland-for-bush/

Posted by: bernielatham | February 7, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

[Greg wrote: "the Chamber remains wholly committed on every level to the rollback of Obama's agenda"]

Malkin reminds us:
http://michellemalkin.com/2011/02/07/obama-the-u-s-chamber-of-commerce-bad-romance/

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one of the staunchest promoters of amnesty and joined with the AFL-CIO/ACLU to oppose immigration enforcement measures. They oppose E-verify and sued Arizona over its employer sanctions law.

The Chamber supported TARP, the auto bailout, and the stimulus.

The Chamber is supporting a pro-Obamacare, pro-TARP, pro-card check, pro-stimulus, pro-amnesty Democrat in Arizona over his free-market GOP challenger.

And the Chamber is now playing footsie with the AFL-CIO on a joint campaign to support increased government infrastructure spending — despite the massive Big Labor pay-offs embedded in these new pork-lined projects. (Refresher: Obama signed E.O. 13502, a union-friendly executive order in his first weeks in office, which essentially forces contractors who bid on large-scale public construction projects worth $25 million or more to submit to union representation for its employees. More here.)

While the White House pushes for a bonanza of new “public-private partnerships,” let me refresh your memories of some of the Democrats’ great ideas of “public-private partnerships”…

…taxpayer-funded black hole FANNIE MAE;

…Chicago’s shady Shorebank and its crony-supported successor, Urban Partnership Bank;

…the failed Chicago Olympics wealth distribution boondoggle;

…and the failed Richard Daley/Valerie Jarrett Chicago low-income housing boondoggle.

This isn’t about letting the best ideas and businesses thrive. It’s about picking winners and losers. It’s about “managing” competition and engineering political outcomes under the guise of stimulating the economy. As I noted last April when the command-and-controller-in-chief lectured businesses that “at some point you have made enough money,” we are dealing with a president who presumes to know when you have earned “enough,” who believes that only those who provide what he deems “good” products and services should “keep on making it,” and who has determined that the role of American entrepreneurs is not to pursue their own self-interest, but to fulfill their “core” responsibility as dutiful growers of the collective economy.

What’s in it for the statist businesses that go along for the ride with Obama and his team of corruptocrats?

Like they say in the Windy City: *It’s all about the boodle.*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 7, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

BREAKING: 58% Continue to Support FULL REPEAL of PelosiCare
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/health_care_law

"The majority of voters still support repeal of the new national health care law and remain convinced that it will drive up the cost and hurt the quality of health care in the country.

"A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 58% of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law, with 44% who Strongly Favor it. Thirty-seven percent (37%) are opposed to repeal, including 26% who Strongly Oppose."

*VOID*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 7, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Bernie:

Posted this yesterday afternoon, not sure if you saw it.

The other day, in the context of our morality discussion you asked me if there was any analogous phenomenon that I could think of, which I thought existed but which could not be demonstrated. I said no, but I think I spoke too soon. It seems to me that the notion of free will, or volition, is not only analogous but related. We all (most of us, anyway) operate on the assumption that free will exists, and the way we talk about things incorporates that assumption, but we cannot prove or demonstrate that any such thing actually does exist. Our “choices” could simply be the necessary result of our brain makeup and the stimulus with which we are presented. So there you go.

Do you accept that free will exists?

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 7, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

All, great new Adam Serwer post on Sarah Palin's "criticism" of Obama on Egypt:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/palin_says_nothing_in_particul.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 7, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

@Greg

"RU -- I hope it's clear from this blog's content that I do a lot of original reporting.."

Very clear to me Greg, but not to all of our righty friends. :-)

But that is what still blows my mind. I think any "rational" person can see that Greg does original reporting, but then I find it pretty obvious that a network that features several prominent Presidential candidates (and not old hands who are just speaking from their experience ,but folks who are being spoken of as front runners all from the SAME party can possibly be called fair and balanced. WTF do those words mean to these people...balanced...candidates all from the same party...editorial bias always from the same side of the political spectrum? The same thing goes for folks who believe Sarah Palin is a worthy spokesperson for anything other than snowmobiles or fishing gear.

I guess Cao explained this phenemenon as well as anybody with his 4:54AM post on last nights thread.

Anyway Greg for the umpteenth time you know how much respect I have for your journalistic integrity...I simply wanted to give you a chance to state the case I have been making for you.

Thanks for your reply!

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

@Greg

"RU -- I hope it's clear from this blog's content that I do a lot of original reporting.."

Very clear to me Greg, but not to all of our righty friends. :-)

But that is what still blows my mind. I think any "rational" person can see that Greg does original reporting, but then I find it pretty obvious that a network that features several prominent Presidential candidates (and not old hands who are just speaking from their experience ,but folks who are being spoken of as front runners all from the SAME party can possibly be called fair and balanced. WTF do those words mean to these people...balanced...candidates all from the same party...editorial bias always from the same side of the political spectrum? The same thing goes for folks who believe Sarah Palin is a worthy spokesperson for anything other than snowmobiles or fishing gear.

I guess Cao explained this phenemenon as well as anybody with his 4:54AM post on last nights thread.

Anyway Greg for the umpteenth time you know how much respect I have for your journalistic integrity...I simply wanted to give you a chance to state the case I have been making for you.

Thanks for your reply!

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Apologies for the double posts...grrrr

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, RU! I appreciate it...

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 7, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Many of you buy into the notion that a POTUS runs the country. B/C they campaign as if that were true it is completely understandable that many would believe it.

The POTUS runs FP [although not what other countries may do].

The POTUS runs the executive branch.

Thhe POTUS is C-in-C of the military.

The POTUS does not run the other two branches or any state, city, county, school district, or hospital district, or sanitation system.

The POTUS can affect but in no way shape the economy, absent a war.

I generally judge a POTUS on FP.

When a POTUS has a Congress of his own party he has more responsibility. Suppose, using hindsight, BHO had first called Congress to deal with the problems of the very instant: FinReg, job loss, foreclosures, state insolvencies, auto industry meltdown, and credit crunch for smallbiz. You say he did? Not exactly. The auto industry meltdown forced Ch. 11s were, I think, signal accomplishments. State insolvencies were handled as the most successful part of a muddled porky ARRA.

*But FinReg was ppd until the anger had softened and the FinReg softened, too.*

And job loss, credit for smallbiz, and foreclosures were attended to like the obligation to unwanted stepchildren.

All were Congressional concerns, but if BHO had not pushed the general agenda of health care reform as his #1 goal, *the national priorities could have been reordered and we might have had a better sense that BHO was paying attention*.

BTW, since 2007 there had been a bipartisan HCR proposal lying in wait: Wyden-Bennett. It could have been passed without sucking all the air out of the room and, like the giant ACCA, would have been marginally better than what we have had.

As to omnibus stimulus packages, it is the nature of shotgun bills that each congressperson seeks money for her/his CD. A series of focused "small" bills after the emergency aid to states would have made more sense. They would have cost less, but been more efficient as job savers, and they would have been more difficult to fault. They would have given the appearance of continuing effort and concern. And they might not have made much difference, but the American, continental, and global economy is not Congress's to control, any more than it is the Prez's.

I give BHO pretty good grades on FP. But I think focusing on HCR in 2009 demonstrated a tin ear on the domestic scene, and more than a seeming disregard of the most pressing domestic concerns.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 7, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Greg mentioned the Serwer post so.........

one more (click the link to George Saunders' New Yorker spoof on Sara) re Palin

wellrespectedblog.blogspot.com/2008_09_01_archive.html

Posted by: smd1234 | February 7, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

@NoVa

"Don't know about that. Baseball isn't exactly a free market b/c of the anti-trust exemption."

I take your point. You could have added that they also force the wealthy teams, mainly the Yankees to pay a "tax" on a certain payroll amount that exceeds what the rest of the owners consider realistic.
Ohhhh no again punishing success.

And so perhaps "perfect" was hyperbole because as you correctly point out it's not "exactly" the same.

I might counter however that our society is far from "perfect" free enterprise either...loads of socialism..and plenty of welfare for the rich...such as taxpayer subsidies for MLB teams. Economic study after economic study...and if anyone is seriously that interested I can link them..I'm very familiar after our debate here in St. Pete...show that stadia have negligible effect on a community's economic welfare unlike that new "chip" manufacturer that brings in a boatload of well paying jobs with a multiplier effect that is clearly quantifiable through use of the NAIC's or the old SIC's.

I agree with Maher that MLB is a terrific metaphor for right wing economic philosophy while the NFL represents the left wing philosophy.

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I am a big critic of Senator Durbin, and I for one was glad to see the messaging shift to the Sen. S of NY.

''''''''''''''

Senate Dems growing confident in health care fight? It only took two years, but Senate Dems are increasingly confident that their new message, that Republicans want to deprive patients of their rights, is a political winner. A sign of new messaging chief Chuck Schumer's influence?

Posted by: smd1234 | February 7, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

@mark in austin

Enjoyed your 11:12AM post. Very well thought out and stated.

I certainly agree with your documented limits of what a POTUS can really do.

I certainly respect your position on Obama's FP. I'm not quite as sanguine as you about 30,000 more troops for Afghanistan. The only possible reason or justification for that move is perhaps the "theory of giving them enough rope". Perhaps Obama simply wanted to give Petraeus and the neo cons a chance to show just how wrong they are. Everybody knows this is not a "winnable" war and we should just get the hell out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Scrw THEIR infrastructure..how about ours?

And I suspect Mark we may have to agree to disagree on Obama's desire to get HCR done quidkly. He did FIRST address the stimulus, GM etc...i.e. the "catastrophic" part of the economic mess he inherited. But I would posit next to those emergencies HCR was as critical to our economy as fin regs, or anything else that was on the burner.

I'm not familiar with the Wyden/Bennett proposal but I absolutely agree Obama's team butchered HCR. I was incredibly disappointed by both the result and how the entire debate went down.

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

TO.......Mark

Compared to Bush our FP has been downright masterful under BO.

The STIM was what it had to be. Rahm (as someone from House leadership, as an ultimate pragmatist, and as the wetnurse of so many of the new House members) knew that Dem. House members had been shut down through all of Bush 43, even after '06 when the Dems did so well. The House had to write the STIM and the apparent messy result was to give deprived members the projects they could support and talk about to constituents (and in many cases had been supported for years to no avail).

BO is a long term thinker, and that is what I like. He is also ALL ABOUT MAKING GOV'T EFFICIENT. Watch the next 2 years when the Congress will be doing little on its own due to gridlock and the Tea Party's influence. BO will cultivate Boner (and Senators), and whatever can get done WILL GET DONE.

Outside the Congress EVERYTHING will focus on efficiencies he can talk about in the campaign for '12 campaign.

BO knows that it MUST be done so he can appeal to the vast middle that is sick of bloat.

JMHO

smd

'''''''''

When a POTUS has a Congress of his own party he has more responsibility. Suppose, using hindsight, BHO had first called Congress to deal with the problems of the very instant: FinReg, job loss, foreclosures, state insolvencies, auto industry meltdown, and credit crunch for smallbiz. You say he did? Not exactly. The auto industry meltdown forced Ch. 11s were, I think, signal accomplishments. State insolvencies were handled as the most successful part of a muddled porky ARRA.

*But FinReg was ppd until the anger had softened and the FinReg softened, too.*

And job loss, credit for smallbiz, and foreclosures were attended to like the obligation to unwanted stepchildren.

All were Congressional concerns, but if BHO had not pushed the general agenda of health care reform as his #1 goal, *the national priorities could have been reordered and we might have had a better sense that BHO was paying attention*.

BTW, since 2007 there had been a bipartisan HCR proposal lying in wait: Wyden-Bennett. It could have been passed without sucking all the air out of the room and, like the giant ACCA, would have been marginally better than what we have had.

As to omnibus stimulus packages, it is the nature of shotgun bills that each congressperson seeks money for her/his CD. A series of focused "small" bills after the emergency aid to states would have made more sense. They would have cost less, but been more efficient as job savers, and they would have been more difficult to fault. They would have given the appearance of continuing effort and concern. And they might not have made much difference, but the American, continental, and global economy is not Congress's to control, any more than it is the Prez's.

I give BHO pretty good grades on FP. But I think focusing on HCR in 2009 demonstrated a tin ear on the domestic scene, and more than a seeming disregard of the most pressing domestic concerns.

Posted by: smd1234 | February 7, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

TO.......Mark & RUK

On HCR I blame the poorly functioning Senate, especially the messaging, the lack of a "time-frame" game plan that was workable.

As to the choice BO made, I respect him for it. And I don't second guess that.

He is a long term thinker, and knows that health costs are breaking the bank. Without SOME framework in place to tweak over the yrs, and to TRY to bend the cost curve, the fiscal house would just be continuing the downward spiral. That the result was essentially an endorsement of insurers, well, it is just plain sad. But reality is reality, and the Congress is the Congress.

JMHO

smd

Posted by: smd1234 | February 7, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

@mark in austin

Enjoyed your 11:12AM post. Very well thought out and stated.

I certainly agree with your documented limits of what a POTUS can really do.

I certainly respect your position on Obama's FP. I'm not quite as sanguine as you about 30,000 more troops for Afghanistan. The only possible reason or justification for that move is perhaps the "theory of giving them enough rope". Perhaps Obama simply wanted to give Petraeus and the neo cons a chance to show just how wrong they are. Everybody knows this is not a "winnable" war and we should just get the hell out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Scrw THEIR infrastructure..how about ours?

And I suspect Mark we may have to agree to disagree on Obama's desire to get HCR done quidkly. He did FIRST address the stimulus, GM etc...i.e. the "catastrophic" part of the economic mess he inherited. But I would posit next to those emergencies HCR was as critical to our economy as fin regs, or anything else that was on the burner.

I'm not familiar with the Wyden/Bennett proposal but I absolutely agree Obama's team butchered HCR. I was incredibly disappointed by both the result and how the entire debate went down.

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

"Easy for you to say...you're a stinkin' Sox fan! You stole our best player!!!!"

Two words for baseball: Salary. Cap. In the meantime, I'm happy to be with a top tier franchise. I can remember the lean years with the Sox where you pretty much knew at the start of the season that they were doomed; very demoralizing. But you have an excellent lower-tier franchise in Tampa, like Minny. Can you imagine being a Royals or a Pirates fan? Yecch.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 7, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

ruk/NoVA:

It is wrong to view baseball (or any sports league) as a metaphor for a market. The more sensible metaphor is for each sports league to be seen as a single corporation within a larger market (that market being the entertainment market). That corporation has profit centers (the Yankees) and it has cost centers (Tampa Bay). It is not "socialism" or "welfare" to transfer money earned in a profit center to a cost center that is fundamental to doing business. The Yankees need other teams to play, otherwise the organization makes no money, just as, say, a sales team at an investment bank needs a back office team to handle accounting, payments, legal issues, etc. One makes money, the other costs money, but ultimately both are needed for the success of the firm.

Again, the proper metaphor is to see the league as a whole as a single participant in a larger market, not to view the league as a market itself.

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 7, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Interesting discussions; I'm sorry to have been out of the loop this morning.

What Palin appears not to realize is that foreign policy is like an iceberg. 90% of it is beneath the surface. The most important conversations are happening off screen. I suspect that the true damage of the Wikileaks disclosure has been felt over the past two weeks.

We have limited ability to shape what's happening. Even a large chunk of foreign aid is modest compared to the size of the Egyptian economy. Its motivating ability is small compared to the desire of a tyrant to retain power. Or a new one to take it.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 7, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Regarding MLB and NFL: two words. Television revenue. NFL revenues are largely national, MLB revenues are largely local. I think at one point, it was calculated that Yankees stadium could be empty and they'd still generate a profit.

Speaking as a Royals fan, we have memories of George Brett, Dan Quisenbury, Bret Saberhagen, Jeff Montgomery, and Mark Gubicza to keep us warm at night. The franchise blew it many years ago with the signings of the two Davises--Storm and Mark. Frick and frack more like it.

Fortunately, well run low revenue franchises can compete (Twins, A's, Rays). The Yankers will always be competitive, but there has been a refreshing variety of winners of recent World Series.

Even worse for me as a Royals fan. I married a Cubs fan.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 7, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Scott

I certainly take your point but may I respectfully disagree with your analysis.

One could make the point the point they are "franchises" of the same business but indeed they are competing, separate, private business entities. And they compete for more than victories on the field. I suspect the the Boston Red Sox owners are very aware of their ancillary income such as sale of merchandise and I also suspect that they feel competitive with the Yankees. Of course the have nots are unable to truly compete on any level.

The Yankees do not need the Ray's to have a product. While it's true they'd more closely resemble the Harlem Globestrotters without a league they'd sill have their product. In addition the Yankees certainly do not need the Rays specifically or any of the other franchise individually. They fare better with a certain number to maintain the facade of genuine competition on the field but indeed the Yankees, because their owners, the Steinbrenner family are Tampa residents, hate the very existence of the Rays and the late Geo Steinbrenner made that clear in interviews. The Yankees hold Spring Training in Tampa and have had a minor league franchise as well...they view the Rays as direct competition and last year used a provision of an agreement negotiated when the Rays were founded, to broadcast the Yankee games into the Tampa Market..the only MLB market where another team is permitted to do so.

Perhaps you'd appreciate the metaphor our current Mayor uses to describe MLB. He compares it to the Mafia. A syndicate of loosely grouped "families" which each have their own protected turf and come together to rule when one of the families does anything to damage the other families. This is one of the hole cards our mayor will play when the Rays try to welch out of their lease. If he brings up the anti trust exemption that baseball still holds it will be bad for the rest of the MLB owners...hence they are making Sternberg do a dance to try and "trick" his way out.

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

@Blade

You left out one very famous Kansas City player...Roger Maris...ohhh but that's right the Yankees managed to snag him from the old A's..and that was even before free agency.

As for well managed small market teams being able to compete...posh..as someone who literally lives a couple dozen blocks from the home of one of those teams the Rays let me assure you what that really means. If a franchise gives up...and totally goes to a youth movement, acquiring as many draft selections as possible and investing in their minor leagues system, more affordable than paying Major League talent...what you end up with is a sort of Triple AAAA team...just above the minors but nowhere near the Yankees and Red Sox, Phillies, and other major markets. If those youngster all bloom at the same time..and if they have really strong young arms..they can make the occasional splash in the "real" major leagues as have the Rays. I agree with you blade that the Twins do a great job..and they recently signed their catcher (perhaps the best in baseball) because they took a rare gamble and forked over major $$$ and their star had no desire to live in NYC or Boston preferring instead the charms of midwestern Minnesota. ie. that signing was an anomaly.

But let's face it. MLB sucks. The smallest market in the NFL just won the Super Bowl..for the 4th time!!! The team they vanquished the Steelers also own many Super Bowl titles. The MLB Pirates suck on the field at the gate despite a brand new state of the art stadium that was a surefire bet to cure all their attendance woes.

What other sport do we get to stick it in the New Yorker's faces. Sorry guys...I love New York but get really really tired of the arrogance of Yankee fans and J-E-T=S fans. Yeah the Giants won one awhile back..same as my Bucs...what about the J-E-T-S..how many have they won? ONE forty years ago.
LMAO

MLB's parity is a joke, your Royals will win a World Series about the same time Sarah Palin secures the DEMOCRATIC nomination for President. On the other hand your Chiefs are ascendant...you don't have to always return to Len Dawson and Buck Buchanon and your other great stars of yesteryear because like my Bucs you guys are still able to produce and retain stars. Let's face it...the Chiefs will probably be the favorite to take their division...with all due respect to San Diego fans.

A postscript to all of this sports talk.
Watch the NFL labor negotiations. There is more than just how the owners and players divvy things up. Jerry Jones the Cowboys owner is trying to be the NFL's George Steinbrenner. If he gets his way and the NFL ends up like MLB with the rich dominating the have nots...I'll give up the NFL just as quickly as I did MLB.
Last season I turned down free box seats to Rays games from business colleagues on three separate occasions. Scr^w the MLB.

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

ruk:

""The Yankees do not need the Ray's to have a product.""

No, not specifically the Rays, just as a trading team at an investment bank doesn't need the specific people that process the trades they do. But just as the trading team needs someone to process the trades, so too the Yankees need other teams. That was the point.

And of course the metaphor only goes so far. But still, I contend that it is wrong to look at the economics of any sports league and compare it to an independent market. It is much more akin to an individual firm competing in a larger market...the entertainment market.

BTW, I agree with you that it is absurd for tax payers to underwrite the building of sports stadiums.

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 7, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

ruk:

Some figures for you to consider regarding "parity" in the NFL and MLB:

The last 10 Super Bowls have seen 7 different winners. The last 10 World Series have seen 9 different winners.

Five of the last 10 Super Bowls have been won by either the Pats or the Steelers. The only team to win more than 1 WS in the last 10 years is Boston, who only did it twice.

In the last 10 Super Bowls, 4 teams have appeared more than once, the most being the Pats who participated 4 times and won 3. In the last 10 WS, 5 teams have appeared more than once, with the most being the Yankees who participated 3 times and won once.

Based on this, I think you would have a hard time making your case that the NFL has more obvious parity than MLB.

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 7, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"Len Dawson and Buck Buchanon"

And that little Garrett guy, if I recall correctly. Good times.

I didn't realize what was going on in the NFL. They will ruin the sport if they go like baseball. There HAS to be a salary cap in pro sports. It's the only way to have fair competition.

Posted by: wbgonne | February 7, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

@ruk - Not exactly so. I must note that my Royals have won a World Series, albeit 24 years ago. There is, however, a model of a very successful small market franchise--the St. Louis Cardinals. They've won repeated championships (much to my Cubs-loving wife's consternation).

It's very difficult to keep a team like the Yankers out of the play-offs. Once there, they've been repeatedly shown the door in recent years. You just need the occasional cloud of gnats. ;-)

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 7, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

ruk:

In regard to the above, I would also make the point that since in the NFL playoffs a team needs only to win one game to advance, while in MLB a team needs to win a best of 5 or 7 series, one would expect to see more surprise, one-off winners in the NFL, since it is easier for a weaker team to beat a stronger team in a single game (a la the Giants over the Pats) than in a series of games. So the fact that fact that there has been greater single team dominance in the NFL (Pats, Steelers) than in MLB over the last 10 years lends even less credibility to your parity claim.

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 7, 2011 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Scott: "The other day, in the context of our morality discussion you asked me if there was any analogous phenomenon that I could think of, which I thought existed but which could not be demonstrated. I said no, but I think I spoke too soon. It seems to me that the notion of free will, or volition, is not only analogous but related. We all (most of us, anyway) operate on the assumption that free will exists, and the way we talk about things incorporates that assumption, but we cannot prove or demonstrate that any such thing actually does exist. Our “choices” could simply be the necessary result of our brain makeup and the stimulus with which we are presented. So there you go.

Do you accept that free will exists?"

Didn't see it. But aren't you asking the wrong question here? Something like - What do humans believe, perhaps even universally, which can't be demonstrated as reflecting reality? Anything you get as an answer to that question can't serve as an analogy for any claims to the reality of something (by the nature of the question) so you're left with your problem. You've just given it company. Whether I accept that free will is a feature of the universe or human minds (or any minds) is irrelevant to whether such an opinion is correct. It's not difficult to understand how/why we'd come to hold as true things which we don't have evidentiary or logical grounds for holding (there's a benign and all-powerful daddy in the sky looking out for us...burn a calf and Zeus will see there's enough rain for your wheat... my wife thinks I the best lover on the planet...

Morals are a social phenomenon. They are a product of human minds in community. They aren't making an epistemological claim but a prescriptive claim - "you/we should do X and not do Y". They are rules/laws for conduct, quite different from "laws" of physics (true regardless of minds to perceive them). But to conflate these two quite different things is to try and smuggle in just what you are trying to smuggle in - some "grounding" that validates a claim to a moral absolute. It's quite akin to a Caeser validating his position through insisting that the gods chose him. It's no surprise that moral absolutism claims come almost always from religious communities. It's an easy out for getting your way through trumping (via authority) other competing notions.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 7, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Does natural law theory make an epistemological claim?

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 7, 2011 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Bernie:

""But aren't you asking the wrong question here?""

Nope. I am asking precisely the question the answer to which I am interested in. Do you believe in the existence of free will?

""Anything you get as an answer to that question can't serve as an analogy for any claims to the reality of something ...""

I have not been making claims to the reality of something. I have been making claims about the the presumption of the reality of something. And this serves as the perfect analogy to that. (There is a difference between saying X exists and saying that statement Y assumes that X exists. With regard to morality I have been arguing the latter.)

""You've just given it company."

Exactly! You asked me if there were any other phenomenon analagous to my notion of morality. That, it seems to me, was an invitation to give it company.

""Whether I accept that free will is a feature of the universe or human minds (or any minds...""

Do you?

""...is irrelevant to whether such an opinion is correct.""

Very true. But for the moment I am not particularly interested in whether your opnion is correct. I'd simply like to know what it is.

Do you accept the existence of free will?

""But to conflate these two quite different things is to try and smuggle in just what you are trying to smuggle in - some "grounding" that validates a claim to a moral absolute.""

I'm not at all sure how to disabuse you of this notion. I've said it repeatedly, over and over again, but you never seem to take it in or incorporate it into your understanding of what I am saying. You seem to want to insist on discussing whether objective morality exists rather than whether moral claims assume its existence.

One more time, just to be clear: I am absolutely and unequivicolly not trying to "validate" any moral claim, nor am I trying to give grounding to a belief in a universal morality. I am simply saying that moral claims assume the existence of some universal morality. It may not exist. It may be total bunk. It may be nothing but the invention of our overactive imaginations. But the very force that moral claims have on other people comes from the presumption that it is not bunk.

But let's put all that to the side for the moment, and focus on the new and I think more useful question at hand. Do you accept the existence of free will?

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 7, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Bernie:

""But aren't you asking the wrong question here?""

Nope. I am asking precisely the question the answer to which I am interested in. Do you believe in the existence of free will?

""Anything you get as an answer to that question can't serve as an analogy for any claims to the reality of something ...""

I have not been making claims to the reality of something. I have been making claims about the the presumption of the reality of something. And this serves as the perfect analogy to that. (There is a difference between saying X exists and saying that statement Y assumes that X exists. With regard to morality I have been arguing the latter.)

""You've just given it company."

Exactly! You asked me if there were any other phenomenon analagous to my notion of morality. That, it seems to me, was an invitation to give it company.

""Whether I accept that free will is a feature of the universe or human minds (or any minds...""

Do you?

""...is irrelevant to whether such an opinion is correct.""

Very true. But for the moment I am not particularly interested in whether your opnion is correct. I'd simply like to know what it is.

Do you accept the existence of free will?

""But to conflate these two quite different things is to try and smuggle in just what you are trying to smuggle in - some "grounding" that validates a claim to a moral absolute.""

I'm not at all sure how to disabuse you of this notion. I've said it repeatedly, over and over again, but you never seem to take it in or incorporate it into your understanding of what I am saying. You seem to want to insist on discussing whether objective morality exists rather than whether moral claims assume its existence.

One more time, just to be clear: I am absolutely and unequivicolly not trying to "validate" any moral claim, nor am I trying to give grounding to a belief in a universal morality. I am simply saying that moral claims assume the existence of some universal morality. It may not exist. It may be total bunk. It may be nothing but the invention of our overactive imaginations. But the very force that moral claims have on other people comes from the presumption that it is not bunk.

But let's put all that to the side for the moment, and focus on the new and I think more useful question at hand. Do you accept the existence of free will?

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 7, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Bernie:

""But aren't you asking the wrong question here?""

Nope. I am asking precisely the question the answer to which I am interested in. Do you believe in the existence of free will?

""Anything you get as an answer to that question can't serve as an analogy for any claims to the reality of something ...""

I have not been making claims to the reality of something. I have been making claims about the the presumption of the reality of something. And this serves as the perfect analogy to that. (There is a difference between saying X exists and saying that statement Y assumes that X exists. With regard to morality I have been arguing the latter.)

""You've just given it company."

Exactly! You asked me if there were any other phenomenon analagous to my notion of morality. That, it seems to me, was an invitation to give it company.

""Whether I accept that free will is a feature of the universe or human minds (or any minds...""

Do you?

""...is irrelevant to whether such an opinion is correct.""

Very true. But for the moment I am not particularly interested in whether your opnion is correct. I'd simply like to know what it is.

Do you accept the existence of free will?

""But to conflate these two quite different things is to try and smuggle in just what you are trying to smuggle in - some "grounding" that validates a claim to a moral absolute.""

I'm not at all sure how to disabuse you of this notion. I've said it repeatedly, over and over again, but you never seem to take it in or incorporate it into your understanding of what I am saying. You seem to want to insist on discussing whether objective morality exists rather than whether moral claims assume its existence.

One more time, just to be clear: I am absolutely and unequivicolly not trying to "validate" any moral claim, nor am I trying to give grounding to a belief in a universal morality. I am simply saying that moral claims assume the existence of some universal morality. It may not exist. It may be total bunk. It may be nothing but the invention of our overactive imaginations. But the very force that moral claims have on other people comes from the presumption that it is not bunk.

But let's put all that to the side for the moment, and focus on the new and I think more useful question at hand. Do you accept the existence of free will?

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 7, 2011 4:53 PM | Report abuse

@Scott

I certainly take your point about parity as it is frequently brought up. And by that metric you could make the argument that there is parity. But taken as a whole, that is looking at the entire MLB and NFL which entity gives the bottom feeders the best chance of advancing to the playoffs.

Using your stats skews things a bit due to the influence of dynasties...Pats versus Red Sox..Yankees versus Steelers..but even in terms of dynasties which MLB team's have been dynasties...small or large market. The Pats are the exception in the NFL...the Red Sox, Yankees, and Phillies are far more the norm while in the NFL the Packers and the Steelers..two small market teams are the dynasties..along with the large market Pats.

But the parity I'm talking about is with the bottom feeders. The chances of the Buffalo Bills rebounding to their glory days blows away the chances of BB's poor Royals..they suck and they're going to suck for a long time..along with the Pirates, Brewers and the rest. I ask those fine citizens who were skinned for new stadia...how's that new stadium workin out for ya?

But I do take your point. When viewed over the past decade from the top performers MLB looks competitive with the NFL...when viewed from the entire universe of teams that reach the playoffs and teams that remained mired at the bottom...not so much.

Posted by: rukidding7 | February 7, 2011 4:56 PM | Report abuse

BTW Bernie, this:

""They aren't making an epistemological claim but a prescriptive claim - "you/we should do X and not do Y".""

...is begging the question. The issue between us is, precisely, what is meant by the word "should".

But, again, let's not get distracted from the more basic question: Do you accept the existence of free will?

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 7, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

BTW Bernie, this:

""They aren't making an epistemological claim but a prescriptive claim - "you/we should do X and not do Y".""

...is begging the question. The issue between us is, precisely, what is meant by the word "should".

But, again, let's not get distracted from the more basic question: Do you accept the existence of free will?

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 7, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Apparently the WaPo thought that was such a good post, it ought to be posted three times.

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 7, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

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