Wednesday, July 02, 2014

STYLE COUNCIL.

Despite all of them being entirely wrong about everything, rightbloggers do show some variations in style; there is the manic fart-bluster of Jonah Goldberg, the quiet Renfieldian madness of Stanley Kurtz, etc. Noticing, indeed savoring these attributes is sometimes all that keeps me from abandoning the Scourge & Minister desk entirely.

Amity Shlaes' ideas are so horrible that it may distract you from her prose characteristics. She's basically an old-fashioned hack who apotheosizes or demonizes as circumstances require in a workaday manner, but without the natural energy of inspiration that animates many of her colleagues, which may be why (as I have noticed before) she sometimes falls short of relevant material and has to pad her work in unusual and amusing ways.

Shlaes' latest for National Review is an argument for putting kids in debate club -- an admirable cause. She is most secure when concatenating talking points and her style is bright and boosterish when she does ("debate’s social achievements are so great that the sport even earned the solicitude of the Boston Fed").

But then something or someone reminds her conservatism's the client, and so she cobbles an endless, ramshackle lede about why teens prefer listening to music to talking with their parents:
The trouble isn’t that children don’t know anything, though they may not. It is that the kids won’t talk. And they certainly won’t discuss. Or argue...

The psychologists have been the opposite of silent on their explanation for teen silence: rebellion. The pop-culture experts will tell you something about Marshall McLuhan and the earphones.
The pop-culture experts who arrived in a time machine from 1974, perhaps.
But there is another analysis. It is not that adolescents won’t talk. It is that they cannot. At some point habit becomes necessity and they are afraid to take the earphones out. Teens are just not accustomed to quality argument and aren’t likely to become so in the monosyllabic or one-sided classes that await them at university.
Stark terror prevents teens from removing their earphones, and from talking; that must be the reason behind the Plague of Silent Children we've all seen as the kids march soundlessly to their buses after school. Not only are they mute, they're also deaf, at least to "quality argument," which is readily available -- somewhere, I guess; maybe from the old Firing Line tapes in Shlaes' den. But who can blame them from disengaging, when all that awaits them in the World of Sounds is "monosyllabic or one-sided classes," presumably conducted by Ima Stupid Liberal at Indoctrinate U. (How come these guys never send their kids to Bible colleges, where presumably enlightened colloquy flows?) (j/k, I know why.)
This trend works out fine for screenwriters, professional athletes, software coders, high-frequency traders, and supermodels, i.e., people who talk only to people in their set. But inability to talk to grownups and strangers punishes those who work in sales, the law, or medicine. Or any other area when you have to interact. 
I didn't know before this that supermodels, coders et alia only talk to their own kind; is this out of Robert Putnam?
The anti-argument trend plays out of course in politics, where the habit of silence eventually does become a habit of ignorance. When, 20 years later, former teens start to talk, what one notices first is the poor quality and evidence-short nature of their argument. All you have to do is watch MNSBC to know what I mean: “Perception is reality” is the network’s mantra. It’s all pretty sad for a nation whose founding, celebrated this week, would not have happened without Publius and, yes, the Anti-Federalist Papers.
It took enormous effort and time, but not only did she get the wingnut money shot in there, she also gave readers to understand that if you don't send the little thugs to debate club, they'll grow into stupid liberals. It seems to render the rest of the article superfluous -- oh, right: word count; also the chance to deliver this delightful anecdote:
One person who gets this is President Bush. With remarkable frankness and grace, “43” stood up in the fall of 2012 told a room with hundreds of Texan high schoolers, “I wish I’d debated in high school.” At the same dinner, a speaker, the Mexican philosopher Roberto Salinas Leon, talked about free trade and Hayek, and President Bush nodded approvingly.
If the becoming modesty and nodding of a famous dumbass doesn't strike you as inspiring, wait till Shlaes works her magic:
Next to me, a freshman from Chicago’s North Shore sat right up and smiled. The kid knew about Hayek, and now he knew that a president had heard of Hayek too. Whatever you think of Bush’s performance, that night he gave free marketeers a great gift. He showed kids that powerful people loved free markets, something they never would have picked up from U.S. television.
Guess it's time for ol' W to make an inspiring national tour -- maybe even finally appear at a Republican Convention! And so another deadline is met and another check is cashed. The writing life is hard, though I suspect it's easier if you just don't give a shit.

UPDATE. "Shorter Amity Shlaes," says NonyNony in comments: "I don't know anyone younger than 30." L Bob Rife is amused to learn of "G. Dubb, the freemarket old pres who can talk to the kids." W's nodding, or rather Shlaes' appreciation of it, touches Jay B: "'Silence = stupidity' but 'Nodding = wisdom.'" Also, when "the Mexican philosopher Roberto Salinas Leon, talked about free trade and Hayek," extrapolates mds: "then, in the spirit of debate, a Mexican farmer whose livelihood was destroyed by Archer Daniels Midland was permitted to retort. Wait, no, that would be too one-sided."

D Johnston says debate club isn't entirely a feast of reason: "The first and most important thing you learn is not how to compose an argument or gather evidence, but how to read the judge and play to his/her expectations... In my experience, the people who really enjoy debate are the ones who enjoy manipulating people and take great joy in it." That may be why so many of the more damp-palmed pundits act the way they do. It's like someone gave them a rhetorical dictionary years ago, but they have no human experience to apply it to.



170 comments:

  1. slavdude1:26 PM

    Dafuq?

    Not only is Shlaes mean-spirited, she writes a mean-spirited word salad too.

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  2. calling all toasters1:26 PM

    Oh, for the days of the Symposium, the Council of Nicaea, or the National Review cruise!

    http://nymag.com/news/features/republican-caribbean-cruise-2012-12/

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  3. JennOfArk1:26 PM

    Kids can't talk? I wonder why they all go around with those cell phone thingeys glued to the sides of their heads, then.

    Also, too: "When, 20 years later, former teens start to talkget their first gig on Fox News, what one notices first is the poor quality and evidence-short nature of their argument."



    Probably the biggest howler is what's left unsaid: Bush says he wishes he had been a debater, as if all that's involved in selling bad ideas is being able to argue for them more eloquently. It's true that a more eloquent argument, even if it's made up entirely of falsehoods, can help win over enough people to a bad idea to move it forward. But even then, it can only be done if the audience listening is too dumb to discern that it's a bad idea despite the flowery language. And if you get all the kids into debate club, Amity, there goes the audience of rubes you need to get your bad ideas over the top.

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  4. When, 20 years later, former teens start to talk, what one notices first is the poor quality and evidence-short nature of their argument.

    But enough about you, Amity. Let's talk about Hayek...

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/01/philip-pilkington-the-origins-of-neoliberalism-part-i-hayeks-delusion.html
    ~

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  5. So she's spoken to one teenager since 2012 and he just smiled enigmatically. When will she realize the reason they don't talk is that she's there and they're desperately afraid this madwoman will want to engage her in conversation?

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  6. mortimer20001:35 PM

    Shorter Amity Schlaes: From whence shall the young Hayek-read conservatives come to humiliate liberals in the cocktail parties of the future?

    Out of our asses, dear friends, as always!

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  7. calling all toasters1:38 PM

    The problem with kids these days, part Shlaes: If we don't have debate clubs forcing kids to take the evil, cynical side of arguments, where will we get our Republican pundits of the future?

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  8. StringOnAStick1:40 PM

    I once was a volunteer timer for a debate competition in high school. My takeaway from the experience was that these future lawyers/politicians were as morally flexible as a Slinky. Nothing I've seen since then has changed that opinion, and Shales knows they need to recruit a new crop of Young Guns given that the current crop is, well, neither.

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  9. At the same dinner, a speaker, the Mexican philosopher Roberto Salinas Leon, talked about free trade and Hayek,


    And then, in the spirit of debate, a Mexican farmer whose livelihood was destroyed by Archer Daniels Midland was permitted to retort. Wait, no, that would be too one-sided.



    and President Bush nodded approvingly.

    So did the bobbleheaded doll on the dashboard of a Chevy Malibu in the parking lot. Concinnity!

    Next to me, a freshman from Chicago’s North Shore sat right up and smiled. The kid knew about Hayek,


    And could scarcely contain his derisive laughter? I mean, sure, "North Shore," but still.

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  10. M. Krebs1:45 PM

    Kid probably thought W was talking about Salma Hayek.

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  11. Jay B.1:48 PM

    So..."Slience = stupidity" but "Nodding = wisdom". Got it.

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  12. L Bob Rife1:49 PM

    Next to me, a freshman from Chicago’s North Shore sat right up and smiled.

    G. Dubb, the freemarket old pres who can talk to the kids.

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  13. coozledad1:51 PM

    One person who gets this is President Bush. With remarkable frankness and grace, “43” stood up in the fall of 2012 told a room with hundreds of Texan high schoolers, “I wish I’d debated in high school.” But I had to go stick it in something instead, and bingo! My daddy was out six hundred dollars.



    Let this be a lesson to you. High school is where your life begins. I don't care what Tony Scalia says, debatin' ain't no sin."

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  14. "Hmm? Did someone mention a hot actress?"

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  15. L Bob Rife1:52 PM

    The kids are definitely in Hayek these days, with all their talk about self-pwnzership.

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  16. Jay B.1:52 PM

    The Road to Derpdom.

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  17. Well, the point of a debate in that context is to win, not to be right. A subtle but important distinction. The flexibility is also a requirement, because from round to round you may find yourself on opposite sides of the same argument.


    And being able to argue a position that you don't actually agree with is certainly a skill.

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  18. mortimer20001:55 PM

    He coulda been a master debater.

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  19. The psychologists have been the opposite of silent on their explanation for teen silence


    With turns of phrases like this, it's easy to see why I'm doing the opposite of reading this article.

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  20. coozledad1:56 PM

    Instead of a bum, which is what he is, let's face it.

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  21. I did debate in high school. I was crap at it and it was pretty terrible overall, but I will tell you that what we learned was not what Shlaes is assuming. High school debate teaches you how to be manipulative.


    The first and most important thing you learn is not how to compose an argument or gather evidence, but how to read the judge and play to his/her expectations. There's a very old trick where you pay attention to how the judge is taking notes. Everyone takes in a legal pad, and there's a specific way of charting out the flow of the debate that involves turning the pad lengthwise. However, only experienced judges know to do this; first-timers tend to use the pad normally (although there are exceptions). This affects how you argue. If you see a legal pad turned on its side, you stick to the rules to the letter because you're dealing with someone who knows the rules as well as you. If it's laid out normally, you can proceed to bamboozle the judge with bullshit because that's what s/he is expecting.


    In my experience, the people who really enjoy debate are the ones who enjoy manipulating people and take great joy in it. The one story I have from that miserable endeavor involves a case where this actually backfired. We were dealing with a pair of assholes who kept grilling us about our "link and brink." That's an obscure, arcane term for something that has a much more common name (though fucked if I can remember what it is now). What this pair had done is go through out-of-date debating handbooks to find a term the other side wouldn't know and use it to suggest a weakness that wasn't there. At the end of our round, both of them had big shit-eating grins on their faces. Then they lost, because they misread the judge and he didn't know what "link and brink" meant either. Now, if real life worked like that - where transparent attempts at bullshitting failed - I would be debate's biggest booster. But as we've proved time and time again, it ain't the case.

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  22. That is legitimately important, not so much argument's sake but for helping develop the roots of good faith. I know that most people in politics are more than happy to assume that people on the other side are just evil, but that's a really shitty attitude.

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  23. Kids can't talk? I wonder why they all go around with those cell phone thingeys glued to the sides of their heads, then.


    Well, they're talking about things other than politics, and is it really discourse if you don't mention Benghazi at least once per minute? I think not.

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  24. sharculese2:02 PM

    That's the thing. I know tons of bright, articulate youth activists. Shlaes doesn't know any of them because she belongs to a movement that's hostile to young people, and the kids recognize this.

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  25. Someone was paid to write that sentence. I think that's worth remembering. Someone who is a professional writer thought that this was good prose.

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  26. L Bob Rife2:05 PM

    Allow myself to introduce myself...

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  27. When, 20 years later, former teens start to talk, what one notices first is the poor quality and evidence-short nature of their argument. All you have to do is watch MNSBC to know what I mean

    Ah, yes, it's clear that O'Reilly's tirades and mic-cutting are evidence rich while Dr Maddow's occasional lapse into snark is immature.

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  28. Helmut Monotreme2:05 PM

    Don't worry. They may not hear about his hacktacular economics in their on-line for-profit charter high school, but once they finish their four years in the poison-ivy* league college of their choice, they'll be able to quote Von Mises, and Hayek and Laffer with the best of them. Maybe, if they work hard, someday they too can develop an economic hypothesis on the back of a napkin that gets used to justify continuing to shoveling money at rich people for another decade or so.

    *e.g. Liberty University, Orel Roberts University, Grove City College, The University of Chicago Economics Department, and too many others to list

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  29. Waingro2:06 PM

    "He showed kids that powerful people loved free markets, something they never would have picked up from U.S. television."

    I agree - it's fucked up how CNBC is constantly yammering about the evils of market capitalism and how Jay Leno would always read excerpts from Das Kapital during his opening monologues.

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  30. Those aren't Laffer curves!

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  31. That's weird because I'm pretty sure you're not younger than me (I'm pretty young), and we used the terms "link" and "brink" frequently in high school debate, though I never heard it expressed as a single concept.

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  32. mortimer20002:13 PM

    But he can still speak pidgin with the best of them.

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  33. NonyNony2:19 PM

    The trouble isn’t that children don’t know anything, though they may
    not. It is that the kids won’t talk. And they certainly won’t discuss.
    Or argue.


    Shorter Amity Shlaes: "I don't know anyone younger than 30."

    Because seriously - WTF? I am around teenagers all of the time and let me tell you - they talk. They debate with each other. They argue with each other. The discuss with each other. Hell they'll even do it a classroom with an adult present if the adult gets out of their way and doesn't act all judgmental about ... their ... arguments ...

    Okay. I'm starting to understand why Amity Shlaes only interaction with teenagers might be them sitting in silence and starting at her.

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  34. "I'm starting to understand why Amity Shlaes only interaction with
    teenagers sane people might be them sitting in silence and starting at her."

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  35. GeniusLemur2:22 PM

    " the kids won’t talk. And they certainly won’t discuss. Or argue..."
    I'd buy that that's generally the case in conservative circles, what with the kids being browbeaten or just plain beaten if they question, discuss, or especially argue with their parents.

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  36. So ... you're saying Salma Hayek wouldn't overly tax you?

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  37. Yeah, who knew "Children should be seen, and not heard" was coined by liberals?

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  38. Well, in these here internets days -
    http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/jbruschke/debate_bible.htm

    To win a disadvantage, the negative must prove that the plan will do something bad (the link) and show how bad the consequence will be (a burden identical to significance or harms, and almost always called the impact). The initial link is what the plan does to trigger the chain of events in the disad and everything between there and the impact is an internal link.

    A threshold is the point at which the impact occurs; if we are close to the threshold that means that the impact is just about to occur. If we are far from the threshold the impact, which may be bad, just isn't that likely to occur very soon. The threshold is often called the brink, and phrases like "now is a key time" usually mark threshold arguments. The tagline "no threshold" usually means that we are far from the brink or that the other team hasn't proven that the risk of the impact is imminent.

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  39. Sounds to me like a Silent Generation amirite?

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  40. DN Nation3:02 PM

    This is exactly the same rhetorical device used by the FOX News anchors...in Idiocracy:

    "He tried taking water from toilets, but it's Secretary Not Sure who finds himself in the toilet now. And as history pulls down its pants and prepares to lower it's ass on Not Sure's head, it will be Daddy Justice who will be crapping on him this time."

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  41. StringOnAStick3:07 PM

    I don't think the other side is evil, just often operating from poor information acquired through propaganda and usually with a large dose of fear.
    One of the kids I watched years ago ended up becoming the behind the scenes right hand of the wingers in CO politics. He actually did the best job of arguing both sides. I think he's moved up to the national level now thanks to his obvious talents.

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  42. Ellis_Weiner3:07 PM

    "With remarkable frankness and grace, “43” stood up in the fall of 2012
    told a room with hundreds of Texan high schoolers, “'I wish I’d debated
    in high school.'”

    And I knew he meant it with remarkable sincerity, since it's unimaginable that someone appearing before "a room with hundreds of Texas highschoolers" would say any anodyne old crap that came into his stuffed, blithering head, phoning it in the same way he's phoned in his entire adult life and career.


    (I don't know which is more plausible: that she writes this shit and really believes it, or she writes it and thinks anyone else does.)

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  43. TGuerrant3:10 PM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_B8joWR8BY

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  44. Ellis_Weiner3:11 PM

    "He showed kids that powerful people loved free markets..."


    Cue Homer Simpson: I love free markets SO MUCH...

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  45. Ellis_Weiner3:17 PM

    "she's arguing against a stereotype"


    Of course. That's all they do. It's always "liberals-this" and "teenagers-that" and "Hollywood wants us to" and "feminists won't let us," etc. I realize I've just done a similar thing--damning an entire class of people--but they're professional (and amateur) propagandists, so they all do have a common method.



    You know the people working on the Scarecrow in Oz are conservatives, because their daily work consists in manufacturing straw men.

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  46. Laughing, singing, dancing, grinning morons
    And while I'm on the subject

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  47. redoubtagain3:33 PM

    A freshman from Chicago's North Shore sat right up and smiled. The kid knew about Hayek


    Oh, for goodness' sake just say Winnetka and be done with it. 'Cause my experience is that someone from Chicago's actual South Shore High (I lived nearby) would not have been invited.

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  48. gocart mozart3:37 PM

    Ted Cruz was a college national debate champion. He would never try to manipulate the American voter would he?

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  49. satch3:45 PM

    We all laugh, and of course those morans richly deserve it. But there's an interesting piece in last week's New Yorker on Ted Cruz, and how he was raised in the wingnut version of a Skinner Box: schooled from birth by his evangelical nutcase father, and then run through a series of conservadroid hothouses like the Free Enterprise Institute and the Religious Roundtable, where, at a tender age, he became a star on the debate circuit. It's where he learned the key to success; be the one who frames the debate. Schlaes should LOVE this guy, and after reading that piece, I think we underestimate him at our peril. After all... we all know who ELSE was good at defining debate parameters...

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  50. redoubtagain3:46 PM

    This. In that movement, Shlaes is a "young person".

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  51. To say nothing of three hours of "Shut up, Mika!" on the morning intern killer.
    ~

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  52. ColBatGuano3:51 PM

    I'd love to overhear the conversation between W and Krugman about Hayek. 30 seconds tops, right?

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  53. redoubtagain3:51 PM

    OK, so the Todd Marinovich of politics.

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  54. dstatton3:51 PM

    I haven't read the article yet (I'm always behind), but a friend of mine did, and he went from being dismissive of Cruz to being frightened.

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  55. I didn't know before this that supermodels, coders et alia only talk to their own kind



    It's actually not quite as simple as that. Software coders only talk to supermodels, who do not respond, since supermodels only talk to athletes; athletes only talk to high-frequency traders; high-frequency traders only talk to screenwriters; and screenwriters only talk to software coders. That's what makes those five professions so lonely and confusing.

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  56. After all... we all know who ELSE was good at defining debate parameters...


    Marcus Tullius Cicero?

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  57. ColBatGuano3:57 PM

    I'm sure someone wrote it on an index card for him.

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  58. I would like to be a node in a digraph with this comment.

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  59. satch4:06 PM

    Well, there's always the chance that he'll turn out to be the next , but I wouldn't count on it.

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  60. They were using the term as a stand-in for one of the stock issues, possibly significance.

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  61. since supermodels only talk to athletes; athletes only talk to high-frequency traders

    I don't think Tom Brady gets his haircut ideas from high-frequency traders...
    ~

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  62. Heck, she probably made the whole thing up anyways.
    ~

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  63. smut clyde5:05 PM

    the Mexican philosopher Roberto Salinas Leon
    "Philosopher"? Oh for feck's sake. The dude is a right-wing-economics booster... a hack propagandist, "adjunct scholar to the Cato Institute", and full-time Guest Speaker. Bertrand Russell he's not.

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  64. smut clyde5:09 PM

    the Plague of Silent Children
    I've seen that movie!

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  65. Derelict5:14 PM

    Shlaes: "So, tell me how your liberal teachers prevent you from talking?"
    Student: "Wha . .? I, uh, well . ."
    Shlaes: "It's those liberals got your tongue, don't they? You can tell me. Tell me! TELL ME! You're oppressed, aren't you?"
    Student (thinking: "WTF!?!?"): "Look, my mom is, uh, trying to call me, and I'm expected home now, so I gotta go."
    Shlaes: EXACTLY what I thought! Liberal parents keeping that child from expressing his true thoughts!"

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  66. mgmonklewis5:15 PM

    Once more into the breeches!

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  67. LittlePig5:18 PM

    "G. Dubb, the freemarket old pres who can talk to the kids


    Scott Sloan lives!

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  68. mgmonklewis5:20 PM

    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." — A. Lincoln (who, on the Schlaes Scale, is therefore the stupidest of all presidents. QED, bitchez.)

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  69. LittlePig5:21 PM

    Rhetoric, not reason. Shales worries there will be no bullshitters to pick up the right-wing welfare mantle. No worries, sis, flim-flamming is as American as baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet.

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  70. LittlePig5:25 PM

    Are you a man of wealth and taste?

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  71. mgmonklewis5:25 PM

    Drenched in a sour, bitter vinaigrette to stupefy the taste buds.

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  72. LittlePig5:29 PM

    Ray Bolger libel!!!!

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  73. smut clyde5:31 PM

    One ingredient is added in such large quantities to please a target audience who are nostalgic for a past that never existed. Hence all the pine nuts.

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  74. whetstone5:31 PM

    This has been my impression of debate, which is one reason why I never did it—it's more about throwing a bunch of shit against the wall to see what sticks. Which would explain a lot about why Schlaes values it so highly.

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  75. LittlePig5:32 PM

    Can you see the President is a nig*BONG*

    I am coming to the opinion that that was the most prophetic movie of all time.

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  76. LittlePig5:33 PM

    "Boston, dear Boston, the land of the bean and the cod. Where the Cabots speak only to the Lodges, and the Lodges speak only to God"

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  77. LittlePig5:38 PM

    Hell, I was one. I could argue either side, and won every time.

    Strictly bullshitting, a talent of my family even among Southerners. Rhetoric is horseshit, and Plato burns in Hell (got an A on that one in college, proving the Sophists - whose crime was moral relativism - were right).

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  78. bekabot5:53 PM

    Whatever happened to Young Folks being seen and not heard? Has that gone out of fashion?

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  79. whetstone5:56 PM

    But debate does not dominate high schools. Very often short of funding, debate teams must woo a history or English teacher to coach them; there is no big budget.

    Huh. Perhaps she could find someone to debate why this is the case.

    Too, there is the fact that some Americans don’t like intellectuals.

    Yes, there's a popular political party littered with those some Americans.

    They have become little William F. Buckleys

    I didn't know that you could call someone a queer and threaten to sock them in their goddamn face in debate. That does sound like fun!

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  80. Pope Zebbidie XIII6:00 PM

    I call Godwinnius.

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  81. bekabot6:02 PM

    "Too, there is the fact that some Americans don’t like intellectuals."

    "Yes, there's a popular political party littered with those some Americans."

    See, she got it wrong. Here's how it should have gone:

    "Some say some Americans don't like intellectuals."

    There, back to Fox New Standard. Fixed that. (Unless she meant to say "Some intellectuals don't like Americans," in which case I'm at a loss.)

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  82. Pope Zebbidie XIII6:05 PM

    An "adjunct scholar" conjures up a picture of desk shoved in next to the men's toilets, under a piece of galvanized iron that keeps off the rain.

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  83. M. Krebs6:25 PM

    ... that powerful people loved free markets,...


    Because free markets gave them so much power.

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  84. JennOfArk6:39 PM

    I saw that (and of course commented on it) over there. As I noted, it doesn't matter because it won't put a dent in the demand for yeti porn.

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  85. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person6:42 PM

    And they would *stay* socked!

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  86. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person6:43 PM

    Not with the YF. It's why they text so much and talk so little...

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  87. JennOfArk6:57 PM

    Yes, but...they never counted on the fact that Cruz would stimulate the "ick" factor in so many. I don't say this because he's a charlatan, a TV-preacher in a Senate suit, politically retrograde, or any of that - I say it because politics aside, he's repellent. I'm not alone in that reaction to him; I think it's the norm outside of the 27%. And even they don't like him so much as worship him - as we know, those guys are big on cults of personality, and Cruz comes from that background and knows what they want to hear, and repeats what they already believe back to them, which is all the proof they need that he's chosen by God.


    And that thing about "liking" vs "worshipping" is a crucial distinction, because Ted Cruz is one of the most unlikable people I've ever seen. He's hated by his Senate colleagues, even the ones who agree 100% with his crazy political beliefs/stances/whatever you want to call them (because he certainly doesn't believe any of them himself), because he's a grandstanding backstabber who makes their lives more difficult in his pursuit of attention and makes no apology for it. I get the impression he's fairly widely hated by the press, including at least some quarters at Fox News, because he's so transparently and again, arrogantly, dishonest (and for Fox, because his stunts gave Republicans a black eye). There's nothing to like about the guy. He's smarmy, he's oily, he's reptilian, and you can spot from a mile away that he thinks his shit doesn't stink.


    Yes, he's got a following, but I don't think he would be able to overcome the "ick" factor with enough people outside the crazies to go anywhere. He won't win the presidency for sure, and he's unlikely to be appointed to any high position by a Republican president, because whoever that might be already hates his guts.

    ReplyDelete
  88. JennOfArk7:10 PM

    I'd love to see some talented individual dub "I like free markets" into this clip.

    ReplyDelete
  89. smut clyde7:18 PM

    With remarkable frankness and grace, “43” stood up in the fall of 2012 told a room with hundreds of Texan high schoolersShlaes works for "43" as director of the "4% Growth Project", a subsidiary of the George W. Bush Institute. The Institute's other activity being to encourage right-think among high schoolers with prizes for the best pro-privatisation essays and debating-club speeches and such as. So here she is using her NR column to grease up to her boss. Angling for a promotion?

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  90. smut clyde7:19 PM

    Goddamn tag-eating Disqust.With remarkable frankness and grace, “43” stood up in the fall of 2012
    told a room with hundreds of Texan high schoolersShlaes works for "43"
    as director of the "4% Growth Project", a subsidiary of the George W.
    Bush Institute. The Institute's other activity being to encourage
    right-think among high schoolers with prizes for the best
    pro-privatisation essays and debating-club speeches and such as. So here
    she is using her NR column to grease up to her boss. Angling for a
    promotion?

    ReplyDelete
  91. Sliced, what a casserole!

    ReplyDelete
  92. ColBatGuano7:25 PM

    His desk is in the basement. He did get to keep his red stapler though.

    ReplyDelete
  93. JennOfArk7:28 PM

    In much the same way many privileged white people in the segregated south granted, or at least looked the other way on what they called "totin' privileges" (i.e., petty thievery, generally of foodstuff or minor household items) granted to their well-below-poverty-wage household help, the modern GOP and its media fellows do not look askance at members of the brotherhood helping themselves to a bit of grift on the side.

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  94. montag27:36 PM

    Over the years, conservatives have really pushed debating (it's high praise indeed for a young Christian to be on the debate team at Liberty U. or Patrick Henry College), but, there's also a sort of slithering, sniggering undercurrent to it, that coming up with the most effective rhetorical fallacy to undermine an opponent's otherwise sensible and straightforwardly-put argument is the ultimate aim. In other words, as in elections, winning is all that counts (Willie Horton was just a tactic!). So, I think, Shlaes is just banging her little tin drum for more reactionary, regressive, conservative election wins in the future.

    Got to be able to sling shit to be Republican winner! That's the only way they can win, so....

    It's a wonder, though, that Shlaes, in taking this tack, ignores that old advice, better to be thought an idiot than open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

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  95. "As the length of any Forum debate increases, the likelihood of a comparison to a fasces-holder subjected to damnio memoriae approaches certainty."
    --Lex Godwinnia

    ReplyDelete
  96. L Bob Rife7:45 PM

    No, an international man of mystery.

    ReplyDelete
  97. smut clyde7:45 PM

    It doesn't help his uncanny-valley vibe that he's had no real-world experience. Has Cruz ever worked in anything outside the lobbyist / politics complex?

    ReplyDelete
  98. Cato the Institutionalised7:47 PM

    As the length of any Forum debate increases, the likelihood that Carthago Delenda Est approaches certainty.

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  99. She's just a fountain of crap.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amity_Shlaes
    ~

    ReplyDelete
  100. L Bob Rife7:50 PM

    I can't read stood up with remarkable grace without thinking that this is a reference to him usually stumbling around drunk.

    ReplyDelete
  101. smut clyde7:52 PM

    http://media.oglaf.com/comic/Fountain_of_Doubt.jpg

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  102. satch7:55 PM

    I will never underestimate wingnut tribalism. Their problem in '12 was that they got complacent when poll after poll and pundit after pundit assured them that their dreamboat The Mitt was a shoo-in and enough of them stayed home to tip the scales. I don't think they'll make that mistake again, which is why we'd better start practicing the Get-Up-Off-The-Couch move right now.

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  103. montag27:58 PM

    "Bush Institute?" Isn't that the foreshortened version of the full name, the Bush Institute for Overinflated Pomposity, Calloused Indifference and Militarized Peeance and Freeance?

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  104. J Neo Marvin8:10 PM

    Not only do kids never talk, but George W. Bush is the one who will teach them to become eloquent by example! It's like the Twilight Zone of derp.

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  105. Mike McCarthy8:12 PM

    What is the relevancy of Salma Hayek?

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  106. montag28:28 PM

    Toward the end of Li'l Boots' career in Preznidentin', I thought that he was a perfect modern analogue for Nathanael West's Shagpoke Whipple in A Cool Million. Even started roughing out a re-do of that story, which I'd planned to call, A Cool Thrillion, because, hey, Bush as an anti-science Christian would definitely think there was such a number (I'd once had a born-again salesman try to sell me soap as a miracle substance and he'd insisted that "all a' us have a thrillion cells in our bodies, didja know that?" and I resisted the urge to tell him that in all my years of studying chemistry and physics, and ruminating on things like surfactants, I'd honestly never heard that).

    He is a perfect 21st century Pangloss, in a number of ways.

    Hell, I might do it yet.

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  107. montag28:35 PM

    Is that sort of like saying that the longer a debate goes on, the greater the probability that bullshit approaches infinity?

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  108. Derelict8:38 PM

    I'm sure lots and lots of kids across America have direct experience with the power and glory of the free market. Mom and Dad's jobs shipped to China, house foreclosed on, teachers in school having to buy their own school supplies while the school lunch program gets slashed.

    I'm not sure Amity would really like to face such fortunate children in a debate. And she most certainly would not want to meet any of them on the street.

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  109. JennOfArk8:41 PM

    Can't believe no one got to this already:

    " He showed kids that powerful people loved free markets, something they never would have picked up from U.S. television will learn all too soon when they're grown, on their own trying to make a living, and figure out why powerful people love free markets."

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  110. Derelict8:48 PM

    Do it! Do it! Or at least grace us with an outline we can option by next Thursday, okay?

    Have your agent call my agent, we'll do lunch.

    ReplyDelete
  111. montag28:58 PM

    Cruz is, in an important sense, a distillation of modern Texas politics, and that makes him region-specific. He's probably got some cachet outside of Texas, in the dumber parts of the South, but, he's still got a Latino surname and that will count against him in the more retrograde parts of the Republican base.

    In the nominally sane parts of the country, people will go running, screaming, in the opposite direction from him, because the religio-looney patois not only doesn't register with them, it gives them the willies. In Texas, I doubt they notice that smart + slick + severely looney tunes does not a candidate make.

    All that said, could Cruz get close enough to make a run of it? Not sure. A lot of people during the 2000 campaign rightly judged Bush to be a first-class moron and a self-impressed little prick (all of which was borne out over eight long, depressing years), and still, he got close enough to steal it. I'm actually hoping that Paul, Frothy and Cruz get into repeated slap-fights to see who can out-crazy the other, because whomever comes out of that the winner is probably doomed.

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  112. smut clyde9:00 PM

    For anyone not enmeshed in magical thinking, the admission that free markets are tools to serve powerful interests is a damning criticism of them. But Shlaes is assuming that everyone in the audience was a natural-born rube, who will figure "powerful people love free markets... therefore... if I love free markets, then I will become a powerful person!"

    She might be right.

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  113. MikeJ9:05 PM

    There's nothing conservative parents like more than a teenager who argues with them.

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  114. smut clyde9:05 PM

    Je vinaigrette rien tout!

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  115. montag29:06 PM

    Umm, never one to discourage get-out-the-vote efforts, but, it seems just as likely that that's all they had. The polls they treasured were bogus, and the right-wing pundits were never going to say anything bad about the conservative candidate--until after he lost, and then it was pile-on time.

    Much of what went on in the last weeks and days before the 2012 election was just working the refs, not any sage, rational estimation of Rmoney's chances.

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  116. montag29:17 PM

    ""With remarkable frankness and grace...."

    The bullshit is strong in this one.

    This is the sort of 2001-3 hagiography that was, incredibly, common in the press at the time.

    Now, maybe, the language might have been justified if he'd said, instead, "I wish I hadn't run away from the Air National Guard," or, "I wish I'd not snorted all that cocaine and had my Poppy use his political pull to save my sorry ass from jail," or "I wish I hadn't stolen the Presidency."

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  117. satch9:57 PM

    Eh... sounds better in Latin.

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  118. smut clyde10:23 PM

    The kid knew about Hayek, and now he knew that a president had heard of Hayek too
    This brings to mind the story about the brawl in the Irish bar. You know, the one with the punchline "Yeah, of course I knew Paddy was a catholic when I told that joke... but how was I to know that the Pope was catholic?!"

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  119. One groovy thing about being a conservative writer of thoughts is no one can tell if you're drunk.

    The downside is no one can tell if you're having a stroke.

    ReplyDelete
  120. CheezWhiz11:05 PM

    That voice, where have I heard that voice?

    ReplyDelete
  121. Scipio Africanus11:25 PM

    Hey, you appended that little crack to all of your speeches. Length of debate had nothing to do with it.

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  122. AGoodQuestion11:30 PM

    Whatever you think of Bush’s performance, that night he gave free marketeers a great gift. He showed kids that powerful people loved free markets, something they never would have picked up from U.S. television.
    To the extent that I can decode this trainwreck, it appears to translate to, "Some of my sources tell me that even here on the starboard side we're saying that Bush sucked now. Sometimes. Other times we claim him as a true blue conservative. Hopefully the kids are paying attention those other times. It's all about the kids."


    I see what you mean about not giving a shit.

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  123. tigrismus11:31 PM

    When, 20 years later, former teens start to talk, what one notices first
    is the poor quality and evidence-short nature of their argument.


    The former non-debate clubbers can't argue, the former debate clubbers can't write or argue.

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  124. AGoodQuestion11:35 PM

    Is that what the people carrying "Taxed Enough Already" signs are talking about?

    ReplyDelete
  125. ckc (not kc)11:39 PM

    evidence-short nature of their argument...“Perception is reality”

    Yeah, tell your teenager their perception is "evidence-short" - they'll respect you for it.

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  126. AGoodQuestion11:41 PM

    And she most certainly would not want to meet any of them on the street.
    Not unless it was a privately owned free market street with its own five star security.

    ReplyDelete
  127. AGoodQuestion11:45 PM

    She can't even beat her own straw man, though. That's the sad/funny part.

    ReplyDelete
  128. AGoodQuestion12:02 AM

    Underfunded high school extracurriculars? Why, some conservative really should do something about this. Besides throwing gasoline on the fire, I mean.

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  129. realinterrobang12:08 AM

    Speaking as someone who has what amounts to a Master's degree in applied rhetoric (Language and Professional Writing is the actual name on the piece of paper, but that's not what it is in practice), I assure you, the study and use of rhetoric is not horseshit. Bullshitting, as Harry Frankfurt has so lucidly described, is an entirely other discipline, although knowing how to construct good bullshit (or good non-bullshit) is a good deal.

    Shorter ?!: Discourse analytics FTW, man.

    ReplyDelete
  130. realinterrobang12:14 AM

    I love you and want to do your taxes. This is complicated by my not being American and not knowing the first thing about how to do a tax return. But it's the thought that counts, right?

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  131. Tehanu1:01 AM

    "powerful people loved free markets, something they never would have picked up from U.S. television"


    No! Really? The U.S. television that practically wallows in the bling owned by the "Real" housewives of tony neighborhoods? That consists primarily of ads for shiny new cars showing gorgeous models, beer showing gorgeous models, vodka and rum showing gorgeous models...? And of course the tell she doesn't even realize she's displaying: "powerful people" are the ones the yutes should admire; power validates Mammon-worship; power is what really matters. I sincerely hope her last sight on earth is some powerful person giving the thumbs-down right before they open the gate and let the lions at her.

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  132. MichaelNewsham3:32 AM

    Of course American high school debate is Lincoln-Douglas debate, where the main aim is to do the Gish Gallop beloved of Creationists- through out as many arguments (actually talking points) as quickly as possible, then pick up on whichever one your opponent hasn't had time to respond to and declare yourself the winner because of that.

    Christian apologist William Lane Craig is a master at it and has 'defeated' many well-meaning atheists who thought they were getting into an honest discussion- though lately word has gotten round and many opponents have learned how to handle his schtick.

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  133. Another Kiwi3:59 AM

    A no-account kid who made it big in moving pictures even though you would think she was too big to fit in one of them there camerays. All she had was a dream and the ability to pretend for a living. Ah I see the GWB connection

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  134. montag25:30 AM

    Hmm. It might go on a bit longer than that, if only because Bush's stammering and hemming and hawing would go on for quite some time before Krugman could get in a word edgewise.

    ReplyDelete
  135. montag25:43 AM

    Now there's a kid who's destined for serial unpaid internships at Reason magazine, or will wind up in prison on perjury and obstruction of justice charges after a stint in the next Nixonian administration. Can't have cover-ups without bright-eyed true believers....

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  136. Derelict6:24 AM

    Bush: "Krugman? I loved that show you did with Tony Randall. What was it? Oh! The Odd Couple! You were great in that!"
    Krugman: "Uh, right. Thanks. Gotta go!"

    ReplyDelete
  137. Derelict6:29 AM

    Remember the last 12-year-old conservative sensation? Gave a speech at C-PAC. Was going to be the next great thing.


    Then puberty hit, some additional brain cells got activated, and now Jonathan Krohn is a not a conservative.

    ReplyDelete
  138. Derelict6:42 AM

    All that said, could Cruz get close enough to make a run of it?

    Just remember who all the front-runners were during the 2012 primaries. Hell, even Rick Perry was on top for a few minutes! If we're really lucky, maybe we'll see Cruz squaring off against another field of loons.

    And if we're really extra special lucky, we'll get a 2016 GOP ticket of Michelle Bachmann and Louie Gohmert. Bachmann-Gohmert Overdrive! Yeah!

    ReplyDelete
  139. Derelict6:46 AM

    But either way, you still get that delicious wingnut welfare paycheck!

    ReplyDelete
  140. montag27:18 AM

    Oh, indeed. "Just shutupshutupshutup!" is a rhetorical master-stroke.

    ReplyDelete
  141. I was sitting on a bus in texas when a humble looking older white man in a shabby cap marked "43" sat diwn next to me. Looking out wistfully on the passing landscape--littered as it was with smoking chemical fires, gun toting cannibals, oil derru ks, drought stri ken crops and cattle--he turned to me and with a gracious nod said " you people can have it... Look what we done to it? I know some of my folkses is angry 'bout it but i say we had our turn, hundreds o yesrs of debatin' and philisophizin' and hayekin' it up but what good did it do? We ruint it and now its up to you kids." With that he spat an expert spit at some illegals trying to board the bus and settled into a nap.--fin

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  142. Was t one of bushes more assholish tricks to give awaeds or introductions to people by observing that those people had been A students but he had been a C student? Implying that all that book larnin' were nt worth nothing much in the end since the resl power was in the presidency?

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  143. I presume kids no longer argue the merits of contraception, or equal pay. Or equal marriage because these issues are no longer subject to debate. They are settled.

    ReplyDelete
  144. "…operating from poor information acquired through propaganda and usually with a large dose of fear."


    Well, with no imaginary devils, angels, unicorn-vampires and such to blame human behavior on, I'd say that is a pretty good definition of evil as it exists in the actual world of people.

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  145. Bush was the son of a former president with massive wall street and sicial ties. Cruz isnt. So he wont lock up the money primary early.

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  146. montag28:11 AM

    At this very late stage of the capitalists' game, anyone who uses the term, "free markets," without a smirk and a knowing wink should be pelted with nerf balls and made to repeat elementary school. Most everyone today realizes, whether they are inclined to admit it or not, that it's a euphemism for global rape and pillage and fixed games, a stock phrase denoting unrestrained financial barbarism and governmental fecklessness and subjugation to the will of the diseased wealthy. Its only appeal to ordinary people is in the way it sounds, and even then, in a horribly twisted Luntzian fashion, it promises tradewinds and delivers shipwrecks to all those unsuspecting people lured toward it.

    It ought to be banished from polite conversation for the vile propaganda that it is. But, Amity Shlaes uses it with a straight face, and in glowing reference to the dumbest dufus to ever occupy the White House in modern times, and then has the utter fucking gall to suggest that the concept is wholly marginalized, when, in fact, we are pummeled almost every hour of every day with not just the exact rendering of the phrase, but with the effects of its implementation.

    I guess it shows that I hate the term and what it really stands for, and despise the people who employ it with such false sincerity. They might as well be saying, "fuck you, peon," every time they utter it.

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  147. cleter8:34 AM

    Has this Shlaes person ever been to a high school or college debate tournament? My recollection is that it was chock-a-block full of lefties. Dogmatic Randians--and there were a few--tended to not do very well.

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  148. Dr. Hunky Jimpjorps9:03 AM

    Next to me, a freshman from Chicago’s North Shore sat right up and
    smiled. The kid knew about Hayek, and now he knew that a president had
    heard of Hayek too.

    I'm sure the president's heard of Bozo the Clown, too, kid

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  149. montag29:26 AM

    Oh, I think Bachmann's days of campaigning--for anything--are over. She's already been busted on financial shenanigans, and I don't think all the investigations are over yet. There could be more bad news for her coming. As for Looney Louie, I'd guess even he knows that a strange, weird bald man doesn't have a chance. Put him next to Gov. Goodhair and he'll look and act like Mr. Magoo on PCP (w'all, shit, he does, anyway). Nobody seems to be watching with whom Rove is spending his time strategizing these days, but whoever that is, I'm betting he'll show up eventually. Jebby's trial-balloon appearances didn't go all that well with the goon squad, so maybe Rove's looking for another snake to saddle up and ride.

    ReplyDelete
  150. montag29:29 AM

    Very true. Cruz doesn't have the Bushes Christmas card list to work.

    ReplyDelete
  151. Derelict9:30 AM

    How can Michelle NOT run? God told her to run last time! (Of course, that was the election where God directly told Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and Santorum to run. I guess the big guy in the sky was hedging his bets--and still picked a field of losers.)

    ReplyDelete
  152. montag29:32 AM

    Hell. Gawd was probably telling her to "run away," and all she heard was the first part.

    ReplyDelete
  153. Halloween_Jack9:37 AM

    I got all I wanted out of high school debate when I had a class in which the teacher was basically too lazy to teach (not the only one, but rather striking as this was supposed to be an honors class) and came up with the idea for the kids to have debates on current issues. The creationist movement was starting to gather steam, and I took the side against it being taught in schools. I exhaustively researched the topic, made a list of my talking points... and got blindsided by my opponent, who invoked the Second Law of Thermodynamics and left me flabbergasted that someone would pull something like that out of their ass. (Unfortunately, the teacher declared him the "winner" because she didn't understand why the Second Law didn't apply.) At least the other guy had the good grace to acknowledge that it was all bullshit.

    ReplyDelete
  154. Discourse analytics

    HOT.

    ReplyDelete
  155. montag29:47 AM

    What the hell? How did that argument go? Gawd made entropy?

    ReplyDelete
  156. Cato the Censor10:18 AM

    Are we related?

    ReplyDelete
  157. Halloween_Jack10:39 AM

    The argument is (generally) that you can't have something going from lesser complexity to greater complexity without outside intervention. The answer, of course, is that evolution doesn't happen in a closed system; here, let MC Hawking break it down for you.

    http://youtu.be/2knWCuzcdJo

    And, as a bonus:

    http://youtu.be/S_k-MZcjCFI

    ReplyDelete
  158. JennOfArk11:00 AM

    22nd Century McMegan.

    ReplyDelete
  159. One reason they pushed debate is that it is quite inexpensive, compared to other "sports" for which you need actual facilities, or arts and crafts or, for example, science which you don't want to touch with a ten foot pole. So I think there was a debate team Zero, for them, which with little money and a lot of gumption (assholishness) catapulted one of these schools to nominal national fame. It fits in with their generic insistence that public schools could do better with readin', ritin, and 'rithmet ic if they just added a little god 'n guns and a few whippings for hte more recalcitrant. No more throwing money at public school underachievers! We can achieve excellence the old fashioned way, like Socrates, by just hectoring a few choice students. In fact this was recently the battle cry of some right wing political figure (I can't remember which one) arguing that edumacation didn't cost nothing in the socratic days of yore so why should it cost so much today? Oh-I think that might have been Dave Brat of teabagger fame, a college professor(ish) of Ayn Rand.

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  160. I can't believe I haven't been tapped by Soros to write a string of these columns. I have been industriously ordering up Taxi cabs to fill out the week's quota.

    ReplyDelete
  161. Does she really think that the teen years last for 30 years? That the 14 year old nephew who is avoiding his crazy aunt literally doesn't speak until he's 34?

    ReplyDelete
  162. J Neo Marvin1:54 PM

    Dunning-Krueger training.

    ReplyDelete
  163. smut clyde4:30 PM

    Bush says he wishes he had been a debater, as if all that's involved in
    selling bad ideas is being able to argue for them more eloquently.

    Bush was in debate class at Yale.

    ReplyDelete
  164. cleter9:40 PM

    Yeah, I have a teenager, and they never shut up. Like little Clarence Darrows they are.

    ReplyDelete
  165. cleter9:44 PM

    You could have a link without a brink if your disad was linear rather than threshold.

    ReplyDelete
  166. cleter10:07 PM

    I was involved in debate about the same time Cruz was. There are a couple of college debate organizations and formats, and Cruz participated in one of the more light-weight leagues. He was in one of the leagues that emphasized bulshittiness rather than research. The league he competed in was started in the 80s as a less work-intensive alternative to the existing research-heavy formats.

    ReplyDelete
  167. Helmut Monotreme2:21 PM

    I regret that I have only one upvote to give to this comment.

    ReplyDelete