January 02, 2008
This is why I don't watch TV news
Brilliant long essay by John Hockenberry, formerly of NBC news. Newscritters are less and less relevant, and if the major networks closed their newsrooms permanently, no one would care, even if anyone noticed. They no longer make a serious contribution to American culture or American politics. It's all online now.
Posted by ryan at January 2, 2008 12:13 PM
I would only believe your conclusion here if Ron Paul becomes president.
I'm not sure why. Just because all the important stuff is online doesn't mean that wingnuts are any more important than they were before.
Because Paul has more online presence than any other candidate. Hence, if "it's all online now" then Paul should be victorious.
You're conflating importance with being online. I do believe that most of the important news reporting and journalism takes place--or at least can be found--online, but just because something is online doesn't make it important. Ron Paul is a wingnut. He does have a huge online presence, but that fact alone doesn't make him a viable candidate. Howard Dean demonstrated that much.
I'm not conflating anything. If everything important as far as media, news, journalism, politics, etc. is concerned, is online then it stands to reason that online is the place to find/get one's information about the presidential candidates. However, because news websites don't report anything different or substantially beyond what their newsrooms report, it is the case that Ron Paul doesn't have much of a chance of winning (this election, at any rate).
But this isn't the argument you were making. You said "They [newsrooms] no longer make a serious contribution to American culture or American politics. It's all online now." (emphasis mine). Which is plainly false if only for the fact that Ron Paul (whom we both agree has a much greater online presence than any of the other candidates) has little to no chance of winning.
So, if Ron Paul wins then that would lend a heavy supporting hand to your contention. And if he loses then that would, it seems to me, lend an equally heavy hand against your contention.
Now you make an explicit argument for conflation. Major news portals are useful in that they deliver a day early the same information that TV and print media will eventually distribute. But I'm talking about blogs, amateur, professional, and aggregate as in sites like Slate and Salon. All of these deliver stories that never appear on primetime, and most are largely disdainful of Paul as the wingnut that he is. Ron Paul doesn't have a bigger "online presence" than other candidates, he has more online groupies. They speak loudly, but they don't represent a significant power bloc.
My argument is this: little that happens offline is important, but not everything that is online is important. You consistently fail to recognize this distinction.
It's certainly not that I failed to recognize the distinction, it's that you failed to make the distinction clear. In your original post you said nothing about blogs, amateur professional or otherwise. The argument in your original post was "if major networks closed their newsrooms, then no one would care." Your support for this argument was because "it's all online now." This argument is demonstrably false even if I was conflating importance with online presence (which I wasn't; in fact, I'm pretty sure you were in your original post and that's sort of what I was getting at). I certainly agree that not everything that's online is important, but it is equally true that not all important news is only online.
Of course importance is relative to perspective, which doesn't make things any more clear one way or another. While you (and even I, to some extent)might not think that much offline is important, I am sure that there are millions who disagree with you (I mean, Hilary did win New Hampshire...).
not to interrupt this dispute (which is now over?), but i think we can consider the case closed.
It never ceases to amaze me that a person who runs on the platform of simply adhering to the Constitution, the one and only standard by which the president is judged, is seen by some as a "wingnut."
It isn't that he's "adhering to the Constitution," because all of the candidates do that. It's that he's adhering to a particularly wingnutty interpretation of the Constitution.
And I'm not getting into it with you. I don't need to be further convinced of your legal naiveté.
The extent to which he does or does not adhere to the Constitution is irrelevant. My point is that he is the only candidate who is running on the platform of adhering to it as it was actually written. It's the same platform that Goldwater, Taft, Reagan, and Buffet ran on. It's the traditional, "old right" position.
The powers granted to the Executive Branch in Article 2 of the Constitution are few, and they are well-defined. It's quite easy to read and understand. It's not naive to think that a president should be bound to the Constitution as it was actually written. I'm not arguing a case in court here, and I honestly could care less how the courts have interpreted or misinterpreted the Constitution over the years. I only care about what the actual Constitution says, not on how the courts have chosen to interpret it.
Res ipsa loquitur. I don't need to argue that you're legally incoherent. You've made that point for me.
How? By suggesting that a man (that being Ron Paul) should be judged based on his ideas, not on baseless ad hominem attacks?
Despite repeated opportunities, I can't find a single spot in this entire post in which you actually address any of Ron Paul's actual ideas, or even make a cursory attempt to introduce a standard by which they should even be judged.
You do, however, repeatedly dismiss over 40 years worth of scholarly work with a single, meaningless, ridiculous word.
"Over 40 years of scholarly work" has been dismissed by the academy, legal profession, and political profession as facile. Just as being on the internet doesn't make you important, finding an academic that agrees with you makes you neither right nor significant. Fringe theories remain fringe theories.
Ron Paul is someone, much like yourself, that advances a radical interpretation of the Constitution while claiming that it is not only the only valid interpretation, but not an interpretation at all. Such a position is hardly worth refuting, let alone considering. It's policy disguised as jurisprudence. I feel no need to tilt at windmills, though apparently this is something that gives you a lot of pleasure.
I'm done here. Engaging you is just pissing in the wind.
Yeah, I'm not using my site for this sort of thing. (comment removed)
Ben, your comments contribute less than nothing to the site. I would ask you to refrain from commenting in the future. The next time you think you've got a brilliant point to make, I would ask you to remind yourself that you don't.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
Look, Ryan, nobody (at least that I have seen) is trying to be malicious, and I think you might be over-reacting a bit. In the future, I do think that you might get a better response from folks if you considered the tone in which you address people.
Obviously, not everyone agrees with you or with me, but simply disagreeing about an idea does not make the opposing party inherently stupid or vacuous.
As I look back, I see that I probably got a bit carried away in the tone of my comments, and I will apologize for that, and I do not hesitate to do so. But I also would suggest that the vitriol with which you address others, and the outright attack on the character of Dr. Paul is not becoming of a committed Christian. It tends to entice and incite well-meaning people to anger. It is one thing to speak the truth powerfully, but it is something altogether different to mock those with whom you disagree.
See, Ben, given your persuasions, mocking is really the only way of engaging with you. You adamantly refuse to play by normal rules, as you're completely caught up in this solipsistic system you've constructed--or more likely, someone else has constructed for you. There is no way of arguing with you, because you refuse to concede the basic rules of legal argument in the American system, clinging instead to conspiracy theories--which you are in no position to evaluate--to explain why they don't apply. Given such an interlocutor, what else is there for me to do but try to make you appear foolish?
Cut the condescension. Don't dodge by criticizing my form. Don't commit the fallacies of which you accuse me by attacking my Christian commitments. And don't attack me for making inflammatory statements after you deliberately flamed me. Rhetorical cheap shots, all of them.
When you're ready to actually argue, instead of parroting crypto-objectivist hogwash, you're welcome to do so. But taking a position that can only be ridiculed and then criticizing me for ridiculing it isn't something I feel I need to put up with.
I really, really do not understand this. All I ever tried to say is that it is unfair, and certainly not logical, to automatically dismiss a person as a "wingnut" without addressing any of his actual arguments. When you make a subjective statement such as, "Ron Paul is a wingnut," then you need to provide objective evidence to support it.
I also must take great exception with your second paragraph. I readily admit that my tone was inappropriate, and I apologized for it. I'm not attacking you or your Christian commitments, I'm just pointing out that the tone you are using seems to incite people to anger.
I know a lot of capable, intelligent, well-intentioned people who have devoted a great deal of time to assisting Dr. Paul. Dr. Paul himself is one of the most gentle, affable statesmen one could ever hope to meet. Many of his most bitter opponents in the House remark that they genuinely like him because he's a very likable person. Regardless of how you feel about him or his presidential chances, it is undeniable that he has greatly impacted the presidential race insomuch as people from all political spectrums now regularly discuss important issues such as blowback, monetary policy, and the Constitution. So maybe now you can understand why it incites people to anger when you categorically ridicule all of these people and accomplishments without actually addressing the ideas that they are working so hard to promote.
And for the record, when did I ever claim to be an Objectivist? For that matter, when did I ever claim to support the farcical atheism that that philosophical system demands?
So basically you're saying that you work for the guy, or know someone who does. I'm not sure why that makes a difference. I'm sure he's well-intentioned. I'm sure he's a wonderful man. He's still on the fringe, and from a legal and political perspective, his policies would be disastrous.
Do your own homework: Paul, like all libertarians, is significantly influenced by Rand. Libertarianism and objectivism have always been very closely related. Kinda hard to have one without the other. If that demands atheism, maybe you should take a closer look at the implications of your position--and Paul's--and the absolutely radical individualism upon which it is based. The fact that many Christians seem to miss this point is sad, but not really surprising, given today's theology.
You want a detailed fisking of Paul. That's a mug's game, and I'm not going there with you. Call me whatever name you like; I have better things to do.
You're right that there are some similarities between Rand and libertarianism, but I would not go any further than that. Rand herself despised libertarians.
I would also argue with your definition of libertarianism. Libertarianism is a political theory, which itself is a subset of the moral theory regarding the proper use of violence in society. Libertarianism holds that the only acceptable form of violence is self-defense, and that any use of violence beyond such is immoral, because it is itself aggressive. That, I would say, is quite biblical.
The definition is important, because it reveals that it is not essential to subscribe to atheism (or Objectivism) to maintain libertarian beliefs. John Lilburne, Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, John Locke, Frédéric Bastiat, and Lord Acton are all examples of well-known Christians who held libertarian beliefs. J. Gresham Machen described himself as a classic liberal, and likewise subscribed to a political theory most akin to modern libertarianism.
I'm also not exactly sure what you mean by "radical individualism," but that term seems to be greatly misunderstood by many. Individualism is not hedonism; rather, it's simply the idea that all action, thinking, and valuation is performed at the individual level (as opposed to the collective, group level). This idea is vital to Christianity, in that God created all people to be rational creatures and to have inestimable value. It follows from this concept that all rights are at the individual level, rather than the group level.
That kind of individualism is not only not vital to Christianity, but in conflict with both Christian concepts of community in the body of Christ, not to mention any coherent, workable political theory. Your concept of violence is also completely at odds with Scripture at numerous points.
Do not equate libertarianism and classical liberalism. They aren't the same thing.
Seriously though, stop. Just stop. I don't want to talk to you anymore. This conversation is officially over. Please don't come back.
If supporting Ron Paul is wrong, then I don't want to be right.
Ryan, our currency is in the toilet, we've become the scorn of most of the world, and average American families are struggling just to get by. The other GOP candidates don't want to talk about the consequences of our strong-arm foreign policy, our reckless borrowing, our unchecked trade imbalances, and how, with no balancing super-power to be the bad guy, maintaining our Cold War footing has turned us into the bad guy in the eyes of East and West alike.
Whether Ron Paul's ideas are feasible is almost beside the issue as far as I'm concerned. I'm ignorant of the way things really work on the macroeconomic scale and I'm not about to go back to school for three years just to help me make a more informed choice about who I'll cast my vote for in 2008.
To me he represents the only person willing to seriously address one of the biggest issues that's hitting me personally right now - the failure of my wages to keep pace with inflation. To me he's the only candidate who really wants to take us out of this business of nation-building and pre-emptive war. To say his ideas could never work is to me like saying that the crash and burn of my country is inevitable.
And hey, maybe it is inevitable. Maybe our day in the sun has simply ended and that's all there is to it. But I'm voting based on hope, ill-informed though it may well be. And if you wish to call Ron Paul a wingnut on your own blog, go for it. Not that you were trying, but you haven't changed my mind.
Mason: I'm not disputing the validity of your concerns, but I would dispute with the causes to which you attribute them. Thirty years of fiscal irresponsibility, a rapidly-developing and newly-competitive Third World, and the demographic toll of three decades of abortion are more likely candidates than anything else. Responding to those things doesn't involve shredding the entire banking system or punting the entire legal system, which is what Paul's positions essentially call for. I won't let the fact that Paul happens to support some policies that I happen to support trick me into thinking that we're actually on the same page on all that much. We aren't.
Are any of the other candidates ideal? No, far from it. But you're far more likely to see actual positive change with any of the other ones than with Paul, because the rest of them seem to recognize that like it or not, the system we have is the system we have. It's not all that bad really, considering most of the alternatives.
And no, I wasn't trying to change anyone's mind. In my mind, anyone far gone enough to believe Ron Paul is 1) a viable candidate and 2) the best candidate is beyond persuasion.
I don't know the history between you two guys, but I've been following this discussion for the last couple weeks. I remember back around 1989 having conversations with Gordon Z. on what he'd do if elected president...eliminate almost his entire cabinet on day one of office was always one of the first things out of his mouth. Completely shocked me at the time. Then I read some things in college (e.g., Bastiat's "The Law") and slowly began to understand where he was coming from. Yeah, there's too much radical individualism in our North American culture (at least where the church comes in), but I'm not so sure that's the kind of hyper-individualism guys like Paul are advocating. I think we Christians would do a lot better to think more about what it means to live in a pluralistic society.
Ryan, you need to understand that it simply is not appropriate behavior to call a grown man a "wingnut" and then refuse to address any of his positions. It's even more ridiculous to claim that you could address his positions if you really wanted to, but that you just don't feel like it. And it's even more ridiculous yet considering that Dr. Paul has studied the Constitution and the interpretation thereof for more than twice as long as you have been alive. Do you really think that two years of law school qualify you to categorically dismiss others without considering their ideas?
Likewise, it's ridiculous for you to attack the political theory to which I subscribe as unbiblical without providing even a single explanation or Scriptural proof.
If you're not prepared to defend your statements, then don't make them. I'm done wasting my time here.
Ben: You're the one who decided to take a one-off casual comment as a serious intellectual academic argument. That's your problem, not mine. I'm not going to imbue such things as being more important than they are, and I won't be drawn into pointless dispute over them. As any dispute with you over law or politics is inherently pointless, for reasons I've laid out above and elsewhere, I'm not going there.
I have said from the outset that I'm not going to engage any of your theories because you're incapable of real legal debate. This was proved last summer, and I have no need to establish it again.
It's not just your time that you're wasting. I ask again, please refrain from commenting. You haven't said a single productive thing here, and your contributions are not welcome.
Out of curiosity, which candidates seem to be most popular among your fellow Notre Dame grad students? Maybe you'd be willing to write a short blog entry about it if you have the chance. I just think it would be interesting to get an "on the ground" impression from a place like that, which I imagine is fairly conservative, politically knowledgeable, and interested in the campaign.
(Personally, I think all the GOP "front-runners" suck by varying degrees of suckiness, but that's just me.)
Mason: The front-runners from my completely subjective, unscientific non-poll, seem to be McCain and Obama. I'm not sure I have all that much else to say, as the law school is relatively a-political, surprisingly enough.
Apolitical, Huh? That is a surprise.
Both those guys seem to be decent people. If not for his stance on Iraq, I'd probably vote McCain in a general election against any of the Dems, but as is, I can't support someone who's fine with committing ourselves to that country for the next million years. Obama seems like a nice guy, and I like his foreign policy vision. I'd like to see an idealist in the WH, even if it's not Paul.
Congrats on receiving 8 comments per sentence in your original post. That has to be some sort of record.