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The Sheeple of r/libertarian

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

The rantings of a self-proclaimed “Libertarian Asshole” who is so incredibly deluded as to think that the America is approaching something worse than a despotic government — an “Absolute Despotism!” — aren’t generally worth responding to. But I like reddit — and I like libertarians. Which is why I’ve been consistently frustrated with the regressive turn that the /r/libertarian has taken since Obama’s election.

How else to explain the popularity of the Libertarian Asshole’s factually-challenged post blaming “Liberals” for the Bush administration’s regulation being enforced in his story?

As a liberal, let me tell you that stories of government corruption and government idiocy, of victimless crimes prosecuted and overreach make me mad. I believe in good government — and not government and regulation for it’s own sake. I believe a law should not be unjustly applied. Liberals have made a strong showing in opposing regulatory capture – when organized lobbies of special interests (such as optometrists) are able to get a regulatory agency to act against the interests of the public and in favor of the lobby. That’s why liberals have fought against the FCC to allow for more competition on the radio waves and that’s why liberals pointed to the corruption in the Minerals Management Service. That’s why Matt Yglesias — one of the web’s most prominent liberals — focuses so much on opposing rent-seeking and unnecessary regulation. As a liberal, I believe the government is capable of acting in the public interest — but that citizens must always provide a check against the inevitable abuses.

I only state this because in the world of the Libertarian Asshole, the phantom “Liberals” are those who say the “Law’s the Law” as they turned in runaway slaves because they…are like “cheap whores” with no self esteem.

With that brilliant insight into the Liberal mind, this Asshole struck r/libertarian gold — as 268 redditors and counting demonstrate.

——–

One more thing: The Libertarian Asshole apparently wasn’t satisfied with a rather sympathetic story of a businesswoman who was busted for selling decorative contact lenses without prescriptions and made to sell her car.

He had to embellish. And by embellish, I mean, apparently, to lie. A few minutes on Google reveals the following:

  1. Lie: The Libertarian Asshole claims that Da Young Kim, who ran an internet store selling contact lenses, was “arrested” for doing so.
    Fact: The Court records and the FTC’s records both show that this was a “civil complaint” — not a criminal one. No where does the news or any other source support the out-of-the-blue claim that Kim was arrested.
  2. Lie: The Libertarian Asshole claims that the FTC spent “your tax dollars on an undercover sting operation.”
    Fact: There’s nothing in the news or in the record or elsewhere on the web to back this up. None of the evidence presented against Kim was from any sting operation.
  3. Lie: The FTC acted because they believed the internet store run by Da Young Kim “might not be checking every customer’s prescription.”
    Fact: According to the FTC complaint, Kim kept no records of prescriptions at all. This wasn’t a few contact lenses sold without prescription — this was a business plan.

A Soft Re-Launch of 2parse

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

As many have noticed, I have let the blog lag for a while.

Blogging, even at the modest pace I was, is exhausting.

But I’ve been feeling that familiar urge again — and so, I will indulge myself.

My new motto is: Shorter blogposts. Less extrapolation and hedging. The goal: To distill the essence of complicated thoughts into a paragraph or two.

2parse is not yet done

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

The experience of not feeling the pressure to write 1 or 2 or 3 posts a days is quite liberating.

Yet I still feel compelled to write and comment and otherwise engage with political discussions and the news.

But I have not yet decided the best route. Can an irregularly updated blog generate enough traffic and engagement from others? Should I move to a more Instapundit-like format of short links with only the occasional column-length post? Can I manage to create some daily aggregator that provides a value not covered by Daily Beast’s Cheat Sheet, The Slatest, Drudge, memeorandum, RealClearPolitics, or the New York Times’s Idea of the Day?

I don’t know yet. But I know I can’t hold off writing for much longer.

I’ll be tinkering with 2parse and other ideas over the summer, so don’t be surprised with some changes in format or irregular posting…

The rare off-day

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Today will be the rare off-day for 2parse.

But check out the excellent blogs of Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, and Jonathan Chait in the meantime.

Tomorrow!

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

No posting this morning – and possibly today!

I know, I’m as disappointed as you are – especially as my “Government Is Good” post is virtually complete.

The 2parse Winter Recess

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

2parse will be taking a winter recess from today, February 16 until Monday, March 1.

When March starts, 2parse restarts.

[Image by me.]

No post today.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Due to my frustration with a work-related matter.

2parse will be back tomorrow with a post about Right Wing Social Engineering.

Must-Reads of the Week: Pete King, Manzi’s Thesis, Obama’s WoT, Literary Sex, and American Jeremiads

Friday, January 8th, 2010

1. Pete King: Terrorist Sympathizer.

2. Manzi’s Provocative (& Conservative) Thesis. Jim Manzi wrote a really great piece that I was trying to figure out how to respond to for the National Interest – and it has gotten quite a lot of play in the opinionsphere. I found his piece rather compelling actually – as the description of a problem – although some commenators have pointed out some flaws in the statistics he used to back up his piece.

Read the responses by Jonathan Chait, Ross DouthatDemocracy in America, with Andrew Sullivan following it all closely and aggregating other responses (here, here, here, here…)

My sense now – without having fully delved into the back and forth and figured out who is right and wrong about the issues – is that Manzi confused his arguments a bit, massaging some data to back up one thesis when his real point was another. But he offers the first coherent conservative response to the world that Niall Ferguson described in an essay some months ago. (Ferguson had been bemoaning the fact that liberals had the only credible response to our globalizing world – but he tried to give the outlines of a conservative response.)

I’ll be writing more about this as time goes on – and in fact, it follows closely from the conclusions to my pieces on America’s fiscal crisis. (Introduction, Republicans, Democrats.)

3. Obama’s War on Terror. When Pete King told George Stephanopoulos that Obama’s mistakes in the War on Terrorism had lead to the attempted Christmas bombing, Stephanopoulos followed up and asked what specific steps King wanted Obama to take. King’s response was priceless: “I think one main thing would be to — just himself to use the word terrorism more often…” Thank you, Rep. King!

Peter Baker in an upcoming piece for the New York Times Magazine meanwhile reports on some of the many aspects of the Obama administration’s War on Terror – and how the administration sees Obama’s Cairo speech, its position on Israeli settlements, its outreach to Iran, its increased use of Predators and other military interventions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and its gradual shift to a more Rule of Law oriented approach at home are all part of a comprehensive strategy. One interesting tidbit from the piece comes as the incoming Obama administration and outgoing Bush administration coordinated their response to what were seen as credible reports of Somali terrorists traveling to Washington to attack Obama’s inauguration. The threat was serious enough – and the desire to maintain some continuity of government important enough that they took measures to ensure an orderly transition even if Obama, Bush, and all of the Cabinet members were taken out:

[E]veryone eventually agreed that Gates should stay away from the inauguration in a secret location. With no other member of Obama’s cabinet confirmed by the Senate, Gates — an incumbent cabinet officer who also had the imprimatur of the newly elected commander in chief — was the most logical person in the line of succession to take over the presidency should the worst happen.

4. Literary Sex. Katie Roiphe wrote a provocative column for the New York Times on how safe literary writing about sex has been since the much criticized Roth, Updike, et al. Ross Douthat followed up with some wry comment. And it all reminded me of this excellent blog post from Womanist Musings.

5. American Jeremiad. James Fallows writes an interesting piece from a more internationalist perspective that offers in its own way an informal counter to Manzi’s article above.

No posts today.

Monday, December 14th, 2009

As my site was down for most of the day.

I’ve got a few posts done and ready to go though – with just a few edits I didn’t have a chance to make.

A Reorientation

Friday, October 16th, 2009

The inevitable thesis, the thrust of my posts for the past few months has been clear: the right wing opposition to Obama, the Republican party, the conservatives – are now a fractious and generally incoherent force in American politics. They offer virtually no legitimate opposition – instead they lie and throw smears and engage in petty propagandistic techniques – even in their so-called intellectual journals. It’s rare to find any piece of right wing writing that isn’t weighed down by clear and obvious falsehoods. The right wing’s talking points – whether expressed by pundits or politicians – have become almost entirely unhinged from reality.

I don’t mean to suggest that there are no legitimate reasons to disagree with the Obama administration: There is a genuine feeling of discontentment at the root of the deficit politics movement; libertarians and paleoconservatives have mounted substantial critiques of the Obama administration; and the left, especially regarding civil liberties, the wars in the Middle East, and gay rights has also had serious criticisms.

But the Republican Party and the major pundits of the mainstream right have instead engaged in fantastical criticisms – they describe their worst fears and ascribe them to the Obama administration – irrespective of what is actually happening. If the Obama administration is proposing that the government offer a government-run insurance option similar to Medicare which the independent and bipartisanly cited Congressional Budget Offices estimates would attract 1/30th of the American population, then Obama is attempting a hostile Marxist takeover of 1/16th of the American economy! If Obama acknowledges America’s role in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953, he is “apologizing for American success” and supporting tyranny and the murder of innocents! Obviously false statements are routinely used as cornerstones in building the case against Obama. There has been virtually no attempt by the right (with the exception of libertarians and paleoconservatives) to seriously engage with the reality of what Obama is doing.

I believe it is important to have a genuine opposition. Any political movement can fall victim to the excesses and blindnesses of its politics if it does not have an effective opposition.

At the same time, I agree with much of the agenda that the Obama administration has – even as I have found myself wary of certain initiatives.

Given all this, I’ve decided to reorient one of the foci of my blog from debunking right wing smears to searching for authentic critiques amidst the smears.