Tuesday, May 01, 2007

When Election '08 Isn't Close Enough

You'd think that it'd be Democrats who'd be the ones angling to change the powers-that-be in Washington prior to the '08 election. After all, we're the ones who recognize believe this administration is a complete and utter disaster. That's why the impeachment talk keeps bubbling up. But, as so often is the case, we are perpetually being one-upped by our friends on the right. And so, here is conservative luminary Thomas Sowell:
When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup.

But remember, I'm the traitor.

Incidentally, Sowell is reputed to be very bright, and perhaps in his academic work he is, but this column reads like the work of 8th grade member of the Young Republicans club. It's a stream of consciousness rant that just tries to pack in as many non-sequiturs and weakly connected (not to mention warranted) conservative talking points as possible onto a page. It'd be amusing if it was a known moron like Ann Coulter, but Sowell is supposed to pass for a conservative intellectual. Is this really the best they've got?

Via The Plank


Anonymous said...

"Reputed to be bright."

Just the sort of thing to be saying about a black man.

Maybe he like fried chicken and watermelon too.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little perplexed why you're so convinced people to your political right so commonly think you're a traitor. Does it just give your post an ironic hook you're desperately craving, or have you been overdosing on Ann Coulter lately?

DavidD said...

Your description of Sowell's attack against weakness seems accurate to me, but it is still eye-opening to go to his column itself. Putting Babe Ruth's pitching record in the middle of all these grievances may not be the mother of all non-sequitors, but it's in that direction.

It also means this is not a serious suggestion that the military make meaningless their oath to defend the Constitution. I have to leave it to Sowell how his words are something other than insanity or how it's OK for conservatives to say irresponsible things, but if a liberal does, it's revealing some character defect that all liberals share.

Meanwhile it's also seen as OK to cry racism at writing that Sowell is reputed to be very bright and to feign ignorance about how often liberals are called traitors, neither of which having anything to do with the prospect of a military coup in the US. Has there been some course in writing non-sequitors among conservatives lately?

Anonymous said...

Yep. The Left has gone ta screaming insults at themselves and then blaming it on the right.

Kudos on making the Right look insane when its really tha left thats all messed up.

Anyways. I sorta been thinking its prolly you who is calling yourself a traitor. Seems mabey a few on the right do from time ta time but overall it be the left who calls themselves names then blame it on tha right.

Dustin said...

"Anyways. I sorta been thinking its prolly you who is calling yourself a traitor. Seems mabey a few on the right do from time ta time but overall it be the left who calls themselves names then blame it on tha right."

And we're supposed to assume these are the musings of an intelligent individual? Or are you trying out to be the new witch in Pirates of the Caribbean 4?

Disenchanted Dave said...

The other thing that caught my eye was this quote (apparently quoted with approval from a reader):

"Calling an illegal alien an ‘undocumented worker’ is like calling a drug dealer an ‘unlicensed pharmacist.’"

If Sowell had thought about that for 10 seconds, he'd have remembered that he opposes the war on drugs and federal regulation of medicine, and thus a) probably wants all pharmacists to be unlicensed and b) probably wants them to be able to sell hard drugs.

I still haven't wrapped my head around the idea that a libertarian/conservative could possibly think that violent military overthrow is the only way to improve "our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia." That's about as far from the libertarian ideal as it gets.

John said...

Did you notice that the subtitle was random thoughts on the passing scene? Come on Dave, it was meant to be full of non-sequitors.

"The people who are scariest to me are the people who don’t even know enough to realize how little they know." Is my favorite quote in the piece and shows that he hasn't forgotten his Hayekian roots. It reminds me of some things that Nick Taleb talked about on the recent Econtalk podcast (definitely worth a listen anytime Nick Taleb speaks). I love Sowell's academic work on knowledge (and his lovely Hayekian view of it), but sometimes his politics are more right-wing than libertarian and his quote about the unlicensed pharmacist would be one of those.

I wouldn't mind a military coup if it meant they restored the constitution. That would be upholding their duty to defend a constitution that has been trampled on. What could be more patriotic and libertarian than that? Would you be in favor of a military coup that got us out of Iraq? I don't think that's what he was saying exactly, but libertarians aren't against military coups against unjust governments. I have to say that it would be libertarian to revolt against a socialist government and form a capitalist society. But what do I know.

John Hall

David Schraub said...

I don't support a military coup to get us out of Iraq. I don't know anyone who supports a military coup to get us out of Iraq. Coups are, as a rule, bad. They're bad for rights, they're bad for liberty, and they're obviously bad for democracy. And you can't have it all ways, John--supporting a coup to "restore the constitution" and supporting a coup to remove a socialist government to instill a capitalist government would flagrantly violate the constitution (and socialism, even if inadvisable, is quite constitutional for the most part).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: I think it's silly to bring race into this.

He would be "reputed to be bright" because he's been around for a long time, has published a lot, and makes thoughtful, iconoclastic arguments on occasion. So even if you haven't read him, you are likely to have heard of him.

Having said that, most of his commentaries are full of precisely the same kinds of logical flaws that he so eloquently pointed out in "Knowledge and Decisions" 27 years ago.

John said...

Yglesias comments:


Unfortunately, I have a belief that when people swear an oath to the constitution they should mean it. The only Congressman who follows his oath is Ron Paul and the rest should be replaced (the military takes an oath to defend the constitution and they haven't upheld their end of the bargain either). I don't see what's unconstitutional about that. You also have a fairly different interpretation of the constitution than I do. Regardless, the constitution isn't the end all be all for a libertarian. Our principles are. We prefer a world where the Constitution is properly interpreted to the current simply because it would be more in line with our principles. For me, it doesn't matter as much what the constitution says than as to what is good for society.

On the other hand, maybe Sowell was just PMSing.

David Schraub said...

There is a distinction between constitutional policies and libertarian policies. You might find policies not in line with the latter to be inadvisable, even immoral, but that's not the same thing as being unconstitutional.

Coups, on the other hand, are unconstitutional. We have procedures for getting rid of our elected officials, and even were we inclined to shortcut them, it would violate the Guarantee Clause. Military coups, even when supported by libertarians, tend to turn out badly. Ask Chileans about that.

Anonymous said...

David, are you suggesting that supporting Pinochet was a bad idea? How dare you blaspheme against St. Friedman!

PG said...

Ha, if I thought conservatives/ libertarians really were about to rise up, I'd be troubled by this bit from Victor Davis Hanson:

"All these Democrats now, for three or four years, have not just opposed George Bush, and not just opposed neoconservative idealism, but they've demonized it to such a degree that they've almost made Bush the equivalent of the enemy. And Bush has a lot of supporters in and out of the military. So now they think that they're elected, people like yourself and I are going to jump back up and say 'you know what? They're the president, we're going to support them at every opportunity.'
We probably will, but there's going to be a lot of us who won't...."

Andrew Sullivan noted this and said, "The insinuation - 'Bush has a lot of supporters in and out of the military' - is repellent."