Galerie du Bloggeuer Tete Fromage Bleu: Keith Schmitz
Summed up by John da Fiesole:
Have you ever watched someone argue with a strawman they've built themselves? It can be quite something, to see the way people exaggerate, misrepresent, misunderstand, or simply invent a position to oppose. One of the most remarkable things about it, to me, is how very pleased with ourselves we can be to have overthrown an argument that no living human being is actually making.
Except... there are many, many living human beings, and we are prone to making poor arguments. The most we can say with confidence about a strawman argument is that no living human being involved in the discussion has offered it. There may well be some bozo somewhere who would, given the chance, agree with the strawman.
And of course the Internet has been giving bozos chances for years now.
As an intellectual achievement, though, defeating a bozo argument is on par with defeating a strawman argument. It might be more necessary, depending on the circumstances, but it offers no more cause for self-satisfaction. If anything, it might be cause for discomfort and embarrassment at being required to draw attention to the bozoness of another living human being.
Often, though, the intrusion of a bozo argument is welcomed as an opportunity for complete triumph. As with a strawman, the bozo is taken as representative of the whole opposition to one's own position, and overthrowing the bozo argument is taken as sufficient proof of one's own correctness.
The bozo argument even adds a sweetness to the pleasure of success, in that there is an actual live human being who will claim that position, and the scalp of a specific individual is much more satisfying than those of a whole passel of vague "those who say." And if you're really lucky, the bozo will keep coming back for more of the same.
If the goal of my writing is to win a game I've invented and am scorekeeper of, then bozo arguments are money in the bank. If the goal is to arrive, with as many fellow travelers as possible, at as much truth as possible, then they are distractions to be dealt with with as little fanfare and effort as possible.
Two different brands, almost identical, but one is $150 more.
The one thing about Barack Obama’s political rhetoric that gives me pause is his emphasis on “unity.”
In other quarters as well, there’s altogether too much talk this season about promoting political “unity” in America, about bringing an end to the bitter partisanship that supposedly hamstrings the political process and prevents the government from ably serving the people.
This notion has even given rise to a movement called Unity08 (Web site HERE), the leaders of which might naively try to field an independent presidential ticket comprised of candidates from both political parties.
And then there’s the recent idiotic statement by prospective presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, about how he wants “to get partisanship out of politics.” That’s like wanting to get the punching out of boxing.
Yet another manifestation of this search for nirvana in the middle of the political spectrum was evidenced this week at a CONFERENCE OF SO-CALLED MODERATES from both parties at the University of Oklahoma.
What’s going on here? Is there a virus going around that renders otherwise intelligent people ignorant of the realities of politics in a democratic republic?
Except in the general sense that we Americans all should honor the most fundamental principles of fair play and free speech, unity is neither desirable nor achievable in our society.
Promoters of unity often simply want to quash debate. It’s in the name of admirable unity, for instance, that Americans are told they should all support their government’s military misadventure in Iraq. Such also was the case during the Vietnam War, when the mantra was that antiwar dissent was disloyal and un-American.
If nothing else, the unity push is reminiscent of a glaring misapprehension among our nation’s Founding Fathers, many of whom thought they had created a system that would thrive and prosper without the emergence of anything so ugly as political parties.
The irony, as historian Joseph J. Ellis notes in his latest book, “American Creation,” is that the greatest legacy of the Founding Fathers was the creation (even if unintentional) of the world’s first two-party system.
Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison and the others seemed to think that political factionalism would sully and weaken their wonderful republic. Rather, it has strengthened it.
Unity is a dangerous notion. The only way I would be tempted to embrace it is if the unity is all in support of the positions I hold on the issues of the day — and even then I eventually would recognize it as inimical to basic American principles.
Here's an excerpt from the new blog called Summary Judgments:
Auto Review: 2001 Chevrolet Venture Minivan
Here’s a (probably incomplete) list of everything that’s gone wrong with Vannie since the summer of ’04.
- Gas gauge inoperable. Estimate to repair - $700. This still isn’t fixed, so we reset the on-board computer thingy to keep track of gas consumption, sometimes with disastrous results – sorry Kelly!
- Gas tank dicked up, as in, we couldn’t put any gas in the tank. Gas is sorta critical for an internal combustion engine. Repaired to the tune of $600. This problem occurred within two weeks of purchase but was not covered by our “bumper-to-bumper” warranty. I guess the gas tank is somehow outside of the range encompassed by the front and back bumpers. Who knew?
- Viewing screen for entertainment system breaks. Children inconsolable. Parents gleeful. Seriously, that thing was more trouble than it was worth. We had to create all kinds of weird rules like, “No movies on a trip less than 45 minutes long.”
- Head gasket replaced. I’m not going to pretend I know what a head gasket is or what it does, but I do know it is critical and costs $1,200 to fix. This was the repair that caused our mechanic to regretfully admit he thought the ’01 Ventures were “lemons.” Excellent.
- Heating and air conditioning system completely malfunctions. No heat, no air, no defrost, no blower. $600 to get the heat going (it was winter), air conditioning still inoperable (actually, worse than inoperable, it blows a gentle stream of heated air if the blower is on at all).
- Car overheats and ceases to run. I can’t remember the reason why, but it cost $500 to get it going again. It took the mechanics a while to diagnose this problem, partially because when taking it out for a test drive, they ran out of gas (see #1, above).
Other than that, no complaints!
This is a new blog by Mike and Anne Quimby Mathias, who don't always agree with me but who have always spelled my name right.