Thursday, November 09, 2006

Divided we stand?

I posted this over in a comment at The Atheist Experience blog, but I think it bears repeating.

There is an argument I keep hearing from well-meaning Libertarian atheists after the show. The argument goes: This has been a bad administration only because one party is controlling everything. If Democrats were controlling all three branches, they would be just as bad. Divided government is always best, because a government that accomplishes things will always be bad, and the only way we can be successful is to always have gridlock and prevent anyone from doing anything. Frankly, I think that is a vacuous argument with no evidence to back it up.

I don't want a government that is incapable of getting anything done; I want a government that is interested in doing the right things. The horrifically bad response to Hurricane Katrina last year really should highlight exactly what the consequences are of a government that can't get anything done.

Yes, a Republican administration with a Republican-controlled house and Senate has been pretty much an unmitigated disaster. That doesn't in any way support the notion that every party would be an unmitigated disaster; that's a hasty generalization fallacy. The simple fact is, Republicans have a lot of really bad ideas.

Does that mean I think Democrats are perfect? Of course not; there are bad Democrats and there are good Republicans. But if you believe that proves that both sides are equally bad, then you are falling for the same fallacy that many creationists do. You know -- "We collected 500 signatures of scientists who support creationism, so what we have here is a genuine scientific controversy." No we don't. We have a tiny, tiny anomaly among scientists.

The point being, just because there are two sides to an issue doesn't mean that the sides have equal merit and equal credibility. By and large, it isn't Democrats who are in the pockets of the religious right. It isn't Democrats who pushed this stupid, stupid war. The Republican controlled legislative branch hasn't merely been conventionally corrupt, in the ways people say that all politicians are corrupt. By many accounts they have been the most corrupt Congress in history.

I don't mindlessly vote a straight party ticket, IF there are worthy individuals from other parties who are running. However, I do to a very large extent favor Democrats over Libertarians and Libertarians over Republicans. I really don't buy this argument that just because there are two types of candidates available, they should be installed in government in equal amounts. If, for example there are "Christian nation" fundamentalists running, I will vote against them every single time. I do not believe there need to be a certain number of fundamentalists in Congress to keep a check on the non-fundamentalists.

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:15 AM

    I understand your pooint, but I think I support divided government for a different reason than the Libertarians. I think having divided government forces the politicians to be more moderate it what they attempt. They must propose laws that multiple organizations representing multiple constituent groups can agree to. If they fail to do this there is gridlock which I (unlike the Libertarians) consider failed divided government.

    I think that any group with power will become corrupt without someone with the power and interest to expose that corruption. Divided government maintains that power and interest.

    That being said this principle ranks below the fact that I couldn't vote for a Republican to save my life (at least as the party is currently formed.)

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  2. People provide checks and balances, not parties. For instance, Democrats held all three branches of government for many years until 1946, but even so, we get the Truman Committee, which investigated war profiteering and government waste. Just because one party controls both houses doesn't mean that party doesn't have internal disagreements; I think it's healthier if they do.

    On the other hand, if you assume that there must be two parties to check on each other, which two parties are they and why? If the two parties in our system happened to be "The Theocratic party" and "The Secularian Party," would you prefer to vote the Theocratic ticket for president just because Congress was Secularian?

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  3. "there are bad Democrats and there are good Republicans."

    I fullheartedly agree. ^_^

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  4. Anonymous7:51 PM

    Russell conveniently overlooked the corruption on the other side of the aisle and he, once again, displays his penchant for linking to articles he doesn't read, namely the Drooling Stone. When are you going to answer Professor Enigma Russell? For those of you who think Russell does conduct good research I suggest you go to http://www.freewebs.com/professor_enigma/glasser.htm

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  5. So I see that the man to whom I affectionately refer as "my internet stalker" has decided to post an actual comment on my blog, rather than hiding in his unnoticed cave in his tiny corner of the internet. If you haven't seen the virtual shrine that he has erected to me and my blog, feel free to take a look at it. Major credit goes to you, dear reader, if you actually manage to slog through the enormous unbroken page that he dedicated to me and find the particular section where he responds to this post.

    I'd be more worried about what "Professor Enigma" thinks of me, if I thought that anybody actually read what he writes. I googled for any links containing the term "professor_enigma" (his web handle), and came up with thirteen unique hits. Among these, one of them has nothing to do with him; five are either sites or profiles written by him, or alerts to update your links to said sites (assuming such links existed); two are posts to talkorigins.org in which he tries in vain to get somebody to read those sites; and the remaining five appear to be some sort of automatic indexing spiders.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm kind of weirdly flattered that "professor" has written these love sonnets to me, using many colorful insults and cute pet names like "Russie". I'm certainly not under any illusions of being among the blogerati elite; many people have let me know in various forms that they enjoy my blog via various communications, but for the most part it's a lightly read, private endeavor that is more for my entertainment than anyone else's.

    Nevertheless, I can't help seeing the humorous side when "professor," with his [sarcasm]incredibly heavily trafficked site[/sarcasm] (which also conspicuously lacks a comments section), taunts me by saying "maybe someone outside of your circle of 10 tapioca-brained friends will take you seriously Russ." Perhaps he is jealous that I have at least one friend.

    I enjoy a good debate, and I sometimes respond to feedback in my comments section. In this case, though, I'm going to take a pass on separating the substantive replies (of which, admittedly, there are a few) from the increasingly screechy ad hominems. Grad school finals are looming and it's a lovely day, which means I'm torn between the worthy choices of taking my son out to the park or coding up the two term projects that are due in three weeks. Responding to my stalker is generally quite low on the priority totem pole, although I admit that today I gave in to the temptation of giving "professor" an opportunity to get all hot and excited because I mentioned him.

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  6. Anonymous11:11 PM

    Russie,

    I did observe a whinefest you engaged in at the Motley Fools where you made an idle threat to send me "a scathing reply." What stopped that? Figured you knew better than to open that can of worms or was it something else?

    I also noticed one of the readers raking you over the coals for referring to me as a "stalker," a major stick to those who have actually been stalked (notice again, the refusal to get into specifics about the issue(s) he raised on his blog).

    It's interesting that some of your complaints amount to the length of replies to several topics that you yourself brought up on your blog. Seems pretty petty, but I guess you don't have much else to offer, eh? You should know better than that, let me give you an example.

    You engaged largely in a cut-and-paste rant pertaining to oil shortages (again, brought up on your blog, thank you). The oil market and reserves is something I've been keeping my eye on for some time. This was something that couldn't be replied to in short order, I would assume Russ would rather csatiage me for generalization?

    Again Russ, your research is sloppy--the posts at Talk Origins were written long, long before my current web site existed, but I'll give you an "E" for effort.

    Then, you engage in an ad populum fallacy, somehow thinking if you get more "hits" somehow that vindicates you? Surely you jest.

    Russ, is it your "moral intuition" that says those "petty insults" are wrong (evil?)? As if Russ has never engaged in that kind of activity, but again, Russ just seeks to deviate from the subject.

    Be assured Russ, we'll continue to watch your blog, so you better choose your words carefully. This is what happens Russ when you're taught WHAT to think and not HOW to think.

    Lastly, you did say something in one of your blog screeds about biblical slavery. I've had Glenn Miller's response to that in one of the sections of my site for some time. Evidently, you haven't done any relevant research, or you would know better. Glenn's article can be found at http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qnoslave.html

    If you don't have the intestinal fortitude to send a response to Glenn yourself I would be more than happy to do it myself.

    Have a nice day and keep telling yourself you know what you're talking about. Nice excuses, "it's just for entertainment." Please!

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  7. Dear stalker,

    I did observe a whinefest you engaged in at the Motley Fools where you made an idle threat to send me "a scathing reply." What stopped that? Figured you knew better than to open that can of worms or was it something else?

    I also noticed one of the readers raking you over the coals for referring to me as a "stalker," a major stick to those who have actually been stalked (notice again, the refusal to get into specifics about the issue(s) he raised on his blog).


    Oooh, the fact that you lurk around the Motley Fool just makes this even funnier! So while you were there, did you notice what else they were saying about you? Here are a few of the other responses:

    "You have a beautiful wife, a beautiful baby, an opportunity to earn your masters at a fine university, a full life ahead of you, with unlimited potential. And you want to spend your time pummeling some angry, close minded creationist who will deny that 2 plus 2 is 4 if he sees that it would hurt his position?"

    "From my reading of his website, he is absolutely thrilled to have received some attention from you in public, on your website, where the whole world can see it. Like several of the trolls here, this is what turns him on. It represents validation from you, an authority figure, that he exists and has opinions worth responding to. I suspect he doesn't often get this kind of validation from anyone."

    "My two cents: tell the clown to get a life. You have one. Enjoy it."

    If you wanted to know why I never responded to your substance, it's because I believe in taking good advice. And if you enjoyed those, you should see what they're saying about you THIS time, now that they know you're a closeted regular. Wait, I'm sure you already have.

    It's interesting that some of your complaints amount to the length of replies to several topics that you yourself brought up on your blog.

    No, actually I was complaining about your complete inability to write a readable web page. Have you ever heard of subpages?

    Be assured Russ, we'll continue to watch your blog, so you better choose your words carefully.

    Oh noes! Please, Mr. Terrifying Professor Guy, don't watch my blog anymore! Otherwise, more of your imaginary friends might think badly of me!

    No, in all seriousness, knock yourself out. I'm sure anyone who has a burning need to read your writing has already permanently saved a link to your site. I hope so, because while I will leave this exchange up, your future posts to this blog will be deleted.

    Hark, what's that sound? Methinks I can already hear myself being remotely lectured about intellectual dishonesty by a young earth creationist.

    Kisses,
    Russie :)

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  8. OOOOOOOOOOOH! THAT GUY IS SO MAD BECAUSE HE CAN'T POST HERE THAT HE SENT ME, HIS GOOD FRIEND, TO LET YOU KNOW ALL ABOUT IT!

    Make sure you click the link on my name so he can tell you how mad he is!

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  9. I get the feeling you're not taking me very seriously. That upsets me.

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