Mindset of a Slave

I know that this pathetic bit by Kevin Drum was done to death by blogs last week, but I was on the road and still want to get my innings.  For those who have not seen it, Drum said (in a post about Obama and Libyan war):

So what should I think about this? If it had been my call, I wouldn't have gone into Libya. But the reason I voted for Obama in 2008 is because I trust his judgment. And not in any merely abstract way, either: I mean that if he and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I'd literally trust his judgment over my own. I think he's smarter than me, better informed, better able to understand the consequences of his actions, and more farsighted. I voted for him because I trust his judgment, and I still do.

A few thoughts

  1. Leaders on the Left have a strongly arrogant belief that they are smarter than ordinary citizens, and so it is their duty to make decisions for individuals because politicians will do a much better job of running people's lives than ordinary folks would themselves.  I have always supposed that for this governing philosophy to be successful, there had to be a deep parallel desire among the rank and file of the Left to be led, to put their own life in the hands of politicians who can be better trusted to make decisions for them.  This bit from Drum seems to be evidence of that desire.
  2. I know of absolutely no one, politician or otherwise, whose judgement I would generally trust more than my own.  Seriously, this is just pathetic.  Sure there are folks whose judgement I might trust, based on long experience, over my own on narrow issues (e.g. my wife on restaurant choices or my son on who to draft for my fantasy football team).
  3. Drum completely ignores the issue of incentives (as do most folks on the Left).  Even if a politician's judgement were better than mine on a certain issue, could I trust his or her incentives to make the decision based on the same goals I might have?  In the case of Libya, Obama has any number of incentives -- his poll numbers, reelection in 2 years, pressure from members of his own party, his legacy, his image in other countries, finding consensus among his advisors, etc  -- that might affect his decision-making but which I do not share.
  4. What in God's name in Obama's pre-Presidential career provided the basis for Drum's staggering trust in his judgement?  Where have we ever, ever seen this judgement exercised in any meaningful way, particularly on an issue with this many chips on the table?  Even since he has been President, where has this judgement been evidenced?   As I have said any number of times in the last two years, having a really, really good speaking voice is not a proxy for intelligence.
  5. To the extent that Drum voted for Obama based on his foreign policy judgement, Drum's perception of Obama's judgement had to have been based in large part on campaign statements and speeches Obama has made on foreign policy.  And those statements basically said that what Obama is doing now is illegal.  How can Obama have universally good judgement if he promised to do A in the campaign and is doing not-A today.  Both A and not-A cannot simultaneously constitute good judgement.
  • http://tjic.com TJIC

    > I know of absolutely no one, politician or otherwise, whose judgement I would generally trust more than my own.

    I love down-home country-fried sayings, and one of my favorites is "There are two men I trust: my father's one, and you ain't the other".

    Brings a smile to my face every time I hear it.

    There's more wisdom in one Good Old Boy pumping gas than there are in 5,000 Cambridge Leftists "saving the world" with their PhDs.

  • Reformed Republican

    Travis,

    Will your blog ever be back up? Nowhere else do I get the same blend of anarchy, computer programming, cheese making, and woodworking.

    Sorry to hijack.

  • FUBAR

    "Both A and not-A cannot simultaneously constitute good judgement." Barry would explain it to you, but you wouldn't understand.
    As an aside, it's "judgment."

  • bill sheets

    When "O" first took office it was clear he was out of his league. I used to say he was painting the garage while the house burned.

    Since I've heard a new expression that better describes him and other leftists behaviors.

    "He looks like a one legged cat covering up poop on an ice pond."

  • http://www.whiterockkitchens.com Mike

    When I read that bit, in the original post, about trusting Obama's intelligence and judgement, I said to myself that there is another person I'll never have anything in common with. I don't understand those who have that kind of faith in others, especially politicians.

  • http://www.grouchyconservativepundits.com Mike C.

    Ow! That's gonna leave a mark...

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    Coyote,

    I know I made this point a week or so back in a comment regarding Kevin Drum [when you accused him of statistical deceptiveness but I claimed he's too braindead to be deliberately deceptive], but I'll say it again. Kevin Drum is a moron.

    Kevin Drum is as qualified to blog on national political issues as Sarah Palin is to run for President -- yet inadequacy does not limit their ability to secure a job. How Drum actually remains employed being paid to blog is something I'll never understand.

    Frankly, I'd trust Obama's judgement to make decisions for Kevin Drum before I'd trust Drum's.

    As I said in my comment on the other thread -- I don't think all leftists are morons. Ezra Klein, for as much as I disagree with him, is extremely bright and if you're going to get into a debate with him, you need to bring your 'A' game. I generally try to give my opponents the benefit of the doubt, but Drum has proven repeatedly to not be deserving of it.

  • nbpundit

    Never trust anyone who cannot figure out how to change a flat tire.

  • MJ

    This sounds strange coming from Kevin Drum. He sounds so undeservedly confident in his own judgment when he writes about most other topics.

  • hanmeng

    FUBAR, either "judgement" or "judgment" is acceptable.

    As far as ignoring incentives goes, those on the Right do it too, although admittedly not as much.

  • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com/ Brian Dunbar

    . Kevin Drum is a moron.

    An insult to morons everywhere.

    But he's not, really. He holds a job, he's able to get through the day without walking in front of a bus. He's probably an okay neighbor who will return one's weed whacker in a timely fashion.

    He's worse than a moron: Kevin Drum is a serf.

  • marco73

    Well just today the White House is backtracking on prosecuting Gitmo prisoners in the US, and are now going to prosecute them in: Gitmo. By military tribunal. Just what Bush wanted to do almost 8 years ago. Candidate Obama sure bludgeoned the Bush administration about Gitmo all during the 2008 campaign.
    I wouldn't be surprised if Obama gets Democratic primary opposition from the Left this election.

  • philipo

    I totally agree with the take on Obama, he's a waste of space. However I don't think that who trusts whom is a left/right issue. As a person on the political Left I believe its simply a matter of assessing which side Obama (or anyone else) is on. Though in doubt at election time, his loyalties have become more apparent with each decision he's made since then, so from now on you can guarantee he will never do anything not in the interests of the elites.
    As a previous commenter said Obama was out of his depth from the word go. Being an academic himself he is very likely to trust advisers with ivy league qualifications because those are his raison d'etres also. It would nice to have a carpenter or a plumber in the oval office once in a while or in fact anybody who's worked for a living.

  • Doug

    I wouldn't trust Øbama's ability to even clean my toilets...

  • Henry Bowman

    Brian Dunbar pretty much nailed it; Drum is indeed a serf, and apparently one who has great affection for his lord and master.

    For the life of me I cannot understand why anyone thinks that Obama is super smart. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that he is particularly smart. I think folks such as Drum simply assume that he must be smart simply because is a Democrat. Such thinking is truly moronic.

  • Ted Rado

    Imagine that, as a teenager, you had a father who argued that since he was older and wiser, he would select your friends, pick your clothes, tell you what to study in college, who to marry, etc. Even if he was right, it would be a horrible life. Now auppose also that he is an idiot and every decision he makes for you is catastrophically bad. Voila! You now have the the US Government. Almost everything they have done over the past several decades has turned out to be a fiasco. Most of it should have been left to individual initiative and to the competitive economy.

    Since the dawn of time, the elites have always said that they know how to run your life better that you do. This has never turned out to work.

    When British colonialism was ending, natives were asked why they wanted to kick the Brits out when they were running the country well. The reply was that they would rather run it themselves, even with regular screwups. Most people feel that way. It is supposed to be the American way. We don't want a dictatorial government, even if it is an elected one.

    It is true that some want an authoritative figure to tell them what to do. There were many in the Katrina disaster who complained that the authorities didn't tell them what to do. If you fall in this category, move to a country ruled by a dictator.

  • Dan

    Let's all just pile on Obama here. There's no doubt he's responsible for all the problems in this country and we need the Republicans to come in and clean up, right?

    Funny, it's just what I used to do when Bush was president - pile it on him and hope for the Dems to come in and clean up. I'm not sure how this type of discussion - from either side of the spectrum - helps solve any problems. We expect our presidents to be perfect and they never are, and then we use them as punching bags.

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    > As I have said any number of times in the last two years, having a really, really good speaking voice is not a proxy for intelligence.

    Intelligence is not the quality missing from modern politicians, especially those on The Left.

    The quality that is missing that you seek is Wisdom.

    ("Integrity" is also sorely lacking, but that's been an issue with politicians from the time Ugh was asked to become the leader of WakaDingHoy tribe.)

  • Henry Bowman

    @Dan:

    There is good reason to pile on Obama, especially for the Libyan decision, as it was basically his and his alone. There was also good reason to pile onto George W. Bush, for once the cowardly Congress had provided him authorization to go to war (pretty much against anybody), the not-so-swift George decided we should go to war with Iraq. Until the O'Bumbler's Libyan decision, I thought Bush's decision was one of the better examples of idiocy I could think of. I still think, unlike lots of folks in the War Party (aka Republicans), that the Iraq experience will end very poorly from the U.S. point of view, despite our squandering tons of money and thousands of lives.

    The simple fact is that U.S. Presidents have far too much power and are given far too much latitude by the Congress. Their actions often differ little from those of dictators. That's why is is right to pile on them.

  • Smock Puppet

    > He’s worse than a moron: Kevin Drum is a serf.

    Ah, well, that fully explains Kevin's faith in The Big 0, then, doesn't it??

    It's quite clear that he thinks The Big 0 can walk on water.

    Because, after all, you know, they also serf who stand on waves....
    :P

  • Smock Puppet

    >>> There was also good reason to pile onto George W. Bush, for once the cowardly Congress had provided him authorization to go to war (pretty much against anybody), the not-so-swift George decided we should go to war with Iraq.

    Uh, yeah, it was made AFTER he got "carte blanche" from Congress. He didn't have to specify who he wanted to go to war against beforehand. Nawwwww. Really. He didn't. Not in the least.

    AAAANNNKKKKK. Sorry, that's the "idiot detector" going off, it's identified you as too stupid to have an opinion worth expressing.

    BWOOONK BWOONK BWOOONK. Whoa! Impressive! That's the "damnfool detector going off! That's somewhat unusual. Someone who's not only too STUPID to have an opinion worth expressing, but one who's too big of a flat-out fool to have an opinion worth expressing, too!

    Both your parents are yellow-dog libtards, huh? I've found these dual-case instances tend to be genetic.

  • Dr. T

    "Both A and not-A cannot simultaneously constitute good judgement."

    Not-A is correct when Obama is not President. A is correct when Obama is President. They weren't simultaneous; they were sequential. (If we're lucky, we will experience another period when Obama is not President. If we're unlucky, we'll have President for Life Obama.)

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy

    Leaders on the Left have a strongly arrogant belief that they are smarter than ordinary citizens, and so it is their duty to make decisions for individuals because politicians will do a much better job of running people’s lives than ordinary folks would themselves.

    Well, yeah.

    But don't neglects that leaders on the LeftRight have a strongly arrogant belief that they are smarterwiser than ordinary citizens, and so it is their duty to make decisions for individuals because politicians will do a much better job of running people’s lives than ordinary folks would themselves.

    And kudos to Ted Rado: well said.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy

    Meh!

    No strikeouts?!?

  • me

    He, I am tempted to just agree with you, but there are a few points that I'd vocally opposed.

    (a) Believing that one knows better isn't a left/right issue. It's pretty much what gets those morons into politics in the first place.
    (b) Slave mentality - just because I came across it recently: slaves very frequently weren't exactly happy in choosing to trust their masters but simply forced into the situation due to the power structures of their time. This is much worse - this is pure tribal thinking, "I should be loyal to my chief". You get that a lot from both ends of the spectrum (left and right), and it's pretty horrible

    Greenwald made a great case against: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/04/02/citizenship/index.html

  • anon

    "How can Obama have universally good judgement if he promised to do A in the campaign and is doing not-A today. Both A and not-A cannot simultaneously constitute good judgement."

    I disagree. The following could be true, and seems like the only defensible position for Drum:

    He had the good judgment to promise to do A, because that would get him elected.
    He had the good judgment to do "not A" because "not A" was the right thing to do once he was in office.

    In essence, it is the position that Obama voters are too stupid to handle the truth and need to be told stories. They are rubes and serfs.

  • Dan

    The people I know who hate Obama (like those on this board) hated him from the beginning (just as I hated Bush from the beginning). They were never willing to give him a chance, and refuse to give him credit for anything he's done correctly. Unemployment is falling and the stock market is up 3,000 points since Obama took office, but don't bother telling that to these people, because they won't want to listen. They'd written him off as a complete failure before he even took office, and would never try to re-think their initial thoughts. I guess they're afraid it would be seen as a sign of weakness.

    As for me, I never warmed to Bush. The war in Iraq was started under false pretenses, and he didn't go after the bad guys in Afghanistan as he should have. His economic policies drove the country into its deepest deficits ever. But the Obama haters want you to forget all that. The deficit? It's Obama's fault. Unemployment? Blame it on Obama. The wars going badly? Obama. Hard to take this seriously.

    I do give Bush credit for pushing the surge in Iraq, and I did support it at the time. I thought he was right and I still believe he was. I'd love to see one of the Obama haters just once admit that Obama was right about one thing. (I realize this post opens me up to all sorts of sarcastic rejoinders).

  • stan

    Dan,

    What world do you live in?! Really, pull the covers off your head, get out of bed, and engage with this world, the real one. Sometimes it can be difficult, but you can manage. Reality is worth it. Try it.

  • Matt

    If Kevin Drum really trusts other people's judgment better than his own, I would be delighted to tell him how to vote in the next Presidential election.

    In my spirited conversations with those on the left, I am surprised at how many times long, detailed debates eventually reach this point. With a supposedly smart, capable person willing to put their fate in someone else's hands. It all short-circuits back to fundamental human insecurities, and the willingness to delude oneself into thinking one can trade liberty for security.

  • Graeme

    Hmmm... Drums position is an abdication of moral, intellectual and personal responsibility for his thoughts and actions.

    Just the approach that gets you into the dock at Nuremburg saying "I was just following orders..."

    Does he need deprogramming from the cult?

  • MJ

    They were never willing to give him a chance, and refuse to give him credit for anything he’s done correctly. Unemployment is falling and the stock market is up 3,000 points since Obama took office

    And he deserves credit for this why? He took office during the trough of a depression and shortly after a financial panic which sent the Dow plunging. There was nowhere to go but up. The markets rebounded much more quickly than the economy, suggesting that one does not necessarily track the other.

    We don't have a counterfactual to compare the direction of the economy to the path it would have taken had we just let things be, so any claims about whether our recent economic policy has been succeessful or not is speculative. But a couple of things are worth mentioning. First, national unemployment is still higher than the Administration's economic advisers predicted (2 years ago) it would be if the $800 billion+ stimulus package were enacted. Second, there has been a recent uptick in output and employment. Should we give credit to the Republicans who insisted on including tax cuts in last year's budget bill. Not really, for the same reasons I mentioned above. So no, I am not willing to give credit to the president, or indeed anyone in Washington for the current "recovery".

    There is one thing I will credit Obama with, though. During the presidential primary campaign in '08 he was willing to call bullshit on the proposal for a gas tax "holiday" favored by both McCain and Hillary Clinton. I don't think he quite understood the economics of it, but at least he resisted the simplistic, populist line of argument.

  • http://coroner.lacounty.gov/htm/Coroner_Home.htm Yori Diaz

    Just like Borlaug and the green revolution which failed despite the intoxicated few who refuse to give it a hard look. Grain is an inflammatory food that has just spread more inflammatory diseases like diabetes so the U.S. spends billions shipping grain to starving countries and then ships more billions treating diabetes and other inflammatory diseases that high carbohydrate diets cause. Good work right wing zealots.

    The development of high-yield varieties of corn, wheat, and rice during the "green revolution" of the 1960s and '70s reduced hunger around the world. Gone, it seemed, were the days when American children heard lectures about the starving children in China. "I can remember thinking, 'I hope all the starving kids like brussels sprouts,' " [Lewis Ziska] says. "Now, places like India and China, instead of being net importers of food, rather than living on the edge, they now have plenty of food and are actually exporting their food."

    But the success of the green revolution lulled the world's leaders into complacency. Since that agricultural breakthrough, Earth's population has doubled. And, Ziska said, farmers have now realized most of the possible gains in yield. "So what was put off back in the '60s--those decisions that had to be made about where assistance was going to go, population control, and those sorts of things--those questions are now back with us again."

    The USDA plant physiologist continued, "We've given ourselves a 30-year reprieve, but those questions haven't gone away. Instead of having 3 billion people in the world, we have 6 billion people." Because of climactic uncertainty, "you have a greater strain on the resources needed to grow these crops at the levels needed to support this population." For example, he said, water is "becoming scarce around the world.... And agriculture is the greatest user of fresh water in the world, so if you don't have that water, you cannot maintain the levels of productivity you need to support 6 billion people."