Tag Archives: partisan

What Drives the Filibuster Debate

A strange thing about many partisans is that their stances on some issues are determined entirely by which party controls Congress. Take the filibuster fight happening right now in the Senate. Republicans, the minority party, want a strong filibuster so they can block Democratic legislation and appointees. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, is pondering weakening or even abolishing the filibuster.

Barton Hinkle points out that back in 2005, the tables were turned 180 degrees. Senator Reid was very vocal in his support for a strong filibuster, so that his party could block the then-majority GOP’s bills and President Bush’s nominees. And the GOP was just as vocal about wanting to get rid of it.

Read the whole article here. Practically everyone named comes across as hack-tastic.


Mises on Political Parties

With a fiercely partisan election just over a month away, the concluding paragraph of Ludwig von Mises’ Liberalism is a refreshing rejection of party politics. Mises, of course, uses liberalism in the original sense of the word:

No sect and no political party has believed that it could afford to forgo advancing its cause by appealing to men’s senses. Rhetorical bombast, music and song resound, banners wave, flowers and colors serve as symbols, and the leaders seek to attach their followers to their own person. Liberalism has nothing to do with all this. It has no party flower and no party color, no party song and no party idols, no symbols and no slogans. It has the substance and the arguments. These must lead it to victory.

-Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism: The Classical Tradtion, p. 151.

Social Security, Health Care, and Partisan Hackery

Megan McArdle points out a delicious piece of partisan hackery.

Back in 2005, President Bush proposed privatizing Social Security. This was one of his few good ideas. But because of poor salesmanship, it was less than popular. Nothing came of it. Rather than press on, The New York Times urged him to cave in, in accordance with the peoples’ wishes.

This year’s health care bill is similarly unpopular. Now The New York Times is urging President Obama to press on, against the peoples’ wishes.

Go read her whole post. It’s great.

The Partisan Deficit

When Republicans are in the White House, Paul Krugman thinks budget deficits are bad. When a Democrat is in the White House, deficits are no problem at all.

Correctly noting in 2005 that the Bush deficits were “comparable to the worst we’ve ever seen in this country,” Krugman worried that investor confidence would wilt under the difficulty of paying back such massive obligations.

Now that President Obama has tripled the Bush deficits, he has a column poo-pooing deficit worriers as “being terrorized by a phantom menace — a threat that exists only in their minds.” Investor confidence will be just fine.

Would he be so sanguine if a Republican president ran up a $1,400,000,000,000 budget deficit in his first year in office? The party in power has nothing to do with whether deficits are good or bad. Deficits are either a problem or they aren’t.

Krugman’s partisanship is regrettable. What’s more regrettable is that it is taken seriously. Such is the tragedy of the partisan mind.

All Community Organizing Is Astroturfing – And That’s Fine!

Democratic members of Congress have held numerous town hall meetings recently to promote the president’s health care plan. They have faced unbridled hostility, to the surprise of many.

The response: attack the people making the hostile arguments, not the arguments themselves.

True, the whole phenomenon does seem vaguely dodgy. Who goes to town hall meetings for fun? Of course the people crashing the events have an agenda. That’s the point!

The weird part is that people use different words to describe the same political tactic, depending on which team’s partisans are behind the disruptions. If one team does it, it’s called “community organizing.” If the other team does it, it’s called “astroturfing.”

Again, it matters less which side is doing what, than whether the arguments they’re making are right or wrong. That is what’s important. The government is currently in charge of a bit more than half of all health care spending. Astroturfers say this is too much; community organizers say this is too little. The debate should hinge on which of the two has the better arguments.

The fact that members of Congress extolling the president’s plan are attacking astroturfers while leaving their arguments alone seems to say that the Congressmen believe their own arguments to be weak. Why else the need to go personal?


“The partisan, when he is engaged in a dispute, cares nothing about the rights of the question, but is anxious only to convince his hearers of his own assertions.”

-Plato, Phaedo.

Big Day

Today was a big day in Washington. Tom DeLay was indicted, John Roberts is on the cusp of confirmation, NASA was reauthorized at a mere $16.6 billion/year… and I have resumed my long dormant blogging career.