How to Become a Philosopher

This eHow on becoming a philosopher seems to boil down to think deep thoughts.

So maybe the best way to become a philosopher is to read Deep Thoughts.


Who is right?

The party of the first part:
If you have any interest in building a high-quality audio system, the experts will tell you to spend what you can on speakers first, and spend on an amplifier second. This approach has been further reinforced by engineers who say there is no audible difference among amplifiers within a given price range. But you can’t hear your CD player or your speakers without an amplifier. |source|

Or, the party of the second part:
A principle that I want to be sure you understand is the hierarchy of Hi Fi. No component should ever be better than the component which precedes it (except maybe when evaluating equipment.) If the speakers outclass the rest of the system they will simply show you what a poor job the turntable or amplifier is doing. It is true that the speakers are often the weakest link of a cheap system and some improvement may be had by upgrading them but going beyond a point will make the sound worse. |source|

What we chat about: Dork science edition

Zombie Hervé Villechaize thinks I should get a tattoo on my face. He's been saying it for years:

Click past the jump for increased dorkiness:

("What we chat about," both in title and concept, are completely ripped off from the multi-part series, "what we talk about," over at the continuously exploding aardvark)



[Origin: 1835–45; 'actin-', ray beam + '-ic', having some characteristic of]

Of, relating to, resulting from, or exhibiting chemical charges produced by radiant energy especially in the visible and ultraviolet parts of the spectrum.


Am I evil?

Writing about Tony Snow's cancer today, Ogged -- a cancer survivor himself -- had this to say:
Best of luck to him. I want my right-wing hacks discredited, not dead. We have to believe in redemption. |Unfogged|

What to say? Let's start with this. Cancer freaks me out. Pretty much everyone on my mother's side of my family is dead, and they all died of cancer. Two summers ago a friend of mine died of leukemia. And of course Neal's wife Sarah is in treatment for breast cancer, and I'd strongly prefer that things go well.

I also believe in redemption, or something like it. People can change, and they do. My grandmother, for example, was a thoroughly unpleasant woman for the great majority of her life, but during the year or so that her lung cancer was in remission she was a real sweety.

On the other hand, by my reckoning Tony Snow is a seriously evil dude. Let's remember that even before he became a willing participant in and designated dissembler for the moral catastrophe that is the Bush administration, he was a member of a right wing punditocracy that does its level best to enable and legitimize policies that any decent person would be ashamed of. He ought to have known better, and frankly I think that he probably did. Why shouldn't I wish him ill?


Battlestar Galactica thread

A terrible meltown? Or the most terrible meltdown in sci-fi television history? Discuss in the comments.

UPDATE: Past the jump, check out John Aravosis of Americablog, who has found out why eveything turned to shit.

Just watched the season finale of Battlestar Galactica. All I can say is, good riddance. Never has a TV show gone from brilliance to crap in such short order. It's only the third season and they have already destroyed one of the best television shows ever. It's as if the writers all suffered a mass aneurysm this year. It's not even the same writers, it can't be (I think they moved the real writers over to the new spin-off - of course, if these are still the original writers, then they're really in trouble). It's 2am on a Monday morning, so I'm permitting myself a little latitude to vent about a TV show most of you probably haven't watched. But I love TV, and I know TV. This series was amazing television. And now it's pathetic, predictable, nauseatingly unbelievable crap. I just can't understand how something so good could so quickly turn so awful.


PS Okay, it's all making sense now. Check out this interview with the executive producer over at Salon.com. Basically, he says that a lot of the show is him just winging it and changing things at the last minute, "organically."
Do you have story arcs plotted out over the whole series or over the season, and how much of it do you decide as you go along?

A good amount of it is improvised in terms of how we develop story, which is how I like to do it. At the beginning of the season, we arc out about 10 episodes.

And this:
We'll get different ideas or get inspiration in the middle of a scene I'm writing and think, "Oh, know what? We should make a hard left turn here." Then all the planning goes out the window and we have to make a change on the fly.... You think you've laid out a path, but as you do it you find that there's this other more interesting path to get there. It causes chaos and you have to scramble to change things that you've already set in motion. But I find that it's just a more organic way to do it.

And this:
In this season's finale, I decided on the fly to give Laura her cancer back. It's been bubbling in the back of my mind for a while. When we cured her cancer in the second season, I knew I didn't want that to be a permanent thing. I knew at some point I wanted to bring it back, because we'd changed her character in a way I wasn't happy with. But it wasn't until I was sitting down doing a rewrite of the finale that I decided this is the moment, let's do it. Tigh losing his eye was done in the same way. I was writing the teaser for the season opener and I decided on the fly that Tigh's lost an eye. That became a huge thing for the character and shifted a lot of things in the show. It just worked.

That explains a lot. He just changes major parts of the plot on a moment's notice, at the last minute. Well, I got news for you. It shows.

UPDATE 2: There's going to be a straight-to-DVD movie prequel about the Battlestar Pegasus during the break. Perhaps we can all just will this spring season out of existince.

I'll buy two of them RIGHT NOW



Check it out

eripsa has posted a pretty cool YouTube vid about...well, let's say it's about the web. You should go watch it.

But get this. The vid was put together by a professor at K-State. What's more, he was an undergrad there around the same time as Jason, Mark, Neal, John, Eric, myself, and a bunch of people who don't have blogs.

Looks like he's applied himself more dilligently than some of us.

This just in...

...Landon Donovan is pretty good.

To stoke the fires of controversy a bit, have you noticed that the USA has dropped to 30th in the FIFA rankings? For someone like myself who's on the record saying that the FIFA rankings aren't particularly accurate, this isn't a troubling development. But those committed to the accuracy of the rankings seem to be compelled to think that the USA squad is now much worse than it was a year ago. That must be pretty upsetting, especially if you're a true fan.


Return of the hack gap or, "My opponent's fortitude is not an issue in this campaign"

On MSNBC this morning Michael Barone deployed the new GOP beholden hack talking points on John Edwards. In bullet point form they are:
  • Like everyone, I have great sympathy for John and Elizabeth Edwards
  • Having a terminally ill spouse would put a lot of stress on a President.
  • None of Mr. Edwards opponents would bring this up, so
  • It will be an issue for voters to consider in the privacy of the voting booth.

I feel dirty just from watching Barone's performance. Ick. I'm sure we'll see it repeated hundreds of times by dozens of GOP proxies before this is over. Ick. Ick. Ick.

A note to the naive: not talking about something is not the same as talking about not talking about something.


Nice title

Do you want to know more?

Addendum: If you followed the link, you would have noticed that the book is published by the National Association of Marriage Enhancement. As I have an interest in Marriage Enhancement, I entered the string d-i-l-d-o in the search box on their site. I was taken to Slumber Party dot com and reminded that there really are some stark differences in the ways that women and men are socialized.

Well this is a fine how do you do

Professional Bull Riders, Incorporated, the only worker owned sports league that I know of, is selling a controlling interest to Spire Capital, an investment group headquartered in New York. I guess this means I won't be wearing my PBR jersey to the May Day parade like I planned.

Anyway, here's a worker getting his unexploited ass kicked by a bull:

Addendum: The pic above is from an organization as yet uncorrupted by capitalism.

Quote of the day

CNN's Ed Henry hit the nail on the head: if no conversations occurred with the president, and no advice was given, then how can the White House assert executive privilege, claiming the need to shield presidential advice?

Tony Snow's response: "That's an intriguing question."


Breaking: DePaul bounces KSU from NIT

I know none of us will sleep tonight.

Update: The sad story.

Monday conjecture

For any iPod or similar device θ there is some number n such that if Farm on the Freeway is a track on θ, then either θ contains at least n Tull tracks which are not Farm on the Freeway or the owner of &theta is a wanker.


It's not all about unions

Kevin Drum reads Megan McArdle and concludes that here, finally, is confirmation that advocates school-voucher programs have only one real goal: The destruction of teacher unions.

He may be right about McArdle, but I can tell you with some certainty that many lay-folk who like vouchers are more interested in providing alternatives to "liberal" public education than they are with the alleged icy death-grip of teacher unions. Just look at how agitated people get about what goes into science textbooks.

I'm not sure of which issue has more emphasis across the nation, but the Kansas-style republicans I have met don't think about unions a lot, they just want to get some more Jesus up in there. Vouchers, they think, will allow them to shift the fight about how we indoctrinate our kids to more local, quieter battlegrounds, where they feel they can win more often.


Quote of the day

Getting upset about what Commodore's doing these days is like getting upset about your little brother chewing off your dad's head. He's not your little brother any more. That's just his re-animated corpse, the walking dead, a zombie. So blast him with the shotgun and let's get out of here before more of those things are alerted to our presence and start coming after us. And if there really is any small part of your little brother left in that ambulant rotting shell, you'll be doing him a favor anyway.

Kirk Rundstrom, RIP

Man, this sucks.

UPDATE: This really, really sucks. It's more depressing than I thought it would be, since I've been bracing for it for awhile. It's not like I even knew the guy, really.


Dumb question

I'm thinking about buying a stereo to replace the one that was stolen[1], and I'm confused. Here's the thing. I have less than no interest in a home theater system and the surround sound that such a system implies. I want a stereo. For music. Two channels of audio bliss combining to produce a homey 3D sound. But I also want a subwoofer. Perhaps stupidly, I believe that a good old fashioned two channel reciever won't let me hook up a subwoofer. Is it possible to connect a subwoofer to something with fewer than 6.1 channels and 87 buttons?

For the record, I care a whole lot more about clarity than volume. So maybe I'm also stupid to think that I even want a subwoofer.

1 Which stereo was a hand me down from Jason, replacing the very nice stereo that I sold very cheaply in a haze of moving and sex which is actually the stereo that I am now, nine years later, replacing.


Busted down to "Lieutenant America"

The boys at the Corner, jumping off this WSJ editorial about the death of Captain America, lament just "...how left-wing popular comics can be."

I love reading The Corner. It's a blast just trying to grok the world in which writers and artists are expected to be conservatives instead of broke bohemians. Perhaps Cliff May thinks comic book creators in the 70's were publishing tycoons, hobnobbing with the upper crust, rather than, you know, artists and writers, struggling to pay the rent.

Slightly more seriously, I suspect that because of the nature of their job, comic-book writers do more thought experiments about power and it's responsible use in a year than Cliff May does in a decade.

"With great power comes great responsibility" --Stan Lee

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias, who apparently still reads comic books (and there's nothing wrong with that, people), found another example of Cliff May's handwringing over the antics of men in tights.


P.S. Last night on Colbert, Colbert found out that Captain America left his shield to Stephen Colbert! He found out from a letter from a Marvel editor that contained the phrase, "Welcome to the Marvel Universe."

That's pretty awesome.

P.P.S., I'm amazed we didn't mention Captain America on this blog last week.

Will Iraq be the prominent issue of 2008?

As I wrote earlier, Joshua thinks "no," and I think "hell yes." Neither of us can really know, of course, but that doesn't stop either of us from electoral prognostication. Yesterday, Josh sent me the following email:

Asked of Republican primary voters:
Which is more important to you in a presidential nominee — someone who commits to staying in Iraq until the U.S. succeeds, or someone who is flexible about when to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq? 

39% committed to winning
58% flexible

This is coming from primary voters, mind you. The GOP voter is way more on top of this Iraq shit...they aren't going to shoot themselves in the foot over it. Bush might shoot them in the foot, however.

52% believe that the winning candidate will oppose the war. They aren't gonna run on it, and if both parties won't run on it, then it won't be an issue. Might it make sense for a Democrat to try and pin the other guy w/ it? Not really. It goes to Bush and he's in his private wilderness. The press will keep doing stories on it, but since both sides will be messaging the same message (get out), what will matter is health care, education, economy. Domestic issues election, this one.

There are three reasons why I think Josh is wrong.

First, Bush will probably shoot the Republicans in the foot (better than Cheney shooting them in the face, I guess). He's going to be president throughout the campaign, and if there's one thing we can apparently count on from Bush, it's that he will continue to mess things up real good. If we end up with a broader war in the Middle East, for example, I think even Joshua would agree that this would become the major issue in 2008.

Second, even without a foot-shooting-related incident, Iraq is on track to be in a significantly more horrific situation in mid-to-late '08 than it is right now. Top of the evening news, on the front page every day... that kind of horrific. There is no way that this doesn't become an issue in the primaries, where the "mainstream" candidates of both parties will face challenges from the left and the right. Candidates will need to put up specific proposals, and then those proposals will be savaged by both the "get out now" and the "stay to win" crowds.

Third, in the general election, I just can't see the Republicans not taking another tug at the national-security lever, especially if the race is tight. Perhaps their strategists will look at these polls and consider it a losing proposition, but I think it's more likely that they will suggest a series of slash-and-burn (political) attacks designed to move the electorate, and change that polling. The context of this poll is widespread malaise about Iraq, and nobody out there trying very hard to beat the drums of war. In full-on campaign season, the rhetorical landscape will be very, very different.

This has been my first prognostication entry for '08. Discuss.

Philosoraptor, strike!

Here's the PoMo modus operandi: say a bunch of stuff. Make sure some of it is preposterous, and some of it is obvious. When speaking to other PoMo types, or trying to prove how innovative you are, emphasize the preposterous stuff. When pushed to defend your position by obdurate, retrograde, logocentricists--like actual philosophers or scientists--fall back to the obvious stuff and pretend that that's all you ever meant, that only a fool would interpret all that preposterous stuff at face value. The academic bait-and-switch.

Tragic waste of the human spirit, that stuff.

This is my exact experience dealing with committed post-modernists. To be a little more charitable, I don't think that the ones I have known have been deliberately deceptive, as Mr. Smith seems to think. Instead, it seems to me that they have adopted a strange state of mind where the "bait-and-switch" is a consistent and natural feature of their worldview rather than a rhetorical attempt to bamboozle. However, I think their mindset is confused and nonsensical. It always seems like they have to exert a lot of effort just to maintain this somewhat hallucinatory perspective.

They, of course, think I just don't get it.

I did enact Julius Caesar

Count me among the skeptics of Fred Thompson's presidential run. I mean, I know he was an effective admiral, but that was the cold war and this is now. What's more, as a District Attorney he was an ideologue with little regard for the rule of law and a tin political ear. In fact, it's so hard to believe that a man with his views that could be elected in NYC that you have suspect mob connections.

What? He was also in Congress? Big freaking deal.


Texas Tech?!

I apologize for interrupting the normally high-minded political discourse of this blog with something as low-brow as the NCAA men's basketball tournament. But ...

Can anyone possibly explain to me how Texas Tech (21-12 / 9-7 in-conference), who finished 5th in the Big 12, is a 10 seed and K-State (22-11 / 10-6 in-conference), who finished 4th in the Big 12, doesn't even get in?

Add to that craziness the fact that K-State DESTROYED tech in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament ....


Take the money and run

Atlas shrugs, moves to Dubai:
Why Halliburton HQ, CEO May be Moving to Dubai

Halliburton is under Justice Department Securities and Exchange Commission investigation over allegations of improper dealings in Iraq, Kuwait and Nigeria, and now the company is moving its headquarters and its chief executive officer, David J. Lesar, to Dubai. Halliburton will remain a US company subject to US laws, but Dubai has no extradition agreement with the United States, meaning that Mr. Lesar could not be compelled to return to the US to testify, stand trial or serve any sentence related to any Halliburton activities under investigation.

This move may be perfectly innocent, of course. But just in case it isn't, thank goodness we have a competent Justice Department to look out for the best interests of the American people!


Michael Jackson is dancing in the alley...

...which, as everyone in Ann Arbor knows, marks the end of winter. Woot!

The rest of you can keep your groundhogs.


Profile in courage

"I drew a line in my mind that said, 'Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept ... perjury in your highest officials." |Newt Gingrich|


Don't keep bringing that weak ass shit

Via Drum I see that Tyler Cowen is approvingly citing a paper making the claim that unions don't produce higher wages. Well, I can't get through the pay wall[1] to read the study, but the abstract suggests an obvious problem. Here's an excerpt:
Using multiple establishment-level data sets that represent establishments that faced organizing drives in the United States during 1984-1999, this paper uses a regression discontinuity design to estimate the impact of unionization on business survival, employment, output, productivity, and wages. Essentially, outcomes for employers where unions barely won the election (e. g., by one vote) are compared with those where the unions barely lost. The analysis finds small impacts on all outcomes that we examine; estimates for wages are close to zero.

What's being compared here, then, are firms with weak unions and firms that barely beat back a unionization drive. What you would expect in such a case, or at any rate what I would expect in such a case, is that there wouldn't be much of a wage differential. This is because, first, a weak union won't be able to win much in the way of wage concessions, and, second, a firm which barely beat back a unionization drive will have an incentive to mollify workers. Cowen's suggestion that this result indicates that, "there may be no union wage premium at all" is, to say the least, a far stronger conclusion than is warranted.
1 Though I'm sure I'll be able to work that out without much trouble tomorrow.

Addendum: And there's the paper in my inbox. I gotta tell you, having the right readers is almost as effective as having access to a university library system.

Union thug fashion

I saw one of these numbers for the first time yesterday morning. I was on campus on my way to do some face to face organizing. Having no way to carry it, I had been forced to leave my bat back at the office.

Somehow I managed to get the card anyway, and to hear horror stories about funding and workload in the department, and to look at baby pictures, but it sure would have been reassuring to have a weapon handy just in case.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a titanium spike

Robot by lkwds.
Submitted without comment:

An ethical code to prevent humans abusing robots, and vice versa, is being drawn up by South Korea..

See also, our continuing coverage of the coming robot war.


"Vampire Hunters" drive a stake through Milosivec's heart

It's true. To prevent the Serbian dictator from returning to life, they dug him up and drove a three-foot wooden stake through his heart.

This would be more reasonable--well, reasonable for vampire hunters--if Milosivec, like some other dictators, had a reputation for entanglement with the dark arts, but to my knowledge he didn't swing that way. So it's a bit of a vampiric non-sequitur.

Are there stories about Milosivec I haven't heard?


[From Old French 'doloros', from Late Latin 'dolorosus', from Latin 'dolor', pain, grief]

1. Causing, characterized by, or affected with physical pain.
2. Causing, marked by, or expressive of misery or grief.



I didn't win.

I lied on the first question, however

StupidTester.com says I'm 1% Stupid! How stupid are you? Click Here!

Perspective and compromise on EFCA

This is about right:
There's a weirdness to this anti-union hysteria that's genuinely puzzling. I mean, I'm not actually the biggest union sympathizer in the world, and I sort of get the fear of unions that some people have. If it were 1975, I might sympathize more.

But it's not 1975. We don't live in an era of corrupt union bosses, inflation-busting contracts in dying industries, or endless strikes that threaten to cripple the economy. We live in an era in which unions are as decently managed as any other similar-sized enterprise, middle-class workers haven't gotten a raise in three decades, and management locks out workers unless they agree to pay cuts and benefit reductions. If you thought labor had too much power 30 years ago, fine. I'll let it pass. But today? You must be kidding. |Kevin Drum|

This is what EFCA is about. It's about the fact that unions are unable to organize effectively, and that this has had bad effects for workers. Card check will make organizing easier. This will increase the bargaining power of unions, and will, thereby, allow them to negotiate better terms of employment for workers. And this is a good thing because, for the last thirty years, the working class has been getting the shaft. Simple.

I can hear you asking, though, "What about the secret ballot? Isn't it the foundation of American democracy?" Well, no. But leave that aside. Here's a compromise proposal. Instead of card check recognition, let's just legislate that each workplace shall have a union recognition election not less than once every five years. With secret ballots and the whole shebang. What do you say to that bub?


Monday poll: Which is worse?

I don't know jack about Mike Huckabee

I titled the post this way to deter anyone from thinking that I'm about to become a "Huckabee Democrat." It's a sad state of affairs, but my starting assumption about any politician is that she will say anything, anything, to get elected. It is, in fact, his job to do so.

Policy does matter, however, and the rhetoric that politicians use to get elected ends up shaping the policy, often more than the politicians might have hoped.

Firstly, the rhetoric constrains the winner of the political contest, at least a little, as the winner may have future contests and needs to avoid flagrant hypocrisy to win down the road.

Second, and probably more significantly, the rhetoric can take on a life of its own and move the center of the debate in one direction or another. This latter effect can immediately undercut a politician's favoured course (example: Bush and the Dubai ports deal), but can also ripple down through the years, shaping entire political platforms (example: Barry Goldwater).

Thus, it is heartening to see a Republican candidate for president staking out these sorts of positions, no matter what his motivations may be:

Here is a piece of Salon's profile, as quoted by Yglesias (with our patent-pending Bellman bolding):
"If I really know what it means to follow Jesus, it means no kid goes hungry tonight," he said, at one stop in Iowa. "It means no wife gets the daylights beat out of her by some alcoholic abusive husband. It means no kid lives in a neighborhood where he is scared to death of some child predator that is going to pick him up and carry him off. It means not one single elderly person has to make the choice between food or medicine." Unlike former Sen. Rick Santorum or Sen. Sam Brownback, Huckabee does not spend time pounding the pulpit over baby murder and sodomy. He's a self-styled "compassionate conservative," a poll-tested concept that worked once before. But while President Bush discarded the slogan like a prom queen's sash, Huckabee wants to convince America that he is the real deal.

Leading off with poverty? That's the starting position of the so-called "Religious Left." Taken seriously, it implies all sorts of positions that are far closer to my left-wing nutjob socialism than the policies pursued by any Republicans in my lifetime.

Here is another bit of the Salon profile, as quoted by Ezra Klein:
[Huckabee] has refused to take the predictable path by talking tough on crime to deflect the DuMond criticism. Instead, he campaigns on a compassionate approach to wrongdoers, especially those whose crimes are the result of drug or alcohol addiction. At Philly's Finest, he condemned the "revenge-based corrections system," sounding every bit the sort of squishy liberal that the Bill O'Reillys of the world long ago scared into the shadows. "We lock up a lot of people we are mad at rather than the ones we are really afraid of," he said. "We incarcerate more people than anybody on earth." As governor, Huckabee pushed for drug treatment instead of incarceration for non-violent offenders. He pushed for faith-based prison programs, and was critical of governors who "gladly pull the switch" on death penalty cases, an apparent knock on President Bush, who was criticized as governor of Texas for being cavalier about capital punishment.

This is the exactly the kind of position, written into platform after platform of the Democratic party, that makes me a Democrat. However, our Dem Congressfolk and Presidents haven't acted on this position--or even tried very hard to shape the debate--for some time. Our highly-paid inside-the-beltway consultants tell us that hammering on this sort of thing will lose us votes rather than gain them.

And they might be right. But at some point somebody has to actually fight to fix the clusterfrak that is our prison-industrial complex. And if that person turns out to be a Republican, that person might just gain more votes than he loses for doing so. He might just get mine.

At the very least, I'm happy to see anyone out there pushing on my side of the envelope.



[Origin 1580-90, from Italian 'aspro', white (probably referring to the whiteness of new silver coins)]

A Turkish money of account (formerly a coin), of little value; the 120th part of a piaster.

[from Latin 'asper', rough]

Rough; rugged; harsh; bitter; stern; fierce.

[from Latin 'spiritus asper', rough breathing]

The rough breathing; a mark placed over an initial vowel sound or over [rho] to show that it is aspirated, that is, pronounced with h before it.


I am a hero who never fails. I cannot be bothered with these details!

This is quite unfortunate.

Hell no they don't believe their own bullshit

Most of what the Democrats want to do in Congress is just unwise, but H.R. 800, the Worker Compulsion Act, is vile. The statute, a thank-you to organized labor for its role in November's elections, would deprive American workers of the right to a secret ballot in union certification elections.

The secret ballot is a fundamental tenet of any effective democracy, and has been part of American labor law for many years. There is no possible explanation for why the Democrats want to abolish the secret ballot, other than the truth: they are trying to enable coercion and intimidation by union thugs.

The quote is from Powerline, though I hesitate to ascribe authorship since on this issue everyone on the right just cuts and pastes talking points from the National Association of Manufacturers.

For the record, the bill is actually called the Employee Free Choice Act. But whatever. At least they spelled 'democrats' right.

Here's the deal. The reason that unions want card check recognition isn't that unionists oppose secret ballots or want to 'enable coercion and intimidation by union thugs.' The reason is rather that employers have a well documented tradition of fighting tooth and nail to prevent recognition elections from taking place at all. It is laughably dishonest for NAM and their proxies to claim, in the face of mountainous evidence to the contrary, that their objection to the bill is grounded in a commitment to worker democracy.

edited for clarity, crappy writing

Suck it

...I feel like I should cite a source, but all I know is that my friend Jef sent this to me.

Folks just called him yellow

Over at the Great Big Onanism Revue, Dave3544 has expressed his doubts that the Democrats in the Senate will pass the bill calling for unionization of the TSA. Actually, he's offered a bet a 4 to 1 odds that the Senate won't pass the bill.

Don't throw away your money!

Legislative cowardice or no, it seems to me that giving Bush a chance to veto TSA unionization wouldn't be good politics. It's clear from the NY Times article linked above (and yesterday), that the Republicans have the votes to sustain the veto. So passing the TSA unionization bill won't accomplish anything concrete, but will instead be a symbolic gesture.

That's not bad in itself. There's nothing wrong with symbolic gestures as such, and the principle at stake here -- that every worker should have the right to engage in substantive collective bargaining -- is a good one, and well worth defending symbolically and otherwise.

The problem is that defending that principle by taking a stand on this issue gives the Republicans a chance to make a symbolic gesture of their own. That is, it lets the Republicans make speeches about their commitment to national security, speeches in which they take shots at Democrats for caring more about the concerns of special interests than about defending the homeland.

Why give the Republicans that rhetorical opportunity? Especially when there are better bills out there?
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