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The Eternal Game Of Chicken

[ Posted Monday, November 19th, 2012 – 18:15 PST ]

It's supposed to be turkey week, but instead I'd like to talk about the eternal game of "chicken" that our elected representatives in Washington keep playing. Because now I see not just Democrats talking about why going over the "fiscal cliff" might not be such a bad idea, but it seems Republicans are considering the matter as well. Which leaves me wondering: has everyone on the banks of the Potomac just gone stark staring crazy?

Both sides in this fight are advocating cheerfully flinging ourselves off the fiscal cliff for what is essentially the same reason -- so that their political party will gain leverage in the negotiations. With the Democrats at least it has a sort of rational logic to it, since all the "fiscal cliff" measures will take place if Congress does nothing -- therefore, Democrats think if they hold firm on their demands, then Republicans will be faced with a choice of bad or worse, knowing that the American public will likely hold them responsible either way. Republicans, on the other hand, are truly through the looking glass, and are arguing that if they wait until after the first of next year, then they'll be able to reluctantly vote for the Democrats' plan, but without breaking their pledge to Grover Norquist never to raise any taxes, ever. Because the tax rate hikes will happen automatically, they can just wait until after they happen and then vote for exactly the same result and they'll somehow still be ideologically pure.

This is flat-out insane. Or perhaps just incredibly self-serving and brutally partisan, which isn't a whole lot better. Because the world markets will react, and trust in the United States to self-govern competently will slip another big notch. In other words, there will be consequences beyond the Beltway, whether the uber-partisans want to admit it or not. But they don't seem to care -- the whole game of "chicken" is to see which side "blinks first" to avoid a perfectly-avoidable catastrophe.

Lest I be accused of false equivalence, I do think that the Republican position is even more untenable than the Democratic one. Democrats, after all, just shellacked Republicans at the polls, and they feel they should have some political leverage as a direct result. Elections matter, in other words, or at least they used to. Republicans are off in a fantasy world of hair-splitting and illogic, cowering in fear of their overlord Norquist. Only in this frightful universe would voting for something a few days after you voted against the very same thing be considered in any way "different" or "more acceptable." But the Republicans still slavishly dance to Norquist's tune, so if he says "jump" they're likely going to respond with "How high?" I can't help but see Republicans as modern-day Neros, tuning up their fiddle and adjusting their music stand so they can see (by the flames raging outside).

I know that we've got a divided Congress, with one house in each party's hands. This will not change in the new year, although the Democrat position will improve slightly in both houses. But it seems we're still doomed to live through two more years much like the previous two -- lurching from self-imposed fiscal crisis to self-imposed fiscal crisis, all because nobody can manage to make any sort of long-term deal.

Our government has been reduced to hostage-taking. And the favorite hostage is "the American economy." The House Tea Partiers turned this into an art form in the current Congress, and it looks like more of the same for the foreseeable future. Frank Herbert, in his epic novel Dune, took this to the extreme, with the philosophy which states that the power to destroy a thing is the ultimate power over that thing. The Republicans have proven that they are willing to trash the American economy for political gain already. Democrats now seem willing to play this brutal game from the other side of the aisle.

This is exactly why the public is disgusted with Washington. Both parties -- both parties -- are now openly speaking of letting a crisis happen, just to increase their bargaining position. The ends, they tell us, will fully justify the means, and pay no attention to that sinking credit rating behind the curtain. Republicans, astonishingly enough, have even gamed this out to the next fiscal crisis, when Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling once again. Round and round we go, but this whirligig ride never stops, it just speeds up.

Perhaps I'm being too pessimistic. But it's hard not to be, when all of a sudden "let's kick the can six months down the road" is looking like one of the better options which are politically feasible at this time. Maybe they'll surprise us all and actually hammer out an agreement, at some time before the crystal ball drops on New Year's Eve. Maybe we'll avoid the crisis at the last minute -- I've thought all along that this was one of the more likely outcomes, actually.

But now I'm not so sure. Because we seem to be playing the suicidal game of "chicken" over and over again with America's future. For those who have never seen a movie about the bad boys of the 1950s, "chicken" is when two cars race towards each other on a deserted road. One is driving in his right lane, the other is driving in his left. Because they're headed towards each other, this puts them both in the same lane. The "game" is to see which driver will, at the last minute, yank his wheel in a desperate attempt to continue living, and swerve and avoid impact. If neither driver swerves, then you end up with a head-on collision where (pre-airbag) everybody stood a good chance of dying a gruesome death.

That's the game we seem to be playing now. Except on the edge of a cliff. And both parties are being egged on by those in the back seat whispering "the airbags will protect you -- it won't be so bad -- don't chicken out!"

Welcome to the lame duck session of Congress, in other words. Feel free to insert your own joke here at the end, about lame ducks, "chicken," and turkeys. Bonus points for using the phrase "Chris certainly is in a fowl mood today."

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at Business Insider
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

55 Comments on “The Eternal Game Of Chicken”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    I would never accuse you of false equivalence. :)

    Things look bad now but they'll get better ... and moods will change. Mine did. Heh.

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    Lest I be accused of false equivalence, I do think that the Republican position is even more untenable than the Democratic one. Democrats, after all, just shellacked Republicans at the polls, and they feel they should have some political leverage as a direct result. Elections matter, in other words, or at least they used to.

    That's funny...

    Democrats sang a different tune when THEY got shellacked in 2010...

    Which simply proves what I have always said...

    You can't keep the players straight without a playbill...

    :D

    Michale.....

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    The Republicans have proven that they are willing to trash the American economy for political gain already. Democrats now seem willing to play this brutal game from the other side of the aisle.

    Which is simply another example of the Michale Theorem... :D

    The ends, they tell us, will fully justify the means,

    Oh be still my beating heart.... :D

    Chris DOES seem to be in a fowl mood today...

    Let's talk about something cheery....

    Like Gaza and Israel...

    Or maybe a root canal....

    Or....

    "Well, there's a delicate corneal inversion procedure... a multi-opti-pupil-optomy. But, in order to keep from damaging the eye sockets, they've got to go in through the rectum. Ain't no man going to take that route with me!"
    -Jon Cryer, HOT SHOTS

    :D

    Michale.....

  4. [4] 
    dsws wrote:

    Here's the description of the game of chicken from Bertrand Russell, as quoted on Wikipedia:

    Since the nuclear stalemate became apparent, the Governments of East and West have adopted the policy which Mr. Dulles calls 'brinkmanship'. This is a policy adapted from a sport which, I am told, is practiced by some youthful degenerates. This sport is called 'Chicken!'. It is played by choosing a long straight road with a white line down the middle and starting two very fast cars towards each other from opposite ends. Each car is expected to keep the wheels of one side on the white line. As they approach each other, mutual destruction becomes more and more imminent. If one of them swerves from the white line before the other, the other, as he passes, shouts 'Chicken!', and the one who has swerved becomes an object of contempt. As played by irresponsible boys, this game is considered decadent and immoral, though only the lives of the players are risked. But when the game is played by eminent statesmen, who risk not only their own lives but those of many hundreds of millions of human beings, it is thought on both sides that the statesmen on one side are displaying a high degree of wisdom and courage, and only the statesmen on the other side are reprehensible. This, of course, is absurd. Both are to blame for playing such an incredibly dangerous game. The game may be played without misfortune a few times, but sooner or later it will come to be felt that loss of face is more dreadful than nuclear annihilation. The moment will come when neither side can face the derisive cry of 'Chicken!' from the other side. When that moment is come, the statesmen of both sides will plunge the world into destruction.

    The game has two "pure strategy" (deterministic) equilibria, and one "mixed strategy" equilibrium.

    A strategy is simply a choice of what to do. An equilibrium is a pair of choices, one strategy for each player, such that neither player will switch their strategy, given the other side's choice.

    If you know the other player will swerve, your best strategy is not to swerve; if you know the other player won't, your best option is to swerve. So both outcomes where one swerves and the other doesn't are equilibria. Better than never swerving, though, is to roll some dice, and act accordingly. The set of dice to use depends on the magnitudes of the payoffs. If a crash is truly disastrous and getting jeered at is no big deal, you want truly long odds against deciding not to swerve: not only do you want the crash to be unlikely, but it takes only a tiny chance of a crash to convince your adversary to swerve -- or at least to choose a similarly low chance of not swerving. On the other hand, if it's almost as good to be a dead hero as a live coward, you'll want a fairly low probability of swerving.

    The interesting part is beforehand.

    You want to convince your adversary that you're not going to swerve. If you can convince your adversary that you're a psychopath, their best choice is to let you win. But the most convincing way of looking like a psychopath is to actually be one, so if you have a psychopath to put in charge, you're well-advised to do so -- as long as your adversary doesn't do likewise.

    Hence the tendency of Democrats to lose.

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Hence the tendency of Democrats to lose.

    Which is what I have been saying all along over the issue of obstructionism....

    It's not that Republicans are MORE obstructionist than Democrats..

    They are..

    But the main point is that Republicans are BETTER and MORE SUCCESSFUL at obstructionism than Democrats..

    Since the Right is more successful at it, it's only logical that they ARE more obstructionist..

    Put another way, if you counted the BEGINNING of an obstructionist "mission" (so to speak), I would wager that Democrats and Republicans are about equal when it comes to being obstructionist..

    If you count the ENDGAME of a *successful* obstructionist "mission" then of course, the Republicans are more obstructionist and Democrats fall way behind...

    Republicans are simply better politicians than Democrats..

    And that is NOT a compliment by ANY stretch of the definition.. :D

    Michale.....

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    If I may go off on a tangent here, cause I am sincerely curious...

    Speaking of chicken...

    http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Flying-Camera-From-Animal-Rights-Group-Shot-Down-at-Pigeon-Shoot-Cops-179983451.html?dr

    Or in this case, pigeon.. :D

    Now, I am somewhat familiar with the law. If someone is flying a drone on private property(that is not their own), especially for the STATED purposes of spying and invasion of privacy, then it seems to me that the owners of that property are fully within their rights to shoot the thing down...

    Right or wrong???

    Michale.....

  7. [7] 
    michty6 wrote:

    DS
    Wow did you really just make a post on Game Theory! Amazing!

    Hence the tendency of Democrats to lose.

    This current situation is different in that the outcome of the 'fiscal cliff' (i.e. tax raises with spending cuts) is far closer to what Democrats actually want (a little of both) than Republicans (none of 1, lots of the other). As CW pointed out, Republicans don't want to raise taxes through a deal but apparently they do want to raise taxes by going over the 'cliff' lol (awesome sentence btw):

    Republicans are off in a fantasy world of hair-splitting and illogic, cowering in fear of their overlord Norquist.

    Michale,
    It's not that Republicans are MORE obstructionist than Democrats..
    They are..

    Lol we just had a massive thread where you denied this and claimed 'both were just as bad'! Did Fox finally admit this or something??

    Republicans are simply better politicians than Democrats..
    And that is NOT a compliment by ANY stretch of the definition.. :D

    If by 'better politician' you mean 'better at destroying democracy to get their own way' then I'm in 100% agreement, as I mentioned in detail the last time we discussed this.

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    If by 'better politician' you mean 'better at destroying democracy to get their own way' then I'm in 100% agreement, as I mentioned in detail the last time we discussed this.

    I would not agree with "better at destroying democracy"...

    One only has to recall the hysterical outcry from the Left in general, and certain Leftist Weigantians, over the issue of free speech to know that the Left is just as capable of destroying our freedoms to further their agenda...

    Michale.....

  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    One only has to recall the hysterical outcry from the Left in general, and certain Leftist Weigantians, over the issue of free speech to know that the Left is just as capable of destroying our freedoms to further their agenda...

    i thought your whole point was that the Left are NOT as capable of it - they may be just as committed to it, but they are not as proficient in actually making it happen. did i mis-read?

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    i thought your whole point was that the Left are NOT as capable of it - they may be just as committed to it, but they are not as proficient in actually making it happen. did i mis-read?

    Sorta... The incompetence comes in with regards to the "obstructionist" issue..

    I don't think that anyone here would argue that Democrats have a hard time keeping their coalitions intact..

    And intact coalitions are a vital part of a successful obstruction...

    Wouldn't you agree??

    As far as dismantling democracy...

    Fortunately for us, the Left wasn't very successful in pushing their NO FREE SPEECH agenda....

    Michale.....

  11. [11] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Fortunately for us, the Left wasn't very successful in pushing their NO FREE SPEECH agenda

    Your friend 'the left' is one crazy guy. You should publish some comic strips of his antics, they are quite hysterical!

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Your friend 'the left' is one crazy guy.

    yea, you were pretty nutz back then, thinking that mocking a religion amounts to hate speech...

    Speaking of Democrats destroying democracy...???

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57552225-38/senate-bill-rewrite-lets-feds-read-your-e-mail-without-warrants/?part=rss&subj=news&tag=title

    Any comments???

    {{chhiiirrrrrpppp}} {{cccchhhhiiiiirrrrrpppppp}}

    Cricket city.....

    Michale.....

  13. [13] 
    michty6 wrote:

    I think you are mixing me up with your friend 'the left'. At no point did I suggest mocking a religion was hate speech. I do remember going in circles about this before because you were completely ignorant on the subject of hate speech (despite me giving you links to read) so it's probably not worthwhile re-hashing the same stuff...

    Don't the Fed's in America already read peoples emails? Isn't that how Petraeus was found out??

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    I think you are mixing me up with your friend 'the left'. At no point did I suggest mocking a religion was hate speech.

    Sorry, but you did..

    You stated that any mocking of a religion that might result in violence is deemed "hate speech"...

    That's nearly a verbatim quote...

    so it's probably not worthwhile re-hashing the same stuff...

    Probably not, since you probably won't find anyone here who will back that... :D

    Don't the Fed's in America already read peoples emails? Isn't that how Petraeus was found out??

    Not exactly. The laws are a bit different for people like Patraeus, due to his sensitive position..

    The current article I quoted would apply to ALL Americans..

    Since, this is a topic more suited to the FTP commentary, I posted an update there..

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2012/11/16/ftp235/#comment-29950

    Michale.....

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/11/20/hidden-risks-for-obama-and-democrats-in-fiscal-cliff-drama/

    Republicans aren't the only ones at risk in this game of CHICKEN....

    Michale

  16. [16] 
    michty6 wrote:

    You stated that any mocking of a religion that might result in violence is deemed "hate speech"...

    Yeh I knew I shouldn't have brought this up. Again you don't understand the difference between 'hate speech' and 'mocking religion'. But again there is not much point discussing this as we keep going round in circles on exactly this point... Like I said before upon discussing this issue, America has bigger social problems and lot more things to work on before it gets to these such issues...

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    Yeh I knew I shouldn't have brought this up. Again you don't understand the difference between 'hate speech' and 'mocking religion'. But again there is not much point discussing this as we keep going round in circles on exactly this point... Like I said before upon discussing this issue, America has bigger social problems and lot more things to work on before it gets to these such issues...

    Fair enough..

    But I honestly want to understand. If I misunderstood before, then I would really appreciate a correction..

    You seemed to indicate before that, if mocking or inflammatory speech has the potential to cause violence, then it is deemed "hate speech".. I think the UN was your source for that..

    Ignoring for the moment how utterly ridiculous it is to use the UN for a source for ANYTHING :D it's that definition I have an issue with..

    ANY speech could have the possibility of inciting violence... What this definition does is put the onus of legality ON THE SPEAKER, rather than on the perpetrator of the violence, where it belongs..

    Now if I am wrong. If that definition is NOT an accurate representation, then by all means. Correct me..

    Michale.....

  18. [18] 
    michty6 wrote:

    You seemed to indicate before that, if mocking or inflammatory speech has the potential to cause violence, then it is deemed "hate speech"...ANY speech could have the possibility of inciting violence... What this definition does is put the onus of legality ON THE SPEAKER, rather than on the perpetrator of the violence, where it belongs..

    Sure, we can discuss. The key thing you're missing is the element of a 'protected individual/group'. You can't commit hate speech against anyone. But you can commit hate speech against certain groups/individuals.

    For example, in Germany holocaust denial falls under hate speech. The 'protected group' in this case is Jewish people. There still also needs to be inciting violence. So denying the holocaust at a dinner party to a friend might not be considered hate speech. But standing up in front of a group of people, riling them up by denying the holocaust would almost certainly be considered hate speech and lead to your arrest.

    It is obviously a grey area but 'inciting violence' and 'protected group' are the 2 key principles.

    What we were discussing before was in the context of the anti-Muslim video where I suggested that insults to Muhammed might be considered hate speech in the context that they (1) incite violence (prior evidence of this is clear) and (2) Muslims and their high regard for Muhammed could be considered a 'protected group' under the law.

  19. [19] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Great blog on 'New Republicans' by Krugman today: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/20/the-new-republicans/

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    It is obviously a grey area but 'inciting violence' and 'protected group' are the 2 key principles.

    I see the logic of your conclusion..

    And, as you said, it IS a gray area as far as "protected group" goes..

    But it seems to me that the ONLY reason to give Muslims "protected group" status is because they are violent when offended..

    To me that simply sends the wrong message..

    We should PENALIZE people when they act like savages... Not REWARD them....

    I mean, after all...

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/no-one-murdered-because-of-this-image,29553/
    **warning: graphically crude**

    Why can't Muslims join the 21st century??? And why give them special status because they refuse to???

    But I see your point as far as it's likely useless to debate the issue..

    I'll never see the point of rewarding bad behavior and you'll never see the point of personal responsibility, so it's likely a moot discussion...

    I guess we'll just agree to disagree...

    Michale.....

  21. [21] 
    dsws wrote:

    Sure, we can discuss.

    I don't remember, have you and I discussed hate speech?

    I'm not so interested in describing foreign law on hate speech, except as it's relevant to some other point. The category of hate speech as it exists in the law of various countries is flatly inapplicable to US law. Incitement to riot, defamation, and fighting words are outside the protection of the first amendment, regardless of whether they're directed against a protected group or not. Speech encouraging illegal violence, where the threat of violence is not imminent, is protected speech regardless of whether it's directed against a protected group or not.

    I am interested in considering hate speech in a narrower sense, as a category that arguably (although not in established precedent as far as I know) could be excluded from the protection of the first amendment. It's essentially an action, like fraud. It doesn't depend on an arbitrary legislative decision to protect a particular group.

  22. [22] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, still struggling with computer problems, so sorry for short responses.

    Michale [5] -

    That's actually a very intelligent point I can agree with. Republicans are better at obstructionism and play better politics because they don't have as many "herding cats" problems as the Democrats. Even with the Tea Party, the GOP stays remarkably in line when they need to. I've always given them credit for doing so, and in fact this was the main motivation behind my Friday columns -- to see if the Dems couldn't get a bit better at it.

    Michale [6] -

    interesting question, but I don't know. In theory, you're supposed to own a slice of the Earth all the way down to the core under your land, and a slice all the way up to space above it. But in practice, this isn't true (see: mineral rights, for instance), and that's why you can't ban planes flying over your ranch, at least at certain altitudes. Since the drone was low, it may fall into a fuzzy zone, I just don't know.

    dsws [4] -

    That's the best description of "MAD" or "Mutually Assured Destruction" I've ever read.

    michty6 -

    Here are two things I've written on the free speech subject you may find interesting:

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2007/09/17/an-anti-war-march-schenck-v-united-states-and-free-speech/

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2010/03/08/fred-phelps-hatemongering-and-the-first-amendment/

    -CW

  23. [23] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    I guess I have uber-priveleges, as my filter didn't stop me from posting two links in the same comment...

    Learn something new every day...

    -CW

  24. [24] 
    dsws wrote:

    I guess I have uber-priveleges, as my filter didn't stop me from posting two links in the same comment...

    Let's see whether that's it, or whether the filter has changed its habits somehow. My next post will contain two links.

  25. [25] 
    dsws wrote:

    I didn't see the original
    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2010/03/08/fred-phelps-hatemongering-and-the-first-amendment/

    But it got a re-run. I mean, it was a classic from the archives. Anyway, here's what I posted on its second appearance:

    The real protection for unpopular speech is that it can't do anything. In Libya, criticizing Qaddafi threatened to turn the whole order of society upside down, with all the attendant death and destruction. So it would get people disappeared and tortured.

    Here, you can say just about anything, and your words will echo in the wells of silence. The media won't cover it. The only people who hear it, or see the signs, will be the others at the rally: you won't change their minds because they already agree with you. Or if you publicize it well enough, you might get some counter-protesters. You won't change any of their minds either. So unless you plumb new depths of depravity as Phelps does, you won't even get the proverbial fifteen minutes of fame. Even if you do drum up a following, all you can do is set back your cause by drawing some votes away from the party you disagree with less, and maybe rile up some people to turn out and vote for the party you disagree with more. So the impetus to actually suppress such speech will be correspondingly weak.
    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2011/03/03/from-the-archives-fred-phelps-hatemongering-and-the-first-amendment/#comment-13301

  26. [26] 
    dsws wrote:

    Yep, you have two-link privileges, as expected.

  27. [27] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    dsws -

    You're right, I had to manually approve your multilink comment...

    ...new column up, everyone, check it out. Good news for Obama fans.

    :-)

    -CW

  28. [28] 
    akadjian wrote:

    CW-

    You do appear to be in a fowl mood. It's almost Thanksgiving man ... it can't all be bad.

    One quick point I'd like to call out in respect to your comment ...

    Republicans are better at obstructionism and play better politics because they don't have as many "herding cats" problems as the Democrats.

    I think Republicans are better at obstructionism because they know they can still count on financial backing and financial backing is typically what wins elections.

    By this I mean, their BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement is that bad things will happen and they will continue to get re-elected because they have strong financial backing and (in the case of Ohio anyways) gerrymandered districts.

    In other words, Republican congressman face few consequences for playing brinksmanship.

    It's this re-election calculus which needs to change in order for the system to function well again.

    Now something happened in the last election ... the money didn't win. This is what needs to happen now at congressional levels. This is my hope.

    However, in the meantime, back to the so-called cliff. I'm not sure why it's a surprise to anyone why Republicans would advocate this after the debt ceiling mess.

    I think you have to try to negotiate something ... but my question is, what happens when the opposition simply isn't willing to negotiate?

    At what point do you have to say forget them, and go make your case to the American people?

    -David

  29. [29] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,
    That's actually a very intelligent point I can agree with.

    I have my moments.. :D

    Since the drone was low, it may fall into a fuzzy zone, I just don't know.

    Also because the stated and intended purpose was spying and invasion of privacy, I would think that there wouldn't be much sympathy generated for the PETA whackos.....

    To put it into another context, imagine a "hidden camera" type operation to record an abortion to further the agenda of a bunch of anti-abortion whackos...

    The kaa-kaa would surely hit the fan from the Left, eh??

    David,

    I think Republicans are better at obstructionism because they know they can still count on financial backing and financial backing is typically what wins elections.

    And yet, we have the Great GOP Shellacking Of 2012...

    Kinda disputes the theory, eh? :D

    However, in the meantime, back to the so-called cliff. I'm not sure why it's a surprise to anyone why Republicans would advocate this after the debt ceiling mess.

    Uh.... I am constrained to point out that it was Democrats who first proposed the idea that going over the cliff might not be so bad..

    At what point do you have to say forget them, and go make your case to the American people?

    Democrats tried that with ObamaCare.. Didn't work out so well, as far as public sentiment goes.. :D

    In other words, Republican congressman face few consequences for playing brinksmanship.

    Ya sure that's not 'brinkmanship'?? :D

    Couldn't resist... :D

    Michale.....

  30. [30] 
    Michale wrote:

    As far as Hate Speech goes, the idea that the LEFT (of all people) would propose limiting free speech so as not to offend the likes of Muslim whackos is simply mind-boggling...

    And I am sure everyone here agrees with that even though ya'all are not inclined to STATE that ya'all agree with me. :D

    Michale.....

  31. [31] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Ya sure that's not 'brinkmanship'?? :D

    It's the holidays, Michale. Cheer up! No need to be a dick

    I am constrained to point out that it was Democrats who first proposed the idea that going over the cliff might not be so bad.

    What Democrats are proposing is that we don't want a bad deal.

    We just won the election and don't want to see Obama implement the Republican plan that we just voted against.

    And we know the opposition that we're up against who's idea of compromise is "we get 100% of what we want or we won't deal".

    In this situation, the alternative is to take the case to the American people and make perfectly clear who is unwilling to compromise.

    -David

  32. [32] 
    Michale wrote:

    It's the holidays, Michale. Cheer up! No need to be a dick

    OUCH! And the ref takes a point away!!! :D

    What Democrats are proposing is that we don't want a bad deal.

    And to avoid a bad deal, they are willing to throw this country over the cliff...

    And this is a good thing HOW exactly???

    We just won the election and don't want to see Obama implement the Republican plan that we just voted against.

    And what ya'all gonna do if he does?? :D

    In this situation, the alternative is to take the case to the American people and make perfectly clear who is unwilling to compromise.

    And the GOP will take THEIR case to the American people and make the same thing clear..

    It's called 'spin'..

    "It's called 'ice' and it gets a little slick..."
    -Tom Arnold, TRUE LIES

    :D

    Michale.....

  33. [33] 
    akadjian wrote:

    And to avoid a bad deal, they are willing to throw this country over the cliff.

    If Republicans are unwilling to compromise, yeah.

    And you make clear how unwilling to compromise they are.

    The country did not vote for the Romney plan. I see no reason why we should enact it.

    -David

  34. [34] 
    Michale wrote:

    And you make clear how unwilling to compromise they are.

    Me?? What do *I* know about the plans of Republicans...

    But it's interesting..

    You applaud Democrats for sticking to their guns..

    Yet you castigate Republicans for doing the same thing..

    You don't see the inherent inconsistency in that???

    Michale.....

  35. [35] 
    akadjian wrote:

    You applaud Democrats for sticking to their guns..

    Yet you castigate Republicans for doing the same thing.

    Once again. To be perfectly clear, I did neither.

    I said Democrats should look for opportunities to compromise. However, they should have a backup plan for when the opposition refuses to.

    -David

  36. [36] 
    TheStig wrote:

    DWS [4]

    Game theory is fascinating, and with the Mid East heating up, I'm reminded that Airborne battlefield surveillance platforms (SP)and fighter interceptors (FI) play a game of chicken.

    The SP (generally unarmed and slow, but long range and loiter time, are very vulnerable if the FI can get within weapons range, but if the SP turns and runs before the FI reaches a critical distance, the short legged FI can't catch it because of fuel concerns. Make that two critical distances: one for an FI willing to chase to flame out, the other for an FI only willing to play the game to "bingo fuel" so it can get back home.

    The nature of the SP is important, some can perform their mission pretty well in retreat, others can't. Some FI play this game much better than others.

    The payoff matrices can get pretty complicated, but there are often MinMax probabilistic solutions for realistic scenarios.

  37. [37] 
    Michale wrote:

    I said Democrats should look for opportunities to compromise. However, they should have a backup plan for when the opposition refuses to.

    And, of course, you have no problem with the Republicans doing the same thing.. :D

    Michale.....

  38. [38] 
    akadjian wrote:

    And, of course, you have no problem with the Republicans doing the same thing.. :D

    Absolutely. If Republicans were looking for opportunities to compromise, that would be great.

    The problem has been that they haven't been open to any compromise.

    In fact, they bet everything on not compromising. They bet that this strategy would win them the election.

    -David

  39. [39] 
    Michale wrote:

    In fact, they bet everything on not compromising. They bet that this strategy would win them the election.

    They should have heeded the lessons of the Great DEM Shellacking of 2010...

    If you adopt a MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY attitude, you might find yourself OUT on the highway...

    On the other hand, wouldn't YOU be against Democrats compromising if you thought it was bad for the country??

    Of course you would..

    Why wouldn't it be the same for Republicans???

    Your entire premise is based on one HUGE assumption..

    That the Democrat agenda is best for the country.. As I mentioned to STIG in the newest commentary, that's an assumption that is not compatible with the facts of the here and now...

    Michale.....

  40. [40] 
    akadjian wrote:

    On the other hand, wouldn't YOU be against Democrats compromising if you thought it was bad for the country?

    So everything Democrats are for is bad for the country.

    Everything.

    There's nothing Republicans can find to compromise about ...

    Not one thing ...

    That seems ... how should I say it ... ridiculous.

    Yet it is a fair question whether Republicans will adopt this same intransigent attitude they've had since Obama was elected.

    -David

  41. [41] 
    Michale wrote:

    So everything Democrats are for is bad for the country.

    Everything

    Nope...

    But would you concede the opposite??

    That not EVERYTHING the Republicans is bad for the country???

    That seems ... how should I say it ... ridiculous.

    Agreed.. It IS ridiculous... :D

    Michale.....

  42. [42] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale [29] -

    Our editorial staff has settled on "brinksmanship." So mote it be.

    akadjian [31] -

    Nah, Michale's just yanking our editorial staff's chain, that's all. He's teasing us, not the original comment. We had a discussion of "brinkmanship" v. "brinksmanship" here a while ago...

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2011/07/26/brinksmanship-pocalypse-mageddon/

    Unsurprisingly, this was a commentary on one of the previous "fiscal cliffs"... although I have to admit, the column does not predict the death of "-pocalypse" and "-maggeddon" quite so quickly. Well, we'll see, when the next "fiscal cliff" faces us, and the headline writers of America need a new snappy term...

    -CW

  43. [43] 
    akadjian wrote:

    CW-
    Fiscal cliffpocalypsemegadodecahedron!!!!

    (Really people ... it will be ok. Just turn off the TV.)

    That not EVERYTHING the Republicans is bad for the country?

    Absolutely. For example, this private sector health care thing could end up working out if done right. I'd of rather taken the profit motive out all together (since there is an inherent conflict of interest), but it could work.

    -David

  44. [44] 
    akadjian wrote:

    BTW ... on a complete tangent ...

    Bostrom makes a pretty interesting argument here that the probability of reality being a simulation is greater than the probability of reality being reality ...

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2012/11/20/165528528/the-reality-of-reality-may-not-be-reality

    Damn you Bostrom ... you hurt my head!

    -David

  45. [45] 
    Michale wrote:

    Bostrom makes a pretty interesting argument here that the probability of reality being a simulation is greater than the probability of reality being reality ...

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2012/11/20/165528528/the-reality-of-reality-may-not-be-reality

    Oh great..

    NOW I have nosebleeds!

    Michale....

  46. [46] 
    akadjian wrote:

    NOW I have nosebleeds!

    Heheh ... I felt the same way, Michale. Stupid philosophers :)

  47. [47] 
    dsws wrote:

    Our editorial staff has settled on "brinksmanship."

    Whew. If you'd chosen the spelling without the s, I'd have had something to say about it. It would have been mutual assured discussion.

    Anyway. If we want to go beyond semi-arbitrary editorial-staff decree, we could refer to http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:English_words_suffixed_with_-man and see which have an s before the -man, to figure out if there's any rhyme or reason to it. It seems as though brinksman is more plausible than brinkman, even though both seem equally pronounceable to me.

  48. [48] 
    dsws wrote:

    So everything Democrats are for is bad for the country.

    Everything.

    There's nothing Republicans can find to compromise about ...

    Not one thing ...

    That seems ... how should I say it ... ridiculous.

    I'm having trouble coming up with anything the Republicans are for, that's good for the country.

    But there's a big gap between that and nothing to compromise on. Very little is truly absolute; very little is entirely a matter of non-negotiable principle. Virtually every issue should be subject to compromise. But please, not always Zeno's Compromise.

  49. [49] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    David and Michale -

    Give a philosopher enough paper and enough time and he will prove anything.
    - Robert A. Heinlein

    He had a bunch of things to say on the subject, actually:

    The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility. And vice versa.

    Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

    :-)

    -CW

  50. [50] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    dsws -

    Don't you mean "mutually assured destruction"?

    Or maybe that should actually be "mutually-assured destruction," on second thought?

    Heh.

    -CW

    PS. Saying the word "brinkmanship" is do-able, stand-alone, but try using both words in a sentence, and you'll see that orally, "brinksmanship" trips off the tongue much easier...

    ...after all, nobody says "sportmanship," right?

    :-)

  51. [51] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    Give a philosopher enough paper and enough time and he will prove anything.

    Sounds like that could be applied in the political arena as well.. :D

    Michale
    002

  52. [52] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Was away yesterday, Michale:
    Why can't Muslims join the 21st century??? And why give them special status because they refuse to???

    But I see your point as far as it's likely useless to debate the issue..

    I'll never see the point of rewarding bad behavior and you'll never see the point of personal responsibility, so it's likely a moot discussion...

    I guess we'll just agree to disagree..

    I absolutely see your point. The same argument can be applied to anyone who gets angry and violent about insults - you could just quote the old adage 'sticks and stones'.

    One thing I will point out is that this is not something new. It is not only Muslims get angry when insulted and resort to violence - ignoring this fact is to ignore much of history. Humans are flawed and they do stupid (often violent) things. So I could see discouraging people from making insulting and moronic claims against 'protected groups' that might result in people doing even more stupid, moronic and violent things being a good idea. Obviously you have to be very careful about where you tread here though (hence the 'grey area' reference)...

    DS
    I don't remember, have you and I discussed hate speech?

    I'm not so interested in describing foreign law on hate speech, except as it's relevant to some other point. The category of hate speech as it exists in the law of various countries is flatly inapplicable to US law. Incitement to riot, defamation, and fighting words are outside the protection of the first amendment, regardless of whether they're directed against a protected group or not. Speech encouraging illegal violence, where the threat of violence is not imminent, is protected speech regardless of whether it's directed against a protected group or not.

    I am interested in considering hate speech in a narrower sense, as a category that arguably (although not in established precedent as far as I know) could be excluded from the protection of the first amendment. It's essentially an action, like fraud. It doesn't depend on an arbitrary legislative decision to protect a particular group.

    I don't think we have discussed this, I have only discussed it in Michale in the context of 'hate speech' following the anti-Muslim video that led to (often violent) protests around the world. Obviously the links CW provided show it has been discussed on here.

    I agree with your final paragraph. Hate speech could be seen as an extension of defamation - except that with defamation you have to prove personal loss/injury/insult - with hate speech the onus would be to prove that you were (even indirectly) inciting violence. Defamation protects individuals and Corporations; protected groups under 'hate speech' laws can be linked by color, disability, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, religion, and sexual orientation. They don't need to necessarily be legislatively defined in detail. Essentially they are 'not protected' under defamation laws, so their protected group status under hate speech makes up for this.

    It is a pretty difficult area of law, often decided by Common Law after legislation is passed, where you have to be careful to strike the right balance.

  53. [53] 
    Michale wrote:

    Michty,

    One thing I will point out is that this is not something new. It is not only Muslims get angry when insulted and resort to violence - ignoring this fact is to ignore much of history.

    Ignore much of "ANCIENT" history...

    That's why I said that Muslims need to join the 21st century...

    Because, *IN* the 21st century, it *IS* only Muslims (discounting the rare violence in the Balkans which is more ethnic than religion) that resort to violence when offended..

    Maybe the goal should be to crack down ON THE VIOLENCE, rather than making an issue of the insults..

    Start shooting people who behead and rape and maim and destroy..

    THEN you'll start to see a lessening of the violence, I guarantee it...

    As an aside to Liz.. Thanx for pointing out the Bond Anniversary.. I'll have to do something special for post number 7 :D

    Michale
    006

  54. [54] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Michale,
    Come on - there is sectarian violence all over the world. Much of it has nothing to do with Muslims. Heck in Glasgow, Scotland they had to ban certain chants at football games because they were sectarian and caused violence. Look at Northern Ireland (you ever been there?) or anywhere with massive religious divides. As much as you want to believe it or they have been getting a lot of media attention recently, it is not just Muslims, even in the 21st century...

    PS. Your next post absolutely must be a James Bond post!

  55. [55] 
    dsws wrote:

    Don't you mean "mutually assured destruction"?

    Or maybe that should actually be "mutually-assured destruction," on second thought?

    If I were being pedantic, I think I would want it to be "mutual, assured destruction". That is, countries in such a situation are assured of mutual destruction, so the destruction is mutual and assured. The logical formulation, on this premise, would be "assured mutual destruction". But we're not going to change the language and start saying things like "much amdness is divinest sense / to a discerning eye" just to make the acronym fit the pedantry.

    with hate speech the onus would be to prove that you were (even indirectly) inciting violence

    That's not how I see it. I'm fine with the constitutional doctrine that you're free to incite violence as long as it's not imminent. I see hate speech as coercive threat.

    If you show up with some goons at a local business, and make some comments about how the Widows and Orphans Benevolent Fund (which only funds your organization, containing no actual widows or orphans) needs donations and by the way those windows look expensive and it would be too bad if anything were to happen to them, ... you've committed a crime even if you succeed. Note that if a threat is successful, the threatened action never happens.

    Burning a cross on someone's lawn is the same way. If it's successful, and the person starts "knowing their place" in various ways, no lynching occurs. Even without ever contributing to another lynching, it's still a crime, in the sense of malum in se, no matter what the statutes may say.

    If someone wants to argue that people ought to "know their place", they're within their rights to do so. If they want to argue further that this ought to be backed by lethal force administered by any citizen of good standing in the community, again they're within their rights to do so. If they hate people who don't stay in what the hater sees as their place, they're within your rights to express that hatred -- even if it contributes to a murder later. The solution to evil thoughts is not to suppress their expression, no matter how evil the thought.

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