Via Andrew Sullivan, here is Orson Scott Card, foaming at the mouth:
"Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn. Biological imperatives trump laws. American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die."
I believe that it was for screeds like this that the term "spittle-flecked" was invented.
The very same conservatives who seem certain that the government would botch even the most minor regulatory tasks have pretty much no problem with the idea of the Fed setting interests rates that do an enormous amount to control the overall level of employment, GDP growth, and inflation in the country. And rightly so — the details of the Fed’s conduct over the past 20-30 years are certainly open to criticism, but they’ve definitely delivered shorter, shallower recessions than we had in the past and the very same Bush administration that put Michael Brown in charge of FEMA picked a new Fed chief whose decision-making regularly earns praise from Paul Krugman.
Beyond the Fed and the military there are lots of parts of the government that work quite well — we have bad schools and bad police departments in this country, but also good schools and good police departments. We fight forest fires with extraordinary skill and I’ve had great visits to any number of attractions run by the National Park Service.
And then, yes, there’s the military. But there’s no real mystery here as to why our very large military is also a reasonably high-performing government agency — it’s something our political leaders put a high priority on. This is similar to the Fed — political elites wouldn’t stand for staffing it with incompetents and know-nothings. Other agencies become patronage mills or suffer from funding shortfalls or deliberate sabotage. When the government is run by people who don’t want environmental regulations, civil rights law, or labor law to be enforced properly those things don’t happen. What’s more, a lot of the better public institutions — from the Fed to the Navy to state universities and so forth — are structured in special ways to try to insulate them from problematic forms of politicization.
This reflects one of my great anxieties about government programs, even, and perhaps especially, those government programs in which I am strongly in favor.
Let's imagine that my most far-fetched fantasies about an Obama administration come true: That we finally get a genuine national health care program which insures everyone without all of the odious fees and restrictions that come with our current health care disaster; that we get a set of vigorous anti-poverty programs that target those currently underserved by our economy; that we get educational reform that genuinely seeks to raise, not simply test scores but actual knowledge and performance among primary and secondary school children in this country, etc., etc. In short, imagine a period of government activism that rivaled the best experiments of the New Deal era. Imagine a congress that's willing to pass that legislation and a president both competent and willing to bring that kind of a vision about.
In my imaginary vision of an ideal Obama presidency, we would embark on a period of prosperity and growth to rival the post-WWII period in this country. I imagine we'd also begin to make enormous strides on issues such as renewable energy and sustainable technology. This would last for 8 years. If I'm feeling really optimistic, maybe it would last for 16 years. But Whether 8 or 12 or 16 or 20 years, at some point or another, this era of progressive dominance would end and the Republicans would be back in power.
Now, after FDR and Truman, the national consensus was so strongly in favor of the New Deal reforms that it took decades of slow erosion of confidence in government (abetted by a number of genuine failures in New Deal and Great Society projects) before the kind of conservative, anti-government resurgence that we're living through right now could begin to seem credible. So Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford all towed a bascially pro-New Deal line. But I'm not nearly so sanguine about such a prospect in the aftermath of even a wildly sucessful Obama administration.
Assuming the most likly scenario, that Obama wins two terms and then things revert back to the Republicans, every good done by an Obama administration would then be under constant attack. Beginning on the first day of a Republican presidency, the government programs that, in my imaginary scenario, had done so much to make things so good, would begin to be dismantled. And therein lies the problem with an government program, no matter how good it may be in principle or in execution: Eventually, a government not interested in sustaining that program will try to destroy it. We've seen this over and over again during the Bush administration, and I don't expect much would change in a McCain adminisistration. In the absence of a broad and deep social consensus, no government program is sustainable, even if it is otherwise successful and popular. I'm simply not so sanguine that such a consensus is really possible today.
So, even though I'm pro-government activism, I'm skeptical of the long term gains that such programs can achieve. Thus I find myself where I am so often in political life, hopeful, but skeptical.
But in their new role as bloggers, the paper’s editors seem to have all the intelligence and reason of the average Daily Kos diarist sitting at home in his mother’s basement and ranting into the ether between games of dungeons and dragons.
So, to recap: The New York Times editorial page editors have now become bloggers, and thus are therefore unintelligent and unreasonable, like Daily Kos dairists, who are waiting for the next session of D&D. Matt notes by way of reply:
Say what you will about RPG-loving nerds, but surely we recognize that these widely-loathed creatures are the very same widely-loathed nerds you could find in the BC Calculus class, taking AP Physics, or wasting time being taught Turbo Pascal. ... You can't, in other words, mock the nerds in the basement as being too dumb, it's just not right.
I'll admit, one of the things that gave me comfort during my years of nerdish exile (wait, I think I'm still in nerdish exile!) is the thought that I was probably smarter than my tormentors. In fact, for a lot of us outsiders and nerds, it was the knowledge that, at the end of the day, we didn't fit in because we were too smart for the "in" crowd that enabled us to keep showing up for our daily rounds of abuse during high school. We may not have been cool. We may have liked pretending to be elves. We may have memorized embarassingly large chunks of dialogue from Monty Python movies, but fuck! At least we were smarter than these assholes!
Which leads to Matt's conclusion about Goldfarb (a blogger, mind you!) and a large contingent of McCain's supporters:
To speculate irresponsibly a bit, a lot of McCain's fans seem to me to be nerds who, instead of growing up and embracing their inner dungeon master, have instead decided that hanging out with the jock will make people think they're cool too.
If Matt's right, and I suspect he is, then Michael Goldfarb deserves both sympathy and a bit of advice: Michael, Michael, Michael, they'll never think you're cool. In fact, they're laughing at you right now! Join us, and embrace your inner Dungeon Master!