Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric
Comment on Barro, "Rare Events and the Equity Premium"

Moronic Behavior

Matthew Yglesias wonders why the Washington Post has such moronic columnists:

TPMCafe || The Hoagland Variations : It's hard not to trip over this series of assertions from Jim Hoagland:

Bush's floundering since he was caught off base and off guard by Hurricane Katrina strips the veil from a broad pattern of recurrent inattention to the duties of governance, of misplaced loyalty to incompetent subordinates, and a crippling refusal to look back at and learn from mistakes. I take no pleasure from that harsh assessment. I have never shared the unreasoning conviction of many of his more partisan opponents that Bush as a national leader is illegitimate, moronic or both. He isn't.

Let's try that out of order. "I have never shared the unreasoning conviction of many of his more partisan opponents that Bush as a national leader is illegitimate, moronic or both. He isn't." Nevertheless, "Bush's floundering... strips the veil from a broad pattern of recurrent inattention to the duties of governance, of misplaced loyalty to incompetent subordinates, and a crippling refusal to look back at and learn from mistakes." So what is it Hoagland disagrees with about the "unreasoning conviction" of Bush's "more partisan opponents?" To reiterate, we're talking here about a "broad pattern of recurrent inattention to the duties of governance, of misplaced loyalty to incompetent subordinates, and a crippling refusal to look back at and learn from mistakes." Isn't that moronic?

And he wonders why we have such moronic generals:

TPMCafe || I'll Quit Tomorrow : General Abizaid seems to have a bad case of doublethink:

Because the American presence itself provokes antagonism, he said, Americans would need to "reduce our military footprint in the region," but could do so only after stabilizing Afghanistan and Iraq, deterring Syria and Iran, and protecting the flow of oil.

Obviously, the extent to which the American military presence in the Middle East does more to provoke violence than to prevent it is controversial. Indeed, in some ways Abizaid is to be congratulated for breaking the taboo on discussions of this point in mainstream circles. On the other hand, if you do think it's provocative, then surely you can't think we should start doing something about it after we stabilize Iraq, deter Iran and Syria is some unspecified way, and complete the amorphous mission of "protecting the flow of oil." Especially if our deployments themselves are terrorgenic, then this is a set of things we're going to be finished doing a week or so after never.

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