Patterico's Pontifications

7/18/2008

The Levi/DRJ Debate Thread Is Complete

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:42 pm



I’ve been quite busy, but I finally got around to updating the page with the “debate” between DRJ and Levi. You can read the final product here.

I put the word “debate” in quotes because the debate proceeded something like this:

DRJ and Levi: “We each agree to provide 10 substantive comments, each with a link to facts.”

DRJ:

Levi, here is my well thought out position. Here is a link to prove what I am saying. And here is another link. Finally, here is more persuasive argumentation with even more links.

Levi:

Says you.

So, it’s not really worth reading, and DRJ, I’m sorry you wasted your time. Except that you didn’t, in two meaningful ways: 1) you demonstrated that the concerns about Barack Obama’s ties to Rev. Wright are genuine, and 2) you saved me twenty bucks, which is what I would have had to pay Levi if he had followed the rules.

In the interim, Levi has apparently claimed that he “crushed” DRJ in the debate, which is the funniest thing I ever heard. Levi is banned for a minimum of 10 days. Enjoy them.

106 Responses to “The Levi/DRJ Debate Thread Is Complete”

  1. Your and especially DRJ’s patience through this process have been pretty awesome. Was hoping for a learning experience in civility for Levi, and was sorry to see it didn’t happen.

    Still, “I crushed DRJ” was the best laugh of the day.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  2. A remarkably concise, yet accurate, summation.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  3. Levi was always a source for a good belly laugh. From “I don’t have to read a book to know its contents” to “I crushed DRJ” to “Conservatives won’t admit when they’re wrong”, it was a daily spectacle of unintentional humor.

    I hate to see anyone banned, but Levi brought it on himself.

    Steverino (1dda08)

  4. Shame. I know Levi would never be up to it, but I’d be interested to see a thoughtful defense of Obama regarding Wright. Then again, “thoughtful” might just rule out “defense.”

    Joe M. (37c34d)

  5. How sweet it is!
    Ten days of freedom from tedium.
    DRJ Rules!!!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  6. debating against drj for money, i dunno. i’d be happy to take her (or you) on for money in chess or go.

    assistant devil's advocate (50e835)

  7. DRJ – Slayer of idiocy. Enabler of reasoned debate. Defender of logic. She is the Pasteur of Patterico’s Pontifications, ridding a vile pestilence from our midst with only her wit and razor sharp intellect.

    Here’s to you, DRJ, putting the smart in smart-bomb.

    Patterico, if you won’t send her 20 well-deserved dollars, I will.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  8. Steverino #3:

    Don’t forget “using a book title of a book I never read to support my argument.”

    Paul (ae2fbe)

  9. To tell the truth, I’m surprised Mr. Sunny lasted as long as he did without a banning, considering the cursing and ad hominems.

    Paul (ae2fbe)

  10. I put the word “debate” in quotes because the debate proceeded something like this…

    I haven’t read the debate yet, but I saw Levi’s other posts here in the Newsweek thread and was there really any reason to expect this “debate” would progress in another manner than it did?

    Occasionally, I am in favor of keeping trolls around when I get a kick out of making fun of them. I am always in favor of keeping trolls around when they’re insightful. Levi falls in neither of these two categories. There’s a difference between being patient and being a masochist and I’d think long and hard about only banning him for 10 days.

    Anon (a2601e)

  11. Pat,
    Did we really have to go through all this? Levi’s idiocy was evident from the outset. I think you could have banned him from the jump-forever- without any form of loss. IMHO that is…yeeeesh

    paul from fl (4dd8c4)

  12. It would be nice to have a debate on this subject between DRJ and an Obama supporter who’d be likely to make her break a sweat.

    One of the more remarkable thing about this election cycle is that McCain and his core supporters don’t have a tenth of the command of the Democratic Party nominee’s history that DRJ does. And even less in the way of curiosity on the subject.

    So as limp as Levi’s arguments were, on the national scene they are enough to beat back Obamian talking points.

    The most important thing isn’t that voters get clear pictures of the two people running for President. It is

    * [Don’t be negative] (official phrasing)

    * [Don’t give left-wing media, web commenters, and politicians any grounds to enter an accusation of racism] (translation)

    “Racism” being a concept whose definition has been preemptively ceded to the very leftists whose charges are so feared.

    AMac (b5c28a)

  13. I can’t open the links. I think Levi must not have to work.

    Jack (d9cbc5)

  14. I’m looking forward to the next week and a half of a Levi-free Patterico. It was tough wading through all of his ignorant boasting to get to the stuff I wanted to read.

    When Levi gets back, it would be nice if the rest of you would please not feed the troll. It is not worthy of a moment of your time. Its dismal performance against DRJ proved that beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty.

    Bradley J Fikes (0ea407)

  15. “When Levi gets back”

    Sorry, to harp on this, but there’s really no reason why he has to come back.

    I’ll leave this alone now.

    Anon (85b8bb)

  16. Well, that was utterly predictable.

    Pablo (99243e)

  17. Maybe he’ll hear a loud pop while he’s banned. That’ll be the sound of him pulling his head out of his ass and learning something about interacting with others.

    More likely not.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  18. too bad its not a permanent ban. levi is a vile and vulgar troll, not an opposing viewpoint. it never tries to make a point or enlighten anyone to what the other side things. it just comes in and flings poo, hijacks threads and tries to degrade anyone who engages it in debate. i appreciate that Patterico has a very high level of tolerance for those w/ liberal viewpoints posting here but this poster does nothing to advance or explain the thoughts of any position on the political spectrum.

    chas (12a229)

  19. To extend our peacefulness, perhaps it should be 10 working days. Or better yet, count only days which do not contain the letter “d”.

    Old Coot (cb828a)

  20. There is a Gresham’s Law of trolls. I would suggest a lower threshold for future bans. You tried an experiment but it is not necessary to test every flame to see if it is hot.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  21. “Maybe he’ll hear a loud pop while he’s banned.”

    When you pull a pea out of a horse’s ass, it probably doesn’t make a sound.

    TMac (a9705a)

  22. Hallelujah. That pointless twit Levi is a malignant sore, an intellectual midget, and a juvenile prick beyond compare. Good riddance.

    Jack Klompus (b796b4)

  23. AMac #12,

    I especially agree with your characterization of the way Obama and McCain are running the election races. They each seem to be speaking to the lowest common intellectual denominator, which doesn’t say much for their views of the electorate.

    Jack #13,

    I think Patterico’s links are there for humor, not to actually link anything. I clicked through a couple of times before I realized the point is to read the URLs.

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  24. Bradley J. Fikes #14,

    I agree. Levi is intelligent but he’s the classic kid who doesn’t apply himself. I thought if he could make it through this relatively tame exercise it would show him that hard work pays off – figuratively and literally.

    He could have won his bet with Patterico with 10 substantive comments with links. He had already shown he could frame the conservative position and post non-profane comments in the Tim Russert thread. Unfortunately, that didn’t last after he became frustrated with the pace and substance of the ultimate debate.

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  25. Sorry, but I don’t see any evidence of Levi being intelligent. Leviticus is a bright kid and has found his way to more fruitful and substantive debate after a number of decidedly uncordial encounters. Levi wants nothing more than to be a bully, though he doesn’t really have the chops for that, just bluster. All he has is argument by vehement assertion, which might work well with smaller kids on the playground, but this isn’t the playground and no one is the least bit afraid of him.

    Pablo (99243e)

  26. Judging by my college son’s peers, Levi is like a lot of kids these days: Articulate and even verbose, opinionated, passionate, and afraid of the world they are growing up in. In other words, they are a lot like we were.

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  27. Add impatience and arrogance to verbose, opinionated, and passionate. There is no self-discipline yet established that comes only from doing the hard work of thinking through an issue, deliberately and logically. One gets impatient, spouts off, convinced of their rightness because at that point in life, thats all that matters. The self-discipline enables one to actually consider other thoughts and not just emotionally react.

    Self-discipline is anathema to a lot of young people.

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  28. Not just self-discipline…

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  29. Too bad. Looks like my brilliant “Battletards” concept is going to have to wait at least a couple weeks. The last thing we need is a battle of nitwits between two ‘tards on the right and only one on the left (though I suppose that if BigIslandDave and ProudLiberal wants to continue holding itself out as two people, we could always take it at its word and make them teammates).

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  30. “I know Levi would never be up to it, but I’d be interested to see a thoughtful defense of Obama regarding Wright.”

    – Joe M.

    The most obvious defense is that Obama’s attendance at TUC is no more pertinent than McCain’s unseemly divorce of his first wife. Each displays what some perceive to be a character flaw, or at least poor judgment.

    Leviticus (4a1e69)

  31. “It would be nice to have a debate on this subject between DRJ and an Obama supporter who’d be likely to make her break a sweat.”

    – AMac

    I would be willing, although I would ask that we wait until Wednesday, when I have access to a computer with high-speed internet (so I can link and research at a reasonable speed).

    Leviticus (4a1e69)

  32. … If DRJ wishes, of course. It’s hardly fair to expect anyone to take the time to make the same argument in such rapid succession.

    Leviticus (4a1e69)

  33. I propose a tag-team Battle Royal. In the red corner, we could have Levi/Wrangler and ProudLiberal/BigIslandDave versus. David Petranos Esp and MKDP. I would pay.

    JD (e60f78)

  34. Leviticus,

    I agree and I’d be happy to discuss McCain’s flaws further with you if you want. But what exactly is Obama’s flaw or error in judgment? Here are some possibilities that I can think of:

    > Despite their close relationship for 20 years, Obama did not understand Wright or the principles Wright stands for. That suggests that Obama is a poor judge of people and ideas.

    > Obama is weak and unable to stand up to people like Wright that are influential in the community.

    > Obama agrees with what Wright said but he won’t admit it now because that would jeopardize his ability to win this election.

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  35. “The most obvious defense is that Obama’s attendance at TUC is no more pertinent than McCain’s unseemly divorce of his first wife. Each displays what some perceive to be a character flaw, or at least poor judgment.”

    Leviticus – An interesting premise, but then you would have to extend Obama’s poor judgement to his choices of other associates, many of whom he has thrown under the bus. Of course with McCain, we have had the benefit of time to see whether such poor judgement has repeated itself. With Obama, not so much.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  36. PS – Leviticus: It’s fine to wait until Wednesday and I very much look forward to talking with you.

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  37. Actually, Leviticus, if you want to link McCain’s bad divorce to Obama’s TUC association, I would urge you to play fair. If Obama had been in TUC twenty years ago, got into something nasty as he split up from it, joined another church, and had done good works since….

    Under those circumstances, it wouldn’t be fair to question Obama’s judgement.

    Eric Blair (02ec00)

  38. Eric – I see you and I are thinking exactly along the same lines.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  39. Each displays what some perceive to be a character flaw, or at least poor judgment.

    In McCain’s case, he’s fully owned up to that and taken the full blame for the failure of that marriage, though that may overstate the case. Take two people recovering from their own severe traumas and you’ve got a recipe for a failing marriage.

    I’d agree that this doesn’t speak well of McCain. But his actions and statements thereafter do, as does his former wife’s current attitude toward him.

    Pablo (99243e)

  40. Dana and DRJ:

    Yeah, Levi sure seems to act out the way many of my freshmen do: bluster and snark and resentment, all the while wanting advantages they do not choose to extend toward others. Not “bad kids,” but ones who don’t have a rudder about personal responsibility and ownership.

    A great book I recommend on this subject is:

    http://www.generationme.org/index.html

    And this post is relevant:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/17/fashion/17narcissism.html

    Sound familiar?

    The problem we have as professors—and I am dead serious here—is that we are not permitted to really punish the students when they fall down (other than grades, and that isn’t always easy). There is one exception, that I will come to in a moment.

    Ownership and honor are ridiculed. How do we teach these things. Some colleges, like my own, are trying an honor code. The students like the idea, except when they cheat. Then things are different.

    The problem is that Real Life will punish the students severely for some of their antics. Imagine stuff like this in the workplace. The next semester never comes, there.

    But sometimes the Big Cost comes early. Don’t get me started on my experiences on academic dishonesty boards. Those kids get a notation that they were dismissed for a semester or year for “academic dishonesty.” On their transcripts.

    How do you think that will work out on job applications?

    It’s a waste of the potential of these bright young men and women. We need to get back to honor and honesty.

    Except now I sound like my father.

    Eric Blair (02ec00)

  41. The most obvious defense is that Obama’s attendance at TUC is no more pertinent than McCain’s unseemly divorce of his first wife. Each displays what some perceive to be a character flaw, or at least poor judgment.

    Comment by Leviticus

    While I can agree with the part in bold, Obama’s church took a lot of independents off guard. I have a ton of friends who are middle of the road people, many voting against Bush in ’04, the church thing really shook their support of Obama and made them realize they don’t really know enough about him. Not to say that all of them (my friends) changed their minds, though about half did.

    G (c0157b)

  42. DRJ, your 34, I’d add:

    >Obama doesn’t agree with Wright but chose to be a member based on the need to ascend into local politics.

    G (c0157b)

  43. “In McCain’s case, he’s fully owned up to that and taken the full blame for the failure of that marriage,”

    The evidence of one reaching adulthood. I don’t think it overstates at all. To the contrary, I think it is the dividing line between McCain and Obama and a very serious indicator at that.

    Obama, OTH, re Wright, etd, still dances around ownership with the evasive excuses… used by those unwilling or unable to fully own up to. Usually prevented by arrogance and a lack of character.

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  44. Eric Blair,

    I agree with your and Dana’s comments about self-discipline and personal responsibility but I’m not convinced that we had significantly more of those qualities at a comparable point in our lives. Many of us had to take charge of our lives at 18 in a way that young people today don’t have to do until they are in their mid-20s, so in a sense the time when young adults had to become more responsible has been moved back a few years.

    Of course, there are many young people who are responsible and self-disciplined. While we may not hear from or see them as much, that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there.

    I think America’s young people are an odd blend of teenagers and adults. Teens are mature beyond their ages when it comes to sex and alcohol but many don’t have to provide for themselves until they are well into their 20s. Thus, the late teens and early 20s have become a time when young adults are tacitly permitted and perhaps even encouraged to act out. Further, in our generation(s), more teens had summer jobs that teens today may not have, in part because low wage immigrants are mowing lawns and working in jobs that teens used to fill.

    Finally, I think the proliferation of the internet, the media, cell phones, and other methods of communication encourage young people to publicize themselves. When I was younger, young people saw each other’s irresponsible acts that our parents did not. We see it all now.

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  45. Obama doesn’t seem to have any core beliefs, church-related or otherwise. That, to me, was the most revealing part. He has illustrated that with many other examples, FISA, Iraq, public financing, etc.

    We had a classmate who cheated in medical school. We all knew it and chose to not rat him out hoping he would be caught. Either he wasn’t or the faculty chose to let it slide because it was in the pre-clinical stuff that is less significant later on. Anyway, we all knew about it and I’ll bet no one has forgotten. Fortunately, he went into radiology and many of us heaved a sigh of relief. I would, of course, never send a patient to him.

    I know of several child prodigies in medicine who turned out to be sociopaths. A couple are in prison. One graduated from Johns Hopkins at 19 (MD, not BS) and is in prison for second degree murder. He allowed a patent to die in his office rather than call the paramedics and admit he had botched the case.

    I worry about the later lives of kids who cheat.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  46. G – Good point. I include your point in my second category but it’s helpful to make that clear.

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  47. Hi again, DRJ. The reason I tried to chat with Levi is that I started college being quite an insufferable snot myself. Overactive (if underused) Y-chromosome, perhaps. I used attitude to cover up my own self-doubts and worries.

    I went a huge school for undergrad (UCLA) and it truly was sink or swim. Glub, glub, I learned that I wasn’t “all that and a bag of chips.” Fortunately a graduate student straightened out my attitude, taking the time to give me the harsh talk I needed.

    So I am not claiming superiority.

    I do think the current generation is more coddled than my own. The recent weird thing I have been reading on student evaluations of my teaching is interesting:

    “He presents material in class that isn’t on the exams.”

    This confused me. Of course I do. Otherwise the tests would HUGE. Then I got it:

    The current students all derived from a “teach to the test” attitude in high school.

    Brrr. Life isn’t like that.

    Here is a great website (by a tenured professor, of course!) that says it all:

    http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/nosymp.htm

    Dr. K., I worry about the cheaters, too. That is why we are agitating for a formal Honor Code (with sharp-toothed enforcement) on campus.

    Eric Blair (02ec00)

  48. Some colleges, like my own, are trying an honor code. The students like the idea, except when they cheat.
    .
    My undergrad work was done under an honor code. Written out and signed on every piece of graded work. “I have neither given or received, nor have I tolerated others’ use of unauthorized aid.”
    .
    I can’t say there was no cheating, because there were infractions (all three; given, received, and tolerated), and when shown, infractions resulted in serious academic punishment, up to and including expulsion.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  49. Eric,

    First, I’m sending Professor Dutch’s link to my college son. It’s terrific.

    Second, my comments weren’t intended to disagree with you but to add my perspective. I’m not sure my perspective is that valuable but, like you, I’m very interested in why people do what they do. I don’t know if kids today are less responsible and honorable than past generations but, if they are, there must be a reason.

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  50. I don’t know if kids today are less responsible and honorable than past generations but, if they are, there must be a reason.
    .
    Society has cultivated moral relativism in many forms and venues; political correctness, entitlement, non-judgmental religion (secular humanism), etc. Classical conservatism was not averse to enforcing certain moral absolutes, “just because.” Western Civilization has transmogrified itself into thinking it is an equal of, rather than superior to, competing civilizations.
    .
    I’m not sure the reason can be found in “responsibility” and “honor,” without more. IOW, I believe there are many moral relativists who are responsible and honorable.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  51. cboldt, I couldn’t agree more with #50.

    I would throw in the far more simplistic but crucial step in creating less responsible and honorable kids – the inability for parents to consistently say No, firmly, resolutely and without wavering.

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  52. Dana: I was late to fatherhood—42. I also teach college (I think your father does, too). Anyway, these two things make me think a great deal about the lessons we teach our young. Even when we don’t intend to do so.

    My father is oldskool (retired firefighter) and never was much for emotionalism or self-esteem enhancement. He was too busy working when my brother and I were small. A good man, a honorable man.

    Anyway, the day my first child was born, my father congratulated me and then told me something that has stayed with me ever since:

    “Now you have the tough job. You have to be his father, not his friend.”

    His eyes were so sad when he said this, and many things became clear to me.

    My dad had no trouble telling me “no.” It took me until my son was born to understand why.

    Eric Blair (02ec00)

  53. DRJ, I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. I just was trying to say that I wasn’t such a great kid, myself. I don’t think I could get along well with my students if I had been a perfect student myself. I do understand them a bit as a result.

    I doubt that you were much of a troublemaker!

    Dr. Dutch’s site has a lot of interesting information, including the “Top Ten” list.

    But cboldt and Dana make a great point: we seem to be creating a culture where young folks are not encouraged to take responsibility for what they do, good or bad. The politicians like it, but it is a waste of their real potential and energy.

    Eric Blair (02ec00)

  54. “>Obama doesn’t agree with Wright but chose to be a member based on the need to ascend into local politics.”

    – G

    DRJ: I would probably say that this most closely captures Obama’s flaw in re: Jeremiah Wright. Obama’s trying to appeal to various types of radicals and a whole swathe of moderates at the same time, and he’s contorted himself in the attempt.

    However, I would say that this is standard fare for politicians, and that McCain has done much the same over the course of this election cycle (i.e. immigration, campaign finance, etc.). McCain has also thrown his fair share of confidantes under the bus – Doug Davenport, Thomas Loeffler, Rev. Hagee, and, most recently, Phil Gramm.

    To say that McCain’s disassociation from his problematic allies is any different from Obama’s disassociation from Wright seems something of a double standard to me.

    Leviticus (ff8fac)

  55. #35 – #39,

    That seems a little unfair: to deny Obama the benefit of the doubt because he’s not old enough to prove you wrong. It’s “innocent until proven guilty”, not the other way around…

    McCain made something of himself after his mistakes with his first marriage, didn’t he? Although it really bugs me that he called his wife what he did…

    Leviticus (ff8fac)

  56. Leviticus – #55 – It’s “innocent until proven guilty”, not the other way around…

    Wrong. As far as Presidents are concerned, it’s capable until proven otherwise.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  57. I suppose I could torture at least one definition of “innocent” into defining Obama

    SteveG (71dc6f)

  58. cblodt and Dana,

    But how can we say today’s young adults are less honorable and responsible based solely on our perceptions? We have to have some basis for comparison.

    One indicator of comparative personal responsibility through the generations could be abortion rates. This link to CDC abortion statistics states:

    “The national legal induced abortion rate increased from 14 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years in 1973 to 25 per 1,000 in 1980. The rate remained stable, at 23–24 per 1,000 during the 1980s and early 1990s and at 20–21 per 1,000 during 1994–1997. The abortion rate remained unchanged at 17 per 1,000 during 1998–1999 and at 16 per 1,000 during 2000–2002 both overall and in the same 47 reporting areas. During 2003–2004, the abortion rate remained unchanged overall at 16 per 1,000, decreased to 15 per 1,000 in 2003, and to 16 in 2004 in the 47 reporting areas.
    ***
    Abortion trends by age indicate that since 1973, abortion ratios have been higher for adolescents aged <15 years than for any other age group (Figure 3). For females aged 40 years, the abortion ratio generally increased from 1974 through the early 1980s and declined thereafter. The abortion ratio for women aged 20–34 years (those with the highest fertility rates) has declined slightly since the mid-1980s. The abortion ratio for women aged 35–39 years has declined gradually over time.”

    I don’t see strong evidence that today’s teens and young adults are less responsible when it comes to unplanned pregnancies, but maybe these statistics only reflect long-term efforts to reduce abortions or the availability of more birth control information.

    So let’s turn to the question of how honorable young adults are by considering how often students cheat. I’ve read several sources that claim today’s students cheat more than prior generations and I accept that for the purpose of this discussion, although I think it’s possible today’s students are simply more willing to admit to cheating than their predecessors.

    In general, I think our beliefs and behaviors tend to shift back and forth between conservative and liberal ends of a continuum. If that’s true, there will be periods when people are more flexible regarding morality and willing to take risks like cheating, but there will also be periods when people are more morally rigid and risk averse. As we swing away from moral flexibility, we see more emphasis on Honor Codes and the benefits of morality. This Business Week article on the importance of an Honor Code and integrity at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, a top-rated B-School, is a good example of what I think is a heightened awareness and attention to moral standards. I expect efforts like these – efforts supported by people in the trenches like Eric Blair – will have an impact on student behavior.

    PS – Eric Blair: I’ve understood all along what you were trying to do with Levi and that you saw a little bit of yourself in him. No matter how we were raised or what we acted like, I think we all do. Until we get older and wiser, it’s human nature to take the easy way out when we think we can.

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  59. Leviticus,

    The American public is always taking a chance on politicians that we elect to be our President. No one really knows what they will do in that position, but the same could be said of any position of authority. Lawyers elected or appointed to serve as judges don’t really know what kind of job they will do, because being a lawyer isn’t the same as being a judge. But it seems obvious that the more time a lawyer spends in court watching and working with judges and the more years a lawyer tries cases in courtrooms, the better prepared a lawyer will be to serve as judge. I think the same is true for politicians who want to be President.

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  60. DRJ #59 – I would add to your comment that Obama is more like a Judge in a lower court who has been recently appointed, has an unrmarkable track record, and who is being considered for confirmation to the Supreme court.

    The analogy’s not perfect, (since SCOTUS positions are appointments, although confirmation is necessary) but since the Presidency is it’s own branch – akin to an entire SCOTUS, I find the attitude that the people of this country should extend the “benefit of the doubt” to someone seeking this position laughable. Those same people would take a microscope to anyone nominated to SCOTUS, and that’s just one out of nine.

    You’re right that there’s no way to tell completely, but given BO’s lack of a track record, the character issues and his associations become much more important.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  61. DRJ,

    I think evidence can found to support that students cheat more frequently now due to the availability of tools to help them cheat and due to a cultural acceptance by young people of dishonesty (…its inevitable… no big deal…everyone’s doing it.. rationale.)

    “Nearly four in 10 teenagers say they have plagiarized or cheated on a test, according to a national poll released in December. That poll, co-sponsored by the group that runs the Junior Achievement entrepreneurship program, showed that about half of the students justified their actions by saying they felt an overwhelming pressure to succeed.

    It’s easy to cheat. Web sites like schoolsucks.com provide students with papers they can download on nearly any topic.”

    http://www.ajc.com/blogs/content/shared-blogs/ajc/education/entries/2008/05/06/how_much_do_stu.html

    Also, the insightful educator, Joanne Jacobs covers this subject frequently.

    “Not only is cheating on the rise nationally – a 2005 Duke University study found that 75 percent of high school students admit to cheating, and if you include copying another person’s homework, that number climbs to 90 percent – but there has also been a cultural shift in who cheats and why.

    It used to be that cheating was done by the few, and most often they were the weaker students who couldn’t get good grades on their own. There was fear of reprisal and shame if apprehended. Today, there is no stigma left. It is accepted as a normal part of school life, and is more likely to be done by the good students, who are fully capable of getting high marks without cheating. “It’s not the dumb kids who cheat,” one Bay Area prep school student told me. “It’s the kids with a 4.6 grade-point average who are under so much pressure to keep their grades up and get into the best colleges. They’re the ones who are smart enough to figure out how to cheat without getting caught.”

    According to Denise Pope, a Stanford education professor, “Eighty percent of honors and AP students cheat on a regular basis.” Good students think they have to be perfect.”

    http://joannejacobs.com/2007/09/19/cheaters-prosper-4/

    The question is, why is there no stigma left and why has become accepted as a normal part of school life? My guess is that while students do feel more pressure get higher GPAs to meet the competition, it also speaks to perhaps a weaker character where one’s value system is easily compromised and sacrificed. It is purely self-serving.

    Also, as the latter quote evidences, even very smart top students are willing to cheat. Obviously they are smart and driven – but toward cheating (dishonesty), not toward doing the hard work (honesty).

    I don’t see the honor system working in well in the long run. You mention above, and I as well mentioned last week in the comment section of another post, it is human nature to take the easy way out.

    (I’m on the run and would like to address the abortion stuff you mention at a later point.)

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  62. how can we say today’s young adults are less honorable and responsible based solely on our perceptions?
    .
    My point was that they could be “fucked up” even while being honorable and responsible.
    .
    You example proves the point. Used to be, pregnancy out of wedlock was per se wrong. Now it’s okay if it’s “responsible”. Those who argue there is no slippage are, in my mind, responsible for weakening conservative values.
    .
    there will also be periods when people are more morally rigid and risk averse
    .
    Honor and moral rigidity are not risk averse. Both involve accepting personal restriction, punishment and loss for a higher cause. Moral people accept (due) punishment, amoral people resits it, insisting that the letter of the law be met (and proved) first.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  63. Dana, that was a good post. And you are correct regarding the comments about cheating. I’m not so certain about the superhigh percentages, because I will tell you that on our Academic Dishonesty review boards, it’s the student representatives who want the cheaters’ heads on pikes.

    They see that cheating is about far, far more than the cheater.

    The trouble with dealing with cheating is that the results are very severe. We ignore it and ignore it in precollege…and then expel the student when we catch them at it in college. Teaching honesty and honor at home would be a good start. I’m not sure how often it is discussed in most homes.

    The last twenty years has been full of stories excusing dishonesty from many, many people. Splitting hairs about definitions of “is” comes to mind, for example.

    Again, the “Generation Me” book has some interesting thoughts on this subject.

    But I cannot help thinking that cheating is a form of self-disrespect on the part of the student—based on the students I have caught doing so, or have interviewed on the AD review boards.

    Eric Blair (02ec00)

  64. Oh, and DRJ, while I certainly was more than a bit of a snot at 18, I can promise you that I never addressed an adult as Levi addresses people. My parents would have disowned me.

    I didn’t even address peers that way. Where and when I was raised, talking that way lead to fistfights. And past 16 or so, fistfights are serious business.

    So again, most of Levi’s bombast was safely electronic. But hopefully, he’ll straighten out. I did (my wife would argue the jury is still out on that).

    Eric Blair (02ec00)

  65. cboldt, Dana, and Eric Blair,

    Kids have always been rebellious and it’s just the the way they rebel that has changed over time. I think today’s version is more verbal and profane so it’s more noticeable.

    What’s more worrisome to me is not the level of rebelliousness but the extremes. In the past, American society was more homogeneous so the outliers could still find a place in society. Today’s outliers are more extreme and, in some cases, dangerous. It’s reminiscent of English society with its extremes in status (remember Clockwork Orange?), but I don’t think America’s version is based on class or race.

    I think Americans are divided by values. Some are more secularized and morally permissive, while others are more religious and morally conservative. I think there is value to both: The same moral permissiveness that led to high rates of unwed mothers also played a role in the emancipation of women. Fortunately, if history is any guide, we will awkwardly find a way to learn from both and move forward.

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  66. It’s easy to cheat. Web sites like schoolsucks.com provide students with papers they can download on nearly any topic.

    Sort of a tangent, but I’ve never really understood the whole plagiarism thing.

    I can see looking at other papers to try and find a decent topic or ideas if you’re stuck, but just lifting the whole thing word for word strikes me as so stunningly stupid when it’s pathetically simple to just rewrite it yourself. If you can’t render someone else’s ideas into your own words then why are you even in college?

    And this is coming from a horrible writer, one of my English teachers in highschool said that my problem was an irresistable urge to compress ten pages into four sentences.

    Taltos (4dc0e8)

  67. “I also teach college (I think your father does, too). “

    Yes, at the ripe old age of 74, he is going back to teaching at the local college where he winters. He finished most of Feynman’s stuff and that the motor humming again.

    “Honor and moral rigidity are not risk averse. Both involve accepting personal restriction, punishment and loss for a higher cause. Moral people accept (due) punishment, amoral people resits it, insisting that the letter of the law be met (and proved) first.”

    Excellent.

    “…teens and young adults are less responsible when it comes to unplanned pregnancies”

    Such irony! Heh.

    “Today’s outliers are more extreme and, in some cases, dangerous.”

    But the question again, is why has this happened? What has declined in order for this extremism to slowly evolve to a less shocking occurrence (think of the rioting in France last year by youths, what is taking place in Sweden with the groups of young men raping women and the government far more willing to slap their wrists rather than prosecute, etc).

    In America, I believe as the Judeo-Christian value system deteriorates and gets sacrificed in favor of that ‘moral flexibility’, the more normal the extremists will become. Its played itself out in many other cultures throughout history and its never a pretty outcome.

    I hold parents, first and foremost responsible.

    Then of course, George Bush. :)

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  68. I’m surprised by the responses to my statement that rigid morals are risk averse.

    Morality is not just a code of conduct that people follow to prove they have self-discipline and can follow rules. The whole point of having a moral code of conduct is to avoid the adverse consequences that come from immorality, both in everyday life and (for those who are religious) in eternal life. As a result, following a rigid moral code of conduct is risk averse.

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  69. What has declined in order for this extremism to slowly evolve to a less shocking occurrence
    .
    What has declined is willingness to be judgmental. Willingness to be judgmental first shifted to indifference, then to aversion.
    .
    This is an age old debate, we aren’t plowing any new ground, and the outcome is predictable in view of history.
    .
    I hold parents, first and foremost responsible.
    .
    I see a complex blame. Churches are becoming less judgmental in order to maintain income from offerings, and human nature resists being judged. Parents won’t be more strict than “their God” is.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  70. I think what is missing is defining the terms. In re-reading the comments, there is morality, and then there is rigid morality. I missed that.

    Everyone operates under some system of morality.

    As a believer, mine is grace oriented, so rigid morality doesn’t quite fit. There is not punishment for missing the mark (thats a given), there are however, consequences to bad decisions, not designed to punish but to to lead back to and reinforce the original principal.

    I don’t believe morality is a code of conduct to prove self-discipline or that rules can be followed. Its not a competitionn but more a safeguard for the individual and for the collective society. Again in context with faith, as a fallen creature I’m unable to live up to the standard or follow the rules apart from the Grace that came with the Cross.

    YMMV.

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  71. The whole point of having a moral code of conduct is to avoid the adverse consequences that come from immorality, both in everyday life and (for those who are religious) in eternal life
    .
    You aren’t addressing the point that adhering to a moral code of conduct can have adverse consequences in “everyday” (temporal, on earth, while living) life.
    .
    Not an example of adverse consequence due to adhering to a code, some temptations to deviate are well disguised as “righteous.” Just making one up out of the clear blue, “It’s okay to impregnate that stranger, as long as I finance the offspring.”
    .
    Call me “old fashioned,” but that’s the essence of my argument.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  72. “I see a complex blame. Churches are becoming less judgmental in order to maintain income from offerings, and human nature resists being judged. Parents won’t be more strict than “their God” is.”

    Parents take their families, they pick and choose where they attend church, whose teaching they sit under and are ultimately accountable for what is theologically acceptable and that would include a watered down belief, thus a lack of adhering to standards. (See Obama and Rev Wright…)

    Who has allowed and financially paved the way to churces becoming big business with an overhead to meet which is dependent upon the seats being filled? Parents again pick and choose where to take their families and what church they support financially.

    I agree with your statement above but see it as a domino effect and that a parent’s decision puts the wheels in motion. Therefore, I still see parents as those with the greatest responsibility. Children make none of these decisions. Parents do. And generally it seems the mothers more than the fathers.

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  73. I suppose I could torture at least one definition of “innocent” into defining Obama

    Yes, but then again, torture is always wrong… :)

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  74. Eric Blair, I appreciate your comments here, and the links you’ve provided. You’ve achieved a nice bibliography, too, though not much since 1949.

    AMac (89eec5)

  75. 40, Eric,

    This is from a post by a person older than Levi, yet all of what you said, Levi’s philosophy, and the Democrat mantras are here.

    how absolutely priveliged of you all to have had everything go so well in your lives that hard work alone has you apparently set for life. yes yes yes…any regular in these threads ALREADY know thanks to hundreds and hundreds of posts of the small but vocal “i got mine crowd” and ya know what?…thats perfectly fine but stay out of the way of the rest who do care about this community and ALL its people…on more than one occasion ive seen POSSIBLE, good forums pecked to death by your little roost of hens. if you really got the balls and the superiority to step up to validate your self centered whimperings about taxes that we ALL pay while bllindly ignoring 600 million plus/ year that big business snuck out of this state so you can keep stroking big business, at least post a real clear pic of yourselves or some decent profile info. hahaha mabeye even a real name….i been stopped 4 times since the new profiles became available by strangers here and there asking me if im the jimsmith from the press gazette and i HAVE LOOKED them in the eye and “yup, thats me” (for your poll watchers, 3 like what ive said on some subjects, one was just thought it was cool they recognized me)

    i dont remeber anything written in the formation of the united states that says its basis is for the right to make my money and keep it regardless of the condition of my neighbor….i thought the main reason for this countries formation was to escape the tyranny of elitest, usless, overbearing “i got mine” crowds from dictating how equal men and women where to act and keeping in place oppressive work, govenment, and social ideas and institutions. looks like some are tryng to move this country toward that full circle.

    PCD (73c023)

  76. #75 yes, because socialism, class warfare, communism, natioalized health plans have all worked so well around the world. Seems to me we are headed down the primrose path in any case with the adulating, figuratively goracle fellating masses ready to lower their own standards of living so that the liberal elite can tell them in so many ways just what is the proper way to live, think, procreate, etc.
    I hear unbridled criticism of the USA from friends abroad and Euro ex-pats right here. Everything is better THERE. They meekly go along with the unelected bureaucratic dictators in Brussels who spew forth rules about business dealing and everyday life. And when are Spacey and that hollywood crowd moving to Caracas or Levi and his minions to Zimbabwe. Let’s all sing Kumbaya. Better to suck the public tit than do anything for yourself?

    madmax333 (a1bb28)

  77. Anybody want to take on #70? I don’t have the energy or patience today to correct such a myriad of false statements.

    Paul (ae2fbe)

  78. Whoops, I meant #75.

    Paul (ae2fbe)

  79. PCD #75 –

    i [sic] dont [sic] remeber [sic] anything written in the formation of the united states [sic] that says its basis is for the right to make my money and keep it regardless of the condition of my neighbor…

    You don’t? How about “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”? NO mention of the condition of one’s neighbor, NO mention of forced “charity” (I put that in scare quotes because the minute you coerce charity, it’s not really charity anymore).

    Now, most of the Founders were religious — some were Christians, some were Deists — and most of them would have been all in favor of helping out the poorer members of the community. They would have found someone with the “I got mine, screw all y’all” attitude (which is a total strawman, by the way) you describe to be… unpleasant at best, and would have roundly condemned such an attitude on religious grounds. But I dare you to find evidence that they were in favor of setting up large, tax-funded government programs to help the poor. You can’t, because that evidence just isn’t there.

    Now, perhaps I’m misreading you when you talk about those who “care about this community and ALL its people”. Perhaps you meant to encourage private charity and you’re not another advocate of enforced, government-run and tax-funded programs. But you’re sure talking like one.

    Signed with my real name, as always.

    Robin Munn (6f355b)

  80. how absolutely priveliged of you all to have had everything go so well in your lives that hard work alone has you apparently set for life.

    What has anybody posted in the past 70 comments that would reasonably lead you to believe we’re all set for life?

    Anon (a2601e)

  81. DRJ, I’m with ‘G’ on this: I think that Sen. Obama was, in a sense, using Rev. Wright for his influence, and that he was part of the church because he saw it as part of the path to political success in his community.

    The problem with that, of course, is that it makes it very difficult to assess what Sen. Obama actually believes; anything he says could just be ambitious pandering.

    But this is a flaw that many politicians have; the original sin, perhaps, of the political class.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  82. Cboldt, at 71: isn’t it arguably the case that when adhering to a moral code of conduct has adverse consequences, the problem is that the moral code in question has failed to adapt to changing circumstance?

    What happens when you take a moral code of conduct suitable for life as a suburban office worker and try to apply it in your new life as a gangster? ISTM that it would fail fairly quickly.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  83. Anon, at 80: this might be the tiniest of hairs, but I don’t think that PCD is not saying people here are set for life. I think he’s sarcastically implying that people here incorrectly believe themselves to be set for life, and that if they realized that they weren’t set for life, they’d have different positions on the issue of state support for the poor.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  84. I thought #70 was inferring that he/she felt there are those here who tout a ‘company line’ – those he/she assumes are set for life having already gotten their’s and thus, by default, cannot care about their neighbor or community…as if its mutually exclusive.

    They sound bitter.

    Dana (f3e2a8)

  85. #81

    I think that Sen. Obama was, in a sense, using Rev. Wright for his influence, and that he was part of the church because he saw it as part of the path to political success in his community.

    Obama is as calculating as any politician with experience.

    He stole the work of others’ with the help of others, from Chicago to the current fantasy trip.

    Vermont Neighbor (31ccb6)

  86. any regular in these threads ALREADY know thanks to hundreds and hundreds of posts of the small but vocal “i got mine crowd” and ya know what?

    Really, we’re the “I got mine crowd”?

    I always would have assumed it’s the ones who already have their fortunes, but want to show their compassion by taxing the s–t out of anybody trying to obtain their own in order to fund the social programs you seem to support.

    thats perfectly fine but stay out of the way of the rest who do care about this community and ALL its people

    The politicians you support “care” about your community by taking my money – quit acting like you’re the compassionate one.

    while bllindly ignoring 600 million plus/ year that big business snuck out of this state

    Who said you had a right to a business’s money?

    Again, an amazing amount of conceitedness for someone complaining about other people whimpering. People build up their own businesses, they put their own time into it, they take the risks – and they’re “sneaking” out or doing something immoral by moving?

    If you think their decision is wrong or unethical, how about this — replace them. Build your own business. Put your own neck on the line. Put your own time into it.

    i dont remeber anything written in the formation of the united states that says its basis is for the right to make my money and keep it regardless of the condition of my neighbor

    Do really want to compare the social safety network that exists today to the one that existed 200 years ago and that our founding fathers had in mind? Really?

    I won’t insult your intelligence and will assume you know a modicum of history and just how ridiculous this would be.

    It was never written anywhere in the constitution that I have to help you amount to anything. Until a hundred years ago in New York, if a woman wanted to receive charity from the government, she had to give up her kids and send them to an orphanage. There was nothing like federal welfare until recently and Social Security, even when it was designed 70 years ago, was designed so that people only received it at the average age of death. Hell, the living conditions for the average American 200 years ago would pale in comparison to the poorest of the poor today.

    i thought the main reason for this countries formation was to escape the tyranny of elitest, usless, overbearing “i got mine” crowds

    We fought over a tax on tea.

    Let me repeat that because it somehow did not sink in during the years you studied history in school. We did not fight over more social programs. We did not fight because we want to tax more people to give money to other people, **they**, the British, were the ones who want to tax more people. We got pissed at them and threw a fit in 1773 because they put a tax on freakin’ tea. This led to the Intolerable Acts, which led to the American Revolution – social programs were not involved.

    Anon (a2601e)

  87. Anon, at 80: this might be the tiniest of hairs, but I don’t think that PCD is not saying people here are set for life. I think he’s sarcastically implying that people here incorrectly believe themselves to be set for life, and that if they realized that they weren’t set for life, they’d have different positions on the issue of state support for the poor.

    I saw it differently – just from reading the rest of the post, I got the impression this is somebody who looks at politics in a “Republicans = rich, Democrats = the oppressed masses” kind of way.

    Anon (a2601e)

  88. Hmmmm….

    Levi (74ca1f)

  89. Okay, so I can access the web page, and even make posts, so this ‘ban’ that I’m on mainly consists of whomever has the power to scrub my comments after I make them?

    Just a quick question then. Why was I banned? My understanding of the rules was that I would be banned if I insulted DRJ. I never did. I remember her being given the power to ban me arbitrarily for whatever reason she wanted, but could I get an explanation?

    DRJ and Patterico just look scared to me.

    Levi (74ca1f)

  90. Okay, so I can access the web page, and even make posts, so this ‘ban’ that I’m on mainly consists of whomever has the power to scrub my comments after I make them?

    Just a quick question then. Why was I banned? My understanding of the rules was that I would be banned if I insulted DRJ. I never did. I remember her being given the power to ban me arbitrarily for whatever reason she wanted, but could I get an explanation?

    DRJ and Patterico just look scared to me. FLIPPY

    Levi (74ca1f)

  91. Okay, so I can access the web page, and even make posts, so this ‘ban’ that I’m on mainly consists of whomever has the power to scrub my comments after I make them?

    Just a quick question then. Why was I banned? My understanding of the rules was that I would be banned if I insulted DRJ. I never did. I remember her being given the power to ban me arbitrarily for whatever reason she wanted, but could I get an explanation?

    DRJ and Patterico just look scared to me. FLIPPER

    LeviLEVI (74ca1f)

  92. Dear friends,

    I posted the thoughts of one Jim Smith posted on a Green Bay Press-Gazette discussion. He summed up what Levi and other libs think deep into their souls and work on to achieve.

    I wish to say they are not my thoughts. And what happened to the URL I posted with it for people to read Smith’s drivel for themselves?

    PCD (73c023)

  93. I wouldn’t even trouble to reply to the material quoted in #75. The subliterate language and poor reasoning are self-refuting.

    Bradley J Fikes (0ea407)

  94. Jim Smith, Liberal, his own words

    This is the guy I quoted in 75. I wanted to illustrate that Levi isn’t the only ill-educated idiot who thinks you don’t have any real rights.

    PCD (73c023)

  95. I wanted to illustrate that Levi isn’t the only ill-educated idiot who thinks you don’t have any real rights.

    What makes you think we thought Mr. Sunny was the only one?

    Paul (2ae585)

  96. Aphrael #81,

    I think it’s likely there are several reasons Barack Obama associated himself with Jeremiah Wright. People rarely have just one reason for important and long-standing decisions in their lives.

    So I agree Obama probably gravitated to Wright in part to make himself more attractive to Wright’s parishioners (Obama’s future constituents) and to advance his career and public standing in the Chicago area. FWIW, Jeremiah Wright probably associated with Louis Farrakhan in part for the same reason. But identifying the reasons Obama associated with Wright is only the first step. I think it’s important to also think through what these associations say about Obama’s character.

    It could be that Obama is simply another political panderer but why do you think Obama choose to align himself with this particular minister and group?

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  97. It was the largest church of its denomination, with lots of lucrative members and beliefs that closely matched his wife’s. (I seem to recall hearing that it was at his wife’s urging that they started attending regularly, even before they were married.)

    In a single word: networking.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  98. why do you think Obama choose to align himself with this particular minister and group?

    Who is Obama? Obama is the company he keeps. But the answer is forbidden. It’s barely permissable in these PC times.

    Vermont Neighbor (31ccb6)

  99. Okay, then why did this minister and church appeal to Michelle Obama? Was it convenient to where she lived, had she attended it before their marriage, was it her family’s church and she continued her membership as an adult, or did the message resonate?

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  100. DRJ, the last bit of your post tells the tale. There is such a push in academia to create what some call a “victicrat culture,” in which what a person does is not as important as what has been done to them…or more accurate, their ancestors. And the Obamas are a fearsome combination of academia and Chicago politics.

    It’s a twisted anti-aristocracy, in a way: who you are and what you do is not as important as your background. Ironic, since the complaints about white privilege seem to call for privilege extended to one’s own group—instead of a reduction in the concept of unfair privilege.

    Certainly this theme was elaborated upon during many, many sermons at TUC.

    Notice that the theme isn’t about making things better, but complaining about the past—or even the present. As it was put to me a few years ago: some people would rather have a cause than an effect.

    Eric Blair (2708f4)

  101. I can’t be the only one here that thinks it’s enormously cowardly to agree to enter a debate with someone but only on the condition that you can ban them from the discussion at any point and for any reason so you can talk about the person without giving them a chance to defend themselves, can I?

    LeviLEVI (74ca1f)

  102. I can’t be the only one here that thinks it’s enormously cowardly to agree to enter a debate with someone but only on the condition that you can ban them from the discussion at any point and for any reason so you can talk about the person without giving them a chance to defend themselves, can I?

    SUPA DUPA FLY

    Jigga what (74ca1f)

  103. I can’t be the only person that thinks it’s enormously cowardly to only agree to enter into a debate with someone after you’ve reserved the right to ban your opponent for any reason and at any time so you can talk about said person without them being able to defend themselves, can I?

    Levi (bc7823)

  104. I just published all of Levi’s old comments that were held up in moderation so you can see how he tried to pass the filter.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  105. There are more in other threads.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  106. Sorry that you have to waste your time with this kind of thing, Mr. Frey. It’s not respectful of your time and effort to provide a forum in which people can debate and discuss.

    I teach freshmen, and there is nothing surprising about this. Sadly.

    Sometimes, they do grow up. Sometimes, not.

    Eric Blair (2708f4)


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