President Who?

A good read from Kevin Williamson, in The National Review“I won.”: The Left Will Not Enjoy Living With Its Own Precedents.

It’s along similar lines what I wrote in this post about respecting the separation of powers in government because ‘your guy’ may not always be in charge.

From Williamson’s column:

For eight years, Democrats celebrated the aggrandizement of the already inflated presidency left to Barack Obama by George W. Bush. You remember the greatest hits: “If Congress won’t act, I will.” “I have a pen and a phone.” “Elections have consequences.” And, my personal favorite: “I won.” Somebody else won this time around.
The pretensions of the imperial presidency are going to haunt Democrats for the immediate future, but they’ll quickly rediscover their belief in limits on the executive. While they’re rediscovering old virtues, they might take a moment to lament Senator Harry Reid’s weakening of the filibuster, an ancient protection of minority interests in the less democratic house of our national legislature. They might also lament Senator Reid’s attempt to gut the First Amendment in order to permit the federal government — which in January will be under the management of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and — incredibly enough — President Donald Trump — to regulate political speech, deciding who can speak, about what and when, and on what terms.

There are other ways of living. The enviable Swiss have such a wonderfully limited and distributed federal system that many of them could not tell you who the president is on any given day.

But those of you who are shaking in your Birkenstocks over the election of Donald Trump should consider the possibility that if the office of the presidency is that important to you, then perhaps the most intelligent course of action is not to pin your hopes on controlling it always and forever (something unlikely to happen under truly democratic processes) but to work toward making it less important — to you, and to everybody else, too.
You’ll find a great many conservatives ready to join you in that project.
I like the part about the Swiss government. That’s the same way most folks feel about their city mayors or governors.

Pro/Rel vs. Solidarity Payments: What’s Holding Soccer Back in the US?

Switching gears away from politics, here’s another hot button issue to discuss following the US Men’s National Soccer Team’s 2-1 loss to Mexico on Friday evening.

These guys think the lack of promotion/relegation at the top level (MLS) is the one thing holding soccer back in the U.S.

This guy thinks the lack of solidarity payments is the reason.

Promotion/relegation is how pro and amateur soccer works nearly everywhere, except in US pro soccer. That is, the bottom teams in a league are relegated to the next lowest league and the best teams from that league are promoted up to the best league.

Even the indoor soccer facility I play at uses pro/reg. The best teams from my ‘rec’ division are promoted to the ‘competitive’ division each session, while the worst teams from that division are relegated to my division.

In England, for example, the pro/rel structure for soccer goes at least 9 leagues deep, the top 4 leagues are what most people look at it.

They believe this structure, like free market capitalism, allows the best to rise to the top. Without it, there’s just too many biases holding them back.

Solidarity payments are payments made to clubs from pro teams when they sign contracts with players the clubs have trained.

In other parts of the world, many clubs have formed their business model around training future soccer stars and they get paid when one of their stars makes it big.

This changes the incentives for clubs quite a bit.

US clubs operate on the ‘pay-for-play’ model. That is, their profits come from the pockets of parents paying fees for their kids to get professionally trained.

Clubs in other countries, that can be rewarded handsomely when their players go pro, organize leagues and training that is often free to players. Their incentive is to get as many players as possible playing the game, so they can find the diamonds in the rough that can be turned into pro prospects.

The result in the U.S. is that suburban, ‘pay-for-play’ 12-year-old club soccer players have about the same level of technical ability as a 6-year-old from soccer-culture communities in the U.S. who grow up playing unorganized soccer with friends and family, because they can’t afford to pay the club fees or are not interested in playing against kids who can barely control the ball. That’s no fun for them.

Personally, I think both of these contribute. I put more weight in the latter argument, though. If clubs could earn solidarity payments, I think they would be more focused on getting more kids playing, instead of just finding the kids who have parents with deep enough wallets to pay their fees.

Both viewpoints believe there are enough people who are in love with soccer in the U.S., it’s just the system isn’t kind to them.

I disagree with that. I agree there are a lot of people involved in soccer.

But, until I see just as many kids playing soccer in their driveways, yards, schoolyards and parks without adults leading the activity, as I do other sports, I don’t think we are there yet.

Until I see American kids, on a widespread scale, become obsessed with learning to juggle a soccer ball or adopt good soccer technique of their favorite pro players, I don’t think we are there yet.

With popular sports in the U.S., kids learn a good deal of good technique outside of organized teams simply through basic games that build lots of repetition, like playing catch or driveway basketball.

With soccer, an inordinate amount of time in practice is dedicated to teaching the basics, because they haven’t learned them elsewhere.

Fallacies in the media

As I was re-reading my Discussion Tips page, which I wrote years ago, I realized that I have not been pointing out fallacies near as much as I used to.

There were two good examples of straw man fallacies propagated by the media in the run-up to the election.

A Straw Man fallacy is a false representation of an opponent’s argument that’s easy to defeat. It is very common among 6th graders, but unfortunately, it is all too common among adults and too often passes for quality journalism, especially when the straw man is used against those we dislike.

Straw man #1: ‘Trump says voting is rigged. How dumb is that?’

Trump actually said the  political system is rigged against outsiders. Which means political insiders, like the Clintons, had the media and political parties helping them to the detriment of the outsiders (e.g. him and Bernie). He overcame. Bernie did not.

But, the media twisted this into the sound bite that Trump’s key concern was fraudulent or hacked voting and dismissed Trump as absurd for thinking that.

Matt Lauer continued this fallacy on the morning after the election with Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. She did good by explaining that Matt was misrepresenting the complaint and pointing out that there was evidence to support Trump’s position from the Wikileak emails showing Donna Brazile forwarding advance notice of debate questions to Clinton’s team in the debates against Sanders.

Straw man #2: “Trump says he will not accept the results of the election and does not respect the peaceful transfer of power.”

Trump actually said that he will have to wait and see if he will not challenge the results. He also said, I’ll keep you in suspense. He didn’t mention violence.

This seemed like a reasonable response. Wouldn’t anyone challenge the result if it appeared there was something nefarious going on? Shouldn’t they? Would you rather they sit back and let corrupt groups subjugate the will of the people?

The media then turned this into the straw man above and kept plugging away at it.

Personally, I think this was meant to distract attention from the FBI Director reopening the investigation into Hillary’s emails — and that’s about all they had that was new at that point.

But, in addition to this being a straw man, I think many people saw this charge as disingenuous and hyopcritical coming from the side that actually did contest the 2000 election, taking it all the way to the Supreme Court.

When I see such blatant fallacies, I figure those who perpetrate them are either not very smart or dishonest, neither of which helps them make their argument.

Diversity for thee, but not for me

From Tyler Cowen on Marginal Revolution:

When Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, it was the forces of diversity — some diversities, many diversities — that won.

It was the people less concerned with diversity overall that lost.  Again noting that some important notions of diversity do cut the other way, most of all racial diversity.  And I do wish to stress that the presumptive argument for “diversity” simply isn’t there, although that conclusion is hard to swallow that if you have imbibed too much contemporary political rhetoric.

In fact, I view the amazing diversity of the election and the electorate as having gotten the better of us.  It is an example of how diversity can go wrong.

I believe that until Democrats and Progressives can grasp their lack of diversity intuitively, they will struggle to make their way forward in the new political climate of the United States.  They will not understand how anyone could view them as divisive, since they automatically think of diversity as being on their side, rather than something they oppose.


Similarly, this from Clive Crook (thanks to Instapundit):

Elite opinion admits of only one answer: People are more stupid and bigoted than we ever imagined. Without denying that there’s plenty of stupidity and bigotry to go around, I think it’s more a matter of elite incompetence. Elite opinion heard the rebels’ complaints, but instead of acknowledging what was valid, it rejected the grievances in every particular and dismissed the complainers as fools or worse.

And this from Stephen L. Carter:

Too many of my progressive friends seem to have forgotten how to make actual arguments, and have become expert instead at condemnation, derision and mockery. On issue after issue, they’re very good at explaining why no one could oppose their policy positions except for the basest of motives. As to those positions themselves, they are too often announced with a zealous solemnity suggesting that their views are Holy Writ — and those who disagree are cast into the outer political darkness. In short, the left has lately been dripping with hubris, which in classic literature always portends a fall.

I’m not sure they were ever good at making arguments. They haven’t had to be.

It fits with their oppressor (big guy)-oppressed (little guy) spectrum of thinking. In their mindset, they don’t need to actually address the issue and win with reason, they only need to show the other side is somehow for the big guy and against the little guy and that was enough.

I’ve even been accused by folks of being ‘for the big guy,’ which as I told a friend this week, I don’t understand. I’m not a big guy nor do I really know any big guys, so why I would be in cahoots with them was never quite addressed.


No victims here

From (aka Quartz): Psychology explains how Trump won by making white men feel like victims.

I think it’s much simpler than that. I think enough people in the right places are tired of phony and corrupt politicians. Maybe tired of the Clintons, specifically.

The Quartz article is a good example of trying to fit the election results into how the left views the world.

As Arnold Kling says, leftist tend to think on the oppressor-oppressed spectrum. That is, you are either a victim (oppressed/little guy) or the victimizer (oppressor/big guy), or somewhere in between.


An important lesson for anti-Trump protesters

Seeing the protests against Donald Trump reminded me of a valuable lesson about government I learned when I was their age.

The lesson: Since your people may not always be in power, be very careful about what powers you grant to the government. 

When ‘our guys’ are in charge, it’s easy to wish they had more power so they can get the things done that we want. It’s easy to turn a blind eye when they overstep their designated authority, so long as most of what they do we agree with.

There’s also a tendency to think when ‘our guys’ are in power, they will always be in power. We don’t think about the day when the ‘other guys’ might be in charge and will get to use the same powers that we granted to ‘our guys’.

First, it dawned on me that ‘my guys’ may not always be in power.  Second, I learned that it would be awfully inconsistent of me to be fine with ‘my guys’ overstepping their authority and not be fine with the ‘other guys’ doing it.

Then came the lesson…I gained a newfound appreciation for the separation of powers granted in the Constitution between the three branches of Federal government, the States and most importantly, the People.

If I didn’t want the President to be able to short-circuit the power of Congress when the ‘other guy’ was in charge, then I should want the same thing when ‘my guy’ was in charge — or I would be a hypocrite.

I also learned that despite whatever faults and flaws we could find with the Founders of the country, they did a good job separating the powers to protect our freedom. They, after all, designed this government in response to abuses of power and diminished freedom they experienced at the hands of the British King.

The final lesson from all this…if you appreciate the above and hold true to the separation of powers, then you don’t have to be too disappointed when the ‘other guy’ is President. You can rest assured that you live in a time and place the enjoys unprecedented personal freedom and part of the reason for that is the separation of powers in government for which you gained a newfound appreciation.

The Pendulum of Power

When President Obama won his first Presidential election, he famously said to Republicans:

“Elections have consequences and at the end of the day, I won.”

I heard Mitch McConnell say yesterday:

“We have a temporary lease on power. We will try to use it wisely.”

I think the latter is the best way to view it.  The pendulum of power swings in this country, back and forth. There’s no reason to get cocky when it swings your way. Try to do a good job and win some folks over.

The Office of the President doesn’t exist to provide the holders of it legacy. It exists to serve the people and protect their freedom.

(I must admit, the previous paragraph was inspired by Braveheart)