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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Robert's List of Reasonable and Reasonably Honest Conservatives Third Update

Recall to avoid offending too many people, I restricted my list to bloggers, pundits and politicians. I count people who call themselves libertarians. I don't to list personal friends (friends -- I like to keep them).

Greg Mankiw
Tyler Cowen*
Alex Tabbarock
Jim Henley
Bruce Bartlett
Eugene Volokh (not reasonable re appropriate punishment of an Iranian murderer)
David Brooks (not always honest)
Reihan Salaam
Arnold Kling (not really reasonable but very honest)
Richard Lugar
Charles Hagel
Olympia Snowe (not really conservative or honest but I'm getting desperate)
Mark McClellan
Scott McClellan (not really et. but gets extra points for near honesty in a press secretary)
Richard Clarke (oh you don't think he's conservative -- read "Against all Enemies")

Andrew Samwick
Julian Sanchez
Daniel Larison.

Conor Friedersdorf (I don't know if he is reasonable and I don't even really know that he is conservative but this sure is funny).

* sorry for temporary removal due to careless reading prof. Cohen Cowen


Bruce Webb said...

Robert I think you would have to define 'honesty'.

For example in a courtroom an attorney is an officer of the court and has a positive obligation not to lie openly to the judge. On the other hand he has NO obligation to say "My client is guilt as hell, you know it, I know it, and he is private admits it. lets send his ass to jail".

A couple of people on that list with whom I have had personal interchanges would mostly meet the definition of 'honesty' as established by the bar association, but they often advance propositions without the full context, they shape the debate without resorting to outright lies.

In forensic debate you are trained to take both sides of every question in competition, and your success in being able to pull that off is what you are judged on as an advocate.

So a lot of what you are calling 'honesty' is in my experience 'clever advocacy backed up by skillful writing'

I have blogged on this dilemma before, conservatism and libertarianism are both from different directions fundatmentally anti-majoritarian, with the former group most concerned that the mob will take away their property directly via redistribution (which for them includes all taxes except consumption ones) while the libertarians fear the mob will unduly restrict the rights to enjoy what property remains. Neither group came up with a coherent answer to radical utilitatrianism.

The basic rules of the game are that you have to start by paying lip service to Democracy, which in many of these cases means getting clear majorities to foot against their own interests for the sake of. Well about anything a clever advocate can come up with.

Are these guys honest? Well are mafia lawyers? Or are they making the best advocacy cases for their clients?

Robert said...

Thanks for the comment Bruce.

I do not consider someone reasonably honest if they act as a defense attorney must. Defense attorneys are in a special position. They have a specific duty to defend their clients.

I don't have a clear view of attorney's in civil cases. I'd say they shouldn't represent clients, unless they think their client is in the right, but then they have to represent their client.

I have a firm different opinion about prosecutors. Their duty is to see that justice is done and they must not hide any exculpatory evidence from the defence.

My standard of honest for bloggers is inconsistent with neglecting to mention evidence which weakens one's case. Bloggers should be like prosecutors not defense attorneys.

"Reasonably honest" is not exactly the same as "honest" and, I am assuming that perceptions of which evidence is probative are based in part on the pleasure principle. That is, I think it is often true that totally honest people give different versions of the facts, because of unconcious bias which is not dishonesty.