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Friday, August 24, 2012

I concede that

I concede that ... well actually usually I don't concede anything.  This is a vague wandering whine of a post.   Very often I am irritated by one paragraph of an essay, column or blog post with which I generally agree.  I often write a comment along the lines of "excellent post.  I generally agree but I don't agree with p ... clearly false ... how could someone as smart as you write something so stupid."  I'm quite sure that there is a norm practically a rule for the well made essay which I am ignoring and regularly violating.

IIRC the offensive paragraphs are typically the third or fourth.  They concede that those who disagree with the conclusion of the essay have a point.  Often the alleged point is uh rather obtuse dull unsharp uh not a point at all.  I imagine the writers whom I criticize being mildly irritated (but unsurprised) when they read my comment and note that I just don't get it.  That when they say the other side has a valid point, they are not at all responsible for that assertion.  That it is just something that one has to say to be a serious essayist.  that I must be an extremist partisan fazioso fanatic sure that the other side is wrong about everything.

Of course I feel that if someone asserts something  in their own name, they are responsible for that assertion. The fact that it is the obligatory statement that those who disagree with their conclusion are right about something does not change this.  I'd say, if they feel that they must say that those who disagree with their conclusion must have a point, but they can't think of anything, then they should just write that (honesty may not be the best policy but it is honesty).  It would be better and more polite to leave such a passage out (note the key word "if" in the preceding sentence).

OK examples.

Jon Cohn is a really excellent commentator on health care reform.  But, feeling the need to concede a point to Ryan, he quotes a fraudulent argument based on a deliberate equivocation here without noting the deliberate equivocation.

 They also warn that the more traditional approach to controlling cost, ratcheting down what Medicare pays providers, could cause doctors and hospitals to see fewer patients. Something along those lines has happened to Medicaid: The program pays physicians so little that many won't take new Medicaid patients. 

Part of the argument is ascribed to Republicans but Cohn doesn't note the trick.  It is here "providors ... doctors and hospitals ... doctors"  Those whose payments are ratcheted down are listed as doctors and hospitals.  Those who won't take new Medicaid patients are doctors.  The trick is to pretend that squeezing hospitals is just like squeezing doctors.  But it isn't.  

The ACA mandates ratcheting down payments to hospitals, nursing homes and home health care agencies (Medicare plan A).  It does not mandate ratcheting down payments to doctors with office practices (Medicare plan B).  The problems due to attempts to ratchet down payments are due to attempts to ratchet down payments to doctors with office practices.  IIn context) the passage suggests that Obama has signed a bill which includes another doomed attempt to squeeze doctors with office practices.  But the ACA is not such a bill.  There is no evidence that the providers who will be squeezed by the ACA will drop out of Medicare/Medicaid.  They have been squeezed and squeezed by earlier reforms and, as far as I could tell with extensive googling, it just hasn't happened.    The equivocation is between two cases of health care providors -- the ones whom Obama plans to squeeze and the ones who can't be squeezed without hurting patients.   I'm sure Cohn knows all of this, but I'm also sure he feels he shouldn't say that everything Republicans say is a lie (even though he can't come up with an example of honesty).

See much more on this issue here , here, here and oh hell the google

David Brooks sure is no Jon Cohn.  But he did just the same thing (again because he felt the need to say something good about Ryan.  Outsourced to Don Taylor

David Brooks notes that Paul Ryan’s biggest mistake was voting no against the final report of the deficit commission in December 2010. As Brooks puts it:
To put it another way, Ryan was giving up significant debt progress for a political fantasy.
I agree that Rep. Ryan’s bravery is greatly overrated, and in this case when his vote and leadership could have brought the fiscal commission to an up or down vote in Congress, he walked away. Brooks has it wrong on Ryan’s logic, however. He says
Ryan voted no for intellectually coherent reasons. He argued that the single biggest contributing factor to public debt is the unsustainable growth of Medicare. Yet the Simpson-Bowles plan did nothing to restructure Medicare, and it sidestepped health care issues generally.
The statement that the fiscal commission report had nothing to address Medicare is absurd. 
I've already noted that, in a parenthetical aside to a column denouncing drawbridge Republicans Matt Miller makes a completely unqualified assertion about taxes before Kemp-Roth without feeling the need to present any evidence.  

(In case you were wondering, Ronald Reagan wasn’t a Drawbridge because he entered office when marginal rates, at 70 percent , were truly damaging to the economy. But as GOP business leaders now tell me privately, the Clinton-era top rate of 39.6 percent, let alone today’s 35 percent, are hardly a barrier to work or investment).

parentheses his.  The parentheses make it as clear a possible that he feels the need to put in a good word for some Republican sometime lest he be thought partisan.  It isn't relevant (hence the parentheses) and Miller feels no need to provide any evidence for his assertion, because he doesn't feel that it is his. I'm sure he feels he has no choice but to say something good about some tax cuts or else.

I have the same problem when talking.

I have been told (repeatedly) that it is very very rude to concede no margin to the person with whom one is debating.  My discussion of the possibility that it might not be possible to honestly note a valid point made by the other person is perceived as a rejection of politeness, good manners and diplomacy.  

My momma told me that if I don't have anything nice to say, I should say nothing at all. I am willing to stop debating when asked (sometimes I have to be asked more than once) but I absolutely reject any rules of good manners which require me to say something which I don't believe.

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