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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Contra Mannheim

First rules of blogging. I type as I please.

I haven't read anything by Karl Mannheim but I think he wrote the phrase "social construction of truth". I think that is a bad phrase and all use of it or similar phrases should be criticized.

My reason is simple. I think anything true which can be said including the phrase "social construction of truth" can also be said using "social construction of belief". I think that all such valid claims amount to the assertion that our beliefs develope as part of a process of interaction with other people. I don't think many people have noted that beliefs are socially constructed, because the fact is so obvious that it (almost always) goes without saying.

Rather, the reason I vaguely remember that some German guy wrote "social construction of truth" is the assertion that there is no truth other than belief. It is an assertion of idealism -- that all that exists are minds and ideas. Now I don't have a problem with idealists (I disagree but I do not denounce). I do have a problem with blocking arguments by redefining words.

If "truth" is redifined to be a synonym of "belief" it is impossible to assert that beliefs are true if and only if they correspond to an external reality. It may be that this assertion (called realism) is incorrect, but I think it is very bad to redefine words so that a view with which one disagrees can't be stated.

One can assert that "truth" vs "belief" is a distinction without a difference, but it is better not to redefine "truth" so it is a distinction without a distinction.

In particular, I think the appeal of "social construction of truth" is that the meaning is ambiguous. When it must be defended from criticism it is interpreted to mean "social construction of belief" which is an assertion too obvious to make clearly. When it is not subject to criticism, it is defined as implying there is no external reality -- nothing but opinions, no atoms and no void.

I think it relies on an equivocation and is invalid reasoning.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- OK now a bit of borderline xenophobia and nationalism. Mannheim's first language was German. I don't speak any German but I do speak Italian and have become painfully aware that the Italian word "verita" does not translate the English word "truth". A closer translation is "realta". The points are that I now have a larger vocabulary, because I learned Italian and discovered that Italian words are not exact translations of English words, and, also, that there a lot of confusion is caused by semi translated words.

Very often I find what I believe to be incorrectly translated French mixed in the English. I recognise it, because it makes sense as incorrectly translated Italian. I am very sure that this is a more irritating problem for people whose native language is anything but English, as the flow of semi-translation is mainly from English to every other language.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Drum goes easy on Goldberg

It is progress that hack conservatives are bothsidesing now. Jonah Goldberg correctly notes that the problem isn't just Trump but also broader extreme partizanship. He asserts that both parties are to blame. He seems to know he can't defend this assertion and declines to try. I think he may be sincere -- the extreme partisanship of Republicans means that in the Conservabubble it was generally agreed that Obama exceeded his authority. Many of the conservative attacks on Obama were due to the progressive insanity of the conservative movement. Goldberg has noticed that Trump is extreme and a threat to the Republic, but he won't bother to re-examine what he thought back when he was an orthodox conservative.

Liberals roll their eyes at the claim that President Obama violated democratic norms or abused his power. But putting aside the specific arguments, conservatives saw plenty of abuses and violations, from the IRS scandals and Benghazi to the Iran deal. Obama said many times he couldn’t unilaterally implement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program because he wasn’t a “king.” Then he did it anyway.

Kevin Drum is very hard on Goldberg.

Yeah, OK, except that we really can’t put aside the specific arguments here. We know now that the IRS “scandal” was a minor screwup that affected both parties, and certainly had nothing to do with Obama anyway. Benghazi was a tragedy, but not a scandal in any reasonable sense of the word. The Iran deal was…the Iran deal. And getting new legal advice on DACA is hardly some unprecedented norm violation. It’s up to the courts to decide if an executive order is legal, and so far no court has even taken up the question of DACA, let alone ruled against it.

It is indeed offensive that Goldberg wrote "putting aside the specific arguments" before stating his conclusions on those specific topics. He is saying that he demands that his claims be accepted (as an effort to avoid extreme partisanship) even though he won't bother to defend them.

However, Kevin Drum is not hard enough. He lets plainly false claims about DACA pass. I guess Goldberg was sincere. His claim about Obama and DACA is 100 % false, but conservatives generally agreed that it's true. When Drum asserts Obama got "new legal advice". There is absolutely no evidence that this is true. Goldberg's argument is entirely based on ignoring the difference between deferred action (within the authority granted by the Immigration and Naturalization ACt to the executive and comprehensive immigration reform which Obama consistently said he did not have the authority to impose by executive order.

My long comment.

You are much too charitable to Goldberg. His claim "Obama said many times he couldn’t unilaterally implement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program because he wasn’t a “king.” Then he did it anyway." is 100% false. In particular the word "Then" is totally false. Obama said he couldn't implement Comprehensive Immigration Reform because he wasn't king. He said that *after* the DACA was implemented. Also, formally, Obama did not issue a DACA order "DACA is based on a June 2012 memorandum issued by Janet Napolitano, then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security."

The denunciation of Obama for allegedly claiming to do what he admitted he couldn't do did came after DAPA (deferred action for parents of Americans) an order issued long after DACA and after comprehensive reform was blocked by Boehner (and Boehner alone there were the votes in the House). DACA was not especially controversial.

But the key thing is that DAPA (although much larger in scale that DACA) was *not* comprehensive immigration reform (that is Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013). Note 2013 which came after 2012. It was during the 2013 debate *after DACA* that Obama asked Congress to do that whiich he said he didn't have the authority to do. The difference is the the gang of 8 reform included a path to citizenship. Obama has consistently held the position that under existing law, the executive can order deferred action and grant work permits and can *not* grant legal status (green cards) or a path to citizenship.

. People also repeatedly confuse the content of DACA and the very different content of the DREAM Act (another different thing, the first chronologically, which was blocked by a filibuster in the Senate). The Dream act (and the gang of 8 comprehensive reform) included paths to citizenship.

It is that which Obama said he didn't have the authority to do by executive order. DACA does not include a path to citizenship. It does include deferred action, which clearly falls under prosecutorial discretion, and granting work permits (but not green cards). It is precedented. George H.W. Bush issued an executive order based on the exact same claim of authority.

Only by eliding all reference to granting citizenship can Goldberg claim Obama did what he said he couldn't do. This is totally false. It is bullshit. It depends on asserting that different policies are the same and that citizenship doesn't matter. It is true that, although DAPA has the exact same legal justification as DACA, it's legality was controversial. People generally sympathetic to Obama said that it seemed that the GOP might have a point this time. Then you talked to experts on immigration law who said that Obama clearly had the authority.

I quote you "I confess that I’ve been a little surprised by what I’ve discovered. As near as I can tell, both liberal and conservative legal scholars—as opposed to TV talking heads and other professional rabble-rousers—agree that Obama has the authority to reshape immigration enforcement in nearly any way he wants to."

note the date 2014 (DAPA) not 2012 (DACA). Although they differ only in scale, DACA was no where near as controversial and never blocked by a Court

Note also the DAPA injunction does not address the question of whether Obama had the authority to order deferred action and work permits

"But when those programs [DAPA] were temporarily enjoined by the district court in Texas, it was not on constitutional grounds, Kalhan said, "but rather based on a conclusion that Obama administration should have instituted the policy using notice and comment rule-making, rather than using the more informal guidance document that it issued.""

The entire argument depends on equating deferred action + work permits (within his authority) and green cards and a path to citizenship (Obama consistently said he didn't have the authority to grant that).