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August 24, 2011


An unfair way to attack a political opponent is to exaggerate something he said or wrote so as to make it sound ridiculous. E.g., through some combination of malice, ignorance and carelessness, Yglasias asserts that Perry had claimed that "All Bank Regulation Is Unconstitutional." Of course, Perry actually claimed that federal bank regulation should be unconstitutional. He doesn't say or imply that state regulation of banks is unconsitutional. Based on this error, I wouldn't trust any of Yglasias's other characterizations of Perry's views without checking the original source.

BTW I think Perry's view is a reasonable interpretation of the originally intended meaning of the Constitution. E.g., I know that in 1869 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Paul v. Virginia that the issuance of a policy of insurance was not the transaction of commerce, and therefore beyond the scope of federal legislation.

However, today's courts take a different view of the Constitution. E.g., they overturned Paul v. Virginia in 1944.

Here's another example from Law Professor Ann Althouse of Yglesias smearing a Republican by misstating his views.

Yglesias says:

[Ron Paul is] loudly trumpeting his plan to impose criminal penalties on women who terminate their pregnancies...

However, Althouse goes on to demonstrate that Paul said no such thing.

ISTM that Yglesias ought to be named and shamed along with the birthers, not quoted approvingly.

I wanted to give props to Yglesias for his defense against unfair charges of crony capitalism, but found another falsehood in that article, this one smearing libertartarians:

The overwhelmingly dominant vision of libertarianism in the contemporary United States involves the strange view that the owners of industrial enterprises should have an untrammeled right to engage in massive air pollution, notwithstanding the infringement of the property rights of others this involves.

Yglesias calls this supposed libertarian view "strange". It would indeed be strange if that was the dominant libertarian view. I read a lot of libertarian material, and I've never seen that view expressed.

Yglesias gives no source for his sweeping contention. Wikipedia says he has it backwards:

The relative benefits of common law evolving toward ever-finer definitions of property rights were articulated by thinkers such as Friedrich Hayek, Richard Epstein, Robert Nozick, and Randy Barnett. Some libertarian thinkers believe that this evolution can define away various "commons" such as pollution or other interactions viewed by some as externalities. "A libertarian society would not allow anyone to injure others by pollution because it insists on individual responsibility."


Somehow, I knew the latest Truman article from TNR would be referenced here. Give it a week, and here it is.

Yglesias refused to correct his error about Ron Paul's abortion comments. Yglesias had written, "[Ron Paul is] loudly trumpeting his plan to impose criminal penalties on women who terminate their pregnancies". Although Yglesias didn't find any comment where Paul had explicitly advocated criminal penalties on women who have abortions, Yglesias argued that "reading between the lines", he could deduce that this is what Paul wants.

If Paul had been "loudly trumpeting" his position, Yglesias would have been able to find explicit statements, not just deductions. In fact, Yglesias's speculation about Paul's underlying position might not even be correct.

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