Ajit Pai: portrait of a Vichy nerd who transformed from debating-society darling to thin-skinned, brooding manbaby


#21

The universe does not care. Some moral and ethical frameworks are more stable than others, but other than it’s up to us to chose what we value.

But that’s somewhat beside the point of debate. When it’s run properly, you don’t win a debate on whether your position is objectively true, but on how well you formulate and express your arguments. Very few truths have no argument against them; the world is too complicated and only rarely are controversial issues black and white. Learning to debate well is a valuable skill as it enables one to critically analyze one’s own beliefs.

That said, debate club societies in the US have some serious class, race and gender tunnel vision…

As someone who had the misfortune to meet him once, albeit thankfully briefly, Cruz is every bit the vomitous pustule of sleaze he comes across as on camera.


#22

And to think that he was the guy that backstage groups like the Mercers had all picked out to be the Republican Presidential nominee.


#23

Seems like some of our members are Vichy nerds who transformed from debating-society darling to thin-skinned, brooding manbabies. True, it’s really fun to score debate points on the internet. But it never makes the world a better place.


#24

Of the ones I’m familiar with, O’Rourke and Paglia regularly argue in bad faith and show a high degree of immaturity. Mangu-Ward, like most of the Reason small-l crowd, is prone to BSing and pretzel logic when the magazine’s sugar daddies demand that they defend “free” market fundamentalism with the same win-at-all-costs debate club fervour they use to defend things like drug decriminalisation or oppose police militarisation (attitudes they share with liberals like myself). Friedman fils is a proud and self-described lifelong nerd who, judging by the pieces I’ve read, should have stuck to STEM; with chemistry and physics he wouldn’t have to make tortuous and unconvincing arguments in favour of economic positions he basically inherited from his parents.

Carey and Gillette are more small-l rock-n-roll libertarians, but I wouldn’t call them pundits or politicians. They’re entertainers who make the ideology part of their schtick and personal brands.

I’m not familiar with Tucker or McCloskey as politicians or pundits, but am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re reasonable examples.


#25

All the people named have been invited, many times, to share their political opinion in print, in person and on video; yet none seem bitter nor as far as I know engaged in high school debate.

Another thing; anyone who thinks Newt Gingrich and Ted Cruz are libertarian is probably not libertarian.


#26

The ones I’ve seen who put their political opinions out there devolve to bad-faith debate club tactics when called on them. Not all of them are bitter debate club nerds themselves, but they take their cues from those that are and act like them. It’s somewhat embarrassing to see people take on that mentality when they don’t have to, but that’s where trying to defend Libertarian “free” market ideology gets one.

Tell that to them. They need to know that more than anyone else, what with their constantly calling themselves libertarians and espousing Libertarian economic ideology.


#27

Same here. Some of my friends were in debate club, too, and some of them were pretty bitter at the time. Fortunately they outgrew the mentality in a way that politicians and pundits like Gingrich and Carlson never did.

Plutocrats like the Mercers and the Kochs know exactly how to get their hooks into these overgrown children: “finally, your brilliance will be rewarded with the fame and riches and power you were so unjustly denied in high school and college.” Flattery and a nice sinecure will get you everywhere with them.


#28

I don’t get it, his opposition comes to discuss their differences with him and he pulls out his ace showing that his opposition attended an opposition demonstration? How is that supposed to work?


#29

Obviously, you’re only allowed to talk to the Lord of the Manor if you already agree with everything the Lord says.

Everyone hired by Trump is an authoritarian pinhead. It’s their only qualification.


#30

Anyone who claims to support "small government " but thinks that drugs should be illegal or that that government should be fighting imperialist wars or spying on its citizens is the worst sort of hypocrite.


#31

It’s not “trying to score points”. The whole idea that discussions have scoreboards is the problem. And calling someone infantile and driven by revenge is only a fallacy if you are doing it to discredit their unrelated argument, it’s not a fallacy if the point you are trying to make is that you think that they are infantile and driven by revenge.

If I think libertarians are assholes*, that isn’t be baseless, it isn’t content-free, and it can’t simply be turned around into another argument. In the debate club we could say, “Sure, but couldn’t someone else just say they think non-libertarians are assholes.” And I would say, “I don’t know, do they think non-libertarians are assholes?” I’m not trying to win a debate, I’m trying to communicate with other people.

* I don’t think that because someone is a US-style libertarian that I can conclude they are an asshole. However prominent US figures who are described as libertarian have a very high incidence of me-thinking-they-are-asshole-ness.


#32

What a strange point of view. What country or dimension are you from?


#33

I’d say that Pai attempting to nerd at the internet is like an abusive ex bringing flowers; except that he isn’t even offering profoundly insincere promises to change.

We can only hope that he’s stuck with metered satellite, in hell. A terrestrial satellite link is more than he deserves; but hell is further from orbit.


#34

Note the bolded portion. That’s not what people tend to understand the phrase

to mean.


#35

Yup.

Continuing the discussion from The Corrosion of High School Debate—And How It Mirrors American Politics:


#36

Well, they were certainly effigies and they were hanging, although, as you say, not by nooses.

Perhaps Pai should have understood that this was merely meant to be rude and humiliating and not an actual call for his death, and not taken offense.


#37

I just don’t get the feeling that Pai is experiencing any conflict, any cognitive dissonance. Like any good zealot, he knows he’s right. Sure, it’s annoying all the masses whining and complaining. But they’ll see: it’ll be so much better if things are done his way. (Better for him and his peer group, the other wealthy corporatists, not the “whiners”, but nevermind.) When he leaves the FCC, he will unquestionably rejoin Verizon (or another large telecom), as Chief Counsel, or some other C-level. It will be a seamless transition. At both places, he was, is, and will be doing everything for the greater good. His greater good, but nevermind.


#38

What’s a Vichy nerd… “Vichy” as in “not quite Hitler, but associated”?


#39

Canada really does seem like a far off foreign country these days, doesn’t it?


#40

With their hoity-toity “health care” and “democracy.”