June 17, 2012

Roberto Unger — one of Obama's former lawprofs — says Obama "must be defeated" because he's not left-wing enough.

This strikes me as typical leftier-than-thou lawprofism, but Instapundit gibes "The funny thing is, Unger’s a big lefty but most of his list of complaints could pretty much come from a Tea Partier."

I'm not going to resolve that discrepancy. I'm just going to say that the video of Unger (at the first link) is incredibly annoying. Better to read the list of complaints.

81 comments:

ndspinelli said...

He looks annoying, thanks for the heads-up. His list of complaints were approved by Paul Krugman. All the eltist professors will whine and then vote for Obama. It's Kabuki theatre.

rhhardin said...

My impression was he was really dumb, economics and sociology-wise.

Robert said...

Most interested is how poorly phrased and opaque his complaints are. He can't even form simple, coherent thoughts...no wonder he's a professor.

Rabel said...

He seems angry.

The video is just screaming out for an autotune version.

Robert Cook said...

Heck, even Richard Nixon was more left than Obama.

Marshal said...

This guy is different from Krugnman. He seems to believe what he says. Krugman believes his role is to provide cover for the far left in the belief that it will help Obama pose as a moderate.

Marshal said...

P.S.

Just like Cookie.

Fen said...

Meh. Its propaganda, of the "my approval is down because the right thinks I'm too leftwing; the Left thinks I'm too rightwing" variety.

bagoh20 said...

Further proof that having a lot of the facts right is not nearly enough.

Annoying is an understatement. I wouldn't wanna go where he's going even if he was right. He may not even be human.

Why is the left so dry and life sucking? Even when he's describing our vitality and energy, I feel like he's draining my blood.

David said...

Watch the video. It's very interesting, despite being annoying. His statement that the Democratic party has embraced the politics of hand holding sums it up. He correctly sees that the Democrats have no comprehension of the most dynamic and creative elements of our society, and that the Democrats are failing because of that disconnect. He also correctly sees that Obama made a fundamental mistake by emphasizing health care over education.

His sense of what should replace this failure is quite confused, but the diagnosis of the source of the failure is brilliantly stated.

edutcher said...

Well, now we know who Cook really is.

And he works someplace even worse than the Daily Worker

Bob Ellison said...

I can't be the first one to have noticed that Robert Unger has the same last name as the fictional character with the first name Felix.

Larry J said...

He also correctly sees that Obama made a fundamental mistake by emphasizing health care over education.

Spoken by a man who makes his living as an alleged educator...

bagoh20 said...

He's basically calling Obama a pussy.

traditionalguy said...

The Harvard education today seems to consist of learning how to pretend non existent facts and then reason from them to any desired result with a tone of great profound authority.

Another way to understand that is Stalin's favorite comment that, " it doesn't matter how the voters vote (he facts), but it only matters who has the power to count the votes (the pretenders of substitute facts.)

Just how stupid does Harvard think we are?

AJ Lynch said...

The more I hear about Harvard and its brilliant professors, the more I think I would not fit in there.

AllieOop said...

Bagoh, and he would be right.

Sue D'Nhym said...

"He has evoked a politics of handholding"

A frequently heard Tea Party lament.

bagoh20 said...

Allie, have you forgotten about his epic pants crease? Have you lost that tingle up your leg too. Do you want the oceans to stop rising or not? Don't quit on him now. He's still everything he was the first time, and now he has experience. You have to admit that whatever he was, he's better now. Why would anyone change their vote now?

Simon Kenton said...

Well, I'm not competent to critique the analysis, but

-- John Donne memorized his sermons each week, and they are far longer than this in the speaking. But still, this was mnemosynically impressive. Unless, of course, his irritation for POTUS does not extend to TOTUS.

-- the reverb: you cannot tell whether it was an attempt by the producer to exalt him to Mosaic status, or it is self-deification, but it contributes strongly to the annoyance.

-- positioning him off center calls attention, unfavorable attention, to the asymmetry of his features. Yet weirder, the right-center position diverts attention to the shadowed portrait in the back-center, and it looks for all the honest world to see like a picture of the face of Spiderman.

somefeller said...

Unger is an interesting guy. I took a course from him in law school. I wasn't completely blown away by him (he took a long time to get to the point, even by law school standards), but he was someone who didn't simply follow the "everything would be better if we just elected more Kennedys" version of liberalism that was common at HLS, and that was refreshing.

The observation about how "most of his list of complaints could pretty much come from a Tea Partier" isn't a surprising one. I once asked him whether the whole Critical Legal Studies method of analysis that he was identified with necessarily led to left-wing political ends, because it seemed to me that libertarians and secular conservatives could just as easily use it to critique modern liberalism. He agreed that was the case, which is something more than many of his acolytes would be willing to acknowledge. He's an intellectually honest person, if a little opaque in his rhetorical style.

AllieOop said...

Bagoh, he didn't give me a tingle anywhere. I would've rather had Hillary.

jpe said...

A substantial part of the left - viz, the progressive left, aka firebaggers - has opposed Obama from the very start. Heck, it started when Obama asked that awful righty pastor to speak at his inauguration. IOW, it firebagger opposition to Obama began before he was even President.

jpe said...

" he was someone who didn't simply follow the "everything would be better if we just elected more Kennedys" version of liberalism"

Well, of course not; he was one of the founders of CLS, which is as opposed to American liberalism as it is to American conservatism.

Robert Cook said...

Unger's stentorian oratory had my attention wandering at times, but he pretty well and accurately sums up the failure of Obama and of the Democrats.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

"He has reduced justice to charity."

I would like to know what he means there. Charity is a virtue; justice is also a virtue. Ordinarily charity is held to be one of the three highest virtues. We are all lucky it's held to be superior to justice, because if we all got our just deserts it would be kind of unpleasant.

bagoh20 said...

The problem with charity over justice is when the charity is given by one, at the expense of another. Justice precludes that.

bagoh20 said...

One can receive charity regardless of whether they deserve it or not. Justice only goes to those deserving.

Cedarford said...

I understand the law prof actually gave a critique grounded in reason, but the first thing I thought of was he was being trotted out as one of those creatures of the left or right actually 100% in the bag for the Presidential contender...but pretending they hate them because he is not extreme enough.

Pastor Billy Bob - "Reagan is just too soft and wishy washy for me. He isn't born again, he doesn't believe the literal word of the Bible about Noah's flood and the earth only being created in a Day. And he won't nuke the Commies to hell and Give Humanity Freedom!"

Rev Jesse - "Thats what I hate about Bill Clinton...he doesn't acknowledge Sista Soulja is morally superior by her blackness and he dissed her".

Wall Street Bundler - "I have grave doubts about Bush keeping his word to the Freedom Lovers of Wall Street that they can best police themselves..Bush is a very intelligent, hands on guy who should just get the tax cuts he promised done and leave us alone. Let his vast mind and endless energy be channeled into more productive pursuits.....I still won't vote for him."

"Prof Unger - "Obama is just too centrist, too concerned with giving people great stuff - and not about the true Left agenda. In many ways, he is a conservative, even. I would rather vote in some non-centrist."

bagoh20 said...

Charity can be unjust and justice uncharitable.

Which is the default position is a basic difference between right and left. No?

Cedarford said...

Robert Cook said...
Heck, even Richard Nixon was more left than Obama.
====================
That Lefty meme about their Black Messiah will not fly, Robert.

Nixon and Obama have similarities...like being thin-skinned...but even more differences.

Nixon was smarter than Obama, a far more competent leader, and a Vet and a Patriot who loved this country and was proud of it long before he was elected Prersident.

Rusty said...

bagoh20 said...
The problem with charity over justice is when the charity is given by one, at the expense of another. Justice precludes that.


Charity by the state isn't charity.


For the state to give anything to anybody, it must first take something away from someone else. that is not charity.

bagoh20 said...

Rusty, It's charity, but it's not just.

If I steal your money, and then I voluntarily give it to someone in need. I was charitable to them, but the act overall is unjust.

Which is why I am pro death penalty. Without it, the state is charitable to the murderer and the overall result is unjust.

kcom said...

The interesting thing to me is that post at HuffPo has 18,000+ comments. Yowza!

I wonder how that stacks up to other HuffPo posts (I'm not a regular there so I don't know what's normal or average)? But that's a lot of comments. When a thread gets that long it seems to me it's fairly pointless to jump in and post because it's like a drop of water in an ocean and what real difference will it make. You could never keep up with a thread like that.

kcom said...

Reminds me of Keith Olbermann a little bit. You don't have to be from Harvard to be full of yourself (as Keith proves) but it doesn't hurt.

Chip S. said...

edutcher said...
Well, now we know who Cook really is.

There's a lot of wisdom in this comment.

The simple fact is that no law professors have acquired any particular policy expertise as a direct consequence of their training. They're just lawyers who are better than most at writing papers that the students who edit law reviews want to publish.

So this guy really isn't any more interesting or insightful or qualified to pontificate on public policy issues than is Robert Cook or any other blog commenter who can compose a coherent paragraph or two.

No offense intended to Althouse, or any other law profs who are actually interesting to read, but their claim to a general capacity for widely applicable critical thinking does not invest them with any particular competence in policy analysis.

Elizabeth Warren is, of course, the most flagrant current example of the unwarranted presumption of law professors. I've seen no evidence that she understands anything much about the actual workings of credit markets, but that lack of understanding doesn't seem to impede her ability to command an audience of her fellow law profs.

Fen said...

Chip is spot on.

I'm made boatloads of money off of attorneys that thought a law degree made them an expert on everything.

Kirby Olson said...

Well at least we can discuss Unger, Hunger, whatever. An atomic cloud appeared over China last week, but when two bloggers talked about it, they were arrested. You have to wait until the government identifies it, and then fall in line. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/17/giant-mushroom-cloud-beijing_n_1603780.html

Strelnikov said...

Frankly, I prefer Felix.

KenK said...

tl;dw

ricpic said...

Cookie said...

...the failure of Obama and the Democrats.

Don't tell me Cookie isn't proud of Obamamnesty? One more nail in the coffin of those dreadful white oppressors who so richly deserve to be minoritized. That's got to score Barry points with Cookie. In fact in Cookieworld I'd call Obamamnesty a roaring success.

kcom said...

"I've seen no evidence that she understands anything much about the actual workings of credit markets"

On the one hand, I probably don't know much about the the actual workings of credit markets, but, on the other hand, I do understand how bogus her "nobody in this country got rich on his own" comments were.

"But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for."

The correct response to which, of course, is, "So what did all those taxes I paid go for then?" If the gas taxes I paid weren't used to build roads, what were they used for? If my taxes didn't go to operate schools, what were they spent on? If the taxes I've paid all those years weren't used to run the police and fire departments where did they go? I'd like an answer to that question.

tiger said...

Reminds me of a conversation I had re: the NYTimes and WashPost being liberal in their viewpoints.

I said it was interesting that omsbudsmen for both papers admitted to their liberal viewpoint.

The other guy said in essence that the papers weren't liberal because they weren't as liberal as him, therefore the papers were conservative.

It's truly amazing what people can talk themselves into believing.

William said...

I didn't want to make an adverse comment because I thought that he might be a recovering stroke victim. But apparently, that's the way he really talks. How self involved in your own thought processes you must be to develop a speaking style like that. My ears waxed over. The guy looks totally humourless and he has probably never lost a classroom argument in his life. Intimidating students is his last remaining sensual pleasure.

wef said...

Another annoying, high-IQ jackass. Could not watch but a few painful minutes. I'm tempted to think he got hired because of some obscure Cherokee expertise. But he does nail Obama as a dorm-room bullshit artist and crony capitalist.

Robert Cook said...

"Don't tell me Cookie isn't proud of Obamamnesty?"

I've stated it many times, but I'll repeat once again for ricpic's benefit:

I have never been a partisan of Obama, and I did not vote for him in 2008. I stood in line for an hour on a chilly November morning before work just to vote for...Ralph Nader, (or against Obama and McCain, if one prefers to see it that way).

Robert Cook said...

"'Well, now we know who Cook really is.'

"There's a lot of wisdom in this comment."

Hahahaha! If by "wisdom" you mean "obtuse," you're right.

Carnifex said...

•"His policy is a financial confidence game of food stamps."
•"He has spent trillions of dollars to rescue the moneyed bundlers and unions."
•"He has delivered his policies to the rulers of money."
•"He has reduced economic policy to an empty appeal to tax."
•"He has reduced justice to political theater."
•"He has subordinated the broadening of economic opportunity."
•"He has evoked a politics of racism without a struggle."

There, fixed it for him.

garage mahal said...

I have never been a partisan of Obama, and I did not vote for him in 2008. I stood in line for an hour on a chilly November morning before work just to vote for...Ralph Nader, (or against Obama and McCain, if one prefers to see it that way)

No matter. These idiots will turn around in the next comment claiming Obama is an far left leftist alien Marxist KenyanHitler Negrofacist.

REMEMBER: Obama is a ruthless and cunning Chicago style strategist, but a total weak inexperienced fuck-up at the same time!

Chip S. said...

RCook once again demonstrates his limited comprehension of written English--either ricpic's or Nader's.

The Nader/Gonzalez '08 website is generally evasive or incoherent on the topic of immigration, but it makes one very clear statement:

...an amnesty for those who are already here is the least we can do...

So Cook's tedious invocation of his support for Nader fails to constitute any sort of reply to ricpic.

Chip S. said...

Obama is an far left leftist alien Marxist KenyanHitler Negrofacist.

Look! It's Althouse's resident race-obsessed idiot!

garage mahal said...

Look! It's Althouse's resident race-obsessed idiot!

That's the equivalent of a punter or a kicker yapping from the sidelines. Did you have something more?

Pogo said...

"Obama is a ruthless and cunning Chicago style strategist, but a total weak inexperienced fuck-up at the same time!

You can be a ruthless idiot, garage; the former does not preclude the latter.

Chip S. said...

Do you have anything?

Point to one substantive comment of yours in the past week or so.

Your comments are the whines of a loser. Your side got its collective ass kicked by Walker, and it's slowly dawning on you that your side's also gonna get its ass kicked in November.

I'm sure you'd love to mount a substantive defense of Obama, but there simply isn't one to make. So all you can think of to do is to smear your opponents as racists.

Fuck that. Obama's a proven incompetent. Period.

It has nothing to do with race, but lately race is all you seem to want to talk about.

Well, to be fair, race and having once been "first mate" on some dude's sailboat.

I look forward to your new Popeye avatar, swabbie.

yashu said...

Say what you will about Cook, IMO he's someone who largely argues honestly and in good faith, with intellectual consistency and integrity (though I disagree with him 98% of the time). E.g. he's as tough on Obama as he is on Bush, evaluating them by the same standards (though I usually disagree with Cook's standards and criteria).

So please, Garage, your siding with Cook against "these idiots" disingenuously misses the point-- the relevant distinction between you and Cook. Have you *ever* criticized Obama for anything? Have you ever reacted to any criticism of Obama or Democrats proffered by commenters here with anything other than knee-jerk snarky anti-Republican/ anti-conservative insults? Do you ever criticize Democrats here?

Whoever you consider the most partisan right-wing "idiots" here, I'd wager they've been at least 10X as critical of Republicans (e.g. Romney or Boehner or Bush or McCain or RINOs or Tea Partiers or Santorum or whoever) in their comments as you've ever been of Democrats.

You mocking Republicans or conservatives for blind partisanship is the pot calling the kettle wingnut.

yashu said...

NB I'm not saying Cook's "pox on both their houses," voting for Nader thing is superior to partisanship. There are excellent reasons to be partisan, exigent reasons to be partisan, especially in this election.

But for the most knee-jerk of partisans to mock others for their partisanship is sheer hypocrisy.

garage mahal said...

Well, to be fair, race and having once been "first mate" on some dude's sailboat.

some dude's sailboat? Sailing? eh, no thanks. It was a 43' Hatteras Sport Fisherman . Mid 1960s I believe.

Anyways sounds like you're on the rag this weekend, and more than likely we're not going to get anything accomplished, so I'm going to let you go.

whoresoftheinternet said...

Shorter version:

"Obama is not declaring himself dictator and ridding himself of the people who claim he must follow the rule of law----all that would allow leftist perfection, such as in Cuba, to rule. Therefore, he is not a true leftist."

Remember Althouse, YOU inflicted this slime upon us.

Chip Ahoy said...

Popeye: Well I ain't no ekonomisk but I gets a good Laff er yer tax curves.

Chip Ahoy said...

I ain't no polytishkin but I keeps track a me poles.

Chip Ahoy said...

I ain't no labor unionisk but I knows how to pick a scab.

Chip Ahoy said...

I ain't a professional purchisker but I knows a good sale .

Palladian said...

Remember Althouse, YOU inflicted this slime upon us.

Yes! She cast the DECIDING VOTE! It is ALL HER FAULT!!!

Curious George said...

"Shut up! You had me at the 'President must be defeated'."

Rusty said...

bagoh20 said...
Rusty, It's charity, but it's not just.

If I steal your money, and then I voluntarily give it to someone in need. I was charitable to them, but the act overall is unjust.



From the greek- charitas

The love of man for his fellow man without recognition or recompense simply because he is your fellow man. Man-singular - not institutions. The sacrifice must be personal.

The sacrifice can only be individual and is a communion between your god and you.

Anthony said...

Who is the guy? He is called a Brazilian politiican, so why should I care what some foreigner says?

MadisonMan said...

I wonder if he had a similar list, with similar reasons, in 2004 for Bush.

He strikes me as a serial complainer, for some reason.

Roger J. said...

I believe it was Milton Friedman who said that every dollar of government expenditure must be made up by a dollar from private taxation. There is no free lunch no matter how much politicians try to mask the consequences.

Robert Cook said...

"I believe it was Milton Friedman who said that every dollar of government expenditure must be made up by a dollar from private taxation. There is no free lunch no matter how much politicians try to mask the consequences."

Who is trying to claim there is such a thing as a "free lunch?" No one. This is a fundamental function of government...to make decisions regarding how to allocate public funds--that is, how to spend tax revenues.

Chip S. said...

RCook, You misunderstand both RogerJ's point and the relation b/w taxes and spending.

Roger's point is simply that the resource demands placed on the economy by the government correspond to its level of spending rather than to current tax revenues. This is why it's usually pointless to talk about tax cuts without talking about spending cuts.

The larger point is that the task of fiscal policy is to determine simultaneously what spending projects will be undertaken and what taxes will be imposed to fund those projects. It's not a question of watching tax revenues roll in and then deciding how to distribute the goodies. The benefits of any government project should, ideally, be worth the economic burden of the taxes necessary to finance it.

Roger J. said...

ChipS--thank you for clarifing--I was only expressing what Milton Friedman said, and I think it is a point that Americans should continue to heed

Roger J. said...

Whatever the govt spends is a bill that will ultimately be paid by tax payers, the govt hopes that somehow increased revenues will be paid for their profilgacy--but the bill ultimately has to be paid by the taxpayers.

Kirby Olson said...

Unger looms large in Kloppenberg's Reading Obama as one of Obama's key mentors. Unger is a Brazilian (from Rio). I thought that Obama's giveaway to Brazil of billions in debt was his tip of the hat to Unger. Of course, it wasn't Obama's money. But even this wasn't enough for Unger. Unger is a jokey way of saying Hunger.

Chip S. said...

Assuming that Unger or one of his acolytes wrote the bulk of his wiki page, I think a pretty good appraisal of his pomposity-to-substance ratio can be made on the basis of his analysis of mathematics:

One consequence of these positions that Unger points to is the revision of the concept and function of mathematics. If there is only one world drenched in time through and through, then mathematics cannot be a timeless expression of multiple universes that captures reality. Rather, Unger argues that mathematics is a means of analyzing the world removed of time and phenomenal distinction. By emptying the world of time and space it is able to better focus on one aspect of reality: the recurrence of certain ways in which pieces of the world relate to other pieces. Its subject matter are the structured wholes and bundles of relations, which we see outside mathematics only as embodied in the time-bound particulars of the manifest world. In this way, mathematics extends our problem solving powers as an extension of human insight, but it is not a part of the world.

Somewhat shorter version: Math is a form of abstract thought.

Amartel said...

William @ 9:09
"probably never lost a classroom argument in his life. Intimidating students is his last remaining sensual pleasure."

This! Needs repeating. One of my academic uncles is of a piece with this guy. As oblivious to the concept of other peoples' opinions as he is to the concept of other peoples' money.

Steve Koch said...

William said,
"My ears waxed over".

Awesome comment, very funny and original (at least I never heard it before).

Steve Koch said...

Robert Cook said...
"Heck, even Richard Nixon was more left than Obama."

Funny comment. The biggest problem with Obama is that he represents the weighted average of the lefties that call the shots for the dems and, of course, he is the dem prez and must be defeated.

You get preoccupied with precise definitions re: socialism and communism, etc. and how Obama's philosophy does not fit these definitions.

The reality is that the precise details of the definitions don't matter much. The big picture is that lefties/dems want to expand the government as much and as fast as possible. The lefties want to do it for ideological reasons. The dems want to do it because eventually the gov will get so big and powerful and so many people will depend on it that it will be impossible for the GOP to win a nation wide election. A country where one party wins all the national elections is effectively a dictatorship.

What is amazing is that a smart guy like you does not understand that expanding the power and size of the fed gov that is already too big and too powerful is a serious threat to our liberty. My impression is that ostensibly intelligent lefties (most academics, for example) are sorely lacking common sense and tend to get lost in the minutiae at the cost of understanding the big picture.

Robert Cook said...

"A country where one party wins all the national elections is effectively a dictatorship."

Hmmm...in the last 20 years, we've had a two-term Democratic President, followed by a two-term Republican President, followed now by a Democratic President still in his first term. Priot to that, we had a one-term Republican President who was preceded by a two-term Republican President.

One can hardly say the Democrats have come anywhere near accomplishing a monopoly on winning "all the national elections."

That aside, the Dems and Republicans are virtually the same party, with mere surface differences, mainly rhetorical. They both serve Wall Street and neither serves the interests of the citizenry.

Steve Koch said...

Way to ignore the main point that our fed gov is so large that it is a profound threat to our liberty. How do you not understand the threat that the fed gov poses to our democracy?

It does not matter what combination of socialism, communism, crony capitalism, fascism, etc is the political philosophy of the dems. What does matter is that our too huge, too powerful central government is an ever growing threat to our liberty. Power is a zero sum game. The more powerful the feds get, the less powerful the rest of us are.

As the percentage of the electorate that is bought off either by direct payments (gov workers, welfare, etc) or is treated preferentially by the dem gov (privileged interest groups (PIGs)) grows, it becomes increasingly difficult for the GOP to win a national election. There is a tipping point.

The dems haven't achieved their goal yet of electoral domination but, obviously, the time to stop them is before they succeed (afterwards is too late).

The statement that there is no difference between the dems and the GOP is wrong. The dems and the GOP are quite different. Two thirds of Republicans are conservative and they have created a political movement, the Tea Party, that is vigorously pulling the GOP in the conservative direction. Most GOP voters are strenuously agitating to reduce the size and power of the fed gov.

The corrupt dem party is primarily interested in growing gov to help it win elections and siphoning off public funds to be dispersed to dem PIGs.

Obviously many GOP pols have played the same game in the past but the Tea Party is effectively pressuring these non conservative GOP pols by primarying them.

dbp said...

"That aside, the Dems and Republicans are virtually the same party, with mere surface differences, mainly rhetorical. "

In a completely unrelated vein: To the colorblind, green and red look identical. I have yet to meet a colorblind person who denies that there are colors, there probably are some though.

Robert Cook said...

The problem is less the size of our government than who it serves.

If our government served the people, its size would be of small concern. As the government serves Wall Street and the ruling class--both parties, which you wish to ignore...in neither party is there haven--its size is certainly of concern, but even a smaller government in service to the ruling class would be a threat.

Our system is broken, and we have a representative republic in crude appearance only. Count on things getting much worse.