The thread of Liberal Stupidity


Does not contradict ordinary experience… unless your ordinary experience involves you somehow observing subatomic interactions?


Is this unwillingness to consider ideas that fall outside the Conservative-Industrial Orthodoxy why Republicans are usually so bad at policy?


Yes dude, I absolutely do. I do in fact understand that his argument is obviously false on its face, because you don’t need to be a supreme court justice to recognize obviously absurd logical flaws.

Article 5 of the constitution, explicitly, states that you cannot make an amendment to deprive a state of equal suffrage in the Senate without their agreement.

There is some, minor, legal argument about whether you could in fact make such an amendment… but that’s not even the argument he’s making.

He’s saying that you do could such a thing without even bothering to amend the Constitution. This makes no logical sense. If that were the case, then why would they have explicitly stated that you can’t even do it with an amendment, given that any amendment would be much harder to put in place than a simple law?

It just doesn’t make any sense, Matt.

This guy is just some random professor of corporate law at Wharton. He’s not some great, respected constitutional scholar. His opinion is not beyond reproach. This idea of, “Oh, well he’s a big fancy city lawyer! He wrote a paper! Clearly that means his idea has merit!” is nonsense.

Beyond all that, why do you keep trying to take the position of, “well I’m not defending this but…” and then proceed to try and defend it?

You think his idea is dumb. Why is that not the end of it? Why go further and try to make it seem less dumb? It’s dumb Matt. You yourself think so. The fact that this guy is some progressive dude seems to make you feel obligated to defend his nonsense out of tribalism. That’s bad, dude. That’s what the far right wingers do. Defend stuff that they don’t even believe because “their team” thought it up. Like acknowledging this guy’s fringe nonsense idea is bad will somehow give your enemies the upper hand.

No man, linking yourself to dumb ideas that you know are dumb is what gives your opponents the upper hand.


No man, failing to consider creative ideas from within your own camp because you let your opponents set the terms of debate is how you give them the upper hand. Here’s what I would say: I’ve read Ort’s argument, and I’m not convinced by it. Any implementation of it would require some political buy-in, and I don’t think there’s enough meat in the argument to ever get that. I can’t really evaluate the legal legitimacy of it, because I’m not an expert and I know that the law is often interpreted and used in non-obvious ways. It is similar to the trillion dollar coin: an idea that may or may not be legally dubious, but that faces a steep uphill battle gaining political legitimacy. That said, some ideas are worth climbing that hill for. Heller is an exemplar of this idea: it succeeded even though the plain meaning of the words and centuries of precedence contradicted it. Obergefell is another. Even Roe v Wade rests on non-obvious interpretations of the Constitution. What I don’t do is reject ideas out of hand because they sound ridiculous. I entertain them, evaluate them, and make a considered response. What pushes my buttons about your responses is that you seem to suggest that unconventional ideas are like a cliff that if you walk near pose a danger and it’s dumb to even take the risk. Dude no. Chill. A definition feature of progressive ideology is a penchant for tinkering with shit, which means being curious and brainstorming and synthesizing and talking out loud. It’s clear your tolerance for that is pretty low, but that’s how we work.


Why, indeed?

Do you have an answer that isn’t a personal attack?


Timex’s mom would want us to let Timex be Timex. We all know his self-righteous dismissiveness and absolute unwavering certainty is part of his charm. It’s what we fell in love with in the first place.


So thus far, you have said that this idea is dumb, and that his argument is unconvincing.

And yet you continue to defend it… while simultaneously saying that you aren’t actually defending it.

This is a ridiculous position to take.

So, you aren’t an expert in it, and thus you can’t make any kind of evaluation on the subject. So what do you do when experts disagree? How do you know which one is right?

You have a brain Matt. You can execute some degree of basic critical thinking. And again, Ortz is not an expert in this. He is not a constitutional law professor.

Do you agree that, at least on its face, it seems very illogical for the framers of the Constitution to have explicitly forbade the amendment of the document to allow for this kind of restructuring of the Senate, if they intended for such a thing to be allowed via the far simpler mechanism of simply passing a law? Do we even both agree on that?

The idea isn’t bad because it’s “unconventional”. It’s bad because it makes no sense, for the reasons already stated.

Ideas don’t gain merit simply by virtue of being ideas.


Well, all I know is, if I can’t find my cat, he’s in the box.


And dead/alive.


I try to avoid binary resolutions.


The whole controversy (on this thread, not in the article itself) is a lot like the controversy over the Yglesias Ocasio-Cortez column. Some liberal writer points out a serious issue that merits consideration and also points out how “conservative” (in the true sense) conventional wisdom is on the issue with a slightly facetious proposed solution that is guaranteed to outrage those who are procedurally conservative regardless of their partisan politics. It gets linked here as an example of “Liberal Stupidity”. Someone posts here to explain the actual thinking behind the piece. Timex goes to the mat that it is actually stupid, regardless. Much talking past each other ensues.

To me, there is a meta-narrative here, where these writers are suggesting that the “liberal” left is holding itself to a standard of discourse and norms of behavior that movement conservatives abandoned decades ago, and maybe it needs to stop handicapping itself that way.

When Republicans wanted to make Schwarzenegger eligible to be President, people took it seriously. People take seriously proposals from the right to abandon the direct election of Senators. But equivalent ideas from the left are “Liberal Stupidity”?


What are you talking about? Repealing the 17th amendment? Or i guess, to make an analog to the proposal being defended here, the idea of just ignoring the 17th amendment entirely and passing laws that say senators aren’t directly elected anymore?

Who here is defending that as a serious proposal? Who anywhere is? Because that’s a dumb idea too.


If you google “Repeal the” 17th amendment comes up before 2nd amendment. Lots of hits there, like this piece from the quite-mainstream The Hill: Is it time to repeal the 17th amendment.


And that idea is stupid, right?

Although actually less stupid than what’s being described here, in that it at least suggests using constitutionally valid mechanisms to achieve the result.

But it’s still stupid.

So I’m not understanding the point here.


Right now it is a pretty fringe position, but if you listened to the NPR show More Perfect, you would see that it is something that certain right wing groups are trying to gather support for.


Just, to further explain why the idea that you don’t even need an amendment to change how the Senate is elected is a really dumb idea…

We can imagine what would happen if Congress simply passed a law about that, right?

Because the Constitution is very specific about how the Senate is elected. It’s not vague at all. There’s no real room for interpretation when it comes to how many senators every state gets.

So if you made a simple law that said it was fine in some other way… What would happen?

That law would be in conflict with the Constitution, since you wouldn’t have changed the Constitution via amendment. This is essentially why we have the amendment process, to deal with this kind of thing.

So in a situation where a law is in conflict with the Constitution… What happens? The law is ruled invalid.

Again… The idea is dumb, not because it’s"outside the box". It’s dumb because it doesn’t make any sense. It’s not a matter of what your political persuasion is. The only context in which this is is valid, is if you believe that the Constitution itself doesn’t matter at all. That it doesn’t matter if a law is in conflict with the Constitution.


First of all, it doesn’t matter what the framers intended. This article proposes following the letter of the law, not the spirit.

Secondly, the argument (IIUC) is that we have already amended the Constitution sufficiently to support a law that changes the composition of the Senate.

If you look at the Fourteenth Amendment, nothing in the text specifically says that it is referring to the 3/5 formula in Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3. But it clearly contradicts that clause, so that clause is no longer operational.

Likewise, the author argues that the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-Fourth, and Twenty-Sixth amendments effectively contradict the two Senators per state clause in Article V. Hence, it should no longer be operational.


I haven’t defended any jot or tiddle of it. I’ve merely advocating against dismissing ideas prima facie because they sound ridiculous. The Senate actually is a real problem with American democracy. It is among the most undemocratic legislative bodies in any democracy worldwide. Equal representation actually is being denied to people.

No expert that I know of has weighed in on this issue. An analogy: I firmly reject any form of creationism. That said, I’m not a biologist and thus could almost certainly be crushed in a debate with a creationist who knows their stuff. I have to rely on experts to evaluate the arcana of their discipline and make them comprehensible. No one (except Orts himself who, although not a Constitutional scholar, is a legal scholar and this is more familiar with the interpretation of the law than I am) has done that for this argument. I am more than willing to read a refutation from someone who knows what they’re talking about. In fact, I have a strong suspicion that most people who know what they’re talking about would reject it, with good evidence and powerful reasoning. But until someone does, I can–and have–evaluate the political feasibility, because it relies on buy-in from non-experts like me which–based on my own skepticism of the idea–would likely be hard to get.

You think I’m arguing with you about the merits of his idea, but I never have. I’ve merely said that flippant rejection with “obviously wrong” just paints you as dismissive, patronizing, hidebound and hubristic.

And I think it “makes no sense” that Washington DC can’t enact a handgun ban. I think that a century of precedence establishing the 2nd Amendment as a collective right is pretty conclusive. Apparently what “makes sense” isn’t what is, particularly with regard to the law.


What good would it do you? You aren’t an expert, right? Clearly you can’t parse whether the arguments make sense, without that expertise.

How would you evaluate those counterarguments? Length?

No one’s refuted the timecube guy either. Doesn’t mean his insane ramblings make sense.

You don’t need to be a legal scholar to see the obvious faults.


The idea that we can change something that explicitly can’t be changed even by Amendment with legislation is so stupid that calling it something that “merits consideration” is a thing I can’t even parse.