Conservative Kaelism

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205 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Just to be pedantic, here’s what Kael actually said:

    I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them

    That is, she knew that her own circumstances (living in New York, and being surrounded byDemocrats) was unusual. The idiots who attacked Nate Silver lacked that insight.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      It might be pedantic, but I just read the post and was on my way to make the same note, only to find you’d beaten me to it.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      Strangely I’ve met more Republicans since moving to San Francisco than while living in New York. Largely through law school though all have a kind of cognitive dissonance about them in one way or another. Example: The environmentalist, 9-11 truther who lives in a hippie-liberal part of the Pacific Northwest. There is also the woman who posts super-hippie stuff on facebook which one normally associates with the left-wing.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Outside of websites whose addresses include the alphanumeric sequence “” and a handful (a small handful) of similarly-minded online communities, do you think there is any substantial desire on the part of people to engage ideas at all? While M.A.’s post is aimed mainly at the conservasphere, I include the leftosphere too. “We are right and they are so wrong they’re evil neener neener neener” is the level of discourse one finds most other places in most other media. You can go to Kos and find so much “conservatives are not only wrong and stupid they’re evil about it too” that it has its own shorthand.

    What people want is not to engage ideas. If they do engage in ideas, they must adopt a position of being willing to be convinced that the other side has a better argument, and if they are thus convinced that they will both acknowledge it and change positions themselves. And even if they start down that road thinking they’ve adopted that position, they quickly back out of it during the argument because, well, I can’t just agree that your argument is right, I have to oppose it.

    It’s not a conversation, it’s not an engagement, it’s not an “argument” in the productive sense of that word. It’s a series of contradictions and interruptions, usually escalating in emotional heat as it continues. What you want is not to offer a better argument than me. What you want is to win — and perhaps more important is not that you win but rather that I lose. And given a choice between losing outright and finding some compromise between our positions, you’d prefer to lose than cut a deal as long as you go down swinging.

    Not “you” as in M.A. or some other specific person reading this comment. “You” as in a generic partisan, “me” or “I” as someone either identifying as the other party or espousing a policy position not congruent with one within the narrow but identified constellation of opinions acceptable to “your” party. I can kick it back to M.A. in particular — if only you could find a conservative who was willing to sit down and deal in good faith with you, on what liberal policy item are you willing to compromise?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      I have to second this. Take the platinum coin idea you wrote about:

      Look at any political blog whose writers took a firm Pro or Con stance. Honestly, had the idea been floated by the GOP under Romney, does anyone really believe any of those people wouldn’t have been in the exact opposite chair, yelling and insulting at the top of their lungs?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Willing to bet McBride and Krugman stay in their seats. Dr. Doom too (if he bothered to weigh in.)Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        Same here.
        As I’ve stated previously, I was a life-long Dem. until around 2007 or so.
        I came to the conclusion that the Leftosphere didn’t want dialogue so much as blind agreement.
        In the Rightosphere, I can float an idea like, “I think cap-and-trade is a good idea, if implemented with certain things in mind, and here’s why . . . ” and at least they will listen to me respectfully.
        In the Rightosphere, I can talk about deaths among illegal immigrants as a human rights issue, and though there was some push on that, most agreed.

        Trying to float a novel idea in the Leftosphere is just crapping in their punch bowl.
        They already know what they want you to think, and they don’t mind telling you what to think.

        I would rather “lean unto [mine] own understanding, and not that of [my] neighbor,” even at the expense of being sometimes wrong.
        And I can be wrong sometimes.
        On occasion, I can be wrong in most fabulous ways.Report

        • Avatar M.A. says:

          In the Rightosphere, I can float an idea like, “I think cap-and-trade is a good idea, if implemented with certain things in mind, and here’s why . . . ” and at least they will listen to me respectfully.

          You’re not in the Rightosphere at that point. I’ve listened to people trying to make that very point to conservatives and watched them get shouted out of the room about their “communist idea.”

          In the Rightosphere, I can talk about deaths among illegal immigrants as a human rights issue, and though there was some push on that, most agreed.

          Been there. You’re being too charitable; the verbatim reaction you describe as “there was some push” in conversations I’ve been in was the retort that if “those damn illegals weren’t trying to break into our country in the first place, then they wouldn’t be dying in the desert. A wall would have saved their lives.”

          Trying to float a novel idea in the Leftosphere is just crapping in their punch bowl.

          Tell that to Derek Khanna of the GOP. They published his report, pulled it, then fired him for being out of party lock-step.Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            Well, I didn’t get that in the cap-and-trade discussion.
            You have to start off with the right premises.

            I did get that in the illegal immigrant discussion, but it didn’t last long.
            With some people, it takes a bit of explaining things.

            As far as Khanna is concerned, we can come up with “this side did this” and “that side did that” all day, and I don’t want to get caught up in that trap. More heat than light.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

            I wish I could agree with your post, but you’re probably not going to let me.

            A long shot, I know, but have you seen this month’s Cato Unbound?Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

              I wish I could agree with your post, but you’re probably not going to let me.


            • Avatar M.A. says:

              I hadn’t seen it, but it’s nice to see his argument. I do find it a pity it’s taken libertarians this long to come round to what liberals were saying in the 1970s regarding Fair Use, which we actually got codified, and since the late 1980s concerning ex post facto “extensions” and the removal of registration and renewal requirements.

              As far as “wishing” you could agree with my post, I don’t really care if you agree or not, but I’m certainly not going to oppose your agreeing. I would love to hear your reasoning.Report

              • No, we’re not just “coming around to it.”

                Libertarians have been openly skeptical of the very existence of copyright for a long time, certainly back at least as far as the 1970s, and we’ve almost always supported shorter copyright terms.

                True, it’s possible to find a few exceptions here and there in the libertarian movement. (This is true for just about every issue, in the libertarian movement.)

                Know what else you can find? A list of Democrats who voted for the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.

                Just how many was that? All of them.Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                Yeah, it’s painfully easy to get them on board when you name the bill after the departed husband of a co-worker.

                It got through the Senate by “unanimous consent” and the House by “voice vote”; this is what we would call a dark day for representative government.Report

              • So… naming it after someone sympathetic can turn a bad policy into a good one?

                And making a very significant policy change without even the slightest dissent is a good thing?

                See, I would call that a dark day for representative government, on either count.Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                I just called it that.

                Orwellian naming structures are not new. “PATRIOT Act” comes to mind.

                The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act was bad law then, is still bad law now, and was opposed by the rank and file but passed through horse trading and “respect for the loss of Mary Bono.” Sigh.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Ah, then we agree. On the PATRIOT Act, too, even.Report

              • Avatar Mr. Blue says:

                It’s just a shame it took the libertarians so long to come around to the liberal point of view.

                (No, I am not being serious.)Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                I’m assuming this was supposed to be a reply to above.

                I fully agree: Democrats and Republicans both have, in the past, been responsible for bad law. Quite often those laws that pass via “unanimous consent” or “unopposed voice vote”, with orwellian names, are among the worst of the worst.

                That being said, we’ve got a strange situation today.

                Michael Drew, above, says:
                The question I would have is whether that is really all that separates Will and M.A. – just that willingness. In fact, they may stand in significantly different cultural-political starting places with respect to extreme or simply unambiguous conservatives, so that, while from where Will starts out the initial distance rightly looks to be bridgeable to him, the distance that exists between M.A.’s starting point and conservatives we might agree reasonably or rightly looks hopelessly unbridgeable to him. That’s just a hypothesis (maybe Will and M.A. start out in the same place – but do any of us think that?), but I don’t think initial starting point can be ignored when considering political and cultural distance between people.

                The ugly dynamic here is that, through the influence of the right wing radio and media machines and the increasingly strident reinforcement mechanic therein, there are many people I can’t talk to from the other side today that 5-10 years ago I could talk to; back then we’d at least have a polite conversation and agreement-to-disagree or determination that we each had different priorities or differing assessments on which “principles” were most important. Today, the conversation simply can’t get off the ground. Bring up any of the trigger-words for a right wing rant and the conversation is simply over. It’s been that way since relatively shortly after the 2008 elections, though a couple of topics such as immigration and foreign policy or wars preceded it.

                Environmental policy discussion is met with young-earth creationism and accusations that the entirety of the scientific community’s consensus regarding climate science is based on “organized fraud” because they heard someone like Christopher Monckton spouting drivel on the radio and took his word over everything else. Suggesting that immigration policy needs an overhaul is met by accusations of wanting to create an “amnesty.” Suggesting that maybe marriage rights equality isn’t the end of the world is met with accusations that I’m trying to rip down “traditional marriage” or else am gay myself.

                I don’t even want to get into the guns thing, but it makes the point. Mike Dwyer’s accusations about “liberal gun-grabbing” during the symposium were downright tame compared to some of the insane kookery going around where I live. Every day last week it was “gun talk” on the local radio shows and every day both callers and hosts crossed the line into conspiracy to violate Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution – and that includes the ex-military clown on the morning show.

                Health care reform, similar issues. The idea of mandating that people participate in the market before they get sick – despite being a Mitt Romney talking point – triggers rants about “socialism like what the Soviets did.” The “religious liberties” crowd on this score is even more fervent, insisting that having health insurance cover a wide variety of fertility-related treatments (from infertility to birth control) is the equivalent of the government showing up with tanks and bulldozers to knock over churches. The rhetoric’s so far outside the reality I’m not sure it’s even in the same solar system any more.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          Will, it’s not 100%. There are many on the right who don’t trust anything outside their selection bias bubble. And as with anything else, Objects May Appear Larger on the Internet.Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            Of course.
            You have to understand the language.
            With my cap-and-trade posts, I initially got some of that, “But global warming isn’t real!” kind of crap.
            I just said that I don’t care. It’s irrelevant to the discussion. Unless there’s some sort of argument that pollution is somehow good for you that I don’t know about, then it’s a completely separate issue.

            And when you start talking about how the Geneva Convention requires providing medical care for armed hostiles as a human rights issue, then the concept of the treatment of unarmed low-skill workers gains a sense of proportion.

            Which is to say, it’s about framing.Report

            • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

              Unless there’s some sort of argument that pollution is somehow good for you that I don’t know about, then it’s a completely separate issue.

              Actually, wrt global warming, that’s a substantial meme. CO2 isn’t pollution, it’s plant food, donchaknow??

              Which… the hell of it is, is sorta true. BUT, it’s been looked at by scientists who actually did the experiments by setting up test plots where they can vary the CO2 concentration–including a couple really enormous ones in the forest–and some species will grow more and some not. In most cases, for most species, the available CO2 isn’t the factor limiting their growth, but rather some other unrelated factor or nutrient.

              At this point we have a pretty good handle on where the atmospheric CO2 is going, whether into the biomass, or oceans, or staying in the atmosphere. And we also have a good handle on the sensitivity of temperatures to CO2 concentrations. The basic physics have been understood for well over a century; more recent research (last 30 – 40 years) has been aimed at understanding the feedback effects, of which there are many.

              These half-truth memes are the worst because it takes a couple paragraphs of explanation to counter something that fits on a bumper-sticker. Truth isn’t always simple; rather it’s often messy and complicated with a lot of contingencies and caveats.

              What I object to most about the conserva-sphere is this distillation of complex subjects down to sound-bites that, while not being totally false, aren’t anything like truth due to conditionals and contingencies that don’t obtain in the current reality. And, yeah, the lefties do this, too. But in my considered judgement not as much and not about the subjects I care most about.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Ever talked to a Creationist? Climate Change deniers are like the unholy offspring of Young Earth Creationists and Smoking Doesn’t Cause Cancer people. All the stubborn “I know what’s what, don’t talk to me with your logic and science and lies” of the former, all the clever rhetorical tricks and bad studies of the latter.

                I once spent a solid two weeks on Usenet patiently walking a YEC through what the 2nd law of thermodynamics actually means. Bit by bit, step by step, explaining where “Evolution can’t happen because of the second law of thermodynamics” was a total an utterly wrong thing, and that actually saying it out loud made the baby Jesus hurt where he keeps his physics knowledge.

                As soon as he grasped it, he switched immediately to how C14 dating only goes back 50,000 years, so we we’re all lying about dating the age of the earth.

                Swat down one stupid, and ten more take it’s place. I stopped arguing with them, fun as it could be. I do mock perpetual motions guys though. Especially if it involves magnets. Good times.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                It’s true that the 2nd law of thermodynamics proves that complexity will decrease, not increase. You evolutionists seem to think that there’s some natural supply of negative entropy right next door!Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        I’m pretty sure none of the economists or policy bloggers for that part, would be cheering on the use of the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip for fiscal preferences.Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        I think Drum and Barro stay put.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Guns. Public Housing. Medical Care. I’ve got TONS. Energy Crisis.

      Because I believe that we are not alone in having good ideas.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      That’s a ridiculous thing to say. I don’t know why I even try to talk to people like you.Report

    • Avatar M.A. says:

      I can kick it back to M.A. in particular — if only you could find a conservative who was willing to sit down and deal in good faith with you, on what liberal policy item are you willing to compromise?

      My instinctive reaction is to ask – good g-d, man, have you not seen how often the liberals have compromised in the past 4 decades? Time after time. Compromising with Reagan almost constantly. Under Clinton it was called “triangulation” but it amounted to the same thing. How often liberals basically rolled under during W. Bush.

      If you want specific areas where we’d be willing to compromise, we compromised on welfare reform, quite a bit. We compromised on defense spending. We compromised on healthcare, which arguably made the reform a lot less useful than it would have been otherwise – and after all the compromising was done, the conservatives demonized the compromise as communism anyways.

      We’re looking for not even a grand bargain at this point on fiscal matters of the deficit and tax rates and spending “cuts”, we’re looking for an OK Bargain, and the other side’s ready to shut the government down or worse, default on our bills while radio hosts whip the radio callers into a tizzy over the idea of shutting the government down a la 1995 and 1996 and trying to hang it round the current President’s neck.

      Liberals have caved in on gun control, if you’ve noticed, we even pretty much had that a point of agreement in the symposium – and yet the refrain from conservatives is still “liberals are gun-grabbers.”

      What the heck, I’ll kick it back to you – on what position do you claim liberals have not compromised to date? I can think of the ideas of voting rights and civil rights as things I don’t much like the idea of compromise on, and even on civil rights liberals accepted the compromise of the DOMA and allowing states to function as laboratories for democracy, proving that states that legalized marriage equality wouldn’t fall off into the ocean or be struck down by meteors for their Biblical Trespasses before hoping the rest of the country would get a clue.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        People may point out where I’m wrong here, but my immediate reaction was unions.Report

        • Avatar Will H. says:

          That’s another place where I stand out from the “standard” right-wing line (even though my former Congressman, an R, held two fairly high offices in a union).
          Unions have a lot of problems, and it’s not all about organizing.

          If we could first of state that modern unions are something of a profit-sharing mechanism, and then go on to the idea that government does not engage in profit activity, then maybe we could get somewhere.

          But as long at the gov’t employees and the teachers dominate any consideration of “unions,” then unions be damned. I’d rather see all of them go.Report

          • Avatar M.A. says:

            Question: Should someone who is a government employee, or a teacher, give up their rights as a citizen because of this?

            (Setting aside the US Military or Intelligence services, which both have good reasons for curtailment of some rights and freedoms).Report

            • Avatar Will H. says:

              They already do give up some rights, but they gain quite a few others; indemnification being the big one that comes to mind.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              I support the rights of government employees and teachers to own guns.

              With that said, I know that members of the military cannot sign those secession petitions nor openly criticize the CIC (while in uniform, anyway). When they signed up for the military, they traded away a handful of their rights as a citizen in exchange for, among other things, a paycheck.

              This doesn’t strike me as obviously wrong (assuming no fraud when the person signed up).

              Why is it wrong to say that any government job similarly come with certain strings attached?Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Which strings and why? Why does the GOP love police unions and hate teacher’s unions?

                Why are, say, unionized janitors in government buildings a bad thing — bad enough we should restrict their right to collectively bargain?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Which strings and why?

                Well, we’re haggling the former. As for the latter, these employees are being paid with taxpayer dollars. That leads me to believe that there ought to be a level of accountability that I don’t see as relevant to employees of Ford.

                I might be willing to be okay with a janitors’ union in ways that I’m less okay with a teachers’ union. I’d need more details about the union, I guess. (My immediate suspicion would be that the company that hears that janitorial is unionizing will respond by outsourcing janitorial to a managed service company on a year-to-year contract.)Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                “As for the latter, these employees are being paid with taxpayer dollars. That leads me to believe that there ought to be a level of accountability that I don’t see as relevant to employees of Ford.”


              • Avatar Will H. says:

                You can buy another model of car.
                Buying another government would make you . . . a Koch?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Unions also don’t have the same mission as the mission purportedly held by the government workers.

                This doesn’t seem that perverse when comes to GM, but when it comes to the police, it seems really perverse when the union cares entirely about the cop and his bennies and his pension but not about any given abuse of the law (unless, of course, it involves sex or something exceptionally lurid). The police union doesn’t care about the law being upheld.

                Similar cases can be made with regards to teachers and the importance of educating Our The Children.

                If GM does enough of that, GM will go out of business. If the police do? If teachers do?Report

              • Avatar Scott Fields says:

                Considering the truism that taxpayers want the benefits of government, but don’t want to pay for them, don’t public employees need the protections of union membership even more than GM employees would?Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                That shows a potential perverse incentive. That still doesn’t explain why one kind of worker should get less rights or protections. Why should one kind of worker not have a union to try to improve their pay and benefits? Sometimes unions fight for things like improved safety regs or more training or against individuals being fished over by their bosses.Report

              • Avatar Roger says:

                Tod, Scott and Greg,

                After all the discussions we have had on this issue, I accept you as not agreeing, but pretending to be ignorant of our arguments gets tiring. Are you guys just being argumentative, or do you not get what we are arguing? (which again isn’t the same as saying you don’t agree.)

                Some of us have major concerns with providing government monopolies the power to unionize and thus exploit their monopoly privilege. They can use coercion to require all teachers join the union and pay dues, which can and is used to buy politicians who will grant them above market wages and benefits for below market quality.

                Some of us view this as a set up which is virtually guaranteed to establish an environment of exploitation of taxpayers by the rent seeking teachers unions and their even more egregious armies of administrative bureaucrats. It leads to an inefficient outcome of too much money being spent on too low of a quality of education especially for those unable to afford better neighborhoods. In other words it leads exactly to our current education system.

                And no, this does not mean teachers, politicians or bureaucrats are bad. It means they are rational. Bad institutions lead to rational yet bad outcomes.

                I suspect teachers would make a lot more money and have a lot better working environment in a free, non monopoly market.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Actually, Will, I feel like as a voter I have as much control over the HR decisions of the State of Oregon as I do of Ford Motor, being a consumer.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                @Jaybird: “If GM does enough of that, GM will go out of business.”

                Apparently not.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:


                I’m not playing dumb; I’m simply trying to untangle why collective bargaining for someone in one industry should be kosher and the other should be verboten . Here, for example, you point out that the government having a monopoly in an industry is a bad thing. I actually (mostly) agree with that, but it seems a different issue than the issue of collective bargaining.

                Why should people that work for the government – either individually or collectively – not be allowed to negotiate for better pay or benefits the same way as other people?

                Seriously, every explanation I have ever heard is some version of, “Here’s something that I don’t like about government” that has nothing to do with HR management. So I’m curious, why should we treat one differently than the other, except (to use Jaybird’s word) matters of taste? Saying “we shouldn’t let those people have that because they work for the government” seems the opposite side of the coin as “I love the government, so we just just pay government workers whatever they ask to be paid.”

                You might well convince me I’m wrong. I would just like to hear what the HR argument to the HR issue is.Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                Roger: I suspect teachers would make a lot more money and have a lot better working environment in a free, non monopoly market.

                And I suspect you’ve never known anyone who was trying to find work and had to settle for one of the underpaying, uglier restricting (hide your sexuality lest they find out you’re not straight!) jobs in the parochial school market.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Roger- Yeah we aren’t going to agree on large bits of this. But i have an honest question i have posted on other parts of this thread. Maybe i missed the answer. If public employees shouldn’t have certain rights, like collective bargaining, are there other analogous rights gov contractors don’t have. Do gov contractors lose the right to petition their gov though PACs or any other method? Do gov contractors lose rights to sue the gov or other legal protections?

                Is it only gov employees that shouldn’t have certain powers? It seems like gov contractors would present some of the same type of problems as gov employees. If its only gov employees that should get less, but contractors shouldn’t then that would appear like more of a measure aimed just at one particular class of people.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                One thing that vaguely bugs me is the question behind the motivation to say “no” (covered expertly by others in these comments) on the part of the government. It’s not the budget.

                To use Hostess as an example, if you bargain with the unions and the unions say “we want X, Y, and Zed” and the response comes “Look, we can’t afford X, Y, *OR* Zed (let alone “and”), how about donuts on Fridays?”, you can have the union guys look at the numbers with the management guys and figure out where the truth lies… and, sometimes, that will mean that a business like Hostess goes out of business if there is an ultimatum game failure.

                There is no way for the ultimatum game to fail with collective bargaining in the public sector.

                (Well, yet. We will have an interesting time watching California in the months and years to come.)Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                Hostess is a bad example, since management was caught lying about their financial statements and were giving themselves pay raises at the same time they demanded the union employees take yet another round of pay cuts.

                It’s the epitome of bad faith bargaining from the management side.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Which is why “Shut it down. Sell off the assets to the highest bidder. Sell the house. Sell the car. Sell the kids. Find someone else. Forget it. I’m never coming back. Forget it.” was the proper response.Report

              • Avatar Roger says:


                It has nothing to do with government services bad, non government good. It has everything to do with granting the “right?” of coercively supported collective bargaining to a non competing firm. I know you guys get all blurry eyed when we use the terms monopoly and coercion, but those are the issues that lead us away from these types of institutions.

                A coercive monopoly establishes a situation where you have to pay for it whether you want it or not, and where nobody can offer a better alternative even if consumers demanded it. You are in effect establishing a power system, where whichever side has the most power wins. This attracts rent seekers and free riders and basically guarantees sub optimal results. IMO.

                I totally approve of the freedom of those in free and competitive markets to collectively organize with those employees that are like minded. To establish coercive collective bargaining and coercive dues in a coercive, mandated monopoly is a bad idea five times over.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                The Colonel Kurtz Theory of negotiation?Report

              • Avatar Roger says:


                If the contractors have to compete with other contractors, then they won’t be in the position to exploit the citizenry. They can ask for any wage rate they want, but they can’t force us to pay or force other collectives from agreeing to a lower wage.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Roger-So the only people that lose rights when taking money from the gov are those with the least power and influence. Yeah cops and firemen have unions but pols have been a bit more careful about trying to gut them since they have more power and influence. But those darn teachers and janitors, those the ones who really should get much less power.Report

              • Avatar Roger says:


                I would appreciate it if you could try to avoid the unprovoked personal attacks, especially when they have absolutely nothing to do with my comment. Gracias.

                If you would like to know why I believe teachers would have better jobs and better pay in an open market, feel free to ask.Report

              • Avatar Roger says:


                Not sure what we are arguing about. I do not support cops, senior administrators, firefighters or soldiers having coercive union monopolies either. Do you understand why I think these are bad ideas?Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:


                There is an open market right now. Private and parochial schools. There are teachers in highly prized private prep schools who make much more than most public schoolteachers; these are relatively few and far between. There are a large number of teachers in private parochial schools who are paid less than public schoolteachers, and who have to put up with very draconian restrictions upon their existence put in place by religious employers.

                You have failed to analyze this market and yet make a handwaving assertion that teachers would be paid more money if the public school system were done away with.

                Then you accuse me of “unprovoked personal attacks” for questioning your depth of knowledge in the area.


              • Avatar Roger says:


                Come again? I saw the movie several times, but am not following your line of reasoning….Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Roger- This is the internet, do we need a good reason to argue. (insert smiley face here).
                But anyway i know where you are coming from and that we aren’t going to agree. I’ve been asking the questions i asked you on this thread out of genuine curiosity about what anti-public union believe. I don’t think contractors or employees should lose rights when they work for the gov but others differ. I’m trying to tease out where the differences are and why.Report

              • Avatar Roger says:


                Your latest response is only slightly less veiled in its disdain for my opinion.

                I said I suspect a certain outcome would occur in free markets. You call this “sad”, “hand waiving assertions” and accuse me of being ignorant.

                I suspect little good will come of any discussion, but if you would like me to explain, feel free to ask.Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                You’ve had ample chance to explain, Roger. If you’re so keen on explaining your thought process, DO IT ALREADY.

                I’ve said, twice now, why I think your assertion of what you “suspect” would be different because we can look at a real, open, privatized teacher employment market RIGHT NOW and see that it doesn’t operate the way you “suspect” a privatized public school market would.

                Explain, already, and quit crying that I’m not asking you to. Or do you need a handwritten invitation printed on premium cardstock fringed with lace?Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                So instead of providing the twice-offered explanation, Roger ran away. Color me unsurprised.Report

              • Avatar Roger says:

                Actually, I am just counting how many comments in a row you can be rude.

                The reason I suspect teachers would be better paid and have better working conditions in a free market is as follows…

                Schools are a strange outlier. Most well educated professionals in free markets reject unionization. The reasons are multiple. First, well educated people tend to be intelligent and capable and reluctant to be treated as an interchangeable cog. They seek out and strive to go into areas which allow them freedom, creativity, and the ability to stand out and make a difference. These types of people are extremely reluctant to getting into group performance systems which devolve into standards and accountability of the lowest common denominator based upon tenure.

                In other words, capable, intelligent, hard charging, creative individuals are not, by and large, drawn to work in unionized bureaucracies. It pretty much describes hell for these types of people. They would like to work for employers who treat them with respect, which value and reward them as individuals, and which gives them freedom to thrive as a teacher as they make a difference.

                In a free market, teachers would become like other true professions which have not been captured by progressive master planners. They would be highly competitive, and firms would compete partially on pay, partially on freedom, partially on working environment, partially on benefits. Teachers would experience the same market demands that engineers and actuaries and market analysts experience today.

                Today, a small minority of schools have the pick of these creative self starters. Low demand and high supply. If all schools became free market the tide would reverse, and there would be an insufficient supply of good teachers and way too much demand.

                That is why I suspect free markets would lead to better jobs at better pay.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                It’s an interesting issue, I think. One thing that distinguishes the two unions is that the potential for corruption/rights violations/extortion/etc is higher for cops than teachers. Teachers can extract wage increases and accountability protections from taxpayers derived from their union-bargaining power. Cops, of course, can do both those things, with the added bonus of being able to violate people’s non-monetary rights while their at it.

                So liberty loving conservatives really ought to dislike cop-unions more than teacher-unions.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’ve started doing comparisons between “The Police” and “What Jefferson And Those Other Pinkos Said About The British” from time to time in my head.

                Sometimes the police look pretty good.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Sometimes the police look pretty good.

                Unlike those damn teachersReport

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                They have tenure.

                But, seriously, there are more than a handful of exceptionally egregious examples of teachers who need firing in any given article about the excesses of teacher unions.

                We’re not talking about the hammer coming down on the teacher in “The Cat Ate My Gymsuit” here.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Hey, I tried to agree with you, but you wouldn’t have any of that. Out of principle, I suppose.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                What is the disagreement, exactly? That there aren’t teachers who are, effectively, in rubber rooms rather than being fired? That get reshuffled to other districts rather than get fired?

                The focus is not on the education of children for the teacher unions. This strikes me as perverse.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                The problem with teacher unions for libertarians is it forces management to actually do the work of actually proving that a teacher actually committed a firing offense. But, those dang teachers actually can’t get thrown to the wayside as easily as a fry cook.

                To go back to the larger point, the fact that every American doesn’t have the same labor rights as teachers is a compromise in my view.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                There’s probably fewer teachers in need of firing that are sitting in a room somewhere collecting a paycheck than there are egregiously bad cops brutalizing people in urban areas with impunity.

                I would also posit that in any given school district, there are fewer of these teachers than there are members of the House “Science” committee who believe that human evolution is a myth.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The ultimate purpose of public education is *NOT* to provide bulletproof employment, Jesse.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Nob, is your argument “well, *THOSE* people get away with it… WE should be able to get away with it too!”?

                Because, believe it or not, that argument is not particularly persuasive to someone who is troubled by the sheer amount of corruption in the system.

                But, for the record, I’ll accept weakening Police Unions too as well as creation of litmus tests for inclusion on the various house committees. (Demonstrated literacy with the area of committee oversight. A written test (including an essay portion) taken from any given, oh, sophomore-level class from any of the Ivy Colleges would be sufficient for me.)Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                My point was more “teacher’s unions are probably not anywhere near the top of egregious corrupt institutions involved with the government or money for that matter.”Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                Yet for all that teacher’s unions are substantially an easier target for people who are (supposedly) concerned with accountability, etc. etc.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                “If they really cared about X, they’d also complain about Y and Z… since they don’t also complain about Y and Z, we know that they don’t really care about X. Since they don’t really care about X, we don’t have to talk about X.”

                Did I get that wrong?Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                No, but if we’re going to need x many teachers, we should pay them well and give them a nice pension.Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                I would also posit that in any given school district, there are fewer of these teachers than there are members of the House “Science” committee who believe that human evolution is a myth.

                Those House members, uncoincidentally, uniformly come from states where the GOP is at war with teachers. Hmmm. I begin to sense a pattern emerging.

                The focus is not on the education of children for the teacher unions. This strikes me as perverse.

                It would seem to me that the focus for the teachers should be doing their jobs and educating the children, while the function of the UNION is to protect the teachers from the creationist wackos in government (or other axe-to-grinders who have a dislike for the education of children) so that teachers can devote themselves to educating the children.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                I wouldn’t say “don’t talk about X”, but I would say “X is much less important than Y and Z from a practical point of view.”Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                They are ALSO taxpayers.

                And I don’t get the hatred of teacher’s unions. Seriously, I hear people talk about teacher’s unions and I can’t help but wonder: Have they ever MET a teacher?

                Or their union? Because what they say does not match up to the reality I’ve seen, and I trust my lying eyes more than their third hand BS.

                Anyways, you still haven’t explained why I should give up MY collective bargaining rights because I teach a classroom of 12th graders in a public school and not in a private one. Are my bosses any less likely to screw me?

                You act like unions run the show — unions are collectives of workers, not management. “level of accountability?” If you care about accountability, why are you arguing about the grunts and not the managers?

                The ones who, you know, actually make decisions that affect you?

                I don’t get reflexive union hatred, nor do I get this “they work for the taxpayer!” crap. A boss is a boss. The existance of the teacher’s union no more rids them of bosses, good and bad, and overarching pressures (from legislatures as opposed to shareholders) than anyone else.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                Governmental entities have a way of doing things, and corporate entities have a way of doing things.
                Regardless of what superficial similarities may exist in a bureaucratic structure, the two are not the same.Report

              • Avatar Just Me says:

                Who do you collectively bargain with? Is it the school board, the administration, or the state? I really don’t know and I am curious who the union is bargaining with.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Depends on the school district!

                I was gonna correct Jaybird upthread — he said “They have tenure!”. Untrue! Texas doesn’t have tenure, for instance. (Many states do not. Even states that do, don’t have them in all districts). Technically there are some weird equivilant to tenure in Texas, called lifetime or perpetual contracts, but I asked around in four seperate districts and nobody knows anyone who has one. Or ever had one. They phased them out decades ago. There might some 60-year old teachers, somewhere, in Texas with them.

                But here? 3 year contracts are for star teachers. Most get 1 or 2 year contracts.

                But who do you bargain with? Depends. Our salaries are set locally, but Texas has the most effed up school system in the United States. It’s so bad, funding wise, that it’s been under court scrutiny for decades because it can’t be funded in anything vaguely like an equitable manner and the leg doesn’t want to change it. So for the past, oh, 15 years they’ve used Robin Hood — every district gets some tiny minimum payment from the state (trust me, it’s something ludicrous like 500 bucks a student) and then the ‘rich’ districts (it’s all done via property taxes, local property taxes) are paird with poor ones and local taxes siphoned from one to the other in what has really, really, irked people for a decade now.

                And it’s still so bad you have places where there or five, six or ten times more money, per student, available than others. It’s a real CF.

                Anyways, locally our salaries are set by the school board. IIRC, my local district has lower salaries than several surrounding onse, but the school administration and board are known as top-notch and supportive, so they can get away with offering less than the general rate around here.

                Asking around, the only teacher/educator I know who breaks 50% of my salary (which itself is the lower end for a software engineer of my experience and a Master’s degree) is actually a diagnostician, and she’s only paid that well because she has 25 years experience AND could make triple her salary doing private work. She makes about 70% of what I do. Anyways, less than half what I make for the same education and experience, and while some of that is only working 10 months of the year (they don’t get the whole summers off), they habitually work longer hours than I do — an ‘average’ teachers’ day runs closer to 10 hours than 8, regardless of when the bells ring.

                No tenure, the benefits are terrible (seriously, you’ll end up with more take-home pay AND better benefits being an administrative assistant than a first year teacher. The health care options are atrocious), you’re completely opted out of social security (to the point where you cannot even get your spouse’s benefits) and into a pension plan run by the state, and frankly the state low-balls what they pay into it. Although I think they outright stopped stealing from it awhile back, because they got sued.

                But honestly, I’d be surprised if there were many places — any at all, really — where teacher salaries were set by the state, and not the local districts. Those districts might be large (all of Houston, or Chicago), but they’re still local.

                Worse yet, school boards — local school boards especially — are the last place in the US where you can seriously wield petty local power. A school board member with a bee in their bonnet can make life a living hell for a teacher, principle, or adminstrator if they wish.

                It’s one reason you often see really stupid education fads — it’s not teachers, it’s the school boards — often after hearing a pitch by a consultant who charged 250k to the district to come ‘fix things’ and leaves it 250k poorer and with an entire school year lost.

                But teacher’s unions are, for some reason, really easy to attack. Honestly I suspect it’s because no one truly values the work they do (it’s often considered babysitting), consider the work easy and within reach of anyone without the need for experience or specialized education (“I raise my kids, I teach them all the time, why am I paying you so much to do what I can do?”), and is culturally and historically women’s work — which is lower paid.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                I include police & firefighters as gov’t employees, although they’re really not part of the same union.
                Teachers employed at a private institution are different than teachers at public institutions.
                Similarly, a gov’t-employed janitor is different than a janitor working for a company with a contract on the building.

                Again, the line of demarcation (as far as I’m concerned) is with the profit motive.
                There can be no profit sharing where there is no profit motive.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Not part of the same union?

                Are police and firefighter’s unions magically delicious in some way that teachers and janitors are not, or are you pointing out that police and firefighters belong to seperate unions instead of one giant “Firefighters and Police officer’s” union?

                And profit-sharing? What?

                Unions honestly seem a weird point where libertarian and conservative idealogy just break down. Unions seem a natural, free-market counterpart to business — nobody works for free, and why exactly shouldn’t workers try to bargain for as much money as they can get?

                And do so collectively, if that makes them more?Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                I’m saying that the FOP and the IAFF are separate entities than the AFSCME.

                And this asinine notion that being a union member is all about just getting as much money as you can get is . . . well, . . . asinine.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                For those that feel public workers should have fewer rights to unionize then how different should contracts be with government contractors. What rights does Lockhead not have when they sell something to the gov? Do they have less recourse to the courts in a contract dispute? Can they demand payment? Are gov contractors limited in the way public workers are?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                There are a lot of strings attached to having a security clearance, Greg. Without a clearance, you can’t even get into the dance.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Without a clearance, you can’t even get into the dance.

                What does that have to do with unions?Report

              • Avatar Scott Fields says:

                And this asinine notion that being a union member is all about just getting as much money as you can get is . . . well, . . . asinine.

                Will, can you elaborate? What is being a union member all about then?Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I’m not talking about security clearances. The gov, at all levels, uses contractors. Simple contractors for basic things. We have contractors who do the street paving and bridge building or run our phone system. Do those simple basic contractors have less rights when taking gov money for putting down asphalt? Does Dell, who provides all the comps for the gov office i work for, have less recourse to the law or fewer rights? If corporations are persons, what rights do those corp/persons forfeit? I’m guessing the people who are trying to get rid of public unions are less intent on limiting the rights of gov contractors.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                What does that have to do with unions?

                Well, let’s say that there is a government contractor who has employees that consistently have to lose their clearances (and perhaps even cleared labs that lose accredidation). Will this government contractor continue to get or keep contracts? Of course not.

                There are *TONS* of strings attached to getting military contracts.

                The relationship to unions is discussion over whether it’s appropriate to tie strings to teachers or police or whatever.

                If we look at military contracting for an example of large companies taking paychecks from taxpayer dollars, we see a lot of strings.

                (Additionally, I have a cousin who works MDOT and he says that he has a lot of strings attached to his job as well.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Greg, if you didn’t want to talk about security clearances, you shouldn’t have brought up Lockheed.

                In any case, I know people who work for MDOT and worked for CDOT and they both tell me that there are *TONS* of strings attached to being a contractor who wants a contract that touches Federal Funding.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Sorry for bringing up Lockhead but my my comment was about not about security clearances. My questions still stand. Yes gov contracts have strings…all contracts do. What strings are specific to gov? And again what rights to gov contractors give up when taking tax payer money. The contention is that unions are less workable and have major drawbacks in a public setting so public employees should get less ability to use them. What the is the analogous loss of rights and power that corporate citizens face?Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Putting on specific additional requirements (whether by statute or executive order) for firms doing business with the government above and beyond the deliverable specs has been a longstanding US government practice. (Davis-Bacon, anti-discrimination regs, small business sourcing).

                And plenty of portions of the military industrial complex are union shops.

                The biggest issue with public sector unions (of any sort) is that the government can’t serve as well as an impartial arbiter of a dispute between management and labor- because there is an inherent conflict of interest.

                And if public sector unions are OK, why *don’t* we let the military unionize?Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I can where gov contractors have some extra rules. But do gov contractors lose any rights or powers from taking gov money? Can they not take the gov to court or have less contractual protections just based on taking gov money? A gov contractor has to pay Davis-Bacon but they are also charging the gov based on those prevailing wages.

                I’m trying to see if there are any analogous losses for gov contractors compared to public workers. If the answer is not there aren’t anything similar then i would wonder why that is. I guess saying a gov contractor can’t discriminate against some citizens is heading in that direction but that doesn’t seem like a loss of a right to the contractor.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Um, wouldn’t the government’s conflict of interest cut AGAINST unions, not for?

                The government is the union’s boss. If there was a conflict of interest, it’d be towards screwing the unions not the government.

                I don’t see why I, as a worker, should be screwed because my boss is a civil servent (or a contractor for the Defense department) rather than, say, Target.

                They both want to cut labor costs as much as possible, and I on the other hand would like to be paid more. In the end, all that the union does is allow me something closer to an equal footing in terms of leverage.

                After all, they can fire me — at will or for cause, and it’s easy to generate cause if you’re not a moron — and I can’t, you know, fire them.

                Heck, speaking as an employee — i can’t even ask what my coworkers make. It’s a firing offense. For all i know the guy next to me is making 40% more for doing half what I do.

                I do know, stasticially, my productivity has gone through the roof the last 30 years and I haven’t seen a cent of it. Apparently it’s because they could always outsource me, but I can’t help but wonder why no one outsources the CEO’s — their salaries seem a bit excessive, and surely some Indian executive could do the work for a fraction of the cost.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                The primary reason the so called Third World sucks as much as it does it that government institutions first and foremost serve themselves instead of the population. Unions exist to serve their members, not their customers. Insofar the private sector enables balancing act between customers, owners, management, and labor through market competition and government institutions, unions are a valuable part of reaching and maintaining that balance.

                When you get to the public sector, market forces go away, and there is an inverse relationship between how much the ‘customers’ actually need good services and how much power they can exert over the political process that now dominates every aspect instead of market forces. (and FSM help you if your ‘custom’ is being a member of a penal institution). GM can only give out as much pay and benefits as determined by the cars they sell, but the government can always get more at the barrel of a gun.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Yes, public sector unions just have politicians over a barrel. It’s not as if there’s one entire political party and another 1/3 of another major political power continually trying to destroy them.

                To your other point, I’m glad government employees in charge of taking care of the “common good” aren’t subject to “market forces.” I also think it’s a bad thing that numerous employers over the past thirty years have been able to break contracts they’ve signed on too, because of course, contracts should only be held too if say, they’re between a giant corporation and an individual who has bargaining power, but of course, if that same giant corporation has a contract they bargained with collectively, they should be able to toss that at any time (see : Hostess).

                So, the fact that even governments comprised of people who don’t like unions (which again, is the entirety of the Republican Party and about 1/4 to 1/3 of the Democratic Party) can’t just cut wages, benefits, and such without actually talking to representatives of the people whose wages they’re going to cut is a fundamentally good thing for this nation.

                The truth of the matter, public sector and teachers unions are one of the last places in this nation that somebody can actually work for a living with a good wage, health care, and pension. I realize to some right-leaning people that won’t get that the idea the lady at the DMV or the janitor working for the city may end up with a better retirement than them is a horrible injustice. To them, I say, they only thing you’ve got to lose brother is your chains.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                and the only trade offs are more poor and/or minority people in jail, and a more entrenched military industrial complex. And the DC area keeps getting richer while providing less actual value.

                as one who is neither poor nor minority, it doesn’t affect me, and a member of the MI complex who owns real estate in the DC area, thank you.Report

              • Avatar Roger says:


                Your world view sure is zero sum. You think the key for your favored groups to get more is to use political influence and power to extract a greater piece of the fixed pie. Furthermore, you resent those groups which you don’t favor because they have been better at using their power and influence to exploit the previously mentioned favored groups.

                There is another way to see the world and it is to view the zero sum dynamic itself as the problem. Thus the solution is to design institutions to discourage ALL destructive, win lose interactions and to encourage constructive activities that enlarge the size of the pie.

                To your other point, I’m glad government employees in charge of taking care of the “common good” aren’t subject to “market forces.” I also think it’s a bad thing that numerous employers over the past thirty years have been able to break contracts they’ve signed on too, because of course, contracts should only be held too if say, they’re between a giant corporation and an individual who has bargaining power, but of course, if that same giant corporation has a contract they bargained with collectively, they should be able to toss that at any time (see : Hostess).

                So, the fact that even governments comprised of people who don’t like unions (which again, is the entirety of the Republican Party and about 1/4 to 1/3 of the Democratic Party) can’t just cut wages, benefits, and such without actually talking to representatives of the people whose wages they’re going to cut is a fundamentally good thing for this nation.

                The truth of the matter, public sector and teachers unions are one of the last places in this nation that somebody can actually work for a living with a good wage, health care, and pension. I realize to some right-leaning people that won’t get that the idea the lady at the DMV or the janitor working for the city may end up with a better retirement than them is a horrible injustice. To them, I say, they only thing you’ve got to lose brother is your chains.Report

              • Avatar Roger says:

                Sorry, last three paragraphs are Jesse’s.Report

              • Avatar b-psycho says:

                Why does the GOP love police unions and hate teacher’s unions?

                Preference for cruder exertions of authority than appropriate for classrooms.Report

              • Avatar James K says:

                As a civilian government employee I am required to abide by the Public Service Code of Conduct, failing to do is a “performance issue”, and one that would get me bounced from the Public Service in short order.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Nope, sorry. Government employees are impossible to fire. I’ve been told this is a complete truth for a decade plus.Report

              • Avatar James K says:

                I work for a different government than yours. Firing a New Zealand government employee is difficult, but not really any harder than firing the average New Zealand employee.

                I honestly have no idea how hard it is to fire civil servant sin the US. My only point was that I am under strictures that private employees are not, and there is a good reason for that. Government power is fearful if misused.Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                I honestly have no idea how hard it is to fire civil servant sin the US.

                Knowing a good number who have been RIF’ed in recent years, it’s not that hard. I’ve also known a few who were fired for “performance issues”, and even one who was let go because he let his “banked vacation time” and “available sick time” get “too low.” Apparently, if your total leave time is under 10% of your maximum yearly rollover, you face the possibility of fired because you could theoretically “get sick” and not have enough leave time to cover it.

                Ah, the wonderful paradox of the Right-To-Abuse (e.g. “Right To work” and “At Will Employment”) GOP employers’ paradise. You can be fired for using your vacation days. Fishing stupid it is.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Not as easy as walking in and saying “You’re fired, I don’t like your face” (which is the law in what, 30 states now?).

                Unless there’s layoffs, in which case it’s pretty easy.

                If it’s just getting rid of a bad apple, all you need is documented malfeasance or a history of bad reviews, which takes at most two weeks to get together if there’s much of a ‘there’ there. It’s generally not very hard to find someone doing something wrong (surfing the web instead of working, screwing up their time card, coming in late or whatnot — stuff that’s routinely done by everyone, but is firing grounds if you’re in the mood), and bad reviews? Well, like most white-collar places you get a bad review one cycle and they generally give you one to shape up or you’re gone.

                Unless they wanted to get rid of you anyways.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          Democrats are pretty weak-sauce on unions. I mean, really, what have they done as unions declined? Card check was about it, and not like they pushed that terribly hard. (It didn’t come up during the two years they had majorities in Congress after 2008).

          Other than opposing right to work and generally being pretty pro-union, in terms of actual lawmaking? Um, I don’t got much.

          Whereas, you know, Scott Walker and a few other anti-union examples come to mind.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

            Also, this. Tod, talk to actual people involved in labor, such as Erik Loomis over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money about how they feel about how well the Democratic Party has treated unions since Jimmy Carter.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        My first thought was abortion, but let me point to my second th0ught, health care. You can argue that the left has compromised on it, and sure, they have. They haven’t gotten everything they want (or everything that some want). But the arrow has moved in the left’s direction. If we’re going to define compromise as “not getting everything you want”, then everything’s a compromise. I mean, you could say that Brad Pitt has had to suffer because he never slept with Angelina and Jennifer at the same time, but let’s face it, he’s done pretty well. But looking at something like gay marriage, the only sense in which you can say that the left has compromised is that they haven’t gotten everything they wanted as quickly as they wanted it.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          The ACA was the GOP’s 1994 plan. It was Mitt Romney’s plan. It was not single payer, public option, or medicare for all.

          How was that not ‘compromise’?Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Let me add to that. The left hasn’t really compromised on gay marriage at all, other than the DOMA. They’ve pushed for it in twenty-some states, and I don’t think they’ve turned down any votes because they wanted to keep to a spirit of compromise. Their intentions are clear and they’re proceeding toward them as effectively as they can.Report

        • Avatar M.A. says:

          Arguing that the compromises aren’t really compromises is a pretty poor line of thinking.

          DOMA was a heavy compromise. Many on the further leftward edges of the Left believed it was a HORRIBLE compromise. But it’s where the compromise line was reached. States were allowed to make their own experiments concerning non-hetero marriage options, while other states were allowed to Not Recognize the marriages performed that didn’t match internal state law.

          It followed, precisely, the standard Conservative/GOP thinking line that “states’ rights” and “local control” should decide the issue. And you blame those who pushed for votes in local states for that reason? Who passed either “Gay Marriage”, or Civil Unions (which were themselves another compromise to the religious who insisted “don’t call it marriage”)?

          The whole thing is, has been, and continues to be, compromise. We’ll see what happens in the future. The left wing says hopefully, it’ll normalize to recognition of marriage equality across the nation. The right wing wants to beat it back with state constitutional amendments. And again if you talk compromise: the right wing didn’t even want to accept the compromise of civil unions in most of the states that passed them.

          We have to pass even the compromises over the screams of the right wing. How dumb is that?Report

          • Avatar Pinky says:

            Well, the right has to pass its compromises over the screams of some on the left wing. Compromises never involve 100% of the parties on both sides.

            And I didn’t blame anyone on the left for not compromising on states’ votes. It just seems like a bad example of compromise.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 says:

              It seems an excellent example of compromise. Both sides wanted different things, they hammered out something they mutually hated that was vaguely “middle-ish” (if more in line with conservative local control theories) and life went on.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                I think what some people don’t understand is, just because the Democratic Party isn’t “compromising” with Republican’s (because they’re a death cult intent on destroying the nation) doesn’t mean compromise between people of differing beliefs isn’t happening. Nancy Pelosi and Ben Nelson have different ideas of the country. The fact they happen to be in the same party doesn’t mean they have the same views on everrrrrrrrrything.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        To me, this response sounds a whole lot like:

        We tried compromising. It didn’t work. We didn’t get everything we wanted by way of compromising. They got some of what they wanted through compromising and they even had the gall to be grumpy about it afterwards. So fish it. We’re done compromising, damnit.

        …Which is exactly what I would expect to hear from your counterparts on the Right, too.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          There was a line from The Drew Carey Show (if I may paraphrase), if you don’t get what you want, what’s the point of democracy?Report

        • Avatar M.A. says:

          Liberals have compromised, and continue to compromise, constantly.

          We’re standing here against a brick wall of people willing to shut down the government rather than compromise, who have threatened to throw their own Speaker of the House out of office for bringing a financial compromise bill that would pass with bipartisan support but not a “majority of the majority”, an insane phrase allowing a minority group of the House to hold everything hostage without compromise.

          Compromise is a good thing. It keeps the government moving and it generally works. Your response was asking ” if only you could find a conservative who was willing to sit down and deal in good faith with you, on what liberal policy item are you willing to compromise?” – so I gave you not only a list of things on which liberals are willing to compromise, but already have compromised numerous times.

          I’m still waiting – what things do you believe conservatives have compromised on? Or are willing to currently?Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            I don’t consider myself a conservative and I don’t purport to speak for them.

            With that said, I think you’d find that quite a lot of conservatives are willing to compromise on raising taxes. They may not agree to raise them as much or on as many people as you think would be a reasonable compromise.

            I think you’d find many of them willing to compromise on immigration reform. I rather suspect you’d find a decent number of Republicans (as opposed to conservatives) are in favor of immigration reform.

            I think you’d find a decent number of them willing to compromise on abortion. Yes, abortion. A good many conservatives get that abortions are going to be legal for the indefinite future and would rather want other things, like parental involvement of minors or waiting periods.

            You may even find some willing to compromise on firearms regulations, although I think you’ll see less of that because they perceive — correctly in my estimation — that they hold both the political and legal upper hand on that issue. A good many of them are not particularly thrilled with the NRA’s “a gun in every class” idea and a good many more don’t wet themselves in terror over the idea that Dianne Feinstein is going to personally enter their homes with a squad of BATF agents and re-enact Ruby Ridge as part of her pre-bedtime salubriations just because she’s staked out an aggressive opening position for herself on that debate.

            I don’t think you’ll find many willing to compromise on same-sex marriage — but you’ll find a quite a lot of them who are willing to simply give up, and quite a few more who are already pro-SSM. From which I take heart that sometimes argument works and peoples’ minds can in fact change.

            The caller to Rush Limbaugh, you’re never going to convince him to compromise on anything with you. Fortunately, he doesn’t have a whole lot of power, just the ability to squawk annoyingly when you tune in to his show, which you should have known before you did it was going to be a mistake.

            But John Boehner? He’ll work with you. Or rather, he’ll work with Harry Reid. Yes, he’ll posture and bluff and position for the best deal he can get. And no, John The Orange can’t control some of the more extreme members of his caucus, to which I say, “bad on him.” But at the end of the day, a deal can and will be struck.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 says:

              So, basically, there’s conservatives that are willing to compromise but they’re not running the show anymore?

              Noteably that the last big issue (fiscal cliff) saw the death of the Hastert rule….

              That sounds about right.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                That’s so not what I said.

                I’m beginning to think Will Truman was right to absent himself from this discussion.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Morat: So, basically, there’s conservatives that are willing to compromise but they’re not running the show anymore?

                That’s so not what I said.

                Burt, WADR, I think that is what you said. Your comment was a laudry list of issues that lots of conservatives are willing to compromise on, and yet! … there is no compromisin’ goin on.Report

      • Avatar DRS says:

        There’s a better question, I think: WHO are the Left supposed to compromise WITH? Who represents conservatism? If we’re talking legislation, then it’s Obama/Reid/Pelosi talking to…who? Boehner? Like that worked. Seriously, you compromise only when both sides can deliver on an agreement. Otherwise you might as well work out a compromise with Ross Douthat or David Frum – for all the good it will do you.Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          A million starbursts in the room, DRS.

          What they see is a party playing tribute to Limbaugh & Co., and to big business, not listening to small businessman who are the heart of jobs and stability in small towns and city neighborhoods the nation over. The party has changed, something that both Frum and Douthat sometimes admit.

          Seems to me that Personalities™ are in charge. Not elected, but appointed by Ratings Media Sales, LLC, and any negotiation would have to be done in manners that increase the $$$ that can be charged for ads by increasing the numbers of eyes/ears/internet hits involved. Everything is entertainment.

          That’s who Obama/Reid/Pelosi can’t negotiate with, too. It’s against the law. They have to work with Mitch and John; but Mitch and John have no power except obstruction because they live in a backward-day world, where everything answer is “No” and every proclamation they make has some opposite meaning to the words used.

          Limbaugh and his ilk are like preachers for the weak-minded and weak-willed, unable and unwilling to reconcile complicated things. Since the 1980, when the spread of prosperity gospel and televangelism began, it has been easier and easier to preach political suasion without the responsibility of actual flock. When you have to fill the pews for tithe, you have to things stable in the community. But wealth tithe get separated from the health of the community, things change. It becomes like a pyramid scheme; endless wealth. Only it isn’t. You get folk convinced they’ve got to fear the other, that they need to take back their country, and you open the cold hand holding shut their pockets with fear. And the owners of those pockets go running for a gun to protect them, another emptying and a notch up the fear.

          And even comments (and posts?) like this help, contributing to the othering.

          We need some USing around here; some discussing what we have in common, what we all hold tender in our hearts.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:


      I’m having trouble seeing where M.A. is complaining in the OP that conservatives won’t compromise, and thus where the implicit claim that liberals are willing to compromise is. I agree with you that his subsequent response above does seem to say, look, we compromised, and that was then: this is now. And I agree that either you believe compromise is the way of governing in a democracy, in which case you don’t just do it to show you’ve done it, and in any case you don’t gain bankable credit for doing it once or a few times whereafter you don’t have to keep doing it, but rather, you have to just keep doing it, because that’s how you govern in a democracy — OR — you just believe it is an instrumental tool for advancing your own vision of what’s right, and then you don’t have any of those obligations. But I just don’t see where he takes a position that doesn’t allow him to have that position.

      What I see M.A. saying is that, where ever either he or conservatives stand on an obligation to compromise as a way of life, or whatever their inclination to compromise short of that is, right now, he experiences the political-cultural divide between himself and them to be too wide to bridge, whether for the purpose of compromise or just for the purpose of communication.

      I think Will offers an interesting counterpoint, which uggested that what is necessary is some patience, willingness to persist past initial impressions, and committed interest in achieving some basis of mutual understanding.

      The question I would have is whether that is really all that separates Will and M.A. – just that willingness. In fact, they may stand in significantly different cultural-political starting places with respect to extreme or simply unambiguous conservatives, so that, while from where Will starts out the initial distance rightly looks to be bridgeable to him, the distance that exists between M.A.’s starting point and conservatives we might agree reasonably or rightly looks hopelessly unbridgeable to him. That’s just a hypothesis (maybe Will and M.A. start out in the same place – but do any of us think that?), but I don’t think initial starting point can be ignored when considering political and cultural distance between people.Report

  3. Avatar Kim says:

    When you leave me, a Midwestern liberal gal, spitting mad at what you’re saying, maybe you ought to rethink it a bit… hmmm?Report

  4. Avatar NewDealer says:

    This sort of stuff has been going on for a while, no? I remember a book coming out years ago called The Big Sort about how Americans were not living in ideologically diverse communities and it was driving us a part and increasing partisanship.

    But part of human nature might be that people like surrounding themselves with like-minded people.Report

    • Avatar James K says:

      Thomas Shelling, one of the original game theorists, did some seminal experiments on the subject. In simulations he determined that even very mild preferences for being near people like you will result in an equilibrium of near-total self-segregation.Report

  5. Avatar Pinky says:

    Yay me! I influence the blogosphere!

    The truth is, I just don’t hear the kind of racist nonsense that M.A. reports. I don’t even overhear it. It’s outside of my experience.

    Frankly, I’m surprised I don’t hear it. At this point in our political debate, if someone on the right blinks, he gets accused of being a racist. The marginal cost of actually saying something racist is next to nothing. And yet I don’t hear it.

    I’ve seen a lot of false charges of racism, though. I’ve been on the receiving end of them, and it stings. I was raised to respect everyone, and I’m personally committed to it. But someone who doesn’t like my opinion on, say, voter ID will assume I have a bad motive.

    So I still stand by my comment. Talk to conservatives/Republicans you trust. There are plenty of liberals/Democrats in my life, and I know that they have good motives even where we disagree.Report

    • Avatar M.A. says:

      I suspect you simply don’t live where I live. As I said before: I talk to conservatives/Republicans that I would trust (on a personal level) all the time. I trust them when they say something. I trust that they’re speaking from their hearts when they go off on a rant; actually, it’s been my experience that all people who go off on a rant become inherently honest in nature. They don’t hold back in those moments. You see what’s in their heart at that moment, for better or worse.

      Sometimes I have to catch my own breath and remind myself: this rant, this short 5 minutes of Bob complaining about evil mexicans destroying his neighborhood, is not the end-all and be-all of his character (name a generic). I have to remind myself: these are guys who in other contexts think nothing of helping a friend rebuild a ceiling damaged in a “do-it-yourself” handyman’s accident when a foot came down on sheetrock. These are guys who in other contexts will take 2 hours out of their day to come rescue a stranded friend with multiple flat tires. Who are there for those who need it, no questions asked, so much of the time.

      And yet… it’s in there. The racism or the sexism is there, at least part of the time. That’s a part of them, too. It’s not all of them, but it’s some part of them. And it’s a part that’s easy to rile up and so easy for things said in the heat of 5 minutes to destroy a friendship.

      What’s the other option? Become known as “the librul” and watch yourself become a social pariah, watch any number of friends drift away in a fit of LibertarianConservative mentality?

      I don’t have your experience. You don’t have mine. You don’t live where I live or know the people I know. I’d say to be grateful about that.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        But you see my predicament? My experience is having been on the receiving end of that kind of accusation. I have no reason to believe that you’re misrepresenting what you’ve been through, but I only know the things you’re talking about as being false accusations. How can I justify reassessing my view when the sum of my experience not only contradicts what you’re saying, but provides me with examples of people saying what you’re saying falsely?Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Also, when you imply that calls for secession are a Southern phenomenon, you lose credibility for me on the subject of race. I could be misjudging that. But there’s an implication that secession=race in other articles I’ve read.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          Also, when you imply that calls for secession are a Southern phenomenon, you lose credibility for me on the subject of race.

          I might be confused here, but … aren’t calls for secession a southern phenomenon?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            According to the HuffPo, there are 30 states that have these petitions.

            The Mason-Dixon ain’t *THAT* far north.


            • Avatar Glyph says:

              Man, if there are 30, it’s almost less of an “I’m outta here!” situation, and more of a “And take that hideous futon with you!!” situation. 😉Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                You only need 25,000 signatures. They got more than that to build a Death Star.

                I’d only count states where you can get “let’s secede” numbers into double-digits myself. There are 25,000 crazy people in…well, any state with a population of more than about 25 million.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                As my application for the Pedants club (mentioned above), I note that there are only 2 states with more than 25 million people.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Darnit, I live in Houston. (Well, in the sprawl). My idea of ‘population’ is thus a bit skewed. 🙂Report

            • Avatar Pinky says:

              Secession isn’t about the Confederacy, and it’s not about slavery. In conservative circles, it’s about breaking away from a federal government that’s perceived as having overreached its Constitutional limits. The Alaskan Independence Party, the third largest in the state, is an example. In liberal circles, it’s about parting company with the US military-industrial complex. Google “Second Vermont Republic” for an example of that.

              Some secessionist circles like the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement are focused on historical claims. A lot of the Native American movements are similar. Then there’s Texas, with its odd history, political dissatisfaction, and legendary ego. Texas tends to be the loudest on the subject of secession. But the idea that secession is somehow rooted in the desire to oppress black people, that’s a distortion.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Of all the secessionist movements, I admire Hawaii’s the most, in a way.

                What we did to them in the nineteenth century was unconscionable, and Grover Cleveland is among my favorite presidents for resisting it. At one point I even suggested naming my child Grover Cleveland, if he were a boy.

                That didn’t go over too well.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                You could call him Pete, for short.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                The fact that the same people who currently talk about secession also fetishize the Confederacy is a total coincidence.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                That’s factually incorrect.Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                Not where I live it isn’t.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                I’m sure that secession sympathizers have respect for the Confederacy for their secessionism. I really doubt that they respect the Confederacy for their racial supremism. If you live in a place with people who “fetishize” the Confederacy and support secession, you’d have no insight into those who have no support for the Confederacy and support secession. And again, I have no personal experience – in person, online, or listening to talk radio – that people like those you describe exist.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                That the Southern wing of the Republican Party doesn’t fetishize the Confederacy, or that that isn’t the bulk of support for secession? Both seem correct to me.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                The Southern take on the Confederacy is a pretty complicated subject. It varies a lot by region. I don’t think you’ll find much fetishization on the Atlantic coast, except as “Southern pride”. In the Appalachians, it’s stronger, but it’s largely Democratic and never had anything to do with slavery. In Texas, it’s…well, it’s Texan. The CSA is considered a suburb of Texas kind of like the USA is.

                As for the bulk of secessionism, I couldn’t say. I did note that it’s countrywide.

                Now, as for the implication that South=secession=racism, I think that’s a complete misreading for the reasons I’ve noted and a bunch of others.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                “States rights” has meant opposition to civil rights laws for 60 years now. Opposition to federal overreach that swallowed the Patriot Act but balks at PPACA and a return to the previous marginal tax rates is difficult to sympathize with. And the Alaskan Independence movement is pure oil-money FYIGM.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                State’s Rights has started to mean new things, now. There’s same-sex marriage, marijuana, and doctor-assisted suicide. (I’m sure I’m forgetting a handful of other things as well.)Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                And “graphic novel” means Sandman instead of Fanny Hill.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Additionally, I see the whole “We only get 94 cents back from the federal government for every dollar we give them!” coming to a head as well. I can easily see that hit a tipping point and be framed as state’s rights.

                Eventually, pointing out that “State’s Rights” is a codeword for “segregation” will sound like those folks who point out that Margaret Sanger was into eugenics.

                A lot of stuff will have happened since then and most of the folks one will be talking about will have been dead for a while.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Mike, that’s not exactly right. States’ rights was a rallying cry against pretty much everything the Supreme Court did in the Warren and Burger years. That included Brown v. Board of Education, but also Miranda, Roe, and Furman (capital punishment – I had to look that one up).Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Jaybird, so the blue states are gonna cite states rights and secede? That sounds…unlikely.

                The problem with the states rights crowd is that for close to a century now it’s meant “Segregation”, and before that it meant “I wanna own black people”. State’s Rights — historically the rallying cry of the Confederacy, a horrible civil war, then Jim Crow and finally what — 50 years of fighting the CRA?

                Now, you know, there are important state’s right’s issues. But the kicker is that everyone alive now is used to it being a steady drumbeat about how awful black people are. (You know the famous quote about what state’s rights is code for — and then welfare queens and young bucks).

                And you can’t just untangle that history and say “Oh, that’s not state’s rights!”. Yeah, unfortunately it is. I realize that part is suddenly unpopular and we’d all like it to go down the ole’ memory hole, but the institutional racism of that phrase isn’t gonna fade overnight because it’s convienent to some people.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Morat, what you say about states’ rights – that it meant slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation – could be said about the Democratic Party. But that has gone down the memory hole, and people can accept it for what it says today. Why not the same for a phrase like “states’ rights”?Report

              • Avatar Bob2 says:

                Begging the question fallacy Pinky among others.

                It’s up to you to demonstrate that states rights doesn’t still doesn’t have slavery connotations, especially since it was used as code for so long for maintaining the peculiar institution.

                Your example of the Democratic Party’s meaning changing without mentioning party realignment and the Southern Strategy is ironic given that most of the original states right states largely went Republican as a result of the realignment. See: Lee Atwater’s race baiting at the core of the strategy.

                Thus, the connotations of the term Democratic Party changed while the connotations of States Rights continued.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Why not the same for a phrase like “states’ rights”?

                It’s not that the meaning of the term hasn’t evolved since the 1950’s. Jaybird brought up some uses of the term that suggest it doesn’t imply racist intent.

                But I think the majority of the times the term “states rights” is used on political discourse it’s employed to give states the right to impose restrictions on people, not grant them more permissions.

                But I’m kinda with Atwater on the whole thing: the term initially meant ******, and now it means something else entirely. Something that’s more ideologically (rather than racially/bigotrally (is that a word??) ) oriented. And that’s a good thing, it seems to me.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                The difference is, of course, the Democratic Party stood up and said, “we were wrong and as a result, we’re no longer backing up people who believe in these things (I know – ROBERT BYRD WAS A KKK MEMBER ONCE WHEN HE WAS LIKE 22!@!!!). OTOH, the “state’s rights” crowd and their various and sundry organizations have never stepped back and said, “ya know, federal power infringing on the states is something we should always be wary off, but the issue of civil rights was important enough and the states were being intransigent (sp?) enough that we understand why the federal government had to step in.”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Agreed, Jesse. That’s a big difference, it seems to me. Instead of viewing the proposed legislation as the right thing to do, the states rights crowd complained exclusively about the abuse of federal power.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Eventually, pointing out that “State’s Rights” is a codeword for “segregation” will sound like those folks who point out that Margaret Sanger was into eugenics.

                Margaret Sanger/Eugencis was brought up long after Sanger died to try to discredit progressives by association. States’ Rights/Segregation was proudly proclaimed by the culprits. Or do I disremember Pat Brown declaring “Eugenics Now! Eugenics Tomorrow! Eugenics Forever!”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                But the idea that secession is somehow rooted in the desire to oppress black people, that’s a distortion.

                Historically, there is a very well known secessionist movement stemming from a desire to oppress black people. Contemporary secessionist movements are motivated by different interests than those displayed in 1860, perhaps none of which have anything to do with oppression or racism. But it seems like the secessionist movements that have gained any traction are Southern states. Which was my point. To use Jaybird’s baseline as an indicator, here:

                Petitions from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas residents have accrued at least 25,000 signatures, the number the Obama administration says it will reward with a staff review of online proposals.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Militias in Detroit are justa s racist as those down south.
                And I haven’t even bothered to mention minutemen.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              And the modern home ofthe KKK is pennsytucky. which is north of the mason dixon. what’syerpoint?Report

        • Avatar George Turner says:

          Actually, secession first started in New England prior and during the War of 1812. It was hurting their commerce.Report

    • Avatar Roger says:


      Well said. The research on racism by political party is not what conventional wisdom portrays. Not even close. And the dog whistle accusation should be called a fog whistle as all it does is obscure intelligent dialogue.Report

  6. Avatar Will Truman says:

    This post disappoints me on a number of levels. I do not think I will be participating in the discussion. Best I just stick with NaPP, my personal blog, and other such things for at least a week or so.Report

  7. Avatar Don Zeko says:

    I really hate the tendency among some Liberals to write off the South as a part of the country that is uniformly hostile to their interests and values or as the source of the problems that they identify in the Republican Party. Doing so both badly mischaracterizes the South and lets the rest of the country off far too easily.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      I dunno. With the exception of black people and a few imported Urban Types, I’ve yet to meet a Democrat in Louisiana.Report

      • Avatar Dexter says:

        Blaise, I’m a transplanted lefty that has been down here for 38 years and definitely not an urban type. My theory for the reason you haven’t found any of us is because we know that if you don’t see us you can’t shoot us.
        Our children are in their thirties and most of their friends are left leaning. They are urban types but are homegrown.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Oddly, all of the people I know from Louisiana are Democrats. Maybe that’s what happens: they all leave. (Actually, they’re all Katrina transplants, so maybe the hurricane chased them all out.)Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Come to Austin. Or San Antonio! Or even Houston! We’re right next door. 🙂 Of course, there’s the rest of Texas to consider.

        And avoid East Texas. It’s the Mos Eisley of Texas.Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:


  9. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Did anybody get the They Might Be Giants reference in this post?Report

  10. Avatar Kolohe says:

    (M.A. didn’t get the Memo on John Stewart)Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko says:

      Good Liberals still like Stewart, but he can be damn irritating at times. He has some serious blind spots (by which I mean policy areas where I think his views are both wrong and poorly thought out).Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        Yup, I think Stewart flips into, “oh, both sides are crazy” a little too much for me (See the Whole Rally to Reinstate Sanity or whatever), but I understand he’s running a comedic show and can’t be a total asshole to conservatives or he’ll never get another one on his show. But, like most urban liberals, he has his blind spots (unions), but he’s good to have on TV for the cause of destroying America and turning high school kids into the minions of socialism. 🙂Report

  11. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I don’t know what it’s like where you can live, although I can probably imagine from a few of the places where relatives of mine live. I guess my issue with this post is that it leave me with the same response as reading Little Green Footballs for an hour, “Okay. And so…?”Report

  12. Avatar dhex says:

    as much as i enjoy mocking the sports bar expression of american politics – i.e. TEAM RED TEAM BLUE GO TEAM GO, ad nauseum – it is with a hint of sorrow, because like an actual sports bar it’s annoying to be around if you’re not into the flavor. i get why people self-segregate in that fashion – either they don’t like getting yelled at by strangers, or they enjoy yelling with other strangers at another set of strangers whom they oppose, either in reality or fantasy or a mixture of the two. if nothing else, i’m sure it’s cathartic. it drives traffic to sites with ad sales, so it’s even commercially beneficial to someone, somewhere. plus the tee shirt and mug sales that go with it. and maybe calendars.

    people still use calendars, right? paper ones, i mean.Report

    • Avatar mark boggs says:

      Yeah. In fact, we need a 2013 edition for the golf shop counter. Do you know where I can get one? I bought one on clearance the other day only to realize too late it was a 2012. jk.Report

  13. Avatar ktward says:

    In a time crunch at present, but first opportunity I’ll come back and read the post. Just want to quickly say that I’m seriously happy to see M.A. guest posting here. No doubt it’s a sparkly thread. Report

  14. Avatar Steve S. says:

    Here is a distinction I think we need to make: what passes for the governing left in this country are actually neoliberals, some center-left social democrats, and Barack “moderate Republican” Obama. That is to say, to whatever extent there are “bubble” leftists damned few of them ever get their hands on the levers of power. “Bubble” rightists, on the other hand, get themselves elected to national office by the score.Report

  15. Avatar pete mack says:

    I’m not sure where you are going with this Jeremiad. I probably will agree with you after you clean it up, but you are clearly not thinking straight when you confuse Peter King and Steven King.Report

  16. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    Honestly? I agree.

    The Republican Party of today has shown next-to-no interest in compromise, and no interest at all in sincere policy discussion. They’ve defined things (like the ACA) that used to be Republican policies as being “socialism”. They’ve imposed an artificial 60-vote majority on everything in the Senate to a level that is entirely unprecedented (see James Fallow for far more on this).

    In contrast, it’s simply factually untrue to say that liberals or Democrats are in general unwilling to compromise, because on most issues they’ve done nothing but. M.A. listed many of the notable issues above. Obama’s done pretty much everything within his power to act in a bipartisan manner, even when it bites him in the backside (as it did with the ACA – he backed off the public option because the Republicans were strongly against it, and they responded by keeping on opposing it, making no constructive proposals, and continually denouncing the mandate as “socialism) and has continued to do so with the recent deal on the Bush tax cuts. His actions show him very clearly as someone who believes in bipartisanship and centrism for its own sake.

    You can’t honestly look at the political situation in the US today and say the behaviour of the two parties is equivalent. It doesn’t have a left-wing (or more accurately, centrist) and a right-wing party any more. It has a marginally sane party and a balls-out crazy party. I’m luckier than MA in that I only have to observe from a distance, and can ignore it when I choose. If I lived where MA did, I’d be sounding the same.Report