Morning Ed: Politics {2016.11.29.T}


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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218 Responses

  1. Avatar j r says:

    Marsha Gessen looks at the difficult decision that civil servants need to make.

    This article is ridiculous. As a former civil servant, I agree that many federal employees will likely have tough choices to make. But those choices have to do with policy priorities, not “surviving autocracy.” If you work on a program or in a policy area that doesn’t align with the incoming administration’s priorities, then you may have to do some soul searching and some thinking about your preferred career trajectory. This is normal when the White House switches parties. As I’ve seen people repeat over the past eight years, elections have consequences.

    However, if you weren’t one of the people calling out the transgressions of the Obama administration, then I have a hard time taking your crocodile tears seriously now. So, civil servants will continue doing their jobs under Trump the same way they did under Obama, even as the present was killing thousands of civilians with flying robots, deporting more people than any other administration before it, and prosecuting whistleblowers under legislation meant for espionage (don’t forget that this has been the most transparent administration in history… OK, do forget it).

    but until that point, this is mostly meaningless virtue signalling.Report

    • Avatar InMD says:

      This seems about right. There’s also a level of entitlement underlying the whole perspective that reinforces negative stereotypes about public sector employees. If someone orders you to do something truly immoral the answer is to resign in protest and go to the press. The possibility that might happen is the trade off for all those holidays and vacation days and cheap benefits no one else gets.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Actually, that should be the response to anything you personally have difficulty complying with.

        This has happened twice in my career. In one case, the company decided to make certain “security checks” that were contractually required by the issuing gov’t agency, a “requirement for employment” even though I did not work on that contract. I told my boss a year before this req. was made mandatory for continued employment that it was a “resignation issue” for me, and when the time came, I quit.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        I just can’t get over my strong sympathies to the Trump pessimists over the Trump optimists even when I think the Trump pessimists are being hyperbolic.

        There is something about the blaseness of Trump optimists that I find off-putting and treating his Presidency as normal seems like a categorical mistake. The self-dealing, cronyism, corruption, appointing of loyalists, need to constantly humiliate critics is already on display.

        Trump has shown authoritarian tendencies like in how he announced HRC prosecution is not going to happen and that it was a personal decision. There is no personal decision by the President to prosecute someone. There is evidence for prosecution or not. That is it.Report

        • Avatar InMD says:

          I wouldnt call myself a Trump optimist so much as a Trump wait-and-see-ist. Part of the issue with posts like Gessen’s I think is the hypocracies jr mentioned above. We’ve had 2 straight presidencies from each of the big parties where civil servants went right along with disastrous and illiberal policies.

          Maybe if mainstream progressives and Gessen’s bureaucrats hadn’t been so blase about Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and the drone war and some of these other issues they would have more credibility.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            My “wait-and-see” attitude died the minute he picked Bannon amid the chaos of a clearly unplanned transition.Report

            • Avatar InMD says:

              To clarify, I’m waiting to see whether he will be a bad president in the order of previous bad administrations or whether he does something truly unprecedented and awful. From my perspective the latter is a pretty high bar and will require some actual action without recent historical parallels and/or which goes a lot further than, as opposed to just building on, the imperial presidency as it currently exists.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Well, given he’s started with appointing a white supremacist, won’t disclose his financials, and has already mingled business and his office, he’s off to a pretty solid “Makes Nixon look good” start.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                The best we can hope from the Trump administration is massive graft and a lot of incompetence in everything else.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              What’s the deal with Bannon? From what I’ve seen, the complaints are mostly handwaving with little or no hard evidence.Report

        • Avatar j r says:

          There are two things that stick out to me about Saul’s comment that are emblematic of larger issues with how people are more and more coming to make their political decisions.

          I just can’t get over my strong sympathies to the Trump pessimists over the Trump optimists even when I think the Trump pessimists are being hyperbolic.

          There is something about the blaseness of Trump optimists that I find off-putting and treating his Presidency as normal seems like a categorical mistake.

          One is the tendency to come to decisions on issues not wholly on the merits of the respective arguments, but to a significant desire to oppose the people who hold the opposite view.

          Trump has shown authoritarian tendencies like in how he announced HRC prosecution is not going to happen and that it was a personal decision. There is no personal decision by the President to prosecute someone. There is evidence for prosecution or not. That is it.

          And the other, is the tendency of those on the left to cry bloody murder when conservatives in power use questionable legal means to justify unquestionably bad actions, but to go conspicuously silent, sometimes flipping to fully supportive, when Democrats in power do the same bad actions, so long as those actions are sufficiently enshrined in bureaucratic cover first. If you came from another planet that didn’t have party politics you could be forgiven for thinking that Democrats and Republicans were partners acting out an agreed upon plan rather than adversaries working against each other.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          I’m not a Trump optimist. He’s an arrogant fool. If he behaves the way I expect him to, he should be impeached. I think that Ryan would do it, too. That’s why I had such a bad reaction to a recent comment to the effect that Democrats should make Republican congressmen do it on their own. It’s a very real scenario, in my mind, that Trump will be facing impeachment by April.Report

          • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

            You’re far more optimistic about that than I am. I hope you’re right. If I had to guess, I’d guess that they would think long and hard before impeaching him for giving nukes to ISIS as long as he was signing the bills and making the appointments they want. Then again, if it meant President Pence would take over and keep their agenda flowing with less Trumpiness for them to apologize for, I suppose I could see them finding their moral center.

            And as much as I’m ideologically predisposed to strongly dislike the idea of President Pence, my aversion to President Trump has very little to do with ideology or policy.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          GWB was pointedly worse on a lot of these issues.
          Clinton’s enemy list was so long it had the same person on there multiple times (note: I don’t think she realized she was dealing with the same person).Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar says:

      …even as the present was killing thousands of civilians with flying robots…

      Purely as an aside, it drives me a little bit nuts every time I see someone refer to drones as flying “robots” (usually “flying killer robots). Do you not understand how drones work, or do you not understand what the word “robot” means? Because the former doesn’t qualify as the latter.

      A robot is a machine with some level of autonomy that you basically set loose to do its thing. The drones are simply remotely piloted aircraft, no different than any other aircraft aside from the fact that the human pilot is sitting behind a computer screen in some bunker somewhere.

      I mean… would you feel better about bombing brown folks if it was being carried out by more conventional military aircraft? Why? The problem here is the killing, not the means.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        From Wikipedia:

        Robots can be autonomous or semi-autonomous and range from humanoids such as Honda’s Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility (ASIMO) and TOSY’s TOSY Ping Pong Playing Robot (TOPIO) to industrial robots, medical operating robots, patent assist robots, dog therapy robots, collectively programmed swarm robots, UAV drones such as General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, and even microscopic nano robots.


        • Avatar Road Scholar says:

          Well, I would have to take issue with the Wikipedia article. Go down to your local Radio Shack — I’m sure they have their Christmas stock out now — and check out their wide assortment of robots, otherwise known as RC cars. Because that’s what we’re talking about here, a much bigger, fancier version of those things, and I don’t think most people would call those robots.

          We’re not talking about Cylons or battle droids. There’s a human being piloting the thing and a human being pushing the button to fire a weapon. We’ve been using technology to kill at a distance since the first hominid picked up a rock and chucked it at another one. This is just a progression, and a fairly natural, even inevitable one at that, along a well-charted course.

          It’s the policy, not the means.Report

          • Avatar j r says:

            I’m not sure that you can divorce the policy from the means. Policies come into being just like everything else does, through a process of natural selection that fully incorporates the physical and technological means available. That said, the question of whether a drone is a robot is wholly tangential and I take your point that it is the targeted assassinations that are the problem and not the fact that they are done by drones.

            For the sake of being pedantic, though, I don’t see how you can say that a military-grade UAV is not a robot. Yes, there is often someone flying it by remote control and launching the weapons system, but how many functions of a UAV are autonomous? It probably has some kind of auto-pilot function. It probably has orders programmed into it that tell it what to do when it loses contact with the humans.

            When your family SUV can change lanes at the press of a button and parallel park without you, it’s a robot.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              Military drones have a great degree of autonomy. They can’t make kill decisions, but they can take off and land on their own, fly a designated set of waypoints, and can alert the operator to things they “see” along the route that might warrant a closer look. All of this is important because the C&C link has enough lag time that the pilot can not be in real time control.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:

            The means make the policy politically palatable. Besides the cost effectiveness per kill, the American voting public won’t tolerate significant numbers of American pilots/aviators getting shot down, then killed or captured.

            Look at how apathetic the American public became towards all the wars once Americans stopped getting killed in significant numbers.Report

      • Avatar InMD says:

        I think your overall point is correct but I actually think the means do matter. Maybe I’m wrong and there’d be the same indifference but I’ve often thought that there might be a little more controversy if these strikes were being conducted by manned aircraft or artillery or special forces units.

        For whatever reason the drones seem to allow people to look at it as something other than an act of war.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      @j-r : >>deporting more people than any other administration before it

      See here [ ] for why this is a meaningless statistic. The word “deportation” doesn’t have an official meaning. Obama has significantly reduced the rate of “internal removals” (i.e. people kicked out of the country which we would traditionally call a deportation). Of those, at least 80% are criminal, which puts a pretty high floor on what Obama would be able to do if we’re going to be “following the law as written” and all that. However, the rate of “border removals” (people being stopped at the border and sent home) has shot up, which is where this talking point comes from. Border removals have gone up for a number of factors that have little to do with the president – including a global financial crisis that incentivizes people to try to cross, more Congressional funding for ICE, and just simple population growth. I do realize that no one gives a shit about anything anymore.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        That was a very interesting read. The whole illegal immigration thing just isn’t one of my hot button issues, but I always get the impression that most of what people believe about it is based on gut feelings and nonsense rather than good data.

        Then again, that’s probably true of most issues.Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        See here [ ] for why this is a meaningless statistic.

        Two things. One, we don’t need to meditate on the meaning of the word deportation to get to the point that I was trying to make. And we don’t need to set any kind of floor on what Obama should or shouldn’t, could or couldn’t do. My comment was not an attempt to judge Obama for anything he has done. My comment is addressing the fact that there are people out there freaking out over the election of Trump and maintaining that he presents some kind of unique evil and unprecedented threat to our democracy and human decency writ large. Those people do have a point, but what they’re missing is that we are already doing a good number of those supposedly uniquely evil things. So when I see someone holding up a sign that says “Trump. Don’t Deport our Families,” I’m going to ask whether they have been holding a similar sign for the last eight years, or last sixteen for that matter. By the way, regardless of the answer, I do hope that those people keep holding up those signs and keep trying to influence U.S. immigration policy towards a more humane and economically sensible path.

        Two. I don’t mind being challenged on pedantic points, but at least get the point right. Here is the DHS removal report: It’s the most recent one that I could find and it shows that during the first five years of the Obama administration, DHS had over two million removals, well above the 1.2 or so after eight years of the Bush administration. Even, if we narrow our interest to interior removals, the count goes to 1.2 million for Obama up to 2015, compared with about 500,000 during the eight years of the Bush administration. There are charts here:

        So yes, Obama has “significantly reduced the rate of ‘internal removals'” and I non-sarcastically applaud him for this. But he reduced them from his own very high rate (ie higher than any other president before him).Report

        • Avatar PD Shaw says:

          Also this: “President Obama has also deported more immigrants per year than any president ever, and has also deported a higher percentage of residents arrived illegally than any post-war President. The first rises in deportation appear to have begun under Clinton (Democrat), hit record levels under Bush II (Republican), and deportation has soared to truly unmatched levels under Obama (Democrat). It has also declined under President Obama, but we’ll see how things progress.” Lyman StoneReport

          • Avatar trizzlor says:

            You can look at a car that was rolling down hill when this admin started and see that it has slowed down well below pre-admin speeds (as the Cato charts show), or you can just report that the car has travelled further than in the past. If you think the latter is more informative we’ll have to agree to disagree.

            But the gradual rate of change is actually *crucial* to the argument that’s being made here. If you were a Bush-era civil servant you could look at the Obama policies and conclude that he will roll-back internal removals at the roughly the same rate that Bush rolled them forward. You can still have a moral disagreement with the policy, but what you’re participating in is the normal ebb and flow of political change. Elections have consequences, as you said. What Trump is proposing is to increase the deportation rate 30 fold. Three. Zero. That’s not historical ebb and flow, which is precisely the point that the article makes. Civil servants are saying “Trump plans to rapidly up-end the way our institutions work” and your response is “You can’t complain about that because you were complicit in gradual change under Obama”.Report

            • Avatar j r says:

              Why put something in quotes that nobody actually said? Why not just quote the actual comments sitting a few inches above?Report

              • Avatar trizzlor says:

                I thought it was pretty clear from the context that I was summarizing my take in your position as a hypothetical conversation.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                Your summary is bad.

                Here is what I actually said:

                My comment was not an attempt to judge Obama for anything he has done. My comment is addressing the fact that there are people out there freaking out over the election of Trump and maintaining that he presents some kind of unique evil and unprecedented threat to our democracy and human decency writ large. Those people do have a point, but what they’re missing is that we are already doing a good number of those supposedly uniquely evil things. So when I see someone holding up a sign that says “Trump. Don’t Deport our Families,” I’m going to ask whether they have been holding a similar sign for the last eight years, or last sixteen for that matter. By the way, regardless of the answer, I do hope that those people keep holding up those signs

                People who work for the federal government under Trump will have to face the same ethical and moral dilemmas that civil servants under Obama and Bush and every other president have faced. They will deal with it the same way I dealt with working on Middle East foreign policy under Obama during the Arab Spring. They’ll do the best they can, even as the administration makes a bunch of very stupid and ethically questionable decisions.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor says:

                A 30-fold increase in deportations presents a unique evil and an unprecedented threat to our democracy. A civil servant who abides by reasonable changes in deportation policy is not already carrying out this unique evil. Nor are they hypocritical for being anxious about the unique evil of a Trump administration.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                If that’s your opinion, fine. Agree to disagree.

                But don’t try to imply that I’m somehow manipulating the data by plainly presenting the number of deportations over the previous two administrations. Facts are facts. We are each free to draw our own conclusions from those facts.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor says:

                That’s fair.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Is deportation evil?
                If you say, “Yes, always,” then you should wag your finger at everyone involved in the system.
                If you say, “No, never,” then you probably don’t concern yourself with the matter very much.
                If you say, “It depends,” or “Sometimes yes, sometimes no,” then you’d probably look at the specifics of various deportation policies/efforts and might find a space wherein you can wag your finger at some folks and not others. Within that space might be an argument wherein Trump’s proposal to rapidly increase the number and rate of deportation may not allow for individual deportations to be evaluated, thereby increasing (ensuring?) the likelihood that “evil” deportation happen.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              What Trump is proposing is to increase the deportation rate 30 fold. Three. Zero. That’s not historical ebb and flow, which is precisely the point that the article makes.

              What, in principle, is your issue with that? I mean, it’s not necessarily going to turn out that way, even if Trump gets what he wants, but it doesn’t seem to me to be relevant to the kinds of issues the article was claiming as precedents.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor says:

                My issue is based on intuitions about what happens when a massive federal bureaucracy is tasked with increasing throughput by 30x overnight: abuse of power, rolling back of safeguards, and – if it happens to come with 30x of new funding – massive graft. More so when we’re talking about an organization which is already functioning in an authoritarian capacity. Even more so when that organization targets minorities and/or people in economic distress. You think the Obamacare roll-out was bad? Now give them one year instead of four, hand each beurocrat a gun and a jail to fill, and tell them *wink wink* that the target population has a latent correlation with melanin and typically won’t be able to afford good legal representation.

                I’ve listened to Limbaugh talk about how we can borrow methods from China and Cuba and FDR (a Democrat! And no one said anything!) to “round people up”. Which tells me that there are millions of politically active ditto heads ready to call their rep in support of whatever happens if push comes to shove. I’ve listened to Trump continue to assert – for no obvious benefit – that the Central Park Five were guilty even though DNA evidence and scrupulous investigation had cleared them. Which tells me that his relationship with race and the rule of law has no floor in it’s awfulness. The stage is set. But yes, these are still very low probability, high risk events.

                The OP article talks about an order to round millions of people up, and whether it is morally justified to subversively help make the lists so that the most vulnerable are safe or to abstain entire. The relevance is pretty clear to me.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                So in other words, nothing.

                And specifically, that if the Trump Administration were to deport enough aliens so that, as a practical matter, his policy in that area was irreversible for a future Democrat President (eg, with deportations plus a wall you can’t reimport 10+ million aliens who now live in other countries), that would be perfectly consistent with our norms and the general principles of a free society.Report

              • Avatar trizzlorr says:

                I’m mystified that I you guys suddenly have such a difficult time with the concept that a massive bureaucracy with wide leeway can yield morally different outcomes from a small bureaucracy that’s being wound down. I mean, I would understand the argument that a 30x ICE increase is not going to lead to evil acts for reasons X, Y, and Z. But you’re rejecting even the concept that big government can be judged differently from small government. What a difference an election makes.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Coulda, shoulda, woulda.

                It could be that increased rate of deportation could have some bureaucratic incompetence and abuses. But that’s something that we have to see, not something that is guaranteed as a matter of course. And if incompetence and abuses do occur, it’s very likely that they would be of a completely different character than the motivations for the original article anyway.

                Finally, the ebb and flow business strikes me as ridiculous root branch. W and Obama were/are pretty explicitly pro-immigration presidents so it’s kind of disingenuous to talk about an ebb and flow between them, especially as it pertains to immigration.

                You are avoiding the idea that aliens have some kind of right to immigrate or remain in America, which is a good idea since from a logical point of view there’s no legitimate argument for it. But then, in principle it seems to me that there’s no real opposition to increased deportation as an immigration policy. (And furthermore, several nations who are not human rights violators use it in exactly that way, eg Australia and Japan).Report

  2. Avatar Damon says:

    Football: don’t look like it, not as light either. Imagine have to schlep that 45 pounds around all day.

    Obama: Hmm..did he have three houses as a senator? Maybe he’s come into some money over the last 8 years?! Hmm…maybe he’s expecting to make a lot on future speaking events. Hmmm

    Fact Checking: not sure how many “facts” were actually checked. Claims were commented upon but I didn’t see that many facts.

    Marsha Gessen: You have three choices: Resign, Resist and wait for a likely firing, or Obey. You will be judged by your actions, not your moral rationalizations.

    Gun sales to Blacks: Good!Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      The Obamas have grossed 400k a year in salary, plus whatever he’s still getting from the books, and only fixed expense has been 2 private school tuitions. (Which total about 80k) So they easily have at least 12k a month to throw at mortgages, which, in the interest rate environment over the past 8 years, can leverage over 2 million dollars in real estate value – maybe closer to 3 mil if taxes are favorable and they refinanced at the very bottom of the mortgage interest rate dip.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        I believe part of their 400k a year salary (at least half of it, in fact) goes into staffing a lot of the White House. (The President is personally responsible for a surprising number of things). And then there’s the fact that, well, being President requires a rather hefty budget for clothing, grooming, and the like.

        Unavoidable expenses alone ate at least half to 3/4ths of their salary. (On the other hand, once those are past, they really don’t have any OTHER expenses).

        If they managed to actually save a 100k a year over their 8 years I’d be surprised.

        But then again, I’m sure being elected President spiked his book sales — which all went into, IIRC, index funds. (Obama didn’t go for a blind trust like Dubya did, he went into index funds and simply disclosed his entire investments.)Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine says:

          Yeah, I was perplexed to learn that they have to pay for their food (and other things).

          The whole time I’m just thinking… I’d totally expense all that shit. And that’s why I can’t be president.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Well, they probably do. I mean, I can’t imagine them not using the deductions from that, for instance. (A lot of them are, you know, legitimate expenses relating to his work. Although how does a President file on that — is the White House a home office? 🙂 )

            I get the impression Trump will quietly take the salary after all, when he realizes what he has to pay for. (I can’t imagine him stiffing the White House staff, but then he stiffed his own policy shop and pollster, so who knows?)Report

            • Avatar Marchmaine says:

              Although how does a President file on that — is the White House a home office?

              Exactly, talk about IRS audit bait.

              Re: Trump… yeah, I don’t know how rich you’d have to be to absorb $200k in additional expenses for living in the Hotel you have to work at… but if I were on the edge I’d probably say that I’d donate my salary to charity (after I paid for all the things I have to pay for to live at the White House). And call it quits right there. But who knows, I’m only $100 level of wealthy… maybe he really is $100k wealthy.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      Fact Checking: not sure how many “facts” were actually checked. Claims were commented upon but I didn’t see that many facts.

      Still, it explains the situation much better than “Jeff Sessions prosecuted people for helping black people register to vote.” I knew as soon as I saw it that, like pretty much every other viral sound bite, it was a big, steaming load of narrative, so it’s nice to get something closer to the whole story.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Yeah, I’d called it “good reporting” but not “fact checking”.

        I imagine fact checking as “David Howard”, accused of using the “n-word”, actually said “niggardly”, which is not a racial epithet.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        I’d like to see some serious fact checking about the Dakota Access Pipeline.

        Did the USACE play fast and loose, or was the tribe stonewalling, etc.?Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          last I heard (and I don’t know how true it is) was that the pipeline route ran into NIMBY problems, so got rerouted through tribal lands.

          Which, if true, is pretty much par for the course for Native Americans.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            I heard the opposite, that it was going to go through tribal lands, but the tribe wanted more money that the company was willing to pay, so it got routed around tribal lands.

            Too much bad info floating around, and everything I find is on a site that clearly has an agenda one way or another.Report

            • Avatar Brent F says:

              As I understand it, it is presently routed outside tribal lands, but on lands the tribe in question thinks should be tribal lands and over the river that serves as the water source for said tribe.

              Pipelines debates in general is a very difficult thing to get clear and unslanted information about. Its particularly hard to tell the NIMBYs from the “sand in the gears” enviromentalists from the people who aren’t inherently against pipelines but think this one is bad.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                The current route is outside recognized tribal lands, but would pass under a portion of Lake Oahe on the Missouri River, which is the reservation’s only current source of water. Lake Oahe is the fourth largest artificial reservoir in the country and provides flood control, irrigation water, and hydroelectricity (760MW at max output, powers most of the central Dakotas). A large spill from the portion of the pipeline that passes under the lake would be an environmental problem along much of the Upper Missouri for years.

                The fundamental problem with the pipeline route, as with the Keystone XL before it, is the owners want desperately to build on a nearly-straight NW-to-SE line in order to avoid adding a couple hundred miles to the total length, and to hell with the risks to the Missouri River or the Nebraska Sandhills. There are relatively benign W-E paths that would connect to existing rights-of-way to get the oil where they want. That the owners aren’t using those suggests (at least to me) that they’re doing the whole thing on the cheap, and that makes me very, very nervous about how well the pipes will be maintained 20 or 25 years out.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                “…recognized tribal lands…”

                Aren’t those lines shifting? I saw a graphic that said it passed through their traditional lands but not what is currently recognized.Report

        • Avatar trizzlor says:

          The judge’s decision is here:

          It is extremely readable given the amount of stuff going on. The last 20 (double spaced) pages are analysis. I spent maybe a half hour going through it and came away convinced that the Army Corps had gone out of their way to address the tribe’s needs and was being stonewalled.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          IIBasedBased purely on the people I see talking about this issue (the same people I see jump on every far-left bandwagon), and the people I see not talking about it (mainstream Democrats), it looks an awful lot like a non-issue to me. I’d never judge an issue solely on that basis, but that’s my preliminary assumption until such time as I find a reason to dig into it.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      I like P.J. O’Rourke’s theory.

      “Besides, who’s actually seen what’s in the football? You think the President sits back after a long day of muddling sound bites and says “golly, let’s open up that blow-up thing and hey, take a gander”? Nixon, maybe, but not Bush(*). There’s probably nothing inside but a pint bottle of Hiram Walker and a copy of Penthouse–one from back in the Seventies when Penthouse was really dirty, I bet.”

      (*) this is from “Parliament Of Whores” so we mean GHWBReport

  3. Avatar J_A says:

    The Evita thing is silly. Evita is a very good musical (I prefer Sunset Boulevard, but Evita is way up there). I’ve seen it several times in different venues. Does that make me a cryptofascist too?

    Or perhaps he likes the Che character? You remember he’s the other protagonist, don’t you?See, Trump is a liberator of the masses.

    From Che’s first song

    “Sing you fools, but you got it wrong
    Enjoy your prayers because you haven’t got long
    Your queen is dead, your king is through”Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I think that there is another sly joke floating in there.

      Trump doesn’t like Hamilton… he likes Andrew Lloyd Webber, though!Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      @j_a @jaybird

      Disclaimer: I’ve known the author of the Evita piece since I was 18. He was a year above me and in the same department in college. We also lived in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn for a bit.

      I don’t think the piece is that far off. Trump shows a general inability to understand irony. The essay wasn’t about whether the musical Evita was good or bad or whether Andrew Lloyd Weber was good or bad. The essay was about Trump’s inability to understand that the musical is critical of Juan and Evita Peron. He just watches it and says “Now this is how to run a campaign.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Please, Saul. Don’t pretend that Andrew Lloyd Webber is anything but the Chili’s of musical theater.

        Not *EVEN* Chili’s.


        I thought you lived in San Francisco?Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      When I was in high school, I thought Tim Rice and I were really on the same page, until I realized that “Sing You Fools” was a company about the government not doing enough. I can still appreciate the anti-populist sentiment, though.

      Agreed about Sunset Boulevard. Lloyd Webber hit his peak with that one and (despite the regrettable choice of source material), Aspects of Love.Report

  4. Avatar Kolohe says:

    I agree, good fact check article. Still weird that they were able to quash Sessions’ nom in committee at the peak of Reagan’s political might.Report

  5. Avatar Kazzy says:

    This issue for Trump may not be open to interpretation. Curious to see how it plays out.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      He can take himself out of leadership of the company that pays the lease, or some other such. This is fixable and not that big a deal. The question is whether or not the changes can be made before he takes office and violates the lease.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I don’t think that will be enough.

        “No … elected official of the Government of the United States … shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom…”

        Will Trump benefit from that lease? Even if he is not in a leadership position, it seems pretty clear he will. A company he is a major stakeholder in will profit from use of the leased property. That puts money in his pocket. How is that not a benefit?Report

        • Avatar Damon says:

          First, you’re assuming he’d be a major stockholder. He could be a minority holder. And “benefit” doesn’t necessarily have the same legal meaning as the conventional meaning. But I’m not a real estate / gov’t contracts lawyer and I doubt you are either. That’s why those people get paid a lot of money, so I continue with my assertion that “there’s a way around this”. But, then again, T may not care and may let the GSA break the lease. I don’t know. If I was recently elected president, this wouldn’t be high on my list. I’d direct someone else to “fix this”.Report

          • Avatar Mo says:

            Major shareholder != majority shareholder. For example, for public companies, any shareholder that owns >5% of a company needs to register with the SEC. Shareholders with as little as 5-10% can be considered as having controlling interest.Report

            • Avatar Damon says:

              True enough, but my point wasn’t to get “rules lawyer-ey”. He could transfer ownership into a blind trust. He could sell a stake to other investors. He could transfer the ownership to a subsidiary he has little control over…whatever. That’s why I talked about “having someone fix this” that was a lawyer or gov’t contract specialist.Report

              • Avatar Mo says:

                You can’t transfer it to a blind trust because he would still benefit from it. He would have to sell his stake. Full stop. And more likely, the Trump Organization would have to sell their stake as well, unless Donald Trump irrevocably sells his stake in the organization.

                The easiest solution would be IPOing the Trump Organization, throwing those shares in a blind trust and having the trust sell off his shares and invest independently. Though that would risk having his dirty laundry aired to the whole world.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                So you’re a gov’t contracting or real estate lawyer who has experience is this field? If not, you’re shooting your mouth off just like I am.Report

              • Avatar Mo says:

                I’m not in government contracting, but I have done work in the area. I worked on an acquisition and was on the due diligence team for a government contracting consulting firm. So while I don’t have deep subject matter expertise, I’ve dabbled in it professionally.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                There we go! Your points are well taken. 🙂Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      It will be the first real test of the civil service to see if they go all Walter Sobchak “Am I the only one around here who gives a [scintilla] about the rules?!”Report

  6. Avatar notme says:

    85 languages in buffalo schools.

    This is the way to build a high trust society.Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    An interesting but depressing article on the health condition of democracy.

    Mr. Mounk and Mr. Foa developed a three-factor formula to answer that question. Mr. Mounk thinks of it as an early-warning system, and it works something like a medical test: a way to detect that a democracy is ill before it develops full-blown symptoms.

    The first factor was public support: How important do citizens think it is for their country to remain democratic? The second was public openness to nondemocratic forms of government, such as military rule. And the third factor was whether “antisystem parties and movements” — political parties and other major players whose core message is that the current system is illegitimate — were gaining support.

    If support for democracy was falling while the other two measures were rising, the researchers marked that country “deconsolidating.” And they found that deconsolidation was the political equivalent of a low-grade fever that arrives the day before a full-blown case of the flu.


    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Free Advice to pro-Free Speech activists upset at Trump’s comment on flag burning:

      Please do not go into the street and start burning flags. Seriously.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe says:

          The Flag Protection Act of 2005 was a proposed United States federal law introduced by Senators Hillary Clinton and Robert Bennett. The law would have outlawed flag burning, and called for a punishment of one year in jail and a fine of $100,000.

          This is why we can’t have nice things.Report

          • Avatar Hoosegow Flask says:

            Obviously Clinton’s problem here is that she tried to reach out to the tragically unheard middle America instead of standing fast on liberal principles.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            It seems worth pointing out that the specifics of the bill outlawed flag destruction “with the primary purpose and intent to incite or produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace” or destruction of flags that belong to or on lands belonging to the United States (which I assume means federal lands and governmental properties).

            Now, the bill never went anywhere so we have no idea how it would have actually been enforced or what the Constitutionality of the law would have been.

            I find both provisions of the law troubling but it does seem different than Trump’s call to outlaw flag burning in totality, punishable by loss of citizenship.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              If I had to take a stab as to what next week holds, Trump will make a similarly over-the-top statement about something that, coincidentally, Hillary Clinton also supported (to a much lesser extent, mind) a decade ago.

              And we’ll get to enjoy people explaining how this is really nuanced.Report

              • Yeah, expecting people to use their intelligence to distinguish between things that are similar but not identical is so pre-Trump.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                The ban on burning of the flag isn’t the thing. Very popular.

                The citizenship-stripping is the thing.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                My immediate take was that Trump was trying to get people to burn flags in the street today.

                Then it was that he was trying to get people to explain how Clinton’s ban on flag burning was considerably narrower than Trump’s way-over-the-top proposal. (And, perhaps, ensure that Clinton not show up for an interview somewhere lest she be asked, halfway through it, a “gotcha” question about the nuances between her plan to ban burning flags and Trump’s.)

                Now I think that he’s just trying to make us freak out.

                The citizen-stripping concept is interesting… Are there any countries that strip citizens of citizenry?Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Last I checked, Trump was claiming the election he won was rigged, that he really won with millions of votes, and referring to kids and racists (per Kevin Drum) as support for this view.

                A man who is focused on that, eight weeks before he takes the POTUS job, is not playing 11D chess. He’s not even playing checkers.

                He’s eating the Connect-4 pieces because he can’t get the frame to work.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, I certainly hope that the media doesn’t expend a whole lot of effort demonstrating that Trump won fair and square!Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Giving Trump all the credit in the world… leaves us with someone soon to assume the Presidential office who uses social media with the hopes of encouraging people on the street who oppose him to engage in one of the most divisive acts legal in this country in the hopes of fanning discord and anger.

                Giving Trump slightly less credit… leaves us with with someone soon to assume the Presidential office who uses social media with the hopes of encouraging the news media to go after his defeated and vanquished opponent whose relevance is essentially nil in order to make her squirm.

                Giving Trump credit makes him seem… awful.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Basically, we’re playing “Stupid or Evil” and you seem to want us to pick Evil.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                False choice — It can also be both. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Keep picking stupid. Maybe it’ll work out.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                Do you think there is an interpretation that doesn’t reflect poorly on someone soon to inhabit the Oval Office?

                This is like that game you wanted to play with Greg: What will it take for Jay to think its okay we criticize Trump? And, yes, yes, I’m sure you’ll point out that OF COURSE it’s okay we criticize him… but really guys you should understand.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                There are two ways to criticize Trump:

                1) Ways in which Trump grows weaker
                2) Ways in which Trump grows stronger

                Maybe there’s a third way. Ways that don’t really affect Trump one way or the other.

                Let’s ignore the argument whether those are really attacks that are #1s or #2s.

                In the coming days, Trump will be engaging in a lot of shenanigans.

                I think it’s very important to criticize Trump in such a way that doesn’t make him more powerful.

                He’s got his finger on the pulse of something and he’s going to say something that will result in everybody standing up and having a good, old-fashioned, food fight.

                I think it’s somewhat important to avoid the criticisms of Trump that make him more powerful. Criticisms of Trump that indicate that he is stupid are not going to work outside of among like-minded individuals.

                (Oh, don’t get me started on “evil” when it comes to how that works in practice.)

                Trump has goals.
                Are these goals yours?
                Well, some of them probably are. Back him on those.
                Are some of these absolutely horrible goals that will make things worse?
                Oppose those goals.

                Trump is not stupid. I’m not sure as to what “evil” means in the modern context. I’m pretty sure it’s different than what it meant 10 years ago and, as such, that makes me wonder if what it means today won’t be different than what it means 10 years hence. So maybe avoid that too.

                He’s trying to trick you.

                If he says X! and you’re inclined to say NUH-UH! NOT X!, look and see what Not X gets him.

                And then compare that goal to your goals and see if they overlap.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Jaybird: Trump has goals.

                Honestly? I don’t think he does. He’s accomplished the only goal he’s had for last year and a half, maybe the last 5 years – or maybe 20.

                Trump’s gonna honeybadger this presidency like no one can imagine.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Contemplating this:

                Going through ” He’s accomplished the only goal he’s had for last year and a half, maybe the last 5 years – or maybe 20.”

                1 1/2 years? Okay, I’d believe that he wanted to get his face out there, become a public speaker or something, sell more Trump Steaks/Vodka, etc. He was hoping to inflate his brand, make enough money to maintain his lifestyle, then die.

                Winning the White House was a catastrophe for him and us because he broke the Republicans and, maybe, the Democrats on his way there.

                5 years? Well… he’d pretty much be forward-looking enough to have a handful of post-presidency goals in the same way that I have “the first thing I’d do if I won the lottery is” goals. Spend 5 years visualizing the prize and no time visualizing what you’d do with it after it’s yours?

                20 years? He has goals.
                Oh, my god. He has goals and he’s going to accomplish them the same way that he accomplished the presidency and we don’t have half of the tools we need to fight back against his ability to see how things play out and we’d be better off praying for benevolence on his part than for effective opposition on ours.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Honeybadger? Never heard that. Are you referring to this? If you are, bravo; if you aren’t you should say you are.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “We should strip citizenship from anyone who burns a flag.”
                “I’m not sure our new President understands the Constitution.”
                “You idiot… he doesn’t really think that. He’s trying to make a point about you!
                “What point is that?”
                “That you love flag burning.”
                “I don’t love flag burning.”
                “Then why did you say you did?”
                “Back there… when you said he was wrong.”
                “I said he was wrong about how citizenship works.”
                “Flag burner.”

                Now, we can point out that if I never said anything I’d have never let my opponents high five over roasting a putz flag burner like myself.

                Or we can take to task people who indulge in bullshit.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Kazzy, this is a much better argument than the one that I feared would happen:

                “We should strip citizenship from anyone who burns a flag.”
                “HE DID? WELL I’M GOING TO BURN A FLAG RIGHT NOW!”Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Do you believe this was Trump’s intention?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                What difference does it make?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Sorry, it makes a big difference. I fear for our future knowing that the Decider of up to three or four SC justices is DJT.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not.

                I think it matters because if our President is intentionally attempting to inflame citizens who disagree with him to engage in highly divisive acts, that speaks to his willingness (or lackthereof) to be a President to and for all Americans.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I think it matters because if our President is intentionally attempting to inflame citizens who disagree with him to engage in highly divisive acts,

                How do you go about determining that fact? By asking Jaybird and others their opinion?

                His actions (words) apparently entailed those acts, tho. Which seems noteworthy, irrespective of intent.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Fact? Why bother with facts?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Intent is a hard fact to establish.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                At the time, I said this. Then I saw that Hillary proposed a flag-burning ban in 2005 and wondered if his point was not to make people spend time explaining how it was completely different when Clinton did it.

                Now I’m back to “yeah, he wanted to get college students to burn flags in the street”.

                Waiting for Trump to say something about how women should dress more modestly.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                “If you burn your bra you lose your citizenship.”Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Not, you just lose a lot of support (if it was a good bra).Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                I think he’s just doing the thing he knows – when the media threatens to focus on a thing he doesn’t want them to because it’s actually true (in this case, first his Trump University fraud settlement, then his massive international conflicts of interest), say something outrageous and untrue.

                The media focuses on whatever BS he spouted instead, and in the end, the result is a great big nothingburger, because nobody is surprised when he says outrageously untrue things.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                The citizen-stripping is what sounded the alarms for me that he could just say it so outright.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                There were always many Americans that loved free speech and freedom of religion but hated those things when it meant that people got to criticize their beloved country or practice Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Mormonism or no religion at all.Report

            • Avatar dragonfrog says:

              I disagree that we have “no idea how it would have actually been enforced.” We can look at loitering, unlawful assembly, failure to disperse, breaching the peace, resisting arrest, etc. etc. etc.

              If that doesn’t give us an excellent idea how a ban on flag burning “with the primary purpose and intent to incite or produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace” would have been enforced, we’re not trying very hard.Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw says:

                As I read that wikipedia entry, burning a 3 by 5 piece of cloth or nylon is most likely already a crime (breach of peace, disorderly conduct, open burning, public nuisance, etc.), though not a federal crime and not a felony.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                How many of those are federal laws?

                Genuine question: if something is in violation of federal law but not state or local law, who is qualified to make an arrest?Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                Man, I have no idea. US criminal law is weird. I only barely understand your electoral system, which is quite weird enough, and that’s because your elections get almost as much news coverage here as our own do.

                Canada has one criminal code, and it’s federal. There are also provincial and municipal laws – e.g. provincial traffic safety acts, zoning regulations (that aren’t criminal, and so don’t result in criminal records).

                Federal, provincial, and municipal police can all make arrests under all laws applicable in a location where they have jurisdiction – and usually there’s only one police force with jurisdiction in a given place (municipal cops in big cities, RCMP in rural areas in most provinces, provincial police in a few).Report

              • Avatar Brent F says:

                There is also court rulings that amount to a requirement that you can’t be subject to a loss of liberty for anything that isn’t a “true crime.” This effectly bans the practice of attaching jail time to regulatory offenses, which appears to be common in the American system. In effect, the only things you can go to prison for under Canadian law can be found in a single federal statute which all fits in a red book I keep on my desk.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                (albeit with the caveat that when the supreme court throws out a section of the criminal code, it doesn’t say automatically come off the book next time it’s printed, to Travis Vader’s delight)Report

            • Avatar Kolohe says:

              Kazzy: It seems worth pointing out that the specifics

              It’s totally true that what Clinton sponsored was more nuanced than the run of the mill ‘flag burning amendment’ (e.g. like the one she voted against either later in that session or the next one)

              But, I contend it’s exactly *this*, the naked triangulation, that got her the reputation she had going into this past election cycle (which she also had the previous cycle, and it lost her the nomination)

              And it’s that reputation that meant, in the end, she couldn’t seal the deal among some 100k-200k people across three to four states.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                What do you mean by “naked triangulation”? And what reputation did that specific behavior earn her?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Where I come from “naked triangulation” refers to an activity which can’t be discussed at this site. You’re gonna have to learn about it on your own.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                before they made it all family and corporate, you used to be able to see live nude polygons in Times’ Square.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                I’m really just into lines myself. But it’s cool if you’re into polygons. No judgment.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Such flat tastes you two have.

                I’m into polyhedra myself, the more irregular, the better.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Triangulation to me is when there is an ideological position that splits each party (or political coalition, as appropriate), wherein one can take a stance that incorporates much of what the faction of each party with that position have in common. The examples that immediately come to mind are trade and immigration. Clinton (Bill) triangulated on the former, Reagan (Ronnie), on the latter.

                Triangulation itself is not the problem. It’s often good politics, and sometimes even good policy – but sometimes not.

                My characterizing it as ‘naked’ comes from the fact that flag burning is a fake issue. It’s always been a fake issue, but it wasn’t even ripe in 2005, as far as I can remember. She was fighting a battle either from (then) 15 years ago, or, if my memory is faulty, something that came up because of Iraq war protests. Either way, it was not a serious issue, that required any sort of actual legislation.

                The legislation itself was, as you and others elsewhere said, narrowly tailored. But provocatively *titled*. So she could claim credit for the title, but if criticized, defend it on its narrowness.

                It was a shamelessly transparent move, and out of phase for the state of things at the time. And as you inferred, no one remembered this specific bill until Trump tweeted the other day.

                But it’s part of the pattern, of being that cake having and eating politician, but doing it poorly and at the wrong time. The triangulation I *remember* from the era was her saying on the Senate floor

                “I believe marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman. I have had occasion in my life to defend marriage, to stand up for marriage, to believe in the hard work and challenge of marriage.

                which, in context, was to make statement against amending the Constitution with a DOMA type amendment. But it sure does define marriage pretty narrowly, even by the standards of the day. (12 years ago)

                (the more damning equivocation was her vote on the Iraq war, where during at least the first half of nomination contest, she tried to claim her vote wasn’t actually a vote for war, but a tool for Bush to pressure Saddam to open up for more inspections).Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Here’s how I’d characterize it: a politician triangulating on a single issue makes good political sense, especially if it’s a politically divisive issue. But making it a general political strategy, especially after everyone’s aware of it as a tactic, suggests that the politician has no views about policy and politics except insofar as their words are vehicles to promote them to power.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Hilary defenders give short-shrift to her Iraq war vote, but they do a disservice to just how devastating that vote was. Not only did the vote itself play a big part in losing two presidential campaigns, but her mealy attempts to account for it – which have always struck me as complete bullshit – only made the political terrain she tried to re-enter worse.

                As with the email scandal, it’s not so much her actions that impugn her character, but her responses to criticism about those actions.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Really helpful. Thanks @kolohe and @stillwater .Report

      • Avatar PD Shaw says:

        This is still Obama’s America, damn it. Light ’em if you got ’em.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Trump should just have said flag burners should be doxxed, boycotted by employers, expelled from universities. That's how free speech works.— r_q (@ad_captandum) November 29, 2016


          • Avatar veronica d says:

            @jaybird — If my employer wants to fire me for burning a flag, they surely can do so.

            I never attended a university, but the same applies.

            Doxxing people can be pretty shitty. My take is: don’t dox kids. If you’re gonna dox adults, just know that what goes around comes around. I’m all for doxxing white power, for example.

            Myself, I don’t fucking hide.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        Chait agrees with you:

        But why would he choose to pick this strange fight? Here is a case where the common complaint that he is distracting the public from unflattering stories rings true. Proposing a flag-burning ban is a classic right-wing nationalist distraction, and Trump has a number of ugly stories from which to distract: his plan for massive, unprecedented corruption, the extreme beliefs of his appointees, a controversy over a recount that highlights his clear defeat in the national vote.

        Trump does not want coverage of his plans to enrich himself and his family or to strip the safety net. A fight over patriotism and citizenship frames the president-elect as the champion of American nationalism — giving a kind of legitimacy that overcomes his defeat in the national vote, much as standing on the rubble at Ground Zero erased all complaints about George W. Bush governing from the right after losing the national vote. There may not be flag-burners to fight at this very moment, but surely the president highlighting the issue will encourage protesters to burn flags in defiance, drawing media attention. Thus the opposition will demonstrate that their hatred for Trump is actually hatred for the country. And he will proceed to enrich himself and his party’s donor class.


      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Good news: it doesn’t look like anyone took the bait and burned the flag today.

        Maybe I have more hope today than I had yesterday.Report

  8. This is kind of a surprise. I really thought he’d head back to Chicago.

    There’s this thing called weather.Report

  9. Avatar veronica d says:

    So this is the “new normal” in Trump’s America:

    Note, I was friends with Elizabeth. I watched this unfold on her page last week. Afterward, I talked to some of her family, trying to help however I could. It was dismal.

    I’m reminded of how King Theoden described Saruman’s army: “such reckless hate.”

    In any case, this is new. It is profoundly ugly. It was not created by Trump, but he is certainly part of it, as are his core supporters.

    A vote for Trump was a vote for this, perhaps unintentional, but things are as they are.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      I thought the “new normal” was {redacted for something not remotely the new normal and also particularly cruel in context. Not OK, Kim! – Maribou (in editorial capacity)}Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        @kim — There is something wrong with you.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Kim, we give you a lot of leeway but this was beyond the bounds of acceptable. We need you to at least try to meet us halfway. As such, we’re putting you on a three-day suspension. I will put a reminder on my phone to lift it, but if I fail to please email me (t**mw**l at gmail).Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        It is a “real thing” in the trans community, how to deal with suicidal ideation. Literally today someone on my Facebook feed is talking about suicide. They are doing it in a way not much different from how Elizabeth had been talking days before she killed herself. The thing is, this is in fact normal. It is not a “new” normal, although things are particularly bad right now.

        I cannot really help this person, any more than I could help Elizabeth. Sometimes we kill ourselves. So it goes. If I called the police each time, I’d be making daily calls. (I’m not exaggerating.)

        One time I called the police on my g/f, because she had stormed out of the apartment threatening to kill herself. The cops found her. They called EMS. The EMS people humiliated her and dragged her to the ER. The ER released her. She walked six miles home, arrived at 5 AM. Days later she received a bill she could not afford to pay.

        She begged me never to call the police on her again. We broke up before it became an issue.

        It is pretty standard in my social circles to “not call the police” over suicide threats. There are reasons for this. It is complex. For us, suicide is a difficult topic. It seems like about half of us have tried at some point, although I suspect that statistic overestimates. Still, it is shockingly commonplace.

        My current g/f has attempted twice. I’ve talked her back from the brink a few times. She’s done the same for me.

        If I ever threaten suicide, please don’t call the police. If it is time for me to go, then it is time. If it is not, then it is not. That’s not up to you.


        I have much sympathy for Elizabeth’s family. I have lingering sorrow for her, that we could not do more for her. That said, even in death she deserves her dignity. Her family deserves it as well. As do I. As do my g/f’s. We all do.

        There is something deeply ugly in the country right now. It’s not precisely new, in the sense it’s been lingering, this capacity. Circumstances have brought it forth, Trump, the internet, fake news, etc. We need to oppose it, full measure.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      I’ve been reliably assured that if we weren’t so smug, that they wouldn’t hate us.

      Why do we make them hate us? What’s wrong with us, that they have to treat us so?

      It’s been rather disheartening to see the language of abuse and abusers pop up into political analysis.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Trump trolls are a blight and I’m sorry that people you knew had to endure this.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      There are no words. I am sorry.Report

  10. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    We went to a performance of Evita in England when I was about seven. All I remember of it is that it was so painfully loud we had to walk out – the earplugs we desperately improvised out of paper napkins from my mom’s purse didn’t cut it. We probably only heard the first two or three songs.Report

  11. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

    Regarding fact checking: Yes, this is how you do it. People who complain about X or Y fact checker being “biased” are usually just complaining about their stupid numeric assessments of truthiness. They rarely have any real complaints about the facts or context provided in the pieces, which makes sense because real facts are pretty hard to dispute. That’s one of the key properties of facts. They’re true no matter what your politics are.

    If you just write a piece that lays out the relevant information and leave off the, “And thus I give this claim 3.67532 smiley faces! The Fact Checker has spoken!” part, you’ve done your job and it’s pretty hard to criticize.Report

  12. Avatar Jaybird says:

    If I had to explain Rawls’s “veil of ignorance” theory behind setting up an ideal society in a nutshell, it’d be the whole “you cut the candybar in half, but your sibling gets to pick which half they want first. Only with a billion people and a lottery instead of a little brother.”

    If I had a little more time to explain it, I’d make people watch this video.:


    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      If Obama HAD campaigned for ACA, he mighta well achieved it! (I mean, that’s a (counterfactual) fact!) And the idea suggested in the lnky – that’s it’s not the best use of a President’s time – strikes me as confusing the purpose of the Presidency.

      If Trump can consolidate HIS base, rally support for HIS policies, ensure the approvals of HIS administration, then he’s achieving all the goals of democracy in the digital, advert-driven age. None of that requires he spend all his time in the Oval Office, being all involved and all. Delegate! Sell! Close!Report

  13. Avatar Saul Degraw says:


    You will probably appreciate this but I think this picture is what it looks like when a man knows he has sold his soul to the devil.

    Trump looks rather devilish in this photo

    • Avatar Damon says:

      Nailed it. If there ever was a better example I don’t know it. You’d think it’d come more easily the more you do it. After all, he IS a politician.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Yeah… though I’m happier with Romney in the admin than someone crazier so it’s good news in a round about way.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Not even in a roundabout way. Given that Trump is the President-elect, the last thing we want is for all the good Republicans to boycott his administration. Because who does that leave to fill it?Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

          If I don’t torture this child, they will just get someone else to do it.

          Thats one of the oldest dilemmas faced by resistance to authoritarians, is the idea that a good person can somehow mitigate the evil by working within it.

          It usually fails, since the good person is working FOR the evil as a servant not with it as an equal partner.Report

          • Avatar RTod says:

            Thus is a little different than what you describe, though, because so far the tea leaves suggest these people will make policy. (Because Trump doesn’t seem that interested in doing so.)

            So do you want a Mitt Romney out in the world making foreign policy on his own, or do you want a Frank Gaffney?Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:


              But history doesn’t have a lot of promise. Historical examples are filled with senior aides slowly bending to the will of their executive, in an effort to flatter and secure their position.

              Because Trump still is the executive, and still gets his information and advice from Frank Gaffney, or Alex Jones or a commenter from Gateway Pundit.Report

              • Avatar RTod says:

                The thing is that he is the executive. So we have a choice of what we can wish for when he makes appointments. So would you rather have a Mitt Romney or a Steve Bannon in any particular position?

                This whole thought process (that I’m seeing a lot of on Twitter) by liberals that it would be better if Trump eschewed moderates in his administration and just hire folks from the alt-right is… weird.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                This whole thought process (that I’m seeing a lot of on Twitter) by liberals that it would be better if Trump eschewed moderates in his administration and just hire folks from the alt-right is… weird.

                Is that really a thing? I’m not on Twitter but I haven’t heard anything like that in broader social media. All I’ve heard from liberals is outrage at the conservative/alt-right appointments he’s ALREADY made.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                {Kim, you’re on a three-day suspension -Trumwill}


            • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


              A Trump optimist I see!

              Here is the thing that puts me more on the Trump pessimist side. A few years ago, there was a panel where people were shown Ryan’s plans to privatize what exists of the U.S. Welfare State. People on the panel did not believe it. They thought it was a joke!!! Too extreme!!! (I can’t seem to find a link on this story.)

              Plenty of people seem to have no trouble believing that the Democrats will take away all the guns (not true) but they can’t believe that the GOP wants to end Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

              This seems to be repeating with various of Trump’s more authoritarian and extreme proposals. Lots of people just saying he is a mere panderer, he can’t enact it, he is too lazy, etc. Why not take Trump at face value? He is appointing hardliners like Sessions who are like to agree with the authoritarian things he said on the campaign trail and twitter.

              I find it frustrating that things usually have to get really bad before people think “Oh yeah. The right-wingers/authoritarians meant all that really bad stuff” before they express buyer’s remorse and this seems to need to repeat every few decades.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Tod’s position isn’t “Really bad things won’t happen under Trump,” but more likely “Really bad things are less likely to happen if Trump has Romney at his side instead of Gaffney.”

                I’m honestly not sure if that’s true or not. I doubt it makes all that much difference (and lean towards believing that Romney shouldn’t take the job). But if it has an effect, I do believe it’s more likely to be a positive one.

                The campaign is over. Trump won. Barring death or impeachment, we’ve got him for four years. Optimism has nothing to do with it.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            Bro. There are 535 members of Congress and nine Supreme Court justices that are also part of the government. Trump can’t just do whatever he wants.

            …oh wait, that’s right, we heard about how executive orders were important so that the president could get around all this foolish party-of-no resistance.Report

            • Avatar switters says:

              Surely you are talking about the President who has issued the fewest executive orders per year since Grover Cleveland, who’s term ended in 1889.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Man, then he really dropped the ball by bragging about how that’s what he’d do to get things done.

                He normalized using them and then he didn’t even use them!

                He merely set up Trump to use the hell out of them.Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                Obama normalized using them? Trump would have been constrained otherwise?

                Or maybe I’m missing your point here. You trying to be clever again?Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                There’s nothing wrong with executive orders as such. Executive orders are directives that the President gives to employees of the executive branch, which he has legitimate authority to do as head of the executive branch. The problem is when an executive order directs employees of the executive branch to do things that exceed the authority of the executive branch. This doesn’t necessarily have any correlation with the number of executive orders issued by a particular president.Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                I understand all that. My comment back to Duck was mostly a reflection of my suspicion that he hasn’t actually taken the time to figure out how many “excessive” EOs Obama issued compared to other presidents, but was simply throwing out flame bait. Which i shamelessly gobbled up. I’ll stand by that assumption unless given reason to believe otherwise.Report

  14. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Hey @road-scholar wasn’t this a complaint of yours? Click.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      YES! Oh that makes flying with Bug so much easier. Just load up a tablet with cartoons before we leave home and let him veg out for the flight.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:


    • Avatar Road Scholar says:

      Not really a complaint, more of a it-would-sure-work-better-for-me-if sort of thing. I still love my Droidtv; lot more selection, hundreds of series past and present available, and current series episodes are available in a couple of days, much like Hulu. But I’m certainly happy about the Netflix thing since some of what I wanted were the Netflix originals like OITNB. And movies, too!

      Venn diagram. Union set larger than either independently. It’s all good.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar says:

        Ugh. This is less than ideal for me:

        Each Netflix download has a different expiration time. Movies and TV shows that expire from your device in less than 7 days will display how much time is left in the “My Downloads” section of the Netflix app. For some movies and shows, offline viewing must be completed within 48 hours of the moment you press play. When you start playing one of these titles, you’ll see how many hours you have left in the “My Downloads” section of the Netflix app

        I generally stay on the road for 3-4 weeks at a time. The public WiFi I can connect to now and then (McDonald’s or one of our terminals) tends to be on the slow side.Report

  15. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Re: Football

    I listened to a podcast (maybe Cracked?) that said rather than the current system, there should be a member of the SS who agrees to have the codes implanted in his body, accessible only by cutting them out of him… risking or guaranteeting death in the process.

    You want to go to nuclear war? You better be ready to cut that shit out of a dude. Otherwise, you don’t really want to go there.

    It was an… interesting idea.Report