Morning Ed: World Politics {2018.06.13.W}

[WP1] Slovenian politics are taking a turn for the Hungarian.

[WP2] In 1999, David Brin argued that the original Star Wars trilogy was elitist and anti-democratic. I find that part of the argument a little more convincing than the depiction of Star Trek as populist. Seems like it’s the royals vs the roundheads.

[WP3] Not gonna lie: It’s nice to be courted.

[WP4] You may have heard something about centrists being hostile to democracy, but that study may have been overstated.

[WP5] Colin Dickey argues that when politicians write fiction, they’re telling us something scary about their worldview.

[WP6] James Kirchick argues that Europe can’t quit America, howevermuch it wants to.

[WP7] One of the great criticisms of capitalism is how it generates its own needs that leave us all running on a treadmill. But Scott Sumner asks what if the same is true of progressivism?

[WP8] Maoists in Capitalistopia.

[WP9] Visual persuasion has taken on new dimensions with memes, but they have a long history that the elites may have lost control over.

[WP0] It’s kind of important that Samantha Bee and other liberals take care not to offend the sensibilities of Trump supporters. .


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Will Truman is the pseudonym of a former para-IT professional who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He is also on Twitter. ...more →

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134 thoughts on “Morning Ed: World Politics {2018.06.13.W}

  1. W0: This is why liberals often feel like we are forced to fight with one or both hands tied behind our backs. Rightists have delighted in shock the bourgeois vulgarity for a long time. Trump just increased this exponentially. If you a liberal and you make the smallest, slightest mistake in a word you use its like falling off a tight rope. It doesn’t help us that many people on our side will wage war for wrong word use to.

    W5: The main thing that I get is that a lot of politicians really don’t like dealing with people that disagree with them. More than a few seem to have a lot of contempt for ordinary people in the United States at least. Politicians seem to hate politics as much as anybody else. They fantasize about doing things in a more authoritarian and less procedurally correct manner to.

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        • Wrong link destroyed my point. I read a story on ICE ripping a child from the mom’s arm while the mom was breastfeeding. This is a black mark on our country. Do you want to defend that? Do you want to defend someone who will defend that? Please answer with a yes or a no. No conditions. No contortions.

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                • Pinky,

                  I’m sorry.

                  Maribou,

                  Like pillsy, I’m rather frustrated these days and getting really short tempered on calls to civility and/or civility trolling/policing.

                  I get the intellectual appeal of calls to civility or refusing to go as down and dirty as your opponents. I get intellectually that it can be a good moral victory. I also get the idea that democracy needs people to debate contentious topics in a civil and calm matter. At least I get this on an intellectual level.

                  But then I see stories like the one I mentioned above side-by-side without how De Niro saying F Trump on TV will lead to a midterm loss and a Trump reelection.

                  I really don’t get this kind of thing. We have a government agency empowered by the President and his AG to act inhumanely and the press and others are tut tutting about dirty words. What motivates this? Sincerity? Fear? Capitulation?

                  Suppose this hypothetical voter exists. One who says “You know, ICE tearing babies from their mothers is bad but De Niro said a dirty word and he is a Hollywood elitist and now I have to stay home or vote Republican.” I don’t know how to describe such a person’s moral compass as anything but questionable and questionable is the nice word. Such a person was never ever going to vote Democratic or further left despite countless protestations.

                  Why should we pretend otherwise?

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                  • I’ll second this.

                    In times like this, the middle ground starts to narrow and everyone eventually is forced to choose a side, even one they might not prefer.

                    This isn’t a well intentioned but unfortunate policy. It is a deliberate act of evil by people who know what they are doing.

                    And there aren’t subtle nuances and complexities, there aren’t any “well actually” modifiers here.

                    And part of why people like us are screaming is so that we won’t allow the existence of a quiet corner where people can huddle and pretend to be oblivious.

                    In this coming fight we are going to need every voice we can muster, and we can’t allow anyone to hang back and remain comfortably detached.

                    And there is no “driving away” the middle;
                    Everyone has eyes to see, and no one needs a soft slick sales pitch from us to make their decision.

                    Anyone who chooses the other side will have done so with eyes open and fully conscious of what it means.

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                    • Problem is, if I say “ICE is evil!”, I’m expected to also say something like, “New taxes are awesome!”, and if I don’t, I’m attacked as being inconsistent, or unwilling to take the correct side.

                      PS I also get this when I am critical of police violence, as if wanting less violence by officers means I want cops gunned down in the street. I can’t effing win, no nuanced positions allowed!

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                      • — Reasonable people can debate tax policy. Right now, however, the political choice is pretty stark.

                        Once we are past the moral crisis of Trumpism, sure, we can return to the neverending debate between technocratic socialism and libertarianism.

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                      • And if I applaud comments critical of this policy from someone like David Frum I am attacked as a squish.

                        It happens.

                        The “win” here is not Chip looking like a smart guy, or the victory of socialism, or anything other than a reversal of the policy and an end to the horror.

                        Intra-factional fighting will resume afterward.

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                      • I’m honestly not sure how much this is true over perceived. But yes political parties are about coalitions and not free for alls and sometimes this involves compromise on things we would prefer not compromising on. Life sucks that way.

                        Libertarians were traditionally able to join with Christian conservative types over deregulation even if they were not into the moral majority stuff themselves. Why is it harder for them to join with Democrats/liberals in stopping ICE?

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                        • I’m happy to join hands with people to condemn ICE. The problem isn’t working together towards that singular goal. It’s that during that effort, talk drifts towards other topics, and we get point.

                          If X is so important, people need to keep their eye on the prize and put their petty tribalism aside for the sake of the goal. I’m happy to set mine aside, but if my ‘allies’ can’t seem to do it, I have a hard time accepting that they really want the end goal, as opposed to spending their efforts fanning their tribe.

                          Doing this requires discipline, a trait our politics, hell, our whole society, is sorely lacking as of late.

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                          • If X is so important, people need to keep their eye on the prize and put their petty tribalism aside for the sake of the goal. I’m happy to set mine aside, but if my ‘allies’ can’t seem to do it, I have a hard time accepting that they really want the end goal, as opposed to spending their efforts fanning their tribe.

                            Look, if I could trade “within normal parameters of wrong” policy concessions for a broader base of anti-Trump support, I would. Tax cuts or whatever, fine.

                            Hell, I actually to an extent am already committed to this by being a Democrat. I don’t think a national $15 min/wage is a good idea. Medicare for All is not my first or second choice for how to reform the US healthcare system.[1] Hell I’m really not at all in favor of expanded gun control for a bunch of smallish reasons that add up to overall opposition.

                            I just think that in a lot cases making the sort of policy concessions we’re talking about would mean losing more people than it would gain. Maybe some of them should be letting go of their policy preferences or whatever, but once you push people across enough lines you tend to lose their vote, or at least make them to check out.

                            So when says he feels like we don’t want him in our coalition, well, he probably is onto something. I don’t know exactly what kinds of acknowledgement or compromises he would need to feel like he was actually part of it, but it’s very possibly that if we made those changes, we’d lose a lot more people, and many of those people would be way more effective activists and much better, to be blunt, political resources than I am.

                            [1] Not the platform of the Dems yet, but it will be by 2020 or I’ll eat a bug. Or at least a gummi worm.

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                            • It isn’t so much what the party has for planks, it’s that there are a lot of people who support the party who can’t seem to not engage the circular firing squad. And not just trolls on FB[1], but party leaders who allow their rhetoric to become hyperbolic.

                              No one wants to openly accept the single issue support[2], it’s an all or nothing deal.

                              [1] Nutpicking to be sure, but damn if those aren’t some determined and aggressive nuts.

                              [2] BSDI – this isn’t so much a left only thing. I just feel it more from the left because I lean left, so the hostility is keener.

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                              • The circular firing squad is the default configuration for the Left.

                                It’s not good. It is bad and exhausting. And as a center-left liberal squish in a lot of ways it’s less exhausting because it’s easier to walk away from in some ways.

                                But it is also so incredibly durable a feature of the political landscape I’m dealing with that I feel like fighting it is going to work almost as well as building a perpetual motion machine.

                                As for the rhetoric, some of it is probably dumb or ill-considered, but some of it is about demonstrating commitment to the sorts of people who have their own reasons to distrust the party leadership.

                                I actually have an eternally percolating article that I’ve tried to write 13 times (I think that’s the count) to submit here about this (among other things), but writing stuff outside of comment sections is another of my weaknesses, along with tolerating Democratic committee meetings, knocking on the doors of strangers, or remembering where the hell I put my car keys.

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                                • The circular firing squad is the default configuration for the Left.

                                  Remember this the next time you wonder why moderates aren’t more enthusiastic about supporting the party. Frankly, I’m tired of taking friendly fire while I’m trying to help.

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                                  • Not just moderates, either.

                                    I mean, I’m well to the left of most of the staunch Democrats on this site. Welllll to the left. My actual policy positions are mostly (small c) conservative iterations of what I was taught by the (few) beloved, trusted authority figures in my life, which is economic socialism, or I suppose y’all call it “social democracy” around here, but with a HUGE emphasis on the social half, mixed with a fierce leave-people-the-hell-alone social libertinism. But also default assumptions about gun control, etc, that put me way to the left on an American spectrum but that weren’t particularly left or right where I grew up. (I’m not saying it’s all internally consistent. I’m saying it was a package deal from my few trusted elders, so I’m pretty stuck to it.)

                                    Where I grew up, in the midst of something far to the left of the Democratic party, those pretty darn social-democratist people teased me for being so left-wing and I teased them back that I was more conservative than anybody because I knew the co-ops and hippie communes I grew up in worked and I wanted to keep doing what they did.

                                    And yet in the argument-o-sphere of the left, I’m not “partisan” enough to pass the Democratic smell test. I pass the “left” test just fine among people who don’t identify as Democrat first – my very very left, would never vote non-Democrat student workers and other young uns, Republicans, and mavericks in general, are all quite clear on how very far left I am…. but not the adult, partisan Democrat test. They mostly seem to think I’m some kind of centrist just because I refuse to participate in (most of) the shunnings, beratings, and anathemizing that I’m supposed to. Not that I don’t shun, berate, and anathemize, but that I don’t do it *enough*, or sometimes that I do it to the wrong people as opposed to whomever the current appropriate targets are.

                                    And the circular firing squad default mode is a big part of that. It’s also NOT part of the leftism I grew up with, so my (small c) conservative side resents and resists it being seen as just part of how things work.

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                                    • This is where i think BSDI is a fair point. There are lefties like you describe and righties. This is what some American’s are. We’ve always had people who like to scold and stigmatize and be loudly moralistic. Heck some of them were even on the Right Side though they were complex characters in troubled times ( see John Brown).

                                      Some national stereotypes have basis’s in truth. Certain countries are polite or queue well or are organized. Some nationalities tend to be violent, moralistic and shouty.

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                                      • I have no experience of wanting to be part of the Republican party (nor do I expect to have). So the fact that there are righties like this does not really affect me.

                                        My experience of the Democratic party is that, much like , they want my vote but they don’t want *me*. The people you characterize as “just some of us” seem to me to control the party. Unlike , they’re pretty much guaranteed my hypothetical vote (though probably this is part of why I never bothered to become citizenized, so they don’t get my actual vote, though they do get some of my service in ways small and large, and some of my money). And I’ll keep advocating what I advocate regardless, and that will very often line up with their policy platform . But I don’t want to be part of the Democratic engine in any significant way because what I’ve seen of it mostly involves people being very poorly treated. My friends who are part of the machine are far more tolerant than I am of various kinds of abuse (including the kind of stuff that gets AGs fired). The amount of verbal abuse, sexual harassment, corruption, and just outright bullying that goes on in the Democratic Party means I can’t be part of it in a meaningful way. Where it goes, I fade out. Not because I am lazy, or unwilling to fight, but because I’m not going to put up with institutionalized abuse in a day to day part of my life.

                                        It’s absolutely true that there is at least as much of that in the Republican party (I think far more), and there’s no way it would turn me Republican. The idea is laughable.

                                        But if Democrats want to *mobilize* people beyond the partisan base, getting rid of the circular firing squad and actually dealing with true abuse and corruption within party structures is the way to go.

                                        It’d be a lot more work. And I’m not even sure it’d be a good idea *in the short-term* when the wolves are, IMO, at the gate. But where I see people doing that, I feel some hope. And where I see them doing the opposite of that, I pretty much just want to take my favorite people and find someplace like Greenland, except that doesn’t mind us moving there.

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                                        • I don’t’ disagree with any of that. I’ve had plenty of problems with the D’s which i inherited from my very leftie parents. I tend to think parties, at least ours, don’t’ attract the highest quality people. I’d even include the Green’s and Libertarian parties in that.

                                          I’m just a bit sour on our national character at this point in my life. Sure we got lots of good qualities and some not so good ones.

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                                  • Oh I remember it.

                                    I kind of wish I could forget it sometimes.

                                    And I don’t particularly enjoy it either when it happens to me. That said, while I’ve been going on a litany of things that I’m bad it in political spaces, avoiding friendly fire from the Left is one of a relatively small number of things I don’t suck at.

                                    But I have no idea what to do about it in terms of changing the party/coalitions/whatever structure and have, in much the manner of other issues ‘X’, decided to shelve it for the time being. Maybe that’s an unfair and unuseful response because I duck it fairly well and it doesn’t get me where I live.

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                      • When your choice is the lesser of two evils, you vote for the lesser of two evils. You might not agree with what they have to say on everything but do no harm is a guiding principal. The Nazis came to power in a good part because the KPD saw the SPD as “social fascists” and the real problem. Turned out they were very wrong for refusing to vote for the SPD.

                        Like if the only choice was between a Republican and a really strict Libertarian, I’d vote for the really strict Libertarian in all elections even though I agree little with them. The moral choice is obvious that a doctrinaire Libertarian would be entirely better than Republicans by an order of magnitude.

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                  • I found the ICE article. I don’t understand why the kids are staying in the US. I didn’t notice any claims that the children were born in the US.

                    For me, this article makes me want to vote more Republicans in, because I think they’re more likely to update our immigration laws in a sensible way, Clumsy enforcement of old, long-neglected laws is nobody’s ideal scenario.

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        • Yes, of course I do. Being a conservative means I want ICE ripping children out of nursing mothers’ arms. There’s no reasonable middle ground between being a liberal and wanting that exact scenario, at least no middle ground I can think of. It’d be hard to see how someone could reason out something that wasn’t liberal and yet didn’t encourage ICE agents to rip children out of nursing mothers’ arms. I mean, that might be bias on my part, because I’m always posting about how I want ICE agents to do that. Maybe if I stopped playing that scenario in my mind I could envision something different, but it’s never going to happen because I enjoy thinking about it too much.

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  2. On June 11, 2018, Sessions released his latest immigration bomb, Matter of A-B-. In 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals issued a decision called Matter of A-R-C-G. This decision held that women who suffered domestic violence may be eligible for asylum in the United States if that violence rose to the level of persecution and their government can not or will not do anything to help them.

    A-B- was a woman from El Salvador. Her IJ was unfortunately a piece of work. I’ve had experience with him. He gets reversed more than any other IJ in the nation. One third of his cases gets reversed in favor of the alien. The IJ denied her claim despite suffering horrific abuse. The BIA reversed the IJ and ordered him to grant asylum pending security checks. Rather than follow the BIA’s order, the IJ sat on A-B-‘s case for one and half years and then re-certified the case to the BIA despite the fact that he has no power to do this.

    Sessions took advantage of this and used his power as AG to refer the case to himself to determine whether victims of private crimes can get asylum. What is telling that the brief filed by Trump’s DHS told Sessions that he really should not use this case to determine this question because it is procedural messed up. Jane Fonda wrote an editorial in the NYT about it. Sessions being Sessions ignored everybody so he could be as cruel as possible. Naturally, he issued a poorly reasoned wide-ranging opinion that held that victims of private crimes can not receive asylum and A-R-C-G was wrongly decided. This goes against years of precedent in asylum law, which states that non-state actors can be persecutors. Its a way to wash away all the Mexicans and Central Americans fleeing gang violence, gang violence that has its origins in US foreign policy dating from the Eisenhower Era.

    Sessions is the most loathsome figure in the Trump administration after Trump himself. He deals with the massive amount of humiliation that Trump imposes on him so he be the Inquisitor-General of White America. The most ethical people in the Trump administration are venal thieves committing unprecedented acts of corruption. Most of them are inhumanely cruel. Yet, they can’t ponder why people loathe them. They are so into their evil world view that they see themselves as righteous. They believe that everybody agrees with them and those that do not should be obliterated. That people could actually think that Trump is doing a great job is horrible even though it should be expected considering the history of humanity.

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  3. WP7:

    Progressivism leads to a virtually infinite number of “unmet needs” Patch one hole (say health care) and lots more will pop up, such child care, or free college education. Patch those holes, and still more unmet needs will pop up, such as housing and high speed rail. Combine that with the inefficiency of big government, as well as all the problems identified by public choice models (i.e. special interest groups), and you have a recipe for continual disappointment.

    This is a big problem with Progressivism, that there is a nasty “unmet needs” rabbit hole that has to be kept reigned in. It’s almost the opposite of libertarianism, where you have to pull teeth to get a hardcore libertarian to admit that government has a place in X.

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    • Or, is the response similar to the leftist critique, namely that modernity has become better at delivering things than the previous model?

      For example, one leftist critique I have heard is that childbirth went from being a naturally occurring event run by women and midwives, to an industrialized product run by doctors for profit.
      The response is that modern medicine just provides a better outcome. Even for births that happen flawlessly, just the reduction in risk of having a professional standing by is itself an improvement.

      The same can be said for food production, water, infrastructure and so on. And of course some of these things just work more efficiently when socialized, while others work better as a private model.

      To assert that child care or college are newly minted unmet needs requires an explanation of how they were met ex ante, and what changed.

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      • I think this is more accurate than the unmet needs critique. Modern technology and science can provide more things than previous eras could. Humans really don’t need a lot to live. We spent most of our existence living as hunter-gatherers with stone age technology. We also know from archeology that we have been adorning and decorating ourselves and trying to get more and better stuff since prehistoria. The issue is whether government or the market is better for providing certain goods and services.

        Capitalism is all about providing unmeet needs. Europeans didn’t need non-alcoholic drinks besides water and milk but they discovered tea, chocolate, and coffee. After that, they decided they couldn’t look back. Its a bit rich for a capitalist to complain about unmeet needs.

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          • Humanity is basically a mess of unmet needs crying out to be free.

            There’s a decent argument to be made that the arc of the last few hundreds of thousands or millions or whatever years that there’ve been humans (they keep revising the estimates upward) is one of constantly identifying new ways to meet needs that had only ever been frustrated or mollified before.

            Of course there’s another argument to be made that we just keep finding new ways to mollify those needs, rather than meet ’em.

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          • The idea that the needs of small groups of hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers that probably totaled a few million people across the whole planet would be easily commensurable with the needs of billions of people living in nation-states and large cities with industrialized economies is… not obvious.

            And it’s not like we can’t all just go back to that original state [1] without billions of people dying. Which seems like a pretty good sign that some needs wouldn’t be met by that original state.

            [1] No matter how well it met or didn’t meet the needs of the people living in it.

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              • I’m not sure why it shouldn’t lead you there. It’s not obviously untrue to me.

                Like, if we had a moon colony with multiple generation moon colonists, and I said, “Moon colonists need space suits and drugs to keep their bones from becoming brittle,” I don’t think it would be sensible to say those needs aren’t real because a person from rural China (or for that matter suburban New Jersey) doesn’t need them.

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                • So America is the moon base in this analogy.

                  Of course people who have lived here for a while would need things that people in other parts of the world don’t need.

                  Would people who live in the nice part of town need more things than the people who live in the crappy part?

                  Would the 1% need more than people in the bottom quintile?

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                  • My answer to both your questions is they might, to a small extent.

                    If we establish some baseline standard that we’re meeting (itself a bit fraught) there will be some frictions that might imply that the wealthier person does have some additional needs. But the adjustment involved so that they can subsist at the level we agree that we want everybody to live it is going to be much smaller and less prohibitive/expensive than making it so they can reach that standard by living in rural China.

                    When you get right down to it, a lot of what the rich devote their increased resources to is getting positional goods for reasons of status, or engaging in conspicuous consumption. If we think of “playing and winning status games” as a “need”, then the concept of “need’ may well not be tenable.

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                    • When you get right down to it, a lot of what the rich devote their increased resources to is getting positional goods for reasons of status, or engaging in conspicuous consumption. If we think of “playing and winning status games” as a “need”, then the concept of “need’ may well not be tenable.

                      To what extent is not being in the crappy part of the positioning a need?

                      (This makes me wonder whether shows like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (or whatever the 2018 version of that show would be) are literally anti-social. Like in the “literally” sense of “literally”.)

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            • Thinking about this some more:
              So if you want to X, Y is a need.

              “Is X a need?”
              “How dare you question whether people should be allowed to X?!? Don’t you X from time to time? Isn’t it hypocritical of you to question whether someone else should X when you X?”

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      • Mostly off topic re the childbirth thing – midwives with modern medical training and equipment provide the same or marginally better safety outcomes than obstetricians, at significantly less cost.

        OBs are of course needed for various high risk pregnancies and deliveries that turn out to need a C-section etc. And midwives are of course in it to make a living, same as OBs.

        But it really is a story of how modern medicine, including modern midwifery, is better.

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    • I mean the guy goes on to complain about rates of homelessness in countries with a lot of spending. “Shelter” isn’t exactly a newfangled need that we just discovered here.

      And blaming this on either “progressivism” or “capitalism” strikes me as pretty perverse. We as a society have a lot more stuff, and people want more of that stuff, and we have to figure out how to get them more of the stuff we actually have and that they want. Isn’t that the whole point of making all of this stuff in the first place?

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    • OkI think that best interpretation of Sumner’s piece is that it’s not necessarily an attack on progressivism or the welfare state, but that it’s a defense against the idea that “austerity” creates needs. I don’t know if it’s the most accurate interpretation, but it’s the best.

      I’ve had similar thoughts about France. France already has a welfare state that many American progressives envy. And yet the French are continually on strike, out in the streets and demanding more. Some of that action is defensive, agianst proposed reforms, but a lot of it isn’t. This tells me that there is no steady-state through politics alone. The countries that have reached something resembling a fiscally sustainable and popularly maintained balance, have it because of deepeer cultural forces.

      The ebbs and flows of government spending don’t make or break a society.

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      • I didn’t take it as an attack on Progressivism, I took it as a caution against deciding that everything government can do, or has done, is necessarily a task government must do for all time (is that what you mean by ‘austerity creating needs’?).

        Just because the city has a public pool does not mean that the city must now and forever maintain a public pool for it’s citizens, regardless of budget or usage. The libertarian inverse being, obviously, that just because public pools are not part of the barest duties of government does not mean government should never be permitted to erect and maintain a public pool.

        To condense it: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you must; and inversely, just because you aren’t obligated to doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

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  4. WP3: The banking bill is a bad law which will lead to the craziness which crashed the economy in 2008 and led Millennnials to be called the brokest generation.

    WP4: Defining a centerist is a tricky proposition but I suspect a lot of centerists have little time for arguing about world views or the slow pace of democracy. Last weekend, Paul Campos posted an email by a friend of his that worked in finance. The friend was concerned about Trump’s performance at G7 and called it a four alarm fire. The friend also wondered why no one was doing anything to curtail Trump. But what can people do? This is a democracy and the GOP controls Congress and the Executive. Does this financier want a coup? When I think of centerists being hostile to democracy, I think of corporate professionals hostile to the slow pace and ideological fights because they hurt corporate profit lines.

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    • I could, and have many times before, crafted a humane and appealing definition of conservatism based on traditional religious principles and respect for human dignity.

      I could respect a person who believed in these things even if I thought they were wrong, giving them the assumption they wanted a truly better future for all.

      I am finding it impossible to offer this respect or assumption of goodwill to anyone who supports Trump.

      There isn’t any way to spin any of this as anything other than appalling, the sort of thing our grandchildren will read about and ask us in horrified tones what we did to oppose it.

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      • Trump is exactly what we said he was. His supporters are exactly what we said they were.

        I hope democracy prevails, although that is uncertain. In either case, the Trumpists will not accept defeat without murder, any more than their forebears would accept civil rights without the brutality of lynchings.

        The modern “lynchings” will be worse, of course, because [everything]. It will be terrorism.

        The recent rash of school shootings is just the beginning — young, angry men who are radicalized online. Add to this batch the “angry men with guns” who are stupid enough to believe things like “QAnon.” Right now they might seem laughably stupid (and they are), but they will kill.

        Comparing Trump to Hitler/etc. is entirely correct. The question is, will America be better than the Germans were?

        Will we?

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  5. WP0 – One thing to note is the amount of power that each of the people in the photo has vs. Bee’s voice. They are doing everything they can to make a noise as loud as the one she wields every time her show airs. Nothing new here, and we can look to all the bumper sticker politics (left and right) for further examples.

    But there is a discrepancy on how the two parties are perceived in the nation, which throws a lot of people off their game. As constituted now, Dems are the party of change, while Reps are the party of stasis. And due to that, the rules that they have to play under are different. While this might not be seen as “fair” it is a fact.

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      • — I think your comment was 100% justified. I am beyond fucking sick of those on the right pointing out uncouth leftists while literal fascism is growing in popularity.

        Both side do not do it, not really. The comparisons are facile and grotesque.

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        • The underlying frustration is sincere and (I believe but I would) entirely justified, but it’s important (to me, not necessarily anyone else) for me to try to be scrupulous about how I direct it.

          The pattern definitely exists. But I’m trying (with, at best, modest success) to err on the side of specificity when it comes to detecting the pattern. It’s not like I won’t see a dozen incredibly unambiguous examples before lunch regardless.

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    • I don’t think that’s a fact, though. I think the opposite is more true: Republicans are the party of Tear It All Down.

      This is not too much unlike the left’s “We get to do these things and they don’t because they represent the powerful blah blah punching up punching down…” even when there is a bit of logic to it (though in this case I’m really not seeing it), it’s not actually a workable model.

      There are a lot of differences between Bee and the people in the picture. But there are not enough differences that we can’t call BS on those embracing the latter while tut-tutting the former. If you embrace triggering snowflakes as an operational philosophy, those are the rules you’ve set.

      That doesn’t actually mean I’m on board with Bee and company. Just means that I’m not really going to take criticisms from Trump supporters very seriously on the matter.

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      • I don’t think that’s a fact, though. I think the opposite is more true: Republicans are the party of Tear It All Down.

        I’m not sure that this is right. It’s. It wrong, but it’s not quite right either. I’m not sure that the Republicans are the party of anything right now. And that’s largely because they elected a guy as their leader whose management style is that story about rats and coconuts that Javier Bardem tells in that Bond movie.

        The larger problem is that Trump’s style, like his speech patterns, is infectious. Everybody wants to play. We can argue the rules all day, but whether it’s Trumpkins calling some Deomcrat a c–t or the resistance calling some Republican a c–t, they’re all still playing Trump’s game.

        At some point we’ll realize that the only way to beat Trump at his game is to decline to play. Until then… well, at leas there will be plenty of drama for the press to cover.

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        • I don’t think Republicans are the party of TIAD because they nominated Trump. I think they nominated Trump because they were the party of TIAD. It was that mentality that really helped make not only Trump possible, but Ted Cruz the last alternative. I also think of it as the American franchise to an international sentiment about tearing down the International order. Whether this accurately describes the legislative or policy agenda or not, it’s certainly their self-style. So being the “party of stasis” can’t really be used as a rationale for being treated differently.

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        • At some point we’ll realize that the only way to beat Trump at his game is to decline to play.

          I strongly doubt this is the case. I’m half-convinced that Trump has discovered the dominant strategy in our current political and media environment.

          This has a lot to do with my frequently expressed irritation at suggestions that the Left should be more civil or rise above. We actually tried that in 2016 and it didn’t even come close to working.

          And look, I have read many litanies of complaints about how the Dems or the Left or whoever conducted themselves around that election, and while some of them have merit, there’s a dramatic, glaring difference between what they did and what Trump and his supporters and enablers did.

          Then Trump won.

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          • I think everything is going to get “torn down” and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do to stop it. White rage is real. Male rage is real. You cannot assuage this rage because it is built atop feelings of impotence and a compulsion to dominate. Ultimately, it is nihilistic and insane.

            We could offer meaning, but how? They find such easy meaning in unbridled hate.

            We have to weather the storm.

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          • While I am not a fan of Democrats is disarray, I think the Democratic Party and the left have the following problems:

            1. There are the Stoller’s and Walker Braggman’s of the world who seem to hate the Democratic Party more than they hate Trump. It is often hard to tell whether they really dislike Trump. HA Goodman went from BernieBro to Trump fanboy. His raison d’etre seems to be trolling Democrats. A lot of these people dislike the Democratic Party because of inchoate feelings on “neoliberalism” or something like that but it feels like an aesthetic hatred.

            2. There is a large segment of the Democratic Party base and/or the media that strongly believes in norms and that civility must rule. A lot of LGMers would disagree but I think this group believes it is possible to debate contentious things civilly and will always strive for it. Hence a lot of anger at the Atlantic and the NYTimes for hiring people like Williamson. I don’t think this group is ever going to give up on calling for civility.

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          • My comment wasn’t about how to elect more Democrats elected. I’m neither a Democrat nor a progressive, so that is not something that concerns me.

            My comment was about how to have politics that isn’t a dumpster fire and maybe actually attempts to address some of the real policy issues that we have instead of remaining almost completely focused on tribal signifiers. And my comment is about how, on a personal level, not to let our politics drive you personally insane.

            If you think the answer is to pour more men into the breech and keep attacking, all I can say is good luck with that. I don’t think that it will end well either on a personal or political level. But as the Chinese are supposed to say, “may you live in interesting times. ”

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            • The choice at this point is to have more Trumps or to have more Democrats.

              Any third option went by the boards when the GOP nominated Trump and he won.

              Broad improvements like having a set of norms and institutions that aren’t about tribal signifiers can’t be created unilaterally when motivating an angry constituency of tribal, polarized voters is the dominant strategy. Any attempt to forego “throwing more men in the breach” will just result in another political loss.

              As for politics on a personal level, unfortunately politics doesn’t just have purely emotional impacts because your team has won or lost the most recent contest. There are actual material consequences beyond that. Which is a lot of why we even have all this politics stuff instead of just satisfying ourselves with baseball.

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              • The choice at this point is to have more Trumps or to have more Democrats.

                If those are your choices, so be it. They are not mine.

                My choice is to spend less time worrying about electoral politics and more time focused on how to help myself, my family and my community outside of politics. That is where I have personal efficacy. I can’t change our politics. If you want to try, go for it. I honestly wish you the best of luck.

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                    • — You can’t actually hide from it tho. Sure, you need to preserve your own mental health. I agree. But if democracy falls, your family will feel the pain, as will your neighbors.

                      But yeah, if right now you need to turn off the TV and just breathe — then do that.

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                      • Do you really think what j-r said above equates to hiding? If you do, I suggest you think a little harder about his place in the world and what he’s said about his experiences of it, before you decide that’s what he’s doing by making his primary (not even his only!) focus local.

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                      • Well, I’m pretty sure that the solution for fascism in both Germany, France and Italy involved violence and thousands of deaths. If the Trump administration is fascist, voting will be meaningless and do nothing for the pain of your family or neighbors.

                        And to be clear, if things turn violent, it will be those with strong ties in the community that will be the most effective resistance, both the case of the French La Résistance and the Dutch Verzet make that pretty clear.

                        Of course, it is possible that democracy is still functioning and that comparisons with either Weimar or Nazi Germany are completely meaningless and even worse, useless.

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                        • It’s really awesome that the US, along with every other liberal democracy, as an absolutely spotless record when it comes to herding people into camps on the basis of their race and ethnicity.

                          Thanks for making it clear we have nothing to worry about, or at least no right to complain, until we’re ready to go out and fucking shoot some people!

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                          • If the Trump administration is fascist, voting will be meaningless and do nothing for the pain of your family or neighbors.

                            This is also insultingly stupid. Our system of government and our society both have (some ailing, others poorly designed,
                            and some largely untested, yeah, but some that have worked in the past) mechanisms to protect us from an Executive Branch that is lawless, abusive, and yes, fascist.

                            These mechanisms, however, sure as hell aren’t going to work if we sit around pretending nothing’s wrong and going on voting on the basis of whose three cent titanium tax doesn’t go far enough.

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                          • It’s really awesome that the US, along with every other liberal democracy, as an absolutely spotless record when it comes to herding people into camps on the basis of their race and ethnicity.

                            This illustrates a pretty big reason why I feel the way that I do. Looking around right now, I consistently see people telling me some version of how it is stupid and selfish and downright immoral to do anything other than consistently vote for Democrats. And yet, the last person to put other Americans in camps for their race or ethnicity had a pretty big D after his name. And he wasn’t one of those throwback Dixiecrats. He was a full-fledged, Northeastern progressive, whose policies basically set the standard for what contemporary progressives want to accomplish.

                            And, oh yeah, the last guy in the job – another model D – had a kill list, assassinated an American citizen with only the faintest trace of due process, and then killed his 16-year old son two weeks later.

                            Some of y’all need to take a closer look at those high horses that you think you’re sitting on and just accept that other people are entitled to their own opinions.

                            ps – Yes, I still think Trump is terrible, is a pretty significant threat to our general well-being, and poses a slight chance of doing something catastrophically bad. No, that’s not enough to make me invest myself in the Democratic party.

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                            • This illustrates a pretty big reason why I feel the way that I do. Looking around right now, I consistently see people telling me some version of how it is stupid and selfish and downright immoral to do anything other than consistently vote for Democrats.

                              The Republicans have decided to pretty fully invest themselves in Trump and provide cover for virtually every aspect of his lawlessness and corruption. Our system is built around two parties, and one of them has been fully captured by Trump and Trumpism.

                              The most effective checks on Trump thus involve empowering the opposition party, not because they’re perfect and pure or even not terrible, but because they have the incentives to use that power to stop Trump just because he’s on the other team.

                              Some of y’all need to take a closer look at those high horses that you think you’re sitting on and just accept that other people are entitled to their own opinions.

                              And some of you need to take a closer look at how you scold anyone left-of-center for demonstrating any anger and sense of urgency in response to Trump. Often immediately after we’ve been scolded by you or someone else for not understanding that Trump supporters are entitled to be complete rage-addled shitbirds on account of the fact that Democrats represent change or some such nonsense.

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                              • Two things:

                                And some of you need to take a closer look at how you scold anyone left-of-center for demonstrating any anger and sense of urgency in response to Trump.

                                I haven’t seen anyone say this. And if anyone implied this, it certainly wasn’t me. Criticize Trump and his supporters all you want. I certainly do. And feel any kind of way that you want about it. My objection is not to how you or anyone else feel. My objection is to my own feelings being policed by people telling me that it was my duty to vote for HRC and to support the Democratic Party. As a strategy, it’s terrible. It’s failing in real time. And as an attempt at moralizing it’s made flaccid by how selectively it ignores the terrible things comin from the D side of the aisle.

                                The Republicans have decided to pretty fully invest themselves in Trump and provide cover for virtually every aspect of his lawlessness and corruption. Our system is built around two parties, and one of them has been fully captured by Trump and Trumpism.

                                The most effective checks on Trump thus involve empowering the opposition party, not because they’re perfect and pure or even not terrible, but because they have the incentives to use that power to stop Trump just because he’s on the other team.

                                And this doesn’t mean anything. Our first past the post system makes it likely that we will have two dominant parties, but which parties and what they look like are entirely a function of how people vote.

                                With regards to an individual vote, we all have a mathematically zero chance of affection the outcome of all but a few national or statewide elections. Vote for who you want. And if you don’t want to vote, don’t. It’s. it going to make a difference. How we feel about hat fact doesn’t make it any less of a fact. So the theory that there is a strategic or uniquely moral way to exercise that vote is built on a foundation of cards. All of your other errors flow from that.

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                                • JR’s doing yeoman work in this thread.

                                  I expect we’re in different camps of Non-Democrat/Non-Trump… but the false dichotomy of either/or is just false; there’s always neither/nor.

                                  Maybe the simplest way to put it might be this: You’ll happily take my vote, but you don’t (really) want me in your coalition.

                                  Can’t have the vote without the person.

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                                • I haven’t seen anyone say this. And if anyone implied this, it certainly wasn’t me.

                                  You may not have implied it with this comment, but you spend a lot of time talking about the importance of putting oneself in another person’s ideological shoes. Upon rereading it, do you see how someone might infer that as your message?

                                  And if you don’t see how this might be interpreted as policing someone’s reactions, I really don’t know what to tell you:

                                  My comment was about how to have politics that isn’t a dumpster fire and maybe actually attempts to address some of the real policy issues that we have instead of remaining almost completely focused on tribal signifiers. And my comment is about how, on a personal level, not to let our politics drive you personally insane.

                                  If you think the answer is to pour more men into the breech and keep attacking, all I can say is good luck with that. I don’t think that it will end well either on a personal or political level. But as the Chinese are supposed to say, “may you live in interesting times. “

                                  Especially that last bit, what with the fact that it’s reputed to be [1] the way the Chinese tell people to fuck off. And given that roughly half a dozen commenters here routinely have similar reactions to these sorts of conversations, at some point these assurances start sounding a lot like, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

                                  And this doesn’t mean anything. Our first past the post system makes it likely that we will have two dominant parties, but which parties and what they look like are entirely a function of how people vote.

                                  Um, yes…? And our entire media and political complex is primed to treat major midterm losses as a rebuke of the President’s party and policies.

                                  With regards to an individual vote, we all have a mathematically zero chance of affection the outcome of all but a few national or statewide elections.

                                  I happen to live in one of the fairly large number districts where it will plausibly matter, and the fact is I know a lot of people (from way to my left to pretty far to my right) who have responded to all this “flaccid moralizing” and as a result have do enough to routinely make me feel like a complete lazy asshole (but it’s nice to get reminders here that I’m not doing enough because I find sitting in Democratic committee meetings sufficiently hellish and draining that the idea of actually running for office fills me with a decent approximation of terror).

                                  So the theory that there is a strategic or uniquely moral way to exercise that vote is built on a foundation of cards.

                                  If political involvement began and ended with voting I might sort of agree with you, but it doesn’t. It involves a lot of things, and believe it a major way I connect with and invest in my community is through local politics, which is quite partisan in this neck the woods.

                                  Uniquely moral? No.

                                  Strategic? I don’t believe for a second that there isn’t.

                                  [1] Entirely spuriously, AFAIK.

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                                  • If me saying, I’m not interested in politics as tribal warfare. If you are, then best of luck to you. Just please spare yiurself the effort of telling me that I’m a bad person for not getting on Team Blue, is what constitutes policing other people’s opinions, then we have a very different understanding of what it means to police.

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                                    • That may be the message you you sent, but it is not the message I received, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who interpreted it that way.

                                      Like, seriously, how did you think ending your comment with a not-terribly-oblique insult for people who are going to do this without you would read?

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                                      • “May you live in interesting times” is a not-terribly-oblique insult? OK. I guess we have a different understanding of a lot of words.

                                        My sincerest apologies if you interpreted that as an insult. It wasn’t aimed towards you; it was meant for the proverbial you. As in we are all doomed to live in interesting times.

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                                        • Yeah, it’s usually said to be an old Chinese curse, more or less meaning, “May your life suck.”

                                          As far as I know the supposed origin story is completely made up, though.

                                          Anyway now that we’re where we are, I get what you meant. No blood no foul.

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                                  • When it comes to your perceptions of what’s going on here, please consider that exactly *one* person in this conversation was repeatedly, literally compared to someone who was willing to let the Nazis win while ignoring the harm being done all around him, and that was j-r. By someone on “our” side (I don’t consider myself to be on a different side from j-r, is why the air quotes). Not by you, but by the person j-r was mostly responding to in the conversation.

                                    Expecting people of goodwill who differ to not Godwin each other (which is totally different than expecting people to not Godwin Trump) is not being a civility troll, in Saul’s parlance.

                                    It’s an expectation of basic fishing human decency.

                                    And if I stand for anything, I stand for that. Not because it’s more important than beating Trump, but because if we give that up to beat Trump, we won’t know how to *not be him* any more by the time we are done.

                                    It’s not the one, blow-up, frustrated instance of it that’s a problem, either. It’s the habit that it’s become for many on the left.

                                    I grew up with someone whose politics were (at the time) impeccable and whose actions were completely despotic. Having seen how that works, it’s not a road I want any of us to go down. And it’s definitely not a country I want to live in. It seemed to me that, despite everything Obama did that was despotic, we were on a firm non-despotic trajectory before the Trump backlash hit. I don’t want us to “turn this car around” in response to him. I want us to shake him off and do better.

                                    Because once you become your enemy to beat him, it’s really hard to figure out how to *unbecome* your enemy. And when the you in question is “a whole country”, that figuring out is way harder.

                                    Reasonable people can of course differ about that, be less worried about that, etc.

                                    But they can’t keep going to the “you might as well be a Nazi!!!!” place, indiscriminately, with other folks who participate here.

                                    If someone really wants to keep doing that to other people there’s a whole wide internet for them to do it on.

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                                    • You telling people not to Godwin other posters is not what I was talking about when I complained about reactions being policed. I tried to be pretty clear about what I was reacting to, but if the subthread that follows the comment you’re replying to has taught me anything, it’s that communicating clearly in this environment is often harder than anybody involved realizes.[1] So maybe it’s not clear. I’m happy to go into further detail if you like.

                                      And look, I’m happy not to Godwin other posters, or at least make the attempt not to. It’s a perfectly reasonable civility norm for a place like this and most other places.

                                      But I think this is the 71st time this has come up. And while you redacted the bit (thanks!) where I went after for a (I think?) milder blowup, that looked exactly like the sort of civility trolling I see in the wider world all the time.[2]

                                      Looked. Like I was trying (in a really clumsy way) to say to Veronica, going on that appearance wasn’t fair to Aaron, and snarking out at him for it was less civil than I’d like to be.

                                      But the perception remains. And other things that I (and quite a few other people) perceive the same way come up half-a-dozen times in any US politics thread.

                                      I know my perception and the perception of the rest of my “side” is not necessarily right. But it persists, week after week, and you and I have gone around about this 71 times, and while I know that’s not what you’re about, you’re a single commenter.

                                      And the only other thing I can say is that this…

                                      “I’m doing 25 percent of what I could be and you’re only doing 10 of what I think you should be, SHAME ON YOU” has never sat well with me as a moral stance.

                                      …is obviously absurd as a moral stance but in my guts I feel like I’m a lazy asshole who is doing 10% at best and letting the country turn to shit and who knows what is going on the camps and can barely spare a thought for the kid in Omelas and the people I know who are actually able to get it done and knock on the doors and dial the numbers and go out there and march around with thousands of strangers early in the morning despite the fact that the sun is out and it’s humid basically, the ones who make me look like a lazy asshole: they’re the ones who generally say the kind of stuff that Veronica and Saul were saying that you (rightly and fairly) want to keep out of here.

                                      [1] Spoiler: I’m talking about j r and I having incredibly different understandings of what the “may you live in interesting times” cliche refers to.

                                      [2] Just like you have your concerns about what you see from the Left as a whole, well, I have my concerns about what I see from various parts of the political spectrum as well. And they get brought in here because how could they not?

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                                      • But you still were upset at jr for using an arguably insulting cliche (which I read much more as he intended it) in a context where Veronica was literally, repeatedly, Godwinning him. You were responding to him *responding to being Godwinned* as if, it seemed to me, you were complaining that *he* was policing people. It wasn’t clear *at all* that you were still only talking about what you first thought Aaron David said. And your responses to jr seemed to completely ignore the context in which he was speaking.

                                        Why jr should be “policed” by multiple leftward commenters jumping down his throat for not being on the bus is my concern – that is what strikes me as abandoning decency. Piling on someone who was literally being compared to a Nazi sympathizer is bullshit behavior by multiple people whom, in general, I consider myself on the “side” of.

                                        And I’m not “just one commenter,” I’m someone who literally bans and suspends people. Figuratively, polices the board. Literally, has banned and suspended people both for espousing Nazi views and for being relentless about being jerks to someone else. (to be clear, you are not in danger of this.) Literally, involves myself in these conversations, whether personally or as the moderator, because I want people on this board to be decent to each other, which includes a relative level of not being awful about things in general, but which also includes personal, direct, decent treatment of each other.

                                        Otherwise, I would just walk away, keep my mouth shut when I read the comments, and focus on the essays, as I have many times in the past. I didn’t do that this time because I was *needed*. I ended up being a managing editor for the site because I was *needed*. Other people weren’t available, willing, positioned, to do this work, and I was, so I decided to do it.

                                        There are other places I can go to feel like a safe and anonymous member of my preferred team – the team I think is on the side of moral right, as is painfully clear to a lot of people who’ve withdrawn since I started moderating – or even like a well-known and valued one. This place is meant to be special for not being tribal, not that people can’t be tribal here but that there are lines we will not cross in defense of our tribes.

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                                        • But you still were upset at jr for using an arguably insulting cliche (which I read much more as he intended it) in a context where Veronica was literally, repeatedly, Godwinning him. You were responding to him *responding to being Godwinned* as if, it seemed to me, you were complaining that *he* was policing people.

                                          No, this is not what I was irritated at him about. Well, about the cliche, yes, but not the context. He used the cliche in a direct reply to me, replying to him, replying to Will, something like 12 hours before Veronica first introduced the Godwin.[1] I feel ridiculous going into this sort of detail, but again, I’ve had so much fishing difficulty with miscommunication here that I’d rather be ridiculous and explicit.

                                          And when he came in again to challenge me about the camps comment, well, I did my best to be civil and I hope I succeeded (in any event I sure as heck didn’t Godwin him), but I wasn’t piling on him. I was replying to an entirely different commenter—Mark Van H—who had made a comment about “real fascism” that, frankly, I still think is pretty odious, and j r used that as a jumping off point to reply to me and explain why he was suspicious of the Democrats and unwilling to join Team Blue.

                                          Again, I feel ridiculous going through this level of detail but your description of the dynamics and context here is, I believe, incorrect.

                                          And I’m not “just one commenter,” I’m someone who literally bans and suspends people. Figuratively, polices the board.

                                          OK so am I talking to or now? Because you while you do police the board, you also have, as far as I can tell, a set of beliefs about what motivates various posters and what kind of culture actually obtains here now which you rely on, and… I just don’t share it. And I’m pretty sure sharing it isn’t a requirement for participating here, as long as I don’t violate various civility norms which I’m pretty sure I’m not violating.

                                          [1] If I’m reading the time stamps correctly. My comment was at “June 13, 2018 at 12:06 pm”; his reply with “interesting times” was at “June 13, 2018 at 9:21 pm”. The Godwin was at “June 13, 2018 at 11:23 pm”. Sorry to go all CSI: Ordinary Times here but I feel like I must be really confused about what’s going on.

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                                          • Veronica started Godwinning (Pinky, not jr) at 8:41 pm and continued Godwinning, picking different targets, with support from various people, for some time. jr’s reply to you happened in the middle of that, from my perspective, at 9:21 pm, and drew Godwinning from Veronica in response. You explained your objections to his reply in heated terms with critical links to his comments describing them as policing at 10:14 am today. Your (mistaken) assumptions about what he was trying to say were aired post-Godwinning run, and *thus* they seemed like piling on.

                                            Does that clarify at all?

                                            As for am I maribou, or maribou-moderator, who are you talking to? You are always talking to both because I am always both, I am always the same person regardless of what mode I am acting in.

                                            I tried to make it clear that you were / are / whatever in no danger of being moderated merely for not sharing my perspective – hence why I literally said you were not being threatened with suspension or banning and why I wasn’t using the moderator tag.

                                            But for you to act as though my perspective is not more significant to what-happens-on-the-site than any other commenter isn’t…. honestly I would like to feel that way. It would excuse me from a lot and take a lot of responsibility off my back. But that would be cheap *of me*. I have more power and more influence on the site and its comments than other commenters, by the nature of my role not only in moderating, but in managing-editing the site. That’s just how it is. I brought it up to point out that you framing my perspective as no more meaningful than that of random-joe-commenter was wrong, as in mistaken, not to say you had to share my perspective.

                                            The reason I’ve gone around with you 71 or whatever times, fwiw, is that *as a moderator* it seems that when you lean less toward feeling like a benighted liberal in a sea of center-right to right people, you are more likely to not treat people poorly and/or break the site rules. Less likely to post stuff like “I’ll eat the suspension on this if I have to, but ….” I value your comments that aren’t in that mode, both as a person and as a moderator/managing editor, and I want to see more of them. I don’t want you suspended or banned, I do what I can to provide a perspective that (from my position) seems like it is less likely to lead you there than the trajectory you fall back on. And, in the past, you’ve seemed to find my perspective somewhat useful.

                                            But mostly I talk to people about this stuff such that they exercise more prior restraint on themselves in future, rather than me having to come along and ban and suspend people. I *hate* doing that. I do very little of it. I try to talk to people as myself, without threat, long before they get to the ban and suspend point. Asking if me doing that, trying to have those conversations, is me, or me-moderator, is a question that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I know some people think that’s a flaw in my moderating.

                                            For me, it’s the only way I can manage it.

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                                            • “why I literally said you were not being threatened with suspension or banning ”

                                              Sorry, that’s what I said in the first draft. I actually took that out and replaced it with the more vague “not in danger of” suspension and banning because people seem to find the word threat threatening.

                                              Sigh.

                                              This is not an easy conversation for me to have.

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                                            • Does that clarify at all?

                                              Yes. I understand better why you think I was piling on. FWIW, I didn’t even see Veronica go after Pinky.

                                              As for am I maribou, or maribou-moderator, who are you talking to? You are always talking to both because I am always both, I am always the same person regardless of what mode I am acting in.

                                              Thank you. This is very helpful information for me. My experience (like, over a decade) with another moderated board that was my primary hangout is such that I’m used to strong norms (enforced with suspensions and bans) against users blurring the two. I’ll try to remember that isn’t the case here.

                                              And, in the past, you’ve seemed to find my perspective somewhat useful.

                                              I have. And I thought that might be what’s going on. But that’s also why I try to explain my perspective to you and others (and I may have royally fished it up but I was trying to do that with j r, too).

                                              I mentioned elsewhere that in Leftward spaces I’m pretty good at avoiding friendly fire, despite the fact that, in my experience, they’re absolutely thick with it. Part of that is (I think) I’m pretty good at figuring out where people stand with in terms of the aleph-one left-of-center sects and factions.

                                              Here, there are a fair number of commenters who, um, seem to resist giving off the signals that would let me figure out where they stand. This often throws me for a loop.

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                                              • Good.

                                                FWIW, and apologies if I’m repeating myself here, the main significance of the Moderator tag is twofold
                                                1) “Don’t argue with me right now, this is a decree, not a self-expression.” (goes for everybody, if they have problems, contact me about it offsite)
                                                2) (toward the person I am specifically addressing) “You are cruisin’ for a [heavy censorship, suspension, and/or banning], knock it off *now*.” (again, if you have problems, contact me or someone else about it offsite)

                                                Without the tag, along with people feeling overly threatened by stuff I meant zero threat by (occasionally when I was *agreeing* with them!), people also frequently treated things I meant as intensely abrupt interventions (even the ones where I literally *said* something very close to 2) as being just somebody talking (I partially blame my Canadian speech patterns), and then were Shocked and Appalled when action resulted or I got mad at them for interfering in my moderation of another person / escalating what I had concluded there was no option left for except shutting it down.

                                                So I added the tag, used only in cases where 1 or 2 applies, so if I’m not using it, neither does – because someone was frustrated with me and suggested it and it seemed like a reasonably good idea.

                                                It’s not like I”m two different people, I’m just open to two different sets of responses in the particular moment.

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                  • Lots of people have historically tried the strategy of beating themselves against the sea wall of world politics without it working, too.

                    Seeking a middle way for as long as there’s a middle way to be sought (not politically, I’m talking life-wise) – doing what you can but not beating your breast over what you can’t – is not really all that shocking a thing – it’s what all of us are actually doing (or at least it’s what you, and veronica, and pillsy, and I, and j-r, and etc etc etc, seem to me to be doing). We don’t stop living just because the wolves are at the gates. Heck, none of us except Patrick Cahalan has even run for office last time I checked.

                    Perhaps we should.

                    But none of us have.

                    So I don’t see the point in being upset within that relative space, that people aren’t taking things seriously enough.

                    If what veronica and chip (and sometimes others) posit is *true* as stated, in the absolutist and hyperbolic way they sometimes state it (eg telling j-r he’s doing the equivalent of refusing to see the holocaust happening down the road), none of us – not a single person on this board as far as I know – are taking it nearly seriously enough, so I don’t see anything that justifies a right of some of us to cast stones?

                    “I’m doing 25 percent of what I could be and you’re only doing 10 of what I think you should be, SHAME ON YOU” has never sat well with me as a moral stance.

                    Nor do I think it will get anyone out of a camp.

                    (Though I do think the work you do every day does save some people from camps, literally, and thank you for that.)

                    All the heat and light put into shaming other people – private individuals, not public figures – for not being upset enough isn’t *useful* and it certainly isn’t something with historical effectiveness in its corner.

                    I feel it too, but I’ve found that I’m about 100 percent more effective when I don’t let it drive the car.

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      • The perception of the parties may be starting to change, but this is where it stands at this moment. Hope and Change were the big slogans of Obamas campaign, cementing this in many people (normies) minds. And the way the two parties act, along with the public response to those actions, fits these facts. No matter how uncomfortable.

        None of this is to say that either change of stasis is a good thing. In and of themselves they are not. They need to be in accordance with some real need. And they need to work, which is the most important thing.

        I am being more and more convinced we are approaching a moment of political realignment. Which is why that to some (those who follow politics closely, like many on this site) this doesn’t jibe with what they see and hear. But what may be obvious to us, is not so seen from outside the circle.

        For example globalism. To those inside the circle, or affected positively by it, it seems natural, for it has been going on for 50+ years. For those negatively affected, it was something that wasn’t talked about, they had no choice in it, and getting rid of it isn’t “blowing everything up” but rather righting a wrong bit of change, something that was only noticed a little while ago. Witness Brexit, Trump and the rise of new political powers in Europe such as Five Star.

        Again, as for t-shirt and bumper sticker politics, this is a grassroots attempt (foolish or not) to gain as much perceived power as Bee or Diniro or Maher have. How effective depends on your view on who is speaking truth to power, something that is different of each and every person.

        In her capacity as an HR manager, one of my wife specialties is change management. Getting people to move in a direction that is different than the one they were moving in, that they understood already and benefited from, is immensely difficult. It is something that needs to be managed and handled delicately. Someone cheese is going to get moved, and unless you remove the levers of power from them, they will fight back. And feel that they are the ones in the right. To them, they aren’t blowing things up but righting the course.

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  6. Yesterday was another primary day:

    Mark Sanford lost his primary. Virginia Republicans nominated a white nationalist to take on Tim Kaine. Also LePage continues to be a shit because he said he refuses to to certify another ballot initiative he did not like.

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    • This is another source of my grumpiness this morning.

      As surely as day follows night, a lot of allegedly respectable conservative commentators working for allegedly respectable media outlets are going to claim that it’s a vile smear to suggest that Corey Stewart has anything to do with the GOP, its political preferences, and its values, while a lot of other allegedly respectable conservative commentators are going to dolefully state that they just have to support Corey Steward because Robert DeNiro said “Fuck Trump!”, people keep insisting that Jordan Peterson is a sexist, and somebody said people should boycott Chick-fil-A.

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      • You are preaching to the choir. Though to be fair a former Republican Lt. Governor of VA expressed dismay at Stewart’s nomination and said it is getting worse and worse. The question is what are we seeing. Greg Sargent in the Washington Post wrote a column on how he thinks the Trumpist White Nationalism is going to get worse before it gets better. His theory is that the GOP has nothing left to run on.

        The collapse of political parties seems to come suddenly. I think the Whigs collapsed nearly overnight in the 1850s.

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        • Even if the Republicans collapse, the people who support them and their underlying world view remain. The Whigs were roughly the good party back then in so much that they were the main one slightly questioning slavery. When they collapsed, they were replaced by the more explicitly anti-slavery Republicans. If the Republicans go away, who will replace them? Possibly something worse.

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      • As surely as day follows night,

        “You ask for miracles, Theo? I give you @FDRLST.”

        The problem here, aside from his apparent complete lack of concern over the death of a young woman, is that he made multiple appearances with Kessler. Perhaps he didn’t realize who and what Kessler was before Charlottesville, but after the display of tiki torches, khakis, and death, there was no excuse for him not to condemn Kessler’s actions.

        Then there are his ties to Nehlen, who ran against Paul Ryan before imploding in a spectacular and bizarre anti-Semitic Twitter meltdown in which he tried to out Jews in the media. Amidst all of this was a backdrop of dehumanizing rhetoric about immigrants and an approach to Confederate monuments that offered no nuance, or concern for those who find the statues offensive.

        But do these things qualify him as a racist today? At a time when even slight, unconscious actions earn that label, indeed when many on the Left argue that racism is the natural and unavoidable state of all white people, who is a racist?

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  7. Fascinating article about Zimbardo and the Stanford Prison Experiment, which really puts every aspect of the experiment (perhaps that should be in scare quotes) and the subsequent narratives built up around it in doubt. I was sort of aware that it’s been treated as more questionable over the years, and certainly not up to the sort of ethical standards experiments with human subjects would be held to today, but this was much more damning than I expected.

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  8. Okay. The North Korea thing. Specifically: The Kim Jong Un thing.

    The dude is one of the last tyrants on the planet. An absolute monster. The main reason he’s still in power is because he is capable of making the cost of taking him out of power too high for the rest of us to stomach.

    The deal in North Korea is weird. Do I like the fact that we’re dealing with him? Nope. I don’t like that he still has gulags. I don’t like the fact that he has this weird cult of personality thing going on that his father and grandfather had.

    When it comes to dealing with him though… I think that the best thing that could happen to North Korea is that they liberalize. Like, more mass media. More visits to long-lost family in South Korea. More trade.

    If that sort of thing happens, North Korea will be a lot better off and Kim Jong Un will benefit. And it makes me mad that he will benefit.

    But him benefiting from North Korea liberalizing is better than the status quo.

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    • In principle, I think rapprochement is usually the right tack, even with monsters like Kim running monstrous regimes like North Korea.

      In practice, there are ways it can fail and make things worse.[1] Fewer, I think, than in some of the alternative approaches, like, I dunno, starting wars. Which is why I think rapprochement is usually the right tack!

      But if they’re there, I’m pretty sure that Trump will find them.

      [1] Sometimes it turns into enabling and providing material support for more repression and atrocities. E.g. the US relationship with the KSA for roughly ever.

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    • This is the thing about international policy (domestic policy too), all your possible solutions come with downsides, and the only question is which outcome ids the easiest to live with. Kim Jon Un receiving praise and living a long, prosperous life is a less distasteful option in my eyes than a war that would cause a massive number of Korean deaths and possibly severely destabilise Sino-American relations.

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  9. I see that Californians will get to vote in November on the question of whether they start an attempt to split the state into three. I still claim that the guy who keeps trying this is thinking too small. Greater California (aka “the Western States of America”) is almost as feasible, and would be a player on the world stage.

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    • It won’t go anywhere. I think, hand to god, it was literally the Russians behind the last attempt. Nobody in California, aside from a few idiots in Silicon Valley who want the usual benefits of living in California but also not paying taxes, wants to do it.

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