Morning Ed: Politics {2018.07.05.Th}

[Po1] Sam Haselby calls for an end to American patriotism.

[Po2] Chase Madar makes the conservative case for universal healthcare. Also, Matthew Walther on recycling and trash reduction!

[Po3] It’s bizarre to me in 2018, an age in which everything on Wikipedia can fit five times over on something the size of my pinky nail, that we would be talking about destroying anything, records-wise.

[Po4] Jacob Siegel looks at the convergence of the hard left and hard right. This would have been more convincing in 2016, as President Trump seemed to clarify the dividing line even while candidate Trump actually blurred it a little.

[Po5] Sometimes the snark just writes itself.

[Po6] Kevin Vallier writes about how to trust through our polarization.

[Po7] I’m sure someone in the administration is taking notes.

[Po8] In the immigration debate, maybe the facts and figures matter after all and people’s views do change when presented with them.

[Po9] Rob Henderson explains how social desirability bias hurts polling and our understanding of the political environment. Maybe, though 2016 polling is a bad example to use since the national polling was better than 2012 (when the error ran in the other direction) and to the extent that the polling was skewed in the states it may have had more to do with response rates (and by extension attitudes towards pollsters and the media) than it did with people lying. The lament of the moderate part, though, where they tend to get absorbed by the committed ideologues on their side because the latter are more unmoving, seems right, though (though not symmetrically).


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Will Truman is 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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51 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Politics {2018.07.05.Th}

  1. [Po2] One of the reasons we don’t have a better distributive health-care system is that Policy Wonks keep talking about it as a way to reduce spend as a percentage of GDP. Nobody cares about GDP… not in the aggregate.

    Talk instead about portability, lowering the cost of labor, reducing the cost of leaving bad jobs, and the opportunity to make decisions about work/family that are not tied counter-productively to health-care… the fact that your insurance is term based *and* purely month-to-month is not fully appreciated until the first time someone loses their job. Employers are stymied by labor costs that are hidden from their workers… Workers have no appreciation at all how much of *their* wages go to healthcare. That’s the pain you go after.

    Outside the donor class, all of these issues resonate in conservative circles… sell those; And, I hate to sound callous, but if we can also increase coverage rates and reduce spend as a % of GDP… those are secondary benefits… don’t make them primary.

    It doesn’t mean we’ll never have to show our math or count the costs, but stop trying to sell GDP savings as the political motivator. As I say, its not even a category in conservative maker/taker circles.

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  2. Po2: Recycling: My county has an active recycling program. This surprised me at first, as this is a solidly conservative county. We have a county commissioner who will happily give speeches about how sustainability is a UN plot to take away our sacred liberties. Sadly, I’m not being snarky. This is literally true. Yet I have never heard a peep of complaint about the recycling program.

    I think the conversation about recycling has changed. Until recently, recycling was a hippie tree-hugging thing. Then it was about using fewer resources. There was money to be made using those resources, so recycling had a pinko air to it. Now it is about reducing landfill. The horizon on when the county landfill will be full up is not that far out. Whatever is done at that point will cost non-trivial money. The recycling program isn’t about saving the earth. It is about staving off a direct local expense. Stripped of any altruism, it is politically acceptable.

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    • Recycling is v. small in my town, and it is hard to do if you want to do it (no curbside, so you have to tote your stuff to a drop off point). I suspect once the city landfill starts to approach capacity they may actually encourage it more.

      I would recycle more if there were curbside service (even a paid service). But things like tins from food and milk cartons, I’m not going to leave them hanging around my garage (or worse, my house) until I have time to take them to the drop off point, ‘cos that’s how you get ants. (And worse). I also wonder, in the dry country where I live, if the water wasted in rinsing the containers is worse than the landfill space/ resource waste of throwing them out.

      I’ve said multiple times that in the future, people may mine landfills for raw materials like metal and plastic. (And the fact that stuff decomposes slowly, if at all, may be a plus here)

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      • A basic problem with recycling is that there are insufficient guarantees that the material won’t end up in a landfill anywhere if there is no use for it. At least in my state, there are laws against speculative accumulation, such that the EPA will sue you to dispose of the materials in a landfill. (The reasoning being that at some point your business is really just a landfill without the safeguards of a landfill)

        Personally, I just recycle metal and paper products.

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        • I do cardboard boxes, but that’s pretty much it. (I rarely have aluminum cans, like soda cans).

          I also wonder about the market for some of the goods. I mean,t here’s gotta be a better thing than cramming them in a hole in the ground, but I don’t know that that’s got the infrastructure behind it yet. And my town makes it just difficult enough to recycle anything else (I can take the boxes over to my campus building, it is a drop off point for them) that I usually don’t.

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  3. [Po2] If conservatives continue their campaign of calling every moderately popular government program or priority “socialism”, then yeah, I think we’ll have socialized medicine in five years.

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  4. Po1: The American Left has been calling for an end to American patriotism for decades or at least calling for a more complicated we can do better type of patriotism than the God, Mom, and Apple Pie patriotism Americans traditionally love. It doesn’t and will not work because Americans are patriotic just like most people are. To the extent that the average non-American, or I think what we really mean hear is European, is less patriotic is because the European political elite had enough gatekeeping power to keep the lid on patriotism after World War II. Recent European politics have shown that they are loosing this gatekeeping power.

    Po2: The American right isn’t showing any signs of embracing universal healthcare. If anything, they are getting more entrenched in their calls for a free market healthcare system.

    Po7: It would be the perfect red-meat trollish bill. The Trump administration has already prosecuted some Americans for leaving shelter, food, and water near the border crossings. A bill like the Hungarian law would probably get overturned fast but the Trump administration could do a lot of havoc in the mean time.

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  5. Po9: I’ve been sifting through Google scholar looking for recent studies on self selection in polling. I’m not finding much so far. Finding folks to respond to a survey has always been difficult and there are a variety of weighting strategies to compensate for known selection biases – some folks just like to talk on the phone, others do not, Dems are more likely to answer on line polls etc.

    My theory is that this difficulty is getting worse. It is not just the “shy supporter” model we saw in 2016 that skew results. People sort themselves into enclaves based on the news and information they consume. They have fewer landlines and fewer connections to a broader set of strangers. When someone calls me on my cell who is not in my contact list I’m wary. I’m not likely to speak with them for any length of time.

    Our virtual world has expanded our “set” of possible friends by eliminating location as a constraint. When we used to have 30 odd friends (all of mine are odd), we now have 100. But the ability to create a world to live in has also constricted our contact with strangers. We are far less likely to spend any length of time shooting the breeze with some guy at the bus stop – we’d rather be on our phones.

    I wonder if this new virtual vs. IRL bifurcation of ourselves affects how pollsters gather information? It’s possible that our ability to filter out strangers at will (not you Will) has calved off a higher percentage of potential respondents than previously imagined – leaving just those gregarious people who like to talk on the phone or fill out survey forms. I wonder if anyone is working on that?

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    • Last year I watched a fascinating panel on polling. It was before the election and watching it after the election made it even more interesting. One of the points that were made that with such low response rates, they were perplexed as to why polling was as accurate as it was. These were pollsters! It was also kind of amusing to hear them go back to “Thank heavens this election isn’t close and the numbers are so stable or we could really end up embarrassed in November.”

      Anyway, one of my takeaways is that polling could, over time, get a lot worse than it has been.

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    • I wonder if it’s not just the number of connections but the fact that things “go viral” unexpectedly and sentiment can change rapidly. You poll everybody and they’re all happy with the leadership one day, then a story about POTUS being mean to a little old lady (true or not) goes critical and his popularity drops 5 points. Or polled popularity stays the same, but a bunch of little old lady haters who normally wouldn’t vote show up to vote for him.

      News surprises are nothing new, but the frequency and seeming randomness of explosions is.

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      • There are practical constraints to how much information people can process. The Internet creates an information overload and separating the good for the bad is impossible. By the time people figure out what is really happening, something new comes along.

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    • My theory is that this difficulty is getting worse. It is not just the “shy supporter” model we saw in 2016 that skew results

      The 2016 national polls were right on the mark. It was a handful of states where the polling was off.

      There was also, not to put too fine a point on it, a lot of big bombshells at the end.

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      • It was actually a lot of states. We just noticed the few that mattered. The whole reason that Silver’s projections were different than others is that he accounted for a systemic skew whereas Wang and others assumed that inaccuracies wouldn’t bleed across state lines. David Shor suggested that poll accuracy was inversely related to the proportion white working class vote, which actually makes a lot of sense in explaining a systemic skew.

        That doesn’t explain why the national polls were so right, but in 2012 the national polling was wrong (in the other direction) while the state polling was dead accurate. One explanation might be that the national polls were off in 2012 because of a low response rate among Latinos and that didn’t matter in a lot of swing states (and Colorado, where it did matter, actually was off IIRC)… whereas in 2016 that was met with a similarly low response rates among WWC which balanced out the national polling but had a particularly strong effect in a larger number of states.

        Anyway, I previously tallied up the number of state polls that were off by how much and there were a lot more that were off by more than 6, more than 5, more than 4, more than 3, and more than 2 points in comparison to 2012. I didn’t notice Shor’s WWC pattern but I wasn’t looking for it.

        Going forward, response rates are likely going to be a concern and one of the lessons here really ought to be that while we shouldn’t ignore polling we should better understand its limitations than we previously did.

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    • @will-truman

      I’ll belabor the point again. Discussing “shy Trump” supporters in 2016 makes it seem like Trump won in a huge landslide and is now polling at 60 percent. He did not and does not. HRC won the popular vote by a remarkable 3 million votes. But as Morat20 says, a series of October surprises led to Trump getting a bare edge in three states (MI, WI, and PA). His 90-150K bare edge was still lower than the number of people who voted third party in those states.

      He is still currently polling at no higher than 45 percent (and usually much lower) and this is with a record low level of unemployment.

      Trump won the election because we are saddled with the anti-democratic electoral college that often gives the GOP an edge.

      But to argue these things is to be a shameless partisan it seems instead of the truth because reasons it seems.

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      • My comments were actually a nuanced look polling that turned out to be skewed, mentioning in both the OP and my comment that national polling was accurate and giving some explanations for why national polling might have been accurate while state polling wasn’t. An explanation, I should add, that actually cut both ways in terms of response rates (Hispanics on the one side and WWC on the other), and one derived from (among other things) the commentary of pollsters themselves and Democratic data guy David Shor.

        But what you read was shameless partisan hackery and non-truth?

        That’s on you, Saul.

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  6. I came across this article by Jacob Siegel in Tablet, and it’s not terrible, but it’s a mixed bag and suffers from a lot of the same maladies that afflict the whole “failure of the liberal order” genre that’s been ticking upwards in popularity over the last few years.[1]

    Anyway, the problem that stood out to me most here is the way the author equivocates about the nature of the liberal order. For his thesis, he pretty clearly needs (for instance) the George W. Bush Administration to be part of the liberal consensus, but attributes all relevant power to a specifically liberal-progressive elite, going so far as to make absurd claims that said elite completely controls the federal government.

    [1] I’ve been paying extra attention to it recently as I wrestle my way through Kill All Normies. One reason I twigged to this article in particular was the focus it directs at the Chapo Trap House “dirtbag left”, which Nagle seems to be at least somewhat sympathetic towards.

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    • Will found it too and links to it :)

      Liberal consensus seems to mean something very specific to our pundit-elite class and that is a general commitment to free trade and free democratic elections and varying degrees of civil liberties.

      Basically all Presidents post-WWII until Trump were part of the liberal consensus but the Soviet Union is gone and therefore the need for consensus is also gone.

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      • LOL. That’s what I get for skimming over his links too fast.

        And yeah, I know that’s what “liberal consensus” usually means, but there tends to be a lot of equivocation between the two senses of liberal. You can argue that W was committed to free trade and the like, but that he was a liberal-progressive who placed a great deal of emphasis on the well-being of marginalized people?

        Nyah, that’s profoundly silly.

        But without that, the piece that Will and I both linked really falls apart. And it suffers from other problems, like completely failing to grapple with the existence of parallel media institutions on the Right.

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  7. Po1. I thought that this sort of “your fave is problematic” schtick was interesting, but that’s when I was young and dumb and liked showing people that I knew more facts than them.

    Now, the sneering, “oh you sheeple with your barbecues and fireworks” got old a long time ago. Nobody likes the racist uncle souring the mood at the dinner table; the undergrad cousin who just finished Howard Zinn often comes in a close second.

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    • I read the article. Its central point is that Bill Shine is an example of the Trump administration only caring about triggering the libs. Its evidence for this is, I guess, that the writer of the article thought so. The only support for this position was a link to another Vox article, and the only evidence in that one is a quote from a National Review writer. I guess I’ll stick to reading National Review and save myself the trouble.

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      • The “just triggering the libs” line is, at this point, an overwrought meme. Everything Trump does is not about triggering libs. Agree with that.

        But about Bill Shine, he didn’t exactly cover himself with glory re: his boss being accused of sexual harassment etc multiple times. Shine is included in several lawsuits against Fox. So what exactly is that saying about dealing with sexual harassment? What will happen if nasty stuff is disclosed about him, which is certainly possible, during the upcoming lawsuits? Why hire someone for a high level position who resigned due to being mired in scandal?

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        • In the things that might exist to “trigger the libs”, hiring people into the White House would be pretty low on the list. That’s somebody you’re going to want to work with and that you’re going to expect loyalty out of and there are a lot of other considerations.

          So while I think there is something to the charge generally, I don’t think it likely applies here. They most likely hired him because some people in a position to matter vouched for him and they don’t care about sexual harassment.

          It’s dumb enough on its own terms.

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          • Yeah rock solid dumb.

            I’m assuming part of the appeal of him is he likely still has major connections to Fox so he can help with the WH to Fox news pipeline. Heck since Trump reputedly watches a ton of Fox he may think Shine is a genius.

            Not that it’s going to matter but apparently Shine’s wife said some incendiary racial stuff. Which seems like par for the course.

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    • It’s not about us Saul. It’s about Trump and who he is. Framing it about just triggering libs ignores the sleazy part of hiring him. It ignores that whole sexual harassment thing. It turns everything into a partisan poo fling instead of talking about what the qualities are, or lack of, that go into the people hired into this admin.

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      • I mean one of the reasons the article took that spin is that a prominent Trump surrogate said it was all about “triggering the libs”.

        Of course, that’s not the whole story, and I’m not sure it’s a major part of the story for Trump himself, but there’s a whole cottage industry devoted to outraging liberals (or at least attempting to do the same) and then marketing whatever allegedly untoward behavior the outrage inspires to an audience of content-starved wingnuts. Some of the people involved in Trump WH staffing decisions benefit from that industry, one way or another.

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        • Most of trumps loudest surrogates are not worthy of responding to and it’s certainly not worth mirroring their narcissism. They are a waste of pixels. His surrogates live in the on line, twitter world that is all about outrage and clicks and poo flinging. Of course they just want to get a rise out of anybody they can on the intertoobz. That is disconnected from what ever is going on in the chief narcissists head.

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            • Oh yeah they will. But if we frame every darn thing he does as just about freaking us we are mirroring his narcissism and turning every issue into a personal grudge.

              What happened isn’t about us (libs). It’s about a prez who has been repeatedly accused of sexual violence and bragged about it, hiring a guy accused of covering up sexual harassment and, as a bonus, defended a congressman accused of ignoring sexual abuse. Those are the real issues.

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              • It’s a real issue in the sense that it sheds light on why he made a bad choice.

                The urge to endlessly troll us isn’t one of the strengths of the Right in general or Trumpland in particular. It’s a weakness, and a potentially exploitable one. Hell, one reason that Price and Pruitt were both confirmed despite being flagrantly corrupt was a refusal to give us libs a win.

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      • I disagree. This was a calculated decision aimed at provoking and angering Democrats. Many of whom are women (of course, I am not and you are not.) This was noticed on the same day that Scott Pruitt resigned after a scandal-plagued year that makes Warren Harding’s cabinet look like a bunch of Boy Scouts. Klein points out that in any other admin even a deeply conservative one, someone would have pointed out why hiring this guy is a bad idea and will produce blowback.

        Yet Trump and company still went forward. We learned during the immigration debacle that Miller delights in being a provocateur. So might others in the admin. They probably do.

        I get the whole civility thing from a personal objective but I still question whether the civility toners worries are real and there is plenty of evidence that riling up the base can get them up and to the polls.

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        • I would frame this slightly differently.

          Trump and his base have redefined the entire conservative project as hostility towards groups- ethnic minorities, and women most notably.

          And the trolling isn’t idle or trivial, it is essential to their mission.

          There isn’t a positive vision of “we want to help black people except differently” or “we want to empower women in a different way”.

          No, its clear from the rallies and slogans and rhetoric that the point here is to inflict hurt and punishment for grievances.

          MAGA means restoration, but also righteous punishment.

          Whenever I hear people call for us to lift our vision to esoteric policy matters, I think of that old saying that Stalin told lies and everyone believed him, while Hitler told the truth and no one believed him.

          When they chanted “Lock Her Up” that wasn’t some meaningless fluff, that was a real statement of their beliefs and intentions.

          We should take them seriously.

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        • I’m not talking about civility. Assuming this was done just to PO libs is mind reading. I don’t doubt they enjoy the pissing off. But what is the real problem here. Is it pissing us off? No. That just isn’t why this is an issue. It’s childish and disgraceful for a prez but that isn’t the big deal here.

          What is the problem here? It’s hiring a guy reliably accused of and involved in civil trials for covering up sexual harassment. And then the defending the congressman accused of covering up sexual abuse. Those are the issues. Not our liberal feelings or if trump is trying to poke them. It’s not about our anger. Talking about it just being mean to piss us off is making the issue about our feelings and the sleazbaging internet poo fights.

          There is nothing trump defenders would love to argue about more than who pissed off who and sick burns. That is how discussions get sidetracked away from sexual abuse/harassment. There is nothing that makes every discussion look like partisan squabbles that talking about how this is about pissing us off.

          If you are talking to someone who doesn’t follow the news and isn’t committed to Trump nor sold on D’s what would move them? Saying that Trump just tries to po libs or hiring and defending people reliably accused of serious stuff relating to sexual abuse/ harassment. This isn’t hard question.

          Yup i’m a man. I just checked. Irrelevant.

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          • This is a huge insight. I think that this attitude will, in fact, work.

            (I think that there is a problem where the performative act of communicating how offended you are has replaced a number of more important responses to outrageous behavior. The Christians in the 80’s learned this too late. Seriously, go back and watch the PMRC hearings again. But I digress. I think that this insight is the important one that will allow for real progress within the party.)

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    • Quote from the article:
      “And they’re both probably right.”

      This article is looking politely and interestedly at two different theories about the relationship between the DSA and Democrats, weighing actual evidence of various kinds, and coming to a conclusion.

      How is that ‘left-wing circular firing squad?’

      Or if you were talking about Sen. Duckworth or Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, their comments were respectful toward each other, but merely expressed different opinions about the future of the party.

      What’s with the click-bait language, ?

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