Ordinary World 26 Nov 2018

Ordinary World 26 Nov 2018

Ordinary World
26 Nov 2018

[OW1] There’s no point to regulating Big Tech because it’s failing by Taylor Millard: “It’s no surprise to see the populist right agreeing with Democrats on social media regulations – even if they disagree on how the regulations should be drawn up.”

[OW2] Longing for Community by Berny Belvedere: “Here’s one place where important strands of the left and right can converge: the importance of community. This is an overlooked point of intersection. It is community in two separate senses, sure, but the two senses are mutually-reinforcing. For identitarians on the left, the sense of community worth agitating for is group community—the African-American community, the LGBT community, etc. For communitarians on the right, there is a yearning for thriving local communities. My thesis is that to realize the aspirations of community in the fullest sense of the word, you cannot ignore either of these.”

[OW3] The Charity Walkathon Is Dead, Long Live the Charity Walkathon by Olga Khazan : “Before the internet took over, “runs and walks were a way for people to connect around a common cause,” says Elizabeth Dale, a professor of nonprofit leadership at Seattle University. “I remember as a kid doing a 15-kilometer walk for multiple sclerosis. We had a family friend with MS, and I got to walk in her honor. There was real value in coming together and participating in something with other people.”

[OW4] Asia’s War on History by Richard Scotford: “Today the people of Asia find themselves at a critical juncture, with CPC controlled China demanding that democratic Japan fully face-up to its war time history and stop visiting the Yasakuni Shrine, ‘honour’ war time agreements and face-up to its dishonorable past. Yet, the same CPC, controlled media that demands such submissiveness from an independent sovereign state can’t acknowledge its own, very real and vicious history. And this is why Asia finds itself in a bitter war over history, which may eventually be the prelude to a real war.”

[OW5] INTERVIEW – A Stanford psychologist on the art of avoiding assholes by By Sean Illing: “Asshole survival, Sutton says, is a craft, not a science, meaning one can be good or bad at it. His book is about getting better at it. I sat down with him recently to talk about his strategies for dealing with assholes, what he means when he says we have to take responsibility for the assholes in our lives, and why he says self-awareness is key to recognizing that the asshole in your life may be you.”

[OW6] Red state, Blue state; Country state, City state by O.T. Ford: “If I wanted to guess a white person’s politics from location alone, I wouldn’t ask what state or region. I’d ask how big the city or town was and how close to the center she lived. That’s not a flawless method, but it’s better than “red state or blue state?”. Who actually thought Houston, being in Texas, was conservative? Who thought downstate Illinois, being in Illinois, was liberal? They aren’t. And again, that’s not new.”

[OW7] Instant Pot Politics: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Instagram stories are the future of candidate marketing by Christina Cauterucci: “Ocasio-Cortez’s Instagram stories feel like a harbinger of one possible political future, one in which digital-native elected officials take full advantage of the unmediated access to constituents and fans afforded by social media. Millennials and Gen Zers prize a curated sort of authenticity in the celebrities they follow and expect constant documentation of their friends’ lives. In the near future, they may come to demand the same Instant Pot intimacy from the politicians they send to Washington, too.”

[OW8] What works in Healthcare? by Benjamin I. Espen: “I suspect what is going on is that medicine works, just barely, on average. You get things like the long slow decline of maternal mortality from the confluence of lots and lots of little things added together. If you look at anything else, heart disease, or cancer, you will see the same pattern. Vaccines are an exception. Disease rates for things with effective vaccines just drop off immediately. Which brings us to my motivation for bringing this up at all. Random C.”


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Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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106 thoughts on “Ordinary World 26 Nov 2018

  1. OW 5 is an interesting article. Some thoughts I have:

    – One of the best pieces of advice one of my grad-school buddies ever gave me about an a-hole boss I had was, “You just have to work with her; she has to live with herself,” which parallels the “not giving a s—” advice in that article. Sometimes it’s hard not to care when someone is belittling you are is openly rude to you and can be because they have power, and I do tend to be sensitive, but the whole “I can go home at the end of this and be somewhere where this person is not” helps.

    I am, deep down, pretty thin-skinned, but I guess I have gotten REALLY good at not showing it.

    – Something someone else told me once, that I think about a lot: “If you meet one person in a day who is an a-hole, you met an a-hole. If you think everyone you meet is an a-hole, you are probably the a-hole” and I suspect that is somewhat accurate. I have one or two people in my life who complain about the rudeness and uncaringness of everyone else, and it’s more like, those people aren’t bending to that person’s petty whims.

    I actually find I don’t encounter that many a-holes, so I don’t know if that means I’m more tolerant (I certainly had experience with living with it, as a bullied kid) or more oblivious or if I actually have some power to charm people into behaving better around me, I don’t know. Or maybe the fact that I tend not to get angry at the person or really react at all makes it not-fun to be an a-hole to me…

    – The idea of “temporary vs. permanent.” I’ve been a temporary a-hole when I was upset or hurting or overly worried and when I look back on it, I feel TERRIBLE about having been that way. I suspect a lot of people do. Permanent a-holes seem not to care.

    – YES to the “power corrupts” thing. I see that everywhere: on non-profit boards, in petty bureaucrats at universities, in local politics, in national politics. Power is bad. Money is not the root of all evil as much as power i.s

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    • “If you meet one person in a day who is an a-hole, you met an a-hole. If you think everyone you meet is an a-hole, you are probably the a-hole”

      I use this hermeneutic a lot. I know people who, based on their self-reporting, can’t get through a single day without someone screwing them over. I feel sorry for them for having to live inside their own heads. On a more pragmatic note, this hermeneutic is important for assessing any recommendations they might offer.

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    • One that helped me: “Did you have a bad day or did you have a bad five minutes that you milked all day?”

      Because sometimes I have the former and there ain’t nothing you can do about that.

      But when I realized that sometimes I did the latter? I did what I could to stop doing that. I think it has resulted in fewer faux bad days.

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  2. OW2: The problem is how do you define community? What makes a community? Is it just people that happen to live in a particular set of blocks, zipcode? Or does it have more intangible aspects. One thing I would say about the farther right and the farther left is that they do seem to share a more communalistic viewpoint but these communalistic viewpoint distrusts modern life and economy. I often think the preferred mode of living of the far right and far left is something close to Smurf Village. A perfectly self-contained economic ecosystem where everyone practices a trade/craft of some sort and everything is done on barter and trade. You need a doctor for a profession as we understand it but not a :awyer Smurf or an Accountant Smurf or a Banker Smurf or a Consultant Smurf or a Marketing Smurf. They might want an I.T. Smurf though.

    A lot of anti-gentrification activism does deal with real fears of displacement but it is also a kind of small c-conservatism that doesn’t want anything to change. It wants San Francisco to always remain the home of the “Radical Anarchist Punk Sewing Collective.” It wants NYC to remain the downtown grit of 1977-1985 when CBGBs, the Mudd Clubb, and Danceteria were the hottest spots. When rents were cheap. When Gragosian wasn’t an international elite business of art galleries but doing wee hour shows in a loft (he was still selling to the ultra-rich though).

    So I can vaguely agree with a platitude like “community is important” but then the details make everything a chaotic mess.

    OW6: Talking about Long Island as one big block is kind of silly. Long Island is a hundred miles long and each county is distinct. The North and South shores of Nassau County are distinct. North Shore Nassau County tends to be more professional, upper-middle class, often Jewish and Asian, and Democratic. South Shore Long Island is more blue-collar to moderate middle class, more cops and firefighters, more Catholic, and conservative. At least this was the Long Island of my youth. Nassau County also used to be a bedrock of Republican politics in NYC until relatively recently and aspects of that still remain just like there are some holdover counties in the South that are Democratic because they have always been Democratic.

    My rough view about when things start feeling Republican is based on when you start seeing a lot more billboards for Evangelical Megachurches, “Christian” radio, and/or right-wing talk radio. In the Bay Area, this takes a while.

    But one of the biggest changes in American politics is the swing of UMC voters from reliable Republican to reliable Democratic. This occurred in some areas quicker than others but some of the surprise pick ups of 2018 show it can happen in deep red states. Think of the Democrats gaining seats in the suburban Kansas, Utah, and Oklahoma districts and with liberal, not moderate candidates. Also the destruction of Orange County as a Republican stronghold.

    On another blog, a commentator noted that voting Republican is just the default thing for many white Americans to do. Or was. It occurs to me that I always grew up in seats of blue. I grew up in a Jewish* suburb of NYC that voted Democratic (it was also grafted into a largely NYC congressional district), I went to a college not known for attracting Republican students. Then I went to art school for my grad degree (again not a Republican stronghold area), and then to Law School in SF. So I’m kind of distinct in being whiteish (as much as Jews count for Caucasian) but not knowing many Republicans. The ones I did know changed quickly during college or right after.

    *”Jews earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans” was a snide remark made by the original neocons to express frustration that their coreligionists maintained a hardcore and solid loyalty to liberalism and the New Deal. Jews are still overwhelmingly Democratic (80 percent or so vote Democratic). This angers the 20 percent who vote non-Democratic endlessly especially if they are right-wing. In these days of countless articles about “Why did white people (especially the WWC) abandon the Democratic Party?”; Jews remain an exception.

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    • *”Jews earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans” was a snide remark made by the original neocons to express frustration that their coreligionists maintained a hardcore and solid loyalty to liberalism and the New Deal.

      Worth noting that Episcopalians nowadays vote like Puerto Ricans, too. This is a long-term trend, going back at least to when the Episcopalians started ordaining women in the 1970s. The older trend was that as a family rose in economic status, it converted to Episcopalianism. Hence the old truism that the Episcopal Church was the Republic Party at prayer. This trend tailed off in the second half of the 20th century, and received its death blow with the rise of the Evangelical church. John McCain was the walking embodiment of these trends. He was by background a non-practicing Episcopalian of the old school. During his presidential bid he hilariously suggested that he was actually Baptist, but couldn’t recall the details. There was a substantial residual conservative wing of the Episcopal church until recently, but they have largely splintered off over the gay issue, as well as a delayed response to those woman priests, some of whom are now bishops. (This ties in with technical issues of ecclesiology I won’t bore you with.) The code word is “Anglican,” which in many contexts is neutral, but in the context of a church in North America is an assurance that any gays you find there will be properly closeted.

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      • How much of the “Republican Party at prayer” quip is because the Episcopalian Church derives from the Church of England and the Church of England used to be called “the Conservative Party at prayer” while the Liberals and later Labour Party were the “Methodists at Prayer”? Since the Republican Party was seen as the Anglo-American establishment party, it got associated with the Episcopal Church.

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        • I don’t know the genealogy of the quip. What you suggests seems plausible (which, of course, is not necessarily the same as its being true). The bit about families converting as they rose the economic ladder is certainly true, at least for northeastern cities. I read a study on this that was based on combing through social registers. On a related note, there is a Lutheran church in Baltimore that mimics the look and feel of a wealthy urban Episcopal church from sometime between the Civil War and WWI. My take is that it was German Lutherans on the rise, but who couldn’t quite stomach the switch. So instead they made a Lutheran church that served the same socio-economic function.

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          • 19th century Reform Judaism modeled its services after what a very respectable Protestant service would look like as opposed to the more chaotic Orthodox Jewish services. One of the lesser emphasized points of Reform Judaism was that it wanted to create a Judaism that would conform to bourgeois Protestant standards of decorum.

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          • ECUSA and ELCA are pretty much in full communion now, even providing supply priests to one another.

            Anglican and Lutheran- Missouri Synod are the dissenting very conservative groups for each, respectively. Ironically, despite having essentially the same anti-gay and other social/religious conservative views, last I checked they were not in communion with one another. (Though I imagine both reacted with equal horror several years back when a woman who had gotten her original degree in science was elected Presiding Bishop in the ECUSA).

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  3. OW2: During the 19th and 20th century, anarcho-syndicalists and the more traditional rightists preferred local, decentralized communities to the growing centralized nation-states. Its why Tolkien had hippy fans. Besides really hating liberals, social democrats, and other center left types they had little in common. The problem is, as Saul points out, is how do you define community and decide who gets to be protected from modernization and the centralized state.

    There are Identity Politics leftists that look fondly and even romantically on their approved minority communities but want to drag traditional communities they don’t like, for example Ultra-Orthodox Jews, into the 21st century with the full force of the state. These are people that decry various Western imposed modernizations done to communities they see as indigenous and kind of communal if you squint hard enough. The Ultra-Orthodox Jews don’t hit any of the right boxes for them though, so they determined that the Ultra-Orthodox Jews. Tradition bound rightists might get warm and fuzzy about the Amish but have little use for LGBT communities or aboriginal communities.

    OW5: The way I see the asshole problem is that its easy to deal with low status assholes. You can police low status assholes, call them out, and just not deal with them. High status assholes are harder to deal with because they have the power to impose themselves on others by virtue of wealth and position. They usually don’t care or even feel the sting of being called out.

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          • No it is not the only moral position but the rules on asylum are clear. Lee knows the details a lot more. Repealing asylum seekers is not moral. This does not mean you need to grant every application for asylum.

            I personally think we should grant most, if not all, applications for asylum.

            This isn’t complicated! Why are you strawmanning the allies of asylum?

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              • AOC said

                “Asking to be considered a refugee & applying for status isn’t a crime.”

                This is correct. Note she did not say that they should be granted asylum. She merely noted that international law states has rules about asylum seekers. The rules do not allow for asylum seekers to be turned away at the border or fired with tear gas. They also don’t allow for asylum seekers to be held in Country Y while seeking asylum in Country X.

                Just because we haven’t always been best at following these rules in the past does not mean we can’t get better. Just because other countries do these violations doesn’t mean that we should do the same. These rules were set up post-Holocaust to make sure that something similar never occurred again.

                I don’t know how to read you tweeting AOC to Chip.

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                  • You did indeed quote her. Then you mischaracterized what you had just quoted, and criticized this mischaracterization. Is this what we are going to be seeing in the days to come? If so, then I thank you for the warning and will ignore accordingly.

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                    • Am I allowed to point out the times that AOC called for abolishing ICE or would that be strawmanny too?

                      Please don’t see me saying that a position is “Open Borders” is a criticism of the position.

                      I think that “Open Borders” is pretty much the boilerplate libertarian position as well, isn’t it? (It was a few years ago.)

                      I imagine that those migrants are willing to work hard, not get on the dole, have their children/grandchildren learn English and a disproportionate amount of their grandkids will decide to identify as “White” rather than “Hispanic”.

                      That said, throwing rocks at the Border Patrol is going to invite a lot of really weird comparisons in the coming weeks.

                      If you want to avoid discussions of the difference between Palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers and people in the caravan doing so at ICE agents, ignoring me is *DEFINITELY* the way to go.

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                            • The call to abolish ICE certainly signals a desire for more open borders. It’s not pure signalling – I’m sure some people genuinely want to abolish ICE. Calling for the abolition of ICE isn’t a call for completely open borders, either. But the slogan has an implication of supporting immigration.

                              A couple of years ago, some people were running on repealing Obamacare. They probably wanted to repeal Obamacare, but they were also signalling what they wanted to replace it. No one who wanted to repeal Obamacare and replace it with single-payer was running on the slogan of “repeal Obamacare”.

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                                • Signalling is broad, no? At least this kind of signalling is. I’m describing an impression that’s intended, as I did with the healthcare example, not a particular policy prescription. That’s the point. “Abolish ICE” may not even mean abolishing ICE; it’s intended to indicate a side. “America first”, “the rich aren’t paying their fair share”, et cetera, aren’t fleshed-out legislative items.

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                          • This isn’t really true, for better or worse.

                            Of course, I’m also old enough to remember when legalizing drugs was something only weirdos advocated. The costs of enforcement changed more minds than anything else, AFAICT.

                            Trump is doing everything possible to make the costs of immigration enforcement a high-salience issue. That’s the kind of thing that can make a lot of people who might think border control is a nice idea in theory reconsider.

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                        • Oh, I wasn’t trying to support my argument that AOC is the next Trump.

                          I base my opinion on that on her virtuosity with social media and the ability to change the subject to be what she wants to talk about. (There’s also the thing where she says something that has an emotionally resonant truth that has a minor factual error in it and it summons every single “WELL ACTUALLY” in earshot to argue against the minor factual error and amplify the emotionally resonant truth.)

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                          • Most good politicians will have those skills these days. So did Obama. Remember when his use of social media and his campaign’s effective use of the Internet was the next big thing?

                            FWIW, you (IIRC) have asked in the past what Trump is good at, and I do think this is one of those things he’s actually good at, or at least better at than his competitors in the primary and general elections of 2016.

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                            • Most good politicians

                              But I’m not talking about someone who is (googles) like Joe Harris in the NBA.

                              I’m talking about someone who is Michael Jordan. Or, who do the kids like today? Kobe? Steph Curry?

                              Trump was like Michael Jordan.
                              I’m saying that AOC is in the same league.

                              I think that he’s still very good at it but the problem is that jerking around the media requires the media’s willingness to play along. Up to this point, the media has proven more than willing to do that. (There seems to be some small amount of growing awareness on their part that they’re being played… that doesn’t mean that they’re going to stop (or even able to) but the first step is always admitting that you have a problem.)

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                                  • Few people realize how good the average players are in any of the top sports competitions around the world. I recall reading some physiologist talking about the Tour de France riders and saying something like, “There are probably a hundred people in the world with Greg LeMond’s oxygen-carrying and muscle-recovery abilities. 50 of them are here. The other 50 would be except they live someplace where they never get a chance to find out just how special they are.”

                                    If I were setting up a scoring system for politicians, it would be based on how well they can manipulate other politicians, not how well they do with voters. Lyndon Johnson was far better then Trump.

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                                    • I have no idea how good AOC will be as a politician. (Given that she has already participated in a protest at Pelosi’s office, I assume that she’s either not very good at it or absolutely amazing at it beyond my ability to reckon.)

                                      But when it comes to the stuff that Trump is amazing at? She’s equally amazing at it. And she’s only just getting started.

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                  • Jaybird: AOC is the New Trump.

                    Oh good grief.

                    I mean, I’m sure you could find something about Trump that is somewhat out-of-average for a US politician but by no means one of the top ten most striking things that really makes him stand out and say “that – that right there is the thing that makes Trump Trump-y, and AOC is kind of like that if you word your definitions really carefully and use motte and bailey shifting definitions of several of the words”.

                    But come on.

                    In a decade, we will find out what kind of politician AOC is, in a real sense. And she might be the next Trump, or the next Juan Peron, or the next dutiful hardworking retail politician.

                    For now, what we mostly have is that Republicans are collectively losing their shit at the idea that they’re going to have to treat a young Latina just-resigned bartender as a respected equal.

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                    • Did you think that I was saying that in a derogatory way?

                      I wasn’t. I meant it as a compliment.

                      I will copy and paste what I said earlier about her:

                      I base my opinion on that on her virtuosity with social media and the ability to change the subject to be what she wants to talk about. (There’s also the thing where she says something that has an emotionally resonant truth that has a minor factual error in it and it summons every single “WELL ACTUALLY” in earshot to argue against the minor factual error and amplify the emotionally resonant truth.)

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                      • OK, so kind of like I said – she shares something with Trump that is somewhat out of the average for US politicians, but by no means unique to the two of them of and by no means what makes Trump truly remarkable.

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          • This thread is getting absurd, because the premise is absurd. These battle lines you are talking about are purely virtual. They don’t have much actual connection to immigration policy or even act as meaningful proxies for positions on immigration policy. As President, Obama ratcheted up immigration and border enforcement and almost no one paid attention because both Obama’s supporters and his critics had a vested interest in portraying him as friendly to immigration. There were no comparable big, public incidents that I can recall.

            Contra all the conservative cosplayers, what’s happening at the border is not the beginning of some grand clash of civilizations. There are no barbarians at the gate. This situation escalated, because the people in charge are incompetent. This is happening because the man in charge of the federal government operates under a management strategy of escalation, chaos and maximum attention. And many of the people who support him, along with many of the people who oppose him, like it this way.

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            • This is happening because the man in charge of the federal government operates under a management strategy of escalation, chaos and maximum attention.

              Trump certainly has heightened the tension and controversy, but the current narrative pretends that this sort of border skirmish hasn’t been a recurring issue for years, even before the advent of Evil Orange Man. Easy enough to find stories of border rushes and the use of pepper spray and rubber bullets in response.

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            • These battle lines you are talking about are purely virtual.

              To the extent that the tail wags the dog these days, I’m not sure that that is as withering a criticism as you seem to think it is.

              Contra all the conservative cosplayers, what’s happening at the border is not the beginning of some grand clash of civilizations.

              I tend to agree that it’s not. But what it *IS* is a heightening of the contradictions. To the point where the previous kabuki that maintained the status quo isn’t really an option any more.

              We’re going to have to change something. And we’re either going to change it one way or the other. And people will have to take a position on which way they will want to change it.

              “Abolish ICE” is one of the two positions being staked out.
              “Build The Wall” is the other.

              People are throwing rocks at ICE agents.
              The status quo got us here. The status quo is no longer an option.

              Well, maybe some new bright and shiny thing will show up and the status quo will return. “We have to ban genetically modifying children and we need to punish China until they stop doing it! Impose tariffs if we must!”

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              • “Build The Wall” is the other.

                “Build the Wall” is not a policy position. It’s a totem.

                People are throwing rocks at ICE agents.
                The status quo got us here.

                And no. Donald Trump’s need for conflict and drama got us here. Any halfway decent manager or public administrator could have found a way to drastically increase border security and immigration enforcement without calling much attention to it, which is exactly what Obama did during his first term.

                Trump needs the escalation to distract attention from the fact that most of his actual immigration policy reforms have been struck down (i.e. failed).

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                • “Build the Wall” is not a policy position. It’s a totem.

                  See also: “Abolish ICE”.

                  Any halfway decent manager or public administrator could have found a way to drastically increase border security and immigration enforcement without calling much attention to it, which is exactly what Obama did during his first term.

                  So our problem isn’t that he’s doing a thing, it’s that he’s doing the thing and pointing to it? (Or, worse, that he’s doing it and that the media is actually covering it this time?)

                  That shit ain’t sustainable.

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                  • Abolish ICE could be a slogan. It could also be part of a serious effort to re-order the immigration enforcement regime. Personally, I think that the federal government’s law enforcement priorities should be focused on stopping smuggling (the CE part of ICE) and preventing acts of terror, but there is no need to have armed agents of the state roaming the country’s interior checking the papers of the guys working in this kitchen or that construction site.

                    “Build the Wall” is part of no serious policy conversation. It’s a gimmick that Trump thought up, because he understands gimmicks. It’s hard for me to believe that you don’t see the difference.

                    And ocourse it’s not sustainable. But please stop playing these kindergarten “but he did it too” games. There are plenty of areas where both sides are colluding to dumb down the policy conversation. But this ain’t one. The current escalation at the border is purely the result of the current administration’s incompetence. Trump likes escalation, because it keeps his name in the news and distracts from all the winning that he’s not actually doing.

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                    • Abolish ICE could be a slogan. It could also be part of a serious effort to re-order the immigration enforcement regime.

                      I admit to not having seen any of the serious efforts to re-order the immigration enforcement regime back to pre-2003 days.

                      “Build the Wall” is part of no serious policy conversation. It’s a gimmick that Trump thought up, because he understands gimmicks. It’s hard for me to believe that you don’t see the difference.

                      Imagine if my ignorance was great enough that I saw “Abolish ICE” as a slogan rather than as part of a serious policy conversation. That might help.

                      But please stop playing these kindergarten “but he did it too” games.

                      I’m up to a 3rd or 4th Grade “they’re going to get into a fight!”

                      Trump likes escalation, because it keeps his name in the news and distracts from all the winning that he’s not actually doing.

                      That’s as may be but I know contradictions heightening when I see it.

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                      • I’m not exactly sure what your question means.

                        My basic position is this: Donald Trump likes being the President of the United States, because of all the attention and accolades (both positive and negative) that come with the position. But Donald Trump has no interest in the actual work of government and public administration. I don’t even think that he cares about or understands policy. That is good news in that this will make it a little bit easier to undue whatever damage he manages to do over the next two to six years. But the bad news is that we are going to have a bunch of moments of unnecessary escalation like this one.

                        It’s also bad news in that it is four to eight more years we spend arguing over tribal signaling instead of getting to work solving the very real collective action problems that we face (hint: immigration ain’t one of them).

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          • The context is this.

            The Trump administration knew the group of refugees were coming, for weeks.

            They deliberately and consciously chose, from all other possible options, the one strategy of maximum confrontation and minimum cooperation.

            The administration deliberately refused to provide a safe place for the refugees to gather and present their claim for asylum in an orderly and peaceful manner.

            They provoked a confrontation, then used that as a pretext to inflict violence on the refugees.

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            • From an ideological/strategic stand point, the Trump administration was stuck in between a rock and a hard place. Your proposed solution is the moral solution but Trump has been consistently anti-immigrant since he rank from the primacies. The instincts of the administration and their most loyal supporters calls for a harsh response as they demonstrated. They obviously went for the later because they wanted to.

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              • They weren’t really stuck between a rock and a hard place until they called up the rock and hard place installation contractors at Fox et al. and put out a tender for the installation of one (1) rock and one (1) hard place, to be installed immediately to their left and right respectively.

                But then after the contractors finished their work, yes, they were thus stuck.

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              • The promise Trump made to his base was to demonstrate absolute and unquestioned dominance of the white culture.

                So the refugees had to be met with a demand for unconditional surrender.
                Any effort at compromise, dialogue or cooperation would have been met with outrage by the Trump base.

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            • Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you can just walk up to a border officer and ask for asylum. If you’re close enough to throw rocks, and you’re close enough to get a noseful of tear gas, you’re only a few steps away from making the request.

              More than that, there’s the question of agency. If the refugees (probably not the right word) wanted asylum, and they were from Honduras, they could have sought it in Mexico. If they wanted to emigrate to the US, they could have followed the formal procedures. They chose to march up through Mexico, and a significant number of them chose to charge the border.

              I recall Trump getting blamed for sending any extra personnel to the border.

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              • If the refugees (probably not the right word) wanted asylum, and they were from Honduras, they could have sought it in Mexico.

                From my reading, laws are mixed. As I understand it, international conventions say refugees can request asylum anywhere they want, regardless of how they got there. US law, as I understand it from LeeEsq and others here, says that refugees can make an asylum request to pretty much anyone in a uniform as soon as they cross the US border. I believe EU law says refugees should register in the first EU country they reach and that country is responsible for them. Many refugees from MENA go to considerable effort to avoid registering in Greece or Italy, because the benefits are better in Germany. I suspect that if forced into accepting large numbers of Central American refugees, Mexico would take the Turkish approach: permanent tent-city confinement and steady pressure to voluntarily return to their home country.

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                • The law is even more liberal than that. Any alien at a port of entry or in the United States may request asylum at any time. The officers hearing their case aren’t supposed to really care how and when they entered the United States. All sorts of things that are looked down upon in other immigration cases like sneaking over the border or using false documents to gain entry are permissible for asylum seekers.

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            • Tear-gassing just children would be wrong. But here we get to the agency question. Adults who put children in situations where they’re going to be tear-gassed bear responsibility. Actually, this is more a reply to Chip, so I’m going to put the thought up-thread.

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              • We are about to be treated to a micro-litigation of this, down to a Zapruder level study of footage.

                Which should really be nipped in the bud.

                If a person picked up a rock and threw it at a border agent, Donald Trump holds 90% of the blame, and the rock thrower 10%.

                The Trump administration was in complete command of the field and the situation. It had at its disposal an almost unlimited number of options of how to handle this situation, which it knew of weeks in advance. They made a series of deliberate choices which produced this event.

                The chaos- was of their making.
                The fear and anxiety- the result of their choices.
                The anger and violence- was the entirely foreseeable result of their deliberate and conscious choices, and callous disregard for the safety and welfare of everyone on the scene, American agents included.

                And now, like a child who tormented the cat, are looking around the room trying to evade responsibility for the broken vase.

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                • Absolutely – if Trump could spend the millions of dollars to send troops to the border with orders to use teargas on refugees, he could just as easily have spent far less money to send refugee caseworkers to the border, along with a much smaller contingent of troops with instructions to establish safe and sanitary temporary housing for refugees and caseworkers alike.

                  He sent more soldiers than there were refugees – at that ratio, he could have sent one caseworker for every single refugee, and gotten every case handled in a matter of days, with claimants either admitted or sent back on their way individually based on the merits of their cases.

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                  • He also appears to have cut back on the resources necessary to process asylum claims.

                    Whether through incompetence or malice [2], Trump created an avoidable crisis at the border, and then many of his most enthusiastic supporters exulted in the cruelty and violence the CBP responded with.

                    [1] I vote for incompetent malice and malicious incompetence.

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                  • It’s a pretty rare situation where a government agency, or employee, is so utterly constrained by law and policy that their hands are truly tied. The vast majority of the time, the constraint is that the government has a desired result, and follows the path that gets them that result.

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              • ” Adults who put children in situations where they’re going to be tear-gassed bear responsibility. ”

                Even in that framing (with which I do not agree), this would *definitely include* the people tear-gassing them.

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                  • I disagree with the framing of the statement in quotes, but if I grant it for the sake of the discussion, than by its own logic, the border agents are at least equally culpable. There is no interpretation of this particular situation where the border agents spraying children with tear gas do not have agency that makes them morally culpable for doing so, nor any morally reasonable interpretation where they are justified in their actions.

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                    • I’m sorry, you’re probably making a clear point and I’m failing to understand it. Could you rephrase this sentence: “I disagree with the framing of the statement in quotes”, as if you were talking to someone who didn’t know the word “framing”?

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                      • OK.

                        If I accept that sentence as true (which I don’t but for the sake of argument I will), then by its own logic, the border agents are just as bad as the parents are, *at least*. They bear *at least* that same responsibility for not putting children in the way of tear gas since they are *the ones using the tear gas*.

                        Which means what I first said, that there was no way of justifying spraying children with tear gas, and at best you’d be arguing that it was an unpardonable sin that couldn’t be avoided, is true. And I don’t buy that the agents couldn’t have avoided it.

                        Thus, the use of tear gas against children remains unjustified and the argument about the parents’ responsibility is a side issue, not a good counter to what I said.

                        Is that clearer?

                        [I’ll note that this version is less accurate because to me there’s an importance nuance between “is true” and “is correctly framed”, but since the whole point of my statement was that your counter-argument is irrelevant to the question of whether the action may be justified, dicing over why I don’t buy it *exactly* is also kind of irrelevant.]

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  4. Disclaimer: I know the author from high school.

    Arc Digital editor Nicholas Grossman critiques his fellow ArcDigitalite.

    https://arcdigital.media/left-wing-identity-politics-vs-right-wing-localism-c7c76c532636?sk=5e2d9dca2d49f2efa0afba5f15d4c6e3&fbclid=IwAR3pa_eNwhTLkM7ScitoRFmL_8G7tENEdstAvtWpQeTxA6syXeN9XVFoWjw

    Sasse talks about everyone watching Friday Night High School football. Grossman counters that this excludes observant Jews. It also mandates conformity on people who might not like sports. Community is important but it should not involved enforced conformity,

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    • An issue is that the high-trust society that full welfare states seem to require, like the Nordic ones that many liberals and leftists dream about, seem to require a relatively unified and shared culture to implement. When you have too many sub-cultures, enough to prevent even the most cursory form of bonding across a country, getting the political will for a full welfare state seems hard. Nearly all the European welfare states were created when countries were feeling really unified even though there were some fits and starts before hand. America never had that unity and we always faced a lot of difficulty in passing welfare state legislation.

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  5. OW7

    “Ocasio-Cortez’s Instagram stories feel like a harbinger of one possible political future, one in which digital-native elected officials take full advantage of the unmediated access to constituents and fans afforded by social media. Millennials and Gen Zers prize a curated sort of authenticity in the celebrities they follow and expect constant documentation of their friends’ lives. In the near future, they may come to demand the same Instant Pot intimacy from the politicians they send to Washington, too.

    ‘In the future’? Un-mediated (but carefully managed) ‘authenticity’ on social media is how Trump broke thru the Republican primary logjam and into the White House.

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  6. Michelle Goldberg hits it out of the park:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/26/opinion/trump-supporters-bill-white-bryan-eure.html

    Baron’s book, “Life of the Party: A Political Press Tart Bares All,” is useful because it is a self-portrait of a cynical, fame-hungry narcissist, a common type but one underrepresented in the stories we tell about partisan combat. A person of limited self-awareness — she seemed to think readers would find her right-wing exploits plucky and cute — Baron became Reed’s communications director because she saw it as a steppingstone to her dream job, White House press secretary, a position she envisioned in mostly sartorial terms. (“Outfits would be planned around the news of the day,” she wrote.) Reading Baron’s story helped me realize emotionally something I knew intellectually. It’s tempting for those of us who interpret politics for a living to overstate the importance of competing philosophies. We shouldn’t forget the enduring role of sheer vanity.

    That brings us to Monday’s New York Times article about Bill White and his husband, Bryan Eure, headlined “How a Liberal Couple Became Two of N.Y.’s Biggest Trump Supporters.” The answer: ego. A former big-ticket Democratic fund-raiser, White went straight from Hillary Clinton’s election night party to Donald Trump’s when he realized which way the wind was blowing. (“I didn’t want to be part of that misery pie,” he said of the dreary vibe at the Clinton event.) Another turning point came earlier this year when, he claims, Chelsea Clinton snubbed him at Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar in Manhattan, leading him to call Donald Trump Jr., who offered to come to him right away.

    This story, like Baron’s book, is arresting in its picture of shameless, unvarnished thirst. White and Eure mouth some talking points about disliking “identity politics” and valuing “authenticity.” Like a lot of Trump apologists, White insists the president isn’t racist because African-American employment figures have improved during his administration. But the lurid opportunism that’s driving him and his husband to embrace Trump is obvious. Such opportunism is far from rare; it’s just not often that we see it exhibited so starkly.

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    • I think that in many areas of life from politics to relationships, sincere and earnest people really assume that everybody else is sincere and earnest. They don’t believe that there are many people out there that exist on a more shallow and cynical level who might use the same words they do but say different things.

      On my Facebook feed, a female friend of mine who believes deeply social justice concepts of gender shared a rant by another woman who was complaining about women who want their men to cook and clean but don’t want their sons to have play kitchens/brooms or for their men to be more sensitive but tell their sons that boys don’t cry. I pointed out that these things aren’t necessarily hypocritical or inconsistent when you realize that the women you disagree with are using the same words that you do but mean something entirely different.

      Liberal women might mean that a sensitive man is one that can emote and show how he feels. More cynical women see a sensitive man as somebody who is sensitive to his partner’s emotional and/or physical needs regardless of the emotional/physical state he is in. Be more sensitive really means “be more sensitive to my needs.” Since the later interpretation involves a man suppressing his own emotional needs, it is quite consistent with boys don’t cry.

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    • Sincere, earnest people often underestimate the role of sheer vanity, ego, and cynicism because it violates just world theory. Baron, White, and Eure look like they are having the time of their life despite their utter shallowness. For people who believe in things this can be a bit too much. I think it was Flaubert or some other French author that remarked you happiness is based on health, wealth, and stupidity but if you lack stupidity all is lost.

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