Ordinary World for 7 January, 2019


Ordinary World for 7 January, 2019

As always, all linked pieces are for discussion and consideration, not as implied endorsement of the author’s views by Ordinary Times

[OW1] The Progressive Case for Centrism by Roger Sollenberger: “The truth is, whether you like it or not, progressives need to learn to embrace centrists, if for no other reason than to maximize their own influence on policy. Centrists in turn need to yield over time to an increasingly progressive agenda, and if American history is a guide, this is inevitable. Political tactics aren’t political platforms. It’s critical that liberals, whether we identify as Democrats or not, recognize what we have in common. That’s far more important for 2020 than jamming crowbars into the cracks between us.”

[OW2] As Big Retailers Seek to Cut Their Tax Bills, Towns Bear the Brunt by Patricia Cohen: “This is not an entirely new idea. In 1921, the New York Stock Exchange appealed its property tax assessment, arguing that because its building could not be adapted for any other use, it should be considered only a “tear-down proposition” that decreased the value of the land. A State Supreme Court judge disagreed. Sales comparisons often make sense for homes, experts say, because they can estimate what a willing buyer would pay by looking at recent sales of similar houses or apartments on the same block or in the neighborhood.”

[OW3] The Division Caused By Romney’s Op-Ed Is Just What the GOP Needs by Kimberly Ross: “If this “further division” causes some to look distastefully at Trumpism, then I applaud it. If this “further division” spurs (actual) conservatives to stand against poisonous rhetoric that is too easily dismissed, then it should be praised. There is nothing admirable about uniting behind a leader, placing a blindfold on, and marching in lockstep because of a romanticized duty to party. It removes all thought and common sense from the process and asks that we disregard substance in favor of the superficial. Then again, that’s what many Republican voters did on November 8, 2016.”

[OW4] What the Hell Is the ‘Military Version of Eminent Domain’? Whatever it is, it can’t be good. by Joe Setyon: “In all seriousness, federal law does allow for military department secretaries to “acquire any interest in land” if “the acquisition is needed in the interest of national defense.” But defining building a wall on the southern border as an issue of national defense is a stretch. It’s also worth noting that calling for a “military version of eminent domain” may not be the best way for Trump to sell his wall to the American people. Polls already show that a majority of Americans oppose the project. Further reducing the due process available to border property holders is unlikely to increase that number.”

[OW5] We Need More Martin Van Burens by Eric Medlin: “Politicians should still aspire to be like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. These prominent leaders transcended their era and led the country through its most challenging years. But not every president will have a Great Depression to overcome or a Civil War to win. The vast majority of presidents will have to secure partisan accomplishments through deal-making and compromise. Instead of attempting to be the greatest president, they should strive to be like Martin Van Buren and enact rules and laws that will influence American society for decades to come.”

[OW6] Tucker Carlson’s Monologue Insults His Viewers by Conor Friedersdorf: “The monologue was compelling. It is easy to imagine large swaths of the viewing audience concluding that, if nothing else, the host is on their side. But Carlson failed the most basic test of respect for his audience: He told them blatant lies, falsehoods, and untruths, assuming that they wouldn’t notice. Some of us did. A broadcaster’s untruths can be difficult to hear in real time, especially if he’s talented at modulating his voice and looking into the camera. But Carlson ranged across so many different subjects that he inevitably covered some terrain that the educated viewer would know a lot about. In those moments, his mendacity was unmistakable.”

[OW7] Why Aren’t Democratic Governors Pardoning More Prisoners? By Matt Ford: “Pardoning incarcerated people or commuting their sentences largely fell out of vogue during the tough-on-crime era at both the state and federal level. Harry Truman issued more than 1,900 pardons during his tenure, while Dwight D. Eisenhower handed out more than 1,100 throughout his eight years in office. That number fell even as prison populations exploded in the 1980s and 1990s: George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush collectively issued fewer than 700 pardons during their quarter-century in power. Though comparable figures for the nation’s governors aren’t readily available, they’ve reportedly shown a similar aversion to clemency since the 1960s. What would it look like if governors pursued a more aggressive approach to their clemency powers?

[OW8] The case against the case for Beto O’Rourke by O.T. Ford: “If Beto O’Rourke is the Democratic nominee in 2020, I will vote for him, and not just with great reluctance. Donald Trump and the Republican Party must be soundly defeated, it goes without saying. Moreover, I like Beto, and I see him as a politician with great potential. But he will not be my choice in the Democratic primaries. The problem is not just that there are good reasons for nominating someone else. It’s that people are supporting Beto O’Rourke for bad reasons. They don’t want Beto to run the government. They want Beto to take us all to prom.”

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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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19 thoughts on “Ordinary World for 7 January, 2019

  1. I find Conor to be unbearably pompous and filled with concern trolling most of the time. He sure sounds like someone going for the Brooks perch once Brooks retires. Here is Paul Campos at LGM noting how the right-wing freaked out at Tucker’s slight critiques of capitalism:


    The scary part about all this is that white ethno-nationalism, which is what both Carlson and Trump actually market to their respective, heavily overlapping audiences, is likely to become even more successful if it manages to morph into a kind of welfare state herrenvolk democracy, in which “real Americans” receive genuine protection from the depredations of capitalism, while a permanently disenfranchised underclass of guest workers and the like gets to live in the libertarian utopia envisioned by the Koch brothers et. al.


    • Given that Carlson specifically complained about how predatory capitalism undermined people of different skin colors, whether in the the inner cities of places like Detroit or the opioid-infected rural America, I believe Campos is not a reliable writer. He omitted the portions of the rant that contradict his pre-conceived thesis. This is the kind of thing a law professor gets away with.

      I’m not a fan of Carlson, he’s at the same level as Campos.


  2. Piece #1: I believe that there is a fair bit of evidence that Sanders supporters were more economically conservative than Clinton supporters but “reasons” gets them cast as the lefties. Reasons being branding and media spin. There is still a problem of defining centerist here. I think one of the reasons that liberals/progressives (whatever we call ourselves this week) get fed up with centerists is because they can express tut-tutting at silly things. Such as the use of the word “motherfucker.”

    I remain baffled by the kind of person who would be shocked, offended, critical of a politician using a curse word when the alternative out there is Donald Trump and Stephen Miller. “I would have voted for a Democratic President in 2020 but one of your congresscritters used a dirty word in 2019 and now I need to vote for Cheeto Benito again” shows a very strange moral compass. If that statement can ever be sincere in the first place. I don’t curse very often but I find it kind of surprising that some people still consider it taboo in 2019.


    • Its part of the civility cargo cult. The belief is that we can get out of the apocalyptic model of politics, which I agree is not a good thing, if everybody follows the civility ritual. Cursing breaks the civility cargo cult. Therefore, it is bad.


  3. OW4: Yeah, Trump has some pretty fuzzy ideas about how the government works. Someone needs to point out to him that the military version of eminent domain is… eminent domain. If there were something else, the US Army would have long ago taken the Massachusetts-sized piece of Colorado they want for the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site expansion. (Yeah, the Army says that they’ve cancelled the plan. None of the people I still know in the state government believes that.) I expect that he’s also going to learn that the courts are not going to allow DHS’s authority to waive various regulatory statutes and rules to extend to ignoring environmental impacts across a huge swath of the Southwest.


  4. OW6- Holy Catnip, Batman! that Friedersdorf piece is bad. I normally like his pieces, but that was just pathetic. The fact that he doesn’t understand what an opinion is (Tucker saying he doesn’t like MJ and thinks it is bad) and confuses it with lies is just sad. I think MJ should be legalized, but I do think it is disgusting and makes people stupid. This is an opinion. That he doesn’t understand the difference, and that it made its way past an editor doesn’t speak well of The Atlantic. That this is more a counter-rant that people have opinions that he doesn’t like, and that some of those people have a louder megaphone than he does, seems totally lost on him.


    • Yeah… I was interested to see what he was going to say and was frankly really surprised that it was an article about MJ. Like THAT’S what we need to zero in on? Those are the lies you are concerned about? Weird.

      If you watch the Carlson piece and come back with your thoughts on MJ as the key thing, then you’ve kinda missed the plot… but yes, he talked about MJ and you are perfectly within your rights to disagree. But, very few people who thought Carlson was throwing down a gauntlet to the Republican establishment thought the part about MJ was anywhere near the point. Almost definitionally rorsachian.

      I was looking for the rest of the article after he finished with the MJ appetizer, so to speak.


      • I wrote this essay a million years ago about what we, as a society, need to do when weed is legalized.

        My existential problem was this one:

        There are healthy ways to partake and unhealthy ways to partake.
        The way that I was introduced to alcohol, for example, was not one of the healthy ones.
        Surely there is a healthy way to introduce marijuana that would result in healthy partaking… right?
        I have no idea, like *NONE*, what this healthy way would look like. Like *NONE*.

        Given that I’m one of the “END THE DRUG WAR NOW” folks, this strikes me as a problem.

        Marijuana has some serious problems associated with it and the fact that marijuana prohibition is even worse solves not a single one of those problems.


        • I don’t usually enter into the MJ debate for various reasons.

          I’m curious though, does one ingest weed (in whatever form) for the pure pleasure of weed itself and not the effects of weed? And here I’m talking about weed qua weed… not the social pleasure or the emotional rush or anything ancillary to the taste of weed, or the accidental form of weed like brownies or smoking which could be satisfied by a nonTHC bearing product – such that if you did it and in no way altered your mind/senses… would you do it? Why not smoke hemp?


          • The effects. Users will talk about it a lot like sommeliers speak of varieties of wine but when they do so they’re comparing the effects. No one smokes it for the taste and edibles are specifically designed to disguise the taste/texture.

            Or so I’m told…


            • I have an older brother, a curmudgeonly hippie who has been smoking weed since 1967, who laughed as he told me about visiting a newly legal dispensary in Seattle and having to endure a teenaged hipster trying to educate him on on the finer points of marijuana.

              I think his response was along the lines of “get offa my grass you punk”.


          • Way back in 1992, I heard a number of stories about marijuana use and the effects thereof.

            The first is that it produces a mild euphoria mixed with a mild stupor mixed with a mild time dilation. So, like, you think that a half hour has passed, and it’s been 5 minutes. Which makes the feeling good feel like it’s lasting a lot longer than it really has.

            This makes some entertainments more pleasurable. Music was enhanced. Silly little tricks like a wah-wah pedal or over-production or that thing that Frampton does in “Do you feel like I do” turns into a nigh-mystical experience.

            Here’s Lenny Kravitz “Fields of Joy (Reprise)”:

            Seriously. That’s freaking *AMAZING* on the herb, so I have been told.

            It’s also true for stuff like shows like Quantum Leap. Sure, it’s a maudlin procedural… but on the herb? Man, you are on the edge of your seat. What’s going to happen? Due to the time dilation, this silly little 40 minute television show feels like a 3-hour epic.

            It improves food as well. I’m sure you’ve heard jokes about people eating a gas station hot dog after smoking a bowl and then saying something like “Oh my gosh… this is *SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO* good!”

            I, too, have heard those jokes.

            Last, but certainly not least, is the sleep. Oh, my gosh. The sleep. It’s the sleep of the just. It’s the sleep of the just after spending all day at a barn-raising. It’s the sleep of the just after spending all day at a barn-raising and then jogging 2 miles to the gym, doing the circuit, then jogging 2 miles back and taking a hot shower with lavender oils. And you wake up refreshed. Even if you’ve been sleeping in a college dorm-quality bed.

            Or so I have heard.


        • We had to get drunk when we had our supplier deliver for us because we didn’t know the next time we’d have a delivery.

          Exactly what it was like living in Salt Lake City. (In the 80s, anyway.) This lunch place serves beer? Better have one, because you never know when the next chance will be. I have a spare hour? Better drive out to the state liquor store and stock up. I did more drinking there than ever before or since.


          • I did more drinking there than ever before or since.

            What’s weird is that Pot Culture seems to have changed somewhat since it got legalized.

            Like, I’m not adjacent to the pot culture anymore (not that I was ever *THAT* close to it) but there is a lot less Bob Marley-esque stuff and a lot less hippie culture stuff. Now that may be a function of the times a-changin’ (“The kids don’t wear raccoon coats anymore!”) but it does seem that no longer being forced underground has resulted in it being important to signal about.

            (But, again, I ain’t exactly adjacent to the culture and Colorado Springs is pretty square anyway.)


  5. [OW5] No, just no. This seems to be the warmed-over Schlesinger take on the Jacksonian era that was intended to meld the disparate elements of the Democratic party together during the post-war period. Some of that link is simply misleading. For example, Van Buren requiring a ten hour day for laborers on federal public works was substantially undercut by his opposition to federal public works. Not that he would oppose all federal public works, he and Jackson supported federal public works where there were loyal Democratic voters. What he is euphemistically referring to as “a public sub-treasury system” are the pet banks, which again are means by which the federal budget was sent to supporters of the Democratic party. The bottom line is that Van Buren, as President and as Jackson’s wizard, implemented the most corrupt, partisan system of governance in U.S. history. We need less partisanship, and more compromise.


  6. [OW2] There is another angle on this. The feds charged one of the most important Democratic politicians in Chicago last week, Alderman Burke, for using his office to block building and renovation permits in order to force businesses to use his law firm for tax challenges. The extortion was enabled by ambigous, flexible building code policies, flexible, high property tax assessments, and the ability to appoint most of the judges in the county.

    BTW/ Trump used the law firm to shave $14 million off the property taxes for his new tower.


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