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AvatarComments by Michael Drew in reply to North*

On “Weekend Plans Post: The State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair, with its grounds a mile or two from where I type this (it's an urban affair) is A Big Deal around here - much bigger than the Wisconsin version that I've only been to maybe twice despite growing up close by as well. The Great Minnesota Get Together, they call it. We go most years. Her dad, a retired attorney, manages the ticket sellers every year. He's there 12 hours a day for ten days every August. Her mother hates it, along with football. Apple pie is nice though.

On “Distraction is the Larger Picture

Yeah, Twitter does mostly feel good to me too - until it's over and I realize how much time and energy I've wasted and can feel the stress in my joints. Which is the same as booze or pot. So it's pretty much the same. (In fact marijuana has never felt good to me, though I'm pretty much an outlier on that.)

On “Who Can Stop Biden?

The theory of smart people like Matthew Yglesias is that if it weren't for Biden who shouldn't be running, that lane - the popular policy lane - would be represented by someone who isn't a bad messenger for the moderate message, since obviously Biden overcoming a ridiculous age deficit to consistently pull support near the 2nd-place-plus-3rd-place doesn't at all suggest that possibly he might actually be as good a messenger for it as Amy Klobuchar, the 1%er about whom nobody knows anything but something gross about a comb (she's my senator and I love her and if you say anything mean about her I will take my ball and go home).


Right, North.

The same post-Debate 2 poll that had Biden at 55% AA support in SC had Harris and Booker at 1% with them combined. There's no chance what they did in those debates didn't deteriorate their position with those voters. Their approach is clearly landing with a thud in the community.

So what's their next idea? Maybe it'll be more well-received. I'd be shocked, though.


Perfectly said, LTL FTC.


...Also the protection against creditors should be attached. ...But again, if it weren't, worst case folks are still making progress against their debts or at least their monthlies with dollars they didn't have before. They still had that overhang

If anything, UBI with or without a garnishment ban should probably be seen as one of the most debtor-favorable policies in the tool kit (and, yes, creditors would probably benefit a lot too). So what's not to love?


I mean most of the candidates really aren't focused on that stuff that much more than Yang. They have their plans for helping the material needs of Americans, and that's mostly what they focus on, too. And Yang has stuff to say about that stuff as well.


Fwiw, I understand the concerns here, but from where I sit the worst outcomes of securitization and creditors seizing UBI payments are still preferable to no UBI.

I mean maybe not a buncha 18-y-o millionaires running around, but broadly if they have a business idea I don't think it would be the worst thing. I think the extent of it will be limited. If you're smart enough to become aware of and execute the idea you're smart enough to see how much of a greater value it is to have the safety net under you, generally.

I should add that in terms of old-age poverty, Yang has recently made the rather major tweak to his plan to separate it from Social Security. (It's rather amazing that wasn't how he introduced it, but as far as I understand right now, it wasn't). So the choice is between life-long income-qualifying benefits like SNAP, etc. and UBI, but not Medicare or Social Security, which stay in place. So if able-bodied kids securitized it and lost it, that would just leave them roughly where they are now.

But I agree, that condition should be attached.


So what ideas does a candidate *have* to be focused on to be focusing on the right ideas for this political moment (apparently to the exclusion of UBI)?

Your experience point is valid; my blue-sky vision for the trajectory of Mr. Yang this cycle would be that he gains enough support to force some of the experienced, top candidates to at least start to have to talk about some of the crap-ass reasons they have for not having this proposal themselves, and perhaps be offered a position of some kind in an administration or support for future political endeavors which could lead to the experience that could fill in the gap that you aren't wrongly concerned about.

On “Actually, the Film Was Better Than These Books

I'd put Zorba The Greek out there. What a slog that book is. Also agree with Zhivago.

2001? Jurassic Park, though the book is very good? Howard's End/The Remains Of The Day? Atonement? A Room With A View? Just throwing out ideas.

What about nonfiction? All The President's Men? All Quiet On The Western Front?

A related question: what remakes (or reboots or retoolings) of earlier films ended up better than the originals or previous versions? The best? The aughts Batman franchise? Oceans Eleven? True Grit? (There are many.)


Agreed North, in fact I would argue that the films, certainly the first, represents an important (and contested) political-cultural marker of our era. I just cannot help thinking that the extreme depiction of oppressive inequality and out-of-touch elites was a crystalizing moment for a lot of viewers with any political bent at all, and the film does a good job (if it is a good thing) of making its social critique available to any side sympathetic to that vision of society's ills.

On “The Work: Trump 2020 Reveals Its Strategy


Isn’t this where someone says that at the relevant point in the 2014-15-16 timeframe (we may be past the analogous point in this cycle now; the relevant point was when The Party was deciding whether they were going to in fact go ahead and make her the kind of favorite she would go on to be), “being HRC” was #hashtag #actuallygood as an electoral matter - that it was at least not a liability and perhaps an asset compared to the identical version of her with a different name who had never been married to a previous president. ...That she was #actuallypopular?

...Like, isn’t your line supposed to be that she was in fact popular in say 2014-15 at the crucial deciding moments for the party, and that the process that eventually made her the second least popular major party nominee ever was entirely illegitimate mostly in that it was about 90% a playing out of pure gender bias in the portrayal and perception of politicians while the other 10% (or 80/20 but in any case adding up to 100 or at least 99%), while it’s true that it’s part of politics to have your mistakes or unpopular actions used against you, in her case the particulars on the bill that was used for that were in each case not legitimate reasons to come to dislike her?

On “The House Knocks Back

If Pelosi doesn't have the votes (and couldn't get them if she were whipping it) it doesn't much matter what she personally thinks, but for what it's worth I absolutely think she's wholeheartedly with the cowards.

She's not a secret impeacher who's just letting her caucus get there on its own time. She's a no. She's been signaling that since November 2006.


It'll also look pointless and futile to the point of silliness to do it basically in the election year when it was obviously justified a year or years sooner.

(Additionally, I agree with everything you and Lee said.)

On “Democratic Presidential Candidates: To Whom Should We Extend Your Compassion?

I'm basically in agreement with Pillsy on this. You may be operating at a higher level of morality than the rest of the citizens if you don't buy into the idea that the interests of citizens of a nation that is holding an election you can vote in, but if that's the case you kind of have to figure out for yourself. The nation and its political actors are not proposing nor claiming to be acting is a way that should be seen as equitable or just if it were taking the interests all humans on the planet as being of equal weight in its decisions. You won't find or be offered a justification for such a claim from those political actors. They are acting explicitly in the interests of citizens, or some slightly (but not much) larger group of people under the national umbrella.

As such, you will hear commentary from that nations's political class that decries changes (such as the shifting of good-paying production facilities to a lower-paying location outside the country) that represent a net gain of utility in the world if they represent, or are felt to represent, a net loss of utility for the people in that country (or even a concentrated, visible grouping therein). In my opinion this is essentially totally inevitable in any global political order that retains nation-states with separate democracies. Various parties in industrialized nation at times have reached certain levels of enlightenment away from such responses, but the response is never totally eliminated, and usually it s quite strong.

I guess what I am wondering is which part of this chain reaction in political economy you feel is clearly the least justified? Who should be be acting better and what should they be doing? Should citizens' reactions be more sanguine when job opportunities appear lost? Should politicians simply be more stoic in response? Should they be focusing on defending the benefits for industrial nations of overall global trade system (emphasizing price and selection benefit, etc.?) Should they have better

And my other question is, if moral concern is the principle driver of objection to American resistance to loss of industry (because the relocation of industry to the poorest places on Earth does so much more material good there), then what factor is it exactly that should govern how many if any new factories are built in the United States - or for that matter in a poor country other than Rahim's? Multinational corporations don't operate out of a concern for Rahim's interest either. Or are you saying that that is what they should be doing?

The fact of the matter is that neither the American political system nor corporations with factories to build place Rahim's interests anywhere close to the center of their considerations. The actors in those structures act in their own interests and those of their affiliated groups. It's possible that when it comes to Rahim, the teachings of your erstwhile philosophy - libertarianism with its counsel of self-reliance - is the most applicable and reliable doctrine available to help him. Almost all the others available rely on a presumption of a communitarianism that, while it can be expanded past its traditional tribal limits, loses political salience when stretched transcontinentally into a full global embrace.

On “The Democratic Candidates: Em’s Perspective


Is there something about the process you've described there that you think makes people want to vote for such a person no for DA but for president?

Note: I didn't think that Harris' treatment of Biden was anything like that description of a self-focused cross-examiner (though it is spot-on as relates her cross-examination of Barr in the Senate). Perhaps very vaguely prosecutorial, but I saw an accomplished woman of color telling a man who didn't understand his own words that they had been hurtful.

But I don't think she earns votes with the comportment you describe here. Rather, she earns Whoops from stans on Twitter.

On “OJ Simpson and The World Around Him

I remember having one main view on the verdict, and a few observations on the reaction (also from high school).

1. My main reaction to the verdict was a sense that it was a good teaching moment for the public about what it means for there to be a high evidentiary standard for conviction. Sometimes people who did the crime will be acquitted (or not convicted) - and that's by design, so that we absolutely (at high cost) minimize the number of false convictions. (At least that's the theory.) I wrote an editorial in the student newspaper to that effect, which earned me some pretty weird looks from other students.

2. I remember being a bit taken aback by just how unsettled a lot of (white) people were by the verdict. I had just started dating my first real girlfriend that summer, and she came to me to giver her reassurance about out safety or something liek that. She might have just been blowing smoke trying to make me feel good, but it didn't feel like it, and a lot of other (white) people seemed to have the same reaction. I thought it was odd that one complicated, rich-people murder trial verdict a continent away should have such an effect on people just living normal life in the upper MIdwest.

3. Even at the time, I felt the stark breakdown in reaction between whites and Black people to the verdict was something of a bad indication of where we were socially - whether an indication of a bad, new direction we were headed in, or just of a lack of progress from the bad old days.

4. I felt at the time and feel now that there was kind of a karmic or zeitgeisty linkage between the OJ trial/verdict/reaction, and the Rodney King incident, trial, and reaction/riots. I think people on both sides were acting out fears and anger, and catharsis that they had developed (or that were revealed) in the earlier episode, in the OJ affair. There were elements of farce following tragedy in the way the two episode mirrored each other. During the big OJ retrospective we had in the media a couple of years ago I thought to myself that it's pretty amazing how much attention this case is still getting when the Rodney King events took place just a couple of years earlier, and represented a much more wrenching and in retrospect deeply portentous moment of turmoil for our country. I don't think there can be much question that the Rodney Kind beating, trial, and riots were one of the most significant set of events from that whole era of American history. That it gets eclipsed by the OJ Simpson case in popular memory is a pretty bad media failure from where I sit.

On “It’s a Big Club, and Most of Us Are In It

It is often like Trump is doing a stand-up act on the theme of "That Trump, what a character - and so is everyone else!" while he is standing up there... actually being Trump.

On “What Use Is Uber?

Perhaps relevant:

On “The Big Dog Or The Biggest Choke

FTR, I am *not going to vote* (I already know this) in this primary, because homie don't play caucuses. (And knowing this really makes observing and commenting on this race much lower stress and more enjoyable, fwiw.) And, as much as I like him and have a degree of satisfied told-you-so attitude (no one will know wth I'm talking about on that except maybe a few, but just trust me), I would not be a Biden voter. So I am one of those under-40s (okay, well, I still think of myself as such) who will not be showing up to derail Biden, but who would help to do so if I were somehow gotten to show up.

But I absolutely do not relinquish my right to complain if whoever wins Fs it up. You can't make me! If they do F it up, you will hear from me.

So I don't know, but it seems like leftists should maybe take a look at working to change things like caucuses, closed primaries, and restrictive party registration rules if they want to find a way to maximize neutralization of centrist establishment power in the D party. (Though OTOH, in the last two contested primaries the more leftist, or at least the less establishment-y alternative was aided where there were less-proportional caucus processes versus simple primaries. I didn't vote in those either; I just free-rode, knowing that my preferred candidate was going to get a boost from them.)


Imagine how strong the polling would have been if he'd run when he was merely too old at 72 (and the sitting vice president of a popular, scandal-free, historic Democratic two-term president), rather than when he was grotesquely too old and out of office at 76...

...But in fact he was a laughingstock in his party and nudged aside by his president for someone else at that moment.


So are you saying you'd vote for Joe over a third-party guy who's really your cup of tea if Carly Fiorina were the Republican?

Well, what about if ...Trump is?

On “What Use Is Uber?

So it may not be the case that there is a systemic inefficiency in the basic costs and systems of car ride service provision the services have solved that are going to reap massive ps by totally changing the model, and disappointment that that may not be the case could be behind the underwhelming initial investment levels (which are disappointing entirely compared to expectations tat could have been set on any basis beyond clear public understanding).

But that isn't the only source of value the services could provide. Over the long term, the services may have simply uncovered unmet demand for private ride services. I'm not well-known as a professional licensure critic, but it's generally understood that medallion systems, however you might view their propriety or justification, are in effect nothing more than artificial constraints on ride service quantity, pure and simple. In the end networked ride sharing might turn out to be little more than a workaround on these quantity limitations (again, whatever one might think of that ethically). There is probably money to be made there long term, even if it only turns out to be on the scale of the existing industry, scaled up somewhat. (Granted it might be a little less, as the entrance of an uncontrolled number of new providers is likely to move the industry closer to a state of perfect-ish competition, which implies a move toward lower profits.) Basically, the taxi business is profitable if not wildly so, and under a new non-quantity restricted equilibrium, it's likely to still be profitable - just only on the scale that it already was (or a bit less). If that makes sense.

As an aside, as an ex-short-time-cabbie, one thing this debate often excludes is the fact that taxi drivers generally or in a lot of instances never were covered by minimum wage laws. You get your cab, and if you don't hustle, you might not make much on a shift. That was the gig, and there wasn't really much political pressure on the system for that to change. If the notoriety of the sharing services ends up possibly incurring the dead hand of government on the industry due to increased political attention, that could actually end up being an advance from a worker-interest perspective.

On “Joe Biden Finally Announces

Who would have a prayer in the general?

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