Commenter Archive

AvatarComments by Chip Daniels in reply to Kazzy*

On “Harsh Your Mellow Monday: Your Premise Is Bad Edition

What's truly ironic is that a lot of Democratic elected officials like Gov. Jerry Brown here in CA, and Barack Obama actually governed according small-c conservative principles.

They were fiscally prudent, cautious about executive power, respected established norms and traditions and behaved as responsible stewards of power.

Even the newer crop of Democrats like AOC are only radical by today's standards; Most of what AOC says wouldn't have been out of place in a Roosevelt or Truman administration.

The current Republican ethos is something radical a pre-New Deal, pre-civil rights sort of mashup of Wm. Randolph Hearst jingoism, Jim Crow, and Gilded Age economics. These are things that no one, not Shapiro or Kirk or Tucker Carlson ever experienced, but only fantasize about like eager ISIS recruits.


One of the criticisms I heard about the Democrats in 1979 was that they always campaigned like it was 1936 or something where the problem was economic depression and the answer was always more stimulus spending and government regulation.

What I notice about the Republicans now is they always campaign like it is 1976 and the problem is economic stagflation and government overregulation.

In both cases the underlying charge is that the ideology is exhausted, offered as a rote catechism without an underlying grasp of the problems we face, and an original idea of how to fix them.

I don't see any evidence the hot young stars of the GOP like Charlie Kirk and Ben Shapiro or anyone at The Federalist have done any original thinking besides memorizing the Reagan talking points from 1980. They sound like those young evangelical child preachers who are always the darlings of the older set, because they faithfully parrot back to the parents the things the parents long to hear.
In this case the parents are the deep pocketed financiers of the right wing like the Mercers and Rick Uihlein, who I see this morning is being reported as the money behind the Federalist.


What both the Trumpists and NeverTrumpists have in common is they lack any political theory of governance. They don't have a motivating theory that ordinary citizens can grab hold of and support.

Like I mentioned the other day, the old animating politics of the Cold War are gone. The Democrats are slowly developing a theory based on quasi-New Deal economic ideas, and are centered on equality and justice issues. They aren't there yet, but they have the core of an idea.

The Trumpists have become entirely motivated by racial hatred and cultural revanchism. But the Never Trumpers seem to have just assumed that stripped of his corruption, treason and incompetence, the Trump Administration would be just dandy.

On “Cornonavirus Outbreak Causes MLB to Suspend Games

I know.

But I keep thinking of that line from the Terminator, where the virus doesn't feel pity or remorse, it doesn't get tired, it can't be bargained with, and it will not stop until it runs out of bodies to infect.


Yesterday's death toll in America was about 1,000, for the 6th day in a row.

Looking at daily deaths per million the US is still among the highest in the world, with only the South American nations like Bolivia and Brazil higher.

And ours are still climbing- they were higher in July than June, and we have not yet done the really stupid stuff like reopening schools.


Look at cases, not deaths.
Deaths are a lagging indicator to cases.
The US still hasn't hit its peak of cases.

We are at nearly 14,000 cases per million, higher than nearly any other country on earth.

Our death toll is still going to climb, for a long time to come.
Especially if we continue to do stupid stuff .


"You're not the boss of me!"

Epitaph for a nation of people who are not children, but behave like them.

America, as a nation, never locked down.
America never made any concerted national effort to reduce the spread of the virus. There are vast parts of the country where very few people ever wore masks, where bars were never shut, even still to this day.
Our national leadership was a miasma of misinformation, lies, and propaganda. The management was a swamp of corruption, incompetence and malign neglect.

Countries which took more serious action, which had a competent national leadership have gotten better results. By almost any metric, the US has had a worse outcome to this pandemic than almost any other of our peer nations.

Sorry, these are just facts. Yelling and screaming won't change them.


Your links confirm my assertion.

The Australian government is taking drastic action in accordance with expert guidelines;

Japan has a small outbreak of 20 cases and is also taking serious testing and tracing action.

And last I checked, California was in America, that group of stupid countries where people aren't taking the virus, or medical experts, seriously.

If it makes you feel better, I also will assert that Democratic governor Gavin Newsome did a stupid thing by reopening too early.

And as I posted below Germany is suffering an outbreak of stupidity as well.


And yet...somehow...other nations around the world managed to control the virus with less damage and are now recovering.

America is in the group of Stupid Countries like where national leadership is incompetent or malevolent.


"We" is doing a lot of work here.

Parts of the country took aggressive steps, and are now doing much better.
Other parts did very little and are now ravaged.

Many parts are still not doing nearly enough and "We" will all be paying the price for a very long time.

On “Barbarians at the Gate: Credentialism and Loving Gatekeeping, Under Certain Circumstances…

We are living in a state which confiscated vast tracts of land, forcibly rounded up the owners and forced them onto camps, then redistributed the land to peasant farmers.

This experiment seemed to have turned out pretty well.
Well, for everyone but the original owners.

On “Cornonavirus Outbreak Causes MLB to Suspend Games

I want to say it is only America that is beset by a pandemic of stupidity, but other countries are suffering as well:

Thousands in Berlin protest coronavirus restrictions in ‘Freedom Day’ march as cases continue to rise

I'm imagining a thousand years from now as archeologists sift through the rubble of our civilization, they will study the literature and histories, then shake their heads and exclaim, "This can't be right! It must have been something else!"

On “Barbarians at the Gate: Credentialism and Loving Gatekeeping, Under Certain Circumstances…

The clash of political/ economic systems was the epic battle of the twentieth century, and the only state of things that any of us have ever known.

So we sort of assume that the outcomes of societies- whether they are just or unjust, prosperous or impoverished- are the inevitable outcome of their systems.

But this view of things would be incomprehensible to people throughout history, even to the founders of America. They didn't establish America as a capitalist or socialist state and would have seen this thread as puzzling.

And although they had markets, they also had commons and weren't shy at all about using government power to direct the factors of production when they felt is necessary.

I think what we are witnessing here in the 21st century is the ending of that systems based approach.


The best analogy I've seen is that the marketplace is an ecosystem, where complex systems interact.

Like if a large company falls, a dozen new young ones feed off the remains like seedling off an old rotting log.

Very nice, very efficient.

But like how a lot of people romanticize Nature (with a capital N), imagining that it only produces wonderful thriving life, we forget that plagues, system collapses and mass extinctions are a perfectly normal part of the natural world.

There isn't any iron law that the marketplace will always need labor in sufficient quantity to make us happy.
It's entirely possible that an efficient market will set the price of labor at levels that are barely above starvation.

On “Cornonavirus Outbreak Causes MLB to Suspend Games

This is why I responded as I did to Saul about the virus speaking.

Because the virus doesn't care if we have good intentions or bad intentions, if we want people to die or not, whether we can or can't revolt.

If people gather in close proximity, the virus spreads more easily than if they were distant.
If they are unmasked it spreads more easily.
If they speak loudly, or wipe their noses or mouths, it spreads more easily.

As far as I can see, children do all those things in school.

On “Barbarians at the Gate: Credentialism and Loving Gatekeeping, Under Certain Circumstances…

We have these jobs that "anybody can do", and yet the number of applicants is so vast that the main job of the manager is to invent spurious reasons to dismiss 99% of the applicants.
And one of the spurious requirements is a college degree which is obviously not needed.

That indicates to me a surplus of labor.

On “Linky Friday: Last Day of July, or the 153th Day of March, Depending

Another example where modern conservatives are an insurgency that views the opposition as hostile aliens instead of fellow citizens.

This wasn't political strategy designed to change behavior or win votes.
There isn't any behavior that people in blue states can change in order to be considered equal citizens. They themselves are illegitimate.


What we are both saying is that the value of the labor to perform the level one task is virtually worthless.

As in, worth so little that literally anybody can do it. Like the factory I worked at after high school, where the entry level task was to stack boxes as they came off the assembly line.

What is different is that the factory hired, literally anybody who walked in the door for that task. Anybody, without even a high school diploma, so long as you could stand up and lift a box, you were good to go.

Here we have college graduates, competing furiously to do the digital equivalent of stacking boxes.

After I left the job of stacking boxes, I heard the factory went to China, and that robots now stack the boxes.

I wonder at what point the level one digital box stackers will be automated.


My takeaway from this is how utterly worthless the labor of the prospective employees was.

On “Thursday Throughput: The Hope of a COVID-19 Vaccine

People often use the word "morale" as being trivial and an added frill but actually it is vitally important to the workings of society.

Being able to cooperate and work together, and most importantly, resolve conflicts peaceably depends on people having a sense of camaraderie and kinship. Having a level of trust in authority is essential to accepting hardship.

So yeah, a national leader like a Reagan after Challenger or Bush after 9-11 or Obama after Newtown contributes to this.

November 3 can't come soon enough.


I agree with you and Saul. People are already starting to break quarantine and best practices.

Which indicates to me that it is increasingly likely that we will develop a culture similar to pre-modern cultures where we just accept high rates of death and suffering.


Person: "I can't live wearing a mask for two years!"
Virus: "Your offer is accepted."

On “What is Democracy’s Selling Proposition with Respect to China?

All very true, but think of the trajectory.

A man my age (59) in China has childhood memories of starvation and dreams of one day buying a bicycle. Today he lives in a 3 bedroom flat, drives a car and worries about obesity.

I have childhood memories of great factory jobs where a guy with a high school education could buy a house. Today it takes two incomes and graduate degrees to live that way.

Not a reason to despair, but definitely a reason to be worried.


In the famous Kitchen Debate between Kruschev and Nixon the terms were set, that free markets and liberal democracy would provide both freedom and prosperity and that argument has propelled politics throughout the world.

China is advancing the idea that this is not so, that state controlled markets and authoritarianism can provide prosperity and the value of liberal democracy is overrated.

The thing I worry about is not that the protests will tarnish our standing in the world; The Soviets had a field day with the "What about your Negros?" argument and it never gained traction.

My main worry is the declining standard of living relative to "unfree" nations like China will make their model more attractive. Remember that the central point Nixon made in 1959 was to display a modest home which "all Americans" could easily afford. Although it wasn't technically true, it was true for enough people to be a fair statement.

That has become less and less true as time goes on.

*Comment archive for non-registered commenters assembled by email address as provided.