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101  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama blasts Warren on TPP on: May 10, 2015, 11:42:22 am
I had also meant to post this illustrative chart:

Illustrative of what, devoid of context? Whose analysis is this, what are their assumptions about the agreement, and how much uncertainty do their projections allow for? I do not think that this is helpful.

It does not inspire confidence that the people who are least ambiguous in their support of the agreement seem incapable of arguing against anything but a caricature of the criticism that they face. Nothing has done more than this to move me from lukewarm support of the TPP to qualified skepticism.

Comparative advantage is not a sufficient answer to the most serious objections, which are neither as economically nor as politically ignorant as the crowd that treats this as a matter of common sense would apparently prefer to pretend.

Even strong supporters of the deal should take the process concerns that I have mentioned more seriously, lest we reach no deal at all. Berating people for their stupidity is rarely a successful political strategy.
102  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama blasts Warren on TPP on: May 10, 2015, 08:53:12 am
Moreover, much of this debate is about how well various interest groups are represented during negotiations. This is a matter of influence rather than of having a literal seat at the table. As long as some kind of agreement is reached, whose interests are prioritized will have a stronger effect on the eventual outcome than whether negotiations occur in secret or in private.

Beyond the mere fact that it is President Obama's trade representative who is leading these negotiations, there is little evidence that those groups on the left that have been most critical of the TPP so far, including labor, environmental groups, consumer groups, and critics of American intellectual property laws, are receiving adequate representation. As Matt Yglesias said earlier this week, it's not even clear why the administration is so committed to this deal. "The president and his top advisors very sincerely and passionately want this win. But it is honestly hard to tell why they want it. "
103  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Boston University professor: White Males a "problem population" on: May 09, 2015, 06:40:25 am
What baffles me about the apparent outrage here is just how tame this professor's supposedly incendiary comments are. I mean, my God, have any of you set foot in a gender studies course? Your delicate sensibilities would not survive for long. When we talk about language policing, it is stereotypically the left who want to restrict what can be said for the sake of avoiding offense. But in this case, the opposite is true, and those taking offense do not even seem to realize what they are doing.
104  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Boston University professor: White Males a "problem population" on: May 08, 2015, 11:14:05 pm
Oh, my, mildly outrageous tweets! And without so much as a trigger warning! Don't read if you're not within fainting distance of the nearest couch.
105  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Would you rather live in New York City or Washington DC? on: May 08, 2015, 10:15:52 pm
What if I told you that you could experience New York City's high rents and long commutes without enjoying any of its unique amenities. Would you be somewhat interested, interested, or very interested? Oh, also, you would be in the middle of a sweltering swamp.

I would probably rank every major city on the Eastern seaboard ahead of Washington DC. I love its museums and monuments, and some of its historic neighborhoods are nearly as beautiful as they are stratospheric-ly expensive, but I can't imagine why any sane person would choose to live there unless his or her occupation requires it.
106  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Is there a max number of people one can put on ignore? on: May 06, 2015, 08:13:01 pm
Whenever my ignore list reaches its cap, I treat the occasion as a jubilee, pour myself a large glass of red wine, and clear the entire list. By that point, a large share of the posters on it have always been banned and a few have probably become more tolerable.
107  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Whoa, Bushie supports Rand Paul now? on: May 05, 2015, 09:12:31 pm
Common Core is this election cycle's Agenda 21. In other words, most of the controversy stems from rage and conspiracy theories that are predicated on extremely distorted understandings of the actual policy toward which they're directed.
108  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Bill Clinton vs. Hillary Clinton on: May 05, 2015, 01:51:22 pm
Easily Hillary.
109  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Bill Clinton on: May 05, 2015, 08:06:13 am
Lol, first, he's blamed for intervening, then, he's blamed for dragging his feet not intervening? This is classic CDS.

Are you replying to me or are you pontificating into the great beyond? I don't expect you to keep up with my opinions but I don't appreciate being conflated with whichever ignoramus was blathering about "war crimes" and "imperialism" on the preceding page of this thread.

I guess my point is, no matter what side people stand on the Kosovo question, they always seem to find whatever negative it is, that they don't like and highlight that. Clinton literally can't win here, and this is a classic manifestation of CDS... which is a social syndrome, not an individual one.

The point seems to be that Clinton's policies are so indefensible on their own terms that your response is literally to accuse his critics of being crazy rather than engaging with them as individuals with specific arguments and nuanced perspectives. I now understand your compulsion to point out how "open minded and reasonable" you are, as you did on the preceding page. Qualifications of this sort are unfailingly a sign that any substantive disagreement is about to be dismissed as the product of the other party's madness, malice, or ignorance.

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A sample size of six on each side is pretty damn big when you're talking about presidential elections. If you flip a coin and it comes up tails 5 of 6 times, then an event happens, then you flip the coin and it comes up heads 5 of 6 times, what is the probability the event was not significant? And it's not just wins and losses... if you look at which states Clinton made reliably Democratic, it's more than any other Democrat since FDR.

Not really though. And you're not flipping one coin; you're flipping a bunch of coins and choosing the one that suits your argument. Why look at the popular vote and not actual wins? Why look at presidential elections at all?

I mean, look at Congress. What a disaster! I wonder what a difference-in-means test for count of Democratic seats in Congress would tell us about the significance of the Clinton administration?



Of course it would be ridiculous to blame Clinton for this shift. That's the point. Why attribute shifts in vote share and electoral geography to the charisma and triangulation of Bill Clinton when those trends began prior to his election, continued after he left office, and are easily explained by other factors? Why give him credit for turning Democratic fortunes in presidential elections when the results have consistently been close to what fundamentals-based models predict?

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That couldn't have anything to do with how violent crime peaked in the early nineties, right? Variations on the soundbites that you cite in your post - (i.e. "welfare queen" "liberal mugged by reality", "big inefficient government that can't do anything right") - remain staples of Republican rhetoric today, just as they have been for the past several decades. To claim that Clinton ended the appeal of these lines is laughable.

Being used and being effective are two very different things.

...so ineffective that they've been co-opted by Democrats even in reliably Democratic states (e.g. Cuomo's rhetoric on property taxes, public sector unions, etc.). This rhetoric is not always used to make bad points - for example, property taxes really are punishingly high in parts of New York, and Cuomo is right to do something about it - but your argument that "the narrative has changed" isn't reflected by reality except insofar as Democrats have actually conceded that liberalism is unrealistic, the poor are undeserving and untrustworthy, and government is incapable of effective action.
110  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Mad Men is back on: May 04, 2015, 11:32:32 pm
One of my favorite shots of the entire series. And the episode built to it beautifully, from Joan and Don's problems to the bizarre organ and roller-skating bit.
111  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Is it legal for the Repubs to deny some candidates access to the debate stage? on: May 04, 2015, 11:06:19 pm
Has the idea of randomly splitting the field into separate debates received any attention? It seems like the only logical answer if the field really does grow to include a dozen or more semi-credible candidates. There has to be some point at which there simply isn't enough room on the stage for more, assuming you give everyone at least a few minutes in total to speak.
112  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: CarlyFiorina.org launches on: May 04, 2015, 11:02:05 pm
http://www.vox.com/2015/5/4/8548449/Carly-Fiorina-Small-Plans

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When asked what her top agenda items would be in the Oval Office, she responded first by saying, "I think it’s critically important now that we use technology to really re-imagine government."

I can't wait to hear more about this thinkfluencer and her plans to disrupt Washington and Uber-ize the bureaucracy!
113  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Bill Clinton on: May 04, 2015, 10:54:58 pm
Lol, first, he's blamed for intervening, then, he's blamed for dragging his feet not intervening? This is classic CDS.

Are you replying to me or are you pontificating into the great beyond? I don't expect you to keep up with my opinions but I don't appreciate being conflated with whichever ignoramus was blathering about "war crimes" and "imperialism" on the preceding page of this thread.

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In any case, getting elected as a Democrat is more than could be said for his four of his five predecessors as Democratic nominee (and two of his successors). Which is precisely the point. One has to get elected in order to implement policy, and to get elected one needs a majority coalition, or at least very near one... which is what Bill built. Since 1992, Democrats have won the popular vote in five of six elections, whereas beforehand they had lost five of six.

That's a lot of weight to put on a comparison between two proportions when each is based on a sample size of six, not to mention A) the extremely dubious implication that it is the presidency of Bill Clinton - rather than a botched war, and economic crisis, and changing demographics - that makes Barack Obama different from Michael Dukakis and B) that you've carefully chosen a measure (PV) that treats an electoral loss as if it were a win.

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There are thousands of administrative decisions taken by agencies every single day which are effected based on who the president is, and hundreds of judicial decisions handed down which are affected by the temperament of the presiding judge(s). These are the actual governing of the country, not big-name bills.

While I prefer Democratic governance and wouldn't disagree with the obvious idea that control of the executive has important effects on people's lives, I don't give Clinton much credit just because he got elected with the right letter after his name and I certainly don't buy that lawmaking is far less important than administration.

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I assure you... political debate today looks nothing like it did pre-Clinton. In 1984, a white man on the subway shot four unarmed black men simply for them asking him for five dollars, and was cheered as a hero!.

That couldn't have anything to do with how violent crime peaked in the early nineties, right? Variations on the soundbites that you cite in your post - (i.e. "welfare queen" "liberal mugged by reality", "big inefficient government that can't do anything right") - remain staples of Republican rhetoric today, just as they have been for the past several decades. To claim that Clinton ended the appeal of these lines is laughable.
114  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Have you volunteered/worked on campaigns? on: May 04, 2015, 10:27:51 pm
I knocked on doors once a few years ago and it was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life.

The experience was valuable insofar as it gave me some firsthand knowledge of how the built environment and settlement patterns influence political activity: It's far more difficult and unsafe to cover doors in neighborhoods that lack sidewalks or common spaces and that are dominated by large lots, massive setbacks, and long driveways. Sometimes you can't even tell where the front door is! It's also obvious that most of the people who live in these grotesque places are extremely isolated from their neighbors, not to mention brimming with hostility toward any interloper who is unfortunate enough to cross their path.

Anyway, I won't be doing that again. I also hate phone calls, so I suppose that I will be a pretty useless campaign volunteer if I ever make another attempt.
115  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Bill Clinton on: May 04, 2015, 10:11:33 pm
We can play with counterfactuals until all of we give ourselves aneurysms. I doubt that we'll find useful answers there. What is most important is that when we ask important questions - e.g. What did Clinton do on behalf of the causes that most of us on the left care about? Did his decisions help the poor, the disabled, workers, minorities, and women? Did he make those decisions under a well-informed belief that the outcomes would help those groups on the margin? - it is puzzling to argue, in terms of Clinton's most important policy decisions, that the answers are consistently favorable.

Of course Clinton helped marginalized groups. For one thing, he is the only president since the Warren Court to have moved the SCOTUS to the left - when Ruth Bader Ginsburg replaced Byron White. Can you imagine if both White and Blackmun had been replaced by conservatives? You would basically have had a five-vote majority bloc led by Scalia from 1993 until at least 2005.

Some of the legislation passed during Clinton's first term would be almost unheard of today, even in the wildest ambitions of liberals - the Brady Bill, for instance. Or the 1993 revenue bill, which was to the left of anything ever proposed by Obama. While others, which scorn is currently heaped upon him for ("don't ask, don't tell") was actually a step forward. The Family and Medical Leave Act granted new rights to workers.

...and George Bush Sr. signed the Clean Air Act, not to mention the ADA. George Bush Jr. initiated PEPFAR. Clinton's signing of the Brady Bill doesn't negate the disaster that was financial deregulation, for instance, or even a comparatively minor mis-step like dragging his feet over intervening in Kosovo. It would in fact be "deranged" to argue that everything that happened under Clinton was terrible, but that's not a claim that I've ever actually heard made in earnest. Anyway, I'm not about to give him plaudits because he didn't appoint Republicans to the Supreme Court after being elected as a Democrat.

What Clinton did, however, is he changed the narratives on these issues. When a large ship is turning around, for a long time it will still seem to be moving in the wrong direction. By moving to the center on issues like regulation, crime, and welfare, he effectively destroyed the familiar right-wing narratives of the Reagan era, such as the "welfare queen", the "liberal mugged by reality", the "big inefficient government that can't do anything right". This was a prerequisite to new and different narratives emerging. The left had to get beyond the Great Society and address high crime rates and view of government as irredeemably incompetent. Clinton did all of these things. In the words of one progressive organization, the left needed to "move on" and that is what Clinton allowed us to do.

As someone whom I presume keeps up with the news and frequently listens to both professional commentators and "regular people" talk about politics, how do you actually believe this?
116  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Your reaction to Piss Christ? on: May 04, 2015, 08:09:59 pm
The worst that I can say of it is that it is abjectly inane.
117  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Bill Clinton on: May 04, 2015, 08:07:39 pm
As traininthedistance pointed out, part of what's going on is, he's being judged for his actions 20 years ago as if the political environment was the same as it is today. Of course, when Bill Clinton announced his run for the presidency in 1991, not only the Democratic party but the collective left was in the worst shape since 1789. Taking the first steps in the long road back will look unpopular now, when all of the rewards are simply assumed.

You could say the same of Attila the Hun. A comparison that might be more to the point:

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Part of what's going on is, he's being judged for his actions 160 years ago as if the political environment was the same as it is today. Of course, when James Buchanan announced his run for the presidency in 1856, not only the Democratic party but their entire coalition was in its worst shape since 1789. Taking the first steps in the long road back will look unpopular now, when all of the rewards are simply assumed.

Of course this is hyperbole, but the point is that your standard for passing judgment is one that prevents us from discriminating between good action and bad action, full stop. Besides, it hardly redeems Clinton to claim that all he ever did was preside over the inevitable deregulation of the financial sector; the inevitable evisceration of federal social programs; the inevitable neglect of the international affairs; the inevitable passage of a trade agreement that (rightly or wrongly) many Americans blame for deindustrialization, unemployment, and stagnant wages; and so on.

We can play with counterfactuals until all of we give ourselves aneurysms. I doubt that we'll find useful answers there. What is most important is that when we ask important questions - e.g. What did Clinton do on behalf of the causes that most of us on the left care about? Did his decisions help the poor, the disabled, workers, minorities, and women? Did he make those decisions under a well-informed belief that the outcomes would help those groups on the margin? - it is puzzling to argue, in terms of Clinton's most important policy decisions, that the answers are consistently favorable.
118  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Bill Clinton on: May 04, 2015, 09:34:11 am
From welfare reform, to financial deregulation, to a foreign policy that ranged from bumbling to somnambulant, Bill Clinton left the country worse off in nearly every respect. (And that's all without getting in to the man's truly vile personal life.) It took nearly a decade for the country to realize the full consequences of one of the most incompetent and self-serving presidencies in American history, and we continue to reel from them.

It's a shame that some Democrats are so hesitant to admit to this, presumably so that they can continue to herald the supposed "booming Clinton economy" as a credit to the party. If Clinton had not had the good fortune to preside over a period of economic growth, I wonder how they would regard him.
119  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Obama referring to the Baltimore protesters as "thugs" on: May 02, 2015, 06:09:01 pm
i see oakvale is continuing his drift to the far right

Being opposed to burning buildings to the ground as an act of protest makes you far-right?

slandering an oppressed minority group for lashing out does.

That is not what either Oakvale or Obama have done.

It's easy to be sanctimonious about language when your neighborhood is safe and secure... and the odds that you or anyone else posting here ever will live in one like those affected in Baltimore are essentially nil.
120  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: NY Senate leader to be arrested on: May 01, 2015, 11:12:18 pm
One down, sixty-two more to go!
121  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: What do you think of the word "thug"? on: May 01, 2015, 04:35:19 pm
One of Thatcher's fave words actually.


I still associate it with rhetoric with an anti-labor ("union thugs") or anti-authority  ("jack-booted thugs") stripe more than anything else.
122  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: NYT: The Democratic coalition ≠ True Leftists and coastal liberal elites on: April 30, 2015, 02:00:11 pm
Maybe the intended audience for this article is the Times' own editorial staff? Or people who read Times articles like this one unironically? They would undoubtedly be relieved to learn that they have never been Sanders' target demographic.

Universities aside, there's not much reason to conflate "affluent, secular, [and] well-educated" with "liberal activist" or "left-wing." In any case, there are good reasons to look at attempts to measure ideology with skepticism; most voters aren't self-aware enough to know how to classify themselves and have well-developed opinions on only a few issues at most. It's extremely difficult to design survey instruments that work around these tendency.

The more useful headline is that Sanders will probably have weak support among older voters, women, and minorities. Will he do as poorly among white non-professionals as this piece implies? That's more difficult to say. Some political journalists equate Sanders with the brand of anti-war liberalism that was dominant during the Iraq War, but Sanders is not Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, or, God forbid, Mike Gravel, and we're living in a political landscape in which other issues - the economy, corruption, etc. - have become far more salient than foreign policy to most voters.
123  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Martin O'Malley on: April 30, 2015, 11:12:32 am
Awful. It's fortunate that his shtick is well-known by now. (None of Simon's accusations are new, by the way.)
124  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: U.S. birth rates slide as Millennials enter the age of marriage and childbearing on: April 30, 2015, 08:25:11 am
Among people I know, most are married within 2-3 years of finishing their education and finding relatively stable employment, and all but a few have children within a couple of years of marriage.

A few people I knew in high school had children out of wedlock, but so far the general pattern is surprisingly similar across levels of educational attainment. Those who were able to find work without going to college or grad school just have a few years head start on those who spent more years as students, and (so far, at least) are more likely to have more than one child. (I'm not particularly keen on getting married, and I'm even less enthusiastic about children, so all of this is a bit discomforting.)

Obviously, none of this accounts for my former classmates - both from high school and from college - who have fallen into the unemployed (or marginally employed) underclass, most of whom are so totally detached from social life that they've essentially become invisible.
125  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Which political party do you side with? Take the test on: April 30, 2015, 08:06:18 am
I know, I know, it's an online political identification quiz, but these are some of the most bizarre results I've ever scored: "You side with the Constitution Party most on foreign policy issues." What?

Aren't you really dovish?

I think of myself that way, but I also support droning terrorists and destroying ISIS, so I suppose that by this quiz's standard I must be disqualified.
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