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1  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / International Elections / Re: German Elections & Politics on: Today at 11:34:32 am
Ugh, yet another country where I don't feel comfortable supporting any party. Die Linke is out of the question because I'm not fond of the Stasi. The SPD is an increasingly pathetic party that no longer reflects its respectable traditions and rich history, something that really depresses me. The Greens? Nope. The love for Merkel and the CDU in the US sickens me.

At this point, Merkel returning as chancellor in a grand coalition seems like the least bad option but this is very untenable and supporters of a basic framework of political liberalism in Europe or Germany shouldn't be content with this menu of choices.
2  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Have you gotten more conservative or liberal recently? on: January 22, 2017, 03:58:29 pm
I am what I am. Have been what I have been for many years.

The world, though, has become very hostile to people like me. I hear that.

Why not pull a Keynes and, in the defense of liberalism, become supportive of left-wing measures? It's probably too late in the US but it isn't too late to save the basic framework of liberalism elsewhere.
3  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Have you gotten more conservative or liberal recently? on: January 22, 2017, 03:56:04 pm
I've drifted towards the left but in a conservative direction, if that makes sense. I'm chiefly concerned with social breakdown these days and how liberal economic policy has propelled this social breakdown. I'm as concerned with equality as I've ever been but I'm now realizing that equality demands that we take the desire for stability and security seriously. The commodification of land and labor bears unpleasant costs and consequences. When we see people as factors of production to be moved by markets, we miss something and, perhaps, we allow for their lives to be ruined.

I'm still liberal but in a more basic sense. I'm more intense about basic liberal freedoms and a basic framework of political liberalism than I've ever been but I'm more flexible about its interpretation now.
4  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Why are working class whites so often defined as "whites without a degree?" on: January 22, 2017, 03:43:33 pm
"Working class" is a separate class from "blue collar"?
Well, there are blue collar people that are actually quite wealthy now. Tradies, for example.

Wealthy tradespeople are generally small business owners not those working for someone else.  It also strikes me as strange that the term blue collar = just the "royalty" of the blue collar world.

Often you wouldn't actually define - at least if you're from the social group in question! - a man who runs a little building firm that employs a handful of people a tradesman anyway of course...

Yep and the reason can boiled down as follows: for workers in the trades, what makes someone a "workingman" or a "tradesman" is whether or not that man works with their hands. Plenty of small-time contractors do most of the tasks of their employees. In the US, it appears that this isn't common anymore and that most contractors see themselves as people seeking returns but the tradition still exists.
5  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Why are working class whites so often defined as "whites without a degree?" on: January 22, 2017, 03:27:14 pm
A contractor or self-employed tradesperson is petty bourgeoisie.

Maybe from a theoretical perspective but, in practice, that's not correct. There's a very big overlap between small-time contractors, much less self-employed tradespeople, and those who are employed by contractors as skilled workers. I know this because my grandpa was a contractor and my dad is a self-employed tradesman. Both worked for contractors themselves, sought representation from unions when they did so etc. Neither of them have/had a self-conception as a "business man" or even a "business owner".

Being a self-employed tradesman is very attractive to building trades workers because the field is dangerous and physically draining, defined by unfair practices; most workers desire more autonomy over their own work. Because unions only cover major public works projects these days, becoming self-employed is the only way to obtain a modicum of security on the job.

History can also explain this. The building trades are unique in that they are pre-industrial professions/occupations. Historically, artisans in the building trades had autonomy and effectively were self-employed but advances in building technology and changes in the labor market eroded this autonomy. However, the traditions remain and, to this day, even road construction workers take pride in "owning" their tools.
6  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Europeans see Trump very negatively on: January 22, 2017, 02:33:24 pm
Honestly, ag is right about this. I like DavidB. He's a good person but his moral compass, insofar as it relates to politics, appears to be broken (I don't think this is a contradiction). He knows that Trump is a vile man who constitutes a threat to millions of immigrants in the US, who will boot millions off of their health insurance plans etc. He prefers him over Obama because Obama's policy on Israel wasn't to his liking.

Sorry David but this, in my view, is a moral failing on your part. I fully recognize why you have this perspective and I appreciate it but I think that it's distasteful and morally corrupt. Not because Israel is particularly bad or whatever (its actions are preferable to almost every other Middle Eastern state's actions) but because it's cold self-interested utilitarian logic that leads people to justify the indefensible.

It'd be good of ag to be clear about what he means but, regardless, I've posted what I think and have tried to be clear.
First off, I prefer almost every potential president to Obama. Obama has been more hostile to the Jewish people than any president since FDR, and his eight years in office have been an absolute and relentless nightmare. It is a very low bar for Trump to do better than Obama -- by not being Obama he's already being a breath of fresh air. I do not support stripping people off of their healthcare plans or mass deportations of non-criminal illegal immigrants from the U.S. (though as a non-American both are really none of my business) and, as far as I know, I never have.

But on a more fundamental note, yes, my views are absolutely founded on self-interest and I think that is the case for each and every one of us. I believe people will always care first and foremost about their own interests. "Allyship" exists but is limited in scope by incompatible interests. Jews will always have to look out for ourselves first, just as others will always do (and you probably understand where this view stems from). I don't recall LGBT people or Latinos protesting in name of their community the genocidal Iran deal or Obama's recent snubbing of Israel on the UNSC countering decades of U.S. foreign policy. I don't complain about this because it is not in their interest to do so. I cannot expect them to stand with us when it is in their interest to support Obama or simply do nothing. But they cannot expect me to stand with their causes if they are incompatible with mine. It's how the world works. Is it "distasteful and morally corrupt" for you to prioritize the interests of Latino illegal immigrants over Jewish interests when it comes to making a choice in the U.S. election? Absolutely not, in my opinion, because it's simply how the world works and your interests are different than mine. But on the basis of your reasoning it is.

The discontinuity here is that I don't think that the Iran deal was anywhere near "genocidal" or that there was anything wrong with Obama's UNSC resolution. If I believed this, I would protest the Obama administration, but I don't. Most Jews in the US disagree with you and many Israelis disagree with you so I feel comfortable that my view of Obama's actions is sound. I don't understand what could possibly be the rationale for settlements in Palestine, from both a pragmatic and a moral standpoint. Similarly, I don't understand how the Iran deal constitutes some sort of anti-Semitic act; it was a diplomatic treaty advancing the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, a noble goal.

Setting this argument to the side, excuse me if I express a certain kind of trepidation here. When politics is viewed as a zero-sum game on the basis of nationalism, ethnicity or race, we all lose and I refuse to partake in this game. If I've learned anything from this election, it's that my propensity to wave the Mexican flag in the faces of my political opponents on the right is an awful and divisive tendency. It's my freedom and it's a valid political act but it's not constructive and forecloses upon the possibilities of there being common ground, which exist in abundance. If there's no common ground, if everything is about maximizing the interests of a particular group rather than seeking common cause with others under some grander framework, whether that's liberalism or socialism, we create the conditions for narrow-minded nationalism that is the cause of discrimination, war and atrocities. I think this ship has sailed and that there's no going back, a tragic aspect of our time.
7  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Europeans see Trump very negatively on: January 22, 2017, 03:47:56 am
Ag, for the love of G-d please take a chill pill. I despise David's politics as much as anyone with a conscience, but you're not helping your or anyone else's cause with this crassness.

On a cooler note. It is not his politics that one should despise. It is his morals.

Honestly, ag is right about this. I like DavidB. He's a good person but his moral compass, insofar as it relates to politics, appears to be broken (I don't think this is a contradiction). He knows that Trump is a vile man who constitutes a threat to millions of immigrants in the US, who will boot millions off of their health insurance plans etc. He prefers him over Obama because Obama's policy on Israel wasn't to his liking.

Sorry David but this, in my view, is a moral failing on your part. I fully recognize why you have this perspective and I appreciate it but I think that it's distasteful and morally corrupt. Not because Israel is particularly bad or whatever (its actions are preferable to almost every other Middle Eastern state's actions) but because it's cold self-interested utilitarian logic that leads people to justify the indefensible.

It'd be good of ag to be clear about what he means but, regardless, I've posted what I think and have tried to be clear.
8  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Results / Re: RI's 2016 Precinct Map Thread on: January 16, 2017, 01:12:23 pm
The swing map of Cali is particularly interesting....

Looking at the Bay Area, you see some of the largest swings towards the Democrats in relatively wealthy areas in the East Bay, like Walnut Creek/Concord rolling all the way down to parts of South Bay especially the NW parts of Santa Clara County, and then all the way up the Peninsula.

Meanwhile you have a trend towards the Republicans in some of the most working-class parts of the region, including some heavier African-American communities in places like East Oakland and Hunters Point are of SF....

Even looking at LA County, there is that major light blue gap in the Middle running through historic Watts/ "South Central" all the way into Northern Long Beach that jumps out as well.

Shift over to the wealthy Coastal communities all the way from halfway through Orange County to Malibu, there are huge swings towards Clinton, not even going into some of the wealthier communities in the Canyons of OC and LA counties....

What is going on with that sea of dark blue in the Middle of Orange County???

Hurts my eyes just looking at it, and don't quite understand the context in that part of the County...

Most of the "swing" in East Oakland stems from the fact that Stein received 5-8% of the vote in those precincts.

I suspect that this is true in most of southern SF as well, though not to the same degree. What's interesting about Stein's support in California is that the usual Green pattern ceased to exist this year, with Stein doing rather well in barrios.
9  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Controversial position: There's nothing wrong with corruption in politics on: January 16, 2017, 01:07:58 am
One thing I am seeing here is an extension of the meaning of political corruption beyond that found in the dictionary. Here is what the Oxford Dictionary writes:

Quote
corruption: dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery

Other dictionaries may include illegal behavior as well in the definition.

Note that the meaning of corruption does not include unequal access to power by the rich, if that unequal access is neither dishonest nor frauduent. Unequal access is an issue separate from corruption. Trying to eliminate corruption when conflating it with unequal access confuses the two issues and makes dealing with either of them harder.

This is abject nonsense. Maybe if you're an Illinois legislator this sort of equivocating makes sense but the average American recognizes that there's something venal/disgusting about what you have termed, in a very neutral way, to be "unequal access". Politicians claim to represent the public and to uphold the public interest; when unequal access is given by politicians to rent-seeking interests, that's dishonest, a violating of norms of decency. This is why politicians are despised.

Dishonesty is when someone like Cory Booker claims that he's voting against drug importations from Canada because of safety concerns. That doesn't convince anyone; we all know why he made that vote. If politicians were honest about the fact that they were rewarding rent-seeking interests, they'd be punished for it; their obfuscation is effective but, simultaneously, is why it is considered to be corrupt.
10  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Opinion of Nofap? on: January 13, 2017, 01:57:08 am
Masturbation is good. Sex is better. People should do as much of both as they want to, and without feeling fear or guilt about it.

This is the platform of my 2020 presidential run.

Masturbation has enriched my life folks.
11  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: 115th Congress - 20/22 Rep. & 8/8 Sen. are Jewish Dems, GOP so poor - Why? on: January 12, 2017, 12:00:12 pm
If anything, it's surprising that there have been more than a handful of Jewish Republicans in Congress over the past century. Jews, above all other ethnicities, were predisposed to the Democratic Party, with the exception of brief blips in time where Democrats went full Klansmen and, even then, the GOP offered them little. Why was this the case? The Republican Party's central ideology in the early 20th Century, its one unifying theme, was a kind of racialist and nativist nationalism. While there were a few prominent machines that managed to hold onto immigrant voters before the New Deal, these fell apart rather quickly and it took decades for Republicans to make much in-roads with "white ethnics".

If I had to guess, Pennsylvania was the center of Jewish Republican representation; Pennsylvania had a robust Republican machine, particularly in Philadelphia, and, if I had to wager, they probably managed to incorporate many Jews within this machine.
12  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Atlas Moral Acceptability Poll on: January 11, 2017, 02:10:10 am
Why does consent matter in terms of morality? Is it acceptable to take drugs, because you consented to it. Is it acceptable to have a sword fight to the death if both parties consented to it? Consent matters jack shyte, in laws or morality.

Is it acceptable to take drugs, because you consented to it? Yes, of course. (not an authoritarian creep)
Is it acceptable to have a sword fight to the death if both parties consented to it? No.

Consent definitely matters. Consent is what divides rape from sex. When an act cannot be said to affect others or the public interest and no power imbalances exist, consent is the difference between something that's morally disgusting and something that's morally neutral (acceptable).

Lack of Consent is immoral, yes.

Giving Consent should not be the basis of laws however.

I do not think taking drugs, if consented to, is acceptable. Cocaine, crystal meth, heroin in my opinion anyway are not acceptable even if consented to. Drugs and accepting to take part in  a sword fight are the same, as both could very well result in the death of one of the individuals, and therefore should not be accepted, by society.

Who says that morality is always the basis of law? Doing drugs is morally neutral, not deserving of condemnation or praise (subject to context, of course). However, reducing drug use is a worthwhile goal. These two opinions are entirely compatible.

There's wide swathes of life that are neither moral nor immoral and consent + public interest is going  to be what guides the law in these cases. But I think that, without question, consent matters. Libertarians have abused this concept but that doesn't make it any less important.
13  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Atlas Moral Acceptability Poll on: January 11, 2017, 01:34:22 am
Why does consent matter in terms of morality? Is it acceptable to take drugs, because you consented to it. Is it acceptable to have a sword fight to the death if both parties consented to it? Consent matters jack shyte, in laws or morality.

Is it acceptable to take drugs, because you consented to it? Yes, of course. (not an authoritarian creep)
Is it acceptable to have a sword fight to the death if both parties consented to it? No.

Consent definitely matters. Consent is what divides rape from sex. When an act cannot be said to affect others or the public interest and no power imbalances exist, consent is the difference between something that's morally disgusting and something that's morally neutral (acceptable).
14  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Which party is full of crazier people who believe dumber things? on: January 10, 2017, 05:24:56 pm
The KKE
15  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Ho Chi Minh on: January 10, 2017, 05:22:43 pm

Should the US have violated restrictions on warfare in order to win the Vietnam War? This is a simple and easy-to-answer question. Stop being an evasive weirdo and trying to hide behind anti-communism as an excuse for supporting disgusting practices and murderous regimes.

Roll Eyes

Nice to know that you are a self-aware poltroon who recognizes that, without the juxtaposition with communism, that your ideology is repulsive, hideous to anyone with a soul. I encourage you to runaway from opponents with convictions at all times!
16  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: The Official Trump 1.0 Approval Ratings Thread on: January 10, 2017, 03:35:52 pm
Either the polls are wrong, again, or people have lost their minds. Angry So, based on this numbers, 20% of Trump voters disapprove him... OK.

Pretty much every Republican/conservative I know either didn't vote, voted for Johnson, or voted for Trump but despise him.

Maybe I'm in cloistered circles, but I've never once met an enthusiastic Trump supporter, and I lived in Spokane for 4 years

Silent support for Trump is a real phenomenon. Just something to consider...
17  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Ho Chi Minh on: January 10, 2017, 03:29:56 pm

Should the US have violated restrictions on warfare in order to win the Vietnam War? This is a simple and easy-to-answer question. Stop being an evasive weirdo and trying to hide behind anti-communism as an excuse for supporting disgusting practices and murderous regimes.
18  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: The Next DNC Chair: Ellison endorsed by many Democrats, Tom Perez to declare run on: January 10, 2017, 03:16:11 pm
wow I must have touched a nerve.

I observed something that was highly ironic, you don't have to justify your choice of username; you could call yourself Stalin, who cares honestly.
19  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Ho Chi Minh on: January 10, 2017, 03:13:55 pm
EnglishPete's argument here seems to be that war crimes are very good when they're used to prevent war crimes. Considering that this piece of excrement probably has a fond opinion of Rhodesia and Apartheid South Africa, I'm not sure why anyone should take his statements about Ho Chi Minh or communism seriously.
20  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Atlas Moral Acceptability Poll on: January 10, 2017, 02:48:14 pm
Sobering numbers on out-of-wedlock births.

Also, is it just me, or is there something a bit laughable about the fact that a majority of Americans say that it's OK to have children out of wedlock, yet very few who will claim that having an affair is acceptable? I'm not saying that it's incoherent, I just think that it's telling that more of us are bothered by a betrayal of our romantic ideals about marriage than we are about the failure of marriage as a structure for sustaining stable families.

A stable, committed relationship doesn't require marriage. Indeed, the former without the latter is increasingly common. While this trend might be unfortunate in some respect, calling it "morally unacceptable" strikes me as a bit of a stretch.
I completely disagree. Marriage isn't just a word or an arbitrary contrivance; it is the legal, social, and spiritual structure on which families are built. Our personal feelings about a relationship's stability and commitment level are insufficient.

This is a very bizarre statement. Why should someone surrender their relationship to past foundations of family structure if that relationship is healthy and good? It's obvious/clear that out of wedlock birth is a disturbing trend but we can't generalize here and start arguing that it's immoral; there are plenty of people who deliberately/intentionally avoid marriage and who have fine families.

There are people who gamble and earn fortunes, but that doesn't change my intuitions about whether gambling is immoral. Also, I don't think that marriage is exclusively about the couple's relationship in the first place. Even if it were, are any of us really better positioned to judge for ourselves whether that relationship is likely to remain stable in the absence of that family structure? It's taking a serious and unnecessary risk at the potential expense of your children and everyone else around you.

That's the inherent difficulty here: marriage means different things to different people. It's a very differentiated social structure that varies by region, by ethnicity, by age group, by sub-culture even; it's not only a social structure, it's a ritual and a rite of religious faiths. For this reason, discussing whether or not "out of wedlock" birth is moral or immoral strikes me as a useless waste of time.

It's unjust that we've allowed social breakdown to occur and the rise of out of wedlock birth is a symptom of this; if someone prefers to be married to being a single mother, the lack of marital ties ought to be lamented. Nevertheless, I don't think you can say whether or not out of wedlock births are moral or immoral in a categorical sense. This doesn't make sense.

Gambling, on the other hand is deeply immoral because it's a practice that relies upon deception to make money. There's no relationship between a casino and the gambler that goes beyond the transactional. Family life is vastly more complex. Particularities matter here and "using intuition" here is likely to make you draw the wrong conclusions because our intuitions are laden with the weight of biased personal experience and social norms that might be specious if examined closely.

edit: this discussion is illuminating because it reminds me why I'm not much of a small-c conservative, which seems to be laden with the stuff of strict rules of conduct that I can't abide by. No offense man but my intuition is that the arguments that you've made are disturbing.
21  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Atlas Moral Acceptability Poll on: January 10, 2017, 12:58:11 pm
Sobering numbers on out-of-wedlock births.

Also, is it just me, or is there something a bit laughable about the fact that a majority of Americans say that it's OK to have children out of wedlock, yet very few who will claim that having an affair is acceptable? I'm not saying that it's incoherent, I just think that it's telling that more of us are bothered by a betrayal of our romantic ideals about marriage than we are about the failure of marriage as a structure for sustaining stable families.

A stable, committed relationship doesn't require marriage. Indeed, the former without the latter is increasingly common. While this trend might be unfortunate in some respect, calling it "morally unacceptable" strikes me as a bit of a stretch.
I completely disagree. Marriage isn't just a word or an arbitrary contrivance; it is the legal, social, and spiritual structure on which families are built. Our personal feelings about a relationship's stability and commitment level are insufficient.

This is a very bizarre statement. Why should someone surrender their relationship to past foundations of family structure if that relationship is healthy and good? It's obvious/clear that out of wedlock birth is a disturbing trend but we can't generalize here and start arguing that it's immoral; there are plenty of people who deliberately/intentionally avoid marriage and who have fine families.
22  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Atlas Moral Acceptability Poll on: January 10, 2017, 12:48:34 pm
Gay Relations: Acceptable
Having a baby outside of marriage: Acceptable
Sex outside of marriage: Acceptable
Divorce: Acceptable with the exception of divorce where's there's children in a functional relationship
Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Acceptable
Polygamy: Acceptable
Cloning humans: Unacceptable
Doctor-assisted suicide: Acceptable (and Very Good)
Suicide: Acceptable; blaming the victim of depression is disgusting.
Gambling: Unacceptable; it's okay to gamble but casinos are bad.
Abortion: Acceptable
Cloning animals: Acceptable
Fur: Acceptable
Affairs: Acceptable
Death Penalty: Acceptable
Medical Testing on Animals: Acceptable

On a personal level, I'm pretty libertarian/libertine for the most part and this doesn't really translate to my political views on cultural issues because there are social consequences to things that I see as morally neutral or acceptable. For instance, in a vacuum, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong about having an affair, that depends on the details, but a society where marriage is breaking down is a society that's probably pretty unstable/unhealthy.

As a person, I try to mind my own business tbh. There are boundaries that I won't cross for aesthetic reasons or for moral reasons but I don't think it's fair to expect other people to do this; people are very, very different from one another and that makes interpersonal relationships very complicated. Having a party-line on what is acceptable and what isn't strikes me as being bad and wrong, unless it's part of religious conformity.
23  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Knowing what you know now, would you have voted for ObamaCare.... on: January 09, 2017, 01:15:18 pm
Agree with Antonio and Blue3 here. The ACA is very imperfect but it has saved lives.

It's counter-intuitive, but evidence in favor of this is surprisingly thin.

One of the strange features of the debate over repeal and replace is that whether Americans have been getting healthier since the Affordable Care Act was implemented is virtually ignored by both sides. We talk about rates of coverage, cost growth, access to care, and maybe quality of care, but we don't talk about premature death, age-adjusted mortality, rates of chronic disease, and self-assessed well-being.

The truth is that the ACA has not had a clear positive effect on measures of population health. More Americans are killing themselves, more Americans are dying or being hospitalized on account of drug overdoses, more Americans are obese, more Americans are diabetics, more Americans are binge drinking, and mortality rates across almost all causes of death are beginning to creep up.

^^^

I'd argue that co-payments play a role in this but it's worth noting that the role that insurance plays in treatment outcomes was studied in a policy experiment in Oregon and researchers found that there was no effect on physical health, though Medicaid coverage dramatically improved mental health outcomes of participants, which is a strong argument for the ACA being important, of course.

More and more, it's clear to me that health outcomes are the product of something broader than the efficacy of the healthcare system. There have been a number of studies relating to drug addiction that indicate that the propensity for drug dependence is affected by internal beliefs about external success/meaning. It's not hard to see how this could translate to other areas of life; everyone knows that junk food, smoking and opiates are bad and that physical activity is good but only certain people act on this knowledge. I don't think it's necessary to "nudge" people towards good behavior (they know what that is), you have to give them the sense that their lives matter and this is more simple than it seems: give them economic security by redistributing wealth/income, which in turn gives them power.
24  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: 115th Congress - 20/22 Rep. & 8/8 Sen. are Jewish Dems, GOP so poor - Why? on: January 08, 2017, 06:09:31 pm
Is this really a difficult question to answer? The overwhelming majority of Jews are Democrats; of Jews that aren't Democrats, most tend to be Haredim or Orthodox and/or relatively recent immigrants from the Soviet Union. The majority of the Jewish demographics listed live in Los Angeles or New York, which are not exactly known for electing Republicans.

Asking why so few Jewish congressmen are Republicans is like asking why so few Mexican-American congressmen are Republicans.
25  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Left Wingers Only: 1984 Primaries on: January 08, 2017, 01:02:05 pm
Jesse Jackson
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