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Ryan Lizza Shows Why Republicans Can’t Nominate Jeb Bush

Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker is a talented journalist who has produced good stuff on a myriad of political topics and candidates, ranging from President Obama to Chris Christie to Rand Paul. Yet twice in the last month, Lizza has overreacted or misrepresented Jeb Bush for rhetorically-clumsy remarks that were rather lucid. These reactions should be a gigantic neon sign for Republican elites about Jeb’s prospects as a nominee.

“Stuff Happens”

In the aftermath of the Roseburg shooting, Jeb Bush delivered remarks where he essentially argued that a government response to school shootings is not the best course of action. Ryan Lizza characterized it as follows:

Ninety minutes later, long after the quotation went viral, Lizza posted the full remarks:

Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist did a very good job of critiquing Lizza’s misunderstanding here, getting at the heart of a disagreement between liberals and conservatives on human nature:

Obama wants to talk about gun control again. Bush is saying that the federal government can’t prevent tragedy and certainly can’t prevent it without violating our liberty.

This is a really substantive difference of opinion, one that the media should highlight at this very moment. Bush articulated the common conservative understanding that evil exists in the heart of every man and that this human condition isn’t fixed but in fact can be exacerbated by a large centralized government.

Yes, it’s a very different view than the views held by most reporters and most progressives. But outside of newsrooms and Democratic clubs, it’s a view that is downright common in American life.

Hemingway’s point is that Jeb was really speaking in opposition to what the piece calls the Left’s “theodicy of the federal government”–the “belief that the federal government can somehow prevent bad things from happening to people.” But instead of representing it as a critique of liberal assumptions and argumentation, Lizza portrayed it as mere indifference or heartlessness, the equivalent of Jeb having said “there’s no use crying over spilled milk” or something. Lizza is influential, and so his partial quotation of Jeb made its way to a presidential press conference (where it was more fully quoted, though not in its entirety). It dominated a news cycle.

Recession in DC

A mere two weeks later, Jeb was back at it. In an interview on Sean Hannity’s show, Bush argued that this time arguing that the nation’s capital needs a “little bit of a recession.” Lizza was all over it:


When Jeb Bush says he wants a recession in DC, he is reiterating the widely-held Republican belief that DC has been living high-on-the-hog since the George W. Bush years, to the detriment of the rest of the country.

Republicans do not see DC as a productive engine of the economy. They see DC as extracting rents from the broader economy while sapping the rest of the country’s dynamism.

Any substantial reduction in government spending over a short period of time will likely focus on reducing the use of contractors by federal agencies. Government agencies will be slashing deals with contractors, first and foremost, because they are so much easier to cut than unionized government workers. Contractors mostly make good money, and their salaries get reinvested in the local economy. This is a boon to local businesses, certainly, but if the public is not getting a good return on investment on those workers, DC is prospering at the rest of the country’s expense.

If a bunch of contractors and public sector workers with high salaries in expensive houses in Falls Church and Silver Spring start losing their jobs because government shrinks, then they will stop channeling money into those local businesses. In other words, yes, the economic health of the capital region will decline. If this is done to the extent that the Republicans want, then there may well be some quarters of negative GDP growth in the mid-Atlantic. That’s a recession. Bush is speaking about the reality here: if DC does not see some sort of economic decline, then government spending isn’t being reduced sufficiently. To Lizza, this was the “craziest thing” Jeb Bush has said in a campaign, crazier even than “stuff happens.”

Hair-Trigger Alert

So Jeb took two rather pedestrian Republican ideas–that government is not the solution for all of society’s ills, and that Washington DC has something of a parasitic relationship with the broader economy–and presented them, albeit awkwardly. A leading journalist ran with both as massive, consequential “gaffes.” In essence, Bush has campaigned as the opposite of Carly Fiorina; while Fiorina has been able at times to control discussions in her longshot campaign, Bush is a “frontrunner” who keeps talking himself into fields of rakes.

Certainly, one can criticize Lizza for misrepresentation, or at the very least a failure to engage with an opposing worldview. But that Republican candidates deal with a mass media that is largely opposed to their worldview is almost fundamental to American politics. One can whine, or one can accept the reality and attempt to mitigate its negative consequences. How much of this is Bush’s fault or Lizza’s fault is ultimately irrelevant, but the fact that Lizza is on hair-trigger alert with Jeb specifically implies to me that Jeb is starting from a negative position by virtue of his brother’s tenure. Neither of Bush’s recent comments were substantively all that controversial, if you pay attention to Republican argumentation, and yet they set off a tempest.  (In fairness, if Jeb’s last name were not Bush, given how poorly he has performed, he would likely be out of the race by now. So his last name cuts both ways a little bit.)

I imagine that a differently-named candidate would get at least a little more slack from Lizza and his contemporaries. But Bush’s words are clunky, and he gets the full fury of the press backlash. These incidents should serve as a useful reminder that Republicans would be silly to subject themselves to this sort of constant drumbeat in 2016. Jeb is not rhetorically adroit enough to extinguish these constant firestorms, and the party has better options; this isn’t 2012. Fewer than a few months ago, but Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and even Carly Fiorina would get the establishment much of what they want without the fuss.

Politics is not fair. Deal with it, and stop throwing bad money after good.

Cover photo from Michael Vadon, available at Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.


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Dan Scotto lives and works in Oregon. He is working on a masters' degree in history and a weekly podcast about Abraham Lincoln.

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274 thoughts on “Ryan Lizza Shows Why Republicans Can’t Nominate Jeb Bush

  1. The “stuff happens” thing was a pretty gross misrepresentation that I cut Jeb a lot of slack for. It’s difficult to speak in such a way that two words can’t be randomly plucked to your detriment. There was a fair amount of non-negotiable pushback against Lizzy on that (as well as some unconvincing defenses).

    The DC recession thing is a different story. I get the point he was making, but the terrible framing of that point was his own.

    There are enough of the latter to indicate that Jeb is a suboptimal candidate even apart from his last name and the baggage thereof.

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    • To be fair, he did avoid saying “implosion”, “massacre”, and “holocaust”.

      Seriously, Bush said “recession” because in his view and the view of his intended audience the federal government [1] is the enemy and he wants to punish it. Pushing back against that is perfectly fair.

      1. Other than “our troops” and by extension the Pentagon bureaucracy and defense contractors, of course.

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    • I have the opposite view between the two quotes.

      I think “stuff happens” is fully reflective of the basic point Bush is making, which is just the one Dan is saying he’s making – just because bad stuff happens doesn’t mean we should pass a law. I think what people were really reacting to was that view in this context. I think people can go a fair distance with Bush & conservatives on that- not every single thing needs a law – but mass murders are a thing that people eel there news to be a(bother) law about, since they keep happening. Mass murders are different, people think. Bush doesn’t. That was the essence of the row over “stuff happens.” And it was also the full context of “stuff happens.” People were additionally shocked by applying “stuff happens” to a shooting, which, yes, didn’t strictly happen (though clearly this was the incident under general discussion and he went ahead and said that – it seems like that’s on him to me). But when it’s all in service of offering a view on whether to address these incidents with laws that is anathema to a large majority of people, I think “stuff happens” is really only a small part of the trouble Bush caused himself there. He was making a point in context that, while it may be one people should be willing to engage with, at that moment is one that people who are concerned about “stuff happens” will be just as concerned about as “stuff happens.” He was giving his true view at a politically tough time to do so, but you also take the consequences for it. I actually don;t think there was anything indefensible at all about the overall retain to Bush’s comments there – he was very clear about what his overall point was wrt to incidents like the one in Oregon and how we should or shouldn’t respond to them, and those views are exactly what people reacted to.

      OTOH, I think that “recession in D.C.” (which I actually hadn’t heard about) is a reasonable point, and offered with a bit of wit. And it’s not about a subject where emotions run on overflow. There a lot of people who make a lot of money in and around D.C. from every kind of federal government largesse. He wants to cut that down to size. That will indeed involve maybe even a real recession in D.C. – certainly a slowing of growth. (It won’t happen, but regardless.) And who are you really antagonizing by targeting that largesse? A much smaller number of people than you’re attracting, I’d say. I guess some may feel that, beyond D.C., you’re trivializing the effects of the broader recession by using the term in that context. I would say that’s a pretty minor offense. I hadn’t heard about this; I’m guessing it hasn’t had much impact.

      All that said, both incidents do seem to indicate a guy who for some reason has the impulse to be even blunter about his meanings than he needs to be even to be completely truthful about his views. Both of these points probably could have been made in ways that really didn’t have a rhetorical downside at all, he just doesn’t seem to know how to formulate them. The fact that successful politicians do is a big part of what makes our politicians so boring, but it’s also aug part of what makes successful ones successful.

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      • With regard to the first quote, the initial heat seemed to me to be about his terrible framing of his views and not the views themselves. Except the fram8ng presented (those words, absent context) wasn’t actually Jeb’s.

        That any Republican believes that there are limits to what we can do about mass shootings is not new. That gun control advocates believe that those of us should look at this situation and don’t see gun control as the answer are indifferent to blood and death is not new.

        What was new was that Jeb allegedly came out and said what GCA believe that GRA feel (to with, indifference to the victims of gun violence)… THAT’S was the part that was new.

        Except, in context, that’s not how Jeb characterized his views. That’s how Lizza did through selective quotation.

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        • Yeah, no. GCAs don’t think that GRAs are inhuman monsters who are genuinely emotionally indifferent to victims of mass gun homicides. They think they have a trrible policy attitude toward gun violence because of the power of the combination of gun culture and the gun lobby in the conservative coalition. They didn’t think that Bush genuinely thinks of gun deaths as “stuff that happens.” They reacted to his placing mass gun homicides in a category of social phenomena that he is inclined to treat with a policy attitude of “stuff happens.” That was the exact context in which Bush was using “stuff happens”: he absolutely was placing mass gun homicide events in the category of phenomena he wants to treat with a “stuff happens” policy attitude; and that fact is what the section to his comments was all about. That is, the inclusion of mass gun homicide events in the “stuff happens” policy-category of social phenomena, which is exactly and indisputably what Bush was doing.

          And even if Bush wasn’t applying “stuff happens” to gun murders without any other context (and, again, in a policy context he absolutely was), that policy attitude – saying that a “stuff happens” policy attitude would apply to these events, even if your direct attitude about gun deaths isn’t “stuff happens” – is more than enough to justify the amount of response to what he said that he got, give when he said it. We are, after all, largely talking about the response of gun control advocates here. If he chooses that moment to say, “It’s a terrible thing that happened, but that doesn’t mean we need to make more laws or rush into an major policy changes,” I don’t think he’s any better off.

          I also don’t get this “you can’t watch every two words that come out of your mouth” thing. Yes, in a station like that, you can. Maybe not every single day all day. But a day or two after eighteen people are gunned down in a community college, in the middle of a campaign, in a presidential term when 20 kindergarteners and six teachers were killed and the federal response was exactly along the let’s-not-be-hasty lines that this candidate was trying to espouse, when everyone is looking to see what each of the candidates is going to say about it, during those few seconds when your mouth is actually moving making those statements? Yes, in that situation you can control every single word you say. If “stuff happens” passes your lips at all, no matter what context you’re trying to apply it to (Christ, it’s not like he’s not still on the subject of the shooting at that point!), it seems like it’s on you. (Not you; Bush.) That was his choice, and he gets to wear it. That doesn’t seem unfair. Nor even like a misrepresentation, again, because what people are reacting to is the policy attitude he is communicating there, not the human attitude toward the victims. No one thought based on this he is a monster who is emotionally indifferent to the suffering. The problem was that he was communicating his commitment to walling off his policy view from his emotional response, which is something that people probably agree with him about on some things, but not this. You can say he’s right to do that walling off. But no one was confused about what they were reading to in these comments: it was the policy attitude he approaches these situations with, not the specter of a complete emotional indifference to the violent suffering of teenagers. No one thought he was saying that.

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          • Yes, I think these are all good points.

            I’d take it a step further, though. I imagine some gun control advocates (like myself) heard the “stuff happens” remark as a throwing up of hands over a problem that can’t be solved. But the facts on the ground don’t support that. The National Journal, USA Today and others have reported on a study showing that states with tighter gun control laws have less gun violence than those with looser restrictions. So what I heard in Bush’s “stuff happens” remark is a refusal to grapple with the reality that something could be done to lessen the incidence of gun violence, but that he is simply going to refuse to try because the NRA says so.

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            • That takes us back to “The objection was always over our policy disagreements.”

              That wasn’t how the quote came across. I know that wasn’t how it came across because when I first heard it my thought was “Oh, come on, Jeb.”

              But then when I saw that those two words were in between a lot of other words that more or less described the not-unconventional view that mass shootings are neither warrant nor are really addressed by gun control (or by other suggestions that tend to immediately follow them).

              But anyway, the difference in my reaction, as well as of many others who are not committed to the gun control movement as well as some who are, is that the quote was indeed misrepresented and that is demonstrated by our different reactions to the two words and the paragraph wherein the two words were contained.

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              • People for improved gun control tend to want GC to deal with the high level of violence we have in this country. It is mass shootings that get discussion and make the national news. If it is just one shooting here or there, then there is no wide discussion. It is likely true GC wouldn’t do much for the recent mass shooters but could likely have more effect on all the violence we do have. It is part of the distorted discussions we have around guns that only mass shootings allow any large scale discussion.

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                • I think one of the mistakes that gun control advocates have made is not trying to get gun issues into the spotlight more often. By waiting for a lot of people to die at once, it’s very easy for critics to just say, “Mass murder is pretty rare, and therefore not a sufficient justification to infringe on our rights.”

                  Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people are killed or injured by firearms each year, in murders, suicides, and accident; it happens all the time, it affects the disadvantaged populations disproportionately, and if it were not related to some people’s political preferences, we’d call it an epidemic. That’s the reason why we need to do something about guns. Mass shootings are horrible, and it is important to find ways to reduce them, but a lot more people are harmed by just regular ol’ shootings.

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                  • Gun control advocates do certainly seize on mass incidents, but they spend a lot of time on the overall problem. But you’re ultimately stuck n that vein just saying “very close to the average number of people who get killed by guns every day got killed by guns again today.” It’s very hard to make the normal shocking day after day after day.

                    Especially when there are these exceptional events that grab everyone’s attention no matter what gun control advocates do or don’t say about it. And I think it’s pretty unrealistic advice to expect them not to look to make use of the spikes in attention the the issue that come from these events, since realistically they are the only and the certainly the biggest spikes that.

                    So I think gun control advocates are not going to break out of that pattern at any point. There’s just not much you can do to make attention spike in relation to the background level of gun violence when it’s already spiking every few months in relation to the naturally headline-grabbing events.

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                    • Don’t get me wrong, I think mass shootings should be part of the message, but right now it’s the message. And the anti-gun control crowd wants it that way, because that’s a much easier message to undermine than “tens of thousands of deaths and injuries as a result of firearms.”

                      I know that actual activists on the ground are working around the clock on the issue, but they’re not visible, and they are not defining the gun control message as the majority of the people in this country perceive it. What that they were.

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                      • In both our conversations today, Chris, I hear you as criticizing communications people doing hard communications work, whether advancing gun control ideas in a country hostile to it, or crafting messages for Democrats in country where they are regarded with extreme distrust, for not using a silver bullet you’re sure exists to make themselves successful beyond their wildest hopes. In one case, you think you know what that silver bullet is, but have no evidence that it in fact will have that effect, and giving no evidence that you have considered the possibility that something like it has been tried and that it hasn’t worked. And in the other, it’s more that you set up this Herculean task (make a country inclined against gun control put it at front of mind just on average Tuesdays *in addition* to any days in which more than five people are killed in schools or dentists offices), and then just say that they ought to have come up with the killer app for making that happen by now if they were really trying. Like they’re not.

                        I’m not saying the pros are perfect. But they’re trying. And you’re just armchair MMQBing them into the ground IMO.

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                          • Kim, I encourage you and Chris to start your own political consultancy. Don’t charge any money, because you wouldn’t want to be accused of being professionals. And you surely won’t want to try at all, because clearly that’s what the pros are doing wrong today. But that’s okay, you won’t need to try. Because between the two of you you two clearly already have all the answers that the Dems would really need to get back on top out in the countryside.

                            And not to worry about results! It’ll be the party’s own own fault when they choose not to use your ideas and continue to lose. You had the right answers all along: they were right here at Ordinary Times!

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                        • Michael,
                          Yanno, I think we’ve already managed to trump the competition. [I’m allowed to make fun of the professional trolls.]

                          Up Next: Stealing babies as part of an advertising campaign!
                          (Yes, this is a true story.)

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                        • I do not, it should be noted, think I have a silver bullet. I don’t think such things exist. I suggested a direction, one I think would be successful because it focuses on what people are dealing with.

                          Here on guns, the problem ruth messaging is apparent: we talk about this when someone shoots a bunch of people, and we don’t otherwise. I do not doubt people are working hard. That’s irrelevant.

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                          • If your simple suggestion (and it was simple!) ended up being enough to establish legislative majorities in a place like Texas, then it would be a silver bullet. If you’re saying it won’t, then fair enough. But if you’re saying it might, then you’re saying it might be a sliver bullet.

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                          • we talk about this when someone shoots a bunch of people, and we don’t otherwise.

                            For the most part, but not entirely. People talk about gun-related deaths more generally; accidents, crime, massacres, etc. But they also talk about the increasingly accepted view that there’s something wrong with folks who are opposed to an actively armed public, whether it’s CC or open, that part of the right to bear arms is being able to bring a rifle into Denny’s or protest a speech about the Oregon shooting with a public display of arms, etc and so on.

                            So people talk about this all the time, seems to me, but it’s the massacres that push (some) people over the edge and begin to clamor for something to be done. And the response to that clamoring is either that “stuff happens”; that they should arm up to protect themselves (the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun…!!!, “rush the shooter”!!!); or make a public display of arms, signalling just how bloody pursuing the topic might actually become, in an effort to silence the debate.

                            On the other side, it seems like empirical evidence has absolutely no role to play in determining potential policy solutions. Cuz, well, the only policy solutions are the ones mentioned in the above paragraph.

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                      • First, let’s remember that violence & injuries are down & continue to trend down.

                        Second, if GC activists really want to expand background checks, they should do the one thing that will make it happen – make background checks as easy as anything else we do.

                        On started to talk about this on a previous thread & I hope to fully talk about this soon, but there is no technical reason why background checks can’t be done between two people with smartphones or internet browsers & email. But the GC crowd don’t want that because it will make the buying & selling even easier, and the NRA don’t want that because it’ll take away one of their favorite drums to beat.

                        But we have to ask, if background checks are really effective, and they are something that should be done for every legal transfer, why do we allow others to keep the process stuck in a bureaucratic morass that prevents movement?

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                        • Oscar,

                          I hadn’t heard this idea even, much less heard it framed as an objection to expanding background checks. Are you sure that gun control advocates have even really fully considered it yet? Sometimes it takes a while to get past the stage of just thinking that whatever new issue is being presented is really just another attempt to make an excuse or throw up an obstacle or an distraction.

                          It seems to me it’d have to be an add-on to expanding the system over all. If you require background checks for something like all transfers, you’d surrey have to expand the traditional infrastructure for doing the checks. And then doing the checks privately via mobile device or home computer could be looked at. It seems fair to me that there’s a lot to consider in that proposal, though. Some hesitance seems reasonable, doesn’t it? What interactions between GRAs and GCAs are you working from in taking temperatures about this.

                          I would say that if your point is to establish that part of the hope with background checks is to slow down proliferation of guns from those who have lots (sellers) to those who just want a few (more) (buyers), you could be entirely right. But it wouldn’t be some kind of expose’. After all, another policy that has unabashedly been advocated by GCAs is waiting periods, which don’t make any bones about their purpose, which is to slow down gun transfers. So it’s not like GCAs ever were hiding this purpose.

                          But I’m just genuinely interested in the state of discussion on this topic, as I’m not up to speed at all. Any links, in particular to GCAs’ responses to the idea?

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                          • It was a common discussion I had when WA was pushing for universal checks.

                            I have no problem, personally, with the idea. Hell, I’d change the law such that sellers who fail to do a check can be held civilly liable should the buyer be convicted of a crime with that firearm (make that law, universal checks will just happen all by themselves). Anyway, when I would complain to GCAs that universal checks are (under the current system) time consuming & expensive, I was told that was a feature, not a bug.

                            So it’s been thought about.

                            My point is, however, that if background checks are an important part of reducing firearm violence, then we should make those checks as straightforward as possible, and not bottleneck them through FFLs who hate doing them anyway because of the time it takes & the fact that it’s one more form they now have to physically store & keep track of/br responsible for.

                            Will it make it easier for firearms to be bought & sold? Yes. But (especially if sellers can be held liable), it will also help with gun traces because people legally selling would be more willing to do the check & keep a hold of the resulting document, should the police ever come knocking.

                            As for the technical aspects, the NICS is already a database. I would not be surprised if it already has a web based front end that is used by the folks in the call center. All it needs is a front end for the public.

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                            • Hmm. Well, from their perspective I think you can see the diemma. They were honest to say that the bottleneck effect is part of what they value in background checks. Because the status quo is that many transfers can go forward, legally, with no background checks and no liability. The tough question is whether transfers to people we don’t want to have guns will really happen less when BGCs can be done more easily (i.e. do they exclusively believe in the intended effect of BGCs), or do they think that bottlenecking the legal flow of guns will slow down overall transfers in a way that’s more valuable to GCA’s objectives (i.e. do they value some not-formally-intended consequences of BGCs enough to not want fritcionless BGCs)? And they were honest enough about it to let you in on that part of their thinking!

                              So a bit of this is what I regard as something of a tough estimation problem for the GCA community. And they may have thought about it some. But it doesn’t sound like they’ve really hashed it out and come out with a considered position. A lot depends on whom you were talking to. There could be a little bit of Shatnerism going on here. Not as isolated a view as Shatner-is-the-best-sim though, so that there could be more of a split.

                              And then on top of that, your offer of liability in exchange (I take it?) for e-background checking (but not in exchange for expanded traditional checks) is probably attract to them conceptually (maybe?), but, correct me if I’m wrong, it;s just way, way off the table politically. You can’t deliver it, and they know it. So they’re faced with accepting an innovation that you straight up admit would increase gun buing and selling, in exchange for a inability mechanism that almost certainly will not become law.

                              Perhaps not a tough call – unless they really believe in the black-and-white purpose of BGCs – apply them as frictionlessly to as man transactions as possible, so as to spread the net as widely as possible. The ones you talked to copped to being interested in preserving the bottleneck effect (which they have to realize will result in more illegal transfers than e-BGC would, but maybe they think, lower sheer numbers of transfers). But e-BGC is an option that would be fairly new to a lot of them, depending on who they are. You might have been getting their first-blush response rather than a considered one.

                              That’s why I’m wondering if the more centralized brain-trusysty parts of the movement have fully developed a position on this yet.

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                              • Perhaps. But I would hope that all such things are thought about. But I suspect they are not really, for some pretty significant reasons.

                                And I never offered the liability question to anyone on the GCA side because I hadn’t really thought about it back then. I’m working on a another Firearms post (maybe here, maybe over at Will’s place) & it’s an idea I’m kicking around, along with why I think the GCA side needs a wake up call.

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                                • I would hope that all such things are thought about.

                                  Well, A) that’s really low bar that I have to assume you mean as a pretty high bar. Right? You need to think about it enough to formulate a sentence about it. But that might not be the most considered view a person is ever going to have on the topic; it may in fact be a really under-baked view. That happens, right?

                                  And B), if that happens, the significance of that really depends on who it is you’re talking to, right? It’s different if it’s the issues director for a major national gun control organization than if it’s some guy in his grandma’s basement in Bellingham, right? We’ve got different expectations about how well-baked each of those people’s positions on the question is at any given time. That;s why I’m asking after what kinds of interactions you had that you based this assessment of the response on. I’d add that, even in the case of the head of a think tank, the way you’re resenting this it becomes more a question of political and negotiating tactics than pure issue positions, too, so that there is going to be some shift even in the case of sophisticated advocates. Hell, even purely on the straight-up position on the issue, there will be some shift in the case of proposals emanating from new possibilities introduced by technology. It’s a big job to figure out all the implications of the introduction of a new technology to a situation as complex as, well, really any national issue tall, come to think of it.

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                          • I agree. And yet that is what gets trotted out every damn time.

                            I’m tired of arguing about it. Make it happen, make it straightforward. Then let’s go talk about ways to change a culture that has, for lack of a better term, over-fetishized guns to it’s detriment.

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                  • One of the things I find really odd are the people on the GRA side that try to shift the problem to Chicago. The implication is that GCA’s don’t care about Chicago and all that. That really isn’t true, but even setting that aside, that’s a strategically bad argument. Between mass shootings and Chicago, if one of them provides any justification for erecting barriers to purchasing guns and confiscating lots of guns… it’s really not mass shootings but it’s possibly maybe Chicago.

                    So it’s like taking an argument on gun control away from a bad argument from the other side to a less bad one.

                    That’s not even a complaint, really, since I am pretty exasperated with all sides of the post-shooting debate, but an observation.

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                    • This is why Heller really bothered me.

                      I’m not a huge federalism guy. To be an honest federalism guy, you’ve gotta cry federalism when it suits you and when it doesn’t. And I don’t: I think there are places for federalism. We can have the argument and maybe reach some common ground about where a state-by state-approach makes some sense. ut I’m ultimately just going to be for it when it makes sense on individual issues – not as a general approach. (This is in ideal-world land, I realize I’m largely overruled by the Constitution.)

                      But it always seemed like gun violence in a place like Chicago was a place where the federalism argument held some sway. And the idea the the 2nd Amendment trumps Chicago’s right to regulate guns because of a personal right to bear arms is so nouveau that I kind of hoped that some federalism people would be there to say, hey, maybe Chicago would be able to do things that Waco doesn’t want to do about guns.

                      But nope, the federalism guys were nowhere to be found in terms of trying to let Chicago do what it feels it needs to do about guns. A novel understanding of the 2nd Amendment trumps any kind of broad commitment to federalism, apparently.

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                      • I actually have a federalist hesitation about Heller.

                        That being said, prior to Heller it was frequently said by GCA’s that guns can’t really be a federal issue because people will just take their guns from one point to the next and we can’t exactly have checkpoints. This was typically an argument for why we need strong national laws.

                        And I can see their point. I can also see it working the other way. If I’m moving from Idaho to Pennsylvania, I can’t be held accountable for the laws of every jurisdiction in between.

                        There is room for a grand compromise on the latter part, wherein I would be able to keep the gun unloaded and in my car and not be arrested for having it. According to this is actually how things are supposed to be right now… but not how they actually work.

                        This is where the bilateral lack of trust is such a problem. But if we didn’t have Heller, and we had that trust, I don’t object to a federal solution in lieu of a national one. (But while that would alleviate my concerns, it wouldn’t alleviate the concerns in the paragraph preceding that one.)

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                        • You make a good point. GCAs can’t argue for federalism for Chicago when they argued against it for Oklahoma. But that’s why I’m saying I’m not exactly arguing for federalism in this area. I would be okay with strong federal laws. (Though, actually, I’m not sure I’d favor laws nationally that would be as strong as the strongest laws I’d want to allow localities to make.) In that sense, I understand that if I’m not particularly in favor of letting states do whatever they want on the permissive end, then my cries about letting them do what they want on the restrictive end are shallow.

                          But OTOH, people actually committed to federalism shouldn;t care about how true I am to it: they are ostensibly true to it. And I just didn’t hear those making the argument that federalism trumps a novel idea about a personal right to bear arms in the 2nd Amenment when Heller happened, is all I’m saying.

                          Scott Lemieux insists that no one actually cares about federalism. This is some evidence for that. If he’s right, that’s kind of okay by me. But it could have been useful here IMO.

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                          • I can’t speak for all, but for me (and I consider myself an advocate for it) federalism is an ideal or direction and not a destination. It’s not always possible.

                            I don’t view this as vacating the ideal, but of not finding it necessarily applicable in this case. Determinations of applicability are riddled with unrelated ideological assumptions, but that doesn’t negate the ideal. It just means that we have to balance it with other considerations.

                            Not unlike freedom, a concept that doesn’t cease to exist because it has to be balanced with other considerations.

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                            • I get that. I’m just noting that the federalists put a novel idea about what the 2nd Amendment says ahead of commitment to he ideal in that case, at least that I am aware of. It can only still actually be an ideal in practice if some people will sacrifice something for it – and more than just something, but a number of things, some of them valuable. Otherwise Lemieux becomes correct: it may be an ideal ideal, but no one actually cares about it. But maybe a novel idea about what the 2nd Amendment says (that happens to advance some people’s liberty) is just too valuable to expect people to sacrifice in favor of federalism, even though they do care about it. Or maybe I just didn’t see the arguments going the other way.

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                              • There are, to be sure, a lot of Fairweather Federalists out there. Some more than others.

                                The logistics of it make it a tough issue. The same applies to drugs, where I would totally like to see a federalist approach but where the logistics are difficult. At a certain point, though, politics make it so it has to be one way or the other.

                                Ideally I would like cities and states to be able to work it out. But the environment isn’t there for that, so if it has to be one way or the other, I prefer Heller to the alternative… but it remains not my first preference.

                                The second group believes that a city can no more ban guns than free speech. In which case, an exception simply has to be made to protect a very essential right. I think exceptions are understandable when something is viewed as a fundamental right, though as exceptions pile up I do question the commitment to the concept of federalism.

                                (The record of the GOP and conservatives in general is… unreliable, to put it very kindly.)

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                                • I’m not sure I so much buy the idea that it’s such a terrible problem if you have to figure out exactly what configuration your pistol needs to be in in order to get it across a few states country legally, or even if you have to go around a few. Nor if you’re trying to move drugs around, that you would have to figure out where they’re illegal and avoid moving them through those states.

                                  OTOH, maybe this kind of thing s exactly what the Commerce Clause was about to begin with – to standardize all of this stuff – I guess it was with broccoli – and federalism in this area is a misconception.

                                  It seems kind of convenient, though, if it turns out that areas like education and health are the *paradigmatic* areas in which the feds shouldn’t be passing laws, or preventing them from being passed.

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                                  • It’s not just states. A person can pass through seventeen different jurisdictions going to work. And sometimes it’s not a matter of the right configuration but of having the gun at all. And simplicity leads to better compliance and likely less selective prosecution.

                                    If you allow free transit across jurisdictions so long as the gun is unloaded and in a locked box or something, and I can trust that jurisdictions bit to try to get those people with other crimes, I am reasonably content. (At the state level, I would support making such laws at the county level rather than the municipal to avoid seventeen jurisdiction problems.)

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                                • …Have to add: by “the alternative to Heller,” I take you to mean strict, uniform, federal gun laws. And I get what you are saying in terms of comparing the least preferable options for you.

                                  But it should be pointed out that the actual legal alternative to Heller was for SCOTUS to find the other way, which would have allowed for the possibility that the actual concrete policy alternative that preceded Heller, the patchwork quilt you prefer, to continue. And given the politics of the issue nationally, the continuation of that concrete policy reality was the most likely actual alternative to Heller.

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                          • When Plaxico Burress shot himself, I remember part of the local conversation being about how if he had done what he did a few miles west (in NJ) instead of where he did it (in NYC), he’d have faced far lesser charges. The laws are, apparently, dramatically different.

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                          • Remember the lady from PA who got stopped carrying (with a permit from PA) in NJ and faced a felony for it? The charges were not dropped, but she was put into a felon deferral program so after probation she’ll only have a misdemeanor. Of course that was only after the NRA & a bunch of politicians & pundits started screaming about it.

                            Totally non-violent offense, almost spent 2-5 years in prison.

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                            • I’m glad she won’t be imprisoned; that would have been a wild overreaction. Given that she was licensed in another state and it was in all likelihood a good-faith mistake, confiscating the illegally concealed firearm for the duration of her visit would have been sufficient.

                              You know, these problems could be avoided if only there were a well-funded organization of gun-owners that could educate people about them.

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                              • You know, these problems could be avoided if only there were a well-funded organization of gun-owners that could educate people about them.

                                When I was a kid, back in the 90s, there was an organization that made it their job to educate people about guns. They had safety classes, informed people about gun laws (and hunting laws), gave out little pamphlets in schools for kids about how to act around guns. (Basically, leave them alone.)

                                Googling, it appears their name is the ‘National Rifle Association’. Huh, that name sounds oddly familiar.

                                But no one uses pamphlets anymore. This is 2015, with the interwebs and iphones and android phones and apps all over the place. And GPS!

                                Checking, it appears this ‘NRA’ has an app. I bet their app lets you put in the various sorts of guns you have, and any carry permit you might have. Then, when you get near a state line, it can warn you if need be! ‘Alert: Crossing New York state line, you cannot carry concealed here. Please lock gun in trunk.’

                                Wait, no it doesn’t have anything like that. In fact, it doesn’t even have the state *laws*, much less any sort of automated system. Hilariously, by random chance, that is literally one of the complaints showing on the app store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nra/id480673955?mt=8

                                ‘What good is an NRA app if it doesn’t have a section in it for the most important thing to have in your pocket…. The current state gun laws for ALL US states!!! This capability is needed much more than what you have in there now. There are times when you need to check those laws, especially when you do a lot of traveling and it would be easier than having to pull up the NRA website to dig through.’

                                But you can get a nice newsfeed!

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                                • That doesn’t seem like such an unreasonable demand.
                                  I mean, we accept drivers licenses from other states…

                                  I think what gets people is the “concealed” nature of it.

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                                  • To date, there are 3 states, I believe, that do not have a permitting system that requires a background check and do not issue permits, so this is not an insurmountable problem (i.e. if a national carry program was actually passed, those states would not have permits to issue; and thus those states could create such a system for out of state travel, or the fed could create a national carry permit, etc.).

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                                    • Is “may issue” vs. “shall issue” the distinction between “prove you need it” and “you get one unless there’s a specific reason you’re ineligible”? If so, I admit I had no idea so many states had gone the latter route. But making all states accept each others’ carry permits effectively removes the ability of a state to be “may issue”.

                                      Ans since your home state is shown as “shall issue”, I’m curious what’s required there to get one.

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                                      • Mike,

                                        Esquire has a really interesting read on gun rights activism – particularly open carry – which includes the following goal for one activist in Texas:

                                        “Constitutional Carry,” in which the only gun restrictions are the ones the founders had when they ratified the Second Amendment in 1791—none.

                                        Personally speaking here, being introduced to that concept provides a context for what at least some – and perhaps the most visible – GRAs are getting on about.

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                                          • Oscar, I realize you’re not in that camp. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts that article, tho, and how well that captures some aspects of the cultural tension we see played out in pretty conspicuous ways, as well as what that type of activism means going forward on this issue.

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                                            • Excellent article. The guy strikes me as the right kind of advocate. Level headed, calm – people like that don’t bother me a bit, even if I disagree with them. It’s the Kory Watkins that un-nerve me, or the drunk in the truck. The people who run high on emotion & low on sense.

                                              In a perfect world, people would not freak out over the sight of a gun, at least not anymore than they would over the sight of a car coming down the street. Police would not go on fear-fueled power trips when a citizen is carrying.

                                              We don’t live in a perfect world, so there needs to be something. In many ways, I’m still working out what that should be.

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                                              • In a perfect world, people would not freak out over the sight of a gun, at least not anymore than they would over the sight of a car coming down the street.

                                                Hey! A new record for most absurd use of the strained car-gun analogy.

                                                If I see a car coming down the street, I think “look, someone is driving from point A to point B” and, when necessary, “I’d better make sure my kids are well off of the road.” What similarly natural reaction am I supposed to have to a gun? Isn’t this the rational reaction: “look, someone is carrying a completely unnecessary killing tool, hope they’re not planning to use it?”

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                                                • Yeah, that was my thought as well. It seems to me that *that* sentiment – the normalization of guns in our society – is precisely where the divide becomes intractable. Let me say it this way: I reject that a society which regards carrying rifles while grocery shopping as normal actually is normal. It seems radically abnormal to me. And the Esquire piece did more to confirm my acceptance of that view than to dissuade me from it.

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                                                  • It is precisely this.
                                                    We have two incompatible visions of what our society should become.

                                                    One is where deadly violence is so normal and natural an expectation that carrying deadly weapons everywhere is a necessity.

                                                    The other is where it isn’t, where carrying a deadly weapon is a scary and freakish thing.

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                                                  • Let me say it this way: I reject that a society which regards carrying rifles while grocery shopping as normal actually is normal. It seems radically abnormal to me. .

                                                    Right. And let me further point out that a reduction of people carrying guns can, paradoxically, make us feel safer when we rarely stumble across someone who is.

                                                    I.e., if we had real licensing for long guns, for example, with real checks, and strict penalties, and there weren’t an increasingly paranoid and violence-fetishing subculture that owned guns…I see someone with a rifle strapped to their back, I think ‘Hey, it’s one of the people licensed to carry guns, which I *actually believe* makes them competent and safe. I wonder where he’s taking that gun. A gun repair store?’. (Of course, in such a world, people who would do things like carry rifles into grocery stores *wouldn’t be allowed to have guns*.)

                                                    Basically, in that world, I would feel the same way I feel when I see people working on power lines…because, in this country, we don’t have a history of deranged people demanding the right to climb power poles, and lots of people get electrocuted accidentally, and it’s a very popular form of suicide, and people sometimes deliberate drop live wires on people. No, I can assume those people up there are *competent*, because they don’t let just *anyone* up there.

                                                    In this world, of course, the immediate thought of seeing someone with a gun in a place a gun is not obviously needed is: ‘Crap, is this one of the nutbags? Should I take cover?’ Because they basically *do* let anyone buy guns.

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                                                • nevermoor: Hey! A new record for most absurd use of the strained car-gun analogy.

                                                  Understand that I have two minds on this, there is what I personally feel with regard to personal arms, and what I see as the pragmatic course of events. They are not what I would call ‘aligned’. I try to make clear which paradigm I am talking about, and if I fail that, I apologize; but please don’t intentionally conflate the two just to count coup.

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                                                  • Don’t understand this objection.

                                                    I’m pushing back on the car-gun analogy (which makes sense ONLY insofar as most Americans who would like to limit gun ownership drive cars, and cars are capable of killing people). That analogy simply cannot pretend away that seeing a car driving down a street (which happens for everyone every day in large numbers) is different, and should therefore provoke a different reaction than, seeing someone walking around with a gun. And it is different for all the reasons that the analogy itself is weak: cars are FOR driving from point A to point B. Guns, in occupied areas at least, aren’t FOR anything that requires them to be carried in public.

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                                                    • Once upon a time, when cars were new & people weren’t used to them, there was a lot of freaking out about them, much of it along similar lines.

                                                      Firearms have, except in cases of the police & military, fallen from public view in urban & suburban areas & thus people are not used to them. Us humans are remarkably good at taking in stride serious risks that are commonplace, and getting upset about less serious risks that are rare.

                                                      This is my point. If you think a car can not be more dangerous to the public than a firearm, we need to have a physics lesson.

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                                                      • Firearms have, except in cases of the police & military, fallen from public view in urban & suburban areas

                                                        Personally, I think this is another example of where the differences between the two cultures is intractable.

                                                        Adding: either that or you’re just wrong! :)

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                                                      • If you think a car can not be more dangerous to the public than a firearm

                                                        Citation needed.

                                                        Us humans are remarkably good at taking in stride serious risks that are commonplace, and getting upset about less serious risks that are rare.

                                                        Risk isn’t neutral. A nuclear power plant is a HUGE tail risk, but we deal with it because we want massive amounts of electricity. A car is a large fast piece of metal that can cause significant injury (and does lots of times every year), but we deal with it because we would otherwise be unable to efficiently navigate our world.
                                                        A gun is a tool designed to kill things (or, best case, to threaten to kill things in self-defense), but we deal with it because the constitution contains the second amendment.

                                                        See the difference?

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                                                        • I always saw the difference, you aren’t telling me anything I don’t know & haven’t internalized.

                                                          Once upon a time, firearms were as prevalent as cars, so the perception of the risk to firearms then was similar to the perception we have to cars now. In parts of the world, firearms are still a common feature. It’s all about the perception of the risk. Our cultural perception has shifted. That is all I was trying to say.

                                                          Why do you keep hammering on this?

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                                                          • Again I don’t understand the objection.

                                                            You used a bad analogy particularly poorly, I called you on it, you objected (in a way I still don’t understand; something about two minds), and now for whatever reason you’re talking about the 1920s (or whatever period you believe existed where the perception of risk to firearms was similar to cars then? cars now?). Apparently you also think I don’t understand that cars are dangerous.

                                                            Anyway, you seem to agree that the original suggestion (that people should treat seeing a car like seeing a gun) is a bad one, and I don’t see the rest of the objections clearing up. Good talk.

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                                      • May Issue – gotta justify a reason
                                        Shall Issue – gotta pass a background check

                                        In WA, you need to be fingerprinted & pass a background check from the State Patrol, the FBI, and (I believe) Interpol. No training requirement or skills exam.

                                        However, before you get too hung up on the training requirement, do keep in mind that many states do not have training requirements for drivers license. About the only universal is the road test (& that varies from state to state).

                                        So coming up with some kind of minimum standard for a carry permit should not be herculean, once past the initial political resistance to the idea. Especially if the law changes such that your permit must be from your state of primary residence. Right now, I know people who maintain permits in multiple states so as to maximize their ability to regionally travel, but which states recognize which permits is inefficient.

                                        ETA IMHO the biggest training issue is not “can you hit your target”, but “do you understand when you are justified in showing, drawing, and firing your sidearm?” I worry less about shooting skill & more about proper safety & situational training.

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                                        • That’s definitely true. I know someone who can’t hit the broadside of the barn, but he’s trustworthy enough to be given a gun… at least in rural situations. [we won’t mention how many urban situations sound like “something where drawing a gun (after taking cover)would be prudent”…]

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                                  • No, not impractical at all but it is something that liberals wouldn’t like. There is a big difference between the two. If the fed gov’t can mandate gay marriage they can mandate a nationwide permit. Different states have already have different requirements for all sorts of things and other states have to accept them. When I cross a state line, all the next state cares about is that my DL is valid and hasn’t expired, too easy.

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                                        • Keep the focus on driver’s licenses. much more germane and makes the same argument.
                                          Marriage strikes more at the heart of “personhood” (with all the legal craziness that involves — marriage is in practically everything the government does).

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                                        • Yes, and again that’s a discrimination issue. On the other hand, if a state where the age of consent is 16 refused to recognize marriages of people younger than that, it would be completely within the law to do so.

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              • Yeah, but are you sure you thought, “come on Jeb” because you thought he was applying that to people who were murdered? Or cold it have been because you found out he used that phrase in the course of making a point about how to respond on the policy front to such events?

                After all, Lizza’s initial tweet specifically says that he said “stuff happens” in relation to the idea of making gun laws in response to shootings, not that he directly said that people getting shot is just stuff that happens. And that is, in fact, what he did. He said that, from a policy persecutive, shootings are like other “stuff that happens” in that we shouldn’t necessarily respond to them with laws, at least not willy-nilly. Lizza’s initial tweet is not a misrepresentation of the way “stuff happens” was used rhetorically to advance the policy point Bush was making. Perhaps Lizza should have included more of the other stuff that Bush said, but then we start to get into the question of whether it’s valid to report on comments like this with a tweet at all, which is a road you haven’t gone down yet. If he was going to write a single tweet about these comments, which you can say is invalid but have not yet, I do not think he got that tweet unacceptably wrong. His emphasis is not exactly what many would have preferred (that’s why he’s him rather than them being him – his work merely need to be acceptable to them; they don’t have a legitimate expectations that he produce exactly the work they would have him produce if they could control what he writes), but it also wasn’t clearly a mischaracterization of how Bush used the phrase. From a news perspective “stuff happens” to my mind is what sticks out about what Bush said there.

                And that’s a judgement shared a large number of outlets who ultimately reported on the comments. Nothing about Lizza’s tweet tied their hands into producing their own misrepresentation of the comments. Most outlets who reported on the comments surely did so in full knowledge of their full context, and probably knowing that the initial report came from a tweet from Lizza that highlighted “stuff happens,” and which was then controversial for doing so. So they were probably on guard for whether that was an unfair characterization. Ryan Lizza doesn’t dictate the news judgement of hundreds of newspaper editors around the country. And they looked at it, and said, yeah, Bush summed up the policy point he was making about how we should or shouldn’t respond to tragedies like this one by saying that from a policy perspective this situation is like others in which “stuff happens.” That’s exactly what he did; that’s a fair way to characterize it; that’s news in the context of the remarks of an ostensible (legitimate as opposed to unserious) frontrunner for a presidential nomination; so that’s how it was reported.

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                • I thought it was because he opened his response (or said prominently) in such a manner. Not that they were two words in the middle of his rambling expectation.

                  Anyway, beyond that… we disagree in such a fashion that further discussion is unlikely to be fruitful.

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                  • They weren’t in the middle. They were at the end, in my view when he was basically saying, look I’ve been rambling a lot, let me sum up what I’m saying.

                    I just don’t get how anyone can think he’s getting a raw deal when he said, ‘Look, this is like when I was governor, and stuff happened, and people wanted to pass laws about it. And they were too hasty. This is like that.’

                    That is exactly what people thought he was saying from Lizza’s tweet and all the reporting, if not at the absolute outset then very quickly after it was made clear what he was saying, and that is exactly what he was saying. That’s even what the brilliant people at The Federalist say he was saying. And that’s what he’s been wearing. The essence of his p.r. problem over this is that his meaning was clearly understood, if after a bit (and I would say a small bit) of initial confusion. Very few people, I think, thought he was just shrugging his shoulders at the bare idea of people being gunned down. They heard the quote and assumed he was expressing his policy approach.

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                    • I just don’t get how anyone can think he’s getting a raw deal

                      And yet, people do. I don’t understand how you don’t understand where these people are coming from, which is a sign of future discussions on this avenue being unfruitful.

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                      • I think I get where they’re coming from. A presumption that the liberal media gave a Republican a raw deal. Which in a lot of cases is a safe presumption. And I get how you can look at it and will yourself to that conclusion because you want to reach it.

                        I just don’t get how you can look at the actual specifics and think that anything happened other than that his actual meaning came across and people didn’t like it. I honestly can’t believe that hardly anyone at all at any point thought his attitude about people being shot is, in human sense, “stuff happens.” But that is his attitude in a policy sense. That’s what Lizza’s tweet said he said, and that;s what he said, in so may words. I just don’t see it.

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              • Oscar,

                Do you think empirical evidence could support the thesis that greater access to guns correlates with higher gun-related violence incidents? What type of evidence would you accept?

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                • I do accept that thesis. It’s common sense. Violent individuals will seek out & use the most effective means of violence at their disposal. The more firearms about, the more likely a person intending to do harm will use one if they can, and, in a similar vein, if one is readily available, the more likely one will be used (although how much more is a matter of debate).

                  And yet the Swiss seem to find a way to have high ownership rates & low firearm violence.

                  Where I disagree is that law enforcement has any statistically significant ability to deter the private ownership of arms in such a way as to affect this trend without going all War On Guns. Which means I think gun control, as we largely practice it, is ineffective & a waste of effort.

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                    • See my below comment. May be a disconnect where Oscar is talking about homicides while you are talking about violence more generally.

                      The empirical evidence supports GCA on violence (including suicides and accidents and homicides) and GRA on homicides. At least, within the US.

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                    • Damnit, my comment got eaten by the Ether Bunny!

                      Will has the right of it, more or less.

                      I seperate violence into two groups, casual & criminal.

                      Criminal violence is violence performed in pursuit of other criminal aims, or amongst criminal actors.

                      Casual violence is suicides, accidents, and normatively law abiding people using violence to settle disputes (amongst strangers or families).

                      Family abuse kinda straddles the two.

                      Gun control, by & large, has little effect on criminal violence.

                      It can affect casual violence, but society & culture can have a much larger effect with regard to casual violence, so the correlations have to take into account how the local culture treats firearms &/or violence.

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                  • And yet the Swiss seem to find a way to have high ownership rates & low firearm violence.

                    Yes. If I recall correctly — and I may be confusing Switzerland with Finland — this is by regulating, tracking, and otherwise being so deeply buried into gun-owners lives that they know when said gun-owners have a mild cold. In short, something that would have gun-owners in America screaming like toddlers.

                    The average American gun-owner would be quickly arrested and his or her firearms confiscated in Switzerland. His guns wouldn’t be registered to the state, his storage hasn’t been inspected, and he probably lacks the licenses or training. And frankly, these days, he’s probably carrying it in public like an idiot instead of transporting it as required.

                    I’d be thrilled to trade Swiss gun laws for American gun laws. And I’ll bet you my bottom dollar that 95% of the people who use Switzerland or other European states as examples of ‘gun friendly’ would scream and run away as soon as their learned how that actually works.

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                      • And yet the biggest gun nut I know — and I mean that in the purest pejorative sense, as he is literally insane on the topic of guns. I mean I’m pretty sure NRA lobbyists would tell him to sit back and take a deep breath — brings up Switzerland all the freaking time.

                        He literally has no idea how the Swiss model works. In his head it’s apparently stacked blondes toting assault rifles to coffee, amid the flourishing of peace and freedom.

                        Literally no nuance, no nod to reality, no acquaintance with facts or context. It’s weird.

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              • Where it gets complicated (a bit) is the distinction between “gun violence” and “gun homicides”… the evidence doesn’t really bear out that gun control leads to more of the latter, but does the former. Mostly on account of suicides and/or accidents.

                Which, looking at state-by-state issues, is where we can believe that gun control would have the most impact.

                That doesn’t tell us what reducing gun ownership across the country would do to our homicide rate. It could have an effect nationally that we don’t see locally due to free passage across states and jurisdictions. Of course, we also don’t know the extent of enforcement problems that would arise, so we don’t know how much gun ownership would actually be reduced.

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                • You can probably say that ‘reducing gun ownership’ would very likely reduce the weekly toddler shootings.

                  Of course, I’m pretty much of the mind that if a minor shoots someone, that gun’s owner deserves jail time unless that gun was reported stolen. Mother, father, cousin, random person, don’t care.

                  When a 5 year old shoots someone, it’s not a ‘tragic accident’. It’s criminal negligence. Someone who owned a gun committed willful negligence that led directly to someone getting shot.

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                    • Depends on how you we’re talking. If we’re talking about toddlers then I am sympathetic*. If we’re talking about all minors, the older the kid the less culpable the parent.

                      * – Main hesitation here being the welfare of the child. I don’t want to cut off our nose to spite our face by putting kids in the foster care system if we can avoid it. And here I’m not opposing it, I am just a bit uneasy, particularly if damage is minor. If somebody died, on the other hand…

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                      • In general it would be pretty darn odd for a child to be put in foster care due to one incident of a gun being left out where a small child could get it. Foster care is for kids in immediate danger and with parents who aren’t protective. I’m sure there are bad incidents of kids being put in foster care wrongly and over very little, but those are the exception rather than the rule.

                        I’d be all for CPS having a trunk full of gun locks and if they get called out for family that hasn’t stored a gun safely, they just give them locks and explain gun safety.

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                          • @will-truman Yeah…I’ve known a distressing amount of people who kept loaded guns on their nightstands or under their pillow with small children in their homes. They were pretty paranoid about bad people breaking down their doors but were generally good caring parents. Their guns were fine, they just needed locks or some basic safety.
                            If an unsafe gun leads to a death or serious injury i’m fine with jail. Serious negligence regarding guns is enough of an issue that an official deterrent seems worthy. So many of these negligent shootings involving children are filled with basic safety fail. Part of the purpose of the deterrent is to get people thinking more about safety and where they leave their guns.

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                      • Given – at some point kids can understand the dangers of firearms & the responsibility begins to shift. Under the age of 6, I’m pretty sure it’s all on the adult.

                        There’s an idea. Instead of just having Gun buybacks, we should have gun lock/lock box giveaways.

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                  • if a minor shoots someone, that gun’s owner deserves jail time unless that gun was reported stolen. Mother, father, cousin, random person, don’t care.

                    When a 5 year old shoots someone, it’s not a ‘tragic accident’. It’s criminal negligence. Someone who owned a gun committed willful negligence that led directly to someone getting shot.

                    I’m actually not against this concept, so please take this as a genuine question, not a “gotcha”.

                    If I leave my car keys on my nightstand and my twelve-year old gets hold of them and takes my car and runs someone over, should I go to jail?

                    If I don’t keep the Raid bugspray in a locked cabinet and a toddler sprays another toddler in the eyes and blinds them, should I go to jail?

                    If a minor takes a steak knife from my silverware drawer and stabs another minor, should I go to jail?

                    I suspect the answer here is that guns are just plain different, but the victims in my hypos are just as dead or maimed from these other items and actions.

                    I fully agree that people need to be securing dangerous items, particularly in locations that have (or host) children; but I am curious about where we draw the conceptual line.

                    I am a little uncomfortable treating guns, specifically, as the only dangerous object worthy of this treatment. I wouldn’t mind teasing out a generalizable principle behind this, if it’s possible.

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                    • I am a little uncomfortable treating guns, specifically, as the only dangerous object worthy of this treatment. I wouldn’t mind teasing out a generalizable principle behind this, if it’s possible
                      Why shouldn’t we? We have laws specific to cars, don’t we? If we had a rash of toddlers getting into cars and driving them, I can assure you there would have already been legislation to fix the design flaw that allowed a 5 year old to start a car in the first place.

                      Very specifically is this: A knife in the hands of a toddler or 10 year old is nowhere near as accidentally lethal as a gun. Stabbing someone seriously isn’t easy with just a kid’s strength. Starting a car, getting it in gear, and hitting the pedals? It’s not easy to do on accident.

                      Pulling a trigger is so easy it’s happening weekly from kids who can barely walk.

                      In fact, that locked up can of Raid was better safed than the guns in question — which are often laid on tables or in purses, fully loaded and safety off.

                      In the end, the thing about a gun — the reason a gun SHOULD have it’s own specific rules — is the end result is no different whether the trigger is pulled by an adult, a toddler, or by accident. The bullet is fired with the same velocity.

                      There’s a reason there’s not a rash of toddler stabbings. (And by the way, having your kid get into poisons and dying or injuring someone else? IS negligence. Can be criminally so. Your kid finds the bleach and drinks it, the first question people ask is ‘How did he get into that’ Why wasn’t it locked away? Placed up high?”. With shootings, it’s ‘tragic accident’ from the get-go).

                      Sure, you draw the line somewhere. But guns are designed for one purpose — to throw a bullet downrange at lethal speeds. It takes very little force on the trigger to do that, and the bullet spits out at the same velocity no matter how the trigger is pulled. Shouldn’t it be treated differently than a steak knife? ESPECIALLY since we’re seeing regular toddler shootings, but not regular toddler stabbings?

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                      • W/r/t the criminal negligence part, that is kind of what I was getting at. Criminal negligence is already a thing. Do we have evidence that for some reason it’s not charged in toddler gun accidents, but is charged in other types of serious toddler accidents? I suspect that, in general (gun or not), prosecutors are possibly-reluctant to bring such charges for fear of compounding a tragedy with further difficulties for the child’s family via criminal charges. Maybe that needs to change in general, not just for guns?

                        When my brother was very small, he got into a 500-count bottle of aspirin (this was before childproof bottle caps were I guess mandated?) and ate…well, a lot of them.

                        Luckily, he barfed up most of it, and between that and getting him to the hospital quickly, no permanent damage was done.
                        I suppose that charging my folks with criminal negligence would have been possible, but I don’t know that it would have helped anyone (unless, of course, making an example of them, was sufficiently encouraging for les autres).

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                        • I suspect that, in general (gun or not), prosecutors are possibly-reluctant to bring such charges for fear of compounding a tragedy with further difficulties for the child’s family via criminal charges. Maybe that needs to change in general, not just for guns?

                          Yes. And I feel that needs to change. Charges should be quite automatic.

                          Yes, you suffered a tragedy. Because someone was so negligent with a gun that a 3 year old got ahold of it. We just “tsk” like it was an act of God, like a gun just assembled from air into the toddler’s hands. Nothing we can do. Nobody to blame. Tragic accident.

                          No, it wasn’t a tragic accident. Someone left a gun lying out, loaded, completely unsupervised. You’d think at LEAST we’d say “Dude, you don’t get to have a gun anymore“.

                          Tragic accident. No one could have foreseen. Nothing could be done. These things happen. Move along, citizen.

                          If we’re going to be a freaking armed society, can we at least enforce responsibility? Require strict liability laws? Give everyone a freaking gun, who cares. Just come down on them like the wrath of God for misuse.

                          Which should include child getting ahold of your gun.

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                    • I’ve made owner-responsibility proposals before, and I think ultimately the answer is no jail for things you don’t do with guns. But you should damn sure be sued under a strict liability regime (basically: if you own a gun, don’t have it in a gun safe/trigger locked; and didn’t report it stolen before incident, the fact that your gun hurt someone else makes you civilly liable.

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  2. There’s nothing lucid about the first Jeb quote. It’s possible to figure out what he’s saying (and I think the Federalist gets it right), but only by stripping away randomly interjected words and phrases and generally fixing up the syntax.

    Maybe there is a better way to deal with this than taking people’s you human personal liberty away every time we kind of require people to something.

    is worthy of Sarah Palin.

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  3. Dan:

    So jeb can’t or shouldn’t be nominated b/c some folks will purposely mischaracterize things he said so that they sound as bad as possible?

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  4. New rule, politicians & pundits who use twitter to respond to points that require actual nuance should be taken as seriously as we take any other click bait.

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  5. The Republican Primary race so far has been very interesting. I know a bunch of people here still refuse to take Trump and Carson seriously but my big concern is not their popularity but about how the more established candidates seem to be shooting themselves in the foot. Though Rubio seems to be not making too many mistakes and is surging because of Jeb’s flounderings.

    I know others would rejoice at the GOP nominating Trump but my political philosophy is different. I always worry about the other guys winning so I want the opposition to nominate people that are sane and lucid and reasonable, even if I disagree with them.

    The talking points issue is interesting because obviously my view of DC is different than the GOP one and it makes me wonder if the ideological contrasts between the two parties are just so stark. There are a lot of GOP applause lines that are absolutely perplexing to me like the one about how liberals just want to take other people’s money. I am fascinated about how liberal v. conservative fighting over this reveals completely different world views that are probably completely unbridgeable:

    1. The views show a different variant on the origin and source of money. IMO money comes from and exists because of the United States Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. If these two institutions did not exist, there would be no “this is my money” to squabble over. Conservatives seem to not include the Treasury and the Fed in the creation and distribution and support of the value of cash.

    2. The liberal view as we discussed before is more inclusive. Liberals are also willing and do tax themselves when they talk about raising school standards and resources and other infrastructure things like roads, parks, etc. The conservative version seems to involve a lot more radical atominization (sp?) where in these things are not collective problems but something every individual/family needs to decide this on their own even though 90 percent of Americans attend public school and that is a collective issue by nature. It would be different if most Americans home-schooled and private schooled but they do not.

    So we have groups that just can’t comprehend how the opposition sees an issue. I just can’t wrap myself around the “Other people’s money” applause line or see why it is appealing.

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    • I disagree Saul. The GOP as a party is ill. The “moderate” candidates are just as ill as the nutbar ones, they all espouse the generally same nutty ‘policies’; the moderate ones just are better at hiding their positions under a sleek layer of candy coated spin. I see little reason to believe that a nutbar candidate would be much worse, policy wise, than a moderate and as a nutbar candidate is enormously less likely to be elected in the general they are the ones I would prefer to face off against.
      Bush, disguised as an electable candidate by his influence and background, is a good second choice for me since I think it’d do the country good to be able to have a Bush in an election and then elect his opponent.

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      • I don’t think there would be a unique catharsis with a Bush losing an election. A Bush has lost an election before – even this Bush has lost an election. George Jorge P. is laying the groundwork for the next generation, paying his dues as Texas Land Commissioner. His future is independent of whatever Jeb! does over the next year.

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        • That last part is mostly hyperbole on my part, I confess. It’d certainly do me good to see a Bush lose; but mostly I just want the GOP to lose and I think a Bush nomination is the most likely* route for that to happen (he could plausibly be nominated and I think he’d lose the general).

          *An even more desirable outcome, in my mind, would be for a true open winger to be nominated and go down in a landslide loss but I consider that too improbable to bother rooting for it.

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  6. The “stuff happens” was a slight representation. “Stuff happens” on its own was a really clunky phrase but he did add some context. However it isn’t like this is the first mass shooting ever. These are things which have become a typical part of american life. Coming up with a solution isn’t’ responding to some weird one off event, it is trying to find a response to a continuing series of terrible incidents.

    Of course you seem to suggest conservatives don’t’ believe in trying to react to those things because the of the evil in mens hearts which is profoundly silly. Conservatives have been more than fine with pushing federal level law enforcement and national security measures. Those may or may not be a good idea but C’s have had no problem with using them.

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    • That’s right: if one terrorist attack, one time, kills 3000 people, the clearly reasonable response is invading multiple countries, spending trillions of dollars, and building a national-security apparatus that would give Nikolai Yezhov a chub. If repeated, daily violence kills ten times that many people every year for decades…well, stuff happens, man.

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    • However it isn’t like this is the first mass shooting ever. These are things which have become a typical part of american life. Coming up with a solution isn’t’ responding to some weird one off event, it is trying to find a response to a continuing series of terrible incidents.

      Frankly, even if it *was* some sort of one-off event, he still should have formulated a better response in advance. That is a major part of the *actual* job of president, responding to national events. (As opposed to what people seem to think the job is.) And, yes, he needs to be able to do that off-the-cuff.

      But, of course, it wasn’t a one-off, and won’t be. It needs the same sort of generic response in the file as ‘flooding’ and ‘death of celebrity’ and ‘police shooting a black guy for no reason’.

      And, of course, saying ‘Policy-wise, I believe shouldn’t do anything to try to stop these things’, even *without* the ‘stuff happens’ soundbite, is getting to be a dumb response. Which is really part of the problem…Americans aren’t really accepting that as an answer anymore.

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  7. I wonder why Jeb didn’t complete his “I had this challenge as governor” thought. Perhaps because the ways he inserted himself and the state government of Florida into the Terri Schiavo situation (several of them later declared illegal by the courts) don’t fit well with his message of limited government.

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    • “Perhaps because the ways he inserted himself and the state government of Florida into the Terri Schiavo situation (several of them later declared illegal by the courts) don’t fit well with his message of limited government.”

      Nah. People wanting a limited government isn’t a thing, really. (I am excepting for true Libertarians here, but they aren’t the people those sound bites are made for.)

      “Limited government” and “smaller government” aren’t conservative values so much as conservative tactics. They’re meant to be a way for you to think, “that reminds me of this thing government does/charges me for to me that I don’t like/don’t want to pay for.” It was never intended for you to attach it to things you like, you are OK paying for, or you assume other people are paying for. When you look at spending comparisons from one administration to the next on a federal, state, or city basis, the differences between the two sides are really pretty negligible.

      I expect I’ll get some pushback about this. Especially from liberals, since they kind of rely on the The GOP = Ayn Rand narrative for juice these days.

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        • the C’s are limited gov in name only and love to spend money for years.

          But, for some reason, if there were a national poll of “which party is more fiscally responsible?”, do you think that the Republicans would come out ahead on the poll?

          I mean, despite obvious examples like the Bush years between 2002-2006 and Reagan and whatnot?

          (I think that the Republicans would get at least a 50%+1 majority even if there were a “neither” and a “not sure” option in the poll.)

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            • My point? It has to do with the answer to the question.

              Here, I’ll ask it again: But, for some reason, if there were a national poll of “which party is more fiscally responsible?”, do you think that the Republicans would come out ahead on the poll?

              What is your answer to this question? (Let’s assume that there are four answers to the poll: Republicans, Democrats, Neither, and Not Sure.)

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              • Republicans would win. They would be selected by A) republican party members and B) low info voters who associate the GOP with that line because the GOP chants that they’re the party of fiscal responsibility incessantly.

                You’d get the reverse response with “What party is compassionate to the poor” or “What party wants to make the rich pay their fair share” for the same basic reasons, it’s something the Democratic Party believes about itself and that it markets itself as.

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            • The marketing is interesting and pernicious. It lets us know that Democrats care more about certain things and Republicans are more skilled at other things (things that, presumably, don’t rely on caring).

              Democrats are the mommy party and Republicans are the daddy party. When the biggest issues for any given election are going to be mommy issues (stuff like womens’ issues, social welfare, education, so on and so forth), we know that the Democrats will automatically have a leg up. When the biggest issues are daddy issues (crime, national security, fiscal responsibility), the Republicans will have a leg up.

              Which is why Bill Clinton had to make a big show of executing Ricky Ray Rector and “Compassionate Conservativism” was an interesting gambit on Dumbya’s part. It was an attempt to co-opt the issue and assert that, hey, I’m not like those *OTHER* guys from my party.

              To bring us back to Jeb, he’s doing an awful job of distinguishing himself.

              As a matter of fact, he’s doing a great job of saying “I’m quintessentially Republican”. Lizza’s massaging of the “stuff happens” quote was kinda unfair… but, as explored below, it certainly didn’t distinguish him from the narrative. On the contrary, It hammered it home.

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              • I’m exceedingly cross with Jeb. I wanted him to secure the nomination and then start flubbing and flailing. This is too soon damnit! Rubio is out there or Kasich*.

                *Though Kasich, at least, seems to be fighting against his party’s general malaise.

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  8. “stuff happens” is one of those malapropisms or fumbles that get traction because they confirm a latent truth.
    Sort of like Jerry Ford stumbling down a ladder, or Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech or Michael Dukakis’s Snoopy-in-the-Tank photo, or awkward response to “what if your wife was raped” question.

    In each of these, the actual event was grossly misrepresented, but confirmed the public suspicion of what was believed.
    And, IMO, not incorrectly, or at least, there was a kernel of truth in it.

    Jerry Ford couldn’t really articulate a clear vision of the post-Watergate GOP, Carter couldn’t offer a clear path out of the stagflation of the 70’s, and Dukakis couldn’t speak with clear convincing words about moral truth and punishment.

    For that matter, hippies spitting on returning veterans, welfare queens driving Cadillacs, activist judges letting criminals off on a technicality, consumer lawyers filing frivolous lawsuits..These are all lies or nonsense or misconstructions, but they do reveal a deeper truth that is difficult to articulate.

    How many American flags did hippies have to burn before the lie about spitting on veterans became believable? How many people knew someone who they believed to be malingering on welfare, before racism was married to anecdata to produce the welfare queen?

    Suppose Hillary or Obama said the words “stuff happens”? Who would wildly misconstrue that to say that “liberals are uncaring”? No one, because the flip side of “bleeding heart liberal” is that liberals are, if nothing else, seen as compassionate.

    The reputation of conservatives of having indifference to the poor and powerless is well earned.

    40 years of speeches about welfare queens, bootstraps, self-deportation, toughoncrime God-Guts& Guns, Commander In Chief strutting across the flight deck with a codpiece, have all done their work to paint the conservatives as tough, resolute, flinty, and, well, un-compassionate.

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            • I don’t know whether or not he had heard about it. His response didn’t indicate anything that hinted that he had.

              (Which is different from being an event that everybody, freaking everybody, would have heard about due to media saturation of the story.)

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              • Everybody here has almost certainly heard of it. Anyone who pays attention to the news has heard about it. It got a lot of coverage, as much as any attack on civilians I can remember. Not enough, to be sure, but for the most part Americans don’t care about dead brown people. If the western doctors hasn’t been there, it wouldn’t even have been a story.

                See also: Jerusalem, Gaza, most of the Arab world, or any conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. Hell, even Ukrainians are non-Western enough for most Americans to ignore. Chechnya? Isn’t that where terrorists come from? Mexico? Drugs!

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                • Fair enough. I still suspect that the coverage would have been… different… had there been a Republican in office when it happened.

                  You know the thing about how we shouldn’t criticize (insert marginalized group here) for how they treat (insert other marginalized group here) not because the criticism isn’t accurate, but because the criticism would be grasped by the wrong people, in service to the wrong principles, in order to commit the wrong acts?

                  A sufficiently vigorous coverage of the friction that may or may not have impacted a Doctors Without Borders hospital during a kinectic action event would have done similar. Grasped by the wrong people, in service to the wrong principles, in order to commit the wrong acts.

                  It’s got nothing to do with hypocrisy (what a silly hobgoblin to care about!) but with what sounds like it’s shaking in the black box when some event like this causes a tremor.

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                    • “Who only care for political reasons” seems a hair broad for me. The support certainly seemed well-within acceptable boundaries of sincerity at the time.

                      I mean, that would entail that… what? 90% of the people who went to the protests were only there for political reasons?

                      That can’t be right.

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                      • Oh, there was a time when the anti-war sentiment was sincere across a broad spectrum, left, right, and in between, as the administration’s incompetence became more and more evident. Then fatigue set in, casualty numbers actually dropoed, and people stopped caring. I’m talking specifically about the people you are explicitly referring to, who don’t care when someone on their side is in office.

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                        • I thought that I was explicitly referring to the equivalent of feminists who aren’t particularly interested in Hawks’ criticism of sexism in Muslim countries.

                          Which, it seems to me, is a different group than the group of people who don’t care when someone on their side is in office.

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                          • Then I read you wrong in the particular, but right in the general: using the bombing to make a political point about people you don’t like that is unrelated to anything about the bombing. I repeat my earlier comment about this being pretty shitty, along with the other two.

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                            • This has nothing to do with whether I like them. Hell, this has nothing to do with “political” (the way you seem to be using the term) points.

                              What the hell. Are you experiencing cognitive dissonance or something?

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              • Just to be clear. Yeah of course i had heard about. I don’t see much difference in teh reaction to the DWB bombing then to all the other innocents killed over the last 10+ years.

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                • Do you remember the anti-war protests and candlelight vigils and calls for leadership to be frogmarched out of the White House and demands for leadership to be tried at the Hague?

                  Those seem to be in shorter supply in teh reaction as it seems to exist today.

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                  • Code Pink did its thing against Bush and they’re doing their thing against Obama.

                    Beyond that, I think Americans in general have a pretty high tolerance historically speaking for the costs of war (to Americans and to innocent non-Americans) in Afghanistan, although it’s gotten shorter under Obama. There are a lot of people beyond just Code Pink who continue to be pretty vocally n opposition to Obama’s escalation in Afghanistan, and they certainly did seize on the MSF bombing.

                    OTOH, Americans never had a very high tolerance for the costs of war in Iraq, because it was a divisive and obviously disastrous decision from jump. So more people were a lot more vocal about those costs all through the Bush years. And then Obama’s policy was pretty swift withdrawal from that war, so most of the criticism he’s gotten on that was for withdrawing too quickly and completely (fair, unfair, whatever you may think of that criticism.

                    But I would absolutely disagree that the outcry you would have heard about the hospital bombing in Afghanistan would have been that much louder had it happened under Bush. It’s been pretty loud as it is. HOwever, if it had happened under Bush in Iraq, the outcry would have been louder, because a much larger part of the population passionately opposed that war from the start, then the reasons for the war turned out to be fabricated, then the war turned out way more disastrous than they even thought it be, and they blamed Bush for all of that. So yeah, if that bombing had happened in Iraq under Bush – and when others like it did – the outcry was louder. Because of the war he chose, the way he sold it, and his failure at fighting it.

                    Beyond all of that, most of the American outcry over all of these wars has been reserved for the loss of American soldiers. That’s another reason that generally the outcry over losses in war was louder under Bush. He was losing more of our people in a war less of us wanted to fight.

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                    • This is an interesting point. The war in Afghanistan was really different than the one in Iraq. The relationship between Afghanistan and 9/11 was significantly different than the one between Iraq and 9/11 (insofar as it actually existed)… but does that relationship justify anything at this point in the war?

                      Osama is dead, the war itself is old enough to get married in Texas (with parental consent).

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                  • Part of the reason there is a difference today is that we actually have pulled most of our troops back from Afgan. and Iraq.10 years ago we had tens of thousands, or more, troops fighting. Now we have less than 10K in Afghanistan. The situation is different from years ago. Another reason, as MC noted, is that the general public is pretty tolerant of of our throwing bombs around.

                    If you want to talk just about D’s or liberals, well have you noticed there is a bit of excitement about that young buck Bernie. That isn’t just because he is good dancer.

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                    • I wrote it unclearly, but to be clear, my point is that I think Americans have been much more tolerant of the costs in Afghanistan than they have been of the costs in Iraq. Partly because the latter have been greater, but partly because Americans have been more committed to the reasons for the war in Afghanistan (while feeling duped about there reasons for fighting in Iraq), and because of what they’ve seen of the consequences of the war in Iraq (terrible for the region) compared to those in Afghanistan (mostly just not being able to reach or sustain the desired end state).

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                      • That makes sense. People also do feel action against bad guys is justified and sometimes mistakes will be made. Whether we can accurately pick out the bad guys or whether they are all that bad are separate questions that don’t really get addressed much.

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            • There actually is a point here. Your points about the not-exactly-factually-accurate-things that point to deeper truths are well made.

              Since we know that Democrats are, as you say, seen as compassionate, events such as the Kunduz hospital are outside of the narrative. They are the same thing as Obama saying “stuff happens”.

              We know he didn’t mean it.

              So the Kunduz hospital kinectic action event gets a different response with a Democratic administration than, I presume, it would get with a Republican administration.

              (On the plane ride back, I happened to watch “The Ghostwriter”. A Robert Harris book (2007) turned into a movie (2010). The event driving the plot? A British PM aided the CIA with moving a handful of enemy combatants to a black site where they were subject to “enhanced interrogation” and one of the combatants died while being waterboarded. This resulted in, get this, hearings and demands from the anti-war movement to have the PM taken to the Hague and put on trial for war crimes. It seemed downright quaint in 2015.)

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              • In which case I agree, that the reputations of the respective political camps provides cover for Nixon-Goes-To-China type of actions.

                My point wasn’t to score a point about conservatives being uncompassionate, so much as to argue that this is their own description of themselves.

                “Stuff happens” is a completely fair and accurate way to summarize the conservative policy towards gun violence.

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                • No, I agree entirely.

                  There was a line in My Favorite Year that comes to mind. Swann was pointing out that, as an actor, he’s got a weird relationship with the press. “I’m blamed for a lot of things I had nothing to do with. On the other hand, because of who I am, I get away with murder in other areas.”

                  The Narrative, whatever it is, allows for people/parties to be blamed for things they had nothing to do with but get away with murder in other areas.

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              • Part of the problem is the overly simplified description of parties. Calling the D’s “compassionate” is right as far as it goes but is incomplete. The R’s try to push a narrative of the D’s on foreign policy matters as weak, pacifist, afraid of taking action and hating the military. Lot’s of R’s buy that but to just about everybody else in this reality those are silly. The press for all their failings, and they are many, certainly see plenty of kinetic action under the D’s. The hospital bombing doesn’t match up with the R narrative of the D’s and seems like more of the same of the last 14 years. So the incident gets the same kind of coverage as dozens of other incidents have.

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            • The worst thing one can do is draw lessons from a tragedy, especially lessons that might have a political valence. Now if all you’re doing is using it to score political points, that’s perfectly acceptable. Just don’t try to draw lessons. Never lessons. Except that the other side is evil/hypocritical/responsible, but we knew that already, so it’s not really a lesson.

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        • It’s not just one data point, though, is it? She successfully applied for, and received, many welfare checks per month. It’s not as though one person slipped up one time—this suggests that there was a systemic problem with verification of the identity of welfare applicants.

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          • Ok, let’s apply that logic to other areas.
            We know for a fact that many defense contractors have admitted to deliberately defrauding the government of vast sums of money, repeatedly over decades.

            1. What systemic problem does this indicate?
            2. Which “fiscal conservative” made that a winning issue in a stump speech?

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            • 1. The same problem: That, all else being equal, people are less careful spending other people’s money than spending their own.

              2. I’m not sure. I know the $600-dollar hammer story was a pretty big deal about 15 years later, although I’m not sure if any particular candidate made it an issue.

              If your point is that Republicans are just as bad as Democrats about controlling spending, you won’t get any pushback from me, although I will qualify that by saying Republicans do seem to be better about it when there’s a Democratic president in office. Probably for all the wrong reasons, but fiscal restraint is fiscal restraint.

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              • No, my point was that “fiscal conservatism”, which was the underlying basis for the welfare queen issue, is only and ever applied to social welfare spending.

                No “fiscal conservative” has ever won election or riled up the base with tales of defense fraud. Except for libertarian ideologues, no conservative opinion-shaper has ever seriously taken on the Defense Dept, and the base itself has no appetite for it anyway. Even now, you will read diaries at RedState or the Federalist about welfare fraud and “out of control spending” alongside articles decrying our “hollowed out military” and the urgent need for the F-35.

                This is why the welfare queen stump speech was always about race, never about “fiscal conservatism”. It was about confirming the latent view of black people to white suburbanites focusing on the splinter of welfare fraud while ignoring the log of defense fraud.

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        • Wasn’t she? I’m having trouble finding the full speech in which Reagan mentioned her, but the excerpt I did find makes it clear that he was talking about welfare fraud:

          She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran’s benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She’s got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.

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          • I think you’re right in that she was *originally* sold as a criminal, but somehow ‘welfare queen’ turned into people hypothetically living on high on welfare forever, without any sort of fraud going on at all.

            I.e., somehow we got from ‘criminal committing fraud’ causing us to need ‘welfare reform’ where welfare was restricted to a specific number of years, and where the recipient often had to be actively looking for a job, etc, etc. None of which has anything to do with ‘fraud’.

            Which is rather akin to arguing that, thanks to some guy who keeps illegally driving drunk, we need speed limit reforms.

            Now, there were *also* fraud prevention measures put in place, I’m not saying there weren’t. Just that the concept of ‘welfare queen’ was also used to justify reducing a lot of *legal* benefits.

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  9. Tod Kelly: I expect I’ll get some pushback about this. Especially from liberals, since they kind of rely on the The GOP = Ayn Rand narrative for juice these days.

    That seems unlikely. They will happily switch back to “Republicans are the real welfare queens” when it’s rhetorically advantageous to do so.

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    • Well, between Tod’s sweeping caricature of Republicans, Jay’s using a hospital bombing to make a point about liberal hypocrites and their media, and this, I think it’s safe to say this conversation has jumped the rails entirely.

      Always odd when OT does its impression of most political blogs.

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      • It’s not a criticism of hypocrisy.

        What if it’s not hypocrisy but *CONSISTENCY*? What principles could be upheld without any hypocrisy going on at all? Because, get this, I suspect that this is a lot more likely to be going on than mere hypocrisy.

        Good God. How boring is the gotcha game of “BOTH SIDES DO IT”. How stupid is the “but people who are vaguely aligned with each other disagree, therefore hypocrisy!” game?

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          • Neither am I.

            I suspect that the people who do play it are trapped with a strange nihilistic attitude toward some sort of objective good/truth sort of thing. In the absence of being able to say “this is good and true and worth striving for”, you’re stuck grasping at straws and the “does what s/he says s/he’ll do” is the closest thing to a straw that will hold any weight at all.

            Though it makes sociopaths who brag about their sociopathy and say that everyone should be one more authentic than someone who says that people should try to be good but fails to live up to their own ideals.

            As such, that’s a solved problem. Not half as interesting as the pre- and post- nihilist frameworks that allow for saying that there’s something wrong when people from certain ingroups make certain criticisms of people from certain outgroups (even if the particular criticism being made is fairly accurate if not downright uncontroversial).

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            • Jaybird, this is a really strange thing to read given that you’ve explicitly argued that for instrumental purposes it’s a good thing to always interpret what liberal’s say as advocacy for passing a law irrespective of what they’ve actually said.

              Just sayin.

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                  • I’m not certain what is and what is not obvious but, again, I am not playing that particular game.

                    Once again, to use the example of feminists being uninterested in the criticism of hawks with regards to the sexism of Muslim countries, the issue isn’t whether the feminists are being hypocritical. That’s a cheap and lazy criticism of the feminists as I’m certain you’ll agree.

                    The issue is what’s going on to make the skepticism of the feminists with regards to the criticisms of the hawks justified.

                    To go back to the original example of Jeb, the fact that he is completely inept at attempts to remove himself from the narrative falls in line with such things as the examples given by Chip earlier and, yes, the example I gave of the narrative with regards to the bombing of the hospital.

                    Which, seriously, was treated a hell of a lot differently than if a Republican was in office.

                    It’s the narrative that Jeb is swimming in that will prevent him from swimming to the nomination. A narrative that is established and going on right freaking now even with things that are going on right now that you think shouldn’t be “politicized” (whatever the hell that means).

                    Dwelling on “hypocrisy” is so far beyond the point that it confounds me.

                    The narrative is in control. It’s right there. Put on the glasses.

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                    • Oh, I think they should be politicize. I just don’t think they should be used to score points. This is the first comment you’ve written in this thread where it looked like that might not be what you’re doing, though it’s still not clear.

                      Perhaps you can spell out the narrative, not by expecting me to see it in the examples you see it in, but by actually saying what it is.

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                      • I can’t say what it is. I can only see the examples I see it in and try to figure out what possibilities are eliminated by the patterns, what remaining possibilities are most likely, and whether new events fit patterns or indicate whether misunderstandings have happened so far.

                        The whole “this is an unfair reading of the guy’s comments but, honestly, doesn’t it reveal a deeper truth?” thing is interesting and useful because it’s a tool that applies to more than just Jeb. There are plenty of horses in this race that it applies to.

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                        • Hmm… “They do one thing when the other team’s guy is in office, and another when their own team is in office, but I’m not saying they’re being hypocritical, because there’s a narrative, I’m sure of it, I just don’t know what it is” is not functionally different from saying they’re hypocritical.

                          Personally, I think the reason some folks on the left get upset with particular criticisms of Islamic countries as sexist, say, is because they don’t believe they’re about sexism, as evidenced by their frequently going beyond obvious examples of sexism to things that arguably are cultural preferences (e.g., types of dress). Now, we can have a conversation about whether those things are also types of racism, but it would require understanding some things that some people don’t really appear at all interested in understanding.

                          Perhaps the same thing is going on here. Perhaps the fact that Obama has withdrawn the bulk of U.S. troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan, wars that Republicans started and which, if their criticisms of Obama are to be taken seriously rather than as merely political, they would perpetuate with large troop presences if they were in office. The sorts of things Obama is doing don’t, for the most part, cause American military casualties, and they are small enough in scale that they can be swept away after a news cycle or two without anyone really remembering them.

                          Or maybe it’s just that even when they news reports this stuff — and the hospital bombing got a lot of press everywhere I look, which includes CNN — most people, liberal, conservative, and in between, don’t care. It no longer affects them all that much, if it ever did. At least there aren’t daily body counts, right? And besides, ISIS is really scary.

                          Or it could just be that most people don’t pay as much attention to what’s going on as you and I.

                          Or some combination of these.

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                          • is not functionally different from saying they’re hypocritical.

                            For you, sure.

                            For me, no.

                            For me, it seems like there’s something else going on that is somewhat different than Elmer Gantry.

                            Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. You can just say “well, I don’t have to believe what this person is saying because their acts fit this narrative in my head and the facts are less important than the deeper truth.”

                            Now, we can have a conversation about whether those things are also types of racism, but it would require understanding some things that some people don’t really appear at all interested in understanding.

                            Perhaps they can do a better job of understanding things if the topics are fully explored rather than, say, running with the assumption that they’re hypocrites who don’t *REALLY* care about sexism (or racism, or whatever).

                            But that’s something that a lot of people aren’t interested in understanding.

                            if their criticisms of Obama are to be taken seriously rather than as merely political

                            The methodology that we use on criticism to figure out whether we should take it seriously or whether it’s merely political is interesting. It seems to be worth exploring.

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                            • Oh, I think that if the people who react to charges of racially/religiously/ethnically/regionally-based sexism didn’t do so with reflexive rejection because some/many of those accusations are so blatantly based in ignorant prejudice, even if they are (and many are), they’d be able to convince more people that there might be more going on. Sadly, that’s not the world we live in.

                              On the other hand, it’s difficult to put too much blame on them. At what point can we have a rational discussion of Islam and the Arab world at a national level? Certainly not yet.

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                              • But there also seems to be an issue over whether we ought to have rational discussions of Islam and the Arab world on a much lower one.

                                It might be overheard by people who aren’t ready to have it on the national level, after all.

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                                • Oh sure, but as we’ve shown here, it’s easier to talk about talking about Islam and the Arab world than it is to talk about them, even at a lower level.

                                  Hell, it might help to hear from someone from that part of the world, or even descended from people from that part of the world.

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      • I haven’t been following all the comments in this thread. Was I wrong? Did the push-back from the left that Tod predicted actually materialize? I don’t see any as a direct response.

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  10. Saul Degraw: IMO money comes from and exists because of the United States Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. If these two institutions did not exist, there would be no “this is my money” to squabble over. Conservatives seem to not include the Treasury and the Fed in the creation and distribution and support of the value of cash.

    Oy. This is deeply, deeply confused. The money that the Federal Reserve issues is just a medium of exchange. The value in money comes from the fact that other people are willing to trade real resources for it. Those real resources are produced by workers and investors, not by the Federal Reserve. When the government takes money from you in the form of taxes, this isn’t a “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away” situation. They’re not just taking away some of your medium exchange, but depriving you of real purchasing power that you created with your labor and/or capital.

    Moreover, the requirement to pay taxes is not conditioned on the use of US dollars as a medium of exchange. As I’m sure you know, even if you use barter or an alternative medium of exchange (Bitcoin, metals, financial securities), you’re legally obligated to report the dollar value of those transactions and add the net to your taxable income. If the government declared that taxes would only be levied on transactions made using Federal Reserve notes, the economy would switch over to a private medium of exchange very, very quickly.

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    • Brandon is correct, money could very easily exist without government intervention. Banks used to issue currency of a sort. States got into the business because A) it’s an important business and states wanted to control it and B) because states are generally better at it than private entities.

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      • because states are generally better at it than private entities.

        Which reminds me of Room Service, where Groucho introduces Harpo as “the brains of the organization”, and adds “That’ll give you some idea of the organization.”

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      • I’m not sure that states are actually better at it, as there are a lot of examples of governments seriously fishing it up. The US did in the Depression, the 70s, and arguably the last recession, and that’s nothing compared to the catastrophic mismanagement seen in, e.g., the Weimar Republic, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Argentina. The key thing is that it provides another lever for macroeconomic management.

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      • I believe that in the days before paper currency, the minting of coins was at least somewhat of a government or state monopoly. Banks were allowed to issue paper currency but they were not allowed to mint coins. Even the paper money issued by the banks was linked to units of value established by the government in someway.

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  11. Dan, I’ll offer a quibble. Your title is somewhat incorrect. None of what you are providing is suggesting that Bush cannot be nominated, none of these things impinge his legal eligibility for the presidency or the GOP nomination. Now if the GOP’s primary goal is securing the presidency then Bush would potentially be a bad idea to nominate…

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    • I guess I’m being more prescriptive there. As in, “Don’t be stupid, Republicans. Don’t make this mistake. You can’t make this mistake. That would be dumb.” Though I agree the title could be improved (and was my own).

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  12. Okay, so there are at least two theories on the table:

    Hemingway’s theory that Republicans believe life is cruel whereas Democrats believe government can solve all evils and Jeb was just articulating a necessary truth about the limits of power.

    Or the theory that Republicans (just like any other party that actually wins elections) have no internal moral consistency on government power, evidenced by their eagerness to police sex, drugs, and rock & roll nationally and encourage downright awful uses of gov’t force locally (see: Arpaio, Joe; stop and frisk; etc). They happen to fall on the pro-gun side because they have a strong constituency in the rural south. That constituency has recently seen all other ancestral symbols so thoroughly debased that they are uncompromising on gun rights, one of the few traditions where they still have an honorable claim. In turn, this posture means their representatives can only talk about gun violence as if it’s an unavoidable natural disaster, sometimes minimizing the gun deaths so much as to sound like sociopaths.

    What do you think is closer to the reality?

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    • I think that both can be true. The inherent undercurrent I get from GOP talking points is that they are itching to say “A lot of people just need to live in poverty and that is just the way life is.” We see this when arguing over economics and whether all countries need to go through the ugliness of the industrial revolution looking sweatshop conditions and industrial accidents because of bad regulations.

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    • I pick theory number 2.

      Democrats and Republicans agree that life can be cruel, that human nature is such that some people will choose to do awful things, and that a perfect, violence-free utopia doesn’t and won’t ever exist.

      But Democrats do not believe that government can solve all evils. As far as guns go, Democrats believe that some new controls would lessen the incidence of gun deaths by some amount, and that saving the lives of some people who might otherwise die of gunshot wounds is better than saving none.

      But the Republicans depend heavily on ardent gun rights supporters who take a maximalist position on the issue, so yes, the “stuff happens” remark sounds like they’re talking about a natural disaster as opposed to a choice a human with agency made, and had the capacity to make, because guns are easily attainable.

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  13. Hold on… I want to go slightly off topic and address this…

    “Bush articulated the common conservative understanding that evil exists in the heart of every man and that this human condition isn’t fixed but in fact can be exacerbated by a large centralized government.”

    Is it really a common conservative understanding that the evil that exists in all hearts can be EXACERBATED by large centralized government? But that it CANNOT be fixed? That they only possible influence of a large centralized government on man’s inherent evil is to make it worse? Like, seriously??? People think that? It is a common understanding? HOLY FUCK!

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    • I think you might have misread one piece of that. It’s not that it cannot be fixed, it’s that it cannot be fixed by the government. Presumably, the corollary is that what can fix it is converting to/embracing Christianity (specifically, whatever strain the particular holder of the belief is a member of).

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      • Oh no, I got that point. Government can break it but not fix it. Government can only make it worse. When it comes to eliminating evil, government is helpless, ineffective, and useless. But when it comes to exacerbating evil, government is all powerful.

        It’s like the way Obama is simultaneously incompetent and impotent but also an evil manipulator.

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        • Ah, then, yes, sounds like you got the thrust of it. And more to your point, I agree re: HOLY FUCK! But then I’ve met plenty of folks in meatspace who openly espouse those views so I can’t claim to be surprised by it. Just wearied.

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        • My recollection, from days when I was more conservative than I am now, is that conservatives feel that governments have great power to manipulate “the evil that exists in the hearts of every man”, sometimes for good — they can build hospitals and schools and cathedrals, for example — and sometimes for superhuman acts of evil — Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia and Mao’s China were governments — and sometimes for morally ambiguous actions — providing food stamps to single mothers and “discouraging” them from seeking employment, for example.

          The more power we ordinary citizens give to government, hoping it will do good, the more power it will have if for some reason it turns to evil and the less power we will have to restrain it. Contemporary example: We wanted the government to give us cheaper and more available healthcare; we got that with Obamacare, but we also got a government happily killing people around the world with drone aircraft, many of them innocent of any offense, and in total violation of international laws.

          I got to say, putting on my stinko liberal hat, that conservatives probably have a real valid argument there. Though, of course, they won’t like my example.

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          • Maybe I am being ungenerous but I think that there are probably plenty of people who are okay with the drone killing but dislike Obamacare. The number that dislike both like Conor F. are overrepresented on the Internet but small in number in real life. If anything, it is liberals who want the government healthcare and are generally not okay with drone killing.

            The interesting thing that I see in conservatism and/or neo-reactionaryism is their utter lack of doubt. They think they are the ones to put the brakes on. Neo-reactionaries seem to think that they will be part of the new elite, the new aristocracy, the new monarchy. Why won’t they just be serfs who program instead of till for food?

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            • … utter lack of doubt.

              Hand waving a bit, my impression is that most people form their moral perceptions — what are people like? how well are things run? what should we do for each other? — at about the age of ten, and hold to those feelings tenaciously.

              Remember being ten? Daddy works for a living to support us! And Mommy makes life possible by doing housework! And elderly white gentlemen in business suits explain what’s happening in the world, every evening, on three TV networks which everyone watches! And there are parts of town Mommy and Daddy won’t drive through because Those Sort Of People live there! And taxes would be a lot lower if Those People would just Get Their Asses In Gear and do some Honest Work, like Daddy does! Also, the world is filled with ignorant superstitious people who hate Americans because of Our Freedoms!

              It takes something like World War III or a long stretch of unemployment or a rough tour of overseas military duties to knock those impressions of out of most peoples’ heads.

              I’m tempted to pontificate about whether a greater or smaller proportion of Republican voters is particularly bright or particularly well educated when compared to Democratic voters and whether that makes a difference in what Truths ten year olds absorb or give up over the years. (There’s a quote from JS Mill, if memory serves. about “the Stupid Party”.) But I don’t have data and I’d not like to be charged with overgeneralizing myself, so …

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              • I actually ran this analysis on NLSY data a few years ago and found that the ratio of subjects self-identifying as Republican vs Democrat increased monotonically—and surprisingly steeply—when going from lowest to highest decile of ASVAB scores. Which is to say, it came out the opposite of the way you’re implying it would.

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                • Hmmm. It’s been a commonplace observation over the years that military officers are more Republican than the average of US citizens, and more Republican than the enlisted types. Which seems to fit your data.

                  Does this actually go against my perceptions? No. There are after all any number of very bright, very conservative people in some professions. Many law profs are Republicans, I’d guess. many aerospace executives, many chemical engineering plant managers, etc. Only a ninny would expect otherwise.

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              • Saul and I were ten in 1990 so we don’t really have these sorts of memories. Modernity advanced far enough so both our parents worked, we grew up when cable destroyed enough of the Big Three’s dominance, and news casters were a more diverse lot.

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    • The problem is that like half the articles on The Federalist are about how our laws are a representation of our collective moral system so government needs to make it really difficult for gay people to be in committed relationships and for black teenagers to walk around in disrespectful ways.

      Regulating complex cultural mores? Sure go right ahead. Regulating weapons transactions? Whoa buddy, that government is best which governs least!

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  14. Mike Schilling:

    And the other half are unattributed PJ O’Rourke essays and poorly disguised Malaysian travel ads.

    And the wrong half, to boot – the ones about political theory, not the ones about cars or drugs or actually talking to people on the ground.

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  15. I am honest when I say I would prefer Trump to Bush (and just about any of the other Republicans running). I really don’t know why Trump would even bother getting into this Bush-9/11 point, but forcing the party to address these inconsistencies in their moralizing is a joy to see. Trump does it far better than Ron Paul did a few years back.

    All the while, Trump keeps doing well while Bush and co keep slipping. It really is an amazing time for the Republican Party; I wish the Democrats had a similar character in their race.

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  16. Here’s a thought experiment. Suppose a member of ISIS carried out a similar attack in terms of method and scale of casualties and Bernie Sanders said basically the same thing. Would such a reaction be more or less appropriate? Would the media reaction to such a comment differ? How?

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  17. I’m going to push back just a wee tiny bit on the “stuff happens” part. I should probably note that I agree with your and Hemingway’s interpretation of what Bush meant.

    But that being said…

    It kind of reminds me of the time three years ago when Obama said “You didn’t build that.” There was no real question what Obama meant at the time: We are all part of a larger community, and we owe what we have today in large part to the sacrifices of those who have come before us as well as those around us.” It’s a pretty mainstream foundational plank of liberalism, sure, but it’s also a pretty mainstream foundational plank of conservatism.

    Still, when you’re President it isn’t just what you mean that’s important, it’s what you actually say and how you say it. There are a bunch of different ways you could communicate that sentiment without sounding like you’re trying to minimize people’s individual accomplishments, but Obama didn’t choose any of those ways — and he rightly took a beating for it.

    I feel the same way about “stuff happens.” Because “stuff happens” is known to be the polite-speak translation of “s**t happens.” And “s**t happens” is known to the impolite-speak translation of shrugging your shoulders and saying you can’t be bothered to think about something. More often than not, it’s meant to communicate that anyone upset about something should quit their whining. And that is a terrible thing for a President to communicate after a national tragedy.

    Again, it’s not what he meant to communicate, but if you don’t want to be criticized for saying “you didn’t build that” you shouldn’t say it in the first place.

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    • That’s a good analogy, definitely. I think that the “blame,” insofar as there should be blame, is on both Bush for his rhetorical errors and on the press for not giving him the benefit of the doubt. But either way, it’s just a gigantic red flag. “Don’t nominate this man.”

      Personally, I am surprised how clunky Bush has been. I was touting his potential strengths as a candidate back in the spring, and he’s just been really disappointing.

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        • I don’t know how many people here are old enough to remember this, but back in the 90s Jeb was always pitched as the most natural politician in the family. It was always kind of assumed that it would be him, not W, that would rise to national prominence.

          Man, did everyone get that wrong.

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          • Yes to that. I recall quite a bit of winge-ing from conservative circles when George declared his candidacy precisely because everyone thought all that well earned Bush-(Reagan) political capital should be spent on the better Bush, the one who really could (unlike his dimwitted brother) seriously contend for the White House.

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    • I think this is, in broad strokes, a fair comparison, because politicians get to wear their public misstatements. But there are some details to attend to.

      Obama said you didn’t build that meaning the roads that lead to their businesses and the primary educations of their workforces, and people were persistently led to believe for years that he said you didn’t build that meaning their businesses.

      Bush said stuff happens; no one reported that he was shrugging his shoulders about the tragedy itself, but they reported that he was saying that stuff happens but we shouldn’t necessarily pass laws in response, and that includes gun tragedies. Maybe some people thought he was literally just had “eh stuff happens” as an emotional response to the shooting itself for a day or so after, but literally no one thinks that any more. No one’s pressing the contrary idea, at all, a week or two later, whereas major conservative outlets pushed the idea that Obama was saying that people didn’t build their businesses for years after, even though it was more clear that obama wasn’t saying that than it s that Bush wasn’t swing what people don’t lie about what he said (since he did say what they don’t like about it, to the extent there is still something they don’t like about it).

      But for all that, as I say I actually agree the situations are pretty comparable. Obama went off script and placed a clarifying restatement – “if you have a business” in between what the “that” of “you didn’t build that” (which is a long string of public investments like teachers, roads and bridges, “the American system,” etc.) and “you didn’t build that” itself. If you try to figure out what he’s saying, it’s perfectly clear. But when you look at it initially it really isn’t. (And/but what it was promoted to mean is utterly unlike what he meant, whereas saying that “Bush thinks that stuff happens but we shouldn’t necessarily pass laws in response, and he means to apply that policy attitude to gun violence” is what it’s being said Bush meant – and is what he meant. Nevertheless…) It’s very in artful and confusing unless you reflect on everything that came before “If you have a business – you didn’t build that.” Confusing enough that it was not unfair as a political matter that he had to ear that quote for a while.

      That doesn’t mean, though that the efforts to distort the quotes were equivalent. No one today, a couple weeks after Bush’s comments, is saying that he is emotionally indifferent to a mass shooting, and said “Eh s&*t happens” about it with no other context. (If they are, please produce it for me.) People are clear what he said and meant, and are simply reacting to it. But professional people continued for years to insist that Obama said you didn’t build your business, when he said that you didn’t (by yourself or with a few employees and no public investment) build the roads that lead to your business or carry the goods your business sells across your state to you, for years after the comments were made. People can remain “confused” about the meanings for a couple weeks after the comments. But you don’t get years. And everyone is clear about Bush’s meaning today, a coupe weeks after.

      Nevertheless, it’s a fair comparison, because Obama’s off-script moment was inartful enough that he fairly got to wear the misconstrual of his comments for a while, because it was reasonable. Not for the years that people knowingly tried to distort the comments, but for a couple weeks while people figured out. And it’s a couple weeks later, and now everyone is clear about Bush’s meaning, too. It’s just that they still hate it (as did not a few people who did manage to get clear on Obama’s meaning, despite the years-long attempt to distort them).

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      • “even though it was more clear that obama wasn’t saying that than it s that Bush wasn’t swing what people don’t lie about what he said”

        …Should be,

        “even though it was more clear that Obama wasn’t saying that than it was that Bush wasn’t saying what people don’t like about what he said.”

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  18. Dan Scotto: Personally, I am surprised how clunky Bush has been. I was touting his potential strengths as a candidate back in the spring, and he’s just been really disappointing.

    I’m equally surprised. His brother gets beaten up up a lot about everything in the rearview mirror, and so consequently it’s become fashionable to portray his as a bumbling half wit who couldn’t speak coherently. But he was actually a fantastic speaker, with a real gif for being able to make people think he was speaking directly to them. Not nearly as good as Clinton or Reagan, but really good nonetheless.

    That his brother seems not to have any of that has been, after the ascendence of Trump, the most surprising thing in this election to me.

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    • He has not met my expectations, but they were always low. Personality-wise, he was always way more Gore than Clinton. I’d actually commented way before this election that if the Florida/Texas elections in 1994 had turned out different, sering Gore and Jeb on a debate stage together would gave been outright creepy.

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