Morning Ed: World Politics {2017.05.11.Th}

Sure. If nothing is real anymore, why not Watchmanize the election.

I’m not saying that CapX is gloating over what’s going on with the Labour Party, but they’ve argued that Corbyn is a friend of tyrants and sometimes you must burn it and it needs to be broken up and lastly, argue that Tories regained their footing by being the party of somewhere instead of the party of nowhere, reminding me of the piece I wrote about my friend Merrick. And relatedly, Theresa May goes populist, and what are the fat cats going to do support Corbyn?.

Austria wants to tax your Googles! As Vikram said on Twitter, though, whatever you think of this plan an exchange has taken place.

Brandon Nyhan argues that science isn’t as partisan as we think it is, but worries that we may be getting to where it is. As recently as 2011 Republicans were on average more scientifically literate than Democrats, though it might be time to check up on that again.

Young folks want to revolt but not necessarily to vote.

It’s sad when Philippine strongman Duterte (he who forced a smoking tourist to eat his cigarette) has more restraint on smoking issues than tobacco control forces do here.

Shadi Hamid is worried that the populists will win even if they lose.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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83 thoughts on “Morning Ed: World Politics {2017.05.11.Th}

  1. Corbyn is a horrible politician with nutty beliefs but Labour is in a very difficult position. There have always been divisions in Labour between what we would call hard left socialists like Tony Benn, liberals like Tony Blair and Roy Jenkins, and a soft left like Atlee, Wilson, and Kinnock between the two groups. There are enough true believer hard left socialists in the Labour ranks to exert considerably pressure on who Labour nominates and what the Labour plank is even if it will be disastrous in a general election. I’m not sure if Labour can save itself. Its like a more serious version of the battle between the Clinton faction and the Sanders faction of the Democratic Party.

    Science isn’t partisan in that the results are going to be correct regardless of who controls the political system and narrative at the time. Deciding how science is going to be funded, what gets funded, what goes into scientific education, and how science gets turned into policy are political decisions and will be subject to partisanship no matter what the scientists want.

    Populists win because they can pretend to have solutions to the problems facing the world. These solutions won’t work but that doesn’t prevent populists from pretending they can bring about the good old days or revolution depending where they fail. The Center Left has only one solution because of liberal honesty, “we must muddle through this the best we can.”

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    • Science is partisan. What gets researched is important, as is the conclusions researchers are allowed to reach. Try publishing a paper that says that women are genetically deficient in something that we care about (aka not “physical upper body strength”)…

      Much of science is about narratives and who dies first. IDEALLY it is not, but ideals dissolve when the rubber hits the road.

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      • Yes. And what gets funded. I tell students to go into a “hot topic” if they can possibly stomach doing that because they will be much more likely to get grants.

        My research is small and cheap and I mostly do it without grants, or I ask for tiny amounts of money from specialist groups (I got about $200 for supplies from my state’s Native Plant Society, for example).

        I actually prefer my cheap and “unbundled from politics” science – I don’t like the idea of feeling I “have” to “please” a granting agency that may or may not be partisan.

        Another thing about science: in some areas of it there’s also the industry involvement. So you can do “political” science with federal funding (though that may be in decline), you can do cheap science on your own or with what is basically hobbyist dollars, or you can do something valuable to an industry. (I have a colleague who did work on fire ants and got money from those interested in their eradication….and some of the conferences in that field are partially funded by pesticide manufacturers and the like).

        I dunno. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a bigger pot of money to do research with but part of me rebels at the idea of being like a NASCAR driver with the name of whoever is paying for it plastered on me.

        I’m glad that I earn my bread through teaching rather than research. I have friends in so-called “soft money” positions and it seems very stressful to have to hope each round of granting that you win one, in order to keep your job….

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      • Gotta agree with Kimmie here (a bit), who is funding science can make an impact to the results. A study funded by Monsanto on pesticide safety should be just as suspect as a study on Marijuana effects funded by Jeff Sessions DOJ.

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        • As always, we seem to want to have it both ways here. We want companies to prove that their products are safe. We don’t want to fund those tests. But we also don’t trust anything that the companies fund themselves.

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          • I can understand why we ask companies to incur the cost to verify the safety of their products. What I don’t get is why we allow the individual company to do the internal verification. We have organizations like Underwriters Laboratory, so we can have independent verification*.

            *within reason, we don’t need more crap like the CPSIA.

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  2. Re the Republicans being more scientifically literate… In the main table in the article, all but one of the entries look close enough to be within the likely margins of error, or close. That one? “Humans developed from non-humans”, with liberals scoring 69, moderates 52, and conservatives 39. As for the rest of the analysis, (a) regression is not how I would have chosen to approach determining differences and (b) as one of the comments there points out, conservatives outscore liberals on eight items, liberals outscore conservatives on seven, and there are four ties. Tough job showing that these are drawn from different distributions…

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    • It also seems there’s a couple ways of defining “scientifically literate”.

      There’s what this survey mostly looked for – familiarity with some major results of scientific inquiry.

      There’s also acceptance of the basic premise of science – that when we want to know something about the nature of reality, we design and carry out experiments, and subject our methods and results to examination to allow others to replicat, look for flaws in our experimental design, and do experiments that improve on our designs.

      The survey only touched on that one slightly – one question about control groups, and one ambiguous “demonstrates a basic understanding of probability”

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  3. Corbyn’s assertion that he’s “on the right side of history” seems likely to make him feel good, but lose the election. People do not thank you for being right. They might respect you. Maybe. Or they might resent you. But they certainly don’t want you to rub their noses in it.

    Lord, you would think politicians would figure this out.

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  4. Not sure I understand the Google tax. Isn’t Google already liable for paying the VAT on users’ views and clicks when it sells it to advertisers? If the users have to pay the VAT on the value of their views and clicks, then doesn’t Google get to subtract that from their VAT liability?

    The only thing I can think of is that this might be some kind of jurisdictional thing, where some other country is currently getting that VAT revenue and Austria wants a bite.

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  5. Giving states power over immigration is constitutionally impermissible because it was one of the powers reserved for the federal government in the United States constitution. It will also be a disaster because of the full faith and credit clause, if one state grants a visa than other states have to honor it, and its long been held that you can’t have internal borders in the United States. Giving states the right to issues visas does that. The states with the most anti-immigrant voters tend to also have fewer immigrants. This doesn’t seem to assuage anti-immigrant feeling. The anti-immigrant forces want fewer or no immigrants period. They don’t want more federalism on the subject.

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    • Yep, agree with Lee here; I’m certainly on the devolutionist/subsidarist spectrum… but this is precisely the sort of thing where Subsidiarity rolls authority up; it is primarily a sovereignty issue, and unless we want to restrict movement and access to the other 49 states that *didn’t* grant the visa (a cure worse than the disease), then we’re essentially delegating sovereignty to each state. {Which I’m happy to entertain, but not in this context}

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    • There might be an exception to that. Under the Constitution, the states retained the right to make denizens, a right they’d exercised as colonies and under the Articles of Confederation. Unfortunately, after the Constitution was ratified the idea was to make all the immigrants citizens, so states didn’t use the power of denization, and so there isn’t a bit of subsequent case law on it.

      However, this odd and forgotten status could still be important because the federal government was granting illegal immigrants special status and access to various services, and shielding them from deportation by states like Arizona. The granting of such special status would be denization, creating a category of residents that has more rights than an alien but less rights than a citizen. By early arguments from Transylvania University and legal scholar St. George Tucker, only the states would be allowed to do that because they didn’t grant that power to the federal government, and thus retain that sole power.

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  6. Trump to NBC: “When I decided to [fire Comey], I said to myself, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.”

    Strange thing to say. Even if Comey was fired to quash the investigation reading Trump at his word here implies that he’s so dismissive of the Trump/Russia evidence and allegations that he doesn’t think continuing the investigation is warranted. Which, functionally, amounts to the same thing as quashing it.

    So he’s either intentionally engaging in obstruction, or he’s so delusional and disconnected from reality that he’s incapable of understanding the reams of evidence (Flynn, Sessions, Nunes, Page, Stone, etc etc) which point directly at him and/or people close to him. Yet he insists it’s a made up story. The guy’s literally losing his mind.

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      • Well, the reality is that firing Comey to terminate/obstruct the investigations looks exactly the same irrespective of whether he’s covering up his guilt or frustrated that it impugns his innocence. A smarter person, one who’s mental faculties weren’t compromised, would certainly realize that and … well … stop spewing insane self-implicating bullshit.

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        • I can’t even begin to imagine how bizarre and tense the conversations in the WH have been since that interview. The smarter of his aides trying to explain to His Trumpness what he has said and what it means. The dumber of his aides being oblivious and currying favor with Trump by explaining it away.

          As a side note i find it hilarious the deputy press secretary is named Sara Huckabee Sanders. It so incongruous having the name of to prominent pols right there…just sort of funny weird. For the record she is Mike H’s daughter and no relation to Bernie but she did marry a guy named Sanders.

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          • There’s talk about Trump going on a rage bender when Comey said he felt “mildly nauseous” about influencing the election outcome because Trump viewed it as Comey being disloyal. How do you reason with someone like that?

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        • I give the Dems 50/50 shot of taking back the House in 2018, based on their motivation, and conditional on a) low probability event that the US will incur politically significant number of casualties with an increase involvement in Afghanistan & Iraq (& elsewhere, and b) medium probability event of an economic downturn with a spike in unemployment sometime in the next year and a half.

          If the Dems take the house, almost certainly articles of impeachment are the first order of business in Jan 2019.

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          • So, 2018 will be the most important election in our lifetimes?

            Gerrymandering is a bitch, but I’m with ya on that. And if the shitshow continues on its current trajectory I think those odds will only go up. (The AHCA polls, after a big MAGA Win! stamp was smacked on it after passing the House, at only 21%.)

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            • yes. The House can impeach a President for any reason that gets a majority of the votes. There is no judicial review of the decision to impeach that would constrain the House’s powers to actions occurring only in the current session.

              (This administration might establish this very point. Democratic candidates for House seats may well run on the message that the President has committed high crimes and misdemeanors and must be impeached.)

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              • There’s judicial review for everything, isn’t there? The Supreme Court has original or appellate jurisdiction over all cases arising under federal law or the Constitution. This has never actually been tested, AFAIK, but if a President were to sue to overturn an impeachment decision, that sounds an awful lot to me like a case arising under the Constitution.

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              • Actually no. They can only impeach for treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. Hillary could certainly have been impeached because she can’t get through a Wednesday afternoon with taking a bribe.

                Trump is in the clear because even the most hysterical, fevered democrats are only accusing him of colluding with Russia to influence the election, which isn’t even a misdemeanor. Presidents collude with foreign leaders every election. “This trade deal would really help me in November.” “A handshake and hug on the south lawn would go a long way for our relations, and it would really help my campaign.” That is collusion to influence an election, and it’s not illegal.

                The Constitutional standard for impeachment and removal is for high crimes similar to treason and bribery, not for hair styling offenses or having too much funk. Congress could pass a law on hair and funk, but Trump would still be covered because of the Constitution’s prohibition of ex post facto laws.

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                • Andrew Johnson would like a word with you on this point. The Supreme Court has never gotten involved in an impeachment proceeding because it’s pretty much the exact definition of a political question that they won’t want to touch with a 10 foot pole.

                  Oh, and given that the President basically admitted on tape yesterday that the Comey firing was obstruction of justice, I’m not sure why you’re so confident that you know what went on between Trump and the Russians. We haven’t found the fire yet, but it’s smoking like a motherfisher.

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                  • If obstruction of justice was a crime, Hillary would be in prison. She obstructed justice almost daily, destroying evidence, tampering with evidence, lying to investigators, etc.

                    She couldn’t be prosecuted because she didn’t realize she was committing crimes, or at least as long as she didn’t care that she was. Comey explained all that at his press conference were he declined to recommend prosecution.

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                    • George,
                      Oh, grow a pair of balls. Hillary couldn’t be punished because she knew where the bodies were buried.

                      Everyone knows she’s fucking guilty (you should SEE what Slick Willy’s guilty of), she’s just got enough blackmail that her crimes ain’t gonna see teh light of day.

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