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Linky Friday: Everything Is Political


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[G1] Lyman Stone is skeptical that regulatory liberalization will lead to more upzoning.

[G2] On some level, this bothers me more than lemonade stands. Whereas the latter mostly teaches a child of the fruitlessness of entrepreneurialism, the mowing lawns actually teaches young people that hard work is rewarded. On the other hand, if this shows them that government regulation is not their friend, maybe it’s a wash.

[G3] We mostly think of climate change in terms of what will happen on land, but some of the biggest threats may be under water. There are, perhaps, things we can do. David Roberts talks with Paul Hawken about things we can actually do about climate change more generally.

[G4] The French deep state and political establishment had a plan, in the event of a Le Pen victory.

[G5] Meanwhile, Chip Gibbons really wishes we’d stop idealizing the FBI.

[G6] This is definitely a problem. Seriously, though, this is probably one of the most important things that Vox has ever run.


foster home photo

Image by justinknabb

[F1] This is why everybody hates you, Science.

[F2] Naomi Shaefer Riley writes on the roadblocks being put in the way of foster parenting. This runs contrary to some of what I’ve seen as I’ve looked into it, and is kind of disturbing.

[F3] Bill Nye’s comments about procreation didn’t get as much attention as I thought they might.

[F4] On the one hand, early intervention is good. On the other, three or four strikes me as a disconcerting time to make such pronouncements.

[F5] Has the time for special spousal benefits come and gone?

[F6] I, too, hate showoffs.


Image by leighblackall

[M1] Are we seeing the end of the First Person Industrial Complex?

[M2] Maybe our personal media is like our congressman, a credit to their despicable people. (Still, though, even our chosen media doesn’t do as well as you might think!)

[M3] Dammit, how did I not know about this?

[M4] For better or worse, political science blogging has become more like journalism. I suspect it’s going to be for worse for political science, though maybe better for journalism.

[M5] Journalists are the worst. Some (well, me and a few others) have commented on how devatastating Twitter has been with regard to our impression of (many) journalists. A whole lot of them are who I thought I was uncharitable in thinking journalists are.

[M6] A look into the deep, dark world of RussiaToday. (They’re supposed to be just “RT” today, but I do not acknowledge the change because I don’t like initials that don’t stand for anything.)


[T1] Maybe when it comes to car safety, bigger is better.

[T2] Citylabs looks at the history of Britain’s bike trails, which were a pretty big deal before cars.

[T3] Alaska Airlines is the best. I look forward to getting to fly them more often if/when we move back west.

[T4] This seems pretty need, but I wish they would get to work on Android Auto compatibility first.

[T5] Antiplanner argues that no, actually, it’s the US and not Europe that has done rail right.

[T6] We don’t associate Soviet products with quality, but they made a truck that has stood the test of time.


[P1] Among other things, among 60% of Democrats believe that Russia tampered with voting machine. (PDF). On the one hand, answers like these have been used as a political hammer for quite a while now and the lack of interest in this question (which is rarely polled) seems… interesting. On the other hand…

[P2] From Michael Brendan Dougherty: “People give social scientists all sorts of crazy conspiratorial answers for a very simple, human reason: They don’t want anyone using their anonymous answers to bolster their partisan enemies. If a pollster calls my house and asks me whether Governor Andrew Cuomo is poisoning the water with a chemical agent, like the villain from a Batman movie, I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of a pro-Cuomo answer.”

[P3] I am buying this book.

[P4] Big business and big money continue their lurch leftwork.

[P5] Ideological bundling, conservative edition.

[P6] The Fresno Bee is less than impressed with the current state of the California Democratic Party. If only there were another competitive party for Californians to vote for. Ditto, of course, Texas and some craziness there. It’s enough to make me wish that, like Canada, we had a degree of severance between state and national party systems.

[P7] Is the UK finally transitioning to the two parties their system is designed to accommodate?

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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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644 thoughts on “Linky Friday: Everything Is Political

  1. G6:

    If you think about democracy in the terms we prefer, you might say the biggest limitation at the moment is that we don’t know how to incorporate the role of political elites in a constructive way into the governing process or to somehow make it possible to ensure that they’re working on behalf of the interests of ordinary people.

    And this is how we got President Trump.


    • Or is THIS how we got Trump:

      “So democratic elections, on your view, are essentially just a competition to see who can activate the most identities among the voters?”

      “I would say there’s a variety of identities people have that are more or less salient and can be made more or less salient politically. For many people, the principles become part of the identity and are important moving parts of the way they think about politics. But our claim is that the identities are more fundamental, the principles come later rather than the other way around.”

      Maybe the case for Trump was just massively over-determined. Which is bad, bad, bad.


  2. G3: Drawdown shouldn’t be a book some guy writes, it’s the kind of thing that should be part of the IPCC report, or similar.


  3. M3: For informational purposes, forging the HTTP Referer: field to say “www.facebook.com” will provide access to at least most of the WSJ content. At least so far, the WSJ appears to think the value of allowing Facebook users to follow links posted by their friends is more important than any revenue loss due to people willing to forge the entry. Forbes will also deliver content if the Referer: value is “www.facebook.com”. The Financial Times will deliver content if the Referer: value is “www.google.com”.


  4. Liberals are melting down after Trump pulled out of the Paris agreement. All that for 2/10 of a degree seems a bit much.


      • Well, more precisely, he could say that the US wouldn’t implement anything by federal regulatory rule. Even that might not be true if the courts say that statute requires it (Massachusetts and Utility Air Regulatory Group say CO2 regulation is required). Nothing much Trump can do if Congress passes statutory requirements by veto-proof majorities (as unlikely as that seems). Also, absent statutory changes, California has permission to set tougher emission levels and other states have permission to choose to adopt all or part of the California rules.

        I’ve said before that I don’t think modifying the Clean Air Act to take away California’s privilege to lead (and other states’ privilege to follow them) is the hill that McConnell can/will kill the filibuster for, but it’s a possibility.


      • I was listening to an interview with a VP from Mars Corp. and while they were lobbying for Trump to stay in, he didn’t seem too concerned. Despite his rhetoric that the accords are bad for business, most major corporations have seen the writing on the wall and have already invested heavily in reducing pollution in general and their carbon footprint specifically. Financial firms have also invested heavily in ‘green’ energy technology companies and aren’t really interested in shifting back to large fossil fuel investments.

        Trump was probably committed to the move, but I doubt it will have the effect he’s selling the move on.


          • notme,
            Try multiplying $55,836 by 100 million people.
            That’s how much global warming is going to cost us, in 20 years, give or take.
            (Numbers are pinned on crop losses, with subsequent deaths of the Americans we can no longer feed. Just crop losses, mind. I could do more work, but I’m lazy)


            • This is a bit weird because there’s ag. land going out of production all the time. There is even a type of trust available in Texas to abate taxes on family land if you agree to let it return to a state of nature.

              At least in the US, arable land is at quite a surplus. Whether water is available is a different thing.


          • And I’ve seen critiques of those figures that say the authors are cherry picking big losers and ignoring growth that results from technological advancement.

            Either way, if a large number of the biggest global corporations are just fine with the Paris accords, and they are growing despite, or because of, those efforts, that says something.


            • Oscar,
              One has to account for many things… For instance, when not if we lose Miami, what’ll we do with all the people? And what does that cost?

              If we prevent that, we save a ton of money, but how much do we need to do to prevent it?


              • Losing South Florida, or New Orleans, will happen slowly, such that the region will have time to adapt, or people will just leave on their own over time.

                If we really want to mitigate things, we can stop subsidizing their home values and insurance premiums.


                • Oscar,
                  Not if what gets them is a good storm surge. Not if what gets them is floating raw sewage (that’ll take at least a billion to fix.) and subsequent disease (there’s a Lot of Stuff that can make people Leave and Not Come Back).

                  Maybe if the issue is fresh water…

                  (and Yes, their housing values are still going up. It’s stupidity, is what it is!)

                  We’re probably going to lose the keys catastrophically too, though there’s fewer people there.

                  [A friend of mine has been working on Miami’s evacuation plans, pre-trump of course]

                  Alll-ways fun to explain to the Crunchy Conservatives that there are some things we just Can’t Fix, and seawater infiltration is one of them. (well, I suppose we could run some water down from the Appalachians, a la NYC…)


                  • All kinda my point. If you stop subsidizing their insurance and home values, they’ll leave either before too long, or immediately after the next storm causes their house to be a total loss.

                    Alternatively, once insurance companies aren’t being forced to spread the risk around to the rest of us, residents who wish to rebuild will start being told how to reduce their premiums, and the character of the local architecture and infrastructure will change profoundly.


                    • Oscar,
                      They’re already not giving out insurance in tidal Alabama and Mississippi. I think they fear the Floridians would squeal too much (that and we have a history of fixing florida).


                    • Florida codes have a “red zone,” which is from the coast to six miles inland at any given point. The red zone has all sorts of restrictions. Andrew did that.
                      Galveston has sort of the same thing. Different codes there that aren’t widely recognized elsewhere though. For example, metal brackets hold down the studs to every footer and header, screws, no nails for the brackets.


                      • It is possible to build in such zones you just build the house on stilts (or the larger building with an empty lowest story, and in that case move the utilities to the top of the building. You can see such houses outside the seawalls at Galveston (not so much on the outer banks). If you provide an open space as high as the highest expected storm surge and wave height the flood won’t be a problem. I have seen pictures of houses built on barges in the Netherlands that are able to float up and down on pilings (tall enough to hold the building at max expected water heights as well) It is just that you can’t use conventional construction.


              • notme,
                Do you HAVE to use one of the companies Vital To Our National Security as your example?
                Could you NOT have chosen some other company? Really???


                • Well, that’s just it. The political argument isn’t that it’s bad for the average American (cuz it isn’t) but instead that it’s bad for these particular Americans.

                  Which is why arguing that environmental regs hurt coal miners makes no sense. First, because coal jobs are declining due to market forces and not CO2 regs, and second because the argument flips the normally – and rationally – accepted justification of policy from “on average” to “not for these guys”.

                  Of course, I know that the political significance of the miners, and mining, and coal, and regulation and etc have symbolic political appeal. (“Liberals suck!”) But only because the appeal is viewed purely symbolically. Evidence contradicts the policy changes the symbolism is supposed to justify, and undermines the justification of the symbolism taboot.

                  But that’s all MAGA is. Symbolism.


                    • I’m not trying to trivialize the argument. Back when B Clinton pushed for NAFTA I remember thinking “there goes the Democratic party”, and for precisely the reasons mentioned above: passing legislation which explicitly and predictably entails lots of job losses in identifiable sectors without also (at least) attempting to recognize and ameliorate those effects was a political nightmare unleashed. Subsequent to that both the GOP and the Dem party went all in on free trade by taking NAFTA on a world tour. More job losses, more economic uncertainty for workers. BSDI!

                      And now we have Trump.


                    • Most of Australia’s coal mines are deep in the interior dessert where it’s hot & miserable work that requires a great deal of physical effort, long periods of isolation from friends and family, etc. From what I’ve read, the mining companies have a real problem with new worker turnover, despite offering salaries of $80K-$150K for miners who can do the work for 3-6 months.


                    • One place still has easily available coal and is very close to 2nd and 3rd world markets that still use coal?

                      Also, that’s not actually happening.


                      “The world’s biggest coal exporter has a problem.

                      Demand for the dirtiest fuel is on the wane. The International Energy Agency – which has tended to overestimate coal production, and underestimate renewables – doesn’t expect consumption to regain its 2014 levels until 2021. Investment in new mines is “drying up”, according to its latest market forecast.

                      That’s reflected in Australia’s export figures. Since overtaking Indonesia as the biggest shipper in 2015, loadings at its coal ports have gone sideways. Even last year’s price spike, which drove the cost of energy coal up 87 per cent and caused the steel-making variety to almost triple, wasn’t enough to stop Rio Tinto Group selling off its last mines in the country.

                      Those seeking a revival in Australia’s coal industry – as well as those hoping for its end – have pinned their expectations on a former cattle ranch in an isolated spot of the country’s northeast.”


                      • If it’s dying, why are they projecting that in 2021 the market will match its 2014 peak? 2021 is in the future.

                        Africa, which has a lot of coal reserves, is also turning to coal to power its growing cities. The third world is waking up, and it wants reliable coal energy.


                  • Thinking about that some more, maybe the Trumpist wave dominating political culture comes from a deep, inherent human desire for symbolism expressive of a national purpose. Trump merely fed that appetite and reaped the rewards.

                    Why and how we got to this place will be researched for decades to come.


                • If new regs put folks out of work or cost us money that’s bad right? What is the lowest cost of these new regs you’ve seen? Are billions worth 2/10 of 1 degree? Not to me.


                  • Yes, it’s bad if coal miners or rig workers are unemployed, and I wholeheartedly agree that we should do something to help them*. But we have to weigh that against what is growing. Wind turbines and solar farms need people to operate, repair, and maintain the systems, and we will need a lot of those kinds of workers in the coming years. Toss in all the other tech systems coming online as well as there is a lot of growth that is looking for workers.

                    *What we should do varies and we’ve had that convo before. But we should not just leave them hanging, certainly not if the decline of the industry is driven in part by policy decisions.


                    • If the idea is to provide jobs in the energy sector, why not hire people to run in giant hamster wheels?

                      If the idea is to provide cheap, reliable energy to benefit all the people who aren’t among the 6.4 million energy sector workers, then perhaps hydroelectric, nuclear, coal, and fracked natural gas are the better base load options.


                      • Of those 4 options, only one is not politically toxic (and even dammed hydro has it’s detractors).

                        Coal is dying, and will continue to do so. It’s going the way of whale oil.

                        Natural gas itself is fine, but fracking is getting to be a political headache. I wouldn’t mind seeing more use of bio-reactors to generate methane.

                        Nuclear, despite my sincere belief that this is the base load path we should be taking (and spending money to develop & certify safer reactor designs), is just not in the picture near term. Perhaps if China can demonstrate how it can be done safely (a stretch, I know, given how China treats industrial safety), we’d see a resurgence, but until then that topic will be dominated by fear mongers.

                        We can also start replacing dammed hydro with things like Run of the River.

                        Absent Nuclear, I think we should be investing heavily in tidal power (since as long as the moon is in the sky, the tides will ebb & flow), and telling the eco-radicals to piss off (while actually taking some care not to deploy designs that slaughter marine life wholesale).

                        All of those options need skilled labor.

                        PS If there is ever a local, or international, movement to tax carbon emissions, coal dies even faster, and gas isn’t as attractive.


                        • Coal will stay around because it’s massively abundant and almost as cheap as dirt. India, China, and developing countries are going to use a whole lot of it. We’re not going to hunt coal to extinction anytime soon. (As an aside, I got through a power outage by burning whale oil. Unlike vegetable oils, it burns clean.)

                          China’s nuclear push is greatly benefiting Western nuclear companies because they can try out advanced designs they’ve had sitting on the shelf.

                          I think the future is in liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR), if they can gain any traction. They are inherently safe, reliable, can start up and shut down quicker, and only produce about 1% as much nuclear waste as a conventional U235, U238, plutonium plant. The hurdle is that our entire regulatory framework was built around the older solid-fuel plants, so hooking a thorium reactor to the grid is going to take an immense amount of legal work. For that reason, Kirk Sorensen of FLiBe energy is trying to target military installations that have their own, completely separate regulations.

                          My idea is that for a start, we could use the LFTR reactor as purely a source of heat, as they can run much much hotter than solid fueled reactors. That heat could split water for hydrogen, perhaps melt sand into glass (which is currently made with natural gas), make cement, or most importantly, provide the heat input for turning coal into gaseous and liquid fuels, which would slash the inherent losses in burning part of the coal to provide the required heat.

                          On another technological route, the University of Ohio came up with an ingenious way to burn coal by simply using it as a reducing agent to turn iron oxide into pellets of iron wool. The iron wool can then be transported and “combusted” back to iron oxide by rapidly rusting it, giving off heat and absolutely no pollution at all, not even any combustion products. Then the used pellets are sent back to be reduced with coal again, turned back into iron pellets, and the cycle continues.

                          And of course we can use wind and tidal power in areas with strong winds and tides, but unfortunately most of humanity doesn’t live in such places. Asia and Africa, for example, have very little wind.


                          • You got a link for that UO process? I know there are massive coal reserves, but the appetite for expanding extraction operations in the US is waning. I suspect that we’ll exhaust the current mines and new mines will be few and far between. Doesn’t matter how clean you can burn it, it’s turning into the new nuclear (politically toxic).

                            As for nukes, there are easily a half dozen safe designs just itching for a place to prototype, and another half dozen still in the design phase, but between terrorism concerns and the looming specter of radiation, they’ll never see the light of day in the US. I give China credit for being willing to field test them.


                            • Actually there are different futures for western surface mineable coal and eastern underground coal. Give that the labor per ton of a surface mine is 3+ times less western coal will drive eastern coal out first. Also eastern coal has been mined for far longer and its quality is declining due to the best having already been mined.
                              Further there is a limit of around 1000 feet or so for mining coal due to increased methane in deep coal. Now of course there is coal bed methane to use the deeper reserves, where you pump the formation water out and extract the methane. Studies indeed have shown that you could replace the methane by Co2 and pump it back down, since the methane has been there for at least millions of years the Co2 will likley have about the same residence time.


                                • Note that Anthracite costs 3x bituminous coal so it is not used for power generation, and it is primarily used for domestic heating, in hand fired stoves or stoker fed furnaces according to Wikipedia.
                                  The same article says that 2000 people are employed by the Anthracite industry in the US. 1/3 of the reserve remains in ne Pa according to the same article.


                          • China’s nuclear push is greatly benefiting Western nuclear companies because they can try out advanced designs they’ve had sitting on the shelf.

                            I hope this is how it works out, but I also cringe because China is the type of place that might build it with shaky safety margins, screw it up, and give the anti-nuclear lobby this generation’s Chernobyl to throw in the faces of people who are pushing for the new designs. Fingers crossed.


                        • I wonder if it would be a winner for someone (hypothetically, since neither side would do it) to promise:
                          – Multi-billion dollar infrastructure project
                          – Targeted at exceeding Paris goals and demonstrating that America always leads the rest of the world follows
                          – Thousands and thousands of honest industrial jobs
                          – Bring the highest tech industrues into depressed areas that need them the most
                          – Costs largely offset by taxing the living hell out of imports from countries dirtier than we are
                          – Did I mention what that last one does for goods made in the USA?


          • I don’t get this “cost to the economy” argument.
            When I was in the trades, I worked on a few super-critical steam coal-fired plants. There were a number of developments that led to them, the main ones being the introduction of high-chromium steel in the late 80’s – early 90’s, and the introduction of telecommunications equipment to massively expand the sensor points.
            I have also worked on a gasification system, which refines coal to its component gases prior to burning.

            And I don’t understand why new coal technology, developed primarily by the Japanese and Germans, is reviled by both Right & Left.
            Consider the difference in mileage between an Edsel and a Neon. It’s that big of difference, if not more.
            Some of those old coal plants were built back in the 1930’s.

            Innovation used to be seen as a benefit for business.


              • I didn’t really pay attention to the Paris Accord.
                Not something I can influence one way or the other.

                In this case, not having gov’t regs is what’s costing money.
                Imagine no hard figure for how much E. coli bacteria is safe for a cut of meat. Now imagine that everyone knows that the gov’t is going to come out with a number someday, but no one knows what it is, though there is a lot of speculation.
                Now, say a rancher wants to slaughter 300 head of cattle. If he guesses low enough, then the meat can stay on the shelves until it sells. If he guesses too high, all that meat has got to come off the shelves once the gov’t comes out with their number.

                That’s where power companies are at with coal-fired plants.
                The biggest difference is that there has been enough speculation for so long that there is the standard guess, and the approved deviation upward guess, and then the lower just-to-make-sure guess.

                In this case, having a published regulation that everyone can abide by means removing a lot of uncertainty from the equation.
                The workarounds for that uncertainty are rather costly, and doing away with them would mean more productivity.

                If you’re going fishing, you want to know the bag limit and size limits beforehand, rather than have the game warden tell you, “Go ahead and fish, and I’ll just come out with few numbers here directly– and there will be hell to pay if you get it wrong.”


                • Then clearly we need as much regulation as possible to make things as certain as possible regardless of the expense. Here we have a cost of billions for 2/10 of 1 degree. What a bargin.


                • In this case, having a published regulation that everyone can abide by means removing a lot of uncertainty from the equation.

                  This assumes the Greens will be happy with an agreement which doesn’t “solve the problem”, and actually barely addresses the problem.

                  After we put into place a regulatory framework which can be tightened, it will be tightened, because the Greens will pocket any concessions and demand “more”.


                  • After we put into place a regulatory framework which can be tightened, it will be tightened, because the Greens will pocket any concessions and demand “more”.

                    Are you asserting the US *doesn’t have* a regulatory framework to address carbon usage outside the Paris Accords?

                    Because, newsflash to all those people here who LITERALLY SEEM TO HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE PARIS ACCORDS ARE, the Paris Accords do not have any regulatory framework in them. They do not have regulations in them at all. There are no requirements whatsoever, except that we give a relatively microscopic amount of foreign aid.

                    The Paris Accords say we have to create carbon goals (Which we already do.) and have to issue reports on how well we met them (Which we already do.)

                    So not only is there no regulation in there, there is nothing in there we already aren’t doing. The Paris Accords were jut trying to get *everyone* on board with that and putting the information in one place and the goals issued to the same timetable and progress kept updated, and then we’d all meet and talk about it.

                    The US *does* have all sorts of climate goals, and has regulation intended to meet them, but *that* regulation has fuck all to do with the Paris Accords.

                    Everyone here, and I mean *everyone* because there appears to be plenty of pro-Paris people who do not understand what it does, needs to go read:


                    I quote, emphasis mine: The spirit of the Paris negotiations was to solicit ambition, to get every country on record with specific action plans. In order to do that, negotiators deliberately refrained from including any legally enforceable compliance regime. The only thing participating countries have to do is a) have an NDC on record, and b) report emissions during regular reviews.

                    Trump can weaken the US NDC, without penalty. He can roll back all of Obama’s carbon regulations, without penalty. He can simply fail to meet the targets of the NDC, without penalty. All he has to do is explain himself at the five-year review, and the explanation can be as minimal as he likes.


                      • Worrying about what seems to be about half a billion dollars a year in foreign aid is a bit absurd.

                        We give the world half a billion dollars in foreign aid every year to support ‘Good Governance’.

                        Wait, no, I lie. We give half a billion dollars in foreign aid every year to support good governance *just to Afghanistan*.

                        As for getting our money’s worth: Well, we *used* to actually have ‘reduction in world’s CO2 emissions’ as a *national goal*, and thus whether or not we got our money’s worth would be dependent on if this worked or not.

                        I have yet to hear anyone argue the Paris Accord is not *working*. If someone wants to claim that, they should probably do so.


                          • Erm, the agreement didn’t even come into force until *November 2016*, when the EU signed it (Yes, apparently as a whole), which got it over the ‘goes into effect’ threshold.

                            We are currently eight months into the agreement. Almost everyone’s plan was on the *decade* timeframe.

                            We have not even had the first status meeting about how everyone is doing, which will happen in 2018. Everyone *just*, like in the last month, published their *first* status update.

                            Some countries are meeting their goals, some are not. A few, like China, have been criticized for setting goals they were already meeting. (Although complaining that China was *already* reducing carbon emissions is a weird complaint.)

                            notme, I know this is probably pointless, but maybe I can get through to you: Looking at this via any sort of *objective* viewpoint, this agreement is not possibly anything to complain about. It basically tries to reduce carbon emissions by *peer pressure*. It does nothing at all, and the US hasn’t even done anything in response to it. (We already had all those carbon reduction policies in effect.)

                            In fact, we didn’t even do anything at all, not even write down our plans…because the plans required under Paris (Nationally Determined Contributions) *were actually created by Kyoto*! The first, non-binding part of Kyoto, had everyone create plans to reduce emissions, which everyone, including us, did…and then no one would sign the binding part.

                            So Paris says ‘Okay, forget binding. Everyone just keep publishing your NDC, update them if needed, and also every year you now have to publish if you’re meeting the goals you made up. Nothing is binding at all. And we’ll get back together to talk about this later. Oh, and also, let’s create some foreign aid so that poor countries can measure all this, because there are countries that have no idea how much carbon they are emitting.’.

                            That’s it. It’s the most inoffensive ‘treaty’ in history. Normal treaties are laws, or contracts, creating obligations and all sorts of things. This is a bunch of drunks deciding to set up a fricking AA group, where everyone decides they’re going to show up and talk about whether or not they met their goals of not drinking each month, and Trump is whining because it cost $100 to rent the church basement and we had to pay $30 of that because we’re one of the people who has a job.

                            It also might not *work*, which is a valid point (That is apparently why Nicaragua didn’t sign on.) but it not accomplishing anything at all seems very unlikely, and the price is *incredibly* low. $3 billion dollars is loose change. (And, it sorta looks like we’ll have to pay that anyway.)

                            And, BTW, we’ve *already* been spending *more* than that much helping other countries deal with climate change: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/americans-spent-745b-3-years-helping-other-countries-deal-climate (Note the year, that’s from before Paris.)


                        • I have yet to hear anyone argue the Paris Accord is not *working*. If someone wants to claim that, they should probably do so.

                          I thought I’d already done that. The previous agreement apparently did *nothing* because basically everyone but the US broke it. So all of these countries (including us) are following economics or local politics or both.

                          That 2 Billion dollars could do a lot of good in the world, using it for Global Warming is basically just taking it out and setting it on fire.


                          • I thought I’d already done that. The previous agreement apparently did *nothing* because basically everyone but the US broke it. So all of these countries (including us) are following economics or local politics or both.

                            We actually have very little information as to who ‘followed’ the last treaty (Which was Kyoto), which, BTW, no one ‘broke’ because everyone refused to sign the binding part. (Well, a few countries did, but not enough to trigger it going into effect.)

                            Instead, everyone signed the first part, and, as required by that part, published the plan they were supposed to be following, but then refused to sign the second part that *legally obligated* them to follow that plan, with the threat of various sanctions and fines if they didn’t.

                            So that clearly didn’t work.

                            Except now everyone was obligated to keep publishing carbon reduction plans that no one was obligated to follow.

                            If only we had, at that point, come up with a treaty that built on that, and took those plans that everyone was already having to publish, but it *wasn’t* binding, so people would agree to it. Instead, (and this is the clever part so bear with me) what if everyone was just required to publish how well they followed their own plan?!

                            Man, that would have been awesome! I mean, even if *no one* met those plans, or everyone wrote plans they can easily met, we *at least* would know how well everyone is doing. Everyone would have to stand behind their plan, win or lose, making the results public for all to see.

                            Instead we *holds hand to ear* oh, I’m being told we did *exactly that*. Literally that exact thing.



                • I didn’t really pay attention to the Paris Accord.
                  Not something I can influence one way or the other.

                  In this case, having a published regulation that everyone can abide by means removing a lot of uncertainty from the equation.

                  So, yeah, not to be rude, but please don’t talk about it when you don’t know anything about it. You’ve already got people talking about how ‘those’ regulations will lead to more regulations.

                  But the Paris Accord is not any sort of ‘regulatory framework’. At all.

                  The Paris Accord is all the signatory involved promising to a) set *their own* carbon limits, and b) publish updates on how well they did.

                  There is no regulation *at all* in the Paris Accord. There is nothing we have promised to do except say what our targets are, and then judge *ourselves* on how well we hit them.

                  This is, incidentally, why it didn’t have to be ratified by the Senate, and is not technically a ‘treaty’. It’s just something the executive branch said it would do, and that thing was already *entirely* within the executive branch’s capabilities. In fact, we *already* set goals, and we *already* judge ourselves on them….we’re just now (Or, were.) going to do it how and when the Paris Accords wanted it.

                  (The Paris Accords, also, apparently, involved 15 million dollars of foreign aid to help subsidize this in poor countries, but 15 *million* dollars of foreign aid is pocket change.)


                  • I was referring to a conversation with a field engineer from Duke Energy on a jobsite at a gasification facility, where we were comparing that power plant with others, and the additional questions that raised.

                    I don’t know anything about the Paris Accord.
                    Frankly, I haven’t heard of it apart form this site.

                    But if it’s as inconsequential as you claim it to be, why even bother?
                    If there is an international agreement for no one to drink down sea level by three inches, and Donald Trump rescinds U.S. participation in that agreement, big deal. No one was going to drink down the water line at sea level by three inches anyway.


                    • But if it’s as inconsequential as you claim it to be, why even bother?

                      I didn’t say it was inconsequential.

                      It’s basically the first climate change treaty that the entire world is participating in, and it has resulted in a lot of countries setting goals and *sticking to them*. (Not particularly the US, because the US was *already* doing that.)

                      However, our removal from that will alter nothing at all. The international community pretty clearly understands we are now operated by batshit morons, but that doesn’t color the good we *used* to do.

                      If there is an international agreement for no one to drink down sea level by three inches, and Donald Trump rescinds U.S. participation in that agreement, big deal. No one was going to drink down the water line at sea level by three inches anyway.

                      Because a) Donald Trump appears to think this agreement *stops* us from doing that, and it’s something he’s planning on doing, and b) we look like complete fucking morons.

                      There are a lot of very stupid people on the right and the left that think withdrawing from this agreement is going to accomplish something WRT carbon emissions.

                      It is not.

                      What (trying to) withdraw *does* do is makes us look incredibly stupid and selfish on the international stage by reminding everyone we have a political party that denies climate change.

                      We are, at this point, in a downward spiral to try to *remove* ourselves as the moral authority in the world, as the global leader. That *really is* going to be the end result of the Trump presidency if it continues….a United States that has lost *all* the international goodwill it’s built up over the decades.

                      And at some point other countries are going to stop putting up with Trump’s bullshit and actually slap us with some tariffs.


                      • Actually the opposite is true. What we have are a bunch of incredibly stupid world leaders who think a 2 degree shift in global temperatures will happen, and that 2 degrees will be some kind of catastrophe. Basically, that if Brussels becomes as warm as Paris suburbs, homo sapiens in Europe will go extinct.

                        It’s bat shit insane.

                        And the funny thing is, those morons deny climate change. The Holocene has been highly unstable. We’ve had five major climate shifts in the last 11,000 years. Those will continue to occur. We can’t yet change the Earth’s orbital parameters or the sun’s output, so we’re just along for the ride.


  5. T1: There’s a growing body of work on the subject that all indicates designing a safe tiny car involves different principles than just scaling down the ideas that work in large cars. Radical changes to the steering wheel arrangement have bigger benefits. Across a wide range of accident types, there’s a net gain from making the car much more rigid.


    • That study seemed to be entirely about deaths inside the cabin of the car – I wonder if there’s something about deaths of people struck by the cars? Are there some kinds / models / styles of vehicles that are notably more or less involved in killing people on foot or bicycles?


      • Given how often “struck by the car” means drunk/drugs/distracted/too-old/young-stupid, I suspect replacing the driver (i.e. “driverless”) is the thing of importance.


  6. F4: If accurate, wow, that’s chilling. I tended to think of all small children as “potential psychopaths if not socialized properly” but I guess that was an oversimplification. It also raises all kinds of questions in the “nature vs. nurture” debate.

    The question that is still hanging is: what do we do with the “hardened” cases? I am a college prof – the last paragraphs where they talk about “training” the kids to respond to reward and then sending them out to the workforce or college….given HIPAA and the like, I would not know if I had a student who had these problems. I wouldn’t know how not to “set them off” if such a thing were the case.

    (I once had a student explode with rage in my office over something he saw as unfair – being asked to do a homework that required use of the textbook – and it was terrifying, not least because he was blocking my office door as he yelled at me. I called his advisor after he left, because I was thinking “There needs to be a paper trail about this so there isn’t a chance of some later incident on the evening news being played out as ‘oh, we never knew he could be violent'” Nothing ever came of it – the student wound up dropping out – but it is kind of terrifying to contemplate what I would do, with NO psychological training, if I had someone prone to violence in my class)

    (Maybe I am extra sensitive to these things; one of my good friends in high school was raised by her grandparents because her father was dead and her mother had some serious psychological issues, and I know my friends’ grandparents – her mother’s parents – wondered if they had messed up or if the woman was just born “lacking” something)


    • Data suggest that the model envisioned by Nye is inaccurate. The birth rates of developing countries tend to lower as they develop, until there is an inversion point.


    • A few months ago I ran across an interesting article about two different brain mutations for the gene that produces an enzyme that helps processes serotonin and dopamine. One of the mutations was slightly more common in Africa. It seemed connected to psychopathy.

      I hope that’s the case, and if it is something simple like an enzyme (one with broad consequences for how the brain responds, feels, etc), then perhaps we’ve had treatments sitting in our laps the whole time, as we have a host of drugs for adjusting serotonin and dopamine. If could be that the psychopath brain is developing into what it is because of a simple chemical imbalance, and if we can intervene very early we can completely prevent it.


      • Of course, that then raises the whole ethical question of, “Can you force people to take these treatments even if they say they don’t want them?”

        I’ve read that “a little bit of psychopathy means you’re a better businessperson.” No idea if that is actually true but apparently the supposed “dark triad” of personality traits correlate with that kind of financial success.

        But yeah. It would be nice for parents to realize that they could intervene early and prevent the kind of problems with their children described in that article.


  7. P5: The battle lines there are just baffling if you attempt to understand it any other sense than pure tribal signaling. Also, is it the height of irony that gun owners (or at least the groups purporting to represent them), who likely suffer more hearing loss on average, are on the forefront of legislation that would seem to disproportionately benefit them?


    • I think we’re going to see more and more cases of constituencies torpedoing things that would be good for them primarily out of spite.

      We’re all going to come to hate government because before too much longer, everybody is going to vote for things that hurt them as long as they think those things will hurt the other team more. We’re going to see proposals like, “Let’s stop filling potholes. Think of the liberal tears!”


      • Right. This is going to happen a lot and why a lot of people on the left think Cleek’s law is a real thing. See also the right-wing tweet bellow. For many people, the issue is pissing off the other side or hurting them more.


        • I think Tom Nichols once tweeted something along the lines of, “I’m not sure what they’re getting out of this other than the fact that it upsets people who are more informed than they are.”


    • Yeah, I don’t get this. If she was writing a bill trying to outlaw suppressors, or noise cancelling headphones, I could see it. But opposing it just because Warren is pushing it is pure spite.

      But then, that is par for the course for American politics today.


    • My belief is that “gun rights” advocates, at least at the level of leadership, are much not all that interested in actually advocating for the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. They’re much more interested in scoring culture war points for purposes of fundraising, or just advancing “bundled” issues that have nothing to do with guns.

      The linked article sure didn’t do much to challenge that belief.


  8. G1: There are some places that can only be built up and not out for a variety of reasons. The questions is how high up are people willing to go. Personally I’m freaked out by the super-tall skyscrapers/apartment buildings because I dislike heights and have a phobia of falling. I don’t even like going on roof decks.

    G2: Interesting that the seems to be in a very GOP area. It also shows them the power of entrenched interests because it seems to be professional gardening companies that are trying to undercut competition.

    G5: I am not as far left as Jacobin but I do find it odd that a lot of people on my side are becoming Intelligence hawks because of the boorishness of Trump.

    G6: The restless voter/1916 shark thing would be fine in a system where both parties were ideologically close and very center-oriented but that isn’t the case anymore. We know have stark partisan division with a GOP that seems to go further and further to the right no matter what.

    P4: I don’t know if I would call this leftward lurching per se but it is clearly not racist friendly.

    P6: The problem is that the California Republican Party is a lot like their GOP counterparts in the South and just can’t get it into their heads that what flies in Alabama doesn’t fly in California.

    F3: This is running into the same issue that another linky Friday article did. This is written for a very specific audience and/or it assumes that everyone is a kind of latent Protestant Evangelical/Fundamentalist. I’d like to see Bill Nye’s comments in a more neutral platform. I found something on the Post where it characterized him as “wondering/questioning” whether we should “penalize” parents for having extra kids. This sounds very different than the alarmist tones of this article and something in the always derp-filled Federalist. The whole paragraph begins with the idea that people are God’s greatest gift. This isn’t going to play well with secular types or even many religious types.

    M1: I hope so.


    • G2: This looks to me more like a poorly drafted ordinance. The mayor mouths a piety about following the law, then pretty comes comes out and says they aren’t actually going to do anything, and then talks about rewriting the ordinance. It also isn’t clear if the people leading the charge are more than one guy.


    • P6: The problem is that the California Republican Party is a lot like their GOP counterparts in the South and just can’t get it into their heads that what flies in Alabama doesn’t fly in California.

      I’m guessing that’s what Will was getting at when he was lamenting the lack of separation between state level and national level parties. A California GOP that was soft on social issues and immigration but highly focused on lean government an deregulation could probably do quite well here. I’m betting that there are states where pro-life Democrats or something similar would make a big dent in the Republican majority.

      Ideological bundling a the national level has resulted in a really bizarre set of litmus tests that really don’t have anything to do with each other. The fact that party lines are such a hodgepodge of unrelated stuff makes me immediately suspicious of anybody who appears to 100% support everything in a particular party platform. It’s kind of hard to arrive at all of those beliefs with a single coherent ideological framework. It’s much easier to arrive at them if all you’re doing is rooting for a team.


      • I’m guessing that’s what Will was getting at when he was lamenting the lack of separation between state level and national level parties.

        Yep. That is exactly what I was getting at. Either in the form of the California GOP being more tangibly different than the Alabama GOP (and Texas vs Oregon Dems) or in there being a state-only party that represents the centrists and rightwards in the state spectrum, ranging from Republicans to Ahnold to Loretta Sanchez.


          • To some extent, this is why I was happy to have two Ds on the ballot for Senate in California rather than the usual D vs R. I was initially horrified, but I came around to it. It’s not because I want one-party rule with no checks. It’s because I think that it might actually end up giving people more of a voice in the general election.

            If I lived in a place that was solid Republican and I was given a choice between voting for a D who would lose or an R who would win, I’d probably stay home. If I could choose between two Rs on a spectrum, each of whom actually has a shot, I might actually be happy to have a say. It might be something to counter the primary system that produces polarization and foregone conclusions.


            • This is why I am registered Republican. I am in a solidly red county in a blue state. For local offices, the Republican primary is the relevant election. And some of those Rs are raving lunatics. So I vote in the primary for the sanest Republicans on the ballot, and usually vote for the Democrat in the general.


          • Oh, there are a number of problems with it. Republicans, Democrats, partisan instincts, etc. Some of it comes down to the lack of organizational distinction that exists between state and federal parties in the US compared to (for instance) Canada.

            California Republicans and Texas Democrats are working within the confines of the existing system. If the system were to change, so would behavior. We actually sort of do see it in California when Republicans line up behind Loretta Sanchez. Back home where they have non-partisan mayoral elections the Republicans usually have a preferred Democrat.

            So why don’t state parties adapt? Partisan instincts of members are one example. The notion of having a California Party (analogous to the Saskatchewan Party) is rather anathema. More practically, state parties are very reliant on federal fundraising dollars, making it pretty hard for one to break free even if they were so inclined.

            I don’t have an agenda to reverse this or anything. I am merely noting that I do not believe people in California and Texas are optimally served by it.


      • @will-truman

        Maybe but I am not so sure. IIRC I’ve seen California GOP politicians try and do what you describe and fail. The last GOP candidate for Governor tried this.

        But the simple issue is that a lot of California Republicans in the Central Valley or rural Eastern parts of the state might just be really out of step with the rest of the State. They could sincerely believe in their social conservatism and they control the state GOP. I’m not sure who in charge the California state GOP can decide to change this and jettison their base in the Central Valley and eastern parts of the state. As far as I know, the state GOP elite could come from those sections as well.


        • I still have pretty clear memories of Bill Simon’s “I’m not afraid to be a Republican!” campaign for governor.

          Dude got straight wrecked. By Gray Davis. Seeking re-election.


          • I was thinking more of Neal Kashkari who tried to do what Troublesome Frog describes above. He marched in Pride parades and really tried to avoid speaking on socially conservatives issues all together. He still only got 40 percent of the vote and only did well in those rural and still GOP parts of California. Bill Simon did slightly better.


            • I think there is a fear among voters that the national parties won’t permit a local or state politician deviate from the national platform, so even if you have, for instance, an ‘R’ politician who avoids religious and socon issues, the GOP will turn the screws on the guy when votes come up.


                • No, it’s not, and it runs both ways.

                  There is value in parties maintaining some platform discipline, but if you turn the screws too often, you start losing your ability to win in a given area.


                  • Honestly, here in MA, they could run a queer/trans Republican who promises abortion on demand and free buttplugs, versus a Democrat who literally ate a baby on the capital steps, and all the same I know how I’ll vote.

                    It’s just, too much damage done. The national party long ago proved they’ll use my dignity as a “wedge issue.” Actions have consequences. If you spit in my face I’m not going to like you, even if you are nice to puppies.


              • I think this is especially true when it comes to federal office, where they will be voting and will be subject to whips. On the other hand, state parties can and have behaved differently from one place to the next. It’s a decision they make or don’t make. So it’s reasonable to break party lines and vote for Charlie Baker for governor and then oppose him vociferously for the Senate. It makes more sense to “vote the man (or woman)” in one context than another. Though in some cases, like Manchin, it can make sense for either if you’re not far off-center. That’s pretty rare, though.


                • Except, as you note above, that dependency on the federal party check book is an ever present threat. If my local rep annoys the party bosses too much, even if he is responding to his constituents, and the national party supports someone else in the primary…


                  • Then I will vote the bastards out.
                    If it’s my party, and you inner circle people decide to fuck with my vote, well, I’ma tell you where to shove it.
                    (And I did. You can see the photos even).


                  • Well sure, there is always the possibility of being primaried. Though, as always, I feel I have to point out that it is the most overstated threat in politics. And it’s pretty unusual the national party backs a challenger (I can think of only one case that didn’t involve corruption, Bob Smith of New Hampshire).

                    Governors that play to the base and against their constituents usually do so for a different reason, though. Either it’s what they were elected on, or they have presidential ambitions.


              • Also, if the choice is between a guy in the other party who seems to be not terrible versus someone in your own party who seems to be not terrible, why vote for the guy in the other party? This only really kicks in if your own party nominates an obviously terrible person.


        • Recall that the northmost counties in California have off and on discussed the idea of seceeding from Ca to form a new state. These counties have population densities of less than 10 per square mile, while the two emptiest counties are Alpine and Inyo (which largely covers death valley, 1.6 and 1.8) So in essence Ca has a smaller version of the problem of the whole us, in that differing population densities call for different kinds and levels of regulation. The most densely populated county is San Francisco at 17k per square mile. (city=county here).


      • There are also plenty of times when Ds push for deregulation.

        Look at SF where it was Scott Weiner v. Jane Kim and Scott Weiner said “If you want cheaper housing, you got to build more housing.” It was close but Weiner won over Kim in the primary and the general.

        You also have Jerry Brown telling the legislature that they need to make it cheaper, faster, and easier to build new housing and he will veto any housing reform bill that fails to do so. Essentially, deregulation.


  9. Jeet Herr on those who see politics as total war against their ideological/partisan enemies:


    Oakeshott’s quaint, gentlemanly Toryism is just one form of conservatism, of course. In many ways, Trump-era conservatives are closer to Oakeshott’s German rival, Carl Schmitt (1888-1985), who believed it was delusional to hope for a respite from political warfare, either domestically or in foreign relations. The “friend-enemy distinction,” for which he’s famous, asserts that politics is inherently combative, everyone an ally or foe. “The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy,” he wrote in The Concept of the Political (1927). “Only the actual participants can correctly recognize, understand, and judge the concrete situation and settle the extreme case of conflict.”

    Prager struck a Schmittean note in calling for conservatives to follow Trump into battle, as did Townhall columnist Kurt Schlicter in a Monday tweet declaring war on liberals:

    Why did I (since Cruz dropped out) and still do support President Trump?
    Because fuck liberals.
    We win, they lose.
    Nothing else matters.
    — Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) May 29, 2017


  10. [F1] two thoughts on that:
    How did we get to where gauging gaps in traffic to survive darting across a busy road without any lights or pedestrian crossing (because of course you can’t just wait for drivers to stop, you’d be there all day, and walking over to the nearest signalized crosswalk is a mile and a half detour) is a normal and required life skill?

    So kids can’t safely walk across the street until 14, but they’re just fine to drive a car at 16? No way the fact that roads are full of 16 year old drivers could be part of the reason they’re dangerous to cross in the first place?

    Nah. Better to lower the driving age to 14 and not allow walking outdoors until 18.


          • Oscar
            And from an adult’s perspective, that seems fine. From a kid’s perspective, don’t do it if you’re less than ten. (maybe twelve, they’re taller).
            Must Be This High To Jaywalk will make sense.


        • Actually the recent events in London, suggest Jersey Barriers between streets and sidewalks, with bollards at defined crossing points 4 foot apart. The idea is that cars can’t get to the pedestrians and vice versa. I wonder how much safer these measures would make streets and roads?


            • I’m always surprised by conservatives’ insistence that we can bomb our way to peace in the ME, and especially so since ISIS is a direct result of employing that very principle to justify the war in Iraq.

              What’s the source of an ideology? It’s not a physical location, right?


              • I’m not sure which generic conservative you making assumptions about but I prefer a multi prong strategy.

                For years the Europeans have had an issue with folks not assimilating. They let folks travel to war zones and then let them back in. The chickens have come home.


                • All of ’em, cuz it’s the generic conservative response. But in this case I’m speaking specifically about you:

                  Why not just fix the problem at the source?

                  Are you now suggesting that “the source” of Islamic violence in the west is lax vetting of Muslim immigrants? That makes no sense on any level whatsoever.


                  • Actually better vetting might have helped in the San Bernardino case. And if you really think that the US gov’t really vetted all those Syrian refuges very well you are naïve. Plus I’d remind you that some of the Paris attackers were “refugees”.

                    Investigators probe whether wife radicalized husband before San Bernardino massacre.


                    When I said source of the problem what I meant was that putting up jersey barriers won’t fix Islamic terrorism. There are many ways to fight Islamic terrorism only some of which involve direct force.


                        • I believe that was in one of the links.
                          An old tactic, really.
                          General knowledge.

                          And it really isn’t surprising to anyone who has studied criminal justice; i.e., law enforcement personnel (I took the classes as part fo a paralegal certificate program).
                          Four models of policing which have been popular in the history of the U.S.:
                          Political model, then professional model (both of which have generally accepted and alternative start dates), the community policing model, and intelligence-led policing.
                          That’s on the state level.
                          The feds are, and always have been, in the political model.

                          As one CJ prof. (a police detective, who won the Officer of the Year award the year previously, for breaking up a burglary ring) stated it to the class:
                          The feds work the complete opposite of us. What you’re used to is finding a crime, and then going to look for a suspect. The feds work the other way around. The decide who they’re going to arrest, and then go looking for a crime.

                          Common knowledge.

                          The political model of policing entails exactly what it sounds like.


          • Let me modify from Jersey Barriers a bit. Thinking about the cable barriers they put in interstate medians, perhaps these would work as speeds on bridges are less than on interstates. A couple of cables perhaps 1 and 2 foot off the ground would not impact the viewscape, and also make it obvious that jaywalking is not to be done, plus confining vehicles to the traffic lanes.


      • While I agree with not jaywalking, it’s no panacea.

        At least where I live, the city is somewhat walking back its big “don’t jaywalk” campaign, in the face of people pointing out that only a small minority of people killed crossing the street, were in fact jaywalking.

        e.g. http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/new-edmonton-jaywalking-signs-anger-victims-friends

        (The particular crosswalk in the article is notoriously bad – some of my friends call it “the crosswalk of doom”)


        • The actual lesson to teach is that you want to cross at the crosswalk because that is where drivers expect you to cross, and thus where they will be looking (ideally) for you to cross.

          As for busy streets, I sure do like pedestrian overpasses.


          • That’s the problem – they’re not reliably looking for you to cross, or are driving fast enough that they’ll too often see you too late, because the road was designed with a mentality of “a good road is a fast road”, and then crosswalks were put in without measures to slow the traffic because that would make the road “worse”.


          • I once had an a-hole speed up as I was entering a crosswalk. I was able to jump back but I wasn’t happy. (And he SAW me, I know he saw me).

            I grew up in a town that allegedly would ticket jaywalkers. As an excessively-law-abiding child, it had the effect of making me always use crosswalks.

            Pedestrian overpasses are an excellent, if costly, solution. Locally, they installed a new crosswalk with flashing warning lights (when you cross, you press a button, which turns the lights on telling cars to STOP and WAIT). The crosswalk is between the basketball arena and its parking lot across the street from it and I confess I WISH my university had had the bucks to do an overpass, because there are times you wind up sitting and waiting for 5 or more minutes when a lot of people are crossing. This is the main north-south spine of the east side of town and the route I take to get home at the end of the day….I just try really hard to leave early on the days when there’s a game so I can avoid most of the pedestrians.

            There have been a few cases in the DFW area of people trying to run across interstates and it has almost always ended badly.


    • I’m trying to figure out how the story is even all that shocking given the existence of crossing guards? Like, the idea that kids up to a certain age need special help to cross a street safely is not remotely new, and the article itself says that the older kids would compensate by waiting for bigger gaps in traffic.


    • walking over to the nearest signalized crosswalk is a mile and a half detour

      Can you give me the GPS coordinates of three non-rural spots (because rural roads are generally not particularly busy or particularly wide) where this is the case? You can get the coordinates on Google Maps or some similar site. Links would work, too.


      • Do you reckon the argument in the link – kids’ younger than 14 inability to judge gaps in traffic is relevant to their ability to safely get about on foot – doesn’t make sense?

        A mile and a half is an exaggeration for effect, for sure. There are only a couple of places where it’s notably bad in my city.

        For example, https://www.google.ca/maps/@53.5469809,-113.5483283,17z – Stony Plain Road is an arterial road through the middle of a residential area; four lanes, gets very busy during rush hour. In the section on the map link (if I managed to get it to work), there are lights at 127 St and 134 St. If you’re at 131 St and want to go to a signalized crossing, it’s only about a half mile detour to the nearest signalized crossing.


      • I was sure that I had to walk a half mile out of my way to go to a signalized crosswalk when I was a kid, but when I looked at it on Google Maps it was more like a quarter mile.

        In my defense, my legs were a lot shorter then.


      • Can you give me the GPS coordinates of three non-rural spots (because rural roads are generally not particularly busy or particularly wide) where this is the case?

        Oh, for God’s sake:

        That is Starbucks. There is a Suntrust Bank across the street. And….goooo!

        Most locations have signaled crosswalks *only at the traffic lights*, and there are a hell of a lot of places where there are heavily trafficked roads *without any nearby traffic lights*.

        Some of those places do not have traffic lights because they rely on stop signs and yield signs…and some just don’t have traffic lights because they don’t have any *cross* roads!

        I know you’re trying to dismiss those areas as ‘rural’, but that has very little to do with the amount of *traffic* on them, or how many people attempt to *cross* them.


  11. Former OTer Bouie on the Trump reawakening the dark currents of American history:


    ey to all of this is the interplay between racism in culture, in politics, and in public life. Each reinforced the other, creating an atmosphere of hostility and violence that wasn’t otherwise inevitable, even as it had its antecedents. Put differently, racist violence isn’t spontaneous; it creeps up from fertile ground, feeding on hate and intolerance in the public sphere. The lynching epidemic exploded with the end of Reconstruction and the reconciliation of Northern and Southern whites under the banner of white supremacy, pogroms in towns like Tulsa occurred in an atmosphere of unimaginably virulent racism, and the killings and assassinations of the civil rights era were inseparable from the segregationist fire-eaters that governed states like Mississippi and Alabama. Today, the rising pace of hate crimes is tied to a political style that has harnessed and weaponized white resentment by way of an ethno-nationalist movement that sees America in narrow, racially exclusionary terms.


    • The thing is, I don’t think the causality is a simple a->b, like this

      Trump -> Rising hate crimes

      Instead, I think it is a cycle, like this

      Right wing media -> rising intolerance -> more right wing media -> more intolerance, some hate crimes -> Trump -> more media/intolerance/hate crimes -> more Trump, more media, more intolerance

      rinse repeat.

      It’s very ugly, but Trump is certainly part of this. It’s more like, there are three piles of shit in your house. They all stink. You want them all out. One of them is Trump.


      • And another one is “safe spaces”. How intolerant do we want to be, people?
        “no, you can’t enter my safe space, it’s Mine”

        … these aren’t liberal ideas. They’re kreepy conservative ones.


        • George,
          I question your ability to do the complex statistics it would take to come to an accurate conclusion on the subject.
          Perhaps you’d care to cite some sources? I’m sorry to ask, but a few won’t cut it, that’ll read as anecdotes.


          • Just about every one of those stories (I’m familiar with more than a few) got debunked as a fraud within several days of appearing. In many cases the person confessed that they’d made it up.

            Conservatives didn’t suddenly become violent racists because Trump won, but liberals did suddenly become paranoid and unhinged.


  12. P: The quote from P2 explains P1. People will lash out in polls. As surveyed and questioned as we are in this age, we still feel unheard, so when the pollster finally gets around to asking us a question, we’re going to choose the most inflammatory option on the list. I suspect that most of the truther and birther poll results were just people’s way of saying that we don’t trust anyone anywhere. There’s a lot of signalling going on in polls, too. (I wonder if in another few years we’re going to look back in embarrassment at how many things we attributed to tribalism and signalling just because they were trendy. Nevertheless, I think I’m right on this.) If a president does something in foreign policy that a party likes, the members of a party will increase their support for the president’s foreign policy, but also his economic policy, health care policy, whatever, even if he hasn’t made a change in those. That’s just someone clicking as hard as they can on the “like” button. It doesn’t mean anything like what pollsters claim it means.


    • I think this is one of those plausible arguments that doesn’t hold together quite as well as all that. To take the really obvious example, in polling, Republicans for years said they were open to birther conspiracy theories, and then in the primary election… they nominated the birther. Now, maybe they still didn’t believe it [1], but if saying it to a pollster became a good way to assert their identity, why wouldn’t voting for the guy who got up and said it as loudly as possible with a national audience?

      [1] But given the whole motivated reasoning thing, I expect that vehemently saying something is true is going to incline people to believe it’s true.


  13. Kevin Drum ponders Michael Tomasky’s article on liberal elites:


    Drum thinks the problem of the Big Sort goes back to the GI Bill in WWII but this is the key section:

    The two groups barely interact anymore. They don’t really want to, and they’re physically separated anyway. (More and more, they’re also geographically separated, as liberals cluster in cities and conservatives live everywhere else.)

    Second, there’s the decline of unions. Fifty years ago, the working class commanded plenty of political respect simply because they had a lot of political power. No liberal in her right mind would think of condescending to them. They were a constituency to be courted, no matter what your personal feelings might be.

    But young liberals in the 60s and 70s broke with the unions over the Vietnam War, and the unions broke with them over their counterculture lifestyle. This turned out to be a disaster for both sides, as Democrats lost votes and workers saw their unions decimated by their newfound allies in the Republican Party. By the time it was all over, liberals had little political reason to care about the working class and the working class still hated the hippies. Without the political imperative to stay in touch, liberals increasingly viewed middle America as a foreign culture: hostile, insular, vaguely racist/sexist/homophobic, and in thrall to charlatans.

    I’m off two minds here. I think my dislike of how large segments of the United States seemingly uses the word elite is well known and tiresome to most of this community but it seems like elite in the United States means you went to college and/or grad school regardless of your income and it also corresponds with your entertainment choices. So a 24 year old teacher or admin assistant is an elite if he or she lives in a blue city and likes to go to the Ballet and/or read the New Yorker and/or likes This American Life. But a person who makes a good salary or might even be really wealthy is salt of the earth if his or her hobbies include hunting and fishing and prefers Toby Keith to the Magnetic Fields.

    I think this is bonkers and nuts but it is what it is I suppose.

    I suppose there has always been a tension in center-left parties historically between their middle-class bourgeois members (who always had a semi-Bohemian and artsy streak) and the working-class and Union base. The UK Labour Party had these tensions and similar fissures in the 1960s. You had middle class or above types in Labour like Clement Attlee and you had people who worked real working class jobs like Aneurin Bevan and James Callaghan and Harold Wilson potentially. Then you had some in-between types like Roy Jenkins (he was from a working class background but toff’d himself up. There is a famous anecdote where people were speculating whether Jenkins was lazy and Bevan replied “No one from Jenkin’s background who learns to speak with an accent like that is lazy.”)

    The other issue is that contempt seems very large here and it seems like a lot of people complaining about liberal elites have eggshell skins despite being allegedly so tough.


    • So don’t think “élite”. Think “Team Blue”.

      No dissonance required. Sure, they’re “only” a 24 year old teacher or admin assistant BUT! he or she lives in a blue city and likes to go to the Ballet and/or read the New Yorker and/or likes This American Life.

      Team Blue.

      Hell, you know they like the ballet, the New Yorker, and This American Life?

      You can now guess as to whether they caucused for Rubio during the primary. (We both know that “they didn’t caucus for Rubio.” If I’m wrong about that, I’ll eat a bug.)

      It also explains what happened with the unions. Sure, they had a coalition for a bit… but, man. Team Red and Team Blue ain’t no joke. Reagan really brought those guys home, didn’t he? It’s like they didn’t even care that he made jokes about nuclear war! And they claim to love their kids!


            • What if one talks about “Team Blue” in response to someone saying, wait, let me cut and paste this:

              I think my dislike of how large segments of the United States seemingly uses the word elite is well known and tiresome to most of this community but it seems like elite in the United States means you went to college and/or grad school regardless of your income and it also corresponds with your entertainment choices.


            • Team Blue and Team Red, or Blue Tribe and Red Tribe, are terms to indicate membership in a class defined around a broadly-shared set of cultural & political assumptions, not an accusation of partisanship. If we want to talk broadly about people on the lefter half of the main divide, “Team Blue” keeps us away from dealing with all the fine distinctions that people like to draw within the group (“I’m not a liberal, I’m a progressive! I’m a Leftist! I’m a pragmatist! I’m not a Democrat, I’m a registered Independent!”) when we’re talking about attributes that generally cross those divisions.


      • I mean, actually, over at RedRacingHorses, a right-leaning electoral analysis site i like to visit because it has one of the last sane conservative commentariat in the world, a lot of them were Rubio supporters, and a lot of those people were cosmopolitan young folks who used happened to be conservative.

        Is it likely the person you listed didn’t vote for Rubio? Absolutely. But, if they are a Republican, they likely did caucus for Rubio over the rest of the GOP competitors.


        • Strikes me as a hell of a lot more likely that they caucused for Bernie.

          Or Clinton, maybe.

          I mean, given little more information than “lives in Blue city, likes the ballet, the New Yorker, and This American Life”.


      • OK, but without that, so what? If it’s just two “teams” with their own cultural preferences, why is preferring to drive a Prius instead of an F150 horrible snobbery, but thinking it’s profoundly immoral for a dude to bone another dude A-OK?

        I mean, my experience is that dudes who bone dudes think boning dudes is pretty damn fun, but somehow social conservatives aren’t being scolds when they endlessly wring their hands about it?


        • Because once upon a time a college student was snooty to a truck driver and people at LGM are so mean for liking their steaks medium rare.


    • I gotta say, I question the utility of analyses attempting to tease out deep causal connections which account for often questionable and necessarily incomplete descriptions of our current culture. Eg., analyses like what was quoted above:

      Description: the liberal elites are held in contempt.
      Account: it’s the hippies fault.

      Political culture is always changing. To the degree policy reflects political social culture in a liberal democracy (or is perceived to), that society is +/- stable. Questions of how we arrived at a point where political culture has fractured into two (or more) fundamentally oppositional, antagonistic and destabilizing groups seem to me entirely distinct from questions regarding best practices or likely outcomes or amelioration going forward, and especially so once dissatisfaction peaks out from under the political covers. So identifying the causes of political tension which destabilize a political economic system which is viewed (probably incorrectly) as recently being in equilibrium strikes me as either a purely academic exercise (in the sense of practically and politically useless tho intellectually interesting) or a function of blame-assignment.

      We live in a democratic republic. Viewed as a whole, our politics appears to be increasingly chaotic because our culture appears to be increasingly fractured. Whether that’s the case or not is subject to opinion but also beside the point. There are no fixes within our system other than letting the feedback loops which define the democratic process proceed and hope that a new equilibrium can be achieved. The alternative is that dissonance reaches a tipping point realized by regressive measures undermining liberal democratic institutions themselves. IOW, that all hell breaks loose.


      • Part of what happened over the past eight years is that the elites (all those Harvard and Yale graduates who take cushy, super-important jobs in New York and Washington) have continually exposed themselves as being both arrogant and dumb as a box of rocks.

        When government was much smaller and much less important in people’s lives, we really didn’t mind so much that there were elites who were utterly clueless, as it was rather funny, kind of like watching British Lords who don’t know where eggs come from because their butlers never told them about chickens.

        But when stupid people like that are demanding control, authority, and obedience, the public blanches. We watched State Department spokesman Jen Psaki open her mouth day after day, regularly removing the slightest doubts that she was way dumber than the average viewer. The Iranians mocked her as “that stupid girl”, and they were right. Then we see videos of Yale graduates protesting and realize that they’re all probably too clueless to pass muster at a two-year college in the South.

        So along comes the election and the Democrats run perhaps the most out-of-touch candidate in history, one who couldn’t find Wisconsin on a map and who can’t even comprehend the most basic security protocols, ones that even enlisted soldiers follow without the slightest problem. She couldn’t even remember her own passwords. She couldn’t find Wisconsin on a map. She couldn’t drive a car. She couldn’t set her DVR to record. She had to depend on her staff for things like that.

        Scads of elite celebrities breathlessly endorsed her as a feminist icon, even though she used private detectives to harass and threaten her serial rapists husband’s many victims. The conclusion was that the elite celebrities are likewise not very bright.

        And then Trump entered the race and the elite Republican politicians and pundits denounced him and laughed off his candidacy. The first to crash and burn in ignominious defeat was Jeb Bush. The rest of the pack followed, and all the while the elite GOP opinion makers went bananas, with National Review Online becoming a sick parody of The Daily Kos. George Will seemed to get up every morning and somehow hit himself with an egg. Donald Trump said Washington was being run by morons, and he was right.

        All the elites, the pundits, the thinkers, said he didn’t have a chance of winning. He said he did. He was right and they were embarrassingly wrong, and not just wrong, but utterly clueless.

        So what’s happening in both camps is that we’re looking at a bunch of out-of-touch, privileged elites who have been at the trough of public policy for far too long, and gotten far too much benefit than what we’d expect from people with their very limited faculties.


        • I agree with quite a bit of this.

          On the Right, it started with McCain as presidential candidate. Whatever his campaign failings were, he had the reputation of a maverick. The SoCons holding the Bush coalition together had folded. It wasn’t so much that they were out of favor in the party, but rather an uprising occurred.
          This was followed by the Tea Party, a stern rejection of the Republican establishment.
          And then Trump.

          On the Left, it was Bernie’s surprise showing in the coronation of HRC. He stepped on the trailing robe of Queen Hillary during the coronation ceremony, just as she was stepping up to claim her crown.

          It’s a shift occurring in both parties, a rejection of the establishment. The donor base has separated from the voter base. The talking heads spew gibberish (Same as it ever was!) because the lines they’re talking are tied to a shipwrecked party whose main deck just broke the waterline.
          In short, a realignment.


        • When government was much smaller and much less important in people’s lives…

          I get that this has become part of the conservative/right of center mythology, but this time never existed.

          If there was ever a time that you or your parents/grandparents/etc. didn’t feel the heavy hand of government being asserted in your life, it’s because that hand was busy elsewhere, exerting itself on other people for the benefit of keeping you comfortable.

          If folks on the right really want to speak up for individual freedom, the first thing that they need to do is come to terms with history. I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon, though. We are in a populist moment and the only thing to do is hold on and hope that it passes without doing too much damage.


          • The point is that it used to be state and local governments that imposed the handedness I have heard a comment that before the income tax amendment most folks sole dealing with the federal government was the post office.


    • This is dishonest rubbish and the author is a lying sack of shit:

      Rhetorically, the big issue dividing liberal elites and middle America is less the existence of different lifestyles, and more the feeling that lefties are implicitly lecturing them all the time. You are bad for eating factory-farmed meat. You are bad for enjoying football. You are bad for owning a gun. You are bad for driving an SUV. You are bad for not speaking the language of microaggressions and patriarchy and cultural appropriation. Liberals could go a long way toward solving this by being more positive about these things, rather than trying to make everyone feel guilty about all the things they enjoy.

      Something seems missing here — right? — some other side of this equation. Can we guess what it might be?

      Oh yeah, they think I’m a faggot. Somehow the author missed that part, where I suppose I wouldn’t mind mixing with these folks, inasmuch as I actually enjoy things like shooting guns, and I’ve been to tractor pulls and monster truck rallies, and honestly I don’t hate those things. But they think I’m a faggot. And even if it’s only 10% who will step up and call me a faggot, those 10% can harass me, even hurt me, and the remaining 90% will stand aside and do nothing, cuz even those who won’t call me a faggot kinda think I’m a faggot nevertheless.

      Evidence: the Brietbard comments section, the Fox News comment section, a metric fuckton of YouTube videos, where gap-toothed hillbillies explain how they would murder me if they saw me in the women’s room, etc.

      Fuck this. The question is, are they actually bigots?

      If the answer is yes, then it is yes.

      Hint: the answer is yes.


      • It’s comprehensively fucking idiotic and I’m actually kind of disappointed in Drum for repeating it. “I’m just going to pretend that liberals hate every sort of fun based on absolutely nothing,” is not a good way to argue. I mean, around here Lawyers, Guns, and Money is kind of the watchword for out-of-touch liberal craziness, and it seems like every other post there is about football.

        Which makes sense because football is a lot of fun and even liberals often enjoy fun things.

        Also, of course–and it’s deeply entangled in the bigotry angle–there’s a general, endless, and persistent drumbeat of rage from social conservatives over people daring to enjoy sex and romance. They’ll couch it in terms of “consequences”, of course, but casual examination shows that the concern over consequences are lies and have nothing to do with their objections. “Yeah, gotta stop men from marrying each other or else they’ll have a lot of babies out of wedlock,” is perhaps the most flagrantly stupid thing anybody could possibly believe, yet barely disguised versions of it have been coming from the right for decades.


              • They’re sick of people like you looking down their noses at them. People like Erik Loomis talk about the difference between punching up and punching down then make fun of how proles eat their food.

                And this has policy implication soda is taxed but arugula is not.


                • Heck I’m sick of people looking down on me. SoCons have been looking down on me for decades for not being a believer. People have told me i hate freedom or that i’m a traitor for being a liberal. The food thing would be a better point if conservatives didn’t’ have a freak out about Obama choosing some fancy mustard. Nobody likes to be looked down on, so everybody should stop doing it.


                  • Heck I’m sick of people looking down on me. SoCons have been looking down on me for decades for not being a believer. People have told me i hate freedom or that i’m a traitor for being a liberal.

                    The people who say aren’t the cultural elites.

                    he food thing would be a better point if conservatives didn’t’ have a freak out about Obama choosing some fancy mustard.

                    That’s nopt looking down on him that accusing him of looking down on them. It’s the difference between punching up and punching down.


                    • Highly paid preachers with huge TV shows are sure as hell elites. Rich folk with Benz’s and corner office jobs are hella elites. Plenty of conservative folk are elite.

                      The mustard freak out came after some quick snip on tv where Obama was ordering a tasty sammich and asked for the wrong kind of mustard. There was no looking down involved. That’s why i raised the point. It was as a silly a freak out about ketchup on a steak.

                      Listen i’m all for not looking down on people. If that is to mean anything we all have to do our best at that because looking down on others is a people thing not a one side does it thing.


                      • Highly paid preachers with huge TV shows are sure as hell elites. Rich folk with Benz’s and corner office jobs are hella elites.

                        They may have money but they are hated in Cambridge, Georgetown and Hollywood.

                        The mustard freak out came after some quick snip on tv where Obama was ordering a tasty sammich and asked for the wrong kind of mustard. There was no looking down involved. That’s why i raised the point. It was as a silly a freak out about ketchup on a steak.

                        They were making fun of him for having snobby taste not unsophisticated taste, that makes it punching up not punching down.


                        • And hollywood types are hated in various parts of the country.

                          They were making fun of his tastes. Yes exactly. They were looking down on him for having the right taste. That is just the kind of crap we shouldn’t do. Don’t look down on people for having different tastes.

                          I’m with you on the soda tax thing. They are not a good idea and are aimed only at certain people.


                          • Elvis ate peanut butter banana sandwiches.

                            Back then we didn’t judge people by their diets, but by their table manners. You could tell someone was going to hell because they’d eat their salad with the dessert fork.


                          • And hollywood types are hated in various parts of the country.

                            By people with lower social status not higher social status.

                            They were making fun of his tastes. Yes exactly. They were looking down on him for having the right taste.

                            They were not looking down on him they were accusing him of looking down on them. It’s comparable to when Liberals made fun of Paul Ryan for drinking expensive Wine, something I did not object to them doing.


                    • That’s nopt looking down on him that accusing him of looking down on them.

                      Because of the mustard he ordered on his own fucking sandwich?

                      Give me a break.


                      • Because of the mustard he ordered on his own fucking sandwich?

                        Give me a break.

                        I don’t care what he puts on his sandwich, I do think that making fun of him for it is fundamentally different than making fun of someone for eating like a prole. No one here would argue that joking about Obama eating fired chicken and watermelon is the same as joking about Romney eating caviar.


                        • I’m not particularly fussed about people making fun of Obama ordering fancy mustard. Whatever.

                          What’s bizarre is assuming that he’s looking down on you because of how he eats his own sandwiches.

                          Then again, the idea that people are punching down by making fun of a guy who’s been ridiculously wealthy from birth and went to an Ivy League school for how he orders his $60 steaks is pretty bananas, too.


                          • Then again, the idea that people are punching down by making fun of a guy who’s been ridiculously wealthy from birth and went to an Ivy League school for how he orders his $60 steaks is pretty bananas, too.

                            Is it punching down to make jokes about Obama eating fried chicken and watermelon? They are making fun of Trump for eating like a prole, they aren’t just making fun of him they are making fun making fun of everyone who isn’t a yuppie foodie, they also made fun of Pence for eating at Chili’s.


                            • Except Trump isn’t a prole. He wasn’t even born and raised as a prole.

                              And I eat at Chili’s fairly frequently.

                              Maybe your theory is just dumb.


                              • They are making fun of him for eating like a prole* rather than a sophisticated urbanite.

                                *I think it’s mainly an urban prole thing rural proles like their meat rare from what I can tell.


                              • See above and this is tribal. A 24 year old Smith grad making 40k a year is an elite cause she likes modern dance. Trump and DeVos who are idiots who inherited daddy’s money are proles.


                                • A 24 year old Smith grad making 40k a year is an elite cause she likes modern dance.

                                  40K is well above the median income for 24 year olds, she’ll probably be making 6 figures with in 10 years.


                  • It’s almost as if the Dan d’s complaints about liberal cultural elites is circular nonsense.

                    “Oh, those people don’t count as elites.”

                    “Why not?”

                    “Because they aren’t elites.”


                    • Well that does seem to be where this goes. “Elite” is just a way of saying “people we hate because they have different tastes.” It doesn’t seem to have any other definition that isn’t tied to having the wrong tastes or living in the wrong area. Money or actual power don’t seem connected to “elite” as it is often used. I’ve heard this many times. I’m some liberal living in Alaska but I’m an “elite” who lords over others and has all this power that somehow i’ve never noticed.


                    • It’s almost as if pillsy and Greg want to examine everyones privilege exept their own.

                      Since the United States is not a formal aristocracy social status can be difficult to define. Paul Fussell did the best job of anyone I’m aware of.


                      • I’m fine with examining it and have thought about social status kind of stuff and culture for a long time. Like i noted above i’ve been told i’m not a real american when i lived in NJ or a million other judgments based on my beliefs or tastes.

                        Social status is difficult to define which i one reason i’m pretty darn skeptical of a lot of it. The way “elite” is used seems to be shallow and just another word for people whose tastes we don’t like. You can’t tell if someone is an elite based on what they eat or where they live or what they pray to. Money might be a start of defining elite. Privilege is very much related to race and gender. Actual power to steer things is actually pretty rare.


                        • Social status is difficult to define which i one reason i’m pretty darn skeptical of a lot of it.

                          So because it’s difficult to define means it doesn’t exist? That’s strange logic lot of things are difficult to define.

                          Privilege is very much related to race and gender.

                          Who do you thin has more privilege George P. Bush or a coal miner in West Virginia.


                          • Difficult to define usually means a complex definition. It isn’t likely to be a simple partisan thing.

                            Umm George Bush. That doesn’t mean privilege isn’t related to race and gender. Privilege is complex. FWIW it’s more complex than SJW’s often see and they often over simplify it.


                      • Yeah, that’s right. I’m a straight white guy who, as you assert, believes [1] that straightness, whiteness, and maleness all confer privilege, but sure, I want to examine everyone’s privilege but my own.

                        [1] With a number of caveats that aren’t really important here.


                          • Nope. I just think your ideas about class privilege are dumb and circular.

                            I mean holy shit dude. I have a ton of class privilege. I generally think this is illustrated in the fact that I have a nice desk job, really flexible hours, a bunch of degrees from well-regarded schools, and only a mild regional accent.

                            I don’t think it has anything to do with the looking down on people who drink soda and eat at fucking chain restaurants, because I drink soda and eat at fucking chain restaurants.

                            I also don’t think it has anything to do with looking down on repulsive bigoted reactionaries, because a lot of the repulsive bigoted reactionaries I look down on also have mild regional accents, post-graduate degrees, and nice desk jobs.


                              • Well, the mild regional accent took literally no work on my part.

                                As for the rest, it’s not all because of privilege, but it’s also not all because of hard work, either. A lot of the time I was able to focus my work on studying and getting good grades instead of, say, earning money. When I did have to work as a student, the work was usually interesting and paid pretty well.

                                And no matter how I got here, now I’m here, you know?


                            • I mean holy shit dude. I have a ton of class privilege. I generally think this is illustrated in the fact that I have a nice desk job, really flexible hours, a bunch of degrees from well-regarded schools, and only a mild regional accent.

                              Do you not think that your cultural tastes made it easier for you to get and keep your job? I Know that my cultural tastes and the resulting social network have made it more difficult for me. Why do you think most jobs want someone who is a “cultural fit”.


                              • Do you not think that your cultural tastes made it easier for you to get and keep your job?

                                Not really, no. Accent, degrees, skill-set? Sure.

                                How I order my steak, or the TV shows I watch, or my preference for craft beers over mass-market beers? Nyah.


                                • How about your social networks? Have you gotten your jobs through connections or have you gotten them all through job postings. How about how you appearance at an interview do you not think having the right look matters?


                                  • Social networks? Yes, especially when I was getting part time or summer jobs in college and grad school.

                                    Having the right look? Oh my no. Definitely matters for some career tracks, but mine isn’t one of them.


                                    • Social networks? Yes, especially when I was getting part time or summer jobs in college and grad school.

                                      And do your cultural tastes not effect who’s in your social network and how helpful they are when finding the type of job your looking for?

                                      Having the right look? Oh my no. Definitely matters for some career tracks, but mine isn’t one of them.

                                      Really you must work in a strange industry. Does being a good “cultural fit” no determine who get hired and who’s the first one out when layoffs happen.


                                      • My education is in math and physics. I got my start, after bailing on academia, as an IT contractor. My job title is “health economist”.[1]

                                        There are a number of ways in which my upper middle class background helped me, but making me cool and stylish is really not among them.

                                        [1] Some people have the strange idea that this means I know something about economics. Don’t be fooled!


                  • I too dislike people looking down on me. So gosh, I sure feel sorry for those “real Americans” who have to experience people looking down on them. That must be rough for them. However do they deal with the burden!

                    Give me a fucking break.


                • Right now I’m eating like a king. Beans and fresh cornbread from the Martha White recipe on the back of the corn meal bag, not some freaking cake recipe with corn flour added as an afterthought to make it “cornbread”. It’s supposed to be cornbread, not bundt cake.

                  But back to royalty. King George III’s favorite meal was beans and cornbread. The British government kept that a state secret because they knew Ben Franklin would go nuts on him.

                  Also, I highly recommend that everyone order some wasabi arugula seeds. It’s awesome. Put the leaves on an Arby’s roast beef sandwich and you won’t need horsey sauce.


                  • So you think you have a right to look down your noise at me then lecture me about the difference between punching up and punching down. People like you are a cancer on this country.


                  • Do the admins of this blog think punching down is acceptable? Whenever someone like Jesse starts punching down at me maybe I should start punching down at someone else. Maybe I should start telling Jewish joke to Saul or Gay jokes to Veronica.


                  • This demonstrates the central tenant of modern “liberalism”: Whitev proles need to take abuse the betters like Jesse and smile, if they don’t they are racist scum.


                  • If I have to choose between a political movement that hates uncool whites and one that hates minorities I’ll choose the one that hates minorities every time.


                • And this has policy implication soda is taxed but arugula is not.

                  One isn’t healthy to consume, the other is. Why isn’t that explanation sufficient?


                    • Right. But by saying that you’re in fact-free conspiracy-theory land. The offered rationale for the tax relates to reducing diabetes and obesity: consuming less sugar accomplishes those goals; adding an additional cost to the price reduces consumption of sugar. All that’s true. You’re suggestion is that people who accept the truth of those claims are lying about their real motives, motives which are revealed by merely noticing that arugula isn’t taxed. But per the premises in the argument, consuming arugula doesn’t cause health problems for consumers.

                      If that’s the argument, it makes no sense, Dan.


                        • It’s not a conspiracy theory anymore than claiming that support for tough on crime policies are motivated by racism is.

                          So we have two theories: liberal snobbery expressed as taxes differentially imposed on the proles and white racism expressed as the law differentially applied to blacks.

                          How are those two things the same?


                            • Sure, but now you’re just appealing to the fact that a person’s internal mental states, their motives, are logically inaccessible to anyone other than that person, and using that as the basis for your theory. Which is irrefutable. Which is sorta my point. It’s conspiracy theory land.

                              Add: which distinguishes if from the motive of racism, which there’s actually lots of evidence of.


                                • A conspiracy theory (which is different than a theory that people conspired) is typically defined by being impervious to falsification by any evidence or argument. Each new piece of information is accounted for as consistent with the main thesis. So in that sense it’s irrefutable.

                                  A theory that relies on a person’s motive as an explanatory account is similar since motive is logically inaccessible to others. So attributing motive to someone cannot be refuted by any evidence since any evidence can be accounted for consistently with that (attributed, in this case) motive. Suppose someone suggests the motive was different – that the tax is intended to reduce diabetes – the motive attributor accounts for that claim by saying its a lie (which is exactly what urban snobs do :).

                                  So, you’re theory is that the soda tax is motivated by bigotry. Is it possible that it isn’t? Surely it seems possible that the motive was to reduce diabetes. But according to you’re theory that is not possible because the motive was actually urban liberal snobbery against the proles. The attribution of bigotry, in this case, can’t be refuted. (Even tho it strikes me as obviously false :)


                                  • A conspiracy theory (which is different than a theory that people conspired) is typically defined by being impervious to falsification by any evidence or argument

                                    That’s a definition of conspiracy theory, a conspiracy theory is a theory about people conspiring.

                                    So, you’re theory is that the soda tax is motivated by bigotry. Is it possible that it isn’t? Surely it seems possible that the motive was to reduce diabetes. But according to you’re theory that is not possible because the motive was actually urban liberal snobbery against the proles. The attribution of bigotry, in this case, can’t be refuted.

                                    So how is it different than claiming that “though on crime” policies are motivated by racism?


                                    • No, reading thru the other comments you’ve made I don’t think I wanna go any further with this. You’re clearly in an intellectual space where discussion isn’t gonna be useful. For me anyway.


                                      • Too bad, I was curious to see how you were going to answer that question. From my vantage point it looks like “My side sees the true underlying motives behind the actions, your side engages in crazy conspiracy theories”.


                                        • Seeing true underlying motives based on no relevant evidence which confirm your priors simply is a conspiracy theory.

                                          I don’t want to keep going since it isn’t a discussion: it’s a reverse interrogation. You assert something absurd then challenge everyone to refute your view, even after they’ve told you your errors.


                                          • Funny how you have no problem coming up with an absurd re-definition of “conspiracy theory”; then claim call class bias absurd. You’ve made it very clear that you look down your nose at me.


                                        • The argument that tough-on-crime policies are racist doesn’t depend much at all on assuming secret motives for its advocates, though. A few of them are outright racist hate mongers [1], but most of the argument looks at disparate impact, public statements from more mainstream advocates that reveal unexamined and tacitly accepted racial prejudice, and the like.

                                          All of this tends to screw up policies that spring from the completely legitimate, sincere desire to reduce violent crime, which is one of the core functions of the state.

                                          You could turn the above into a plausible argument about how soda taxes are classist and actually bad by changing a few words here and there. Maybe should try that instead of insisting it’s all about how liberals hate the proles.

                                          [1] Think Steve King, for example.


                                          • The argument that tough-on-crime policies are racist

                                            No, the argument Dan D is referring to is that tough-on-crime policies are motivated by racism. It doesn’t even make sense to call a policy racist.


                                            • Wait, how does it not make sense to call a policy racist?

                                              That can’t possibly be right, because, “School segregation is racist,” is a perfectly intelligible sentence, and one which is likely to arouse little disagreement.


                  • It’s entirely possible to drink sugared soda and be healthy. I’m diet soda person and lord knows people will misread data to say i’m gonna die 5 years ago from 18 kinds of cancer. Soda taxes are unwise. Unless the taxes extend to all the fancy sugar delivery coffee like drinks ( what are those things, lattemochechino’s or rainbow frappes at starbucks?) then it does have a class based tinge to it.


    • The problem is the that the Yuppies are passing law favoring their lifestyle choices; blue city after blue city is passing soda taxes when there are plenty of upscale products they could be taxing instead.


      • Or like in my area, where they were pushing for a 1% sales-tax hike (and we pay sales tax, FULL sales tax, on groceries as well as other products) “to raise teacher pay”

        A lot of us were observing it would make more sense to raise property taxes instead – our property taxes are comparatively low. For one thing, people like me, who have a bit more income, could afford that raise, whereas the working-mom living in an apartment with her kids might have a harder time dealing with her sales tax going up to somewhere over 10%.

        (And yes, I know: a property-tax increase would probably raise rents, but I suspect the bite on individuals would be smaller than paying it every week at the grocery store).

        That said? I’d bitch like hell about a “luxury tax” levied on, say, good cheese. Consistency, hobgoblin, small minds, all of that. (Not that it’s very easy for me to get truly “luxury” quality cheese where I live….)


    • Unions arguably peaked about the time that Galbraith wrote “The New Industrial State”. This was when large monolithic corporations ran things; interfirm competition wasn’t considered important because intrafirm competition kept the best and brightest at the top. It’s parallel to the Wise Men thing in Federal service.

      Of course it was all predicated on the destruction of much of the world in WWII and as globalization advanced, those firms declined and with them went the habitat for unions.

      I can’t tell if the 1960s New Left was caused, causal or parallel to this. The (naive) attack on the Military Industrial Complex to the side, there wasn’t much for them to do to those firms.


  14. G2: Is that really targeting kids? I see this as far more likely to be used against undocumented dreamers just trying to make a better life for their families.


  15. G5 – I’m trying to think of anytime in my lifetime (i.e. from circa 1970 onward) that popular culture treated the FBI well. Agents Mulder and Scully were heros, but the institutional FBI was rotten. In the original Die Hard, the FBI were reckless cowboys that gave the late great Alan Rickman the christmas miracle he needed to pull off his heist. Agent Cooper was kind of a dope, that wasted time eating pie when he should have been helping solve Laura Palmer’s murder. Agent Starling was, again a hero, and the FBI, again, turned out to be institutionally rotten. I’ve never seen it, but from the commercials, this seems to be the case with the Quantico as well.

    And in the real world, we have Robert Hanssen, whose crimes were blamed on an innocent guy for decades. Plus failure to connect the dots before 9/11.

    So whence the idealization of the FBI?


    • In movies, maybe no so much, because the focus on an individual hero fighting against “the system.”

      However, when it comes to the TV, Criminal Minds, The Blacklist, Bones, White Collar, Without a Trace, and a ton of other reality shows all have heroic FBI agents as main characters.


  16. T5: This is something that has ALWAYS bugged me about passenger rail. Train cars are fecking massive! They are heavy, and they roll along on steel wheels on steel tracks. Getting just a single empty train car moving and stopped requires a whole lot of energy. Even light rail, despite the name, has cars that mass easily twice what a bus of similar size does.

    The energy cost works for freight lines because you can string together dozens of cars, and once they get moving, you don’t have to stop them and the momentum carries the day. Passenger rail, especially urban transit, is constantly stopping and starting.

    Thinking about this, the smart thing to do, from to POV of urban transit, is to mix bus service and Bus Rapid Transit, where the BRT has dedicated lanes (instead of rail lines).


      • King county metro is getting all electric buses. Can charge in 10 minutes. Could be fitted with regenerative braking systems just fine and still weigh half of what a rail car does.

        And urban rail has only recently started to use regenerative braking (past 5 years or so), so it’s not like they’ve been reaping the benefits for decades.

        So again, what significant benefits do we gain with urban passenger rail that could not be realized with BRT in dedicated lanes?


        • And urban rail has only recently started to use regenerative braking (past 5 years or so), so it’s not like they’ve been reaping the benefits for decades.

          I was in college in the 80s and was working with a research group on power electronic controls for subway systems. Spent many a night in the tunnels. Regenerative braking was standard technique then.

          Now, it might be that that was just a European thing


          • Regen to battery, or grid, or resistor? Only one of those can consistently make stopping & starting highly efficient (well, to grid can, if the grid is sufficiently smart enough).


            • Allowing for the fact that it was more than 25 years ago I was deeply involved in (European) subway systems:

              Each and every wagon had two axles powered by DC motors. The motors would be connected in parallel between the third rail (400V DC if I recall correctly) and ground. The third rail-ground circuit was fed by rectifier banks connected to MV substations every couple of stations.

              As you know, DC machines can move seamlessly from motor to generator mode. Accelerating trains would drain power from the DC bus; braking trains would fed power to the bus. Because all the engines were in a parallel configuration, power would flow from generating to motorized engines. Trains at steady speed would just coast with minimum energy consumption. The rectifies stations would keep the voltage (and feed power) when more trains were accelerating than braking.

              When there was excess power from braking, resistors would be automatically connected to dissipate the excess power as heat, because the electronics of the time were not good enough for fast switching inverters to return the power to the utility grid. That technology is available today (it’s used in solar generators for instance) so I’m sure that the resistors are a museum relic now.

              I can’t give you energy consumption comparative numbers between different technologies, but the power recovery was astonishingly efficient in the 90s


              • It would be difficult to wire, but you could have put the braking resistors in the home water heaters of everyone who lived near the train tracks, where they’d give a free temperature boost. Or you could use them to directly make steam that spews across the platform when the train arrives for a dramatic and retro choo choo effect.


        • So again, what significant benefits do we gain with urban passenger rail that could not be realized with BRT in dedicated lanes?

          None in particular that says rail is always the preferred solution

          Rail is probably better when you want to move large volumes of people. Each European or East Asian subway train moves scores more people than dedicated buses could. And it’s scores times more costly to build.

          Just like power plants: different technologies are better fit for different demands.

          I was trying to make the limited point that starting and stopping trains is not particularly a significant problem from an efficiency POV. Subways even have (*) resistors to dissipate excess energy when there are more trains braking than accelerating

          (*) Had 30 years ago. Power electronics nowadays are probably perfectly capable to return that energy to the utility AC grid.


          • Rail is probably better when you want to move large volumes of people long distances.


            The efficiency of urban rail has only recently become realizable, and I would love to see a comparison of energy usage between a subway or light rail system & a hybrid or electric bus.


        • The crazy thing is that Seattle along with a number of other cities used to have electric buses (trolly buses) than ran on rubber tires. (I rode them as a kid in Ft Wayne In) These were removed in the mid to late 1960s. Just like about 1900 there was an alternative electric railroad network that one could with a number of transfers ride from New York to Chicago, the interurbans. In addition there were the crack trains of the Pa and NYC that typically stopped 5 or 6 times between NYC and Chicago (when the had to change engines), and did the run in 16 hours.

          To answer the final question rail provides an opportunity for the real estate developers to make a killing if they know the route in advance. With rubber tired bus lines property values don’t increase and intensive development does not occur.


          • Busses in America have the reputation of being something people with low status take. Commuting or using a train is generally seen as something middle or high status people can do.


            • But why are trains higher SES signalling? It isn’t the vehicle itself, light rail isn’t more comfortable that a bus. Which means the signal is more about where trains go, rather than the vehicle


              • It’s a good question and one that might take a lot of research but trains have always felt more romantic in the popular imagination than buses and this seems to be since the dawn of the train.

                My guess is that the original bedroom communities (read wealthy inner ring suburbs) took off because of trains and trains had the allure of intrigue and luxury since the dawn of intercontinental or inter-nation travel.

                Busses seem to be what were given to poor people after everyone else was driving their cars and the old trolley tracks were torn up and paved over.


              • Case in point, the Denver suburbs’ shiny new system. The large majority of the 100+ route-miles are/will be in the suburbs and outlying parts of Denver. Stops are typically spaced at greater than a mile. To the extent possible, no at-grade crossings of major streets. Pay at the vending machine before you get on the platform. Big doors in the center of the cars with the intent that you can empty or fill a train completely in 60 seconds. Hits major job centers: downtown, the Tech Center, the Federal Center, the big hospital complex on the east side. Education: U of Denver, CU-Denver, Metro State, multiple community colleges. Major event venues: the big sports complexes, LoDo, the Convention Center, free circulator to within a few blocks of the Performing Arts Complex. Airport.

                What the system is providing is an enormously better alternative to RTD’s express bus service. The bus service required at least several minutes to get between the highways it used and each loading point. It failed right along with auto traffic when it snowed, or there was a major accident. The rail system has much larger capacity, and easy to add more. Daily ridership has reached about 90,000, and as the additional lines open I expect to live to see it pass 150,000.


                • Once you have an artery, it makes sense to run rapid mass transit along it, be it rail or BRT, as long as it is in a dedicated lane, it will probably serve the community well. It’s when planners run rail to strange places, or try to shoehorn it in to areas that never envisioned rail (or abandoned that vision long ago) that I start to cringe at the cost, unless they are willing to do some serious urban renewal (as in tearing things up to make room for the system).

                  I remember reading the history of a neighborhood I once lived in. Near the house I owned was a bike path that was nice and flat. Previously it was a graded right of way that was set aside for a future commuter rail that never materialized. The city eventually turned it into the bike path, but kept the right of way as is, which is smart. The bike path is nice, but if a RT system ever did materialize, the city could flip that path into a dedicated line in a hot minute and few would complain. That’s the kind of long term planning that makes RT systems successful.


        • This is one of the hard–and interesting–mass transit questions.

          Buses are cheaper, easier to build, and more flexible. People just don’t seem to like ’em as much (both on the government planning side, because you can’t name a bus after someone, and on the use side).

          So to answer your question, there’s no rational reason I know of (especially if you’re proposing dedicated lanes), but that doesn’t mean the policies are equivalent.


          • Thing is, the weight of rail cars has more to do with legacy designs than any real efficiency gains of the system. Large, heavy freight trains enjoy the benefits of the high mass, but we could develop a true light rail system where the cars mass a lot less and operate on dedicated tracks that are a lot cheaper to install and maintain.


            • Hey, if I believed that ridership and political support for buses (especially with devoted lanes) would lead to their successful adoption, I’d be all for it.

              Heck, I’m all for buses AND trains anyway, so I’m an easy sell.


            • Depends on how dedicated they are, but in general, they do. The more cross traffic they have to deal with, the less effective they become,.


  17. Speaking of everything being political, are you guys keeping up with the Kathy Griffin press conference?

    Personally, I think that if Clinton runs again in 2020, she should avoid campaigning with Kathy Griffin.


        • She was on Suddenly Susan (including one episode where they all went out to a bar with Warren Zevon), and a few episodes of Seinfeld (where she sent some hot sauce to Jerry, and later blamed him for ruining her career). She then had a show about celebrities that maybe was called My Life on the D-List. She made a living out of insulting celebrities. She’s been doing live broadcasts with Anderson Cooper for the past few New Year’s Eves, and got into some controversy because of her swearing. That’s off the top of my head.


          • She was. For some reason, I have her mentally filed as a less-talented Maria Bamford rather than, say, Laura Kightlinger or Amy Schumer.

            (To me, it does make sense to only make stylistuc comparisons to other female comedians like it doesn’t for white point guards or slot receivers)


    • For the life of me, I cannot figure out why anyone cares what Kathy Griffin does. It doesn’t seem like there is anything too faux controversial, too banal, too obviously fake and meaningless, that a bunch of other people won’t pretend to get outraged about it.

      How the hell did we get here?


        • We have a D list attention-monger celeb who did something to get attention and got said attention (perhaps not exactly the attention she wanted, but whatever), and the media feeding cycle continues to churn.

          Reminds me of a skit from the US version of Spitting Image, where Ed McMahon forces Johnny Carson to divorce another wife to distract the media.


          • You mentioned the media feeding cycle, and it made me think: is there a mechanism any more which allow the media to realize when a story is “done”? Is there any way (other than Twitter trending, I guess) for the media to realize that a story is too trivial, or too played-out?


            • I’m still seeing covefefe all over the place, and that should have run it’s course about 10 minutes after the tweet went out.

              So my guess is, “no”


              • In the structured, institutional media? Or just among the tweeters?

                It wouldn’t bother me if tweeters are immature. Twitter encourages superficiality. But the institutional media are different. They should have a sense of decorum. Absent that, they need a way of sensing the crowd’s dissatisfaction. But that question leads back to everyone’s favorite discussion about bubbles. If the media are less responsible than they should be, and don’t respond to the people’s call for improvement…uh oh, I can’t think of a way to end this sentence.


                  • Covfefe may be a worst-case scenario. It’s a chance to stupidly politically tweet about a stupid tweet from a politician. It’s like the dream girl and the sure thing all in one for people of a certain mindset.


      • I’m using it as a bit of a bellwether for 2018.

        I’m under the impression that the Democratic Party doesn’t know why they lost in 2016.

        (Sometimes, I’m under the impression that the Democratic Party doesn’t know *THAT* they lost in 2016.)

        There are two ways for Democrats to get more seats in the various state-level and national level offices.

        1. Win Elections
        2. Just Manage To Not Lose Them To The Freaking Republicans God Damn It

        Of course, #1 would be better than #2, but #2 seems to be more likely.

        In any case, depending on how the Kathy Griffin thing plays out, I’m adjusting my opinions on how likely #2 is.


        • I’m using it as a bit of a bellwether for 2018.

          OK, but why? I’m largely in agreement about the Dems, but this is so far out of the bounds of anything that actually matters in that conversation. It’s like Kanye saying that GWB doesn’t care about black people. Did that have any political significance or impact outside of being celebrity gossip?