Morning Ed: Politics {2017.07.13.Th}

[Po1] David Brooks got a lot of grief for his questionable sandwich anecdote, but Sonny Bunch and Phoebe Malz Bovy both had some thoughtful commentary on the issue.

[Po2] Vikram once described Paul Krugman as the exemplar of what politics does to your brain. In that Twitter conversation, we were introduced to Jason Briggeman’s ideological profile on Krugman. (PDF)

[Po3] The main problem with multimember congressional districts in the US House is its sheer size. Constituencies are already too large and without a substantial increase in House size this would make them larger.

[Po4] Matthew Walther writes on the Lincoln Chafee, the last of the WASPs.

[Po5] It was a bad bumper sticker (or a bad proposed one), but a bumper sticker isn’t as big of a deal as the attitude behind it. And the attitude itself might not be the worst against that competition… but that’s what I spent most of 2016 believing.

[Po6] Tom Pepinsky writes about religion being replaced by ethnonationalism.

[Po7] This is bound to end up in the courts, as the Rain God says, and I don’t see how Seattle wins. The upshot to the proposal is that it will encourage couples living in sin to get married to stay under the threshold.

[Po8] This is why political parties should have less specific names.


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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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136 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Politics {2017.07.13.Th}

  1. Po8: This seems to be just more fusionist boosterism. But in this day and age, asking classical liberals to trust conservatives on anything seems laughable at best. Fusionism, if it is not already dead should have died when Trump won the primaries.

    In the UK, fusionism has got a somewhat better future, but only because there is an even chance of the liberal wing of tories dominating the conservative wing. Though with the corbynistas in charge of labour, liberal toryism is more attractive to centrists than conservative toryism. Even then, its unclear whether it is worth it.

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  2. Po7: Optimism abounds. I’d have more faith in their efforts if they could show similar cases, where the state Supreme Court has reversed itself so completely for a city law.

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  3. [Po7] Will: Why would Seattle care about marriage? They are a liberal city that only seems to care about soaking whomever they consider to be “rich” in order to satisfy their liberal delusions of fairness.

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  4. Po3: I like this proposal a lot. The last time this general topic came up around here I floated a proposal to double the number of representatives while keeping the number of districts constant — two representatives per district, elected at large.

    The key is here is that each voter casts only one vote. Historically, at-large representation has been very unfriendly to minorities, whether racial, political, or whatever, because there would be, say, three seats open and you go into the polling booth and cast your three votes for your three candidates all of whom are white or Democrats or whatever.

    But if each voter only casts one vote for one candidate in a multi-member district then the dynamics are radically different. If anything, this proposal somewhat favors minority interests. For example, if Wyoming has one district with two representatives then their delegation would be one R and one D unless the R’s commanded at least a 2/3 majority.

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        • No, that’s not on the table either. Trump could’ve ordered Comey to drop the investigation and then pardoned Flynn and it still wouldn’t be obstruction. Presidents have done that before without any problem at all.

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          • George,
            Yeah, but that’s just trump. I didn’t mention who I’m referring to, after all. I’m fairly certain that lying on background checks is going to be illegal, not just “nope, not hiring you” territory. And, again, yeah, that’s not Donald Trump, but it’s still serious.

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    • It’s idiotic, pushes the narrative closer to where the anti-Trumpers say it should be, doesn’t constitute an impeachable offense (yet) and continues to show that Trumps supporters will accept and excuse anything so long as it’s done by a Republican populist.

      I don’t think it’s very interesting yet. I think the Dems should be focused on finding better messages than Po5 far more than they should be trying to turn this nonsense into an impeachment proceeding right now.

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      • If we held Hillary to the standards being used for Trump, she’d be buried under the jail’s basement. For example, she actively colluded with Miss Slovakia (a foreigner) to get dirt on Trump, and she used that dirt. Donald Jr didn’t use anything, and as it turns out, the Russian lawyer didn’t have anything anyway. It was just a ruse to get a meeting about something else.

        And if we looked at all else she did, well, the Libyans are now screaming that she actively armed ISIS and other terrorist elements.

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        • George,
          Can you cite some real sources showing active collusion with other governments?
          Because it’s one thing for Joe The Idiot to have some dirt on the Clintons… it’s another for a government to be deliberately manipulating it’s rivals.

          As for Libya? Since when do you care what the Libyans think? I think it sounds like you’re just trying to come up with something bad that Clinton did.
          … which isn’t to say that her nickname, “The Mad Bomber” isn’t accurate.

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          • Under the law, it doesn’t matter if the foreign person represents a government or not.

            Clinton was in bed with the Russians, and got over $100 million dollars for her part in the Uranium One deal, while the Russians paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a Moscow speech shortly afterwards. She also was involved in setting up a business venture to transfer US high technology from firms like Google to the Russian military. Her campaign chairman’s brother was on Russia’s payroll.

            The Trump’s knew all that, as do all Republicans, but didn’t have the burning evidence that someone on the other side of those deals (the Russian government) could have provided. So when a lawyer claiming Russian government connections e-mail an offer of such dirt, Trump took the meeting. I would have taken the meeting. Anyone would have taken the meeting.

            Recall that the meeting occurred long prior to any allegations that the Russians had hacked the DNC servers, and long before any such hacks were revealed.

            Nor is it wrong to provide politically damaging information concerning a foreign politician to other foreign politicians. We do that all the time. World leaders constantly criticize or praise each other, and not infrequently reveal dirt on each other. We employ thousands of agents to do just that.

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            • George,
              Any discussion of what would be crimes in the American Justice System should not be undertaken by political beings (in this case, campaign staff).

              I mean, isn’t that patently obvious?

              If it’s a matter for the FBI/CIA, send it over to them.

              Meddling in foreign elections is a bad business. Unless you want more Irans, that is.

              Americans very very rarely provide to foreign POLITICIANS Dirt on their opponents. They may provide such to a government (which then becomes “Karzai hears voices”), but that’s in keeping with agreements on information sharing.

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          • North,
            … and do you really think you know a crap about the assassination in DC?
            Seriously, I disbelieve that you have any ability whatsoever to hear about people claiming assassinations.

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              • North,
                My point is simply that there are primary sources out there.
                Assassins take credit for the murders they commit.
                That is all.

                Lack of evidence will only be credible if you’ve made a decent effort to find the fucking information.

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      • I am not sure I fully agree.

        The issue with Trump is seemingly that issue fatigue is a real thing and Trump & Co. seem to be pressing a full court assault on everything Obama achieved while in office and more so. The GOP via Trump and their Congress are on a full-press ethnonationalist reactionary mode.

        My newish and not very original theory of Trump is that he has a vendetta against Obama for mocking him all those years ago and seeing how he seethed. Plus right-wing media had enough people wound up with racist and anti-liberal rage that it got him into the White House with a comfortable EC majority despite losing the popular vote.

        I don’t think the GOP will impeach Trump because there is no upside for them to do so. But I do think the Russia collusion story does help the Democrats overall. Democrats do look like they are picking up some deep red state legislature seats:

        https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/7/11/1679861/-Another-two-victories-for-Democrats

        Trump & Co. are grossly incompetent and filled with backstabbing intrigue. Drum noted that someone probably as a helluva vendetta against Junior. The question is whether we will be saved by this gross incompetence or destroyed by it.

        There is still a part of me that expects Trump to announce the occupation of San Francisco and New York (et al) and the immediate sacking/arrest of Pelosi and Schumer and Warren, etc. But the reputation of the United States in the world has been unquestionably diminished and tarnished. Even the best case scenario (Democrats regain Congress in 2018 and Trump is out in 2020), I worry that it will take years or decades to improve our standing in the world and we will constantly be dealing with right-wingers on the verge of explosion and libertarian above the fray types defending them.

        We are partially saved because the Dollar is still the only currency strong enough to be a reverse currency but the rest of the world must be looking for alternatives.

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        • I think it’s more the speed of what would have been major lies or gaffes. It isn’t intentional, it’s just the size of the dumpster fire is bigger then we can take in. How many admin officials have lied on their security clearance forms about meetings with foreign officials for example. At what previous point in history would that be such a minor story, yet it’s happened multiple times now. But there have so many lies and multiple stories that the press, and us, can’t keep up with every one.

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          • The speed thing is part of it but I was talking about the full throttled assault on the entire Obama admin and anything the Democratic Party likes.

            You have the immigration issue, the healthcare repeal/tax cut for the ultra-rich, Sessions reinstating the drug war of the 1980a and Mandatory Minimums, the appointing of ultra-reactionaries to the Bench especially if they are young and healthy, reentrenched homophobia, Climate Change denialism/environmental deregulation, labor rights rollbacks, etc.

            This causes burnout and fatigue and we need to focus on one thing sometimes. Russia is easy to focus on for better or for worse.

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            • Well i don’t like their polices either. However none of that is a surprise. It’s what R’s have been wanting to do for years. Elections have consequences and some of that stuff if just what they get to do now that they have the power. Sure we can tell Jill Stein and Susan Sarandon types to open their eyes which is fine and dandy. But some of these things we can’t do anything about and will only really become issues to use to galvanize people when they see results.

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              • Its not so much as what the Republicans are doing is surprise but the sheer force and speed they are doing it plus all the scandals revolving around Trump make effective opposition hard. People just get tired and give up because it is always something.

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                • How long should the repubs have waited before they started unduing the damage the Dems did? Which scandals are you referring to? All I’ve seen is a bunch of liberal smoke but no substance.

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                • Speed? They have been remarkably slow and inefficient at getting their polices in so far.

                  Force? Not sure what you mean. They have put in hard line R’s in gov, signed some EO’s and changed some rules they have power to do. They are doing what new admin’s do. I agree their polices are not good at all but they haven’t “forced” anything in any sort of new way that admin’s haven’t in the past. Every new admin tries to get as much done in the first few months since that is when they have momentum. It always slows down after that. When we get a D prez we’ll sure as heck want quick changes.

                  Corruption and scandal. Well they are on an epic scale that is to fast to keep up with. Oh yeah very much.

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    • Good news!

      Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) formally introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump on Wednesday that accuses the president of obstructing justice during the federal investigation of Russia’s 2016 election interference.

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  5. Po5 (and maybe Po8) – If you can’t get more than 50% of the people to support a particular policy, or even enough people to push through or cajole the others into line, maybe you shouldn’t be pushing any policy.

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  6. Po4: Not quite but he is the last liberal Republican possibly. Except maybe John Danforth.

    Po5: It is a bad bumper sticker. I can sort of see it being read in a New York accent. I think the issue with the Democrats is that we are having a very big fight over what we stand for and each group is too small to get a majority but too large to ignore. You can’t get minority voices, you can’t ignore the Sanders crowd, you can’t ignore the Econ moderates, etc

    Ethnonationalism: But there are religious aspects to ethnonationalism

    Seattle Income Tax: NYC has had an income tax for a long time. What is the issue with Seattles

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    • Washington has a state statute barring local governments from imposing a net income tax; the City claims its a tax on gross income, and the secondary issue is that the state Constitution requires taxes to be completely uniform as to a class, and this tax would only apply to incomes over $250,000 (for individuals). The gist appears to be that perhaps Seattle could impose a flat 1% tax on all income earned in the City, but it would probably be seen as unfair.

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    • Ethnonationalism is a somewhat inevitable part of the rise of democracy, roughly defined as the idea that bulk of the population has a right to participate in politics rather than be passively ruled by subjects. It turns out that when people start wanting to rule themselves, they end up preferring rulers that believe, look, and sound like they do.

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  7. Po1: It occurs to me that what counts as “social capital” isn’t the same everywhere. Knowing fancy Italian deli meats isn’t gonna help much deep in the rural south. Everyone has blind spots they don’t know. (I wonder if Brooks is familiar with Cornish Pasties, which are kind of the Yooper soul food). For me, a lot of it was pop culture stuff, because there was a lot of stuff my parents wouldn’t let my brother and me watch, so we kind of had to pretend and play along that we knew. My brother was better at that than I was.

    Also: I grew up fairly “privileged” (UGH) but I felt out of place and awkward a lot of the time and much of my youth was spent trying NOT to convey that frozen-up face so people wouldn’t guess what a tourist in their milieu I was. (But put me out in a prairie with plants and bugs, and I’m happy, because there’s a good chance I’m the person most familiar with what’s going on).

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    • Dumping on a David Brooks column is usually a safe move, but a lot of the criticism of this piece is undeserved. However, (at the risk of riding my hobby horse) I think he’s overvaluing the benefit of a prestige college. It’s a sign of decency that he realizes he’s in a bubble, and that some people don’t feel comfortable in that environment, but his analysis ignores that people are happy and successful outside that bubble. Even people in his circles may not check off all the boxes of social conformity.

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      • Perhaps I am in the same bubble as David Brooks (and am a graduate of a prestige college so perhaps also biased) but why do you think he is overvaluing the benefit of a prestige college.

        I don’t necessarily think it is a better education but it does seem to truly open doors easily in ways that graduating from Directional State University does not. Graduates of prestige colleges seemingly get the best paying jobs right off the bat and in these days of massive student debt that is a big help.

        Whether it is deserved or not, people generally seem to recognize where I went to undergrad and see it as being an impressive accomplishment.

        But this reminds me of the old Shaw chestnut, “Morals are for the middle class. The rich don’t need them and the poor can’t afford them.” What I think that Reeves and Brooks might be noticing is that the upper-middle class (who tend to be income wealthy rather than capital wealthy) do see how precarious their position is but also find it virtuous because they still work. They don’t want their children to suffer so they are willing to do everything they can to keep their families at that upper-middle class level. They do this through the only way they really know how, by stressing good grades to get into a good college/university (prestige as you say) and then getting a good job or going to grad school and then getting a good job.

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        • Part of the issue with prestige colleges is that they effect so few people. It’s entirely possible to go to a non-elite school and get great jobs and all that comes with them. People over focus on the small handful of elites. Of course the elite schools seem to produce our leaders which has plenty of problems. But if it’s Brooks we can guess he may hit on an issue in the clunkiest way possible.

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          • I agree but I think the issue is the student debt thing. Lots of people who graduate from the elite schools also have student debt but the elites tend to be ones who can pay it off relatively quickly.

            I think what happened to law schools is a good example here though. My law school was not an elite one but it was considered a decent local law school that trained the bar and bench of the Bay Area for decades. As late as the mid-aughts, grads from my school were fairly certain to get good jobs. But the Great Recession changed that for the Class of 2009 and beyond.

            I did well but many of my classmates are not working as lawyers. In fact, if you look at people who graduated law school around my time, a lot of elite grads are doing the kinds of jobs that used to go to grads of my law school. Plaintiff’s work, mid-sized firms, non-prestigious government law jobs (read: not a stepping stone to political office or a judgeship but the kind that it is nearly impossible to lose once you get passed probation).

            So basically if you are an elite an a major catastrophe hits, you might have to downgrade expectations but you still get a decent job.

            A lot of people I know are doing admin work at government offices with their legal degrees.

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            • It seems like law schools had a unique bubble that is bit different the regular undergrad. From what i’ve seen the student debt crisis has been overblown to a degree. Certainly it’s a big problem for some but often those people made plenty of their own mistakes. Student debt is overblown but is also more of a second order thing after stagnating wages, increasing cost of Uni at a difficult time in the economy.

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                  • What are you saying that folks paid for but didn’t get? If you paid for x number of semesters of instruction and got them then you got what you paid for even if you don’t eventually complete all of the degree requirements.

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                    • If people put out a lot of money but didn’t’ get a degree they spent a lot without getting the useful end product. Without the degree they likely won’t reap much or any of the tangible benefits.

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                      • If you only pay for two years of a four year degree but don’t finish the other two, whose fault is that? Is it the schools fault? Should the school be forced to give you a refund for the two years worth of tuition for the instruction that you already got? Yes, you must complete the entire program of instruction and get the degree for the investment to pay off but that’s life

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                        • What are you talking about? All i said it sucks for a person if they take on student debt then don’t’ get a diploma. That is pretty uncontroversial. You are jumping the gun to partisan poo flinging way to fast.

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                          • Hey, I drew the same conclusion that notme did. There’s a difference between paying for something you didn’t get and paying for something you didn’t use to its maximum benefit. I thought you were talking about the former, and I didn’t understand where you were coming from.

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                              • Maybe it was the statement, “If you have loans to pay back for stuff you didn’t get then it’s gonna suck.”

                                They paid for x number of semesters of instruction and got what they paid for. Just b/c you didn’t finish the degree doesn’t mean you didn’t get anything of value.

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                                • Oh i agree education has a value all its own whether or not you get a degree or cert. Will said the debt issue was worse for people who didn’t graduate. I had said thought the student debt issue was a bit overblown as i remember. If you take on a lot of debt but don’t get the degree then you are unlikely to get the monetary rewards of schooling but still have the debt. The entire point was if you have the debt but can’t recoup your expenses based on improved income that sucks.

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        • Three thoughts:

          A degree from an elite college opens some doors, at investment banks, faculty lounges, that sort of place. But a good engineer, welder, or lawyer doesn’t need that particular degree to be a success.

          Elite institutions’ reputations are only as good as the last generation’s successes. I see a lot of reasons to suspect a leveling in reputations coming up.

          Three years of community college and two years of state school, and you might not get as high-paying a job as the elite grad. But your student debt will be maybe one-fifth the size. I’ve never seen stats on this, but does that higher starting salary make up for the debt load?

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          • I think lots of people, parents especially, are making the choice for good state schools instead of taking on elite private school debt. Going to an Ivy, MIT, Stanford almost certainly is worth the debt but for lesser private schools it really may not be.

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        • It may also depend on what field/business you’re in how much a prestige college helps. If it’s a field where high-level networking is important, I can see it being a big deal. For a lot of us, though, it’s more “what do you know” or “what particular advisor did you work with” that seems to matter. I know in STEM it’s “what did you specialize in,” “what have you presented/published,” and “who was your advisor” that matters, more than “what’s the name of your university”

          and a dirty little secret: the big prestige schools don’t care about undergrads that much, and they don’t even really care about the grad students. It’s the post-docs, whom they can exploit and get grant money out of, who get the attention. So unless you’re a 100% aggressive self-starter who can shoehorn your way into a lab as a grad student, you’re probably better off at a school a couple rungs down.

          Of course, I suspect for those going into politics, law, and some areas of business – the big schools probably matter.

          I dunno. My mom came from a working-class family and moved up through education and through marrying a man who had good earning potential; my dad came from an upper-middle-class family and worked hard. My brother and I were pretty much raised middle-class, but our parents hated conspicuous consumption and “putting on airs” so we didn’t do a lot of the stuff that other people in our town did (e.g., golfing, country club membership, swanky trips, expensive clothes).

          I dunno. I’ve also pretty much never fit in anywhere, which is probably why I’m so skeptical of the value of things like cultural signifiers like clothing brands or how you eat. (In the town where I grew up, there was even the “right” church to belong to – the one where the rich folk went. Which seemed wrong to me.)

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    • Capicola isn’t fancy. It’s the stuff Tony Soprano calls gabagool and eats with his hands between meals.

      The point is “Italian”. It’s somehow a class barrier to live in a place where ethnic food is more common than opioids.

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      • The point is “Italian”. It’s somehow a class barrier to live in a place where ethnic food is more common than opioids.

        The point is that it is. It may be a sad reflection of the state of affairs in america,but that does not make it false.

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        • It’s most likely false, though. Living in Opioid America is far more of a option-limiter than in Ethnic Foods America. It does depend a little on how you look at it. Opioid Americans do tend to have less inequality, on the whole, so while you’re there it’s easier to move between quartiles because there is less difference between quartiles (and often less ability to distance yourselves from them).

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          • I guess this Brooks story is vague enough to be a Rorschach test, but I don’t think its about place (Brooks and friend appear to live in the same place), ethnic foods (they ended up eating Mexican) or fancy restaurants (its a sandwich shop).

            Frankly, when I read the anecdote I assumed this was a restaurant where you order at the counter, which I think is the case at all of the gourmet sandwich shops I’ve been to. And that makes a lot of difference. When I look through Yelp reviews for places to eat when traveling with two kids, counter service is a mark against it.

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    • “I prefer Jeff Spross and his response and the real problem with David Brooks column”

      oh look it’s those damn 1% again, messing everything up.

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    • I entirely agree with it, although I think that what happened during the Great Recession was just, in a way, an addition to what had been happening since the 80s.

      Employers got used to never, ever, under any circumstances, having to pay employees more. It’s just something that didn’t happen. Raises were always less than inflation, and an optional thing every year.

      This has happened more since they lowered wages during the Great Recession, and then didn’t raise them back, but let’s not pretend that wages hadn’t been stagnate for decades before that.

      …actually, thinking about it, the point is exactly correct, except it started at the end of the previous recession. In the 1970s, people got used to low wages, which were better than unemployment.

      When the economy restarted from that, the wealth redirected all gains to themselves instead of the middle class. (And they made sure the middle class could get mortgages and credit cards and all sorts of monopoly money they had to pay back later instead of, you know, employers actually paying them.)

      This continued until it happened again in 2007, and wages went down again because the American people would accept lower wages instead of no wages.

      And, once again, the wealthy refused to actually raise wages when that was all over, redirecting any eventual gains to themselves.

      Interesting fact: This time around, millennials aren’t falling for the easy credit bullshit, for the rather obvious reason they just saw their parents get badly burned by it. Nor are they falling for the ‘Start a shitty job with the hopes that you will move up and we will eventually pay you more’ trick, because they saw their parents fall for that also.

      And on top of seeing their parents’ wages slowly decrease because of inflation, they are probably more financially numerate than any generation before.(1)

      1) But, wait, herp derp, aren’t millennials supposed to be bad at managing their finances? Yes, in much the same way you can say literally anything at all about Snake People if the standard is ‘a millennial once did this’. In actual reality, the generation that is utter shit with money is Generation X, whereas just about the only debt that millennials are willing to take on is student loans, which are essentially ‘required’ of them. Millennials are refusing to borrow to buy houses, they are refusing to borrow to buy cars, they are just completely refusing to borrow if they can avoid it, so they tend to end up much better off financially. And when they do have to borrow, they pay off their debt as fast as they possibly can, because they understand how interest works.

      And this is on top of better spending habits. Yes, they’re young, they spend a lot, but their ‘a lot’ is much less than previous generations. Some of that is ‘living through a recession at a formative age’, and some of it is ‘Millennials all have apps on their phone that connect to all their bank accounts and let them keep track of all their finances’, but whatever the cause, they are less stupid about money than other people were at their age.

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      • When the economy restarted from that, the wealth redirected all gains to themselves instead of the middle class.

        IIRC, that about aligns with the popularization of the idea that shareholder value is paramount in business.

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  8. People are really focusing on the “funny food names” aspect of the Brooks column.

    That’s not what’s important. What *is* important is the degree to which Americans take pleasure in mocking class transgressions.

    Like, the woman in the story wasn’t scared of Scary Food. She was scared that she’d do the equivalent of taking a big swig out of the communion chalice, and that she’d be the next viral sensation. “woman in sandwich shop is unable to sandwich”. “dumb redneck doesn’t know that sopressata is meat and striata baguette is bread”. “LOL SANDWICH FAIL”.

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      • I hate People of Wal-Mart. I mean, yeah, people dress badly and all, but there seems to be something kind of tacky in mocking someone who doesn’t know they’re being mocked. It would really suck to be surfing the web and see your mom on there. Or your kid. Or yourself.

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      • “People of Wal-Mart is a thing, it’s not a stretch for their to be a Clueless Ethnic Food Patrons.”

        Yes, that’s my point. What would you do if you found yourself in a situation where you might become a Person Of Wal-Mart?

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        • Me, personally, I’d own that shit, but then I’m getting old and getting low on f*cks to give. But I can understand how a person younger and/or more sensitive to such things would not want to find themselves the subject of online ridicule.

          Although, as I am getting old and all that, my tolerance for hoity-toity BS is approaching critical levels, so if an employee, or other patron, at an ethnic food outlet tried to shame me about not being up on the latest linguistic fads in food labeling, I’d have no trouble reminding them that they work in an fecking food shop.

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        • I was making a cheesecake at 10PM a few weeks back and my faithful electric mixer that used to be my mom’s when I was a kid decided that the cream cheese was not anywhere close to room temperature and, in a fit, the mixer died.

          And when it’s 10PM and you need a hand mixer very, very badly, where do you go?

          Well… there’s only one place you can go.

          I am now That Guy. I wore pajamas to Wal-Mart. I bought an electric mixer. Had an enterprising hipster decided to take a picture, s/he could have given it a caption mocking the fat bearded guy wearing pajamas to Wal-Mart to buy an electric mixer.

          “WHY IN THE HELL DOES SANTA NEED AN ELECTRIC MIXER AT 10:30PM?”, they could have written before two or three crying/laughing emojis.

          Because I was making a damn cheesecake.

          I Am A Person Of Wal-Mart.

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          • That website definitely violates the “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” dictum.

            I mean, I’ve seen some outrageously bad behavior at my local wal-mart but sometimes there’s a mitigating circumstance, you know? But it’s a lot easier to snark than to sympathize. On bad days, I feel like it’s gonna be the snark that ends us as a species somehow.

            There have been times I’ve needed to go, but been in muddy/wet field clothes, and have either gone home and showered and changed first, or just made do without milk/fresh vegetables/broth/whatever because I feared there’d be that a-hole with a cellphone camera and then I’d never hear the end of it from my students.

            people suck.

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            • I mean, I’ve seen some outrageously bad behavior at my local wal-mart but sometimes there’s a mitigating circumstance, you know? But it’s a lot easier to snark than to sympathize. On bad days, I feel like it’s gonna be the snark that ends us as a species somehow.

              ‘People of Walmart’ is almost never about bad ‘behavior’. It’s about mocking how people look or dress (Or cars, sometimes.), and it’s almost always in the direction of ‘isn’t that trashy looking?’.

              (You want bad behavior from customers, that’s what Not Always Right is for. You will notice they do not have pictures.)

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          • I’m sure Martha Stewart has a video that would show you how to easily hand mix that. Or doesn’t your AOL account stream video?

            Anyhow, some of my best friends go to Wal-Mart. And I think that’s just great.

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          • But…couldn’t you just take a couple minutes to change into regular clothes? I mean, if you want to wear pajamas to Wal-Mart, no judgment. I know a guy who used to wear pajamas to work on a semi-regular basis. But you’re telling this story like it was an unavoidable consequence of needing an electric mixer at 10:00 PM.

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    • I remember the one and only time I wound up at a dinner at a country club (I don’t even remember WHY, now). I just remember being terrified the whole time I’d snort-laugh at something that wasn’t actually a joke, or take something seriously that was, and everyone would know what a total imposter I was.

      Actually, that was a lot of my youth in the wealthy bedroom community where I grew up: trying like heck not to let the more-socially-adept kids from “better” families know that I was scared. I was doing that “frozen face” a lot of the time, but just on the inside, because I knew the kids would pick up on it and would harass me even worse than they already did.

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      • This kind of thinking is utterly foreign to me. I grew up in a blue-collar home; my father was a tradesman my mother worked in a low-level customer service job, and in my extended family only I and my sister have graduated from a four-year college.

        I’ve never felt the need to pretend otherwise. If I don’t know something, I ask. I suppose there are some people who might look down on me because I don’t come from old money, or even new money, but why would I care? I suppose I might want to fake it if I stood to gain materially from it, but that’s never really come up.

        Maybe this is an east coast thing? I don’t know if we have much in the way of old money out west.

        Or is it a real thing at all? Is it just a Hollywood stereotype?

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    • People are mocking how poorly Brooks writes. He has a perfectly fine issue but mangles it. It’s like he just discovered class exists or that people are attuned to signals from each other. And his example is just about the silliest thing in many ways.

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    • Right. I read a comment on the column from an English waiter, which was something to the effect of “what’s wrong with you people.” He/she said that working class people coming into nicer restaurants are pretty obvious in the UK (*), and that the waiter’s job is to make them feel comfortable without condescending.

      (*) In the U.S. I would assume this might mean overdressed, wearing the Sunday suit, when most men are dressed in nice-fitting, stylized casual wear.

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      • PD,
        Well, that’s for a certain caliber of restaurants. The ones that in NYC have “loaner jackets and ties”.

        Of course, a REAL high-class restaurant is a popup restaurant that only rich people are even invited to…

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  9. I’ve experienced mocking and exclusion all my damn life and you’d think my caring about it would be burned up by now but it is totally not. If anything, I’m getting more sensitive to it.

    and the whole hoity-toity food thing is why I tend to frequent barbecue joints – they tend to have big jovial guys behind the counter who are just happy to be selling barbecue. (And I know pretty much what everything on the menu is). I’d rather spend my money somewhere where the people are happy and don’t act like they’re better than everyone else.

    Actually, the whole hoity-toity food thing just tells me how far we’ve gotten into crazyland – we’re shaming people on their “food footprint” or on their choice of what to eat. In another world we’d be scrabbling for roadkill and darn thankful to have it.

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    • This kind of crap was happening 20 years ago when I was an undergrad. Once during college, when my wife and I were in line to order coffee, a kid fresh off the farm was ahead of us and mangled the pronunciation. The baristas sneeringly corrected the kid, and my wife just tore into the barista for being an ass.

      I was giggling for the rest of the day. Hell, it still brings a smile to my face to remember it.

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      • Totally beside the point, but that reminds me of a time back in the late 80s or early 90s, when I was at some kind of sporting event (hockey game, maybe), and ordered nachos at the concession stand. The girl working there asked me if I wanted jalapeños, pronouncing it exactly how it looks. I didn’t give her a hard time about it, but to this day I’m puzzled as to how someone working that job could not know. She must have asked the question dozens of times per day, and apparently no one ever corrected her. And this was less than 20 miles from the Mexican border. All I can think is that she must have been new both in town and at the job.

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        • The girl working there asked me if I wanted jalapeños, pronouncing it exactly how it looks.

          Jalapeños, like all words in Spanish, is pronounced EXACTLY as it looks, so I don’t understand your anecdote. How did other people pronounce it?

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        • Goes back a long time. I was born a navy brat in Long Beach in 1953. My mom talks about having me out in the stroller and people stopping to ask how to get to some mangled form of “Junipero Avenue”.

          When I lived in Austin, I found it confusing that the local pronunciations of “San Jacinto” and “Guadalupe” street names were the anglicized ones.

          How cool is it that there was a hockey game within 20 miles of the Mexican border?

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    • It’s not even hoity-toity food. It’s not knowing the rules. It’s not knowing that you’re supposed to take a new plate when you go for a second buffet trip, instead of re-using a dirty one. It’s not knowing that the little bin at the side of the pew is for throwing away your little plastic Communion-wine cup instead of carrying it back to your place with you.

      And contemporary Americans are all about pointing and laughing at people who don’t know the rules.

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      • Yes, you’re right. (And I grew up “not knowing the rules” – not because of social class, but because I was a weird awkward kid who was pretty immature to pretty late).

        and I’ll say: the mocking goes back at least to the 1970s, based on my experience. That terrible exclusionary laughter when you know you have done or said the wrong thing…

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      • It’s not even the rules, though – it’s the shibboleths . It’s like the difference between style and fashion. Style is timeless, universal, and available to everyone. Fashion is only there to keep people from jumping up their station or crossing tribal boundaries.

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      • A coworker of mine loves to joke about a guy that came into his local feed store wearing shorts and flip-flops.

        This is not a left/right issue or even a upper/lower class issue. People love to feel superior to groups they don’t belong to.

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      • Lee,
        U kid, right? She drew the short straw for putting her name on Rahm’s PR.

        I know how this works, I know people who write PR for a living. Hell, Saul’s posted their fucking links around here (and had the unmitigated chauvinism and provincialism to claim that that piece was written to boost SanFrancisco).

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    • I’m not a fan of the plan personally, but it’s not “sadistic.” Every student who graduates from a Chicago public school is entitled to attend one of the seven or so Chicago community colleges. What’s going to happen is that school counselors will meet and work with Seniors to get them to apply to one of them, assuming they don’t have other plans, and the student will either show up in the Fall or not.

      There are financial costs associated with this, but they probably aren’t huge, but for the reality that Chicago public schools will continue to terminate teachers until an equilibrium is reached.

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    • Chicago Public Schools has a new requirement for its 435,000 students: To graduate, they must prove they have a post-graduation plan. That means a college acceptance letter, a job offer, military orders, or enrollment in a job training program….Some critics worried that the new requirement would hold back students who are already struggling to pass their classes.

      Hold them back from what, exactly? If you’re not doing any of those things, why does it matter if you have a high school diploma?

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      • Hold them back from what, exactly? If you’re not doing any of those things, why does it matter if you have a high school diploma?

        Uh, what if they want to do one of those things later? (Edit: Because, of course, state law generally forbids students over a specific age, usually 22, from attending or graduating high school.)

        Or, here’s an interesting point…that says ‘job offer’. What if they do not have a ‘job offer’, but are instead applying for a job?

        A job application:
        ‘Do you have a high school diploma or equivalent Yes___ No_X_
        *cramped writing below* Once you offer me a job you can write it down and I can send it in and get my diploma.’

        The person looking at job application ‘Well, he check no, and apparently needs some sort of dumbass fuckery to graduate? Huh? Nope, discard.’

        Low-end jobs generally do not make ‘job offers’, certainly not any sort of written job offer you could use as evidence, they take applications and hire people. And even if they do make ‘offers’, almost no job that requires an HS diploma makes job offers to people who do not yet have them. (That does often happen with colleges, ‘Graduate and this job is waiting for you’, but it’s not common at high school level.)

        The ‘job offers’ thing is complete nonsense. People who were looking for a job with a high school diploma have to look for the job with a high school diploma, after they graduate, because McDonalds isn’t hiring ‘hypothetical high school diploma’ people.

        That said, as PD Shaw said, I think people are generally misunderstanding this, and this will be more ‘Students are required to apply to colleges that they have no intention of going to’ so they can graduate, and when I say ‘students are required’, I mean ‘teachers will pass out applications in class and make them fill them out’.

        So what this requirement actually says is that Chicago schools are such shit at helping students apply to college that they need to be required to do so. (Unless the student can explain they are doing some other thing.)

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  10. The comment section in this Atlantic article on the New York City subway” is a good example of why we are politically stuck in the United States on many other issues. Its simply a back and forth between liberals, the New York Subway is underfunded and expected to perform miracles, and conservatives, government can’t do anything right and free markets rule. There are a few gems that since politicians don’t get political capital for maintaining shop, politicians have no incentive for maintaining shop. American government is based on consensus. If culture wars and sharp ideologically driven partisanship and reverse partisanship prevents any consensus than everything will fall down.

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    • Lee,
      as I’ve often said, truth is stranger than fiction.
      IF that guy from the DNC was assassinated by someone Hillary hired, it’s probable that she got the wrong guy.

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