Morning Ed: Hurricanes {2017.09.14.Th}

[Hu1] If you have permission, of course, it’s not stealing. But good work, everybody.

[Hu2] This is pure Florida. Though, to be fair, it would be pure Texas, too.

[Hu3] Maybe that will reduce the fears about Florida’s tourism industry.

[Hu4] Faith groups have taken a central role in disaster recovery.

[Hu5] I can’t approve of stealing cars or raiding them for parts, but if you’re going to do it, do it to these guys.

[Hu6] Will Harvey cause Houston to rethink development?

[Hu7] A public service announcement: How to tell if a used car got flooded out.

[Hu8] A part of me applauds this, though a part of me thinks stuff like this should be announced beforehand. Then again, I don’t think it happened in Houston so maybe there was no reason for Florida to expect it?

[Hu9] How the Irma bullet was dodged.


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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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89 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Hurricanes {2017.09.14.Th}

  1. Hu5: An argument for surge charging. Surge charging goes against basic human psychology though. It strikes people as unfair, especially when they are at the receiving end. Most people can accept imposed rationing.

    Hu8: Its a bad idea. People were under orders to evacuate and many of them might have panicked and forgot about their pets. They could have reasonably thought that hotels wouldn’t allow pets in before Rick Scott’s order. We also don’t need more contributions to the prison-industrial complex, especially caused by natural disaster.

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    • Rationing works if it’s an easily managed resource, like a parking garage (pretty easy to enforce a 2 car per household limit; some folks might game that for a few extra cars, but not a whole dealership). It is a lot harder with portable and consumable goods.

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    • Surge charging goes against basic human psychology though.

      A lot of things necessary for a well-functioning society seem to go against basic human psychology, but it turns out we can teach most people to behave reasonably well. It seems to me that people who’ve studied economics are more likely to understand why surge pricing is a good thing; maybe a year of economics should be required for high school graduation.

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      • I used to be like you. And I still think there’s some truth in ‘price gouging is good’

        But any sort of price surge only works if and only if there is an extant production and logistical capacity to meet the increased demand signal.

        So something like water it might work out for, because Anheuser-Busch can shift over production to water (as if anyone could tell the difference, amirite).

        Something like parking spaces 15 feet or more above ground level probably won’t, as you can’t just build another parking garage in the 4 days before a storm hits.

        And most of all, markets aren’t efficient over short time intervals. (this is also why, for instance, high frequency trading is kinda bad, actually)

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          • Hanley had a good point about pricing for stuff like hotel rooms.

            If a room is $100 a night, maybe I get one for me and the wife, an adjacent room for the kids, and a third room for the mother in law. If the room is $200, maybe we all cram into one room, which leaves 2 more rooms available for others.

            Now, if the hotel has a policy (not related to a law) of not allowing that many people into one room and it refuses to relax it for the duration of the storm, and it is still jacking up rates, then you might have a case for gouging.

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            • Off topic, but this is also one way that rent control and other “affordable housing” policies (aside from building more housing) actually make housing less affordable for a lot of people. For every person who, thanks to “affordable housing” policies, can afford to live alone instead of with a roommate, that’s one less unit available for the bidding war going on among the suckers paying market rent.

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          • For things where you can’t expand supply, you either need price gouging or some other sorting mechanism. Like you say elsewhere, something that allows everybody one but only one parking space. Or one hotel room per household. Something like that.

            You need surge pricing when a) people can make cutbacks and b) hording is easy and c) it’s short term.

            Gasoline is a weirdly ironic perfect example, because it’s literally the thing people complain most about with surge pricing, but it would be extremely useful for surge pricing to happen with gas…as it is now, the second there is a gas shortage, every idiot fills up their car, so the first 30% of people get gas and no one else, whereas if a gas shortage meant gas was now $10 a gallon for a week, people would buy as little gas as humanly possible, and now, suddenly, everyone has _some_ gas. (And, yes, that in theory could hurt poor people more, except poor people already run out first during shortages…poor people are the least able to drive around trying to find a damn gas station with gas. Perhaps some sort of welfare could work there…people with food stamp debit cards can use them to get 3 gallons of gas for free, but only during an announced gas shortage.)

            Same with bottled water. Here’s an idea: If the price of bottled water shot through the roof during disasters, maybe idiots would actually prepare for disasters in advance, instead of everyone showing up at the grocery story and instantly emptying the shelves.

            And this works for things that some people need that others do not. Generators, for example. As someone who just spent three damn days without power thanks to Irma, I would have liked a generator…but of course they were all sold out at the store, which was fine for me, I didn’t actually _need_ a generator, and would rather the people who need one buy them…but I suspect the generators were, instead, sold merely to the people who got there _first_. Double or triple their price before a disaster, and maybe only the people who will actually need them will buy them. (I am now planning on buying one as soon as they get restocked in this area.)

            Meanwhile, there are things people can’t get in advance (So it makes no sense to try to encourage earlier purchase of), and can’t really reduce their usage of. They need food, for example, and they can’t really reduce the amount of that…and people don’t generally horde food during a disaster. (Well, not in any impactful way. The dumbasses who empty grocery stores buy…milk and bread. Instead of actual useful food like canned food.)

            They also need hotel rooms, although it is an interesting point people can ‘overbuy’, aka, horde them to some extent. I don’t think trying to fix this with pricing is a good answer, though, because hotel rooms are already such a high expense that it seems unlikely many people are hording them. (I wonder if laws about ‘public accommodations’ would constrain hotels from refusing to rent a bunch of rooms to people not using them, or using them inefficiently, during a disaster, and if we need to fix them.) I suspect that is something we can fix basically by public shaming.

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        • One purpose of increased prices is to increase quantity supplied, insofar as supply is elastic with respect to price. But even if that’s not the case, another function is to ration scarce goods. As I said in my other comment, if a $30,000 new car is ruined by flooding because some guy with a $500 beater got there first, or won the parking spot lottery or whatever, that’s $29,500 worth of car down the drain.

          Of course, in an ideal market with no transaction costs, the guy with the $30,000 car (or his insurance company) would pay the guy with the $500 car $501 for his spot, but as you say, real-world markets are less than ideal under even the best of conditions, much less in an emergency. But you draw
          the wrong conclusion from that fact; it’s because the market is inefficient and that it’s important to use pricing to ration scarce resources.

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          • Brandon Berg: But you draw
            the wrong conclusion from that fact; it’s because the market is inefficient and that it’s important to use pricing to ration scarce resources

            I’m still thinking the exact opposite. Pricing is the worst way to ration scarce resources in an inefficient market because the pricing signals don’t provide the correct feedback into the system. Not correct being either wrong or merely orthogonal. The latter means they’re useless, the former, actively harmful.

            I.e. where pricing in market inefficient conditions becomes harmful, you’ll get further economic inefficiency that manifests itself as “hoarding”. Which may be a loaded term like price gouging is, but it still means that goods and services aren’t being actualized in a better way, an efficient way.

            Now, maybe not all catastrophic situations lead to an inefficient market. But certainly many do, like, famously, lifeboats on the Titanic (which were on first approximation rationed by price)

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          • Using the dry econ terms like signals, services, goods does quite to elide important distinctions. “Rationing” ipod 8xyz’s by price is one thing, it’s another to talk about food or gas during a natural disaster. If the price of gas goes to $50 per gallon rich and middle class people can buy all they need sending a signal to the market that it’s all good and maybe go up to $60. Poor/wc people might be stuck with buying 3 gallons and sleeping in their car. That is a signal but is anybody listening.

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            • If it is a scarce resource, there are going to be people who lose out. This is as certain as the sun rising in the east. How do you ration scarce resources such that you don’t have the rationers taking advantage of their position in other ways.

              One way or another, someone is getting screwed, the only question is whether or not they are being screwed over by natural forces, or by other people with power.

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              • I flew down to Oregon to see teh eclipse. Hotel rooms close to totality were ratioined by price. Fine. I’m glad some people made bank. No people in power need to step in.

                In a natural disaster that is a bit different. Does someone always lose? In general yeah. But we already accept that. We don’t allow companies to dump toxic waste in the water. Do they lose: yeah. They need to pay more to clean up their own mess for the public good. So gov intervention for some things is pretty much universally accepted. I’d say price gouging in natural disasters is something that should be limited. Does that mean gas station owners might not make as much money as possible: yup.

                Pretty much all the hard questions involve where to draw lines on things.

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  2. [Hu1] Kudos. That’s how it gets done.

    [Hu2] I can think of a few other areas too :)

    [Hu5] Nah, stealing still wrong. They were blasted on social media and moved the cars. Good enough. Liked the Porsche dealership idea though, but those guys can maneuver cars. As for “surge pricing”, just because there’s a hurricane, the laws of supply and demand don’t get suspended.

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      • I don’t even own a gun or have any gun safety background, but even I know that you’re not supposed to shoot a gun if you don’t know for sure the bullet is going to go somewhere safe even if you miss your target.

        Shooting up into the air does not satisfy that safety check.

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      • There are very limited cases where shooting into the air is Ok. During a hurricane where the wind could seriously turn a trajectory, or extend the range quite a bit, is not one of those cases, violates rule 4 and all that.

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        • Weirdly, I suspect that shooting into a hurricane is possibly hypothetically more safe than shooting randomly at other times! (For other people, that is, assuming any are around. If you’re close enough to shoot a hurricane you are way too close!)

          Bullets are dangerous because they are imparted a lot of velocity from the _gun_. Somewhere around 2000 mph.

          While you are correct that hurricanes can also affect them, ironically a hurricane doing anything major to a bullet is extremely likely to make it start tumbling and lose almost all of its velocity it started with. Hurricanes are not going to ‘push’ bullets along perfectly, wind doesn’t magically gust in exactly the right direction for miles, like some sort of airplane tailwind.

          Now, wind can indeed curve a bullet…but only by a few degrees. This does not seem that relevant to someone who is shooting blithely into a hurricane, which is presumably in the direction of the ocean. And instead of a normal snipers-have-to-account-for-it curve I suspect it will be more a drunkard’s walk of a few degrees this way, a few this way, a few this way, which all mostly cancel out.

          Meanwhile, those high and random crosswinds mean the bullets quickly lose their straightness and will tumble earlier (Even sooner than normal consistent crosswinds), at which point the thing barely counts as a bullet.

          The real danger of trying to shoot a hurricane is that the hurricane wouldn’t do much of anything at all to the movement of the bullet beside changing it a few random degrees (Which is the outcome I think would happen.) and it would go clean through and hit someone on the other side. OTOH, even then, you’re probably technically less likely to hit someone while trying to shoot a hurricane simply because, statistically, there are less people standing around near hurricanes.

          tl;dr – I don’t think that anything a hurricane does to a bullet can possibly make it more lethal or likely to hit people or extend its range…and it is at least hypothetically possible the hurricane could shorten the range.

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          • It’s more the “Be sure of your target and what is behind it”. Shooting at a hurricane that is over the ocean is probably safe. But shooting, say, across the Fort Myers skyline at the hurricane is probably a bad idea.

            Although, on the plus side, given that the hurricane will be throwing very heavy objects around at speed, most folks should be behind sufficient protection that it’s a non issue.

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  3. Hu5: Putting new cars in the lot was probably the most efficient use of that space. If a car is going to be destroyed, better it be some old beater than a brand new car. The real problem here isn’t that new cars were parked there, but that the dealer didn’t have to pay market price for the privilege.

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    • Those garages are publicly owned property. One can be against that on general principle of public property, or the specific principle of government subsidizing car use. Since it does exist, however, the very worst use of public property is to transfer it into private hands temporarily – I stress temporarily – for private profit.

      If the dealership wants to do some sort of Coase thing (though maybe I’m using that term wrong and/or using the wrong term), and pay off some individual car owners that have an allotment of space in the garages, that’s probably fine.

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      • If anything, everything should be completely reversed. The city/county shouldn’t be in the business of owning parking garages, but they should eminent domain leasing some spaces in an emergency to allocate one per household, (with a cash equivalent going to anyone who doesn’t need to take their space), and a private business in the business of selling cars should already have a solid contingency plan bought and paid for to protect its fleet.

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  4. Powerful evidence for Cleek’s law.

    Barber and Pope found that people who identified themselves as strong Republicans were among the most malleable voters. When told Trump had adopted a liberal stance, these voters moved decisively to the left; when told Trump had taken a conservative position, they moved sharply to the right, as the accompanying chart shows.

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    • That’s not Cleek’s Law. Cleek’s Law would be that they move right or left solely on what the enemy is saying or doing. Not sure what the term for this is, but we’ve seen it on some other issues as well (such as trade and Russia).

      It is, of course, something almost all of us to do some extent or another (we wouldn’t have coalitions without it), but I don’t have difficulty believing that Republicans do it more in recent years as they have lost their ideological footing.

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      • Fair that I skipped a step, that step being from Republican voters don’t believe in the merits of what their party is selling (except, likely, lower taxes), so what do they care about? I’d answer with “being against dirty hippies” (i.e. Cleek’s law), which was sure the Trump platform until (maaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe) a couple days ago. I agree that’s my gloss, though. It could just be that it’s pure respect-for-authority.

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        • I don’t see anything here that suggests that this is a uniquely Republican phenomenon. They only seem to have examined the right half of the political spectrum. And an 18-point swing, while distressingly large, hardly represents all, or even most, Republicans.

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          • The really striking shift, to my mind, is Evangelicals’ attitude about political sex scandals. This made a dramatic shift in recent years. The obvious explanation is to accommodate Trump into their worldview, but there also is the conspicuously happy family life of Obama. It is an embarrassment to Evangelicals when this Kenyan Muslim is leading what is so obviously a moral family life that no one even seriously tried to gin up lies on the subject.

            Do both sides do it? John Edwards’ went from being a liberal favorite to non-person pretty darned quickly. Then there was Anthony Weiner. Governor Hiking the Appalachian Trail, on the other hand, barely missed a step.

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          • It’s true that this does not appear to survey liberals. It would be interesting to know whether that’s the survey or the story (and what an equivalent survey would be).

            Either way, it seems pretty clear that the truest thing Trump said in the campaign was the observation about shooting someone on 5th Avenue.

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          • I don’t see anything here that suggests that this is a uniquely Republican phenomenon. They only seem to have examined the right half of the political spectrum. And an 18-point swing, while distressingly large, hardly represents all, or even most, Republicans.

            I suspect the reason they didn’t try to measure it on the left is that there’s not any evidence of it happening on the left. Like, at all.

            Hillary Clinton got yelled at for being hypothetically too nice to banks because they had paid her some speaking fees.

            No one on the left suddenly said ‘Well, the big banks can’t actually be that bad if she likes them’.

            Meanwhile, the right…well, literally did that exact thing with Trump! (Which I honestly wasn’t even thinking of when I picked the Hillary example.) Remember when he was yelling about Goldman Sachs? And then remember how he appointed a bunch of people from Goldman Sachs?

            The Democratic base has _ideological goals_, and gets upset when progress is not make towards those goals, and gets even more upset when Dem pols don’t _claim_ to be trying for those goals. (This is not, in any manner, a judgement _on_ those goals.)

            The Republican base mostly does not, at this point. Their ideology actually seems more like a bunch of vague feelings about how the government is helping other sorts of people, and barely repressed seething anger that Democrats exist.

            I mean, Trump disowned half the supposedly conservative goals during the election, and it’s even more noticeable now that he’s switched to mostly being in favor of them! And the Republican base just…goes along with it.

            That…is not how Democratic voters react to this sort of thing.

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            • I suspect the reason they didn’t try to measure it on the left is that there’s not any evidence of it happening on the left. Like, at all.

              But there is evidence: They’re human.

              I don’t know what the effect on the Democratic side is, but I can guarantee you it is not zero. Being completely oblivious to the influence of your preferred leaders is simply not how people work. Everything we know about humans and social psychology also applies to liberals.

              Now, whether it would manifest itself on the immigration issue in particular, I can’t say with certainty. I suspect it does by how the issue has played out over the last ten years, though.

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              • I don’t know what the effect on the Democratic side is, but I can guarantee you it is not zero.

                Oh, I’m sure the leaders of the Democratic party, in the long term, _can_ influence the opinions of the base.

                I’m not entirely sure they actually do influence anything do at this point. They have been playing catch-up for basically a decade at this point…or not even bothering to catch up.

                Regardless, the Democratic base do not appear to change their positions simply because their leaders change positions, or, heck, as in this study, merely being _told_ that their leaders changed position. (Which is a bit amazing when you think about it. It would be one thing to change positions based on some expert speech ‘your guy’ gave…but just being *told* he took a certain position?)

                The Democratic base will possibly, over time, come around to a new position if the Democratic leaders push it for years (Although there are plenty of counter-examples where the leadership and base have been out of sync for _decades_.), but that’s not the same thing as being immediately informed ‘Hillary Clinton said this was a good idea’ and leaping behind it.

                Because, like I said, the Democratic base has ideology, and actual political goals they want to accomplish (These goals might be sometimes contradictory between members of the base and incoherent and sometimes stupid, but they are real goals.), whereas it’s fairly clear that Trump voters…basically don’t.

                The one exception, the one issue that is causing them to break with Trump is…punishing illegal immigrants. This, ironically, is the one issue that Republican pols previously _weren’t_ hardline on, at least not entirely.

                Which basically means, as I’ve mentioned before, about let’s say 50% of the Republican base now appears to have been Republican _entirely_ due to identity politics and not because they actually _wanted_ anything Republicans were promising. Literally nothing at all.They were not operating in a ‘goals’ framework at all. They didn’t want lower taxes, they didn’t want smaller government, they didn’t want less regulation, they just wanted to, apparently, hippy and minority punch. (Let me make it clear by minority punching I mean it in the same sense as hippy punching, not actually beating up minorities.)

                Trump offered them a better opportunity for that.

                The study is wrong. The Republican base isn’t malleable. Malleable is where a solid can be molded into a new shape…but the Republican base isn’t a solid at all.

                The Republican base is ice cream that has been out of the fridge for six hours, melted except for a frozen core, kept in a closed container that the Republican Party labeled ‘conservativism’ that everyone knew the shape of and thought it meant the ice cream was solid believers in that shape…and Trump punched a hole in the bottom and half the ice cream poured out. The Democratic base is glass…with a lot of work and heat, it can be reshaped into other things…or if done wrong, more likely, pieces break off and cut the person trying to reshape it.

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                • Your faith in Democrats being exempt from almost everything we know about group psychology is almost admirable. You’re not arguing they’re different than Republicans. You’re arguing that they are different from every political movement that has ever existed.

                  What’s noteworthy about this article is not that some Republicans will shift their views on a dime to align with the president, but that 18% will and that seems like a high number. That non-zero do isn’t noteworthy. That’s universal. (It’s even not always irrational.)

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                  • Your faith in Democrats being exempt from almost everything we know about group psychology is almost admirable. You’re not arguing they’re different than Republicans. You’re arguing that they are different from every political movement that has ever existed.

                    Ah, now I get why people are disagreeing with me.

                    I am not suggesting that Democrats are somehow more stronger willed or whatever than Republicans. There are just as many Democrats that can swayed to whatever stupid thing as Republicans can.

                    I am one of the most cynical people in existence when it comes to the idea of people _independently_ thinking. People believe they have thought long and hard about the positions they hold, the moral and political and religious and whatever positions they hold, and in reality that all just sorta floated into their mind and they made up a bunch of retroactive justifications for it.

                    What I’m saying is that Democrats do not take cues from Democratic party leadership to anywhere near the extent that Trumpists take cues from Trump.

                    The Democratic base take their cues from other things. Some of those places are better, like civil rights leaders, and some are completely idiotic, like circle-jerks on Twitter.

                    But regardless, those cues are more diffused and a lot of them more long-term than ‘Whatever noises fart out of Trump’s mouth’, so they are much harder to change in the practical sense, and when Democratic politicians wander outside them, they get screamed at.

                    I am sure the amount of Democrats who take cues from Democratic leaders aren’t _zero_, but that’s not where most of them are getting cues from.

                    It would be interesting to see if support of single payer has changed now that the Democrats are mostly on board with it. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Democratic support had barely moved at all, and the Republican support had moved more, despite people on that side moving in random directions.

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                    • Same-sex marriage might be one.

                      The gallup poll before he endorsed it had 60% of Democrats supporting it. The next poll it was 73%. Pew showed a smaller effect, with 59% supporting prior to Biden and Obama’s announcement and 65% three months later, after they both announced.

                      Was it just a part of a larger trend? Well, the Gallup is tricky because the one before the 60% had an outlier with unusually high support (69%), but if you ignore that one you see a mild positive trendline that suddenly lurches upward. With Pew, neither independents nor Republicans changed over the course of those three months. Just Democrats.

                      Despite the fact that Obama and Biden were late-comers, it appears they still moved some Democrats who were taking cues.

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                      • The actual interesting thing there is the _direction_.

                        Obama and Biden took a position that a large section of the party was already at, and drug maybe 10% of the most liberal Democrats along with them, apparently. Along with 5% of other Democrats.

                        So, okay, there you go, an example. I guess. Although it seems to me that there’s a rather large difference between an issue that has been pushing at them for decades, and the people in the party almost entirely on board, and the leadership finally getting on board, vs. Trump just randomly leaping to a position and people following. But whatever.

                        Taking it at face value, though, what happened there is not wildly different from the cited study of what ‘Trump did’ by taking more conservative positions. That moved people 12% and 7%, roughly the same amounts.

                        So apparently about 11% of dedicated members, and 6% of non-dedicated members, of either political party, are people who hold the policy line at their leadership, or at least answer poll questions that way.

                        I’m rather suspecting that’s what is happening, that they merely will not go past their leadership in answering poll questions. I.e., I am not convinced their position changed, I suspect they already mostly were in favor of gay marriage and just needed permission to say so.

                        So I am less convinced this is anyone taking cues about what their policy position should be, and more that this is people taking cues as to how far their answer to pollsters should go.

                        And probably the same with the Republicans moving right when ‘Trump’ moved right. They probably already held those ‘new’ views, but were keeping their answers where they thought they should be.

                        Or, to put it another way:

                        I think people are missing the conceptual basis of this, in that I say that Democratic base hold a lot of firm positions that they truly believe Should Be Done, and the Republican base mostly doesn’t. (Except in immigration.)

                        The positions the Democratic base holds are (duh) mostly to the left of the status quo. They will not give up those positions due to Democratic politicians saying they should. They will burn the house down before they do that. It actually is often counterproductive, especially when their positions are stupid or utopia.

                        Democratic politicians adding new positions to people (That do not conflict with old ones) is…also not likely, but not the insane amount of work that trying to remove people’s existing positions is.

                        Especially when the Democratic base is already on board, and had been there for a decade. It’s not that weird they can pick up some of the remnants.

                        The difference between the parties, of course, the thing that is Obviously Wrong, is the extremely weird fact that almost twice as many Republicans moved the opposite direction when Trump supposedly moved that way.

                        This requires all sorts of mental contortions to even come up with an explanation for, and the extremely weird, but really the only plausible, explanation, is that a large segment of the Republican base wants permission to refute the conservative agenda, at least twice as many of them want to move in a more conservative direction. So when Trump gives permission to them, they take it.

                        This is because the Republican base don’t actually care about any of the agenda that has been harped on for ages. They don’t have think lower taxes Should Be Done, not really, they just sorta have been saying that for decades. Same with less regulation.

                        (Now, these are subsets of the base that things that Should Be Done, like the anti-abortion people. But that’s not particularly relevant unless Trump flips on those things.)

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                      • I think some of it is being influenced by leaders, and some of it is about having a permission structure to admit you hold a position that you were afraid would make you unpopular with your tribe, so you wouldn’t admit it.

                        I could see that at play for MAGA types and the Dreamers, too.

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            • I suspect the reason they didn’t try to measure it on the left is that there’s not any evidence of it happening on the left. Like, at all.

              War and Drones.

              The limb gets weaker the further out you get… take a few steps back and rejoin the rest of humanity.

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              • I think you’re mostly wrong about drones, timeline-wise. Drones were not in use enough under Bush to be opposed by any significant fraction of Democrats. You want to say it’s something that Democrats *should* have been opposed to, by all means, but it wasn’t a large deal.

                But that doesn’t matter, because you’re mostly right about the war. But as for the war…here’s the thing: Foreign policy has always been different than domestic. Neither political party has any sort of real ideology about foreign policy. The Democrats are probably slightly less willing to start a war, but that’s about the only statement you can make. (And it’s entirely possible that’s just Democrats being more competent and accurately judging the practical effects of a war, because the current and previous Republican administration were idiots in that regard.)

                Foreign policy has always been decided on a case-by-case basis. Stuff that impacts domestic, like trade policy and immigration, sure, the parties have a position, but military intervention? Not really. They have sorta vague guideline, guidelines that are mostly the same as each other, and that’s it.

                So if you want to point out my blanket statements about policy really only apply to domestic policy, you are correct. ‘Foreign policy ideology’ is not really a thing for either party, everyone’s liquid there. You got me, I overgeneralized.

                But WRT to domestic policy, the Democratic base (Unlike the Republican base, apparently) have actual goals they want the government to implement, goals that cannot be swayed easily by Democratic pols. These goals are health insurance, or less racist cops, or, I dunno, free puppies. Again, not all these goals are good or possible, but they are real goals Democrats care about reaching.

                Almost none of those goals have anything at all to do with wars in foreign countries, so the Democratic base can easily be ‘swayed’ from whatever position they barely held before. Just like the Republican base on, uh, everything.

                And I’m not even sure this really is a good example anyway. The Obama campaign claimed the wars should end while running for office, and once in office they didn’t claim ‘This war is great, this was an awesome idea, let’s keep doing it!’, they claimed it was too complicated to end quickly.

                I.e., they did what every politician does…they ran on doing something, and then claimed it was impossible when they got into office. They presented the best option as out of reach.

                That’s not the same as what Trump is doing, which is running on doing things, and then stating he’s doing the exact opposite because that is, apparently, now the best option…and his base just follows along with that! (Except WRT immigration, which they did not follow, because…well, do the math yourself.)

                That very specific thing is pretty unique in political history, at least to the massive level Trump is doing it, and Trump, it must be pointed out, has managed it twice…once when he sucked the Republican base away from the standard conservative positions, and then again when he brought them back!

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              • I don’t know, March. There was a contingent of the left that was upset over war and drones in general prior to Obama and continued to be upset for the eight years he was in office. There was another contingent that was mostly upset over Iraq, less so over Afghanistan (at least initially), and was mostly pleased about the way Obama wound down those conflicts and seriously reduced the troop levels.

                The thing about these kinds of conversations is that we talk about “The Base” as if it were this singular entity, when in fact, both major parties have two or three ideological bases from which they draw support. There does appear to be at least a contingent within the Trumpian base that’s more of a personality cult than anything else and therefore moves whichever way he does.

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                • That’s not the failure condition… that a sizable number opposed xyz before and after is true of the study of Republicans too. The brittle position we’re challenging is that it never happens to Democrats.

                  I’ll concede that maybe Drones are an edge case because Obama owns most of the ramp-up from 2008-16… though it is untrue that the timeline doesn’t support it… there were 42 drone strikes between 2004-8 with 2008 seeing the biggest increase. In 2009 there were 53 and escalated after that. Here’s a link to a contemporaneous 2009 New Yorker article discussing the left’s concerns… or what they would have been absent Obama. Ultimately President Obama is given a pass in the last paragraph.

                  Here’s a Friedersdorf article from 2012 making exactly the point (against Sullivan, no less) that Obama’s ownership/leadership is different because he’s not Bush; there’s so little opposition to what would have made the left apoplectic during any other republican administration. Though, to DTC’s point above, maybe the timeline makes it a little more of a “pre-emptive” acceptance than a change from x to y.

                  I just think its strange to assert that one party is immune to influence by leadership direction.

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                  • Yeah it seems impossible to argue both parties, essentially all people are not immune to leadership influencing them. People are people and that is the way we are. There may be argument that the current republican party/conservatives have more of this then is typical or we are used to. For a lot of conservative beliefs it’s hard to see how many long standing and loudly proclaimed beliefs some are holding onto. Some of us have pointed out lots of conservatives don’t’ seem to believe that party or leaders or even they claim to.

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                    • Right… there’s even a term for it: Nixon to China.

                      To your point about the current Republican party… I expect we’ll see even more shifting of numbers… that’s what realignment looks like. Things that the old Republican party held core will be re-prioritized, then dropped.

                      The really, really weird thing to watch is what happens if Trump navigates, say, Amnesty and what that does to the Democratic alignment (not today, but over time). That’s what I think people like Lilla are starting to recognize.

                      Now, that said, I’m in the camp that doesn’t think that Trump has the chops to pull off this realignment, so I think we’re going to see a cascading failure… but I can’t rule out that he won’t stumble into a Nixon to China success either.

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                  • Here’s a Friedersdorf article from 2012 making exactly the point (against Sullivan, no less) that Obama’s ownership/leadership is different because he’s not Bush; there’s so little opposition to what would have made the left apoplectic during any other republican administration. Though, to DTC’s point above, maybe the timeline makes it a little more of a “pre-emptive” acceptance than a change from x to y.

                    What the left should, hypothetically be opposed to based on their values, but only seem to be opposed to when Republican do it…

                    …is an interesting discussion, but has wandered pretty far off my point, in that Democratic base has specific concrete-ish goals and wants them accomplished and it’s pretty hard for the Democratic leadership to remove those goals, and when they try they get yelled at and back off.

                    You’re talking about condemnation over actions or the lack thereof, whereas my entire point is about policy and the stated goals of policy.

                    And, as I said, our ‘foreign policy’ WRT war is…not a thing that exists. Republicans are aggressive, Democrats are slightly less aggressive, but there’s almost no structure of any sort there, and what there is more a national consensus than any party thing. You give this board a domestic policy, almost anyone here can tell you what positions the parties would take (pre-Trump), you give this board a foreign military situation, absolutely no one would be able to, because it largely matter who the executive is and who gets out in front of it in what party.

                    But, I’m not even talking about the actions of policy implementation anyway! The Democratic base does not really seem to care if elected politicians succeed or fail at implementing the policy they demands, because politics is so complicated enough that the politicians can always come up with a reason that it couldn’t happen. As long as there’s some good reason it couldn’t happen, it’s okay with the base.

                    A large number of Democratic base opposed the war under Bush, and the same number, or more, opposed it under Obama, but they supported him because he opposed the Iraq war also, and continued to talk about how the war was a bad idea and needed to end. The fact he was, at the same time, _continuing_ said war…well, that just means the Democratic base are hypocritical and stupid…but I think we already knew that about voters.

                    What I am saying that most members of the Democratic base have a large number of things filed away as Vitally Important Things, and each of the people want the people they elect to be on board with them, rather assert they are on board with them…or at least not oppose them.

                    Democratic leadership cannot dispute these things, at least not without risking losing part of the base. (For example: the loud argument over pro-life Democrats running for office.) They cannot remove existing Vitally Important Things.

                    Although as pointed out, it seems possible the leadership can influence more of the base to hold those positions, as shown with the example of gay marriage. I really was thinking about the leadership trying to move things towards the center, not the other way. So let’s just say the Democratic leadership can only influence in an additive manner, saying ‘This issue is also important and you should care about it too’, but not ‘This issue you already care about is not important’.

                    This is opposed to the Republican base, which will apparently throw all their supposed Vitally Important Things in the trash when Trump asks them too. And then pick them back up and wave them around when Trump decides to go back to them.

                    Democratic leadership at least has to _pretend_ that they want to do what the Democratic base wants, whereas Republican leadership (Or, rather, Trump.) can just make any random shit up and the Republican base is ‘Man, that idea, which is literally the exact opposite of what we said we’ve wanted for two decades, sounds AWESOME!’

                    This is because, as it has become clear, almost all that stuff was merely identity politics, empty slogans repeated to demonstrate where Republicans stood.

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                    • This is opposed to the Republican base, which will apparently throw all their supposed Vitally Important Things in the trash when Trump asks them too. And then pick them back up and wave them around when Trump decides to go back to them.

                      Although, to clarify, I don’t think the Republican leadership has any special powers the Democratic leadership doesn’t have.

                      I think what is actually going on is that everyone (The Republican leadership, the Republican base, the media, basically almost everyone) was ‘lying’, or at least wrong, about the Vitally Important Things that the base held.

                      The base ‘cared’ about a lot of things, like lower taxes, only to the extent of using them as a way to measure who actually belonged in the group, not as something they wanted. (And then Trump, the most obviously awesome member of the group, came along.)

                      I think there are only four-ish of those, with different groups holding different positions:
                      a) vaguely anti-Democrats
                      b) vaguely anti-immigrant sentiment
                      c) vaguely racist and pro-police sentiment
                      d) pro-life

                      Yes, I know that those middle two sound really bad, but that is not my fault. I don’t have any way to say them more politely. That’s what we have. That is what we are left with. Those are the core of the Republican base.

                      The Republican leadership can’t change any of those, just like how Democrats can’t change any of their base’s stuff. As evidenced when Bush tried to do immigration reform.

                      Meanwhile, almost no one actually ever cared about lower taxes except the rich people who keep bleeting about lower taxes and hiring lobbyists to bleet about lower taxes directly in the ears of the elected Republicans. Likewise, almost no one cares about government regulations except the corporations who keep bleeting…etc, etc.

                      So, basically, the study doesn’t really show Republicans as moe malleable…it shows a lot of them were paying a lot of lip service to stuff they didn’t slightly care about as a way to signal who they were.

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    • What’s really interesting about this is how it magnifies the importance of 2018. If the Dems could seize the House (or ideally both the House and Senate) they could very likely roll Trump on many policies and when Trump rolled it appears a non-trivial segment of his base would amiably roll along with him.

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      • True. But it also supports an argument that rolling over for Nancy/Chuck is safe for him politically regardless of 2018, as he’ll get good press (since the policy is good) AND won’t piss off many of his followers.

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        • Whether it hurts him or not depends on what those who are not swayed do. Losing 20% of your support is devastating. Or it may be 2% because they can say “I don’t agree, but bygones.”

          The other side is how many swing voters he picks up from the positive press.

          If he did this, I would be happier than if he didn’t, but I still won’t vote for him. Meanwhile Trumper Dave will absolutely abandon his support. So that’s a net loss of one. Is that indicative? Or is Dave unusual for an immigration hawk and do I hate Trump too much to represent anything?

          If I were a black hat advising him, I don’t have enough information to tell him what to do.

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          • I’m not convinced Trump’s horizons stretch out to 2020 at all. The impression I’ve gotten is his view spans roughly one news cycle. Since his administration appears to have devolved to a series of circuses battling over access to Trump (since he seems to basically go along with whomever he is talking to at a given moment access=power) I don’t know if he’s got much long term strategy operating. The way he’s cutting deals with N&C suggest he either really has developed a dislike for Ryan and Mitch (there is some evidence for this); or has chemistry with N&C (Maybe? I mean Chuck is a New Yorker) or just is interested in good press and the MsM loves bipartisanship.

            I don’t think bipartisanship works for him long term. Most of the main stream GOP will be furious about him caving to Dems when they expected to be enacting a new era of Randian minimalist government so he loses their support even more; his Trumpistas were going to vote for him anyhow and both moderate and left of center Dems would rather vote for an actual Democratic candidate. That leaves the true independents and I think they would depend entirely on who the candidate is in 2020 (I have no idea who that is other than not Hillary*).

            *and Not Bernie**
            **And it’s way way too soon to talk about 2020.

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        • Yes, but if Nancy and Chuck get control of the House/Senate they can cut a deal without McConnell and Ryan controlling veto points. There’s only so far Trump can go off the reservation before House and GOP leadership simply refuse to put the bills on the floor to vote for.

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        • (George, I totally get that this was a joke you couldn’t resist making, which is why I’m censoring this comment but not doing anything else about it. However, you’re not really in a good position to be making jokes about trans people given my previous objections to things you’ve said when discussing them (us, actually). Tread more carefully. -Maribou)

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        • Harvard has a very, very limited number of slots. One of those slots going to a killer is going to rub people the wrong way. You’re telling me that of all the applicants you get, you don’t have an amazing applicant who didn’t kill somebody that you’re turning away?

          If it were my alma mater, I’d be fine with it. But less so for Harvard.

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          • Meh. Redemption is a good thing. She served her sentence. People in her field said she was worthy. There will be people who are furios she was able to become a paralegal or do any schooling while in jail. I get the hard on crime argument i just don’t buy it myself. She is what we should want to happen to people who serve long sentences. Wanting her to give more details about the death seems more like demanding a show of weeping and tears over her crime. She seems a far more worthy addition than Manning or Spicer.

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      • I am not sure. I generally think they should let her in. She had a tragic backstory (she was raped at 14, her mom beat her when she found out), etc. Did she do something horrible? Yes. But she also spent 20 years in prison and the ADA thinks Harvard made a mistake in rescinding the offer.

        I agree that there are tricky questions of when someone is or is not beyond redemption in terms of moral philosophy. However, I also think we over punish in the United States. There is a compassion and grace in saying that even for people who commit horrible crimes, they pay their debt to society and then we let them move on and reenter society. We can’t have a permanent shadow class. That is just as bad morally and also in terms of fiscal policy and trying to reduce crime rates and recidivism.

        She seems to have worked hard on becoming a better person in prison. At least she was able to fall back on NYU but I still think Harvard handled this wrongly.

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          • This is interesting to me because it seems that Michelle Jones went through some of the same things I did (though I was very non-violent and didn’t go through nearly as much). Given how close to the edge I was a lot of the time as a teenager, I can easily imagine her having healed enough to almost literally be a different person. And to have a fair amount of dissociation from what she did back then, even having healed – maybe necessary in order to heal.

            Also, it seems she was honest enough about what she did that they could have easily figured things out. In fact it seems that history and American studies BOTH figured things out. But of the people that didn’t want her to come, as you said, no one had the guts to outright say “I don’t want her here” – they had to find other people (oooh, right-wingers *eyeroll*) to blame. Which makes Harvard look really stupid.

            But on the other hand, I don’t think an offer was already made – the offer isn’t technically made until it’s been approved.

            But on the OTHER other hand, while “Can’t go to Harvard” doesn’t strike me as an overpunishment, “Don’t admit people who fit in with our program AND our mission as a department and who we want and who appear to be completely brilliant,” does strike me as not very fair to the history department, in that way that academia often does…

            I’d be somewhat worried about Jones – mostly for reasons of personal empathy- if she didn’t have more than half-a-dozen other acceptances. As it is it seems like someone was mad at the history department, thus this happened, and now history dept is having their revenge by getting reporters interested.

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