- The case for replacing elections with sortition – The Boston Review.
“Sortition,” for those who don’t know (I didn’t), is a word for government by representatives chosen by lottery. It wouldn’t be a perfect system, of course, but the question is, would it be any worse than our current system? It would definitely be more representative, especially when looking at class.
- The Myth of Humanitarian Intervention – DAWN
“States almost never intervene in atrocity situations primarily for humanitarian reasons—not even when they have the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. And when states do intervene, for humanitarian reasons or otherwise, they almost always make the situation on the ground worse.”
- Student Debt Cancellation Is Progressive
“In this brief, we argue that critiques of student loan cancellation as regressive are based primarily on five empirical and conceptual errors: the inclusion of private student loans, conditioning analyses on borrowers only, focusing primarily on income rather than wealth distributions, highlighting the value of debt to the government rather than benefits to households, and ignoring the racial distribution of debt.” I actually don’t feel certain about this issue, but since I’ve seen several arguments that it’s not progressive, linking to a counterpoint seems worthwhile.
- Opinion | Why I Changed My Mind on Student Debt Forgiveness – The New York Times | And an alternate link.
- My friend has been lying about being poor for years. How can I ever trust them again? | Xtra Magazine
“…rather than face the fact that we can be both oppressed and complicit in oppression at the same time, some people feel the need to choose a simpler story where they are always an underdog hero and never a villain.”
- Oklahoma is set to kill Richard Glossip, but he’s almost certainly innocent. Even Republicans are revolting.
Even SOME Republicans are revolting would have been a more accurate title; others are determined to see Glossip die in one of the most painful ways imaginable. But it’s nice to see some elected Republicans not being bloodthirsty sadists for once. That aside, this story does illuminate how our judicial system just can’t be trusted with a death penalty.
- The End of Friedmanomics | The New Republic
Surprisingly interesting overview of the late economist Milton Friedman’s career and influence.
- The College Wealth Premium Has Collapsed – The Atlantic
“The spiraling cost of higher education is choking Millennial families, and more young people would be able to go to college—and get the full financial benefit of getting a degree—if they were able to do it for the same price as their parents paid.”
- How the Ballpoint Pen Changed Handwriting – The Atlantic
“Fountain pens want to connect letters. Ballpoint pens need to be convinced to write, need to be pushed into the paper rather than merely touch it.”
- Fear of a Black Hobbit – The Atlantic
“It’s worth noting how rapidly right-wing language about colorblind meritocracy melts away when it does not produce the desired results. Perhaps the actors cast were simply the most qualified?”
- The People’s Joker, a hilarious trans riff on DC characters, shut down over ‘rights issues’ – Polygon
The movie is an EXTREMELY transformative parody that no reasonable person could mistake for an official Joker movie. But as often happens, the question is less “is my movie legal?” than it is “can I afford to be sued by a huge corporation?” I hope the creator will find some way to make The People’s Joker legally available.
- Alabama GOP chairman refused to show a license to vote.
“When a poll worker fussed, the chair pushed to have him removed as a poll worker. Now he’s not a poll worker anymore.” The ex-poll worker is a Republican who seems to genuinely believe in photo I.D. laws.
- Misconduct settlements have led insurers to force police reform – Washington Post (And an alternate link.)
- How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step – The New York Times
- The promise of cultivated meat – by Noah Smith – Noahpinion
Short overview of the current state of meant-grown-in-a-vat technology. The best hope may be a hybrid product of plants and cultivated meat.
- These 526 Voters Represent All of America. And They Spent a Weekend Together. – The New York Times. And an alternative link.
Very few participants felt they changed their mind on policy positions, but many felt they came away thinking of their opposition as more reasonable and less evil than they had believed.
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This makes me mindful of the people who prevent people like Ann Coulter from speaking at Cornell or object to Elon Musk’s intent to relax heavy censorship on Twitter. They don’t trust the people’s ability to exercise sound judgement with regards to what they hear.
looks a LOT like he cribbed from William F. Buckley, a famous conservative voice, who way back in 1961 said “I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the telephone directory than by the Harvard University faculty.”
Re. #3, but admittedly not directly on point:
If the intent of the student loan cancellation program is to in fact cancel student loan debt, it seems to me that in order to make sure that this is what the money is used for the checks should go directly to the banks that are holding the loans.
Re. #3, more on point:
I think this definition misstates the issue by being incomplete. The issue of the regressiveness of student debt cancellation does not only concern who the money goes to but also who the money comes from. The latter includes many people of low income whose tax payments will fund this. But then, the term “loan cancellation” misstates the process. The loans will NOT be cancelled. The banks that loaned the money will still be paid back. “Student loan payment re-allocation” or “student loan shift” would be more accurate, as what’s changing is not whether the loans get paid but who’s doing the paying.
Hey, that reminds me of SuperButch!
Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I didn’t make that connection myself!
Given Alfons Mucha’s advocacy of pan-Slavism through his art, and the use of neo-pan-Slavist ideology by the Russian state to justify its invasion of Ukraine, personally I no longer feel comfortable sharing Mucha’s art, even the more popular works from his less political French phase.
Honestly, I’m completely unaware of Mucha’s pan-Slavic politics, or the pan-Slavic movement during his lifetime.
His “Slavic epic” is artistically a triumph, and politically points to some pretty grim stuff.
Re #1: Neat to see an in-depth article on sortition when I’ve just finished reading one focused on the algorithms for selecting people by lottery in Scientific American this month.
Something I never thought about, but I guess it shouldn’t be surprising: Political parties differ by which sports people like (on average).
Monster truck fans tend to lean Democratic, which seems to go against stereotypes.
They say that overall Republicans are more likely to be sports fans, but they didn’t say how large the difference is.
I watched NASCAR for more years than you’d think I would have, never watched a second of WWE, watched a LOT of NBA until my team hired a credibly accused rapist with no head coaching experience as their head coach. I’ve also watched more MLB than all of you combined, most likely.
Until I transitioned, I was solidly in the most Republican demographic there is. It just goes to show that my discovery that I don’t like the vast majority of people who enjoy the things I do and the the vast majority of people I like don’t enjoy the things I do is consistent..
I’m curious as to what NBA team that was? I grew up in the Boston area and was an avid NBA fan for years until it became my perception that the players decided they were more important than the game. I have definitely watched a lot of Celtics-Lakers games.
I would not have thought that the WWE demographic was Democrat.
I’m a Red Sox fan and have certainly watched my share of MLB. I grew up to watch them lose 3 straight WSs and then win 4 straight. I have never watched a NASCAR or a PGA tournament (the latter except for a couple of times when I got invited to sit in a vendor’s tent and suck down some free food and booze), nor am I a fan of college football. But my older brother, who leans Democrat, is.
“I like opera, but I don’t want to hang out with the people who like the opera.”
Clarence Thomas, on Antonin Scalia’s invitation to the opera (May 2016)
#14. I know someone who participated in the America in One Room event! She didn’t have a lot to say about it, oddly.
To me, it looked like a noble if naïve effort to do SOMETHING about polarization and misinformation. But while the experimenters tried to get a representative sample of people in the room, they couldn’t get a representative sample of people who are closed to talking to people with contrary opinions–and I suspect that’s where a lot of problems lie. In other words, I fear the study contains an unavoidable selection bias. And even with that bias, it’s not clear that many people changed their minds.
That said, this occurred in 2019. What brings it to mind now?
I have been an Election Judge for both the Primary and General elections this year in Illinois. There are specific rules on what ID is acceptable to register to vote (which you can do on Election Day at the polling place in Illinois) or to prove your identity if your registration is flagged in the polling database. If there are issues with your ID then you vote a provisional ballot or you don’t vote at all. You as a voter then have a certain amount of time to get your identity straightened out and get your vote counted.
So my sympathies are with the poll worker here. In Illinois I would accept any State-issued ID (e.g., a Firearm Owners Identification Card) but Illinois law allows that. Apparently Alabama law doesn’t specifically name the ID being presented in this case. So in that case I’d tell the voter “Sorry – I don’t see where in the law this is acceptable ID, you’ll have to show me one specified in the law” and not let them vote a regular ballot.
What has me real curious is what kind of religious restriction would permit a voter to present one kind of picture ID but not another? Is this guy driving around without a Drivers License and doesn’t want anyone to know?
Oh, that’s a good point.
Now is when I happened to come across the article. :-p
None I’ve ever heard of. I’ve heard of exceptions regarding what’s shown in the photo – for instance, allowing Jews wearing skullcaps to be an exception to the no-hats rule – but not for what sort of ID the photo will be printed on.
I suspect he just enjoys the power play – he and his family are special. The rules don’t apply to him.
Assuming he drives, though, I bet he does have a driver’s license. Because if he drives, odds are that at least once or twice a year he drives out of town, and he can’t bully an out-of-town cop into letting him slide.
I’m suddenly having to delete spam comments offering me a herpes cure. What do they know that I don’t?
I am extremely dubious of the government by lottery idea.
One (unintended?) consequence of it is that every representative would be a “freshman” since the chances of the lottery randomly landing on one person twice in a row, much less multiple times, is highly unlikely. (Assuming a true lottery that someone manages to avoid corruption and tilting in favor of certain groups…or even not assuming that as long as it’s not a show lottery much like some countries and Florida have show elections only where the outcome is already determined in advance.) In any case, that would mean that the entire elected government would consist of only people who are new to their job. That might not be too bad in the Senate, but the two year terms in the House would not allow the representatives long enough to learn how to do the job, much less actually do it.
The result of such an inexperienced elected body would be that the power would tend to rest with the permanent staff: aides, civil servants, etc. And with lobbyists or consulting firms–people willing to tell the newbie reps what to do and able to convince them that it was a good idea. And what other countries would think of the foreign policy that would result, I have no idea at all. Most of them already think the US is wildly random in its foreign policy.
You’d also be disrupting people’s lives. Do you want to quit your job to serve in the House for two years? I don’t. Especially since you won’t do a very good job at it (for the reasons above) and so it’ll negatively impact your future employment.
Finally, despite the contempt people are taught to feel for politicians, politics and governing are skills. As 2016-2020 (among other historical periods) showed, someone coming into the position of president with no experience in governing is a disaster. I am thoroughly done with being governed by a businessperson and don’t want to risk them coming up in the lottery. Nor would I want to be the person the job of president landed on. The skills and personality traits required to do the job well are simply not skills and personality traits that I have. Much as the idea of being president has appeal, I think the vast majority of people would find the reality horrifying. (Yes, Douglas Adams had things to say about the type of people who don’t find it horrifying, but that’s a problem that can’t be solved simply by putting one of the people who do find it horrifying in the place of those who do not.)
Electoral reform? Sure. Propose something. Reducing the influence of money on politics? I’m for it if it can be done. But simply picking a random person to represent my district/state/country? Not into that.
That being said, if someone tried it, preferably in a smaller system than the US as a whole, and it worked, I’m ready to reconsider my position.
“Because if he drives, odds are that at least once or twice a year he drives out of town, and he can’t bully an out-of-town cop into letting him slide.”
Presuming he gets stopped – which, if you don’t speed, drive drunk or have a headlight/taillight out, is unlikely to happen. Here in Illinois you have to have a drivers license to register and insure a vehicle. I don’t know if the records are checked when you renew your vehicle plates, so maybe he had a license and let it lapse. Or maybe he has a big enough ego to figure he’ll flash that other ID and somehow B.S. the out of town cop. It’s a weird story.
How are Florida elections “show elections”? Were there irregularities in the recent Florida elections? Are you an election denier?
Agreed. There’s too much power in their hands already, in my opinion.
A whole lot of people in this country compare 2016-2020 to 2021-2022 (gas prices, food prices, border control, etc.) and figure the disaster started when Trump left office, not when he acceded to it.
Speaking of which, Texas Gov. Abbott has invoked U.S. Constitution Article IV, Section 4 and states that he is going to take various steps (calling out the Texas National Guard, running gun boats on the Rio Grande, designating Mexican drug cartels terrorist organizations, etc.) to close the Texas/Mexico border to people not crossing at a U.S. Customs crossing point. If he carries through on that it’s going to get REAL interesting.
It was meant as a snarky reference to the fact that De Santos refused to allow election monitors in to the polls, passed voter suppression laws, and gerrymandered shamelessly, even for a US politician. And then he somehow won by more than was predicted in any poll. Funny, that. But no I don’t really think that the Florida elections were in the same category as, say, North Koreas. That bit was just snark.
Trying to come up with one single thing that Trump actually did that improved any of these and coming up blank. What policies do you think helped prices, etc?
I figure that the “Return to Mexico” policy, the start of building a border wall (and thus funneling border crossers to other areas), supporting Border Patrol agents instead of making and pursuing false accusations such as the claims that agents on horseback were whipping border crossers, etc., etc. helped a lot at the border. Supporting fracking, pipelines and oil/gas production helped energy prices both directly and in encouraging energy companies to try to recover refinery production (which they have now pretty much abandoned). Food prices are directly tied to energy production because production, processing and transportation of food is a partial function of the cost of diesel fuel.
“Most of them already think the US is wildly random in its foreign policy.”
Speaking as a non-American, I have a lot of things to say about US foreign policy, but I wouldn’t describe it as “wildly random”.
Horatio, as an American my response to the above is “I don’t blame you.”
DeSantis won the 2018 election by 0.4%. He won the 2022 election by 19.4%. The Democrat candidate got ~900,000 fewer votes and DeSantis got 500,000+ more in 2022 than in 2018. Gerrymandering has no effect on a Statewide election and efforts to ensure the integrity of an election (commonly mischaracterized as election “suppression” by the left) doesn’t produce that kind of change. Unless the election laws in Florida are very different from those in other States every polling place has workers from both major political parties and permits access for poll watchers from those parties and from the candidates themselves. You’ll notice that there was no litany of polling place irregularities in Florida. DeSantis didn’t win through sleight-of-hand or corruption. He won because a clear majority of the people of the State of Florida decided he was a better choice for Governor than Charlie Crist.
If he runs against Trump in the GOP primaries it’s going to be quite the show. Trump will find that bluster and insults won’t work against DeSantis and will likely actually help DeSantis.
Here’s a twitter thread with highlights from Judge Walker’s injunction against the higher ed provisions of Florida’s HB 7 (aka the Stop WOKE Act). And here is the full text of the injunction.
At least it’s positively dystopian! Imagine if it had been negatively dystopian. Go on. Imagine it.
Amp, is any of that supposed to pertain to any of Dianne’s comments or my responses to them?
Jackie O: The phrase is oddly ambiguous!
Ron: Nope, it was just an item in the news that I thought was interesting.
“Gerrymandered” in America is starting to become one of those accusations that no one really agrees on the definition of, but is sure their opponents are doing it.
2020 ended in a 0, so that was the year that most (all?) of the states redistricted. Everyone tried to gerrymander. New York’s original map, drawn by Democrats, was thrown out as being obviously and partisanly drawn and was replaced with the map that gained Republicans 8 seats house in New York. Part of that, I think, was that Zeldin had coattails, even if he didn’t win, and that Hochul was an anchor, even if she did. Regardless, had the original map stood, Democrats would have gained a seat.
To your comment Diane; Florida’s redistricting was not found to be as gerrymandered as New York’s – The state’s submission was upheld. That either means that Florida was more crafty in their gerrymandering and came in under the wire, or their process was just better.
And before we say that the people who were looking at redistricting were in the tank for Republicans… Had the districts been the same as they were in 2019, the Republicans would have gotten about 20 more house seats than they did. And that’s not necessarily a gerrymandering issue… Republicans won the popular vote by 4 million votes, 51-47%.
And on that note…. Seeing as how all the House seats were up for election, and seeing how the popular vote ended up… How do we all feel about the senate election rules this cycle? Is it a good thing now, or should Republicans control it too? One man, one vote, proportional representation and all.
Overall, there is zero doubt that both gerrymandering nationwide and the way we elect the Senate advantages Republicans. But gerrymandering in the House is a pretty small factor; it gives a thumb on the scale helping Republicans, but it’s far from a guarantee they’ll take the House. (Gerrymandering is a much bigger deal on the state legislature level.)
For the next years, I think it’s fair that the Republicans should have a majority in the House, since they got the majority of votes for the House. Generally speaking, the Democrats have had a smaller share of seats in the House than their share of the popular vote, in recent decades.
(Although since our system is not, in fact, a national election, there are some weird anomalies that effect the totals – like the 13 Republicans who ran unopposed, compared to 3 Democrats, which of course pushed the GOP total up more than the Dem total. And there were an additional 10 races which were opposed but no Dem ran, and 3 which were opposed but no Rep ran.)
The direct House-popular-vote-to-Senate-seats comparison you’re suggesting doesn’t make sense. To get an actual sense of what percentage of voters voted for which party in the Senate, we’d have to look at Senate votes, not House votes, obviously. And we’d have to add up all the votes from 2022, 2020, and 2018, because of the way the Senate’s six-year-cycle works. And include the independents who are effectively Democrats/Republicans when it comes to voting – for example, Sanders is technically an independent, but he won the Democratic party primary.
So it’s complex, but I think the 2018 elections – in which Dems won the Senate popular vote by a huge amount – would probably mean that overall more US voters voted for Democratic Senators than GOP Senators, for the Senate as it will be in 2023. (More Americans voted GOP in 2020 and probably in 2022, but by much closer margins).
What’s your answer to these questions?
Your point, which I take, is that the house election isn’t a true national election. That’s true, but it is a national election in that all the seats were available, and ostensibly, those seats are proportioned out by population. You would expect in a properly districted nation that the seat results would mirror the vote.
What’s the alternative?
And it isn’t true that this puts a thumb on the scale for Republicans. That might have been true as recently as 2020. It might be true in individual states, or for individual races, but on a national level the Republicans took about 3.5% fewer seats than their 4% popular vote lead should generate. Again: The districts as they were in 2019 would have net Republicans about 20 more seats, and that’s closer to representative than what the 2020 lines produced. I’m not even convinced that the Republicans were net beneficiaries of gerrymandering in 2020, but it’s certainly not true now. My take on this is that this is what Democrats tell themselves, but the reality is that opposing attempts at gerrymandering basically offset themselves, and the closer to the popular vote the ultimate seat count is, the “better” they offset. And when they’re 4% out, that’s almost irrefutable proof that your gerrymandering is working better than your opponents.
So…. What’s my answer to those questions?
We actually agree on this, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The entire reason that bicameral legislatures exist is to give checks and balances, and the only way to do that is to have different appointment procedures – Otherwise you’d just get two bodies that look exactly the same, and what’s the point of that?
My point was when I made that argument here last time, there were people who thought that the electoral college or the senate were threats to Democracy because they didn’t have the same election procedures as the house. Like I said… We agree on this, but if anyone has a different opinion, now would be the principled time to say so.
The problem with the electoral college is that electors – in many states – do not have to vote for the presidential candidate that they were elected to vote for. And – in some states – it’s apparently true that the state legislature can send different electors than the ones that were elected and their vote will still be legitimate. Having different election procedures is one thing; having one of the procedures be “the public vote is not binding” is not, in my opinion, legitimate.
The senate, on the other hand, is not a threat to democracy by design; it’s a perfectly valid democratic institution. It’s poorly designed and does not serve the needs of the American people as a whole. But that’s a different kind of problem.
Well, I feel like I played the “let’s you and him fight” card and walked away. Sorry about that.
Back @Ron 22:
This is, IMHO, one of the biggest disasters of the Trump regime. Even if you don’t care about the risk to the refugees, both in staying in Mexico or being deported to the countries they were fleeing and taking greater risks to try to get into the US, it’s a major disaster for the US. We need those immigrants. We should, if we had any sense at all, be encouraging people to immigrate to the US. Especially the people with the guts, drive, and brains to get themselves to the border through significant difficulties.
Know what happened to the immigrants DeSantis and Perry shipped north to “own the libs”? They’re settling in nicely and alleviating the labor shortages. It was a problem because no one knew they were coming so couldn’t prep for them and because it’s not at all clear that all of them wanted to come to the northeast, but if you’ve got more people in Texas and Florida who want to come north and you’re willing to provide free transportation–DO IT!
Not an area I’m an expert at, but it looks to me like US crude production fell in 2020 (before Biden) and has been rising steadily in the Biden administration. So Biden isn’t exactly keeping Exxon or whoever from drilling. Anecdotally, my family’s wells* were capped because oil just wasn’t worth anything. Literally, at one point, people had to pay to have their oil taken away. Is that what we need in a world where major cities are going under water due to carbon in the air? I’d think it would be more sensible to cut the fracking and support alternative energy sources. Six solar panels are enough to power a small house in cloudy and northern Philadelphia and the solar industry employs more people than the coal industry at this point. Why not encourage that?
True, the cost of food is somewhat related to the cost of fuel to produce that food. But that’s not the only cost. Right now, farms are in a crisis because farmers literally cannot find enough people to harvest their crops. See immigration, above. Also, diesel fuel is expensive partly because domestic production is down due to a fire shutting down a plant in Pennsylvania (yay, deregulation, huh?) and due to Trump’s buddy Putin’s maneuvers.
Give it up. Even Murdoch has admitted that Trump was a disaster. At least move on to a new Republican disaster.
*Yes, I am part heir to about 3 oil wells. yes, I’m embarrassed and will advocate for discontinuing drilling when/if I inherit them, but right now, it’s not my decision.
No? That’s not what the data say. (Assuming the “it” in question is gerrymandering. If not, my apologies for the misunderstanding.)
What a bizarre take.
I mean, that is a problem…. There have been maybe 150 instances of faithless electors ever, and they’ve never swung an election, but I suppose they could and that is a risk. But this isn’t what I was talking about. That’s not what we were hearing in 2016, when there were Democrats actively calling for faithless electors. If there was any condemnation of the anti-democratic efforts to overturn that election, it was relatively quiet. Instead, we were told that the electoral college as a whole was a problem because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.
Which brings me back to calling this bizarre. It’s like you’re agreeing with me, but don’t want to admit what my point was. How do you miss that?
What I Actually Said @32:
I feel like you’d have so much of a better time if you actually read what I wrote. You’re right, obviously, that I was talking about gerrymandering. You’re wrong in thinking that my point of “The Democrat’s Gerrymandering offset the Republican’s Gerrymandering and ended up with a system where this was a net benefit to Democrats” was in any way refuted, or even interacted with, with “Well what about Florida?”
Well, I missed it because you didn’t say it. You didn’t say anything about 2016 in your post, or about the popular vote. You said “there were people who thought that the electoral college or the senate were threats to Democracy because they didn’t have the same election procedures as the house.”, so I decided to say why I think the electoral college’s election procedure is a threat to democracy. Did you expect me to go through the archives of this blog so that I could figure out when “the last time” you made this argument was, and what the responses were? If you had actually provided a link, or explained which specific aspect of the electoral college was considered to be a threat to democracy, I would have just simply agreed with you.
Now, I do think Americans would be better off with a federal popular vote for the president (noting that that would *still* be a different voting procedure from both the house and the senate), but that has nothing to do with “threats to democracy”.
I don’t see what proportional representation has to do with the Senate, for good or ill. The question of having different institutions on different electoral cycles is not related to proportional representation – many countries with highly proportional systems still have separate cycles for different chambers.
Well to the first part: I literally did. To the second: Only the two posts above it, and context matters. What I had said was:
And then, after Barry had said that talking about the popular vote disn’t make sense in this context;
I’m not even sorry. These posts are a continuing conversation, I’m not going to copy/paste everything I said in the posts leading up to individual comments. It’s unfortunate you were confused.
Sincere question: Where did I say that?
(I did say that talking about the popular vote for the House didn’t make sense when talking about the Senate – and then I explained what information we’d have to look at to talk about the popular vote for the Senate. But that’s not the same as me saying that talking about the popular vote doesn’t make sense.)
I may have phrased it poorly. Yes, I had meant it in reference to the paragraph that started “The direct House-popular-vote-to-Senate-seats comparison you’re suggesting doesn’t make sense.”
I think we disagree more generally in that I think the Senate was designed to give power to the states and not to individual voters (and that isn’t a bad design), while you might prefer a system that was more broadly representative but had alternate election procedures to avoid pure duplication.
And for the record, I think you’re reasonable on this. I don’t think that you’re one of the Democrats that would agitate for change only when it’s to their benefit, and abandon those stances if it would hurt them. I think your stance, while I disagree with it, is principled. But I am saying that those Democrats exist, and I’m pretty sure some of them might read this.
For those who celebrate it, Happy Extremely Problematic Holiday That Was Sort of Invented by Abe Lincoln Day!
I hope we all have a terrifying day full of murder, mayhem, and mysterious monsters of a like which we never knew existed outside of fiction, but in the end all the good people survive and we’ve learned and grown.
Some folks here will remember my old friend Robert Hayes, who used to post here regularly, before he was arrested for bank robbery. (This isn’t private info, we’ve had threads about Rob’s arrest before).
A couple of days ago, Robert posted on Facebook that he’s successfully completed prohibition and has been released from supervision. So that’s some good news. :-)
No longer slinking
Like civilized ladies and men
No more moonshine for us!
(Congratulations Robert! That’s a hell of a long probation period.)
This year I’m deviating from a holiday tradition that I’ve followed for the past several years–although I had forgotten that I had this tradition.
Specifically, my brother was in town, so we flipped through our album of DVDs and found A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! Alas, it wouldn’t play–something about the root directory. I quickly tried to play some other Xmas DVD (Fitzwilly), and it played just fine. Go figure.
So we kept flipping through the DVD album: Scrooged. A Christmas Story. It’s a Wonderful Life. And … my replacement copy of A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! I vaguely recalled ordering it from Amazon when the original one didn’t work. But this one ALSO wouldn’t play; same issue.
Back to the DVD album: Miracle on 34th Street. A Charlie Brown Christmas. Various “American Girl” Christmas films. And … my REPLACEMENT replacement copy of A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! Apparently I had a long-standing habit of simply ordering replacement versions of that DVD. And once again, the damn thing would not play; same issue!
Just as I was reaching for my phone to buy another copy, my brother smacked my hand. “Let me take this thing home and analyze it.” So he did. He discovered that the DVD would play on ONE of his DVD players, and on his computer, but not on another DVD player. Go figure.
Anyway, my brother has a way to defeat digital rights management software, and so was able to make a copy of the DVD which he says works on ALL of his devices. He plans to bring it over for Xmas, so we’ll see if it works on any of my devices. The proof of the the figgy pudding is in the eating. But if it works, I’ll be sporting a yule log.
Has anyone else had this experience with a DVD?
Speaking of holiday traditions–is anyone else following the Twitter thread about Diggle Day that Amp highlights?
Georgia, Georgia…. the whole day through…
Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind…!
It IS sweet, isn’t it?
“As a working-class, first-generation American, Southern woman…I say we have to vote no.” What’s implied is that one’s identity is a comprehensive validator of one’s political strategy—that identity is evidence of some intrinsic ideological or strategic legitimacy. Marginalized identity is deployed as a conveyor of a strategic truth that must simply be accepted. Likewise, historically privileged identities are essentialized, flattened, and frequently—for better or worse—dismissed….
[W]hile it is true that the “personal is political,” the personal cannot trump strategy nor should it overwhelm the collective interest. Identity is too broad a container to predict one’s politics or the validity of a particular position. There are over 40 million Black folk in the US. Some have great politics, some do not. One’s racial or gender identity, sex, or membership in any marginalized community is, in and of itself, insufficient information to position someone in leadership or mandate that their perspective be adopted.
People with marginal identities, as human beings, suffer all the frailties, inconsistencies, and failings of any other human. Genuflecting to individuals solely based on their socialized identities or personal stories deprives them of the conditions that sharpen arguments, develop skills, and win debates. We infantilize members of historically marginalized or oppressed groups by seeking to placate or pander instead of being in a right relationship, which requires struggle, debate, disagreement, and hard work. This type of false solidarity is a form of charity that weakens the individual and the collective. Finding authentic alignment and solidarity among diverse voices is serious labor. After all, “steel sharpens steel.”
Neoliberal identity politics strips from identity politics a focus on collective power or a political project and demand. What’s left is a narrow tool used as a personal cudgel or, as Barbara Smith has said, “It’s like they’ve taken the identity and left the politics on the floor.”
* * *
Decontextualized or uncritical use of intellectual material, like the Tema Okun essay on white supremacy culture, has at times served to challenge accountability around metrics and timeliness or the use of written language. Yet metrics and timeliness—and the ability to communicate in writing—are not in and of themselves examples of white supremacy.
Maurice Mitchell, “Building Resilient Organizations,” The Forge (November 29, 2022)
That’s damn good news about Robert. I hope he’s able to re-integrate into society in a productive fashion.
Corso @ 32:
I wouldn’t. Party preferences are not uniformly distributed among the population – there are marked geographic imbalances. Big cities tend to be overwhelmingly Democrat, rural areas tend to be Republican and the suburbs go back and forth. Our system is supposed to allocate House seats on the basis that people living in a given geographic area have concerns specific to that area, not to provide “fairness” to political parties. If you’re going to create districts that have contiguous and compact boundaries and especially if you want them to follow government administrative boundaries as much as possible (e.g., State, county and municipal borders) you’re going to get party imbalances.
Dianne @ 34:
We do. But we are looking to limit that to people that can contribute immediately to the American economy at a highly productive level, not people who will end up either as a charge on the public or as unskilled labor.
That’s not the story in Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is asking for $54 million to support ~1,500 of the approximately 5,400 migrants that have come to Chicago from Texas and elsewhere.
And yet she and others will criticize much smaller municipalities such as El Paso who are dealing with 1,500 people crossing the border per day.
Hello…is this thing on?
Nope. I spent Xmas with nieces who are obsessed with the Wings of Fire novels, and were THRILLED that I had some acquaintance with someone cranking out those books. I can’t be surprised that Amp invests time in paying projects–or even spending time with relatives over the holidays–and that we experience some lulls around here as a result.
But Amp is having a fun discussion on Twitter about incels and concepts of “entitlement.” I sense Amp feels that people are “entitled” to food/housing/health care/education–and this translates into government raising revenues to pay for providing these things for those who lack them. Why not publicly-financed prostitution?
It’s not as if government regulation hasn’t intervened in people’s domestic relationships in the past. After all, most societies started with polygamy–that is, high-status people (men) securing exclusive rights to sex with many sex partners (women), thereby leaving low-status people (men) without exclusive partners. Rightly or wrongly, most Western societies have legally prohibited this practice–effectively redistributing the supply of women down the social hierarchy of men. If we’re comfortable with government imposing such prohibitions on people, why would we flinch at government imposing taxes to raise revenues, and then merely offering salaries to people to serve as prostitutes and offering prostitution services to those who are deemed eligible/needy?
Happy new year!
nobody.really @52 – I’d feel a lot more comfortable discussing this issue with you if part of your framing didn’t posit that women are commodities.
I seriously welcome any explanation for how we transitioned from legal polygamy (a policy that champions the prerogatives of high-status people) to legal monogamy (a policy that appears to do the opposite) that does NOT treat (lower-status) women as commodities. I appreciate that people may regard this idea as offensive–but in the absence of a better theory, it’s what I’m stuck with.
(Other people will object that the theory relies on a presumption of heterosexuality, or that high-status people are primarily men, etc. Again, I welcome other theories.)
First of all, a genuine question – do we know that “most societies” did transition from status-driven polygamy to monogamy? Before I can develop a theory explaining something, I need to know what the evidence is. I’m not an anthropologist, archeologist or anthropologist, so I don’t have the knowledge about this myself.
Beyond that, it seems to me that the way we avoid treating people as commodities even if they have low status is to treat them as service providers. Maybe low-status, badly treated service providers, and maybe ones that don’t have much agency, but service providers nonetheless.
According to this paper,
And please permit me to rephrase my prior remarks to say that prohibitions on polygamy reduce the share of lower-status women exclusively committed to providing domestic services to a high-status household, resulting in more of them pursuing employment providing these services to lower-status households.
nobody_really: Note that the claim of 85% rests on a single reference from 1988 and doesn’t seem to distinguish polygamy from polygyny and polyandry. If I understand correctly, the field has changed since then, with more examples of polyandry and other forms of partnership identified.
The prevalence of polygamy, polygyny, polyandry, and other non-monogamous and particularly gender imbalanced partnerships suggests to me that the “normal” (that is, most typical) human sexuality is bisexual or poly. Consider a society with “classic” polygyny: Most men are without (female) partners. They’ll be much happier and less likely to overthrow the existing order if they have male partners. Similarly, women in a polygamous marriage are likely to be unhappy and inclined to overthrow the existing order if they aren’t attracted to each other, either as sexual partners or (as seems to happen in some societies with polygamy or polyandry) as relatives.
An interesting take on the incel movement I’ve seen suggests that the basic motivation of incels is not to get laid but to feel justified in complaining about not getting laid. If offered sex, they may well reject it as being too easy (and therefore not valuable) or that the offered partner is unattractive or–pretty much whatever excuse they can come up with to continue in their desire to be celibate but to feel justified in complaining about that fact.
In other news, if the House fails to elect a speaker tomorrow (assuming 3+ votes/day), the number of failed elections will be the fifth highest in US history. Three of those prior recurrent failures were in 1849, 1855, and 1859. The 1861 congress being a bit of an issue of its own…
Perhaps. I suspect we might identify many circumstances under which people might avoid problems if only they would adopt different sexual orientations. And indeed, I’ve heard many accounts of people in single-sex circumstances engaging in homosexual behavior.
Nevertheless, I still look for a theory for how societies transition from legally polygamous to legally monogamous–a transition that impinges upon the prerogatives of high-status people.
Almost certainly true; many people profess to be too proud to accept various forms of government assistance. That does not lead me to a general conclusion that government should not offer assistance.
So, here’s what I think – first, sex work should be safe, secure and free from social and other stigma. It should be no more exploitative to its workers than any other job in our society (many of which should also become less exploitative than they are now, but that’s a digression). Once that’s established as a baseline, then I’m entirely happy to experiment with socialized sex work.
However, in realistic terms, getting to that point will require such sweeping attitude changes about sex that the problem of incels might get solved along the way. Incels – as a generalization – aren’t really after sex, they’re after status, and they buy into the sex = status paradigm that is perpetuated throughout our media, religion, and education. In order to make sex work safe enough for it to be offered by the government, we’d need a society where sex is treated as just a thing people do, maybe not entirely decoupling it from social status, but reducing the undue emphasis that our society puts on it as a marker of social status until it is level with any other service job. In such a society, people who are dissatisfied with their perceived status will not latch onto sex as the cause. But as long as this sort of dissatisfaction exists in large groups, it will keep manifesting, just in a different way. So the problem won’t be solved, just change its shape.
Francis Bacon (1561–1626). Essays, Civil and Moral., XV. Of Seditions and Troubles
Mary Karr, “The Voice of God” (December 18, 2014)
Edward Lear ( 1812-1888), “The Dong with the luminous Nose”
Maybe I’m not clever enough, but I’m not sure how to interpret your quotes. So I thought I’d provide one that’s more to my level.
“[The decline of social cohesion/interaction/trust] has directly or indirectly produced a whole genre of commentary from many different perspectives. Many of them touch on the fact that the internet is not being built with pro-social ends in mind…. Other perspectives, often on the Left, stress economic precarity and the decline of public spaces as causes. Some of these same criticisms have been adopted by the New Right, who additionally indict the culture at large for undermining traditions of sociality, be it gender norms or the family. Believing it disproportionately affects men, this position has produced many lifestylist spinoffs: Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), trad-life nostalgia, inceldom, masculinist groups, and hustle culture with a focus on ‘beating the rat race.’ All of these subcultures are symptoms of the social recession in some way, for better or worse.
Often standing outside these developments are the self-described ‘adults in the room.’ These are the professional media pundits, politicians, bureaucrats, and the like, largely disconnected from the problem themselves, but fixated on its potential to incubate political extremism. [I]nstitutes have been set up to study, monitor, and surveil the internet’s radicalizing tendencies…. The goal here is not to solve a pernicious problem, but instead to pacify its most flagrant outbursts.
We have no clear, comparative basis on which to judge what will emerge from the growing number of people who feel lost, lonely or invisible. The closest comparison comes from the early 20th century when, for the first time, millions of provincial people moved to major cities to pursue their dreams. Many uprooted themselves then only to be poor and unfulfilled, who were later easily excited into a mania over mass politics and culture [giving rise to communism, fascism, and two world wars]….
The data presented [on the decline of community, friendship, life milestones, relationships, and trust] is enough to sketch out an archetype of the new individual, a growing minority: one who is plugged in, dispirited and often feels invisible. Carl Jung wrote that personal meaning comes ‘when people feel they are living the symbolic life, that they are actors in the divine drama.’ In such a frayed sociality, the drama that would give one meaning closes. What often enters instead is nostalgia, exaggerated hatred, and the desire to be saved….
The politics of the social recession has … only really just started. [T]he digital public lacks a coherent program and is motivated by negation, and the tearing down of idols and authority.”
Anton Cebalo, “The Social Recession: By the Numbers” (Oct. 23, 2022) (emphasis added)
I must say, I’m finding this very confusing. Are these quotes supposed to be in response to what I wrote (or what Dianne wrote)? Are they just random quotes you like on the same topic? Have you been replaced by an AI? I’m really unclear on what’s going on.
If the quotes are meant to be a response to me, it seems to me to be rather rude to just jump into them without explaining their relevance (except on the superficial level which is obvious). If this is a seperate thread, it would be nice to be told that too so I wouldn’t have to wonder.
Hi! Apologies for lack of paying attention to “Alas” for a while. While I was visiting family for the holidays (already a situation that reduces my attention to online stuff), I came down with Covid and was sick for a while, which required me to extend my trip (since I didn’t want to travel while my likelihood of being infectious was high) and basically reduced my online interactions to occasional tweets. :-(
And I basically entirely forgot about Alas (and many other things) while that was all going on.
I’m now Covid-free and able to deal with life again (well, as able as ever, anyhow), thankfully.
Eep! Hope you’re feeling better now!
Also, thank you for not traveling while sick with covid.
Thanks, Dianne! I am feeling much better.
I’m glad to hear that you were able to deal with a COVID infection. I’ve known a few people with it. All but one basically dealt with it as if it was a very bad flu infection, but one gentleman damn near died and has taken months to recover. Thank God you didn’t suffer excessively!
I have no problem with sex work; it should be legal. But the danger of employers exploiting sex workers is I think much higher than most other businesses. How would you propose to provide effective protection against that? Especially since a lot of sex workers would rather not have people know what they do for a living or who they work for.
So a couple of news stories regarding free speech have got me wondering.
One is Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee re-introducing a bill to criminalize what she refers to as “hate speech”. The text is here. It kind of shocks me that someone who has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic apparently has no clue what the First Amendment means and seems to have no familiarity at all with its legal history. It focuses on “white supremacy”, including:
Apparently she doesn’t see an issue with hate speech directed against whites or people espousing black supremacy.
All of the above one would normally dismiss by saying “Well, that’s Rep. Jackson Lee, you’re going to hear racist opinions when you talk to her.” Except that we also see this story:
where European Commission VP Věra Jourová at the WEF states
She seems to be particularly concerned about speech generated by A.I., but leaving aside the usual questions (who gets to define what “hate speech” is, the First Amendment prevents any such thing, etc.), I have to wonder where the heck she figures laws of this nature are going to be passed soon in the U.S.? Who has she been talking to? Does she know something we don’t? Has she been talking to Rep. Jackson Lee? The U.S. is pretty famous/infamous around the world for our free speech policies, so I can’t imagine she’s speaking from pure ignorance.
Ron, unsurprisingly, almost everything you said about Lee’s bill is wrong.
Describing Lee’s bill – which is about hate crimes – as being about criminalizing “hate speech” is simply wrong. But since both of your sources lie and claim it’s about criminalizing hate speech, I can understand how you made that error.
The part of the bill that adds the actual criminal offense amends section 249(a)(1) of title 18, United States Code to add white supremacy based crimes to the already-existing hate crimes law, which already forbids hate crimes based on race (including hate crimes against white people).
I do wonder if this would be constitutional, though, so we agree on that. It does seem viewpoint-based in a way I’m not sure first amendment law permits.
The sources led me to the bill, but my judgement of it is based on the text of the bill itself. Here’s what I view as problematical, from Section 2 of the bill:
So person B speaks in public or publishes something on social media or any other kind of media promoting a particular viewpoint. Person A reads it and at some undefined point later on (maybe a week, maybe 10 years) is involved as stated in a crime that is inspired by a completely undefined concept called “white supremacy”. At that point person B is guilty of violating U.S. Code Title 18, section 249 and can be sentenced to prison for up to 10 years; or, if someone died in the commission of the act person A carried out, for life.
How is person B not being imprisoned for “hate speech”? Note that there is absolutely no requirement under this bill that person B has ever even seen or heard of person A, never mind ever having spoken to them or communicated with them in any other form directly. Note again that there’s no time limit on the gap between what person B said and what person A did. There’s also no definition of what “white supremacy” is – and I’d love to hear Rep. Lee’s ideas on what a reasonable person would think that is. Here’s the Oregon Health Authority telling people that “urgency is a white supremacy value”. Here’s the Stanford Social Innovation Review holding in all seriousness that timeliness is part of “white supremacy culture”. I’m sure they all think they’re reasonable people. This bill criminalizes any speech that some psychopath might at any time in the future claim inspired him or her to commit a crime that was motivated on the basis of race, etc.
So frankly I don’t see how the sources that led me to Rep. Lee’s bill lied. There seems to be a rather broad range of actions and opinions that at least some people hold as “white supremacy”. This bill could easily lead to convicting someone of a “hate crime” on the basis of their speech alone, and that would lead to stifling free speech .
I stumbled across Batman and Robin having a talk about their relationship while apprehending the Joker and laughed out loud. Maybe it’s just me but I thought it was pretty funny.