Re: A Thousand Points Of Light

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Someday someone is going to make a fortune inventing a cell phone screen that is visible only to the person using the phone.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 9:29 PM
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Chris Ware's cover about phoning "home"


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 9:37 PM
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I'm greatly looking forward to HUD contacts and RFID tags in my fingernails for keyboarding, etc.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 11- 2-09 9:43 PM
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If it's a Freezepop gig, the flickering lights could be Nintendo DSes.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 1:56 AM
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Proposed Post/Thread:

A victory for teabaggers in NY-23 today would be good, as it would drive the Republican Party deeper into the wilderness, or it would be bad, as it would push the opposition party (and inevitable ruling party) of the US deeper into insanity.

I think I said this in a thread yesterday: I've really about given up on this country. Our political system is apparently irrevocably broken, and the citizenry is growing ever-more fascist. I feel like the pendulum no longer swings back towards sanity, restraint, and functional governance. They used to say that God looks after little children and the USA. Not anymore.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:44 AM
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They used to say that God looks after little children and the USA. Not anymore.

I heard that saying as 'little children and drunks.' Which suggests an obvious solution.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:46 AM
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The line is "Fools, drunkards, and the United States." Might be Twain, but I'm not sure.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:52 AM
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7: Yeah. Triple coverage.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:54 AM
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Hah. Wikiquote says not Twain, Bismarck. Which is much funnier.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:54 AM
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I think you people may be misunderstanding what I wanted to discuss.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:55 AM
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A victory for teabaggers in NY-23 today would be good, as it would drive the Republican Party deeper into the wilderness, or it would be bad, as it would push the opposition party (and inevitable ruling party) of the US deeper into insanity.

It's depressing to think that a Sarah Palin endorsement can actual be a good thing for a candidate to get.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:57 AM
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10: Sorry. I enjoy drinking more than I enjoy government. Also, I thought the quote was Dostoyevsky, but googling doesn't find it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:57 AM
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I think "fascist" may be a miscategorization of the political inclination that we dislike, but "authoritarian" is probably a little too vague.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:58 AM
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||

Our Mayor-for-Life qualifies for the Unnecessary Quotes blog.

|>


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:02 AM
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13: I agree; I couldn't come up with a better word, even with brief consideration.

What's bothering me isn't just the authoritarian impulse: it's the embrace of dehumanizing violence in the culture. I know that this is a perpetual complaint, but - as someone who grew up on cable TV and violent movies and all that - I find the popularity of CSI and the like simply horrifying. I don't think that watching several hours of that shit a week is consonant with a healthy attitude towards one's fellow humans. Abu Ghraib et al. are evidence for my position, imo.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:06 AM
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14: Say it with red velvet.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:08 AM
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I find the popularity of CSI and the like simply horrifying

Those are disturbing, and they (if you throw in all the various iterations of Law and Order: Just Rapists Because Murder Isn't Titillating Enough) seem to form a really huge percentage of what's on network TV.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:10 AM
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15: I used to watch CSI, but stopped because it got very repetitive. I also used to read mystery novels, but stopped that after it seemed that every murder was motivated by some kind of psychotic-sexual deviance. Whatever happened to killing somebody for profit or misguided-jealousy?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:11 AM
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Oh yeah, the SVU thing is just sickening. When it came out I was kind of incredulous.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:11 AM
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14: I'm so, so annoyed with the NYC Democratic party. Christine Quinn can bite me.

The dumb thing is that I'm not, actually, in favor of term limits in the abstract. But the way the NYC term limits got removed was completely uncool.

Eh. Maybe a miracle will occur and Thompson will win. Not that that will change anything much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:12 AM
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15: Statistics - and I cringe when I type that - might not bear that out, as emotionally sympathetic as it may appear. Personal violent crime rates are quite low in the industralized West, and I am not at all prepared to hypothesize that political violence (i.e., war, invasion, insurgency, etc.) are materially worse than a century or two ago.

On the other hand, as we refine our conceits of political and social progress, our shortfalls may be all the more frustrating.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:13 AM
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Personal violent crime rates are quite low in the industralized West, and I am not at all prepared to hypothesize that political violence (i.e., war, invasion, insurgency, etc.) are materially worse than a century or two ago.

This is true, but surely there can be something unhealthy? unseemly? unpleasant? about violently sadistic entertainment even if it doesn't seem to be engendering violence.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:15 AM
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I don't even especially like Thompson. I voted for him on the Working Families line because the WFP has been the most effective opposition to Bloomberg's term-limit thing. I figured it was a more effective protest vote than one for Rev. Billy.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:16 AM
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This is true, but surely there can be something unhealthy? unseemly? unpleasant? about violently sadistic entertainment even if it doesn't seem to be engendering violence.

Public executions used to be family picnic time so it isn't like this is something new in our culture. That doesn't mean it is good, but it is hardly something we invented.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:18 AM
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22: Acknowledged, but, for devil's advocacy purposes, consider how the Internet (at least, the Unfogged etc. reader version thereof) normally treats arguments from "unseemly," "unwholesome" or "unpleasant."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:21 AM
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That doesn't mean it is good, but it is hardly something we invented.

Speak for yourself.


Posted by: Opinionated Dick Wolf | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:21 AM
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On the other hand, as we refine our conceits of political and social progress, our shortfalls may be all the more frustrating.

Well, and that was my point about the pendulum. I feel as if we're bending back away from justice - other than acceptance of gays, I'm not sure on what axes we're more progressive/liberal/just than we (Americans only) were at the end of Reagan/Bush. And the last 9 months have me convinced that we're (probably) not going to swing in that direction.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:26 AM
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Post idea!

Things just aren't like they used to be. In fact, they've been going downhill for a long time. At this point, though, it really seems like we're at an inflection point, where things are just getting vastly different, ways nearly all terrible. I wish that people younger than myself realized this, but they seem oblivious, and people older than myself are, frankly, part of the problem. It is impossible to not notice what's going on and not realize that it is all deeply portentous of terrible things in our immediate future. In addition, nothing ever changes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:28 AM
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And all you kids need to get off my lawn.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:31 AM
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Post idea!

Unfogged simply isn't the blog it used to be. The key reason for this is that any attempt to have a serious discussion about political, moral or ethical issues is derailed by smartass commenters who treat every subject glibly, and reflexively mock anyody who tries to approach serious issues head on.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:31 AM
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Post idea!

Double negatives: threat or menace?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:32 AM
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the lurkers support sifu via email.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:32 AM
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Also, children no longer respect their parents, and everyone's writing a book.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:32 AM
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everyone's writing a book

And nobody ever reads anymore!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:33 AM
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What's the deal with psychotherapists? I mean, do these guys create more problems than they solve, or am I crazy? And guess what, guys...my wife has started going to one.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:34 AM
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And the music kids listen to today... it's just noise.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:37 AM
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I have a vague sense that most economic growth since 1998 (1989?, 1993?, 2002?) is going to turn-out to be either unsustainable or to have never existed in the first place. And that this is going to result in a kind of generalized negative affect that will cast a shadow over most political and social endeavors. The hit isn't going to be spread evenly and lots of fighting is inevitable. The Democrats are going to have to struggles between relatively well-off union workers and the actual lower class. The Republicans intra-party fight between social conservatives and free-market boosters is only going to get bigger. And I'm going to vote for Ralph Nader as "Go fuck yourself" isn't actually on the ballot.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:37 AM
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"Authoritarian" can be given a usefully precise meaning in the context of American politics. This book looks really interesting.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:37 AM
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Wait, I'm supposed to be writing a book?

FWIW, I was actually mostly interested in a discussion of NY-23. I really don't know which way to root. There's a lot to be said for the Republican Party marginalizing itself through ever-stricter fealty to ever-more-unpopular ideas. OTOH, the media won't call them on it*, and the gov't is dysfunctional as it is, and it's only a matter of time before the nutjobs take power again. Back to the first hand, if Bush 43 and Palin weren't rebuke enough to the teabaggers, losing NY-23 sure won't be.

*I nearly put my fist through a window yesterday hearing the nutjob candidate for FL Senator (Rubio?) on NPR saying that stimulus, by definition, can't work.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:38 AM
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*I nearly put my fist through a window yesterday hearing the nutjob candidate for FL Senator (Rubio?) on NPR saying that stimulus, by definition, can't work.

And in a state with so much meth, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:38 AM
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I can write two books!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:40 AM
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I have a vague sense that most economic growth since 1998 (1989?, 1993?, 2002?) is going to turn-out to be either unsustainable or to have never existed in the first place.

Oh, it existed, but it only benefitted the richest people on earth. (and the GDP)


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:40 AM
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Along similar lines, I fucking hate how NPR prefaces everything with "Given the Democrat's decline in popularity,..." whether it be 2010 elections or whatever. The Republicans have experienced an equal decline in popularity, from pathetic to absurdly pathetic, and yet they make it sound like they're a city on the grow.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:42 AM
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42: Yes, but if it didn't exist for them, there in a great position to deny it for years (i.e. the bailouts). Except now that money is coming from the taxes of somebody who actually works for a living (instead of invisibly being drawn from lost wage growth or some Chinese dude's sweatshop). Hence, more fighting. People always resist a loss much more furiously than they seek a gain.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:44 AM
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44: "they're" not "there". Ranting doesn't help my spelling.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:45 AM
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What Jroth and tweety said. We're going down. The world looks on us with horror and terror.

But since the crash-and-burn is inevitable, inexorable, as we prepare to meet our doom, Unfogged can be what y'all need it to be. We're not the fortunate ones, when the working day is done, I just want to walk in the sun, but the dogs are crippled prisoners who hate me. Maybe I'll just sit on the front lawn, after I clean up the male dog's nervous diarrhea. Or not.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:46 AM
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There's a lot to be said for the Republican Party marginalizing itself through ever-stricter fealty to ever-more-unpopular ideas. OTOH, the media won't call them on it*, and the gov't is dysfunctional as it is, and it's only a matter of time before the nutjobs take power again.

I am Pauline Kael, so I don't have a good sense of how the American public is going to react to anything. But I think you might be more right in your first sentence than your second -- that the lunatics are marginalizing themselves. (Or, more precisely, that the nutty core of the Republican party is getting more and more firmly in control, and they're losing everyone who isn't a hard right ideologue.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:46 AM
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$90 billion for healthcare is a vicious brutal battle, while $900 billion for war gets Obama's signature without notice. The world sees what the USA is.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:48 AM
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The world sees what the USA is.

Kinda the same as everywhere, but richer and with some geological features that contribute to a weird attitude about some things?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:49 AM
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5
I think I said this in a thread yesterday: I've really about given up on this country. Our political system is apparently irrevocably broken, and the citizenry is growing ever-more fascist.

When was this not the case? During the Cold War, when our government was open and unapologetic about propping up a dozen dictators in the name of anti-Communism? During the Jim Crow era? Earlier? When captains of industry and robber barons were running things? And which government or culture does any better than ours? Well, I'd say Western Europe does, these days - and all it took was World War II to scare them straight for a few years.

I'm not particularly pessimistic. I'm so cynical and/or misanthropic I don't need to be.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:54 AM
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Well, I'd say Western Europe does, these days - and all it took was World War II to scare them straight for a few years.

Yeah, near total annihilation does go some way towards provoking an attitude readjustment. Residual cuntery all over, of course, but less actual total insanity on the part of the governing classes.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:56 AM
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49:Kinda the same as everywhere

Uh, no

22:This is true, but surely there can be something unhealthy? unseemly? unpleasant? about violently sadistic entertainment even if it doesn't seem to be engendering violence. ...LB

Very Late Republican Rome


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:59 AM
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My recent big moment of despair for this country came while reading about that gun-rights activist who openly carried a handgun to her kids soccer game and was later shot by her husband.

She had written that a major goal of her activism was to make wearing a gun openly in public a normal, publicly acceptable thing. My god. What kind of society would we be if everyone just wore a gun wherever they went? People would be saying "I don't trust the people around me to meet even minimal standards of lawfulness and decency. Anyone, anywhere could be a threat." Its like she was saying "I want to return to the Hobbesian state of nature."

Robert Putnam talks about thin trust. Its the trust that doesn't cover much, but extends out really far. You trust your kids bus driver not to be high, etc. For so many Americans these days, thin trust is either a foolish illusion or actually a threat to their independence and freedom.

Gah.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:01 AM
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And the taxes we have to pay to get all this! Sheesh!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:05 AM
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Oh, right, about today's election: I'm still wearing the "I voted in Arlington" sticker from this morning. Voted for Deeds, of course. I haven't followed the news of it so far, but I gather the odds are against him. I've felt guilty about ignoring requests for volunteerism from Dem groups, but I guess I'll use the fact that Arlington is pretty solidly Democratic as an excuse.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:05 AM
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Hey Ohioans (Shrub, Snarkout, etc.)! Vote NO on issue 2! Tell big ag to keep their hands off the state constitution!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:12 AM
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If someone is lurking and being held back from commenting because they can't think of a pseud, I think 'Big Ag' would work very nicely. Especially for people with the right initials or who went to Texas A & M.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:15 AM
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Second year in a row that I got no sticker for voting. No stickers in sight. I might have to give up on this whole voting thing if they don't give me the sort of positive feedback every five-year-old craves.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:20 AM
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56: Not to worry, we already did, absentee stylee.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:21 AM
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58: Yes, Pittsburgh has never given me a voting sticker. Ohio did.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:22 AM
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56: I voted against Issue 2! I was given a sticker, but I managed to lose it almost immediately.

So, how did you vote on the casinos, rob? I voted against.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:25 AM
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50 is an old argument, but it doesn't wash. Has the status of African-Americans in the US been constant from 1609 to the present? No? Then I guess things can change for the better, and massively.

And for the worse.

Just as inequality has gotten better and worse, workers' rights, women's rights, etc. etc.

There was no golden past - I never so much as hinted that there was - but there's progress and regress. Right now I see the forces of regress alternately riding high and holding their ground. Progress seems to have retired from the field.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:27 AM
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60: Huh, we got stickers just last year (not many other years, I don't think).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:29 AM
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but I managed to lose it almost immediately.

How? It's stuck to your clothes.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:30 AM
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62 Right now I see the forces of regress alternately riding high and holding their ground. Progress seems to have retired from the field.

I'm unconvinced. We did have a nice outcome in an election last year, after all. Younger people tend to be less racist, less sexist, less homophobic than older people. It's hard to imagine that we're going to regress much on the big social-equality issues.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:32 AM
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IAPK.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:32 AM
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64: Stickers have trouble saying put on velour.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:32 AM
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I voted against casinos, even though the funding for my institution was supposed to be paid for out of casino money.

Casinos just aren't a sound model of economic development. The jobs they create aren't stable or well paid. You can't build the economy without starting to create things of real value.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:32 AM
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Well, I'd say Western Europe does, these days - and all it took was World War II to scare them straight for a few years.

On the other hand, blatantly racist political ads seem to be a lot more acceptable in much of Western Europe than in the US.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:33 AM
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IAPK.

"I are pouty kitten"?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:34 AM
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BTW, in a separate side-complaint about NPR: they ran an inane segment yesterday about the elections in NJ, VA, and NY-23 with the lede that pols used to use off-year elections to gauge public opinion because there was no polling, but now that there's polling... we should still look at these nearly-useless gauges. It was an absolute triumph of stupid CW groupthink.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:41 AM
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68: Economic rationality demands that we make nothing in this country and build our economy on faceless cosmopolitan middlemen, as David Ricardo taught us. We've been blessed for three decades with presidents who realized this and wouldn't put the parochial concerns of the people who happened to be born in their territory ahead of the concerns of economic rationality.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:42 AM
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You can't build the economy without starting to create things of real value.

Yes, but we don't know how to do that anymore.

We have to try to get by with stuff that we can fool other people into thinking has real value.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:44 AM
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65:All we serfs and debt peons will be socially equal, and well-cared for on the New Plantation.


Posted by: bob mcmanua | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:52 AM
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I still want to know what IAPK means.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:52 AM
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65: And yet last year's election has had very little impact - an overwhelming public push for one side has resulted in a too-small stimulus (with real and massive human costs), toothless HCR, maybe (in an optimistic mood, I think it's a decent nose under the tent), and an inability to staff the government with mainstream, qualified people who hold views that range between 45 and 60% of public support.

This is my point about the pendulum - we are unlikely ever to get a stronger impetus for progressive policies than we got in 2008, and the results are tepid, at best. Some of it is in the people - the teabaggers are proudly awful - but most of it is in our institutions.

In the past, progress sometimes came from leaders and sometimes from the people; now I feel that both sides are impotent and/or uninterested.

As for the general progress of younger people... did you see Yggles' chart of white male votes for Obama? Under 10% in the Deep South. Think about that - the vast cultural gulf between the young, open-minded people you're thinking of and those people, who number in the 10s of millions. Those people aren't going away, and they're not powerless. I'd say that the culture as a whole is, for example, more misogynistic than it was in the 80s and early 90s, even as women have made certain concrete advances in the workplace.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:52 AM
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76 gets it right.

I am simply shocked at how many people think that because someone has been arrested and accused of a crime, he deserves to be anally raped, killed by electrocution, put on a list of people that are not allowed to live anywhere, barred from voting, rendered permanently unemployable, etc. It's clear evidence that we have a class-stratified society when there are so many people who can't imagine themselves, or anyone like themselves, being treated unjustly by the law, in the country with more prisoners than anywhere else on earth.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:57 AM
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I'm unconvinced. We did have a nice outcome in an election last year, after all. Younger people tend to be less racist, less sexist, less homophobic than older people. It's hard to imagine that we're going to regress much on the big social-equality issues.

The mistake is thinking that those are the big social-equality issues.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:58 AM
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75: "I am Pauline Kael", or in other words 'I live in such a liberal bubble that what I think about the American voter from first-hand experience isn't worth much'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:59 AM
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78 The mistake is thinking that those are the big social-equality issues.

Well, they're at least correlated with other big social-equality issues; on any given issue (health care, prison reform, drug laws) a large part of opposition to progress seems to be due to racism.

76 Under 10% in the Deep South. Think about that - the vast cultural gulf between the young, open-minded people you're thinking of and those people, who number in the 10s of millions. Those people aren't going away, and they're not powerless.

Under 10% only in Mississippi and Alabama, if I'm reading the map right, and I don't think there's much political power situated in those states. But also disturbingly low in Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, and Louisiana. Yeah, these numbers bother me. But I don't think they're getting significantly worse, at least.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:16 AM
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These things change faster than we realize. Do you realize that in 1988, Dukakis lost Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Michigan, and California, but he won West Virginia?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:19 AM
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And further to that, are you realizing it with your realization skills?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:21 AM
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5 et al

One of the less attractive traits of moonbats (which is also found in wingnuts) is the constant over the top whining about the state of the country.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:21 AM
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79: Oh, thanks. Should have read the thread more closely.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:22 AM
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re: 80

They aren't unrelated, but progress on racial equality hasn't been followed by a more socially equal society. Of course, I'm particularly thinking of where I live, where racism isn't the primary obstacle, anyway. But both our societies are significantly more unequal than they once were, despite improved levels of social diversity, and a reduction of the very worst and most blatant racial discrimination.

Economic equality remains the big one. It's progress if black working class people earn roughly the same as white working class people, but it's pretty small progress when both earn a tiny fraction of that earned by the best off in society.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:22 AM
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53: No kidding. Check out most of the discussions at The High Road if you want to enlarge your picture of gun nuts' petrified-terror-as-will-to-power. The frequency of allusions to "gangbangers" alone could write couple of dozen poststructuralist analyses of homoeroticism in American political discourse. Out of gallantry, I will pass over in silence the many references to un- and under-employment among the heavily-armed, but I saw some discussion there of the members' presumed entitlement to carry weapons in this President's vicinity that were quite repulsive, in a loud-pedant-at-the-next-table sort of way.

On the other hand, as much as I normally hate XKCD's twee, Whedon-positive sensitive-guyness, this XKCD comic suggests one possible healthy approach to "entropy is killing us all demographically and politically, man" despair.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:23 AM
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86: I seem to be unusually prone to typos today. My apologies.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:26 AM
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Pendula swing most slowly at their extremes, and who could argue with the fact that the end of the Bush era was one extreme?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:27 AM
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It's progress if black working class people earn roughly the same as white working class people, but it's pretty small progress when both earn a tiny fraction of that earned by the best off in society.

The US has a dynamic that I don't think is present in the UK, though, where policies that damage the working class are supported by racism -- you can get white working class people to vote against social programs by telling them that social programs only benefit poor blacks. (Oversimplified, but I'm just trying to identify the dynamic here.) If we can reduce the political salience of race, it's going to make working on class and inequality issues much, much easier.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:29 AM
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Pendula swing most slowly at their extremes, and who could argue with the fact that the end of the Bush era was one extreme?

I begin to see why analogies are banned.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:33 AM
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re: 89

I suspect you might find that it doesn't make it as easy as you think. The forces lined up in opposition are strong.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:39 AM
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The forces lined up in opposition are strong.

And have only grown stronger over the past 40 years.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:47 AM
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I'd say that the culture as a whole is, for example, more misogynistic than it was in the 80s and early 90s, even as women have made certain concrete advances in the workplace.

How exactly are you determining this?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:08 AM
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Oh please. Jet engines, aircraft carriers, integrated circuits, pharmaceuticals.... The US does excellent science, reliably builds technically demanding products, and heavy industry. And US legal protections for capital are great-- many foreigners are happy to park a good share of their money here

Consumer goods and so factory jobs are dropping fast, but IME this is due to shitty relations between mgmt and labor on one hand, and no traditions of low-tech engineering quality control or of designers or engineers having real influence within businesses. The path to promotion is through sales and customer contact.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:09 AM
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89

... If we can reduce the political salience of race, it's going to make working on class and inequality issues much, much easier.

Good luck with that, open border immigration policies are not going to help.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:10 AM
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94: but the US still produces more manufactured goods than any other country in the world.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:11 AM
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72: Economic rationality demands that we make nothing in this country and build our economy on faceless cosmopolitan middlemen, as David Ricardo taught us.

Ricardo was a free-trader, but he was almost exclusively concerned with the trading of physical goods.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:14 AM
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Ricardo was a free-trader

I keep reading this bit to the tune of "Sheena is a Punk Rocker".


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:17 AM
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97: I'm sure Ricardo would agree that it's not economically rational to make any goods in first-world countries until the process of levelling out wages between the US and China has progressed a lot farther.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:23 AM
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50: When was this not the case?

1963 - 1968, roughly. McCarthy and HUAC were behind us, Hoover was losing power, we got Medicare and the Civil Rights Acts and Miranda and Griswold, and the anti-war movement drove LBJ the war monger out and elected the candidate who said he'd bring peace. And other things I've forgotten, because it was such a brief time so long ago.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:28 AM
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open borders


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:31 AM
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by telling them that social programs only benefit poor blacks might inadvertently help one undeserving (and probably black) person somewhere in the country one time.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:32 AM
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99: Ricardo would presumably argue that the US should produce what it has a comparative advantage producing, which is a long way from saying that the U.S. shouldn't produce any goods. Ricardo was writing back before international capital flows on the current scale were even imagined ("But if we put that much gold on it and the ship sinks....") And, given his time and place, advocating 'free trade' was the usual position of the leftish people. Britian protected its agricultural sector largely to keep profits for rural landowners and largely at the expense of the urban poor and the Irish.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:44 AM
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Your comment about voting was freaking me out, Cyrus until I remembered that you live in Virginia.

Boston has a mayoral race today. (Menino will be mayor for life. Sigh.) Arlington has a town meeting coming up. I'm still not sure how that works. I don't know if I'm supposed to contact my precinct's town meeting members or what.

The warrant alerting us to a special meeting was a trip.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 12:16 PM
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One of the less attractive traits of moonbats (which is also found in wingnuts) is the constant over the top whining about the state of the country.

I agree with James B. Shearer.

I know I was whining about the state of things just earlier in this thread, but that was more an emotional outburst from one story than a deep part of my worldview.

On the whole, things have been getting better in this country. The perception among moonbats progressives of decline is almost entirely due to rising expectations. It certainly isn't a basic part of the ideology. Here's the problem: Just as a little economic or technological development can make people unhappy because it raises people's expectations of material well being faster than it produces real goods, so too does a little social progress lead to a perception of decline because it raises expectations for justice faster than it actually rights wrongs.

The social leveling 50s, 60s and 70s, on top of the economic leveling of the 30s, created some major expectations for a brighter future. The basic message when I was a kid in the 70s was something like "Racism is over because of that great man, Dr. Martin Luther King." Since then we've had 30s years of proof that the fight was far from over. But the arc of history still bends toward justice.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 12:28 PM
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But the arc of history still bends toward justice.

I feel kind of bad that my first impulse was to turn this into a penis joke. I should try to be less cynical.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 12:34 PM
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But not bad enough to avoid asking if this means History dresses left?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 12:36 PM
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77 was extremely elouquent.

72 is funny whether or not it correctly characterizes Ricardo's views.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 12:42 PM
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Ricardo's views pretty much come down to keeping Lucy out of the show, don't they?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 12:46 PM
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Why thank you, WSg.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 12:46 PM
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But the arc of history still bends toward justice.

I sympathize, but I hate this quote with all my etiolated soul's apophthegm-hating capacity. It was not true when MLK said it (or something similar) and it is not true when progressives of the second or third post-religious American generation repeat it.

I do not want to be interpreted as recanting my earlier comments about the counterintuitive non-crappiness of the present, but I do think that (i) secular progressives ought to have the courage of their quotidian convictions and not make appeals to eternity in support of otherwise-acknowledgedly-perishable ideals and (ii) religious progressives ought to show a little more humility in their statements about the direction of history.

Hmmm. My apophthegm-hating capacity is more robust than I thought.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 12:55 PM
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The perception among moonbats progressives of decline is almost entirely due to rising expectations.

Amen.

Or.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 12:59 PM
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The link in 112 is funny and true, but reminds me too much of Clarence Thomas's little speech about being amazed by dishwashers.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 1:08 PM
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109: and that splaining must be accomplished.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 1:16 PM
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I do not want to be interpreted as recanting my earlier comments about the counterintuitive non-crappiness

Quadruple negative if counterintuitive is included, otherwise triple. Multiple layers like this are part of what makes academic writing so hard to read. One that I always struggle with is the double clause-- Those samples which were similar to lengthy case X and which did not satisfy nefarious Y were selected for further assessment....


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 1:18 PM
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Quadruple negative if counterintuitive is included, otherwise triple.

What do I win? Is it a pony?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 1:20 PM
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Multiple layers like this are part of what makes academic writing so hard to read.

Also why regression models with too many interaction terms make my head hurt.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 1:22 PM
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116: Language log gives out the Trent Reznor Prize for Tricky Embedding but the competition is really stiff.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 1:30 PM
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Also why Bob Dylan's lyrics in Under the Red Sky(the album) are so confusing:

Ten thousand men on the move,
Ten thousand men on the move,
None of them doing nothin' that your mama wouldn't disapprove.

All the silver, all the gold, all the sweethearts you can hold
That don't come back with stories untold, are hanging on a tree.

But maybe Stephin Merritt even beats Bob with:

Should modesty allow us
to describe our prowesslessnesslessness
'twould be quite hard to overstate

But, actually, those lyrics are quite clear, and it is also not hard to tell that it is supposed to be funny. No one has any idea what Dylan is up to.



Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 1:36 PM
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unhappy because it raises people's expectations of material

I associate the phrase 'reolution of rising expectations' with Gunnar Myrdal, but Google seems unwilling to confirm this belief. In the good old days it'd be true if I aserted it, whether or not there was evidentiary support


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 1:52 PM
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During the twilight years of the colonial era, Gunnar Myrdal spoke of the revolution of rising expectations among newly emergent states

http://www.aseansec.org/16539.htm


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 2:26 PM
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I'm puzzled at why people would be bemoaning the state of things right now, specifically. I mean, you remember the last eight years, right?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 2:33 PM
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122: No, teo, we're old, and we only remember things back from when we were kids, and everything was great.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 2:36 PM
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Plus, back eight years ago, I still had my charisma to fall-back on.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 2:40 PM
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I'm puzzled at why people would be bemoaning the state of things right now, specifically.

I'm not going to defend this as correct, just identify what I think is the thought process. "We won. We got our guy in the White House, and we control both houses of Congress. This is the best political outcome anyone could reasonably hope for. And everything is still terrible. A year ago, we could believe that if we could just get the reins of government back, things would improve. We got the reins of government back, and it didn't fix anything, and we have no idea what would."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 2:42 PM
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125: That makes a lot of sense, LB! You must still be young!


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 2:54 PM
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A year ago, we could believe that if we could just get the reins of government back, things would improve. We got the reins of government back, and it didn't fix anything, and we have no idea what would.

It's almost like we think too highly of ourselves and overstate our capabilities.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 2:56 PM
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The perception among moonbats progressives of decline is almost entirely due to rising expectations.

Yes and no. Culturally, I think we are progressing. Gay men, lesbians, and non-normatively gender-identifed people are increasingly being accepted, while women and people of color are taking more prominent and important roles in society. Economically, we've probably stood still at best, more likely we've probably regressed. I tend to believe in "progress," I just think it's enormously slow and always unevenly distributed.

On NY-23, my preferences are, in order:

*Narrow win by Owens (new Democratic seat, continued Republican strife, Eric Erickson's head explodes)

*Significant win by Owens (new Democratic seat, long term Republican strife mitigated, probably, Eric Erickson's head explodes)

*Narrow win by Hoffman (continued Republican strife, deeper party divisions likely)

*Significant win by Hoffman (continued Republican strife, nutball takeover of the Republican party increasingly possible)


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 2:56 PM
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125: Sounds like some people didn't pay enough attention to those bumper stickers.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 2:58 PM
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Which is why I'm cautiously optimistic. [Except for some stuff initiated by fucking Feinstein] Everything I see out of the agencies is actively good. They're listing species, expanding habitat designations, not caving in to west side agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley, closing out unused mining claims, re-doing mountain top removal regs, calling carbon dioxide a regulable pollutant... The list just goes on. I'm super bummed about Obama's lack of gay advocacy, but every single story out of the agencies has been not just not-bad, but actively good. We're all watching the mess in the Senate, but I'm really pleased about the executive branch.

On the larger scale that JRoth is bemoaning? I dunno, man. I live in a liberal bubble to, so my observations are no good. But I think Millenials have very sweet souls. (Given that broad a brush, lets just expand the generalization by suggesting it is the result of being coddled by overattentive Boomer parents. But they are secure and sweet, and kinda queer, even the straight ones.) I expect to like a lot of their collective decisions.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:00 PM
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I mean, disasters caused by climate change will wipe us all out before we get to see what Millenials would do with a working nation. But the remaining pockets of civilization might be pretty egalitarian.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:03 PM
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We won. We got our guy in the White House, and we control both houses of Congress. This is the best political outcome anyone could reasonably hope for. And everything is still terrible.

Like I said, rising expectations. We win a few elections, and our expectations go through the roof, while real improvement is marginal.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:06 PM
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Everything I see out of the agencies is actively good.

This is important. There's a lot about what Obama's done so far to complain about, but he has done a nice job of putting competent people back in charge of the executive branch bureaucracy.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:08 PM
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Am I a Millenial? Did Megan just call me sweet?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:08 PM
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I'm Gen X, so I'm supposed to be cynical and some other things I can't remember.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:12 PM
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Imagine how much better things would be if you guys had, like, cared, Moby.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:14 PM
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But I think Millenials have very sweet souls.

It is so reassuring to be reminded that our students are not an accurate sample.

Interpersonally, ours are totally fine. But fear of Obama bringing about mass socialism? Check! Enthusiastic assessment of Sarah Palin? Check! Stocking up on bullets? Check! Check! Checkcheckcheck...


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:15 PM
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We got the reins of government back, and it didn't fix anything, and we have no idea what would.

It would fix a lot of things if there were no Republicans preventing everything sane.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:16 PM
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OK, my 1981 birth seems to put me on the cusp of X and Y. Thus, my distinctive combination of sweetness and cynicism. And self-absorption. This thread was about me, right?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:17 PM
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139: Otto stocks up on ammo, but he never gets the fragmentary bullets. The sweetness won't let him try to wound beyond what is needed for stopping power.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:20 PM
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Wikipedia says that Millennials in college talk to their parents an average of 1.5 times a day. I was a bad Millennial.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:22 PM
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28 to 122.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:24 PM
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141: That fits. Most of the time I want to shove a cell phone down somebody's throat, it's a Millennial.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:24 PM
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I'm puzzled at why people would be bemoaning the state of things right now, specifically. I mean, you remember the last eight years, right

During the last eight years we had hope that changing the people in charge would change something. Now, no hope.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:25 PM
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During the last eight years we had hope that changing the people in charge would change something.

But, I mean, it did. It didn't change everything, of course.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:27 PM
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It didn't change anything, teo. The six to eight issues about which I am specifically talking have seen zero movement except incrementally. If we had seen any change at all, things would be perfect.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:29 PM
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I'm at about 0.5 times/week with my parents, if we're talking phone or videochat. I feel like my life isn't eventful enough to justify more frequent conversations, and hate being on the phone or webcam stammering while I try to come up with something to tell them about. I'm FB friends with my mom, though! (More accurately, my mom has taken over my dad's FB account. Which causes problems because my dad and I share a name, modulo a middle initial.)


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:29 PM
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Socially, things have steadily improved, but that's certainly not true at the level of legislative politics. There, change comes in big jumps. Given that this is the largest majority that the Democrats are ever going to have in my lifetime, the fact that they are en-route to achieving so little means this is it. This is the high-water mark for progressive politics in the US.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:34 PM
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For instance, when is Obama going to do something about this?

"The park used to be a great place for families, but now what attracts my son the most is the huge breasts."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:34 PM
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Check! Check! Checkcheckcheck...

Millenials use debit.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:43 PM
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Also, I like how this thread is on-topic if you pretend from the post title reference that the post is about politics.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:47 PM
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I'm at about 0.5 times/week with my parents, if we're talking phone or videochat.

It used to be once, maybe twice a week with my mom. But I injured myself (requiring consults with her in her more professional capacity) and she went into semi-retirement, so now we're apparently talking once a day? It won't last, but in some ways it is quite nice. My younger sister (born 1989) calls much more frequently to ask what I think are somewhat silly questions. I just like, converse. Cause my mom is my friend. (Oh, dear.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:47 PM
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Also also, I wonder if the "arc of history" quote, in various and divers phrasings, goes back at least as far as Wendell Phillips:

Stagnant times have been when a great mind, anchored in error, might snag the slow-moving current of society. Such is not our era. Nothing but Freedom, Justice and Truth is of any permanent advantage to the mass of mankind. To these society, left to itself, is always tending.

Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:52 PM
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152: We actually just had an email exchange about where to get your credit report for free. It's kind of nice, being in touch about consumer tips.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:54 PM
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"We" in the above refers to "my mother and I", not to "Parenthetical's mother and I", or "Parenthetical and I".


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:55 PM
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125 gets it mostly right, but I want to extend a bit: Obama's election was something of a jubilee - a chance to forget the badness of the previous 8 years and get back to doing things right. Instead, we're supposed to forget while continuing to do the same thing - the rightwing is just as hateful, the Dems are just as useless, the permanent power structure is just as cynical, corrupt, and self-dealing, and, on the most egregious stuff (torture), it's half-measures at best. I don't want to minimize what's been done right at Guantanamo - the freed innocents are something of a big deal, and it seems that some of the processes are better - but, ultimately, torture has become the new norm, in a way it hasn't been*. And it's trickled down, as anyone who's been tased will tell you.

Which is why, once again, I'll cite the pendulum. I appreciate the idea that this is the turning of the tide, not the high water mark, but it's looking suspiciously like the water level's not going anywhere. I don't see anything in the larger picture to make me believe that things will start moving fast or far in the right direction.

I'd also like to note that I'm a natural optimist - as AB will attest, I've gone into practically every year of the Pirates' 17-year losing streak able to see reason to hope and think that this would be the year. So it takes a lot to get me to this point.

* This kind of statement around here has always engendered "don't be naive" comments, but come on - the FBI knew to put reports of CIA techniques into War Crimes files - it was a departure


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:56 PM
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155: Fine, ruin our fun with your "clarification."


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:57 PM
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It's right now, folks. Either things will get better real fast, or stay the same for awhile and then get much much worse. Or things will get better slowly, or possibly get worse slowly. There's also a chance they will stay the same for a while and then get much much better, which does not foreclose the possibility of other things.

Actually, if anyone has read this far down, it's my opinion that things are getting better all the time: just not as fast as we would like or in the way that we expect, and the embetterment process also riles up the crazies, which makes us fear, for awhile, worse. On the whole, better, with stripes of really shitty that you just have to hope you avoid.

The reason we don't see it getting better might be that we lie to ourselves -- by necessity -- as to where exactly we are.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:59 PM
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I'm pretty sure Sifu didn't use to be such a prick, but I could definitely be wrong about that.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 3:59 PM
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BTW, the only concrete thing anyone has said to counter my take is that Federal agencies no longer actively obstruct their intended purposes. Pardon me for not dancing a fucking jig.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:02 PM
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OK, my 1981 birth seems to put me on the cusp of X and Y. Thus, my distinctive combination of sweetness and cynicism. And self-absorption. This thread was about me, right?

It depends on how you count, but (almost) everyone uses 1979 as the last year of X, so you are pretty squarely a New Boomer. (Lately people have been pushing the date earlier for no discernible reason.) If you're using the generation system, X is 1960-79 and the New Boomers are 1980-99. If you use the actual birth numbers as the measure, it's 1965-1979, and 1980-I forget.

I voted this afternoon and got my 'I Voted'. Yay. The Ladies Who Register were all sitting around a smallish room being little bored as business was slow. They gave me a q-tip to vote with because of the swine flu.

Pardon my eyeroll, please.

max
['Surgical masks would have been more sensible, although not neccessarily effective.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:04 PM
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141 Damn, that would have bankrupted my parents, not to mention driven me crazy. (For you youngsters out there, international calls used to be really expensive).

And as this seems to be the politics thread: surprisingly crowded polling place, took me a good twenty minutes to vote. Also, they make poll workers in white? Who knew?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:08 PM
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1960-79

Isn't this way way big for a generation?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:08 PM
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I'm pretty sure Sifu didn't use to be such a prick, but I could definitely be wrong about that.

What am I, chopped liver?

(I really should have chosen a more memorable handle, shouldn't I?)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:08 PM
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Mostly what they make poll workers in is old.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:09 PM
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I think it's pretty established that generational definitions are bullshit. Though I do love how you can get parents and kids born in the same "generation" for the really long time period definitions.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:10 PM
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On the main point of dispute here I'm torn. On the one hand substantively I think Obama has been a huge, immense change for the better, but I also think that those who are screaming at him from the left are having a positive political impact, assuming they don't go all Leninist on us and decide that voting the Repubs into office would be a good thing.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:10 PM
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Like most members of Generation X, I think generational labels are bullshit. Members of my cohort grew up hearing endlessly about our parents, the boomers, and their conflict with the then-unnamed WWII generation. Because of this we came to realize that all generalizations about generational cohorts are facile lies, mostly used by marketing executives to convince potential ad buyers that they have some sort of insight into society.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:10 PM
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Isn't this way way big for a generation?

Big? If anything it's on the short end. (20 or 30 years, depending who you ask.) Strauss and Howe chose '61 and '81 as the bookends of Gen X.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:12 PM
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Oh yeah, I also wonder if those of us who never were big Obama enthusiasts (I volunteered for Edwards) and always saw him as way too cautious and moderate are less disappointed than the folks who supported him from the start, and were deeply pro-Obama, not just anti-Repub.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:12 PM
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164.3: It's as if no one is even listening.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:12 PM
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Of course you're sweet, Otto.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:13 PM
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167 gets it right, but I prefer to do my mischievous little imp act because I seem to piss people off even worse when I try to discuss it substantively.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:14 PM
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171: Another Gen X trait.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:15 PM
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170: I'd buy that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:16 PM
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170: I've never been a big Obama booster, and was part of some very heated exchanges around here on the topic.

I also don't mostly blame Obama for what's going on (although I think that he's utterly failing to lay the groundwork for where blame will fall in the future). The problem is our institutions (and, to an extent, our citizens), not our officeholders.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:16 PM
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Because of this we came to realize that all generalizations about generational cohorts are facile lies, mostly used by marketing executives to convince potential ad buyers that they have some sort of insight into society.

s/b

"I am not a target market."

(Sadly, I think all the people who might have gotten this don't hang out here anymore. fedward, are you there?)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:16 PM
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Federal agencies no longer actively obstruct their intended purposes. Pardon me for not dancing a fucking jig.

This will have the greatest impact on individuals in this country. You can pass whatever grand reform you want. Ram it down peoples' throats. But ultimately enforcement is required, and unless the federal agencies are run by sane, competent, relatively unpolitical bureaucrats who are most concerned with doing their job properly, this won't happen. See: financial regulatory agencies 2000-2008.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:18 PM
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Also, I'm tired of people calling the millennials "tech savvy" and "plugged-in" just because the twerps can type with their thumbs.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:18 PM
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(I really should have chosen a more memorable handle, shouldn't I?)

I'm the last of the generic initials, I think. And they're not even mine (probably).


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:19 PM
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Of course I post 180 just as "F" makes a comment.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:19 PM
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167 sounds right to me too. With the caveat that the people being disappointed from the left aren't just useful, but actually right -- Obama being a huge improvement over the alternatives does mean that he's actually doing a good job.

(Stupidly, while I wasn't this way before the election, in the last year I've gotten a little whirlyeyed over the Obamas personally. I generally disapprove of people reacting this way to politicians, but they really do seem so personally pleasant and decent. Doesn't change the fact that he's continuing to commit war crimes, though.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:21 PM
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Doesn't mean. Doesn't mean he's actually doing a good job.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:25 PM
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My biggest hope for Obama was that, frankly, his golden tongue and personal decency would get Americans to care a little more about the details of how their country is run. I think that there is and was as much to fear from electoral apathy as from particular executive policies. As others have pointed out, a pretty big part of the US has noxious beliefs.

I don't quite live in a bubble, but have no idea what people think, how to assess hope and attention. Unemployment benefits are getting slightly extended through a huge recession, so that's good.

Also, though it is trite to say, were it not for Cheney's nightmare prisons, there is no way that a black man would be president, probably no way that a law professor would be a viable candidate. The US is gradually leaving Iraq; it would be nice if we immediately stopped sending the Israelis weapons, but scolding Likud is better than nothing.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:25 PM
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I don't talk to my mum on the phone that often because she just talks too much. We IM mainly - but she tends to pop up just as I'm about to go to bed. Like now.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:26 PM
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178 - The water and land agencies matter even more out west 'cause they're such huge landowners. I mean, twenty percent of California is national forest.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:28 PM
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Further to 177: Of course I got it wrong. It's "We Are Not a Target Market". cf.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:29 PM
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'61 and '81 as the bookends of Gen X

Doesn't this seem crazy? Those twenty years were incredibly varied; it's hard to imagine a shared culture among those born in '61 and '81 beyond that which is shared by people who are just generally alive at any given time.

In fact, "generation" should mean just generally who is alive in any given time. People who are all alive right now are in the generation of right now.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:29 PM
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Talking about bubbles, on my way to the polling place I passed by two women, one protesting:
"I don't mean I'm turning Republican, just crossing the aisle this one time",
Woman two: "No one votes Republican"
Woman one: "Well obviously plenty of people do"
Woman two: "Nobody we know"


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:30 PM
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After distant decades, I am talking more with my dad, arguing less. I thought that I enjoyed the debates, but in retrospect they were pointlessly argumentative.

The transition to becoming the responsible one was unpleasant, I do not much want that role, would vastly prefer to have someone to turn to for guidance. I am much less critical of my folks for past decisions, though occasionally infuriated at their stubbornness about current matters.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:32 PM
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I haven't given up my hope that the teabaggery is some sort of lancing an infected boil. It hasn't even been a year yet. I can't yet tell whether the freakshow 20% of the country is solidifying and making plans to be permanent, or if they'll spazz about for a year or two before they notice that the sun still rises and the country is much the same EVEN THOUGH A BLACK MAN IS PRESIDENT. Then they'll realize they're bored with the whole thing and settle back into a less-racist-and-freaked-out new normal.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:33 PM
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I find the level of optimism here inexplicable. Sure, the Democrats don't suck as bad as the Republicans. But the Democrats are never going to have 60 Senators again. If they can't (or won't) pass any reforms now, then those reforms are never going to pass.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:36 PM
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People who are all alive right now are in the generation of right now.

I will die in 1969, never having left.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:38 PM
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But the Democrats are never going to have 60 Senators again.

Never is a long time.

(Seriously, why do you say that? From where I'm sitting it's... not obvious.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:39 PM
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I do get the despair, and share it at times. Hell, while setting up this morning, and before I read this thread, I was listening to this Frontline about Brooksley Born's efforts to regulate OTC derivatives during the Clinton admin, and all that the same damn cast of characters in there now did to stop her. And certainly hearing near the end of the program that there are 5 financial industry lobbyists for every congressperson didn't do much to lift my growing mcmanusian hunch that we may be fucked no matter what, that it's just bubbles all the way down (and that's just in the financial sector).

But. But a modicum of hope remains inside me, for reasons that I worry may not be particularly good ones. For one, having I suppose 50 some years of life ahead of me, and having not gotten very far in life yet (in the sense of career, family, joy), I find bottomless despair to be a bit of an untenable position. I simply *can't* sit hear to think that the next 5 decades are going to suck ass, because the thought of having so much suckitude is just too depressing to contemplate. The possibly bogus belief that things aren't just going to get worse is a survival strategy, a reason to get out of the bed in the morning.

Second, being president is a hard job, and he's only been at it 9 months. And, now that the election is over, I can admit that I did fear the risks of his inexperience. We didn't elect LBJ, and it shows. But he also seems like a smart guy, and one who seems to have the right core beliefs. And so I have a second bit of hope, possibly equally silly, that he may wake up and realize that he has to do things differently if he wants to bring some of the changes mandated by those core beliefs to fruition. But even then, you make law with the Congress you have. They're not the Congress you might want or wish to have at a later time.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:42 PM
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"We" in the above refers to "my mother and I", not to "Parenthetical's mother and I", or "Parenthetical and I".

That's not what my mom said.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:43 PM
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never going to have 60 Senators again

Senators aren't the only game in town. The legislative branch isn't the only game in town. The executive branch is back on a course I like, and the judiciary already looks better.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:45 PM
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It sure would be nice to scrap the whole Senate.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:46 PM
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188: Doesn't this seem crazy? Those twenty years were incredibly varied; it's hard to imagine a shared culture among those born in '61 and '81 beyond that which is shared by people who are just generally alive at any given time.

The original definition of Generation X was of kids born during a baby bust cycle who would be treading the paths of the much larger generation above. That more or less came true: you can't dislodge boomers from their positions with crowbars and dynamite, while there are so many coming in from the bottom that sheer numbers overwhelm. The other useful pointer is how people were affected by economic and social conditions when growing up. Also, which commercial products make for good nostalgia.

The other stuff ('the new generation will do this fabulous thing, the old generation will do that fabulous') is usually a huge reach. (Unless you just pose it as contrarianism - whatever the old dudes did is old and passe, let's make up new trend X which is a rehash of something that happened 40 years ago.) But the marketing shit works.

If I take a bunch of rat babies from different litters and do nothing but feed them all day as adults they will show similarities, and they will be different from the rat babies (from different little) that were fed little and randomly shocked when they were growing up.

max
['We live in a giant social experimentation machine but we can't isolate the variables worth a damn.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:48 PM
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Which domestic reforms matter?

Insurance reform will help, but lifespan in the US is pretty long, and infant mortality not that high (the US definition differs from other countries', detailed accounting of premature births is the relevant boundary). Something will pass, and if it's popular, it will grow. Possibly with the insurance companies weakened, fee-for-service care will change, but that's 2015-2020.

CO2 regulation is too expensive for the electorate to approve of until more cities are lost.

Fiscal matters will not fit into this sentence, and neither party makes sense. People need to work to 75 if they have not saved to retire sooner, but do not want to hear this-- neither party will tell them.

Foreign policy could be better (Dalai Lama was disappointing), but it could be worse. Shit, now too late to swim.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:50 PM
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196: OK, I admit it: your mom gave me a little peek at her credit report this afternoon. That woman has some fairly impressive assets.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:56 PM
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CO2 regulation is too expensive for the electorate to approve of until more cities are lost.

Don't mind me, I'll just be over here ramming my head into the wall repeatedly.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 4:57 PM
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197: I'm not saying that Obama and Bush are indistinguishable. The things you're pointing to are the things that you'd get any time a Democrat is in the White House, which will surely happen again. But the Democratic party came into 2009 with as clear a mandate for change as they're likely to get, and they've frittered it away. If you're happy with the level of change, then good for you, because this is as much change as you're going to get from the American political system. I was hoping for more.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 5:00 PM
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We won by what, six points? That's a solid win, but it's no landslide.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 5:03 PM
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Despite the fact that I wish none of it were true, I believe 200 is pretty damned accurate.

Add to that: gay marriage (or its equivalent) is inevitable but will take time as one generation replaces another.

Financial reform is destined to be too weak to matter. The public doesn't care enough to override the small number who care intensely. This applies to CEO pay, TBTF, bank regulation, etc. Something will be passed, but it will be toothless, especially if there are no bureaucrats to enforce it.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 5:04 PM
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I'm not especially optimistic, Walt. But I never was. I planned on being disappointed in Obama. And now I am. That said, he may accomplish several of the things that I most hoped for out of his presidency: renewing some faith, amidst the cynicism, among younger people engaged with electoral politics; isolating the most radical (read: southern) wing of the Republican Party, and potentially rendering it a multi-generational rump; and passing health care reform.

On the other stuff, I sometimes take solace in reports I get from federal employees -- mostly in the Park Service, but also in various DC bureaucracies -- that sound an awful lot like what Megan says: a return to basic competence and high(er) morale. Or I despair about the ongoing abuses of executive power and civil liberties, not to mention Obama's apparent inability to transfigure Glenn Beck into a pony.

Most of all, though, I take the long view: unless you were a propertied white man, this country, except for a very brief period between 1932 and 1968, has always been a very bad place. The New Deal coalition, and its magisterial legislative achievements, turns out to have been fragile and fleeting. What will replace it -- on the Democratic side -- and oppose it -- on the Republican -- is still something of a mystery.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 5:05 PM
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204: If you reversed the two parties, the Republicans would have already privatized Social Security by now. Obama was handed as big an opportunity by the economic crisis that Bush was handed on 9/11.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 5:05 PM
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You're probably right on SS, but it looks like we'll get health care reform. If it's the weak public option stuff that's being discussed it's about the best I realistically hoped for. The matters I'm disappointed in are the secrecy stuff, detainee things, and financial regulation. The rest I think he's largely doing the best that is politically possible. Courtesy of the outsize influence of the rich and the corporate lobbies, it is to be expected that the right needs less of a legislative majority to accomplish things than the liberals.

In any case, small incremental positive steps forward are a huge improvement on big strides in the wrong direction.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 5:11 PM
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Which domestic reforms matter?

Really dorky ones, like the ones California is working on. Stuff that requires that greenhouse gas emissions are in Environmental Impact Reports and city General Plans. That's the type of thing that re-makes cities as much as the home-mortgage deduction did. Don't know if Obama has plans to do that, but they've already copied the first step of California's greenhouse gas regulations.

Ari, so far as I can tell, it isn't just a return to basic competence. USBR had basic competence when it thought its mission was to spread water six feet deep over the entire San Joaquin Valley. It did a fairly good job at it. From what I see in the news, it looks to me like basic competence plus an environmental ethic. (Although I think Chris Clarke is right that they don't seem to value deserts. Besides deserts.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 5:14 PM
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Obama was handed as big an opportunity by the economic crisis that Bush was handed on 9/11.

I don't think that's right at all. I think Obama had a much more serious threat to face than Bush did, a threat that actually profoundly limited his agenda by circumscribing his options during the likely high-water mark of his popularity. Bush, by contrast, was at the nadir of his popularity (though he might have sunk lower) on 9/11. And then he found himself with a suddenly pliant congress, filled with terrified ninnies representing a nation of terrified ninnies. And Cheney, like any good authoritarian, recognized the moment for what it was: an opportunity.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 5:15 PM
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It's funny to read this thread after coming home all happy and peppy from voting. I love voting! And this year I got to vote for someone I know personally, who is a truly good candidate. I hope he wins.

I'm glad on balance to have Obama in office, given the alternative; he's been worse on civil liberties and torture than I imagined, and on executive power and privacy he's a devastating loss, but the slow trickle of sensible administrative decisions coming from the agencies relieves me a little more with every act. And the Supreme Court appointments aren't nothing; I can tolerate a Sotomayor more than anyone we would have gotten from McCain.

I find the popularity of CSI and the like simply horrifying. I don't think that watching several hours of that shit a week is consonant with a healthy attitude towards one's fellow humans.

Amen. I actually think many people contend with less interpersonal violence now than 100 or 200 years ago, but if you're in one of the sometimes- or often-socially-despised groups, that's manifestly not true. Those kinds of TV shows normalize violence against sinners, and our definitions of guilt have gotten more and more unforgiving even as in some ways they've gotten narrower. The only violations of US law for which there is no statute of limitations: Homicide and crossing the border without authorization.

Right now I see the forces of regress alternately riding high and holding their ground. Progress seems to have retired from the field.

Dunno about that; social progess is not meaningless and it keeps churning along in some domains (notably gay marriage, but not just that) even as political progress skips around like a bad DVD. People have more and better options for family planning than at essentially any other point in human history; the fact that there's a lot more work to be done doesn't negate how far we've come. People have better access to more types of education; more opportunities to reach out. Skype versus the cost of transatlantic calls? There's no contest.

If we can reduce the political salience of race, it's going to make working on class and inequality issues much, much easier.

Although the most effective activists I know work in exactly the opposite direction -- explicitly focusing on class, with the semi-accidental side effect that when people think more consciously about structural issues, on however much of a baby-step level, the scary threatening racial stuff has less power.

They gave me a q-tip to vote with because of the swine flu.

Marketing Techniques for a Broken Economy, by J&J.

Casinos just aren't a sound model of economic development.

Never mind, I take back everything I said above about optimism and progress. Government-mandated gambling palaces are a Faustian bargain, and make me profoundly pessimistic about the fortunes of Americans. (Only two-thirds kidding.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 5:19 PM
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I love when Witt votes!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 5:27 PM
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Most of all, though, I take the long view

You don't think the people pronouncing that Obama killed any chance for meaningful health reform by taking up the Gates case when asked about it in a press conference were right? Have some perspective!


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 5:37 PM
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210: Maybe. But Obama has failed to do anything meaningful about a financial industry that has plunged the world into its worst economic crisis in 75 years. That is entirely a result of the limited ambitions of Obama and his administration. Shit, did you read the report that came out last week that AIG's negotiators were trying to impost a haircut on their counterparties, when Geithner swept in and insisted that they receive every penny, at taxpayer's expense?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 5:53 PM
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I thought, disappointingly, that it had become fairly clear by the end of the campaign that Obama wasn't going to change much about the financial system, at least in the first couple of years unless circumstances began to force changes. It was less clear that his admin wouldn't do that much on executive power and civil liberties, but in retrospect it seems more clear, as those issues were noticeably absent from, or at least not such a prominent part of, much - but not all - of the campaign. I'm hedging because I don't think he ignored the issues; he said enough that, combined with his law background, it did seem reasonable to expect more than he's done so far.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 5:59 PM
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Here's my fear. What if come 2010, unemployment is still high, the Democrats have no legislative accomplishments, and the Republicans manage to take back one house of Congress. The Official Narrative will be that Obama Went Too Far Left Just Like Clinton in 1993, that America is a Center-Right Nation. Progressive politics will be kaput.

And what if come 2012, things drag out to the point that an unreconstructed Republican party manages to come to power. What then?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:07 PM
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127: It's almost like we think too highly of ourselves and overstate our capabilities.

I realize that was posted ages ago, but it made me laugh out loud. Guffaw, even.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:17 PM
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216: The Official Narrative will be that Obama Went Too Far Left Just Like Clinton in 1993

I'm guessing that ire at the bailout will stop that meme from spreading too far. But that might just be projection on my part.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:25 PM
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To be more clear, my guess is that if unemployment stays high, the bailout is going to start to stink so badly that it drives away other bad smells. The bailout, being largely bipartisan, will lead to a party realignment and better government for America. And then, ponies for all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:28 PM
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216

Or one I read via the Big Picture: Republicans take advantage of the faux-populist outrage against the financial system and seize the mantle of reform. They get elected in a landslide, pass minimal superficial reform and go right back to Republicaning as usual.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:30 PM
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I'm guessing that ire at the bailout will stop that meme from spreading too far.

I doubt it, unfortunately. People's memories of how it went down will be hazy.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:32 PM
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221: Before people's memories can get hazy, somebody has to tell them what happened. I still don't understand why you bailout really rich people who screwed-up because they are 'too big to fail' without using the leverage of the bailout to, you know, make them small enough not to be a threat to the general economy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:38 PM
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unless you were a propertied white man, this country, except for a very brief period between 1932 and 1968, has always been a very bad place.

The best time to be a black man in the U.S. was between 1932 and 1968?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:41 PM
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Welp. Deeds got creamed, along with the other D candidates. So we gots ourselves a coupla regular unreconstructed 'moderate' Falwellites in charge. NEAT.

Man, I need to move. Perry is just a crooked scumbag.

max
['Not actually crazy, just pretending.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:49 PM
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Final lines from the new V

"Oh, we'll fight. But they are arming themselves with the most powerful weapon out there."
"Yeah, what's that."
"Devotion"

Obama probably is not a Reptilian, but he is preaching love, hope, peace, and change to keep us calm while we line up to be eaten by the bankers. He knows what he is doing at every step. The style is different from the last President, that is all. It is called "neo-liberalism."

Emerson dominated a CT thread about populism this week. I know that a just America would require that the streets run with blood. Obama knows that to avoid violence the masses must be powerless and pacified. We really agree on so much.

Y'all take your choices.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:52 PM
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223 I think the idea is that this was the one period when government was actively moving to help the disadvantaged and middle class. Now it's a pretty great country if you're a wealthy non-white and/or non male as well.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:53 PM
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225 Yeah, because on the whole, polities dominated by people who showed the most skill in killing tend to work out so well. I'll take my chances with frustrating peaceful change, if you don't mind.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:55 PM
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225: So I'm not the only one who, in a fit of procrastination, watched V? I thought it was awful. Though it is true that any alien who looks like Morena Baccarin could probably just waltz right in and take over the planet.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:56 PM
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||

Claude Levi-Strausse died. I honestly didn't realize that he was still alive.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 6:57 PM
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JRoth's efforts could only work for so long.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:00 PM
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They're still making shows about alien invasions? I thought we had real enemies again.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:01 PM
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Claude Levi-Strauss died. I honestly didn't realize that he was still alive.

I honestly thought he was dead when I read him in college umpty-ump years ago. I did a doubletake when I saw the obituary this morning -- I thought it was a different person.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:04 PM
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Yeah, I had a "Levi-Strauss is still alive?" moment a year or two ago. It turns out that when you live 100 years, it starts to seem like you've been alive a long time.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:07 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:07 PM
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Ned's 77 is on the right track (and makes me wonder whether he's recently read this NYRB article on incarceration rates, the prison industrial complex, and the state of our criminal justice system).

We've been on the road to disenfranchising increasingly large swathes of the populace since ... when? At least since Reagan. When we don't put members of the lower classes behind bars, we cut social services, cut wages and benefits, make health insurance unaffordable, render education increasingly beyond the reach of many, and generally rig the system such that at this point being merely well-spoken counts as being privileged. When income disparities become too large, people go into fight mode, become paranoid and distrustful, look for an enemy on every street corner. And often misidentify the enemy.

This from Witt at 211 surprised me:

People have more and better options for family planning than at essentially any other point in human history; the fact that there's a lot more work to be done doesn't negate how far we've come. People have better access to more types of education; more opportunities to reach out.

I don't have statistics at hand. It's true, though, isn't it, that in an increasing number of states, getting an abortion is extremely difficult? As for education and opportunities to reach out (skype?) -- that takes money. Nonetheless I'm sure it's better than at most other points in human history.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:15 PM
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I don't need to insist on the mood of my 235! It had just been percolating.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:19 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:32 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:39 PM
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It's true, though, isn't it, that in an increasing number of states, getting an abortion is extremely difficult? As for education and opportunities to reach out (skype?) -- that takes money. Nonetheless I'm sure it's better than at most other points in human history.

Right, it's all relative. I was mostly talking about the entirety of human (recorded) history, although I would make versions of the same claims for "the last 230+ yeears of American history" too.

The thing is, family planning is a lot more than abortion. The more I read about the vast and desperate assortment of activities and superstitions that men and women resorted to to limit pregnancies in the past, the more I am struck by the sheer range of (mostly) effective options we have today. Just the philosophical idea of choosing the number of children one has is far more widely accepted than in many other times and places. Women aren't being routinely* involuntarily sterilized in the U.S. any more; chemical birth control is widely available and reasonably affordable for the middle class; you can buy condoms at Rite Aid; most of us LIVE near a Rite Aid.

*Yes, I know it happens.

Educational opportunities are broader just first off because of electricity, and the move away from an agrarian and manual labor society where you were too tired and it was too expensive to burn lights and stay up late studying. And because of free primary education, and widespread secondary education. And the explosion of even trends that I don't love, like for-profit colleges and online education, are part of a bigger picture that also includes MIT's Open Courseware.

We've sunk backward in some important ways, such as publicly funded universities and educational programs in prisons. But if you have a disability, if you don't speak English as your first language, if you are a woman -- your chance of getting a formal education now is better than almost every other point in the past. It doesn't diminish how extraordinarily far we still have to go to say that it's still *better* than it was.

And oddly enough (anecdata alert) many of the people I know who use Skype routinely are very poor indeed. They're also canny survivors who can put together wages from a cash job that pays illegally low wages, and end up with a used-car of a home computer and a slightly-better-than-parsimon's Internet connection, and the gutsy willingness to play around with software they barely understand, in a language not their own.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:40 PM
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And what if come 2012, things drag out to the point that an unreconstructed Republican party manages to come to power. What then?

It seems pretty clear that that's going to happen, since U6 unemployment will still be above 16% at that point. Obama's plan to win the 2012 election anyway by continuing to get most of the donations from Wall Street fat cats seems to be not working because the Republicans in opposition can easily make the fat cats believe that (although it seems impossible to us) they would have been even MORE fat-cat-friendly, and because the Republicans (although it seems impossible to us) are monopolizing the production of voter-friendly anti-fat-cat anger. So if he's guaranteed to lose in 2012, isn't this the time for Obama to stop being cautious and do what he actually wants to do?

Therefore, it must be that he is doing what he actually wants to do.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:51 PM
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And what if come 2012, things drag out to the point that an unreconstructed Republican party manages to come to power. What then?

They'll fuck up like they did before, and the Democrats will sweep back in in 2016 or 2020. Or maybe not. Who knows?

Generally I think trying to predict the future is a waste of time. As, for that matter, is expecting meaningful progressive change from American political institutions.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 7:58 PM
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Granting everything you say about improvements since 150 years ago. I've been concerned about the last 30 years.

a slightly-better-than-parsimon's Internet connection

Fighting words! Why even mention that?

Most of the people I know who are living paycheck-to-paycheck are also too poorly-schooled to put together makeshift computer systems. We're talking about different sets of people, then.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:00 PM
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Generally I think trying to predict the future is a waste of time.

And everything else here is a constructive use of time?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:00 PM
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242 to 239.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:01 PM
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And everything else here is a constructive use of time?

Less depressing, at least.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:01 PM
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And everything else here is a constructive use of time?

I didn't say that. But some wastes of time are more fun than others.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:01 PM
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Despite his facile approach to innumerable other issues, I am convinced by Sausagely's belief that it matters not one whit whether the Democrats are radical, the Republicans are radical, or both are indistinguishable from each other, at least compared to the accuracy of the voting models which use people's happiness or unhappiness about the economic situation and interpret that as pro- or anti-incumbent sentiment.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:03 PM
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I've been concerned about the last 30 years.

Huh, see, this is where I get confused. It seems uncontroversial to me that there is more and better access to family planning (NOT abortion narrowly) in the US now than there was in 1980. Is this not true?

Ditto communications options. The sheer freedom of time-shifting that voicemail allows people is remarkable. You don't have to sit home in case the phone rings with an offer of potential employment!

Fighting words! Why even mention that?

Levity.

Most of the people I know who are living paycheck-to-paycheck are also too poorly-schooled to put together makeshift computer systems. We're talking about different sets of people, then.

Maybe, but I think it's more than the ones I'm talking about are just as poorly schooled, and yet have a social connection to that *one* geeky 16-year-old who can jury-rig something for them to use. I'm talking about working poor people here, not the absolutely destitute.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:10 PM
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Looks like they're finally calling NJ for Christie over Corzine. Boo, New Jersey.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:10 PM
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The county-by-county results are interesting. Not much love for Corzine anywhere, really.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:12 PM
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Even being one of the less evil Goldman Sachs billionaires is just not endearing, I guess.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:14 PM
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On bailout backlash, wasn't Corzine hurt by that? At least most Dems aren't so tightly tied into Wall St.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:14 PM
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Yeah, I think Corzine's Wall Street connections hurt him a lot. In any case, everyone in NJ seems to hate him; whether for that reason or some other reason, I don't know.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:17 PM
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I hope someone does exit polling on the nearly 3000 voters so far to vote for Scozzafava. Sample questions to include: Did you bother to educate yourself about your own district's election? and Why did you bother voting on that race? I suppose they could all be thoughtful protest votes.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:20 PM
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In popular perception you mean. Corzine is to the right of Krugman or Warren, but definitely to the left of Summers and Geithner. And let's not even mention Bloomberg. Or maybe we should - way closer than expected. I'm not quite as surprised as the commentators due to the pretty heavy turnout that I saw in my polling place. And I'm in a place where you'd expect overwhelming abstention, but if people are going to vote, they're going to break heavily for Thompson - primarily middle to upper middle class blacks with a large minority of middle to upper middle class whites, the former heavily SWPL, the latter overwhelmingly so.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:20 PM
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Corzine is to the right of Krugman or Warren, but definitely to the left of Summers and Geithner.

Yeah, he doesn't seem that bad to me. Nevertheless, everyone seems to hate him.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:22 PM
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Maybe they just hate living in New Jersey, and he's the most prominent face of that.

(I'm a little bit serious; I do think it's morale-damaging to live in the corruption capital of the Eastern Seaboard if not the country, and high taxes do wear on people.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:25 PM
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240: It seems uncontroversial to me that there is more and better access to family planning (NOT abortion narrowly) in the US now than there was in 1980. Is this not true?

Again, I don't have statistics at hand, and you may well, so you may know more. We didn't have trouble finding birth control in the 80s, though: there were condoms in convenience stores, and other methods available from the doctor (diaphragm, IUD, the pill), and the morning-after pill available (from a doctor); abortions were had. We visited Planned Parenthood freely.

"We" were white middle class people. Family planning may have been much more limited for non-white non-middle class people; I certainly wouldn't be shocked.

I'm concerned about access to abortion now, yes.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:25 PM
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I hope someone does exit polling on the nearly 3000 voters so far to vote for Scozzafava. Sample questions to include: Did you bother to educate yourself about your own district's election? and Why did you bother voting on that race? I suppose they could all be thoughtful protest votes.

"I am a Republican. Here is a Republican candidate."


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:26 PM
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It seems like - tea partiers aside - a fair amount of bailout backlash is specifically about the bailout and financial/personal connections and not so much on policy and ideological positions.

I don't know anything about Corzine, personally, but then I'm not in the New Jersey area so I can't say anything about the local situation. Except that I imagine it sucks. It is New Jersey.

(Ducks, runs away.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:27 PM
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Fucking issue 2 looks like it is going to pass. Ohio says YES to veal crates and hog factories. Grrr.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:27 PM
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Late to the politics party, but the Daily Show's election preview made me laugh.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:44 PM
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This will have the greatest impact on individuals in this country

But you're talking about a return to the conditions that persisted under fucking Nixon, not some advance in the state of human development. That's my point - people think we should be happy that the massive, aggressive effort to make things awful is in (temporary) abeyance. That's not enough.

renewing some faith, amidst the cynicism, among younger people engaged with electoral politics

I have no idea what in the past 9 months leads ari to think that this is still on the table. "We organized, we worked, we donated, and we got... an extraordinarily photogenic First Family."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:46 PM
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Speaking of the NJ race, the NYT says somebody named Daggett got 6% of the vote. I've never heard of him before and the article doesn't mention him. Who is he/she?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:51 PM
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First, I said it was possible, JRoth, not that it had already happened. Second, I saw a talk about a month ago in which the speaker cited recent data from Pew showing that 18-24 year old people, both registered voters and not, remain far more engaged with politics than they have been in more than two decades. And third, I still see bunches of Obama t-shirts in my classes.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:57 PM
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264: Christopher Daggett, a third-party candidate who made a point of trying to stay above the Corzine-Christie fray. No ideas beyond that. But there is a google.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:57 PM
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Since you seem extra cranky, I should note that 265.3 was a joke. Well, I do see lots of Obama gear, but I'm not sure what it means.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:58 PM
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267: Student fees are so high now that the kids are being forced to live on campaign handouts.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 8:59 PM
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But there is a google.

I've been using Wolfram Alpha lately. I don't learn much, but I get done much sooner.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:01 PM
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262: Sounds like Jon Stewart might want to ask his doctor about Notvotinatol.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:05 PM
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That's my point - people think we should be happy that the massive, aggressive effort to make things awful is in (temporary) abeyance. That's not enough.

I don't think you should be happy, I just worry about your hands, what with all that wringing. Give up on this country if you want to (it's a free country), but I'll take keeping the massive, aggressive effort to make things awful in abeyance (not to mention the actual progress that has and is occurring) over that. Nobody likes a quitter, JRoth.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:07 PM
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265: Honestly, it seems more likely to me that Obama will fuck things up/let us down so massively that that cohort never votes again.

I still hold out hope that some sort of momentum will develop; that Dem Senators will realize that being on a winning team is actually better for them than shitting on a loser; that, at some point, Obama will start pushing the boundaries (successfully). Three years is a long time, and things could be flowing in the right direction by then. But I don't actually see any parties on the national stage that seem to desire that - not the elected officials, not the press, certainly not the lobbyists, and not all that many voters.

We'll see.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:07 PM
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Second, I saw a talk about a month ago in which the speaker cited recent data from Pew showing that 18-24 year old people, both registered voters and not, remain far more engaged with politics than they have been in more than two decades.

So now is the time to show them that they were right to care about who won the election! Or, to show them that they were wrong.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:13 PM
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Daggett was a third-party spoiler candidate who mostly served to keep the race close right up to the end. Without him Corzine would almost certainly have been doomed from the beginning. I don't know much about Daggett, but I think he's a moderate Republican or something, and he's definitely a lot more popular than either of the other two candidates. A protest vote, basically.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:14 PM
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Thank you Teo. I couldn't figure out who he was pulling more votes from.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:16 PM
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Seriously, WTF do you expect? New Deal 2.0 and the Even-Greater Society? We were outstandingly, amazingly lucky to have gotten the New Deal and the Great Society in the first place, and both were contingent on so many things that expecting that to happen is again is just setting yourself up for disappointment.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:18 PM
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So now the prosecutor in this ridiculous story is a governor.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:19 PM
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Er, 276 to 272.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:19 PM
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I couldn't figure out who he was pulling more votes from.

It's kind of hard to tell, actually, but probably mostly Christie.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:19 PM
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The weird thing about this result is that everyone hates Christie too; they just hate Corzine more.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:27 PM
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Dammit, now the Maine numbers are looking bad too.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:28 PM
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expecting that to happen is again is just setting yourself up for disappointment.

It's true, vocalizing political discontent never got any constituencies anywhere.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:30 PM
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The problem is we've been subjecting ourselves to the tyranny of high expectations.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:31 PM
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People can only hurt you if you let them.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:43 PM
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283: I think you mean "hard bigotry".


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:49 PM
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It's true, vocalizing political discontent never got any constituencies anywhere.

If I thought that's what JRoth was doing, I'd be a hell of a lot more sympathetic. But there's a difference between "vocalizing political discontent" and wailing "Game over, man, game over!"


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:58 PM
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I say McManus will be happy. After all, revolutions are brought about by frustrated rising expectations, in a context of real, but slower than wanted and expected progress.

[If we're going to play palm readers this seems as good as any other reading of the lines, no?]


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 9:58 PM
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285: Yes it's all true.

And so is 284 and 286, and probably 287.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:08 PM
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wailing "Game over, man, game over!"

On some level I was hoping that y'all could talk me out of it, but the responses have been so lame that I'm starting to think I'm right.

276, for example, seems to be predicated on the idea that America is the most progressive place on earth, and that we should count our blessings for it, even if it falls somewhat short of Utopia.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:09 PM
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276, for example, seems to be predicated on the idea that America is the most progressive place on earth, and that we should count our blessings for it, even if it falls somewhat short of Utopia.

Really? To me it seems predicated on the idea that America is a corrupt oligarchy with political institutions expressly designed to maintain the status quo and the power of entrenched interests at all costs. Which, you know, it is.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:16 PM
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and now with this strike, the highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive!


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:17 PM
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Looks like they've called it for the Democrat in NY. One more House seat. Marriage equality looks like it's going to lose in Maine; the analysis of votes not counted yet over at TPM makes it sound like the final hours of Prop. 8 voting.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:19 PM
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You see what I'm seeing/hoping for is a shift from two steps back, one forward to three steps forward, two back. I'll really take that. To go with Moby, the 'game over' stance is just too depressing. Also - volunteer for activist stuff, if you have the time and energy. I found that in spite of the mind numbing nature of so grunt level campaign work it was very good for my mood. Being in bumfuck small town MO around a bunch of committed progressive locals - teachers, lawyers, nurses, doctors, call center workers, union types, small businessmen - a cross section - was, dare I say it, 'inspiring'.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:21 PM
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J, it's like this, man: nobody wants to hear it. They want success, and if success involves moving and lowering the goalposts so far that a first-grader could kick a fieldgoal, then that's what'll happen. Nobody wants to think they screwed up, for one thing. For another, they'll hang onto hope til the last second. Those normal human tendencies are why the wingnuts were blithering on about the wonderfulness of torture right up until, uh, now, actually. Denial is not a river in Egypt.

It's much easier to take that position if you are not in economic distress.

In these kinds of circumstances, you gotta make the call yourself, on what you're going to do. As they say, the only sin is being right too early. So you get to bet on yourself.

max
['Cold comfort, I know.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:21 PM
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289: I wonder, what are you looking for? (Other than a fight, I mean, which may be your real goal.) I mean, we don't seem to be mired in a second Great Depression; if Megan and various people I know are to be believed, federal agencies are back to doing their jobs; Sotomayor got confirmed and seems likely to be a reasonably good justice; for the first time in eight years, the world doesn't hate us; rather than trusting his gut, the president is actually considering what to do next in Afghanistan (not that I'm especially hopeful that I'll celebrate his decision, once it's finally made); we're beginning to draw down troops in Iraq; and we may see health care reform become law in the next few months.

Again, all of this has to be balanced against some profoundly disappointing leadership on issues ranging from financial regulation to civil liberties to executive power to lots of other stuff. But really, what were you expecting? We were in a pretty deep hole even before the international economy cratered. Do did you think he would would make all the bad stuff go bye-bye? Honestly, lots of people accused me of being whirly-eyed, but I'm struck by how Obama skeptics seem to be shocked that the man they never trusted hasn't completely transformed this incredibly fucked-up country into The People's Republic of Ponyland.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:22 PM
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sometimes it behooves commenters to provide links, rather than just pieces of lyrics, to avoid confusion and the like, so I have learned.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:23 PM
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295.1: goddamit, ari, don't you see? None of that counts!

295.3: but look what you're saying. Every single one of those things, on its own, is important enough to cancel out any of the nonexistent positive impacts Obama's presidency may or may not have had. It's ponyland or, frankly, nothing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:31 PM
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295.3?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:34 PM
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YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, TEO.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:35 PM
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Also, at some important level, congressional politics may be generational as much as anything else.* And the current generation of leading Democrats in the Senate sucks a big dick. They're all so politically beaten after years of being bested by the Republicans' swordsman that they should be put in a gunnysack and drowned in the Potomac. You know who we really miss right now? Paul Wellstone. Honestly, I wonder how different things would be if Wellstone was chairing a committee.

* I almost certainly have no idea what I'm talking about. I just don't feel like fighting about nonsense, so I thought I'd spin a yarn or two.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:39 PM
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NO, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND TEO.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:40 PM
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Nobody wants to think they screwed up, for one thing. For another, they'll hang onto hope til the last second.

Fuck you too, max.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:40 PM
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ari understands me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:41 PM
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* I almost certainly have no idea what I'm talking about. I just don't feel like fighting about nonsense, so I thought I'd spin a yarn or two.

Welcome, friend. Here is your bag of non-sequiturs and your commemorative jester's hat.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:43 PM
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Meanwhile, that California special election no one's paying attention to doesn't seem worth paying attention to.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:56 PM
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There's a special election in California?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:57 PM
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Yes. Tauscher's old seat.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:59 PM
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There's a special election in California?

Always already. Because we've got money to burn.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 10:59 PM
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Weren't you paying attention?!

I presume eb is referring to CA-10.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:00 PM
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Huh. I had no idea.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:04 PM
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310: Neither did I until Magpie reminded me earlier this evening, and I was eligible to vote in it. Even after she mentioned it, it didn't seem worth it somehow.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:09 PM
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Pelosi's told Garamendi to fly in tomorrow and get ready to vote on HCR. CA's newest Member of Congress is a master of the tautology, too:

Garamendi's take on the GOP winning guv races in New Jersey and Virginia. "The East Coast is the East Coast and the West Coast is the West Coast,"

Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:19 PM
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In the 'I don't know what to make of this' category: Bloomberg did significantly worse among white non-Hispanic men (1/3 Thompson voters) than white women (1/4 Thompson voters). Generally Repubs have a reverse profile. Does the commentariat have any ideas?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 3-09 11:44 PM
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Garamendi's a good dude. He was an excellent insurance commissioner, and he's a solid progressive.

This seems right to me:

people think we should be happy that the massive, aggressive effort to make things awful is in (temporary) abeyance. That's not enough.

I don't, however, agree with JRoth that the Obama disappointment will lead to his followers turning away from politics. To the contrary, many of them will be satisfied about said abeyance, and we'll have a generation of activists with far humbler goals than any that came before.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:41 AM
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It is peculiar that it's the Obama skeptics that are the most disappointed. I'm not exactly surprised by Obama's policies : before the election I thought he was soft on civil liberties, too close to Wall Street, and too much of a conciliator. Still, I thought the total discrediting of Republican policies might allow Obama to pleasantly surprise me. I find the knowledge that in all likelihood this is the high-water mark for progressive politics kinda depressing.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:57 AM
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Optimistically, I try to think of it, if it turns out to be such, as "a" high-water mark, not "the."


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 1:07 AM
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One thing I'm not clear on, JRoth, is what you mean by "give up on this country". Are you talking about just not paying attention anymore and sinking into apathy? Moving somewhere else (where?)? Burning shit down? Do you really think that, for example, the people who brought us the civil rights movement and its many accomplishments, including legislative accomplishments, had it easier than we do now?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 5:20 AM
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312: CA's newest Member of Congress is a master of the tautology, too: Or a song and dance man.

"The East Coast is the East Coast and the West Coast is the West Coast,
The Bronx is up and the Battery's down.
The People ride in a hole in the ground. "


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 5:31 AM
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JRoth is planning on giving up on the country in the way that God gave up on humanity right before the Flood.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 5:37 AM
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||?

Mad Men trolling:

There has been talk here of the Great Levelling (it's early, not only can't I remember, I can't spell and don't care), 1938-68. If MM is a parable or metaphor or whatever, I wonder how if the feminists, for instance "Kathy" at EotAW, will recognize in MM the tragedy of the 60s. If I were writing MM, I would show the ascent of Pete & Peggy, and the liberation of Betty, and the decline of Don Draper/Dick Whitman into a pathetic broken shell, alcohlic, estranged from his children, selling used cars in a midwestern city. Growing up, I knew a lot of those guys, dead in their 50s. So attractive at the beginning of the series, will the feminists feel any empathy for the man?

Will the triumphalism survive?

The "Greatest Generation" were indeed sexist racist assholes, deceivers, delusional, selfish and often irresponsible, destructive and self-destructive. And they beat fascism, communism, gave us the New Deal, the Great Society, the Civil Rights acts, the EPA, OSHA, the Space program etc et etc. They created the conditions and possibilities for the liberation movements and social changes of the 60s, and even set the tone for mobility and acceptance. Don Draper from dirtfarm to MadAv, promoting Peggy and watching her pass him by.

What have we done since?

At my best moments I am a philosophical pessimist. Not "everything is getting worse" but "everything, on net, is not getting better, just different" There is always something lost, of equal value, for anything gained. I am not saying the gains should not be celebrated by those who gained, nor am I saying that the social gains caused the economic decline, or the political dis-empowerment. Not in any "blame" sense. Perhaps I am saying there should be much less moral triumphalism.

Life is tragic. There is no progress. There are a few irrelevant saints, but no other good people. None of us gets out without compromise. I am so attracted to the ancients and pagans, not for the cruel acts themselves, but for their recognition of the sacrifice, the zero-sum moral ambiguity of life.
The tragic sense of life.

All the optimists who like to think we can get all the good stuff we want, and a pony, without hurting good people and innocents are worse than wrong. That is not how life works.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 5:45 AM
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I personally have done all kinds of amazing shit. It's the rest of you people who are letting us down.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 5:49 AM
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Generally Repubs have a reverse profile.

Bloomberg was a Democrat until 2001 and left the GOP in 2007, so he's really not your average Republican. Perhaps generic white men are more resentful than generic white women toward filthy rich Wall Street veterans?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 6:15 AM
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320 is quite wise.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 6:18 AM
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#225. I love you, man.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 6:45 AM
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It is peculiar that it's the Obama skeptics that are the most disappointed.

Non-skeptics are allowing for a year or two of the Obama administration to go by before they start being disappointed.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 6:47 AM
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293: To go with Moby, the 'game over' stance is just too depressing.

I don't think the game is over, but I'm not expecting good things in the short run. It is possible that Pittsburgh is just gloomy. Also, based on entirely on random mutterings I've heard lately and the fact that things always hit Pittsburgh well after they hit the coasts, I'm guessing that our local unemployment is just starting to rise.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 6:50 AM
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302:Fuck you too, max.

Who zapped whom there, hrmm?

max
['Read the writing on the wall. Or don't, as you wish.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 7:03 AM
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worse than wrong

Yeah, if being made all out of straw is worse than wrong.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 7:35 AM
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328:Strawmen Like Obama? Who I don't remember during the campaign or after election, talking about the ones who would have to suffer, who would have to pay.
Everything would be better, everyone would be nice to each other, and we would all like it. (He did say the rich would pay, but he was lying.)

Of course the mask came off during the inaugural address, when he said the the serfs and DFH's would be the ones who needed to sacrifice for the greater good.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:03 AM
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Hey man, Alexander II freed the serfs.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:05 AM
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Walt pretty much sums up my take in 315. There hasn't been much space between the parties on economic or foreign policy issues in a very long time. For the most part, the Democrats just tie a prettier ribbon on the same box of shit. I vote for them almost completely on social issue grounds, and the realest division between the parties is a general secularist vs. christocratic outlook. That Obama makes Jesus' stormtroopers so spitting angry is a big plus on my ledger, but that's only entertainment. I don't actually profit any from it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:07 AM
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"Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Fuedal Social Structure."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:08 AM
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I won't rest until JRoth, Cryptic Ned, Walt, apo, mcmanus, and all the rest of you are dancing jigs. Dance fucking jigs, you motherfuckers, dance!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:13 AM
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I only know the Macarena.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:49 AM
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I am very bummed that the Yess on 1 campaign in Maine (abolishing gay marriage) succeeded. Even though it affects fewer people than California's, I think I'm more disappointed. I like to think of Maine as less free of crazies.

They did have a gay rights bill that got overturned a while ago and was then reinstated, so I'm hopeful, but still sad.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:53 AM
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Yess on 1 campaign

Gollum thinks traditional values are precioussss.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:03 AM
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I like Garamendi's politics, but in the two times I've seen him, I found him so self-aggrandizing and faux-folksy that I can't stand him. I am perfectly happy for him to go practice good politics somewhere far away.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:05 AM
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I like how most of the responses to JRoth amount to "Cheer up: progress is impossible."


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:15 AM
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338: Are we reading the same thread?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:19 AM
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I like to think of Maine as less free of crazies.

California leads Maine in serial killers by a whopping 22-0.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:24 AM
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I can't fail to miss the right interpretation of "less free of".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:30 AM
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340: Maybe CA serial killers are just sloppier than ME ones and so get caught?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:30 AM
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341: Live Crazy or Die!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:31 AM
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216:And what if come 2012, things drag out to the point that an unreconstructed Republican party manages to come to power. What then? ...Walt

Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake:

Is Rahm Emanuel Orchestrating 2010 Democratic Massacre

If only the fucking Czar knew.

I think Obama is that bad, that he wants a Blue Dog or Republican majority to work with in 2011, and the a Republican President in 2012 or 2016 to finalize the forever oligarchy.

E.G.:Health care? ASAP, they'll keep the mandates, and get rid of everything else, like most of the subsidies.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:32 AM
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Jane speaks truth at FDL. My gut started falling into a pit when I heard that Obama had tapped Rahm. What a fucking asshole that guy is.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:47 AM
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I'm not sure why--it doesn't exactly square with the rest of my politics--but I kinda like Rahm Emmanuel.

Josh was always my favorite on West Wing. After C.J., I suppose.

(For those of you who got here late: Josh Lyman is drawn from Rahm Emmanuel and Matt Santos is drawn from Barack Obama. Ari Gold on Entourage is drawn from Rahm's brother Ari Emmanuel. House is not drawn from Ezekiel Emmanuel but it would be cool.)


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 10:00 AM
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339: I think so. Take Ari's 295: a mention of some administrative improvements (with real positive benefits) balanced by a lack of progress on fundamental issues, followed by "What did you expect? Ponyland?" This follows an election held in the best political climate for progressives we are likely to see for a long time.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 10:04 AM
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This follows an election held in the best political climate for progressives we are likely to see for a long time.

People in this thread keep saying this sort of thing. Why? What makes people think this is it for progressive politics in America?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 10:09 AM
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315: I'm not exactly surprised by Obama's policies: before the election I thought he was soft on civil liberties, too close to Wall Street, and too much of a conciliator.

The entire Democratic party is that way, and has been for awhile. Thus could I spend lots of time back int he day attacking the Bush administration for launching aggressive wars, torturing people, voiding the rule of law, and otherwise being bad awful and miserable (by even Republican standards) and get repeatedly attacked (or dismissed) from my right as a dangerous radical.

{beat} {beat} By Democrats.

{beat} {beat} On this blog, even.

Problem is, is if you leave R's in charge, you're screwed as the two groups vie for the titles of the Useless Party and the Even More Useless Party. Fine, but all we have are Senators running. Yuck. Suck it up. Dude talks like he's a leftishish person. OK, dude. How bad can he be? He couldn't be worse than say, Bill Clinton, as said man's wife was running as the right alternative. He talks purty enough, not that I listen to that bullshit. So, dude wins the election, brings in the Clinton team and apparently comes to the conclusion that Clinton got into trouble in 1993 because he was too left-wing in practice.

What?

From my point of view the WH flaked out as soon as they got elected ('What? We actually fucking won? Damn, turn on Fox quick, we've got to keep the wingers happy!') and has headed off to my right (in substantial practice) as fast as they can go. ('Oh, I'm sorry Congressman Republican, did my penis touch your buttocks? Sorry. Hey, um, you Communist guys! This is just a little detour. Don't forget to vote!')

Considering that by the standards of the old days, I'm not all that leftist, having the President run off to my right so far he's disappeared in a cloud of dust is disconcerting, to say the least.

max
['"You have got to be fucking kidding." (gruesome)']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 10:17 AM
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But progress isn't impossible, Eggplant; in fact, we've seen progress already (as I noted in 295). It's just that wholesale change is, if not entirely impossible, very likely only going to follow rivers of blood in the streets (metaphorical or actual -- who knows which?). Which is to say, I don't think the change Obama promised was of the wholesale variety. I think he meant a return to relatively good governance, a non-negligible increase in the size of the welfare state, a significant rejiggering of foreign policy, and a decided shift in tone from the executive branch. Those were the things he campaigned on, it seems to me, and those are the things that he's delivered. I'm not sure why anyone would have thought he was a progressive in the mold of Wellstone or Metzenbaum.

Also, it's my sense that what seemed like, in the run up to the election, a great moment for progressives actually wasn't. The economy was in the process of melting down, meaning, as I said in 210, that there were very real constraints on Obama's policy-making toolkit even before he took office, not to mention a huge drag on his personal popularity, which seemed likely to be among his most important pieces of political capital.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 10:21 AM
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a significant rejiggering of foreign policy

Well, a return to the pre-2000 establishment policies anyhow. Which is better than the crazy-ass Bush-Cheney policy of threatening everybody and invading at random, but the baseline we're returning to wasn't anything to celebrate.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 10:28 AM
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Yess on 1 campaign

Thankfully the domestic partnership referendum looks like it's passing here, but the county map is a good example of the East/West split in the state.

+80k votes in King County
-60K votes in the rest of the state


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 10:31 AM
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If only the fucking Czar alien overlord knew.

Bob, please. Don't screw up a good thing.

Meanwhile, in the vast forest of disappointments that is politics in these decadent days, one loss on Tuesday touched my heart like a cute-but-really-dumb little forest creature: the doomed campaign of Jonah Goldberg's brother, the fishmonger.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 10:34 AM
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351: I totally agree. And I also agree with much of your 331. The Democrats have sucked forever. Hell, even when the New Deal coalition still held sway, a significant portion of the party sucked on social/cultural issues. Which is why I'm so interested in seeing younger people getting involved and staying involved with politics, as their partisan identity is much iffier than that of most older people. And that's also why I focus so much of my attention on Obama's ability to further marginalize the Republicans. My dream scenario involves a political realignment, rather than a revolution, emerging out of a growing sense that US-style capitalism doesn't serve the interests of the vast majority of the electorate. If socio-economic stratification continues apace, it's not hard to imagine the have-nots, comprised of ninety-plus percent of the population, becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the status quo. Or not. Who knows? Maybe people really are sheep who just want to watch football on ever-cheaper 46" flat-screen TVs.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 10:38 AM
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Maybe people really are sheep who just want to watch football on ever-cheaper 46" flat-screen TVs.

Ooh, there's a football game on? Shiny...


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 11:04 AM
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{beat} {beat} On this blog, even.

Um, who exactly on this blog attacked (or dismissed) you as a dangerous radical for attacking the Bush administration for launching aggressive wars, torturing people, voiding the rule of law, and otherwise being bad awful and miserable (by even Republican standards)?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 11:11 AM
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348: I imagine demographic and generational changes will help at least with social issues, but not over the next several presidential cycles (or am I wrong about that?) which is a long time when dealing with some of the resource time bombs out there.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 11:12 AM
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{beat} {beat} 356 was me.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 11:14 AM
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Problem is, is if you leave R's in charge, you're screwed as the two groups vie for the titles of the Useless Party and the Even More Useless Party.

Republicans are destructive, not useless.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 11:19 AM
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350: But much of what you described as progress will be undone when the Republicans return, and they will return. Eight years of furious mountain-top removal followed by four to eight years of tepid mountain-top removal still removes a lot of mountain tops.
I understand hoping that eventually people will tire of getting fucked by our economy, but do you have any reason to think that frustration will be directed in an appropriate direction?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 11:28 AM
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357 does a nice job of capturing why my thinking during this thread keeps bouncing back and forth between "all you super-pessimistic people are annoying" and "we're all gonna die!".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 11:33 AM
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Who zapped whom there, hrmm?

I wish I understood what the hell this meant.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 11:33 AM
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361: Those propositions are not mutually exclusive.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 11:41 AM
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ari, you say that Obama's toolkit was limited by the collapse we were dealing with. This seems backward to me. I'm not an historian, but the New Deal was passed during the Depression, and I'd think that people feeling really insecure economically would want the government to do more, not less.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 11:43 AM
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I'm not a pessimist. I've just bet all my remaining optimism on the singularity, as it was too painful otherwise. It is more in sorrow than excitement that my thoughts turn to robot sex.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 11:58 AM
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I've just bet all my remaining optimism on the singularity

Ray Kurzweil meets Freeman Dyson? "Robot super-intelligences will design fast-growing carbon-eating trees!"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:01 PM
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HANDS OFF MY PORNOBOT, VEGETABLE!


Posted by: OPINIONATED GLENN REYNOLDS | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:04 PM
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FDR took over well into the Great Depression, BG, not at the very beginning. By that time, Hoover's policies had been totally discredited. Moreover, unemployment had climbed far higher than it is now, the crisis had deepened much further than it had when Obama took office, and thus the electorate was readier for real change. Even then, though, FDR was hardly the radical he's often painted as here and elsewhere. He saved capitalism, after all, rather than overturning it. And he did that, to some significant extent, by convincing labor and capital that their interests aligned. Finally, many of the programs we often associate with the New Deal actually grew out of WWII or the Great Society. Which is to say, change happens slowly, even when crisis is afoot. But without crisis, there's not much change at all. That's the founders (so many goddamn dicks) intended it, right?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:04 PM
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360: Maybe. Or maybe not. Again, has the Obama I hope he'll have, the Republicans will be a rump party for years and years to come.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:05 PM
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350:The economy was in the process of melting down

The economy is not something that happens to us, like hurricanes. The economy is something we do, like politics.

Does it require a paranoid conspiracy nut to wonder at the fact that Obama was pretty much forced to commit to a plan or mode of handling Finance in the October immediately preceding the election? Or to wonder that Obama was "hobbled" with a huge deficit, two wars and an economic collapse as he entered office? (Do I remember Clinton's 1st term? Weird coincidences)

And when your political opposition is willing to blow up the fucking world to limit your policy options, do you make your main theme comity and bipartisanship?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:06 PM
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That's how the founders...


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:06 PM
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By that time, Hoover's policies had been totally discredited.

And what was GWB's approval rating in 2008? Like, a New World Record, beating Truman by a hair? In this country, with Dixie, you really can't get any more discredited than 24%.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:10 PM
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And when your political opposition is willing to blow up the fucking world to limit your policy options, do you make your main theme comity and bipartisanship?

Right. This is a totally fair question that worries me. I guess the theory is that moderates, who are the voters in play, don't like meanies, particularly meanies who are non-white. And so Obama will try to kill the opposition with kindness, painting Republicans as beholden to Hannity/Beck/Limbaugh, the party of Palin and purges, and hope that the electorate follows the logic. Maybe it'll work. Maybe it won't. Stay tuned!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:10 PM
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But the meltdown had just happened, bob. And the suffering was nowhere near as widespread as it was under Hoover.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:11 PM
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Does it require a paranoid conspiracy nut to wonder at the fact that Obama was pretty much forced to commit to a plan or mode of handling Finance in the October immediately preceding the election? Or to wonder that Obama was "hobbled" with a huge deficit, two wars and an economic collapse as he entered office?

Yes, bob, it does.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:13 PM
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366: More like "Well, so much for the polar bear. Save it's DNA, though: we'll need it for our arctic simulations!"


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:16 PM
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In the future, apostrophes will proliferate uncontrollably, choking our ecosystems.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:18 PM
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Eight years of furious mountain-top removal followed by four to eight years of tepid mountain-top removal still removes a lot of mountain tops.

Eventually, we will run out of mountains to decapitate, and then it won't be an issue anymore.

(That is a lot of why you don't hear much about new dams in California.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:21 PM
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Damn grammar subroutines.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:22 PM
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do you have any reason to think that frustration will be directed in an appropriate direction?

Reading my high school acquaintances on Facebook hasn't given me any confidence whatsoever on that score. I might be more optimistic if I'd never signed up.

do you make your main theme comity and bipartisanship?

Reminds me of this thread. It was probably a decent approach for campaigning. It's a terrible approach to governing the US right now.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:23 PM
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But the meltdown had just happened, bob.

But the crisis had been building* at least since Dec 07, without decisive action, until the decision was made to let Lehman fall in mid Sept 08. Many people think that "mistake" was what precipitated the immediate credit collapse in Sept-October and necessitated the bailout, forcing Obama to commit. These events were beyond anyone's control?

*Many economists had been expecting a crisis for years and well,Goldman-Sachs pulled out of certain markets and hedged some positions from 2005. Of course, Paulson and Geithner and Bernanke had to be totally unaware of the G-S moves, didn't they?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:30 PM
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381: bob -- isn't part of the story that the crisis helped get Obama elected? was that part of the plan?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:33 PM
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382:No.

The Obama/McCain matchup polls were fairly steady throughout the campaign, with no significant swings in the last months.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 12:45 PM
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You know, I was just hoping for a more generous health care bill--mainly focused on more subsidies and letting anybody who wanted to join the public plan or at least the exchanges as soon as they open.

I thought that he might be able to push that through, and I think that reform support might have been stronger if more people saw it as something that would change their lives soon, cause people who have insurance now are being offered security if they lose their job, not a better plan.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 1:22 PM
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Well McCain/Palin were actually ahead in the polls in early September.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 1:32 PM
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Indeed. McCain reaches his peak in the default trendline at about 9/10. Lehman's BK was 9/15. Dow, S&P for the period.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 2:04 PM
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385,386:Convention bumps are taken seriously by no one, not even Fox TV idiots.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 3:31 PM
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There is a twinkle in her eye. She is going to have fun in the campaign. Sarah Barracuda.

Sybil is right. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Obama shoulda picked Clinton.


Posted by: Commenter-in-exile | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 4:25 PM
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Eventually, we will run out of mountains to decapitate, and then it won't be an issue anymore.

(That is a lot of why you don't hear much about new dams in California.)

You'd be surprised. Bear in mind that this is all the same coal seam that Washington's men started mining when he was a lieutenant in the Virginia militia, and that fueled the birth, life, and death of Pittsburgh steel (recently re-learned fact: Pittsburgh and surrounding towns produced more steel during WW2 than the entire Axis).

The radio ads for Consol talk about the US having more energy reserves than the Middle East - in coal. Ack.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 5:01 PM
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One thing I'm not clear on, JRoth, is what you mean by "give up on this country".

Just for the record: no longer expecting, or even hoping for, things (as a whole) to improve. I've never really bought into, e.g., arguments about the Decline of America, or whatever. For all the flaws in our system, we've managed to muddle through reasonably well up 'til now (hence my reference to the Bismarck quote). But I don't really think that's true anymore. I don't think that our institutions and our polity allow us to respond adequately to crisis - whether economic, social, international, or environmental. I've avoided bringing up climate change, as it's just so loaded, but don't think that it's not part of my thinking. We've got islands sinking into the ocean, and the opposition is singing "tra la la, don't look over there," and it's working. It appears that no level of crisis can lurch this nation into gear anymore. That's the despair.

OTOH, I'm getting more work than I ever have, so at least that's something.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 5:09 PM
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Will the Democrats Lose in 2010

"George Washington" frequent guest-poster at Naked Capitalism, links to Markos Moulitsas about yesterday's elections:

Democratic turnout collapsed. This is a base problem, and this is what Democrats better take from tonight:

... If you water down reform in favor of Blue Dogs and their corporate benefactors, you will lose votes...

...MM

At FDL, Chris Townsend sends a similar message from Virginia, including the fact that the Obama campaign folded its organizational tents immediately after Nov 2008.

ari, you're still whirly-eyed. Whatever inspiration and momentum Obama may have had during the election he has completely thrown away. Sold to the banksters and generals. Rather than recruiting a generation, he is destroying the Democratic brand. You will see...no, I don't suppose you will, actually.

Whether this was the intention all along is another question.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 6:05 PM
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JRoth speaks well.

What sucks, to put it mildly, is that the "tra la la, don't look over there" doesn't come just from people normally dubbed the opposition. Nonetheless, the traditional opposition (they being conservatives? Republicans? or capitalists?) serves to keep potentially progressive policy-makers unsteady on their feet, with an eye always toward what might fly, what's doomed, what's just too radical.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 6:18 PM
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Just for the record: no longer expecting, or even hoping for, things (as a whole) to improve.

You sound like my dentist.

I'm thinking of starting a movement to put the trolley back on Forbes. That should be just plausible enough for me to become seriously frustrated and just crazy enough for me to become a local 'character' without having to snort glue.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 7:21 PM
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he is destroying the Democratic brand

On this point, at least, I'm pretty sure that health care is all. If it's a decent bill that passes, my money's on the Democratic brand doing a-okay. If it's a lousy bill, though, or if it fails to go through the Senate, you may well be right. Like I said above, stay tuned! That's the fun of the future! Also, it's pretty hard to know how I could become any less whirly-eyed. Well, I guess if health care fails or sucks, that might do it.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 7:31 PM
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The fucking Democratic Brand? Jesus. Weak tea.

Anyway, didn't anyone tell you all that it's all about the independents now?

(ari, I'm with you about Wellstone upthread there somewhere.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 7:37 PM
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394: Bear in mind that if the current healthcare bill passes, almost nothing -- no increased coverage, no insurance reforms -- would happen until 2013. Three years from now. Look it up.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 7:49 PM
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Current nytimes.com headline: "Democrats to Use Election to Push Agenda in Congress". Shocking!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 7:50 PM
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I just looked it up in my fourth grade math book, and it says that 2013 is actually four years from now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 7:53 PM
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You weren't able to subtract 9 from 13 until fourth grade?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 7:55 PM
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200!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 7:56 PM
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I just looked it up in my fourth grade math book, and it says "BIG BIG BONER / BIG BIG BONER WORKS ALL NIGHT LONG"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 7:59 PM
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402

I like Garamendi's politics,

He's a politician! That should be all that matters.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 7:59 PM
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396: Forgive me my naivete, PGD, but why is that? Budgetary reasons? Time needed to put changes into place? I assume that's it.

Right, so people will continue to see loss of coverage and so on for several years, assuming the bill even passes. Not much of a boon for the Brand.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:00 PM
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403: yeah, time to put changes in place. The effective date of most of the big parts of the bill is Jan 1, 2013. We used to be a can do country.

I'm just imagining Obama running in 2012: "look at this bill I passed three years ago! Soon it will go into effect! It will be awesome!"


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:03 PM
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405

On this point, at least, I'm pretty sure that health care is all. If it's a decent bill that passes, my money's on the Democratic brand doing a-okay.

The economy is all. If unemployment is back to some kind of reasonable level by 2012 then Obama gets reelected. It's like Reagan's first term that way.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:04 PM
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406

I guess the plan is to win reelection in 2012 is something else. Maybe unemployment will go from 14% in January 2012 to 11% in November 2012.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:04 PM
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404: Well, look: the guy doesn't need to run for reelection on the basis of health care reform. Matters not whether that takes effect before 2012: health care reform is not about gaining reelection, at least at a presidential level.

The economy, yes, that's the point. One in ten people around me are unemployed. It's not funny. There's no fucking way we can correct that in any short term way without going back to the way we were and have been, in rough outline. There is no entire upending of the status quo that would do that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:14 PM
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408

We used to be a can do country.

It's so true. Where have all the flowers gone?


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:21 PM
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409

Where can all the flowers do?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:23 PM
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410

||

This probably isn't the ugliest $195 shirt out there, but you have to think that it's in the running.

|>


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:24 PM
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411

mockery is unbecoming.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:25 PM
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Remember back when we put a man on the moon? When we could invade Cuba by proxy one day, and burn down a dozen black churches the next? When the only thing holding us back were the machinations of sinister hollywood jew communists?

It's a fallen world, boy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:25 PM
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"Ideal for his spring or summer wardrobe"

At least they aren't generalizing from the guy in the photo to anyone else.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:26 PM
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By the way, unemployment under Reagan reached nearly 10%. Then it came down. And then he won a huge landslide victory. Could happen again, I suppose. Or it might not. If only we were still a can-do country, we'd can-do our way out of this mess!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:26 PM
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We've unbecome can-doey.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:28 PM
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416

413 made me genuinely laugh out loud.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:28 PM
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410: only because this one is $215.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:29 PM
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418

That site is full of winners.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:30 PM
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419

Wow, 418 may take the title.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:35 PM
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420

412, 414: How many times do you want to go around? Here: since we've never done better before, we shouldn't expect or try to do better now, and shouldn't be disturbed when we don't. Cue comment whatever upthread.

Repeat 411.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:36 PM
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"St. Croix men's clothing is produced in limited quantities to ensure exclusivity"

Isn't that like saying "Hamburgers are cooked on a grill, to ensure that they are grilled"? Quality is not an issue.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:37 PM
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422

420 is aptly numbered.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:38 PM
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423

414 Nearly 11%, 10.8% to be exact.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:38 PM
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414: that's the point I made in 405. I'm a can-do commenter.

But the can-do point is quite real. Some societal sclerosis has set in, especially when it comes to using large bureaucracies to actually get stuff done. We're much more into marketing and finance now.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:41 PM
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What's wrong with America today is its shirts.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:42 PM
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Bear in mind that if the current healthcare bill passes, almost nothing -- no increased coverage, no insurance reforms -- would happen until 2013.

Untrue! Or, at least, unnecessarily pessimistic! The House bill has a lot of goodies that take effect immediately. (Scroll down to the middle.)


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:42 PM
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I do really enjoy 411, though.

If there's one thing I strive to be, it's becoming.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:43 PM
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I want to draw people's attention to the fact that, in the shirt in 410, the pink used for the cuffs, shockingly doesn't appear to occur anywhere else on the shirt. They're contrast, apparently.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:44 PM
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I'll stop trying to derail the thread now.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:45 PM
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422: I've no idea what that means, but I admit I'm tired and grumpy. Word is $195 shirts are overrated.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:45 PM
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How many times do you want to go around?

As many times as it takes to make me really, really dizzy! Cheap high!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:47 PM
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426: thanks! very useful, I have been too focused on the Senate bill. I think some of that stuff was added because pollsters were pointing out how bad it was going to look if nothing happened until 2013.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:47 PM
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423: Y'know, I thought about saying "around 10%". Alas.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:48 PM
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You shouldn't comment when your grumpy, parsimon: it's unbecoming.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:49 PM
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Ari, I think the correct form of "you're" unbecame, there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:50 PM
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Some societal sclerosis has set in, especially when it comes to using large bureaucracies to actually get stuff done.

Except that the federal government may have just prevented the world economy from completely melting down! And we may be about to pass a huge health care reform bill! The dream of a century's worth of Democratic presidents! But no, you're right: we're all washed up. Fortunately, I'm learning Mandarin through Berlitz!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:52 PM
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On second thought, having looked at the other thread, I may forget the Mandarin and learn to speak Maori. And English.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:53 PM
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嘲笑是不恰當的


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:54 PM
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426: also, I don't believe in at least the Senate high-risk pool, it's way too small -- a fig leaf. You'd have to start reinsurance. But some of the things in your link definitely do look better.

And the link makes my point at the same time as it shows me up as two weeks out of date:

One of the most important contributions of the latest version of the House bill is that it offers a host of programs and regulatory initiatives that would be noticed immediately or in the very near future by many Americans. The media has largely ignored a major problem with prior versions of both the House and Senate health reform bills: almost none of the new programs would go online until 2013. Congress would, that is, after an epic struggle and with great fanfare enact health care reform and then for three years--during which two congressional elections and a presidential contest would take place--nothing would happen. The likelihood that the legislation would still be in place after three years of no visible signs of life is, to my mind, remote. Remember Medicare Catastrophic.

I just fucking feel like wonking out about health and Unfogged is elected. It's better than watching the Yankees beat the Phillies. Although a Yankee victory does bode well for the economy. Philadelphia baseball victories in the world series:

1929-30
1980
2007

All the most economically disastrous years in recent American history. The Phils win this year, for two straight series? Guaranteed great depression.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:54 PM
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427.2 is great.


Posted by: Unpronounceable Awl | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:55 PM
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Seriously, the health care reform bill that they're going to pass isn't anywhere near as good as it ought to be, but I can't believe anyone is surprised by that. And for all its flaws, it will probably include an individual mandate, guaranteed issue, community rating, and a host of other delicious things. Absent some sort of magic time machine eraser that can scrub the Senate out of the Constitution, I'm not sure how we get a better bill at this point.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:57 PM
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An "individual mandate", on its own, is not a delicious thing.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:58 PM
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An "individual mandate", on its own, is not a delicious thing.

No, of course not. But luckily that's not what's going to happen.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 8:59 PM
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441: if we cease to be surprised by the normal workings of politics in this country, we have ceased to care.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:01 PM
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426, thanks, and to 439 for making me look.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:03 PM
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442 Depends how it's flavored, simmer it with a bacon flavoured public option, some garlicky community rating, a bit of hot subsidies, and it might be tasty.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:04 PM
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436: depends on what you count as getting stuff done. I guess "saving the world economy" does sound better than "shoveling vast amounts of money on the 20 largest banks". The two are connected, but our solution was far more expensive (cripplingly so in many ways) because we couldn't make tough choices.

441: Yeah, the health bill sets up a potentially good framework. But it's a complex and rather delicate framework that has to be run well for a number of years to both work and gain public trust. The 2013 thing was (and still to a significant degree still is) a huge flaw because it could end up creating a situation where the Republicans are the ones who implement and run this thing.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:06 PM
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ari, academic salaries are, shall we say, not great here.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:19 PM
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"Saved the world economy":"peace for our time"::the analogy ban:Godwin's Law.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:28 PM
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450

448 was I.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:32 PM
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Soderbergh's Che showed up in Sundance tonight.

Busy,busy. I need a topographic map of Dallas.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 9:55 PM
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Che is a fantastic movie.

"saved the world economy"....ugh.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 10:31 PM
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451 reminds me that the other day some people were telling anecdotes about someone with the unfortunate name of Dal/las Ken/nedy (born just slightly earlier than 1963).


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 10:32 PM
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441: Your comment reminds me that all the talk (not by you, I know) of how this should be a historical high-water mark for progressivism ignores the fact that the Democrats' 60 Senate seats is the equivalent of a simple majority in almost any other era. Which is to say, the bizarre reality that any significant piece of legislation now requires 60 votes has created some hurdles to getting things done.

448: I have other skills. I'm good at...well, I'd be willing to give shepherding a whirl, I guess.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 10:58 PM
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It didn't appear that a 60-vote majority was necessary in...2004, for example.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11- 4-09 11:24 PM
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I think a blank 8.5x11 piece of paper would function adequately as a topographic map of Dallas.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 5-09 3:59 AM
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Just a note that 454.1 is a great example of why my despair is directed at this country, not at Obama.

Shorter this thread:

JRoth: I'm unhappy because this country can't seem to fix itself anymore.
Everyone else: Silly JRoth! No country could ever fix itself (because no place on earth has universal healthcare or economic mobility. They just don't)! You're an idiot for thinking one could. Oh! Except for these areas that have been fixed. USA! USA!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 5-09 4:27 PM
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457.4: Not everyone else, silly JRoth. It's not about Obama, who's been dealt a gaggle of entrenched interests that one suspects surprises him (?), so he's thinking on his feet, being belligerent at times, but otherwise seeing that the easiest solution is a return to Clinton-style governance.

Except that he dealt himself those staffpeople in the first place. But, well, they know the biz, right? And they do.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11- 5-09 4:48 PM
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457: People with felt fedoras should be more cheerful. I'd like hats to catch on again.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11- 5-09 5:27 PM
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BTW, apo linked to an election thread from last February, and I just want to note that I've been pretty well vindicated in this:

A true partisan doesn't sign onto a bill that the other side likes, even if that partisan leans the other way. IOW, Schumer did in fact make that shitty vote on stock earnings (whatever the hell it was - you know what I mean), and it signified that he's not liberal enough (specifically, that he loves the Big Money Boys). But if you turned the tables, no powerful R makes that vote, because it's a vote the other side wants.
The discipline the Rs have shown in refusing to vote for anything Obama wants has been breathtaking. And it's been pretty effective - a lot of Ds really seem to be afraid (literally) to vote for anything that doesn't get R votes, regardless of the merits. The only real exceptions have been silly little bills with obvious optics (remember when the Rs voted against a bill praising motherhood?) or major bills in which the Blue Dogs have extracted a pound of flesh.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 11- 6-09 7:26 AM
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460: Dems will go Republican on stuff like the taxation of hedge fund compensation because there is big money involved for business groups. The business party will always have an advantage.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11- 6-09 8:00 AM
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I love Health Affairs! It's too expensive to subscribe to it, and the only library around here which gets it is Countway medical. There may be a way to get in; I'm not sure, but it's a pain.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 6-09 9:31 AM
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