Re: In defense of Obama

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3. And a pony.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:28 PM
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I already hate this thread.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:31 PM
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Not just because of you, Jesus.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:31 PM
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Is it because I'm too edgy for you?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:32 PM
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I up-end conventional wisdom like that. I'm an up-ender.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:33 PM
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Point (1) is easy enough to believe, but I see no evidence of (2) as much as I wish it were true.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:34 PM
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It's not a matter of rhetoric. The government needs to actually address inequality competently and benefit everyone. If you claim that's what you're doing, but in fact implement something that's too weak and compromised to work, you will have discredited such efforts by "proving" to people that these things can't be done. Look at the stimulus. Claimed to be the right size, widely believed to be an unprecedentedly massive program, and one that hasn't accomplished anything, when in fact it should have been far larger and would have had far more apparent positive effects if it had been.


Posted by: mr. blandings | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:37 PM
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I don't think there would be any evidence of (2) yet. I don't think evidence would show up until people are making up narratives about how the Obama years were, with only a limited connection to how it went down at the time. But I still think it's reasonable that it could happen.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:37 PM
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2 seconded. For one thing, the whole post assumes good faith.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:38 PM
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He will probably learn to be a better centrist, trimming, president.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:38 PM
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What I've been thinking about is how Reagan's rhetoric far outstripped any of his policies in its conservative legacy. 7 could have been said about Reagan's first year, and it would have ended up way off.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:39 PM
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3: As long as it's partly because of me. Anyway, at this point I prefer the scenario in which he imposes sharia law to the present, hopeless, sucking-up-to-Republicans disaster.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:40 PM
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For one thing, the whole post assumes good faith

No it doesn't. I'm not saying Obama and the rest of them aren't bought and sold. I'm just saying that if the rhetoric of competent government took hold the way the rhetoric of EVIL TAXES STEALING took hold, it could have a major impact.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:41 PM
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I commend heebie for learning, relatively quickly, to troll her own blog. She's clearly as smart as Obama!


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:41 PM
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11 is a fair point, but examine how democrats treat their ex-preznits... A wide gulf separates the democratic avoidance of Jimmy Carter and the republican fetishization of Reagan.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:43 PM
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15: We decently fetishize Clinton. Not to Reagan proportions, but people think of him more fondly than is warranted.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:46 PM
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9 wildly misunderstands me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:46 PM
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24, on the other hand, might have a point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:47 PM
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14 too, but not like 24.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:48 PM
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... the following could become a truth: that government is capable of addressing inequality competently, and that everyone benefits when you shrink the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Sorry, House Speaker Boehner just ain't gonna let that happen.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:48 PM
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IIRC Reagan's first term was very conservative. The moderation only came in response to the Iran Contra scandal and the appointment of Gorbachev as Soviet leader.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:50 PM
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Up Enders could be a tv drama. Melodrama, even.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:51 PM
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IIRC Reagan's first term was very conservative.

See? Just like Obama!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:52 PM
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Everyone is saving their comments for the much praised 24 slot, so I will go ahead and let this be comment 23.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:52 PM
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Doh!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:52 PM
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IIRC Reagan's first term was very conservative.

But seriously, conservative compared to Carter or conservative compared to today's Republicans? Not the latter, right? And yet the rhetoric. The rhetoric!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:53 PM
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For the record, I dislike Clinton far more than is fair. I've tried to work on it, but nothing changes: I still hate the guy. I'll never forgive him for the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform. The substance wasn't great, either.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:53 PM
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How conservative was Reagan's presidential rhetoric compared to his 1960s rhetoric. I thought he'd toned it down a bit for the national audience (cold war/defense rhetoric excepted). Did he joke that people going to bed hungry were all on a diet when he was President?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:57 PM
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Reagan was conservative compared to Goldwater, Nixon, and G.H.W. Bush. When he moderated, he merely retreated to Nixonian levels of conservatism. The fact that the second Bush beat him out is little to brag about.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:57 PM
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republican fetishization of Reagan

In case you missed it: Reagan on the $50; fuck U. Grant.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:57 PM
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I think Clinton was a huge jackass, but, compared to the guy who came after him, he was friggin' FDR.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:58 PM
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I wasn't paying enough attention during the Clinton administration, so let me ask: I'm under the impression that his rhetoric matched his centrist policies. He more or less used welfare queens language, etc. Am I right that he was qualitatively different than Obama in this way? I feel like Obama's language is much lefter than his policies, for the most part.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 8:58 PM
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29 Whatever Reagan may have wanted to accomplish, in practice he was far less conservative than the Goldwater of 1964. He was also much more conservative than Nixon as president. As far as I can tell Nixon cared about economic policy only to the extent it furthered his political prospects, no real ideological commitments at all. And in foreign policy he was your standard amoral realist, there's a reason the French foreign policy establishment's favorite US presidents have been Nixon and Bush I - they were just like them but with more power to throw around.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 9:07 PM
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he was friggin' FDR

Do tell.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 9:28 PM
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There's kind of a symmetry to having Reagan replace Grant on the $50 bill. Anyone here read Henry Adams? He offers a lot of insight into what the Republican Party has always been.


Posted by: wford | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 9:30 PM
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He more or less used welfare queens language

No, this isn't really right. "Welfare queens" is straight-up race-baiting.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 9:34 PM
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I actually think that Clinton's biggest achievement was to shift the landscape of political dialogue in some of the ways that this post hopes that Obama will do.

I think the combination of (almost) elminating the deficit combined with eight years of (more or less) peace and prosperity did a lot to reduce people's sense of hopelessness (or, at least, hopelessness as political rhetoric).

"You'll be the smartest man on the cinder" looked a lot less believable after Clinton than it did before him.

Unfortunately this comment will be a drive by, since I'm on my way to bed (I got sick, got better, and now I'm feeling lousy again; darn it. Perhaps I wasn't sufficiently better to go biking in shorts on Tuesday).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 10:16 PM
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30 -- Will no one think of Millard Fillmore?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 10:51 PM
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I am in favor of Grover Cleveland's visage on two non-consecutive units of currency.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 10:57 PM
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If you put Reagan on the $50 we will send a gunboat to burn down the White House again, and then finish the job.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:42 AM
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I think I must be the only liberal in America who has no problem with this proposal to put Reagan on the $50 bill. The present line-up of our paper money is just weird. Washington, and Lincoln are definitely American icons, but they already have coins all to themselves. Besides them, are Hamilton, Jackson, Grant, Franklin and that Sometimes-Y Jefferson really the most apt faces we can think of for our national image? No Edison, no Ford, no King no Einstein, nobody born after 1822. It's past time to shake up the whole roster.

This could be a rare moment of bipartisan compromise. If they want to replace a semi-liberal politician, a successful general, and a crummy president like Grant with Reagan, why can't we agree to do so -- provided we replace a conservative politician, successful general and crummy president like Jackson with a liberal icon?

I say it's time we put FDR on the twenty.

Of course this -- or any other currency changes -- will happen after we've abolished the penny; that is to say, never.


Posted by: Ace-K | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:27 AM
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Einstein? In what way is Einstein an American icon?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:45 AM
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. . . well he was a naturalized American citizen and a Princeton professor. Einstein being Time's Person of the Century, and this being a nation of immigrants, I thought it might be appropriate -- but it was just a thought.

He wouldn't be the first naturalized citizen to feature on American currency, certainly.


Posted by: Ace-K | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:50 AM
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he would probably be the first jewish socialist to sign an anti-armaments petition to appear on the US currency.

(and does that mean Wittgenstein is now a British icon? 'cause he'd rock the fifty pound note.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:58 AM
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Well, with the socialist Helen Keller, an acolyte of Eugene Debs on the Alabama state quarter, anything is possible.

And what does citizenship mean if not eligibility to appear on the money? If Britain doesn't want to claim Wittgenstein, it's their loss.


Posted by: Ace-K | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 4:04 AM
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I'm more than happy to claim Wittgenstein for Britain (and Craig Kieswetter and Eoin Morgan for England), but he'd be well down my list for going on the money. What's his claim to that?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 4:17 AM
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Well yeah, but it'd be a bit rude to the austrians, no?

I dunno. There always seems something a bit appropriative about putting people on bank notes. There's no real sense of consent, is there?

I mean, it's ok for politicians, who deserve it, and for basically apolitical people, but there's something strange about putting people who didn't exactly approve of the capitalist system on the physical embodiments of that system.

(OFE: I was thinking Einstein-Russell, and then obvs. W is the next person who comes up in free association -- germanic philosopher genius (& this is totes anti-semitic but both E. and W were Jewish.))


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 4:24 AM
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Einstein seems particularly strange was he naturalized when he was already quite old, and with his key work 30 years behind him. It seems like cultural imperialism. [on preview pwned by Keir]

At least with Wittgenstein you could make the claim that he'd spent a considerable part of his life in the UK, and done much of his best work here, but even then it'd seem pretty odd for the UK to claim Wittgenstein for their own.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 4:31 AM
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It seems like cultural imperialism.

What could be more American than that?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 4:43 AM
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Let's face it, there are lots of great American scientists who were at least raised from childhood in the country, and who arguably need to be brought to public attention more than Einstein. I'd go with Barbara McClintock, but a lot of people would probably prefer Feynman.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 4:44 AM
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Well I clearly struck the wrong note running through an off-the-top-of-my-head litany of Americans (quasi-Americans?) to appear on US currency. How about Longfellow, Poe, Thoreau, Faulkner, Hemingway, L. Armstrong, or N. Armstrong? Practically anybody is better than freaking Jackson.

I gotta go to bed.


Posted by: Ace-K | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 4:52 AM
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Practically anybody is better than freaking Jackson

Agreed. Franklin Pierce FTW.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 4:54 AM
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To be honest, if you suggested that apple pie was American around here you would swiftly discover it was really a Franco-Dutch invention appropriated in the late 1750's by the colonials.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 4:58 AM
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Really? I'd always supposed that there'd been apple pie around somewhere as long as there'd been pastry and apples.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:08 AM
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Gene Simmons.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:10 AM
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To be honest I always thought the same which made `as american as apple pie' about as likely as `as american as standing on two legs and looking with two eyes' but apparently no it really is something Americans say.

Such are the mysteries of our trans-oceanic cousins.

(Essentialist? Me? Jamais!)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:16 AM
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I'd go with Barbara McClintock, but a lot of people would probably prefer Feynman.

A man who publicly admitted "a lot of my best physics has been done in strip clubs" should definitely appear on some sort of folding money.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:22 AM
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40: I read somewhere that a British tourist in China found that, while too polite to mention it, they are still upset that the British burned down the Summer Palace in 1860. I thought if I were ever in China and it came up, I would bring up the fact that the British also burned down the White House. Those dastardly British...


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:26 AM
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Look at the stimulus... hasn't accomplished anything.

Now, this is just untrue.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:30 AM
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58. Couldn't happen now of course. Nobody's allowed to smoke in public buildings any more.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:33 AM
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59 misunderstands what mr blandings is saying--he claims that is what is "widely believed" not that it is true.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:34 AM
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I'm quietly trying to change the phrase to "as American as apple strudel" but it's not catching on.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:36 AM
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As American as Appalachian poverty.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:38 AM
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As American as apo.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:49 AM
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Heebie is RIGHT! (And y'all are poopyheads.)

He is performing to about my late empire structural fatalism expectations. He sucks for basically same reasons that institutions like the New York Times, the Washington Post and Harvard suck so hard right now. Not sure how we get out of that particular malaise*, but a rhetoric of effective governance is a start (needs to be backed up by some accomplishment).

*Not in a good mood this AM, so don't actually think we will. America is likely to prosper for the "tops" for while, nuke a few places, and then by 2100 there will be the equivalent of a Godwin's Law for bringing up American Exceptionalism in a debate.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:07 AM
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As American as the Senate.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:12 AM
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The American Way would be to sell corporations the right to put their logo on currency. We could use the extra revenue it generates to pay down the national debt or fund tax cuts for the wealthy.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:30 AM
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I read somewhere that a British tourist in China found that, while too polite to mention it, they are still upset that the British burned down the Summer Palace in 1860.

Well, they probably shouldn't have gradually skinned those British diplomats and Indian POWs over a period of several days, then. Tends to annoy people.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:34 AM
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re: 67

Reminiscent of Infinite Jest's corporate sponsored year names. Analogous to "the year of the dog" etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:34 AM
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59, 61: Mr. Blandings was ambiguous and should clarify.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:36 AM
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14:I commend heebie for learning, relatively quickly, to troll her own blog. She's clearly as smart as Obama!

Word. Comity at last

...that government is capable of addressing inequality competently, and that everyone benefits when you shrink the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

This has me thinking about the Great Compression, and whether this was very much an overt theme or justification even at that time of 70-90% marginal rates. There were at least three others:a) moderate class war early in the 1st FDR term, mostly directed at the banks and underutilized capital but noy necessarily at the Rich and Business in general, b) "We need the money" (FDR taxed everybody), and c) "We are all in this together" as in GI Joe, Rosie Riveter, and Andrew Higgins all were needed to beat Hitler, Tojo, and the Stalin.

Certainly, as I understand the economics, redistribution as more efficient remains very controversial, and the "Keynesian" ascendancy I think really took a theoretical end-run around the implications of "marginal propensity to consume."

But this is a question for historians rather than a strong assertion. I need to think about it, and revisit, for instance, Truman's tax increase of the late 40s. By the early 60s, Kennedy could say that a tax cut would benefit all.
...
Finally, politics is conflict, Schmitt's "Friend-Enemy."
Someone whose rhetoric excludes specific enemies is seeking to weaken or evade politics. Gandhi. David Broder.

I think Obama's language of comity...well maybe I'll be back.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:41 AM
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In what way is Einstein an American icon?

The hair. Because of the hair, dude.

That North Carolina Republican is just pissed that Grant kicked southron ass. That's why he wants him off the 50. Give southern Republicans a choice between putting Reagan or Jeff Davis on the 50 and half of them would choose the latter.

If I were in Congress, I'd see McHenry's Reagan and raise him a Lysander Spooner.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:55 AM
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What I've been thinking about is how Reagan's rhetoric far outstripped any of his policies in its conservative legacy.

I think that's right, but this is exactly what Obama is not doing. In the other thread, I wasn't terribly sympathetic to the R.I. teachers union, but can you imagine Reagan attacking the flaws of a political ally?

Reagan was aspirational - he talked about the America we'd like to have, and (as heebie correctly points out) left it to Bush, Gingrich and Cheney to actually realize his dream. Obama, in a bit of sad irony, turns out to be all about small dreams and hopelessness.

Reagan used to cite FDR, but it was an effort to co-opt FDR, not emulate him. Obama wants us to know that Reagan had a point.

I'd like to see Obama say something like, "Wise leaders like Reagan support the Geneva Conventions," or "As Reagan did in Lebanon, we exercise our power prudently and promptly exit situations where our military presence is unwelcome and counterproductive."

The problem, of course, is that substantively Obama stands far to the right of Reagan on these issues. If only we could have a liberal like Reagan for president again! I suppose it's unreasonable to think that Americans can do without war, but a war in Grenada, say, is the next best thing to no war at all.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:58 AM
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73.penultimate: Reagan in 2008 would still be well to the right of Obama on those issues.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 7:02 AM
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Sorry about 73, but heebie really threw down the gauntlet in 5. If you're gonna play at being a contrarian, you gotta expect retaliation.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 7:07 AM
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In a potential reversal, White House advisers are close to recommending that President Barack Obama opt for military tribunals for self-professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four of his alleged henchman, senior officials said.

Than again, fuck this noise. The arc of empire is long, but it bends toward tyranny.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 7:09 AM
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ObamaRahma should take a long, hard look at these numbers. If y'all want to serve a second term, stop being wussy-washy sellouts.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 7:21 AM
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74: You're right, of course, that one can't judge a president outside the context of his time.

Clinton and Gore were centrists in an ugly conservative era, and are judged excessively harshly for their compromises. Obama doesn't have that excuse. He campaigned and got elected on a liberal platform that he has failed to carry out.

On the other hand, I'll regard Obama considerably more kindly if Congress actually passes a healthcare bill along the lines of what is currently contemplated.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 7:25 AM
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59: The stimulus gave $3 million to my community college. I like it a lot.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 7:34 AM
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You're right, of course, that one can't judge a president outside the context of his time.

Whenever I feel like trolling European lefties I make the argument that Clinton was way to the left of the Schroeder era SPD, based on the 'time and place' argument. I point out that while both reduced the social safety net, Schroeder also slashed taxes on the rich and corporations, Clinton not so much. They inevitably end up bringing up health care, and I respond by asking 'are you seriously arguing that Maggie was to the left of LBJ on socio-economic issues'?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 7:41 AM
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80 sounds like a great time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 7:44 AM
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||

Jesus fucking christ. I'm in the middle of a math scavenger hunt. Different people on campus have clues to pass out. One of my clues just e-mailed me to say she was cutting all her clues in half and only giving the students half of them.

I pretty much ran over there. She was giving them the math portion, and keeping the portion that told them how to convert their solution into the next location. Really, why would you take it upon yourself to start cutting the clues in half??

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:10 AM
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One of my clues just e-mailed me

Those are some high tech clues.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:11 AM
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I'm trying to understand what the political advantage of 76 is. Selling out the rule of law isn't going to make teabaggers like Obama; its going to make him look weak, and validate their tactics. Meanwhile, it will piss off a lot of his political allies who care about justice, lead to tons of negative press about "flip-flopping", and contribute to the narrative that, if his opponents can bitch loudly enough, Obama is willing to cave on just about anything.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:17 AM
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Really, why would you take it upon yourself to start cutting the clues in half??

I'm betting on "bone stupid".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:23 AM
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84: I am reminded of this exchange with John Bolton::

Host Melanie Morgan: Given the nature and danger of bringing these terrorists to American soil, where do you think is the most safe place to be when they get here and this trial begins? Where would you put your family?
John Bolton: Well, not New York City, I'm afraid to say. This is part of the callousness and the really, lack of professionalism and judgment to put them on trial anywhere in the United States in in civilian courts.

Obama is effectively conceding this point to Bolton.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:23 AM
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Either that or some kind of payola scheme to throw the result.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:24 AM
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84: I agree, the only "constituency" it will appease will be Broderella and his ilk. Gah. And even *they* will still continue to report national politics with the unstated assumption that the Teabaggers and IRS-building crashers have legitimate gripes rooted in the elite alien otherness of the "liberal" Dems at the top. (Unlike the down home familiarity of Jim Bunning as your demented uncle raving over Thanksgiving dinner.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:25 AM
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86: New York fucked that one up big time. "Must spend billions on fortressizing lower Manhattan". You don't deserve New York City, Bloombutt.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:28 AM
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Really, why would you take it upon yourself to start cutting the clues in half??

Did she not explain when you fetched up breathless on her doorstep?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:28 AM
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90: Sort of. I gave her about 8 copies of a sheet of paper to give to each team that stopped by. The sheet of paper had three parts:

Answer to Clue 1:

Clue 2: (math problem)

To find Clue 3: (Take your solution and do some algebra)

So she thought she should cut off the "Clue 3" part. I have no idea how I could have anticipated that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:32 AM
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How many people are still in Guantanamo? Are they still being interrogated?

My main interest in Cheney-era abuses is seeing the people responsible for torture named and punished. That did not happen and there is apparently no political will to do that. Letter of the law formality for the few most culpable in the 9/11 attacks is in my opinion less critical than keeping track of what happened to all those who were jailed for no good reason in a totally opaque system.

I was very happy that Obama met with the Dalai Lama, even if nothing important happpened. For China to have even delayed that meeting is pretty sad.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:32 AM
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Continuing 71 last, and leaving aside the reference to the role of the medieval church, or Late Rome,

Obama is not hard to understand, he is just a hardcore committed neo-liberal. Read Naomi. Late Capitalism and Late Empire requires (they think) an impervious confidant oligarchy that will divide the spoils in peacefully; a technocratic apolitical bureaucracy, and a passive intimidated undemanding distracted populace.

The poor and lumpenproletariat are no threat at all to a well-developed state, and; the educated middle class must be sub-proletarianized.

Obama is obviously in the Broder Wing of apoliticism rather than the Gandhi anarchist wing. Obama certainly wants to squash any hint of revolution, hope, and change. He wants us proles to get along so the plutocrats can do the real politics in the backrooms. Obama wanted tight control of the grassroots during the election, killed programs like Dean's "fifty-state strategy", pushes back gleefully against Move-On and Acorn, supports centrist corporatists like Lincoln and Specter against their progressive opponents, union-buster, etc etc.

He is the ultimate dis-empowering undemocratic President:quite possibly, on the most basic radical level, because politics is always more important than policy, the worst, most evil President I have ever endured, and maybe the worst in history.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:32 AM
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IRS-building crashers

Holy, shit. I hadn't even heard about the guy who shot two officers at the Pentagon last night.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:33 AM
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I have no idea how I could have anticipated that.

What about the "Clueless colleague determined to sabotage fun activity" daily briefing, Condi? Huh? huh?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:34 AM
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84 Idiot. Even if it did increase the chances of a terrorist attack, the overall risks of being killed or injured in one are so tiny as to make that irrelevant to concerns about safety. Then again, folks way overestimate risks of violent death over other kinds. I remember talking to a guy working in one of my local wine stores who was saying how scared he was ever evening because his wife had to walk home every night from the subway stop, while back in LA, where they were from, she was safe in her car.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:34 AM
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(Oh, comma; how I hate you.)


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:37 AM
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As I said during the campaign, given a couple simultaneous catastrophes like another economic collapse and another terrorist attack, I think Obama (not Bush) is exactly the kind of politician who will leap into

"Sacrifice all for the state, you plebes. And I, Obama, the lovebridge between all warring factions, am the state."

Fascism. You need to read about Mussolini.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:38 AM
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My main interest in Cheney-era abuses is seeing the people responsible for torture named and punished. That did not happen and there is apparently no political will to do that. Letter of the law formality for the few most culpable in the 9/11 attacks is in my opinion less critical than keeping track of what happened to all those who were jailed for no good reason in a totally opaque system.

I never expected any punishment, nor, realistically, do I believe it to be viable to punish political leaders for actions with very significant public support. My main problem with Obama on this topic is on the one his consistent support of many of the horrible civil liberties and secrecy aspects of the post 9/11 security regime, and on the other an unwillingness to vigorously use the bully pulpit to try to delegitimize torture and kangaroo courts.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:40 AM
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94:Maybe I need to revisit Neiwert.

The historical pattern is that right-wing violence becomes an excuse to crack down on the Left

The Lumpenproletariat is the authoritarian's tool.

And oh yeah, the President for Goldman Sachs ain't gonna give is decent health care. This bill must die.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:41 AM
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96 somehow fails to remember how "fear" works; i.e. it's completely rational for me to be more frightened of flying to L.A. than driving in it, even if I concede that the chance of death or injury is much higher in a car than in a plane.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:48 AM
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And oh yeah, the President for Goldman Sachs ain't gonna give is decent health care. This bill must die.

Just join the Republican party already, you've got the teaparty rhetoric down pat. Or give up on politics altogether. You seem to believe that it can never accomplish anything. But before you do, you might want to look in detail at the postwar construction of the European welfare state.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:49 AM
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i.e. it's completely rational for me to be more frightened of flying to L.A. than driving in it

Normal, but quite irrational.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:51 AM
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the worst, most evil President I have ever endured, and maybe the worst in history.

Your powers of endurance are truly remarkable, bob. I'm surprised you've been able to hold on this long.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:56 AM
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103: you've got a really constrained and restrictive concept of "rationality" if you think it's irrational that I hold a belief like that.

What do you actually mean, when you say "the risk of being killed or injured [during some activity]"? Presumably you've got something in mind for a concept like "risk" or "chance," and you've decided how I should make decisions (what it'd be 'rational' for me to do) based on that concept.

Ultimately, this is about control. I'm driving my car, but I'm not flying the plane that takes me to L.A.. It's perfectly rational for me to be more frightened in situations where I perceive myself to have less control.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:56 AM
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Bob, your use of words like "obviously" is idiotic. If it's really true that the smartest president in decades and the one who is most aware of the nation's actual problems is incredibly, incredibly evil, it will take people a while to accept that idea because it is so disturbing. The realization comes as a last resort.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:58 AM
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Ultimately, this is about control. I'm driving my car, but I'm not flying the plane that takes me to L.A.. It's perfectly rational for me to be more frightened in situations where I perceive myself to have less control.

Yes, but it's not rational to discount statistics in favor of the illusion of control.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:01 AM
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the smartest president in decades

What's the evidence that Obama is smarter than Clinton or Carter?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:02 AM
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My anti-Southern prejudices.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:04 AM
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101-109: Let's fight about *everything*. Friday Fight Day at Unfogged. Tweety's 2 was so WRONG!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:06 AM
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What's the evidence that every day isn't Fight Day at Unfogged?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:06 AM
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Yes, but it's not rational to discount statistics in favor of the illusion of control.

Where's the illusion? I've got my hands on the steering wheel, but not on the rudder of the plane -- that seems pretty real to me. I'm not claiming that I have complete control of my personal situation while driving, but to say that it's an illusion merely begs the question.

Less obtusely, you've taken the words I was using ("risk" and "chance") and converted it into a different thing ("statistic"). It's not at all clear that the two are the same thing. How do you get your statistic about driving deaths? You take the number of people who died in car accidents, and you divide it by some denominator -- number of drivers, or number of vehicles, or number of driver-miles, or something else. But what does this ratio actually tell me about my chance of dying when I get behind the wheel? (If you think that the "statistic" is identical with the "chance," then I've got some credit default swaps to sell you...)


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:07 AM
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112: Are you arguing that you're safer driving in LA than flying in a plane?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:08 AM
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111: No one talks about it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:10 AM
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111-2: Shhhh! The First Rule of Fight Day is you don't talk about Fight Day.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:11 AM
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How many miles are you driving in LA? Surely we all agree that the integrated risk of driving in LA vs fying to LA depends on the distance driven, and at some point crosses over to be greater.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:11 AM
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113: No, of course not. In fact, I'm irrationally afraid of driving altogether.

But the blithe conflation of statistics with actual "chances" or "risks" is a personal pet peeve, compounded by the weird assumptions that 103 seemed to be making about the way that fear should work (confusing the way s/he feels fear with the way anyone else gets frightened), and throw the misuse of the word "rational" into the mix for good measure.

Isn't this the place where we come to argue about pointless things over which we have no control?


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:12 AM
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Yes, but it's not rational to discount statistics in favor of the illusion of control.

One has far less control AND much less information while in a plane. Was that noise normal or did it mean we're missing something needed to keep this thing flying?

Anyway, study after study and history after history show that rationality is only a very thin veneer on the great majority of people. Hanging around people who ostenstibly put a high value on rationality tends to obscure that a bit (but only a bit).


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:12 AM
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Flying, even.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:12 AM
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If I had a car, I'd go out on the freeway. And if I had a pony, I'd ride it on my car.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:15 AM
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117: Oh come on. You, in 101, misused "rational". 103 didn't say anything about how fear should work, it just called you out on the word "rational".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:16 AM
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I'm driving my car, but I'm not flying the plane that takes me to L.A.. It's perfectly rational for me to be more frightened in situations where I perceive myself to have less control

Intuitive perhaps, but I'm the opposite way. I went down this road in a downpour in a VW bus (riding shotgun so I could see both the vistas and the driver steering with one hand so he could cross himself at each grave). I thought it was great fun, but I've rarely been more frightened than driving in traffic during the '98 El Nino storms.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:19 AM
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Stimulus in action: I'm eavesdropping on a job interview (at a coffeeshop because, you know, it's Austin). It seems to be going well. I hope she gets the job!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:19 AM
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Oh come on yourself -- I said, "rational for me" in 101, which I think is completely fair. Maybe you and teraz make your decisions about what to fear based on aggregate statistics. That could be rational for you, but it's not necessarily so for everyone.

And 117 should have said "96" instead of "103" -- that was the comment I was thinking of, that talked about "fear."


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:20 AM
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The first rule of Quine Club is that you don't talk about the first rule of Quine Club.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:22 AM
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125: I thought the first rule of Quine club was that we don't talk about rabbits?


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:22 AM
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Ultimately, this is about control. I'm driving my car, but I'm not flying the plane that takes me to L.A.. It's perfectly rational for me to be more frightened in situations where I perceive myself to have less control.

So it's irrational of me to have more fear skiing down a steep chute with a cliff at the end than while cruising over the Atlantic?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:23 AM
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126: ixnay on the abbitray.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:29 AM
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124: Oh, you can jump on 96. I just agreed with 103.


Posted by: h-g | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:30 AM
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The first rule of Equine Club is ponies for everyone!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:33 AM
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127: The point is, I don't know what it's ir/rational for you to fear.

I think that the fact that I fear skiing down a chute-with-a-cliff more than I fear flying over the Atlantic is pretty rational. But that's because, when you put me on skis, I have zero control over where I go, and furthermore I've never base-jumped before. If I were a world-class ski-jumper though, my personal calculus (equally rational) might come up with a different answer.

Look, you want an example? Let's take something easier to understand. Imagine I've got an old car to sell. I do a little research online, and I find that the "going price" for a car like this, on average, is $5000. I go to the dealer, and he offers me $4500. Is it rational for me to take it? (Let's assume I've got some reasonable linear-ish personal utility for dollars, and only dollars.)

I think we would agree it's not rational for me to sell my car at that price.

On the other hand, imagine that I have some private information -- I know that my car is a clunker, a lemon. It's got a serious defect, one that the dealer doesn't know about. Cars that have this defect typically sell for $500. Now is it rational to sell the car?

It probably is rational to sell, at this point.

This is my point -- aggregate statistics aren't the whole story. When you convert a number like "number of deaths per mile driven" to a "chance of dying," you're making an assumption. This is something like exchangeability -- you're assuming that every mile you drive is equivalent to any mile driven by anyone else who went into the statistic calculation. But when I get behind the wheel, I have more information -- I know something about my own state of mind, my abilities as a driver, where I'll be driving to, and what the condition of my car is. The statistic tells me something, but not everything, about my chance of dying. Even if we agree that rationality demands that I fear things which have a higher "chance" of death or injury more than things with lower chances, it doesn't follow that aggregate driving statistics dictate what I should fear more or less.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:35 AM
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Even if we agree that rationality demands that I fear things which have a higher "chance" of death or injury more than things with lower chances, it doesn't follow that aggregate driving statistics dictate what I should fear more or less.

Sure, but people clearly fail to meet this condition of rationality when it comes to fear, all the time. They're not bad and wrong and terrible, they're just irrational.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:38 AM
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I'm so confused. 131 is about rationally making use of all available information to assess a probability. But I thought you were telling us that we shouldn't care about probabilities and should instead base fear on touchy-feely notions like "being in control".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:39 AM
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"Yields 'I am not talking about Quine club' when appended to its quotation" yields "I am not talking about Quine club" when appended to its quotation.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:39 AM
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132 was me. Also 132 was not very clear. I just mean "Sure, statistics is a poor way to dictate rational fear. But under any construction of rational fear, most people fail. And that's okay, except when it's not."


Posted by: h-g | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:40 AM
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133: a shorter 131 would have been,

"statistics" are not the same thing as "probability/chance/risk/whatever"

Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:40 AM
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And that's okay, except when it's not.

Comity!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:41 AM
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We have nothing to fear but rationality itself ... and Obama!

</mcmanus>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:42 AM
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Also, I'm not trying to argue that "people are rational," when it comes to fear or anything else.

I was simply responding to 96, which refers to someone as an "idiot" for not aligning their relative fears with the relative ordering of aggregate statistics on death and injury.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:42 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:44 AM
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"statistics" are not the same thing as "probability/chance/risk/whatever"

That's fair. But the right statistics are pretty close to probabilities, compared to the wrong statistics. "Risk of dying per mile of air travel" is what's usually quoted, but since accidents are not equally probable for every mile of air travel (they're more likely on takeoff or landing), probably what we want is more like "risk of dying on flights to LA from [wherever]", or, if we can't obtain that number, something more like "risk of dying on flights of [approximate length]".

I'm not really clear on what's being argued about, anyway. Off to swim lunch.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:45 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:46 AM
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What's the probability that someone is more scared of statistics than odds?


Posted by: h-g | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:47 AM
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It depends on your view of probabilities of course. Some interpretations of probability just _are_ statistical interpretations.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:50 AM
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Yes, but rabbits-terrified-by-traffic-and running are not the same as rabbits-stewed-by-my-foxy-sister-in-law.

The canonical answer for information is that we are not rational calculators, but social minds that have evolved to seek patterns and to understand impersonal phenomena as interpersonal conflicts. Basically, people systematically overestimate how useful their information is and how well they can discount their biases.

You do actually have information about flying as well-- the size of the airplane and the accident history of airports are available before you fly. Driving is many orders of magnitude more dangerous than flying. People don't actually care about ameliorating risk, because the information about which places are most dangerous to drive exists (insurance companies aggregate it), but is not published systematically, and nobody complains about this. Furthermore, where there is conflict between revenue generation and public safety in designing speed limits or setting up traffic cams, IME revenue wins, always.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:51 AM
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Maybe it's risky to let revenue lose. Will no one think of the poor venture capitalists?


Posted by: h-g | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:53 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:56 AM
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131 What I meant was that in the skiing scenario I am in a situation where if I fall and don't stop myself in time, I die. No parachute, just a narrow traverse to safety at the bottom of the chute. I'm a good skier and feel a very high degree of control when skiing, that's part of the fun of it. But it doesn't mean I never fall, nor that doing this sort of thing isn't considerably more risky than flying. As a result, I feel a perfectly rational sense of fear in the skiing situation that I don't in the plane. In fact lack of control can lead to lack of fear. Right after 9/11 I assumed the friendly al-Qaeda folks would also do standard suicide bombings with the subway as a prime target. But the odds of me in particular being in a bombing were low and there wasn't a thing I could do about it, so it wasn't worth worrying about.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:57 AM
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If you are a substantially above average driver the statistics may not apply to you. Sadly, the statistics show that the majority of drivers think they are substantially above average. Statistically speaking the chances are that you are deluded if you think you are well above average in driving skills.

Driving gives one a sense of control, but there are still plenty of other drivers out there who think they are so far above average that they can freely text on their cellphone while driving. There's a very real advantage to traveling in a vehicle operated by a professional with thousands of hours of training, and which is subject to a far lower chance of collisions than a car.

Incidentally, if you want to know roughly where you stand in terms of accident risk, look at your insurance rates relative to others. The insurance companies do a pretty good job of evaluating your risk of an accident - those that don't go out of business.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:00 AM
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I thought the first rule of Quine club was that we don't talk about rabbits?

No, that's the first rule of Hare Club for Men.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:01 AM
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It depends on your view of probabilities of course. Some interpretations of probability just _are_ statistical interpretations.

Sure, but this is independent of my point. I'll stipulate that my 'fear' should match the chance of death or injury, and I'll further stipulate that I believe probabilities _are_ statistical interpretations. I decide I'm going to go to L.A., and since I believe myself to be a perfectly average driver in a perfectly average car, I find that the danger of flying (deaths per flight) is significantly lower than the chance of death from driving (calculated in terms of death per mile-driven). Because I fear flying-to-LA less than driving-to-LA, I decide to buy a plane ticket.

But when I get to the airport, and in the lounge, I see the captain of my plane -- and I can tell that he's drunk.

Now things have changed: I still believe probabilities to be statistical interpretations, but now the relevant statistical interpretation is not "deaths per flight" but probably something like "deaths per flight-with-a-drunken-captain." I don't know the value of this new statistic, it may not even have been calculated before, but I'm willing to bet it's significantly more dangerous than driving out to L.A. It could still be perfectly rational for me to head back out to the parking lot, get in my car, and start driving...

The point is information and modeling, I think, not a subjectivist or frequentist or mystical interpretation of words like "probability," "chance," or "risk."


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:01 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:04 AM
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BUT WHAT ARE THE SAFETY STATISTICS FOR TROLLEY CARS???


Posted by: OPINIONATED FAT MAN | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:06 AM
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What are insurance rates on the sad and lonely?


Posted by: h-g | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:08 AM
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... as in empirically confirmed

I await your non-mystical reading of those words too. I bet it'll be deep and illuminating.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:09 AM
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Quine to fight all night! Quine to fight all day!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:09 AM
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||

I'm grading the essays now, on the topics from the thread a few weeks ago. "In a world that is literally against us, how are we, as mere humans, supposed to protect ourselves?" Indeed.

|>


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:12 AM
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The two things this person would teach an 8th grader about are thunderstorms and tornadoes. Very literal essay, this.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:14 AM
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Last two are from me.


Posted by: h-g | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:14 AM
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157: Shoes, right?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:19 AM
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The first rule of Quine club: no entity without identity.

The second rule of Quine club: to be is to be the value of a bound variable.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:26 AM
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Great first chapter, but no plot.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:29 AM
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By the way, you can probably delete 155 (and this comment, while we're at it) too.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:32 AM
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You know who took a class taught by Quine? Ted Kaczynski! (Also Tom Lehrer.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:41 AM
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You know who the democrats should have been all bipartisan with? Nixon:

http://www.seefirstblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/abelson-grfk-popup.gif

If Obama doesn't get anything done he will have squandered a rare opportunity.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:41 AM
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And do you know who was alive while Quine was?

Hitler.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 11:18 AM
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92.1(a) -- 188 I think, although maybe it's 184.

92.2 -- Candidate Obama was very clear about prosecution, and among mature people the trade-off would have been reasonable (but wrong). The opposition is not mature, but is lapsing into mouth-foaming charges of treason (along with the specious claim that Yoo was exonerated). See Greenwald's post on Blitzer/Murrow.

Moving the prosecutions is a huge mistake. On multiple levels. The lowest of these is that they won't even get anything for it, as noted above.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 11:25 AM
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One of the most basic characteristics of rationality has to be that it leads us to true beliefs. If a mental habit, like over-valuing the the perception of being in control when taking risks, systematically leads us to false risk assessments, it can't be rational.

The other unanalyzed term here is "control." Sure in may car I am in control of where the wheels go, but I am not in control of most of the potential causes of an accident, like road conditions and other drivers. The thing I have control over looms large in my perception, but isn't much of a factor in my safety.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 11:32 AM
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102:Just join the Republican party already, you've got the teaparty rhetoric down pat. Or give up on politics altogether.

The ones who killed both Ernst Roehm and the Communists were not righteous in their evenhandedness.

And the "If you criticize Obama, you are just as bad as the racists and wingnuts, in fact, objectively agreeing with them." meme somehow led me again to think that Arendt's famous phrase could perhaps better be understood by inverting it to "the evil of banality."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 11:34 AM
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Bob, did you ever see my question to you in the other thread somewhere? I asked it twice.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 11:36 AM
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Heebie wants you to marry her, Bob. She was going to ask you on the scoreboard at a Mavs game (so romantic!), but she chickened out. So this will have to do.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 11:37 AM
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Bob, picking on the weak, near enemy when doing so strengthens the strong, far enemy, is exactly the sort of thing that takes systems down. And not in a good way.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 11:40 AM
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I'm starting to suspect I'm being turned down.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 11:42 AM
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169.2 gets an F in logic class.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 11:47 AM
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The other unanalyzed term here is "control."

I thought that going on about, "I know what kind of driver I am, I know the condition of my car" was an attempt at explicating the touchy-feely notion of "control," though.

"I'm in control" means, "I know that I'm behind the wheel, and that a mile driven by me is not exchangeable with a mile driven by a randomly chosen driver and assimilated into a national driving statistic."


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 11:50 AM
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The problem is that the kind of driver you are and the condition of your car aren't the biggest risk factors. Even if you are an above average driver, the drivers around you are likely to be average drivers and any one of them can cause an accident.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 11:58 AM
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She's lost control. Again.


Posted by: Ian Curtis | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:01 PM
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The problem is that the kind of driver you are and the condition of your car aren't the biggest risk factors.

A lot of people surely believe that, and obviously you do too, but I don't -- so it's not enough to simply assert it. If you had evidence to back it up (a study that enumerates different factors in accidents and attempts to evaluate their relative importance), I'd be willing to be convinced otherwise. My personal feeling is that the attention and caution one displays behind the wheel is a huge component to the risk involved in driving.

More generally, I thought the original argument (from 96) was something like this:
A. People are more often afraid of flying than driving.
B. For 'rational' people, level-of-fear should track level-of-danger. [this is sort of unstated, but assumed.]
C. But the dangers involved in flying are much lower than those involved in driving.
D. Therefore, these 'idiots' in (A) are 'irrational'.

And I responded that, even if I'm willing to stipulate A. and B., that there's a flaw in C -- the evidence cited for C, that aggregate flying statistics are much 'better' than aggregate driving statistics (completely true), doesn't imply that every person in A who fears flying more than driving is irrational. The aggregate statistics could be wrong. Some of them may have private information. And of course, some of them may fail to satisfy the unstated assumption B -- it might not be psychologically realistic to assume that "fear" should track "personal assessment of the chance of dying" at all.

At any rate, it might not be 'irrational' in any sense, to fear flying more than driving. But then again, I'm afraid of everything so maybe I'm not the right person to be arguing about this.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:12 PM
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176: Being able to avoid accidents that would have been the other driver's fault is a big part of what being an above average driver is all about.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:13 PM
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178: "doesn't imply that every person in A who fears flying more than driving is irrational"
s/b
"doesn't imply that drivers can't assess their personal risk with more accuracy than just using a national statistic."

I've taken up too much of this thread already, so I'll let it rest for a while.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:15 PM
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157-8 is awesome. I have a stack to grade, and, unfortunately, I don't think there's anything moronic in the bunch. I need variety, folks!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:25 PM
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You know who was a careful driver?

Hitler.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:27 PM
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181: That's some variety! A teacher complaining about papers that are too good!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:28 PM
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182: My friends were terrible drivers, though.


Posted by: Hitler | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:31 PM
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Which does not necessarily mean that flying was a safer way to travel in Europe between 1939 and 1945.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:37 PM
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186: DRIVING WAS NO WALK IN THE PARK EITHER!


Posted by: OPINIONATED GEORGE S. PATTON | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:42 PM
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Neither was walking in the park.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:44 PM
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And it remained dangerous for decades thereafter.


Posted by: Grace Kelly | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:46 PM
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Mr. Blandings was ambiguous and should clarify.
Way OT at this point, but I intended to argue as follows:
- The stimulus worked.
- It was nevertheless far smaller than it should have been.
- Many people have been convinced that it did not work.
- A stimulus that was appropriately sized would have made it significantly harder for those at the persuadable end of that spectrum to hold that false belief.
- At the end of the legislative process, Obama praised the final stimulus package as the right amount for the job.
- Had he achieved a stimulus package large enough to fully address the problem, i.e., large enough to match his rhetoric, he would have demonstrated the power of government to solve problems.
- Had he toned down his rhetoric to match the actual package, calling it not enough but the best we could do and still necessary, he would not have devalued his rhetoric.
- He can't change everyone's beliefs in a more liberal fashion if his results don't match the way he speaks about his policies, which is to say he can't both be a frustrating centrist and profoundly change our rhetoric.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:46 PM
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A thread with a lot of discussion (and some pictures) on Hitler and driving.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:52 PM
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Arthegall is of course mostly correct; if you assume yourself to be an above-average driver, that would mean that your risk of dying in a single-car accident or an accident where you were at fault would be decreased. I'm not going to google it, but I think we can assume that (counting single car) accidents where the injured party is at fault make up a significant portion of accidents.

On the other hand, there is a great deal of research showing that people are, by and large, extremely poor at accurately judging their own driving ability, so while it might be correct that an above-average driver would be less likely to get into an accident -- and that might be enough to tip the scales and make driving safer than flying -- it also very well may be true that arthegall is, as is typical, overestimating his own driving ability.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:55 PM
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You know who was a really good driver? Dale Earnhardt. And look how he ended up.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 12:57 PM
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an above-average driver would be less likely to get into an accident -- and that might be enough to tip the scales and make driving safer than flying

My sense of the statistics, which could be totally wrong, is that the rate of injury or death on commercial flights is so very much lower than the rate for driving that even the very best drivers are still safer on a plane. But dammit, I'm a lawyer, not a statistician.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:00 PM
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193: that could certainly be the case.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:02 PM
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Unfortunately this thread has gotten extremely boring.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:07 PM
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192: I can't believe you didn't go with Senna there.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:13 PM
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195: I used to see that thing driving around Madison, WI all the time. Also, the driver was very skilled, and thus much, much less likely to be killed in a wreck while behind the wheel than when flying out of Dane County Regional Airport. And, given our discussion, I should probably note that my judgments regarding driving ability, both my own and other peoples', are unusually acute.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:15 PM
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Quit being obtuse, ari.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:16 PM
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Ari knows a well-driven weiner when he sees one.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:16 PM
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I think everyone who has been arguing about statistics and probabilities here should instead go shout at "libertarian" on John Quiggin's post "Lindzen and 'No statistically significant warming since 1995'" over at Crooked Timber.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:19 PM
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I can't believe you didn't go with Senna there.

Had to look that one up. I can only name about a dozen NASCAR drivers. The only F1 driver I could name is Mario Andretti. And now Ayrton Senna.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:21 PM
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201: Um, the guy who's married to Ashley Judd. Franchetti? Something like that.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:24 PM
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196 see 64.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:25 PM
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And Michael Andretti! I knew two!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:27 PM
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Leaving aside the death-while-driving and death-while-flying statistics, I'd like to push back on the charge of idiocy for those whose fears fail to track the true underlying risks. There's fear, and then there's deciding whether or not to be governed by that fear.

IME there's nothing rational about feeling fear. When I'm afraid of something, nothing makes me want to lash out like being told that I'm wrong to be afraid, or mistaken about being afraid. (It's more afraid of me than I am of it? No way: my heart's pounding, my head's swimming, my breathing's fast and shallow.) Fear is physical, visceral, instinctive. Rationality comes into play in reasserting control and figuring out what to do next. I am still going to be very damn afraid when I grab a shoe and smash the bug. If I fail to do that, then sure, tell me I'm an idiot for not processing the fear and seeing how far separated from any real risk it is. But don't tell me I'm an idiot for feeling unjustified fear.

(Note also that, if there were any sort of rational control over what one fears, I would choose less girly fears. The bug thing is just embarrassing.)


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:28 PM
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Sorry to post and run, but I have to take a prospective grad student to lunch. Now that's someone who's probably not afraid enough.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:29 PM
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204: Ah, Dario Francitti. And of course Jean Girard.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:29 PM
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207: +h


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:29 PM
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200: That guy's freaky, but there's no point in trying to argue with true believers. Anyone who seems to be writing shit like this

The plateau is significant for the models. They don't exhibit that kind of decadal variability. There's a good reason for that: they're programmed for CO2 to produce warming, not so much to model the more complex processes in the climate system (since many of them are still not well-understood). So all they can do when you pump up CO2 is show a largely monotonic temperature rise.

with a straight face deserves to get laughed out of the room, a task which "Barry" and "onymous" seemed to be handling quite well...


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:30 PM
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Has none of you heathens heard of Michael Schumacher? The man has won eleventy billion F1 races.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:30 PM
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I drove good, but boy did they drive bad.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:32 PM
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Holy hell. I was asking for more political content on Today's Unfogged the other day, wasn't I? And now I come back and see this. What was I thinking?

Changing rhetoric cannot change reality. Rhetoric does not manufacture reality. That is magical thinking. After eight bloody years of watching the Shrub and his crew prove this over and over and over and over again, people need reminding? Srsly? I used to make fun of McManus for alleging that Obama defenders really thought like this.

"Smart" is a largely meaningless piece of information, at least as far as assessing whether someone's politics are worthwhile and constructive. Condi Rice was "smart." Colin Powell was "smart." Nixon and Kissinger were "smart." Say what you like about Francis Fukuyama, his flaw wasn't in not being "smart." Being "smart" and well-spoken is all well and good and all, but it is not a substitute for having judgment, or perspective, or contact with reality.

There is no "even if in practice he is a frustrating centrist." Centrism is an integral part of the rot afflicting American politics, and its consequent effect on global events. It's not some side issue. Movementarianism would not have gotten as far as it's done without centrism there to enable it, and suck up to it, and vacillate about it, and try to pretend to be in dialogue with it. If he's still a "centrist" by the end of his presidency, then in all likelihood his will be a largely failed Presidency.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:32 PM
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The brothers I know who are my age and have never worked because of their vast inherited wealth are Formula Un drivers, too! Theoretically!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:33 PM
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210: Similarly, I couldn't tell you who the Michael Jordan of cricket is, either. Or any other cricket player, for that matter.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:35 PM
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. Rhetoric does not manufacture reality.

Wrong.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:35 PM
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(Well, at least the thread moved on to driving. Far be it from me to carjack it back into politics.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:35 PM
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214: An acquaintance's father is a very well known former cricket player. The acquaintance is a fairly well known contemporary artist, and so if he is interviewed by a British or Australian or West Indian publication, he is always, always asked about his dad.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:38 PM
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215: No U!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:40 PM
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213: Hey, "theoretically" never flies into the stands to kill several dozen spectators, so, you know, it's got that going for it.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:42 PM
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215: Your condescending rhetoric created a reality in I was prompted to reply with extreme brevity.

I do agree with you on the relative irrelevance of "smart".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:50 PM
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214: Jimminy.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:50 PM
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212: If rhetoric can't change reality, then why do you spend so much effort lecturing?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:52 PM
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220: No, it didn't. You replied with extreme brevity because you're a terrorist and you were making a bomb.

Reality Bites, mofo.

I do agree with you on the relative irrelevance of "smart".

Oh good! Thanks! It turns out the bomb I thought you were making is in fact an angel food cake, and you're not a terrorist after all. Bad intelligence there, I guess.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:54 PM
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a task which "Barry" and "onymous" seemed to be handling quite well...

"onymous" is me (when commenting on most blogs other than this one).


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:54 PM
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It turns out the bomb I thought you were making is in fact an angel food cake

Nope. Yellow cake.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:56 PM
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Changing rhetoric cannot change reality. Rhetoric does not manufacture reality. That is magical thinking.

No, it's not. JFK was an awful, anti-labor plutocrat who had the FBI digging up dirt on Martin Luther King. The rhetoric he used, OTOH, inspired a whole lot of less-awful but kind of gullible people who listened to what JFK said rather than paying attention to what he did to take progressive political action.

Rhetoric can change reality by causing people to take action, even when the speaker isn't doing much else to bring about the goals of the rhetoric.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 1:59 PM
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224: Your #82 pretty much won that thread, so I'd be surprised if libertarian shows his face around there any time soon.


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:01 PM
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205 sounds like what I'd call phobia rather than fear, with the distinction being whether the fear is based on a perception of actual danger. Once I learned to recognize where a wave was going to break, I didn't just learn how to control fear, I stopped being fearful at all if I was outside the zone of danger. And so on.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:02 PM
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225: YOU STOP THAT THIS INSTANT!


Posted by: OPINIONATED JOHN BOLTON | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:02 PM
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Changing rhetoric cannot change reality. Rhetoric does not manufacture reality. That is magical thinking. After eight bloody years of watching the Shrub and his crew prove this over and over and over and over again, people need reminding?

This seems to be pretty much the opposite of what W proved. I mean, okay, correlation ain't causation, but do you disagree that there was a dramatic change in the nature of political rhetoric in the Bush years? Or do you see that change in rhetoric as being irrelevant to the changes in policy.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:06 PM
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I DIDN'T SEE ANY YELLOW CAKE!


Posted by: OPINIONATED JOSEPH WILSON | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:06 PM
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||
Anyone following the Vatican choir prostitution story? I'm trying to understand if the choir was a personal farm team for Angelo Balducci or if there was a more widespread clientèle.
|>


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:08 PM
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227: Thanks, it's always nice to win a thread.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:11 PM
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173:Jammies is undoubtedly bigger and meaner than I am, but I am very flattered by the offer. Wait.

Hey Bob, are you enough of a revolutionary to cheer when things get worse?

I actually ignored this because I though a mere variant in Farber's ancient accusation that I delight in apocalypse.

"Things get worse."is overbroad. Katrina? Haiti? No.

No. I was horrified by 9/11, beyond the normal horror, because I knew who was President. Some exogenous political events, or actions by political authorities, can have nothing but bad and divisive outcomes, or be unpredictable or uncontrollable.

Some responses by political activists are simply worth doing for their own sakes, or simply have to be done for the sake of one's self-respect, without a calculated
analysis of the consequences and outcomes.

Fuck if I know whether current student activism in California is correct theory or praxis, or if such activism times ten (Burn It ALL DOWN) would then become wrong or counterproductive; or if correct revolutionary theory should be determinative, or if I am in a position to judge. Revolution is hard.

But I think the tuition increases were a bad thing. The Great Depression was a bad thing. WWI was a bad thing. I didn't "do them", and I would feel no guilt in using them as opportunities.

Kornilov was probably net good, and maybe even Kerensky's desire to continue fighting WWI. How wrong Rosa & Karl were, and in what way they were wrong, (and Bavaria and Vienna) remains arguable. The Vendee was a horror, but Valmy remains controversial, believe it or not. I celebrate Valmy and Bastille Day.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:12 PM
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"Obama: at least he talks the talk!"

I'm with DS. There is no rhetoric so great that it can't be wholly undermined by bad faith. The only thing worth having is honest-to-goodness, good faith leftist non-rhetorical action (even in part, though in whole is better).

Is it possible that another Great Depression (one Great enough that it is unambiguously acknowledged; no more of this "economic downturn" baloney) might lead to another FDR (where 'FDR' is a label for whatever worthwhile labor advances were achieved post-GW and post-WWII)? If so, maybe bob should vote Republican, if the alternative is extending our 1920s by another 8 years. Then again, I don't really understand how America escaped straight-up fascism in the 30s.


GB: forget about "stupid" and forget about "irrational" (though a means-ends, 'initial ends are exempt from rational evaluation' conception of rationality is by no means compulsory), what about "coward"?


Posted by: Yrruk | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:13 PM
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Sorry, post-GW s/b post-GD.


Posted by: Yrruk | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:14 PM
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225: My God... Stormcrow must be that elusive Number Two Man in Al Qaeda! We've finally got him!

226: JFK was an awful, anti-labor plutocrat who had the FBI digging up dirt on Martin Luther King.

Actually, a lot of Johnson's Great Society legislation took up where stalled JFK New Frontier legislation had left off. The Kennedys were sonsofbitches, but the "absolutely everything about the Kennedys was the diametric opposite of popular imagination" meme is false. Great Society itself was made possible by the reality of having a labor movement to work with.

Point being that there was a lot more going on than rhetoric "inspiring" people. There are a lot of steps between "shifting the rhetoric" and changing reality, enough of them that describing a shift in rhetoric -- which in itself is supposed to happen how, exactly? are the movementarians all going to vanish? is the media going to stop internalizing the anti-progressive editorial message of the people who own the outlets? -- as changing reality is fatuous.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:16 PM
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Sorry, post-GW s/b post-GD.

Don't worry, it will be.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:19 PM
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I don't really understand how America escaped straight-up fascism in the 30s.

Dumb luck.

Elite disdain of Southern whites.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:20 PM
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And I truly Obama's "HCR" will make things, healthcare, quality of life, and redistribution things worse. It will do so in such a way, and with enough distracting improvements for some, that "things" will not be able to be improved any further for several lifetimes.

The "this is the last and only chance for a generation" and "It's ok, we will fix it next year" arguments made simultaneously by the proponents show just how insane the discourse has become.

Or it could simply be a quick looting before the crash.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:20 PM
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is the media going to stop internalizing the anti-progressive editorial message

Why should this matter? It's just rhetoric, and we know that rhetoric doesn't change anything.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:21 PM
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Okay, but saying that there's a lot more going on than rhetoric is a far cry from saying that rhetoric is nothing. It doesn't make Obama a great, or even a good president. But every whirly-eyed goofball who thinks Obama is Progressive Jesus and goes out and does stuff on that basis is doing something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:21 PM
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230: This seems to be pretty much the opposite of what W proved.

The Bush White House labored in what appeared at times to be a genuine belief that if they said a thing enough times, it would be so. They were actually proud of this -- hence the infamous staffer quote about how they'd left behind the "reality-based" community. Reality didn't matter, literally, as long as they controlled the message. It's exactly why they were wrong-footed when the WMD's they'd concocted on Saddam Hussein's behalf turned out not to actually be there.

Of course, they influence reality in plenty of other ways. Just not ways that were intentional.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:26 PM
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Remember the other day when LB and Apo were saying that many of their ostensibly Democratic peers hold some very Reaganesque beliefs? I think it was on the teachers union thread. Obama's rhetoric could similarly take hold in this generation of teenagers, if he is repetitious and on-message for the next seven years.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:26 PM
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242: Okay, but saying that there's a lot more going on than rhetoric is a far cry from saying that rhetoric is nothing.

I'm hyperbolizing a bit on account of I think people need to get out of the apparent mindset that rhetoric is enough. If what one has to defend about Obama is having good rhetoric, maybe one oughtn't to be defending him.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:29 PM
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My pet theory about the 60s is that a lot of people believed in JFKs rhetoric when young, and finding out the reality when older radicalized them. I could see Obama producing the same effect.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:32 PM
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If so, maybe bob should vote Republican, if the alternative is extending our 1920s by another 8 years. Then again, I don't really understand how America escaped straight-up fascism in the 30s.

Of course, first I want my Post-Keynesian policy prescriptions, like say, "Employer of Last Resort" and Bank Nationalization (actually a National Bank), implemented, both to alleviate suffering and to prevent the Coming Depression

That isn't in the cards, so how should I feel about the Bank Bailout? It will preserve the present system for a short while, guarantee another crash in the medium term, and drain away resources from job creation and support of state and local budgets. But no bailout, and GS is/was/will be willing and able to take it all down. For a while, with not totally predictable results.

?????

Ok, the point is a crash created by a principled left stand is kinda like Valmy or Kornilov. The left doesn't cause ir, but can use it. A crash that comes after sucking Jamie Dimon an Blankfein will not serve the left well at all. The odds were better with no bailout.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:34 PM
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242,245.

All the rhetoric in the world won't make up for Summers, Geithner, and Bernanke after the banks go down again.

And what DS is saying. It is all just despicable bad faith.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:37 PM
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Bank Nationalization (actually a National Bank)

Those seem like very different things... you probably hold contrarian views on John Law too, right?


Posted by: arthegall | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:41 PM
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a lot of people believed in JFKs rhetoric when young, and finding out the reality when older radicalized them.

Did JFK really have that much rhetoric? I thought it was all post-mortem nostalgia.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:41 PM
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250: From Kennedy's Inaugural Address: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:43 PM
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If the banks go down soon enough, then it doesn't matter. The Republicans take over in 2012, and destroy the country. Our best bet is to hope the crash doesn't come yet. If the economy improves, then the Democrats keep power past 2012, and with luck the extremist elements of the Republicans will be demoralized and discredited.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:46 PM
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That's more starry-eyed than anyone else's inaugural address?

I think the 60s had so much going on that it would be impossible to pin any resulting generational pattern on JFK's rhetoric as president.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:47 PM
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253: You don't want anyone on your side, do you?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:52 PM
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JFK: "When we got into office, the thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we'd been saying they were."


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 2:57 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:00 PM
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249:Maybe it would help if I made clear:

A National Bank not The National Bank.

A Bank that lends to the productive and consuming sector.

I also would not have nationalized all the banks, not the the thousands of small community banks. Just the Death Squids.

252: What is happening is that those smaller community banks are getting wrecked by CRE, and by the competitive advantages the Obama administration have given the investment banks. There will be consolidation, where the sharks eat the minnows at firesale prices supported by Sheila and rebuild their balance sheets and equity prices.

It has all been for GS. It is astonishing corruption.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:00 PM
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The Bush White House labored in what appeared at times to be a genuine belief that if they said a thing enough times, it would be so. They were actually proud of this -- hence the infamous staffer quote about how they'd left behind the "reality-based" community. Reality didn't matter, literally, as long as they controlled the message. It's exactly why they were wrong-footed when the WMD's they'd concocted on Saddam Hussein's behalf turned out not to actually be there.

Again: I draw the exact opposite lesson. The Bushies didn't harp on WMD in order for there to be WMD. They harped on WMD in order to invade Iraq. Which they did.

And when they got caught, they weren't "wrong-footed" - quite the reverse. Bush was elected president after being busted on WMD.

Here's Suskind's narrative about the reality-based community:

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

When I first read that, I snickered my elitist snicker along with the liberal intellectuals. But guess what? A half-dozen years later, we're still in Iraq and it's the liberals who look like dopes, not Suskind's interlocutor.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:04 PM
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253: You don't want anyone on your side, do you?

Good point. We're so right.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:04 PM
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257: I am not anything like an expert on the industry, but my first impulse when there was a threat of a total lockup of the financial sector was to seek a way to peel off the individuals who make lending decisions from their corporate superstructure and let them make loans directly backed by the Treasury. Obviously that doesn't tackle the problem of making bad loans in the first place, but at least it fucks the management, which is a big fat plus in my book.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:08 PM
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The "this is the last and only chance for a generation" and "It's ok, we will fix it next year" arguments made simultaneously by the proponents show just how insane the discourse has become.

If you can't see the difference between (a) if it fails we won't get another chance for a generation and (b) if it passes we can improve it next year, it's your good faith that's brought into question.

These are better expressed as (a) if it fails, we face catastrophic losses in November 2010 -- which is exactly why the Republicans are going all in for failure -- and that failure plus the losses will preclude any effort for a generation and (b) if it passes, we just barely have a shot at preserving the narrowest of working majorities. I have never -- not once -- seen a credible refutation of either (a) or (b) from you. Granted, I might well have missed it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:11 PM
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I have This on my desktop and This in my browser, and every morning I tell myself I will stay away from blogs.

I need to read, not write. At least some today.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:11 PM
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258: Your elitist snicker was correct. The liberals -- the "centrist" ones, anyway -- look like dopes because they're too craven to pull out of Iraq, confront the torture policies, and generally take actual political advantage of the blunders resulting from the "history's actors" nonsense... not because any of those things were good ideas or worked out well.

Weren't they wrong-footed on WMD? It was the beginning of conservatives defecting from the Republican party to the Democrats. It led to a collapse in movementarian credibility that eventually cost them the White House -- to a black guy named "Hussein Obama" of all things -- in an era where they were supposed to be permanently own the White House thanks to a perpetual boost from the "War on Terror." Again, the centrists look stupid because they're still "triangulating" against the nonexistent policy positions of these jokers, not because the whole thing worked out well.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:15 PM
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(b) if it passes, we just barely have a shot at preserving the narrowest of working majorities.

Well, this is easy.

With the Blue Dogs, "we," for any meaning that includes myself, currently don't have a working majority and after the Republicans gain 10-20 seats, the Republicans will have a working majority even with in technical minority.

a) Most pundits think that extraordinary losses in November will be almost entire attributable to the economy, with the healthcare bill nearly irrelevant.

Statisticians have disproved the myth of "momentum" in basketball, too.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:17 PM
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Statisticians have disproved the myth of "momentum" in basketball, too.

They've disproved the "hot hand" for individuals. I don't know of any studies about whether teams can get "hot" or "cold" but there's no reason to assume that the findings about individuals generalize to the team.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:31 PM
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264 -- Fair enough; maybe some day your faction will prevail. But I don't think it's fair to call people who are part of a "we" that is a narrow majority on some significant issues "insane."

I should think that the HCR arrangement currently on the table would be better for someone who's lost their job on account of the recession that what your faction is capable of delivering for this round: ie, nothing. That is, I think success with HCR would mitigate to some considerable extent supporter apathy due to the economy. Maybe not in Texas, but that you guys aren't going to be getting rid of Sen. Cornyn this time 'round anyway.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:43 PM
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You know who had "momentum"?

Hitler. But then he didn't play within himself in the 2nd half.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 3:44 PM
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conservatives defecting from the Republican party to the Democrats

When did this happen? You mean independents, right? And as Bob says, all of this is largely moot: the trajectory of the economy will, to a great extent, determine electoral outcomes. The real issue, it seems to me, is the range in which discussions about public policy are going to proceed. How narrow or wide the band of reasonable -- with the definition of "reasonable" provided by some small group of actors (people of the Broderian ilk) -- will be. Will public goods be public? Will they be any good? And the shape of this discussion, I think but certainly can't prove, will hinge on how people feel about government. At least since Reagan, people in this country have, by and large, believed that government is wasteful and corrupt. Can anyone change their minds? Will anyone try? If they do and can, it could be quite meaningful, as the spectrum of policy options available will then increase.

Of course all of the above is predicated on my sense that government can be a force for good.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 4:03 PM
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Kornilov was probably net good, and maybe even Kerensky's desire to continue fighting WWI

Either you're arguing that they were a net good because they helped bring about the October Revolution and the candy and flowers for all that it entailed, or umh what?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 4:32 PM
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For heebie, re:"worse to get better"

Richard Estes with links on California Education Riots

Ian Welsh with a positive interpretation

Bonus Army

I guess the thing is, separating the Bonus Army from its causes, its tragic conclusion, its possibly positive aftermath in order to judge those aspects in approval or disapproval, seems hard for me. Reductionist. Nor can I confidently tell a Cal student or WWI Vet what to feel or what to do.

And the same applies to Chicago 68, or god forgive me, Weather Underground.

It is how these events are used by those in a position to use them that is important. Are they interpreted and used for revolutionary change or to regain and enforce existing order and institutions?

The problem is with those who said the Chicago 7 were wrong, went too far. Believe it or not, there weren't many of those at the time. They have popped up afterwards, to the detriment of the nation.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 4:46 PM
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Either you're arguing that they were a net good because they helped bring about the October Revolution

And the New Deal and Social Democracies.

Without the pressure and threat from the violent left, it would have been an uninterrupted Gilded Age for the entire twentieth. As we are seeing now.

Course, I can't deny some causal influence of the violent left on Italy and Germany.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 4:50 PM
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He is a smart guy. I bet he navigates the presidency lightyears better than he did six months ago, and likewise six months before that.

I don't think the Presidency is really something you learn in that way, it's just too chaotic. There are a few counterexamples -- Clinton pretty clearly had an amateurish operation his first year or two, and then managed the press and communications better after that. But Obama's organization and management has been pretty smooth.

I think Obama did an OK job his first year or so in office. If you lay out the spectrum of possibilities, he's probably above average, and his approval ratings reflect that. But I also think that both the Democratic party and American liberalism in general were catastrophically unprepared, intellectually and programatically, for the scale of the economic collapse, and the past year reflects that as well. All Presidents are representatives of movements, and liberalism was not up to the moment.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:12 PM
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Hitler and fascism was also a non-trivial influence on the development of social democracy after WWII. And while I agree that fear of Bolshevism helped the process along, I think you're going too far in saying that it was necessary. Think Britain before WWI and both the evolution of the Liberals and the emergence of Labour. Or think of the way in which the German SPD was evolving towards what we think of as social democracy in that period, both on the theoretical side (Bernstein) and the practical politics of the non theoretical types that came up out of union activism. Outside of Western Europe I'd say that fear of communism worked more in the opposite direction. Certainly in Latin America where any left movements were tarred with the commie brush, but also perhaps in the US. Even in Eastern Europe, where communism created its own welfare state, it also left behind a situation with much lower living standards and no left wing political movement whatsoever. So you'll have to work harder to convince me that the many tens of millions of dead are somehow balanced out.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:13 PM
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Believe it or not, there weren't many of those at the time.

Why are you saying this? Everything I've ever read suggests that the national reaction to the protests in Chicago was a huge collective freak-out: including leading Democrat operatives, network newscasters, and journalists at the nation's major daily newspapers.

To be clear, I'm not saying you're wrong; I'm just wondering what sources you're reading.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:15 PM
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But Obama's organization and management has been pretty smooth.

Has it? He got his ass handed to him during his Let's Be Bipartisan phase.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:25 PM
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274:Ok, the warmongering establishment and their tools freaked out and are still freaked.

I was among the draftable population, whose decisions on tactics and strategy were more relevant and if anything, radicalized by Chicago. I think college demonstrations peaked in 1969 and continued thru 1970.

Winding down because of Vietnamization, the lottery, the election of radicals to Congress, etc...

And my sample included the politically indifferent and moderate. Maybe it was just youthful rebellion.

The left leadership got discouraged and/or intimidated. Or killed, like the Panthers.

I don't like Perlstein. Douthat praises his work.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:30 PM
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He got his ass handed to him during his Let's Be Bipartisan phase.

It's hard to embarrass a smooth organization. But it's not hard to roll one.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:56 PM
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275: I don't really agree with that. We don't know what things would look like if he had gone more explicitly partisan. It's a dangerous strategy.

The most disastrous mistake was delaying the health bill seeking R votes; hindsight is 20-20 on that one but if not for the timing of Kennedy's death followed by Coakley's lousy campaign that error would not have cost so much.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:56 PM
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277 is a rather brilliant observation.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:57 PM
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We don't know what things would look like if he had gone more explicitly partisan. It's a dangerous strategy.

Well, things like giving concessions without securing anything in return couldn't really have gone any worse.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 5:58 PM
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280: Apparently he believed there was a non-zero chance of securing something in return. Oops. I don't think many of us saw the utter refusal of every Republican to support HCR in any form whatsoever coming; nor the doggedness of the Blue Dogs.

Can we get rid of Blanche Lincoln, by the way?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:04 PM
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280: Obama's favorables are at 50 or above and his job approval rating in the high 40s, which is sort of a miracle given the economy. His bipartisanship thing may have watered down the Democratic agenda somewhat, but he's made himself look reasonable and decent in the process.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:08 PM
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ari, I think your question in 274 is answered by your own remarks in 268. The Chicago Seven expanded the acceptable topics for public conversation.

Abbie Hoffman was a clown, but he was also an American hero, and a lot of people knew it at the time. Chicago '68 was primarily a police riot, and that fact didn't go un-reported in the media.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:12 PM
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I don't think many of us saw the utter refusal of every Republican to support HCR in any form whatsoever coming

Really? I never expected anything else, nor did I expect anyone else to.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:21 PM
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he's made himself look reasonable and decent in the process.

But to what end?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:23 PM
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I mean, PGD, that in this crowd I'm a big defender of both Clintons, but in the end, it has to be granted that while they survived politically against long odds, they didn't get the job done.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:26 PM
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||

Mostly OT, but this is a lot of fun at EotAW

Historians vs Economist Cage Match! I throw the 11th Thesis on Feuerbach into the Ring!

Staple production is easier for gang-bosses to monitor than more diversified farming. Staple production also has lower skill requirements for workers. When demand for staple products is very high--to feed the proletariat of imperial Rome, to feed the growing cities of late-Medieval Flanders, or to supply the cheap luxuries demanded by early modern England--slavery or serfdom can emerge even without an extraordinarily high land/labor ratio.

DeLong on Domar ...it ain't about ancient history

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:27 PM
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285-286: yes, I agree with you. We may end up with a situation where Obama retains personal popularity but the liberal agenda is delegitimized and discredited. (As I said in 272, this is partly because of problems with liberalism itself). That's still useful in preventing the apocalyptic scenario of a President Palin, but still.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:33 PM
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284: Really? I never expected anything else, nor did I expect anyone else to.

I honestly thought that once the public option was taken off the table, there might be some grudging willingness to go along (not that I endorsed that move, particularly, but I understood it). The bill is, after all, not remotely socialist.

I honestly did fail to understand the extent to which (a) obstructing passage of this bill, in any form, would be taken up as a Republican means to defeating Obama by painting Washington in general, and led by Democrats in particular, as incompetent, and (b) more than a few Republicans really do seem to believe that the forces of Islamofascism are at work in the administration.

Was this naive of me? I'm not sure.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:50 PM
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|>?

More on the Student Uprising , this time from David Dayen (formerly dday of Hullaballoo and Calitics) at FDL

Robert Cruikshank at Calitics

"The core goal for colleges and universities should be to restore the core pledge of the 1960 Master Plan - that a high quality public college education will be free to all Californians who qualify for it. The core goal for K-12 schools should be similar, that a high-quality public education will be free to all Californians, period." ...Cruikshank

We have the money, we can afford this. Don't let them try to tell you otherwise. If they won't give it or get it, take it from them.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 6:53 PM
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I think Baucus thought he could get a Republican vote or two, and I think Obama saw giving him the chance to do it was the safer alternative than not doing so. And it would have worked if the Republican leadership hadn't more or less told every member of the caucus that there could be no defections on the issue. Baucus was genuinely surprised by the way this turned out, because of what people were telling him privately.

I never thought it was going to work. But I don't pretend to know the members of each caucus better than a guy who's been there for 30 years. Neither did the President (and Messina).

I don't think the problem is "liberalism." I don't even know what that means.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 7:53 PM
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284, 289: I also didn't expect any Republican votes. Not calling you naive for thinking it was a possibility, but they've been remarkably consistent about party discipline all along, and assuming that wouldn't break seemed likely to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 7:54 PM
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To be more precise, Baucus shares donors with a bunch of folks, and can reasonably have thought that doing the bidding of those donors would grease the skids for some defection.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 7:59 PM
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they've been remarkably consistent about party discipline all along

Only when the call comes in that this or that needs to be a party-line vote. Not every vote becomes a party-line vote.

Or what CC says in 291.1. It really wasn't clear from the outset that they were going to decide to take a stand on this one. A critic could easily say, of course, that stoopid liberals always make the mistake of thinking their opponents, confused though they may be, actually have (some version of) the country's best interest at heart.

Put opposition to HCR, come hell or high water, together with Jim Bunning's recent shitheadedness (backed by Jon Kyl's agenda to wangle an adjustment for a miniscule number of the wealthy on estate taxes), and it becomes increasingly difficult to view these people as human beings rather than complete enemies.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:13 PM
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272: I think it's centrism that wasn't up to the moment, not liberalism. They're different things. From any genuinely liberal standpoint (what's laughably coded as the "extreme left" in American politics), for instance, it's fairly obvious that something more drastic needs to happen to rescue the collapsing American economy than propping up a criminally irresponsible financiers' class and sheltering it from the consequences of its mistakes. But this isn't at all obvious to "centrists," who even now would like to get back to the business of pretending it's still 1992.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:24 PM
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Unfortunately, it's not clear what this more drastic thing might be. They've got us by the balls, you know.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:42 PM
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"Liberalism can't fail us, we can only fail liberalism?" is to me, a necessary tenet of liberalism.

I usually mean "Classical liberalism" when I say "liberalism" but I have extensions.

The axiom that the people can be educated, informed, enlightened or persuaded to policy positions that are to the general good even if to their immediate or longterm personal particular detriment, or say "Why can't we have a better media?" is part of my description of liberalism. There is a corollary to that the general good and personal good must generally coincide, or often enough to male a polity possible.

To quote to OP:

"...and that everyone benefits when you shrink the gap between the haves and the have-nots."

I actually don't think the "haves" gain a net benefit from redistribution, unless the "have nots" make it so.
It was neat being nobility, until the beheading stuff.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:49 PM
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I think nearly everyone* recognizes that rising income inequality in this country is a Very Bad Thing. And yet, nobody is talking seriously about raising taxes on the very rich. Which failure, as I think about it, is probably the thing that most infuriates me about Obama's leadership.

* Except perhaps Republicans, deeply ignorant people, and most economists I know. Which, I suppose I have to admit, is most everyone. Oh well, please carry on.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:50 PM
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I have extensions

I knew that wasn't really your hair.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 8:51 PM
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I do apologize, bob, but 299 was funny.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 9:00 PM
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the thing that most infuriates me about Obama's leadership.

You wanna know what infuriates me most? (No? Too bad!) What infuriates me most is that there are so many choices for things that infuriate me most.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:06 PM
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In fact lack of control can lead to lack of fear.

I was on a flight where our approach to the runway changed suddenly and we pulled back up to re-do the approach, probably in reaction to wind/weather. Some people started to get a bit worried, and through all of that I just kept looking out the window as I always do when I have a window seat and we're landing. The guy sitting next to said that he couldn't believe I could just sit there like nothing had happened, and I shrugged and said it wasn't like there was anything I could do about it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:35 PM
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Before the whole process started I not only thought that there could be a republican vote or three for HCR done Baucus style, I thought it was very likely. By the end of the summer I was down to there's an outside chance of one vote. Which says a lot about the Republican 'moderates'. I don't mean their ideology, but rather their lack of one, and also lack of any smidgen of political non-cowardice. A Collins or Snowe could vote for HCR and have a good chance of winning a primary, and a one hundred percent chance of forcing a Repub defeat in the general if they lost. They could also threaten to flip. As much as I hate Lieberman, there is no question he genuinely believes in his extreme hawkishness, and is willing to put everything on the line for it.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 5-10 10:52 PM
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re: 302

That's also going to be as much about familiarity as it is about control, though, no? I'd imagine people who fly a lot are much less likely to get nervous or worried.

There are certain things that used to make me nervous or fearful that don't any more that just don't now, because I'm inured to them. The sport I do isn't especially dangerous but there's always the risk of pain or minor injury. I have club-mates who are, objectively, definitely better at it than me but who completely lock up or get tense and fearful when competing. I'm sure that's partly just lack of experience (and also, I suppose, differences in temperament).


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 6-10 3:53 AM
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272.---All Presidents are representatives of movements

This axiomatic statement interests me. It seems true up until the moment of election: a Presidential candidate needs to create and motivate a movement large enough to beat the other guy. Then afterwards, what? A President doesn't afterwards necessarily represent the wishes of the movement(s) by which he or she was elected. It would be a mistake even to freeze the moment of election as a metonymic evaluation of the duration of the Presidency. Kennedy for example: the coalition that elected him wasn't the same as the movement inspired from moments or speeches during his Presidency. From missile gaps to the Peace Corps and Civil Rights!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03- 6-10 8:54 AM
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||?

Louis Proyect and Edward Skidelsky (son of Robert) on Perry Anderson

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 6-10 6:18 PM
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On topic wrt the OP, I actually rather like the joker pose.
http://www.barackobama.com/images/email/030410-GOPscaretactics_600x200_5.jpg


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 03- 6-10 9:27 PM
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295: if you like, you can restate my point as saying that American liberalism had become too centrist.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 8-10 10:26 AM
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I have club-mates who are, objectively, definitely better at it than me but who completely lock up or get tense and fearful when competing. I'm sure that's partly just lack of experience (and also, I suppose, differences in temperament).

Their lack of experience (unnecessary caution) or yours (naiveté)?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 8-10 10:28 AM
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re: 309

Theirs. I'm (nominally) the instructor. But, if I'm honest, there are at least two people I train with who could beat me in a competitive match. Nonetheless, I'm much more chilled out, and get much less tense and out of breath. Partly from having more experience, partly from having a different kind of a temperament, and partly because I don't really care much about winning or losing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 8-10 10:33 AM
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