Re: Guest Post - Witt

1

I agree and I'm doing my part by filling comment boxes with tangential nonsense.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:42 AM
horizontal rule
2

I'm with Moby.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:45 AM
horizontal rule
3

We'll be in the corner playing checkers. And talking about chix!!!!!!!


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:46 AM
horizontal rule
4

Also, this is a great whine:

Clicktivism is ruining leftist activism

Reducing activism to online petitions, this breed of marketeering technocrats damage every political movement they touch


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:47 AM
horizontal rule
5

I just read a long piece about the "Revolutionary Communist Party". Had been unaware that the British "Revolutionary Communist Party" of the 80s and 90s was actually a group of libertarians in favor of privatizing everything who had a bunch of slick newsletters. Apparently it has now turned into Spiked-Online.

In terms of governing
Random people + Technocrats > Technocrats > Random people > Power-mad narcissists


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:50 AM
horizontal rule
6

4: Some of us are more politically active than that. For instance, my twitter picture has a "NO H8" sticker.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:53 AM
horizontal rule
7

This would be funnier with links to example posts.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:53 AM
horizontal rule
8

Also the idea of artificially creating markets in things is great for the rational economic actors who hold all the power in society, but for actual human beings it is nothing more than a series of hoops that overcomplicates things in general. Which is to say I am less convinced than M. Yglesias that a world with parking meters that are changing their prices at every moment based on traffic density and time of day would be enjoyable.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
9

Ok, I'm lying. It's really just a picture of my kitty cat.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:55 AM
horizontal rule
10

... cuz, you know, otherwise it's kind of the straw olympics up in here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:56 AM
horizontal rule
11

8: Yes, that. I really hate the idea of making more of my life like the rewards program at Giant Eagle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:57 AM
horizontal rule
12

10 is 7 cont'd.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:57 AM
horizontal rule
13

11: you could avoid parking on the street in the city center. Works for me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:57 AM
horizontal rule
14

13: I was speaking more in general about artificial markets. I don't even have a car, except the two. But mostly I take the bus when I'm not traveling with the boy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:59 AM
horizontal rule
15

7, 10. You could just link to MY's home page and read a post at random. As a for instance.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:59 AM
horizontal rule
16

I am less convinced than M. Yglesias that a world with parking meters that are changing their prices at every moment based on traffic density and time of day would be enjoyable.

Of course, Yglesias lives in a city with excellent public transportation and ubiquitous taxi service.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:01 AM
horizontal rule
17

15: so we're talking about Yglesias, okay. That's a good start. Dalton and Harvard educated, means well but quite young: sort of an easy target, but I take the point. Any other white, male bloggers, specifically?

14: but it's not really an artificial market, is it? It's an artificial subsidy as things currently stand, would I guess be the point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:03 AM
horizontal rule
18

So... I'll be the devil's advocate. Does this mean that if you're not a millionaire, you're not allowed to support raising taxes on millionaires?


Posted by: dunbar | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:03 AM
horizontal rule
19

I think we need to more tightly couple liberty and financial means. Do you realize that, armed only with persistence and a nickel, just anyone can park their car?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:06 AM
horizontal rule
20

This is something I associate most of all with Mickey Kaus and his old obssession with welfare reform. How could he be so certain that he knew what was best for poor people? Did he really have a clue how they lived?

More recently I realized that environmentalists (like me, except less passive) are also guilty of this. It's easy for someone who doesn't work in the coal industry to say that switching to other forms of energy will not result in a net loss of jobs.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:06 AM
horizontal rule
21

the British "Revolutionary Communist Party" of the 80s and 90s was actually a group of libertarians in favor of privatizing everything who had a bunch of slick newsletters.

Is this true? This sounds like something out of a Ken McLeod novel (specifically, The Stone Canal).

"You want to name it and shame it so people take conscious steps to avoid doing it stick to posting funny pictures to Tumblr.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:10 AM
horizontal rule
22

16: I don't think of DC's public transit system as all that great, but I am spoiled, I suppose.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
23

I am less convinced than M. Yglesias that a world with parking meters that are changing their prices at every moment based on traffic density and time of day would be enjoyable.

I think that if the result was more parking availability, the trade-off would be worth it. But I think the "more parking availability" theory needs to be empirically demonstrated... do parking prices really have the elasticity that would be needed to affect space ability without jacking up prices beyond all reason, and is that benefit generally recognized and appreciated by users of the system?

If so, I could be persuaded its a better system. But I want to be shown that it works well in somebody else's city, first.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:13 AM
horizontal rule
24

17. We all mean well, Sifu, even you. I haven't a clue who Witt was talking about because I'm not her; I referenced Yglesias simply because his name had already come up, but it strikes me the phenomenon described is more widespread on the right, certainly in Britain.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:13 AM
horizontal rule
25

17.2: Maybe I'm using the term "artificial market" too broadly, but I mean those attempts to create an incentive structure. The parking thing was Ned's example. I suppose it is also on my mind as Pittsburgh is about to sell it's public parking to fill the pension hole.

I recognize the validity of creating incentives to encourage helpful behavior, but I get really annoyed when it gets so complicated that the really obsessive, boring people get an advantage because they are the only ones who can pay attention to that many rules. Take income taxes as a biggest example of this.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:13 AM
horizontal rule
26

20.2 is a important point as both an example and a specific issue. The Blue Green Alliance (enviro groups and unions) was formed to address that very issue.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:14 AM
horizontal rule
27

Had been unaware that the British "Revolutionary Communist Party" of the 80s and 90s was actually a group of libertarians in favor of privatizing everything who had a bunch of slick newsletters. Apparently it has now turned into Spiked-Online.

That was the nasty little crowd who ended up bankrupted after being sued by ITN, wasn't it?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:15 AM
horizontal rule
28

the British "Revolutionary Communist Party" of the 80s and 90s was actually a group of libertarians in favor of privatizing everything who had a bunch of slick newsletters.

They became that. They started as a splinter group from the British SWP (see ISO in the USA) which was remarkably sectarian and obnoxious even by the standards of tiny bands of Trots. For more information, google Frank Furedi.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:17 AM
horizontal rule
29

For less information, google "Furry Fun."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:18 AM
horizontal rule
30

29. I'm sure you'd get lots of information doing that. Whether it would be information you wanted would depend on you.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:19 AM
horizontal rule
31

re: 21

A lot of the political stuff in MacLeod is precisely those sorts of inside-baseball jokes about 70s, 80s, and 90s UK groupuscles.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:21 AM
horizontal rule
32

right on to 8. This "markets in everything!" stuff was more common in the 90s, but it's around now too. There are variants of cap and trade which are like this -- a lot of cap and trade people obsess about getting utilities to pass through peak load charges to customers so they vary their energy use (and use less when the dirtier generation capacity is being brought in at peak).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:21 AM
horizontal rule
33

I don't think of DC's public transit system as all that great, but I am spoiled, I suppose.

Yeah, it's excellent -- in MY's part of D.C., I should add -- relative to most of the rest of America. My standards for excellence have dropped somewhat since I left, though the fact that it's easy, if occasionally inconvenient, to live in much of D.C. without a car is impressive.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:22 AM
horizontal rule
34

27. Yes, they asserted that the reports of concentration camps in Bosnia were fraudulent and were sued by Quentin Hoare and Branca Magas, well known Decents, IIRC. I don't normally hold with taking that kind of dispute to law, but in that caseI'll happily make an exception.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:22 AM
horizontal rule
35

There are variants of cap and trade which are like this -- a lot of cap and trade people obsess about getting utilities to pass through peak load charges to customers so they vary their energy use (and use less when the dirtier generation capacity is being brought in at peak).

Utilities already do pass through peak load charges to customers - hence the value of having, say, a storage heater.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:34 AM
horizontal rule
36

re: 35

Only on some tariffs, though. We discovered our flat had been supplied with a boiler designed to heat off-peak [to take advantage of lower tariff] but that it wasn't actually possible to get an electricity package that would allow us to do that!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:36 AM
horizontal rule
37

More recently I realized that environmentalists (like me, except less passive) are also guilty of this. It's easy for someone who doesn't work in the coal industry to say that switching to other forms of energy will not result in a net loss of jobs.

Environmentalists are definitely not in the category of people who propose policies that won't affect them personally, unless they are environmentalists who don't actually live on Earth.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:36 AM
horizontal rule
38

I question the premise here. If we could only talk about wars in which we might fight, or taxes we currently pay, or government services we actually use, none of us could hold opinions (or vote?) on most national issues.

It's also hard to imagine anything good about a world where only milionaires discuss tax rates for millionaires and only welfare/farm subsidy recipients discuss benefit levels for welfare/farm subsidies.

Yglesias on urban parking policy is an especially inapt example because he actually lives in the place that would be most affected by the change in policy he advocates. Yglesias on war in Afghanistan is a more suitable example, but there he agrees with most of the gang here.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:36 AM
horizontal rule
39

32: That's a better example of what I was thinking of. My strong suspicion is that once everybody was signed-up for some kind of peak load savings plan, the deal would get to be less and less about saving money for the consumer or minimizing pollution and more and more about making life easier for the utilities. In general, complexity increases over time and once something gets past a certain point of complexity, you can be pretty sure that if you don't understand it, you are getting the shaft.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:39 AM
horizontal rule
40

I'm kind of with the unimaginative in the premise question.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:40 AM
horizontal rule
41

20:...environmentalists (like me, except less passive) are also guilty of this.

Environmentalists are some of the absolute worst in their willingness to trample all over real people in their quest to protect the environment. I've worked with people on both sides of environmental issues and it's been a real eye opener. There's often a simple indifference to how regulations might impact people's lives and more importantly to how the same or better result for the environment might be attained by less onerous regulation. Hurting people who are seen as benefiting from environmental degradation is part of the point for all to many environmental activists.

This isn't to say that concern over the environment is wrong - it's mandatory IMO. It's just that the loudest and most passionate voices ought to be regarded with great skepticism when it comes to concrete policy proposals.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:42 AM
horizontal rule
42

41: Me


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:44 AM
horizontal rule
43

I agree completely with 38. In a broader sense we're all in it together...if taxes don't go up on that guy over there, they might go up on me, etc. Society is a collective where public decisions affect us all.

I do think the centralization of policy in Washington has increased the extent to which representatives make decisions for people distant or remote from them...more federalism would be desirable.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:44 AM
horizontal rule
44

38, 40: indeed.

Also, sometimes the people who will be most affected by a policy change (say, people who drive downtown for pleasure and want to park cheaply) are, in fact, the problem.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:45 AM
horizontal rule
45

Hurting people who are seen as benefiting from environmental degradation is part of the point for all to many environmental activists.
Bullshit. A lack of consideration, probably, and a distrust of market solutions, certainly.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:46 AM
horizontal rule
46

So let's look at the concrete examples in the post, which are probably the best bet for deciding to what extent this is a strawman argument:

Such compromises may include timing (is it better to bring a gay marriage case to the Supreme Court now, or wait a few years?), health and safety (is it really worth pushing for abortion to be included in standard health insurance coverage?), and even membership in society (would giving up the 14th Amendment commitment to birthright citizenship be worth it if it meant other immigration legislation could be passed?)

The first, gay marriage, seems like a tricky issue, but most of the blogs I read acknowledged that it's unclear whether fighting it out in the courts now is going to have more dangerous repercussions later. Nothing I read was unilaterally taking a side here. DS in the comments here is the only one who seemed to cavalierly assert that it was the obvious right thing to do.

As for abortion in health insurance coverage: what's the underlying issue here? Is the claim that men have advocated compromising on abortion, without seeking the opinion of women? I don't think any blogger I read explicitly supported giving up inclusion of abortion coverage in order to achieve a compromise. Or is the argument supposed to run the other way?

Finally, the 14th amendment issue: is this an apparent suggestion that the outcome for immigrants is likely to be better if birthright citizenship is abandoned?

Maybe Witt can flesh out what these examples are supposed to demonstrate. I mean, it seems as if the post is a joke premised on the idea that we will all immediately understand how such issues are examples of white men dictating policies that affect others, but I don't.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
47

Don't know what happened to the sentence in 40. But while it's important to hear and understand input from people who are going to be personally affected by any policy, the people who are personally affected aren't going to be uniformly on one side of any question, and they're not guaranteed to be better informed about it than someone who isn't personally informed.

Like, look at the last thread on birthing interventions. From talking about this a lot, I can tell you that the vast majority of women who had non-horrific experiences giving birth are strongly attached to the proposition that however they did it was the easiest and most sensible way, and that any interventions were necessary, and either seriously reduced the risk of a bad outcome, or were certainly lifesaving.

Now, I'm in that pool of women -- I think what I did was the easiest and most sensible way, and I try not to be obnoxious about proselytizing, but I'm sure I don't manage. But at that point the personal experience, while it's a source of useful information, doesn't tell you anything at all about what's the best policy from a public health point of view -- you just have to go to research for that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
48

Also, sometimes the people who will be most affected by a policy change (say, people who drive downtown for pleasure and want to park cheaply) are, in fact, the problem.

Or too emotionally involved. Deciding sensible policies for an entire group needs people to use a different part of their brain than vigilante justice.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:51 AM
horizontal rule
49

they're not guaranteed to be better informed about it than someone who isn't personally informed affected.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:52 AM
horizontal rule
50

I mean, at the most basic level, I really can't tell which direction Witt is saying the arguments of the bloggers or commentators run on these issues, so I might not even read any of the bloggers or commentators she has in mind.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:52 AM
horizontal rule
51

29: For less information, google "Furry Fun."

In which Pittsburgh is a leader* (Man tries to get his name legally changed to Boomer the Dog)--but, alas he was turned down.

*Also fine-tuned legal reasoning

"Consider the following example," should the court grant the request, Judge Folino wrote. "Sometime thereafter, Petitioner witnesses a serious automobile accident and telephones for an emergency medical response. The dispatcher on the phone queries as to the caller's identity, and the caller responds, 'This is Boomer the Dog.' It is not a stretch to imagine the telephone dispatcher concluding that the call is a prank and refusing to send an emergency medical response."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:53 AM
horizontal rule
52

I agree that it would be helpful to have some specific examples of what Witt had in mind, but I think 38 and the like overstate the case against the premise. First, I don't think the point was that no one can have opinions about things that don't personally affect them- just that people should be aware that issues strike the personally affected in different ways than they do the observer.

Second, it happens all the time that people are in favor of policies that would benefit a larger group (of which they are a member) but be burdensome to another group (of which they are not). I don't think this means that the other group's perspective should necessarily win, just that it makes sense to acknowledge the fact that to other people, the proposed policy has immediate negative effects.

I think logging is a good example. Laws restricting logging in Montana are (in my opinion) a good thing. Clearcutting is bad. However, to many individual people in Montana, those laws resulted in them being unable to feed or house themselves or their families. It's one thing to say "we know this will hurt some people, but we have to do it anyway" and a different thing to pretend there were no ill effects on anyone.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:53 AM
horizontal rule
53

Wait, Witt is complaining that people use the internet to offer advice on issues that they don't have any stake in? I thought that's what the internet was for.

Well, ok, there's also porn. But between porn and bad, unsolicited advice, don't you cover most of electronic communication?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:54 AM
horizontal rule
54

54: You left out gratuitous personal insults, asshole.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:56 AM
horizontal rule
55

Somebody talk Moby Hick down. I think he's pretty close to punching Moby Hick out.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:56 AM
horizontal rule
56

54 worked out wonderfully.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:57 AM
horizontal rule
57

That's the internet equivalent of making the arrow on my "I'm with stupid" t-shirt point up.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:57 AM
horizontal rule
58
Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:00 AM
horizontal rule
59

51: You thinking of some pro bono work to help him?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
60

52: Maybe I wouldn't want to complain about the post if the acronym were changed to Policymaking Without Empathy? Not considering the costs of something because they don't affect you personally is bad. But not having a personal investment (or an investment that can be characterized as being as closely personal as that of someone who disagrees with you) shouldn't be a disqualification.

I just read the post, and while I know which side of the aisle Witt's coming from, I'm hearing farmers in Iowa explain how giant subsidies are absolutely necessary to their way of life, and us soulless urbanites just don't understand.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:02 AM
horizontal rule
61

It may help as context to know that the post was written as a way to channel the string of profanities that came to mind after reading yet another go-round of Will Wilkinson telling us all that we ought to compromise away birthright citizenship on the speculative hope that immigration opponents will suddenly decide to compromise on other issues if they get a "win" on that.

I was intensely frustrated that this discussion seems to be being kept alive by men whose wives/significant others stand virtually no chance of having some hospital social worker or other petty bureaucrat harassing them at bedside about proving their US citizenship status* so that the crying newborn next to them can be legitimated in the eyes of the law. Moreover, it seems to show an ignorance of the likelihood of a subset (let's say 2-5%) of misguided, ignorant, or malicious people from starting to lie to new mothers even in the absence of any change in the law, telling them that their child can't get a birth certificate unless their own citizenship is proven.

Obviously I don't believe that only people with personal experience should be involved in policymaking; that would just introduce a different set of costs and biases. I'm complaining that there is a repeated phenomenon of political commentators making disturbingly influential pronouncements on issues where they have no skin in the game. It's easy enough to support stop-and-frisk when it's not going to make YOU late for a business meeting once a week.

*If you think this won't happen, you are unaware of the current hassle about "Affidavit of Paternity" forms common in some urban hospitals.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:03 AM
horizontal rule
62

61.1: it helps a lot!

It's always useful to name names when mocking people.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
63

So the internet is for

1. Porn
2. Unsolicited, bad advice.
3. Insults
4. Pictures of cats.

That sees about right to me, but suddenly I'm worried that this says more about how I spend my time than the actual online world.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
64

61: I guess, but is the problem that he doesn't have an investment, or that he's being a moron? You don't have any more of a personal investment than he does, you just know more about it and actually care about the people it affects.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:06 AM
horizontal rule
65

40, 43, 44: notice how much praise unimaginative is getting now that we know he's rich?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:07 AM
horizontal rule
66

Oh, Will Wilkinson. Many things are clearer now. Except why Witt would ever read Will Wilkinson.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:09 AM
horizontal rule
67

67: Alliteration? Witt watches Will Wilkinson.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:10 AM
horizontal rule
68

Hmm. I'm surprised by the pushback here on the original post. We are all suspect when we opine on subjects without sufficiently considering the perspectives of the people most closely involved.

The original post wasn't specific enough? Does it have to spell out "runup to the Iraq War" or "discussions of the mental state of women who get abortions," & etc.?

I suppose that observation is a bit banal, but I liked the original post for its development of that theme. Here's a nice bit:

"Most try to argue that they *are* invested," says Jane. "Their first instinct is to gesture towards a way in which their most recent PWI effort really does affect their lives on a daily basis. Sometimes they have a case, but it's usually pretty lame."

So true! See: Sarah Palin and Cordoba House. She should be treating the opinions of Manhattan residents with a lot more respect than she does, but those Manhattanites don't connect with 9-11 the way she does.

Likewise, the nonsense spouted by Palin should be treated with considerably more deference when it comes from the mouths of the relatives of 9-11 victims.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
69

67: Witt, woman, warily watches Will Wilkinson waffle weakly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
70

I'm still talking to myself.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:14 AM
horizontal rule
71

Will Wilkinson telling us all that we ought to compromise away birthright citizenship on the speculative hope that immigration opponents will suddenly decide to compromise on other issues if they get a "win" on that.

On the topic of birthright citizenship, this cartoon is more insightful (and funnier) than Will Wikinson.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:15 AM
horizontal rule
72

compromise away birthright citizenship

Allow me to be the millionth person to express my amusement that so many of the same people who have been forever shrieking about the urgency of upholding the letter of the Constitution are now proposing a mile-long laundry list of changes to the Constitution.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
73

I think part of what we're talking about is PWADI, policymaking without acknowledging different investments. My thoughts on food stamps and taxes for millionaires matter, but they're worth less if I don't acknowledge (explicitly or not) that I don't have a direct stake in them.

One of the best current examples is the way reinstituting the draft would change opinion and policies.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
74

I agree with 38, 41 and especially 46. I value local knowledge and expertise too, but it has limits and doesn't tell you much about policy -- if you're thinking about things that are going to affect a lot of people you need to think about global repercussions. I actually found the OP reminiscent of the worst sort of "as a [insert race] [insert gender][insert sexual identity and class] only I am allowed to have an opinion on x," which is what gave critics of 80s and 90s style identity politics some legitimate room for attack (even if most of the anti-PC folks were basically just right wing assholes, and even if, yes, it's important to know where people are coming from).

Anyhow, what's annoying about Yglesias on urban issues is the repetitiveness, the docrinaire libertariansim, and the smug assumption that everyone wants to live in a particular kind of urban environment that he's lived in his whole life. I actually agree with him on traffic meters, though.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
75

The original post wasn't specific enough? Does it have to spell out "runup to the Iraq War" or "discussions of the mental state of women who get abortions," & etc.?

I guess I was under the impression that Witt's original post was critiquing a tendency in liberal/progressive blogs, since those are the only ones I read. And this tendency might exist there, but it would be nice to have specific examples. Of course it's trivial to assemble a giant list of right-wingers doing this, but I already feel a generalized sense of rage toward right-wingers at all times, so it's hard to care about one specific aspect of their awfulness.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:17 AM
horizontal rule
76

68: Likewise, the nonsense spouted by Palin should be treated with considerably more deference when it comes from the mouths of the relatives of 9-11 victims.

Nuh-uh, it's still nonsense. The relatives (generically, I don't know much about any of them specifically) should be treated more kindly and gently, but nonsense stays nonsense regardless of the speaker.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:17 AM
horizontal rule
77

Of course, I'm writing 74 as a straight white man.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:18 AM
horizontal rule
78

+ on the wars (obviously)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:18 AM
horizontal rule
79

the smug assumption that everyone wants to live in a particular kind of urban environment that he's lived in his whole life.

He expressly disavows this an awful lot. Sure, he's a smugly privileged urbanite, but I think on this point you're reacting to tone rather than to anything he's ever said that fails to acknowledge that there are people who like living in non-urban settings.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
80

73 is right. It's not really about investment so much as humility.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:21 AM
horizontal rule
81

This is particularly wrong with regard to environmentalism, because the whole point of environmental damage is that it (generally) has a few localised and identifiable beneficiaries and a lot of widespread unidentifiable victims. It's easy to point to the few hundred miners who will get thrown out of work, but not so easy to identify the half a million Pakistanis who will get flooded out of their homes.

61 makes me think that the real problem is that some people are fools who think that, if you allow the shark to eat part of your leg, it will let you get away alive. This betrays a foolish naivete about the habits of sharks.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:21 AM
horizontal rule
82

77: La la la la. I can't even hear you.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:22 AM
horizontal rule
83

Having just read Witt's comment, my response is -- Witt, why are you reading Will Wilkinson? Libertarians are assholes and morons with a stupid, doctrinaire philosophy that makes them say stupid, overgeneralized things. All of them. No exceptions -- even if occasionally they line up on the side of something you support.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:23 AM
horizontal rule
84

For more information, google Frank Furedi.

Huh, that was interesting. I knew him only from his early ground-breaking work on Mau Mau and his later servicable synthesis on race and British imperialism. I had no idea he'd become a kind of British (Fox-)Genovese.


Posted by: Jimmy Pong | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:23 AM
horizontal rule
85

All of them. No exceptions -- even if occasionally they line up on the side of something you support.

This is silly unless you're doing a fair amount of 'no true Scotsman'-ing with decent people who call themselves libertarians.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:25 AM
horizontal rule
86

And yes. 79 is right but he writes about this stuff like every day and you'd have to be pretty blind not to see where he's coming from.


Posted by: Robert. Halford | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:25 AM
horizontal rule
87

Yeah, I mean, libertarianism is explicitly a political philosophy designed for people who do not believe that they have any stake or interest in any affirmative government action. It's not because they're white males (although many of them are). It's because they're selfish jerks.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:26 AM
horizontal rule
88

85: I'm down with doing that. Compared to "libertarian", "scotsman" is an incredibly well-defined category. If it eventually gets defined down to total meaninglessness and people stop using the word, well, so much the better.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
89

In 85, I assume you're talking about Jim Henley, who has renounced his libertarainism. I don't give other purportedly "left" libertarians a pass -- if you're against the war in drugs, but only because you think it interferes with private property rights, then I'm still going to think that you're an asshole and a moron. I realize this view isn't universally shared here, but I'm more anti-libertarian than most.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
90

you'd have to be pretty blind not to see where he's coming from.

Sure, but where he's coming from is "I like urban living a lot; I think there are more people who like it than can afford it, and so if regulations barring urban development were dropped, there'd be more of it and people who like living that way but can't afford to would be happier; so I think regulations blocking urban development should be changed." (Roughly, and oversimplified, and with environmental issues left out.) That's really quite far from "I don't believe in people who don't want to live in cities.

Now, I'm not appreciating the irritatingness of his urban smugitude, because I share it and agree with him on this issue, but irritating as he may be, he's nowhere near the assumption you attributed to him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:32 AM
horizontal rule
91

So, now I'm feeling a little bad about the way this thread has piled on Witt; if she's just venting about right-wingers being awful, that's something we all need to do now and then.

But there's a germ of a more substantive idea here, which could run counter to LB's suggestion of "Policymaking Without Empathy" being the real problem. You could imagine that there's a failure mode for even the most well-intentioned progressive policy, designed by wonks who have the best interests of disadvantaged people at heart, that arises from not involving the people most affected by the policy. It's conceivable that even an apparently completely logical, sound policy choice could fail to help the people it's intended to help, because it interacts with the social milieu of the affected people in a way that was unforeseen because the policymakers don't live in the affected community. Empathy could fail to be enough. This would be more interesting to have examples of, as a cautionary tale. Probably there are even obvious examples that I'm not thinking of at the moment. I guess housing projects could be an example.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:34 AM
horizontal rule
92

Julian Sanchez, anyone? Radley Balko? Justin Raimondo? Hell, Ron Paul at times. Libertarianism can be valuable because the state can be an oppressive institution.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:34 AM
horizontal rule
93

89: Not just Henley, I'm thinking of real life people too. I just don't think people use political terms to describe themselves with any particular rigor, and so identifying someone as an asshole because of the term they identify themselves with isn't going to be very accurate, and will piss off people you might have had common ground with.

But this is quibbling -- I'll agree with you about most libertarians.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:36 AM
horizontal rule
94

Libertarianism can be valuable because the state can be an oppressive institution hug you too much.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:39 AM
horizontal rule
95

91: It's humility that's the issue more than empathy. Anyone can sympathize with the plight of someone else (sociopaths excepted), but designing policy for them requires either engaging them in the process or making assumptions about what they need and what will provide it.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:39 AM
horizontal rule
96

but I get really annoyed when it gets so complicated that the really obsessive, boring people get an advantage because they are the only ones who can pay attention to that many rules.

On a tangent, boy do I agree with this. I don't associate it with policymaking as much as I do with price-discrimination by private companies, like frequent flier programs, or things like that Amazon Prime membership where you have to project how much you're going to buy from Amazon to see if the membership fee will be offset by the free shipping, or a hundred other things I run into daily and just refuse to cope with. I feel like a chump about this stuff all the time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:39 AM
horizontal rule
97

Here is the right wing bashing Ron Paul because he has teamed up with Barney Frank to propose real defense cuts -- something Obama does not have the balls to do. Here is Justin Raimondo defending Wikileaks and Bradley Manning with no equivocation. These are radical left positions in today's America. They're a long way from just being a Republican who wants to smoke pot.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:45 AM
horizontal rule
98

or, I'm being a little tough on Obama...I think some of his people are interested in floating the Frank/Paul defense cuts as a trial balloon and taking pieces off moving forward. Gates has already proposed a few real cuts.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
99

Meanwhile, another failed socialist policy:

A year after its exit from bankruptcy protection, General Motors Co. reported Thursday a $1.3 billion second-quarter profit, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Meanwhile, the auto maker has secured a $5 billion credit facility in a step that clears the way for a return to the public markets later this year, according to WSJ.

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
100

How does this affect Kobe?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
101

96: Yeah, I hate complicated pricing schemes like that too. It also seems like the kind of people who are likely to recommend them as a policy solution are also the kind of people who would take the time to actually benefit for them.

Sometimes libertarians will say that the complicated pricing scheme will benefit the poor, because they have the stronger incentive to find the cheapest price and that people like me don't have the patience for them simply because we are so rich. But I don't think this is psychologically realistic. I think that the prevalence of this detail oriented, money focussed personality type is unrelated to income.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
102

It's been said, but the underlying problem doesn't seem to be Will Wilkinson's lack of personal investment, but simply that he is wrong that trading away birthright citizenship in the US would lead to a climate in which more people would be willing to accept a freer, more orderly, and safer movement of immigrants across the border.



Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
103

The important thing in this thread is that LizardBreath should get Amazon Prime right now.

97 - The issue I have with this is that Ron Paul is in many ways an incredibly doctrinaire right-winger. I literally had people tell me I was wrong that he was virulently pro-life because... I don't know, he was a libertarian? And this goes double for Senator Aqua Buddha, who is even less iconoclastic than his father, but is magically Freedom Jesus because he's the son of St. Ron, never mind his actual positions on anything. I mean, yes, he's willing to denounce the militarization of American society, but as far as I can tell, the effect on the Paulites is roughly the same as when I denounce the militarization of American society.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
104

103, continued - Contrawise, Radley Balko -- a genuine libertarian who has political views that I disagree with immensely -- has turned his suspicion of the state into something that has genuinely affected people's lives. I pretty much feel don't think Ron Paul is any different in terms of his ertswhile political movement than Helen Chenoweth. It's about the Black Helicopters paleocon paranoia, not Paul's flashes of anti-statism.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:58 AM
horizontal rule
105

I mostly agree with Yglesias on parking meters, but only in locations where it makes sense, and I don't like the idea of not knowing what parking is going to cost ahead of time. (That is, variable pricing is fine, but I want to know what the price is going to be before I head out so I can weigh options - I don't mind walking from a lower priced spot farther away.) I'd probably think differently I had the disposable income to just swipe a card and not think about it, which is what parking meter advocates seem to imagine people will happily do.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:58 AM
horizontal rule
106

105: I actually think the SF system is a pretty good compromise in that regard, although I think the prices should be allowed to float somewhat more freely.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
107

And, of course, I think all of these systems are being designed to work with iPhones and browsers and whatever, so you could check before you leave.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
108

people tell me I was wrong that he was virulently pro-life

Jesus H. Christ. He has some purely procedural opposition to federal abortion laws, but also has introduced bills giving full citizenship and legal rights to fetuses. So, you know, it's three-card monte.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:07 AM
horizontal rule
109

Humility is silence, though, indistinguishable from suicide on the internet.

Complicated pricing schemes are IMO a way for people to claim one thing while actually doing another, like having one returns window per sixty million customers or a voicemail system that leads nowhere. Amazon prime and frequent flyer systems are a corner case, since people that use these resources a lot tend to be organized enough that the hassles of calculating and of clipping the coupons are not that burdensome.

Tangentially, Amazon is great, I love having one aggregated electronic shopfront that sells everything. Durable and cheap kids backpack for the next schoolyear, yay! Amazon prime does not help with the pool of merchants who make the single checkout useful.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:08 AM
horizontal rule
110

Speaking of hidden-cost-of-car-culture nerdery, this site is fascinating, and this adaptation of the data is even cooler. Much more interesting than Walkscore in many ways.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:12 AM
horizontal rule
111

had the disposable income to just swipe a card and not think about it, which is what parking meter advocates seem to imagine people will happily do.

Rather, I'm imagining an iPhone app which will provide a real-time feed of local parking meter price fluctuations.

(iPwned by Tweety on preview. It's true. You can't write sci-fi these days.)


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:14 AM
horizontal rule
112

101: It's an example of a larger pattern of people who are good at $thing taking it for granted that forcing others to do $thing has nearly zero cost. Nearly everyone has some things they are so good at that doing them feels like nothing, and most also tend to forget how onerous the process of attaining that level of skill was. Handling money is particularly fraught because it tends to come with layers of anxiety, especially if you're poor or developed your attitudes towards money while poor even if you're currently UMC.

When you add in the fact that lots of those complicated pricing schemes by private companies are designed to draw you in and then suck more money out of you than you'd have paid if you didn't sign up for the special discount/free credit card/rewards program, the approach of simply ignoring any and all incentive programs starts to make good sense. After all, they wouldn't be offering the program if it didn't make them money, right? Taking that attitude over to government schemes to play games with pricing in order to change behavior is only natural, even if the government scheme isn't explicitly designed to suck money out of you. And let's face it, once you have those pricing schemes in place it's only a matter of time before the government starts tweaking them to maximize revenue rather than to serve their original purpose. Speed cameras, red light cameras, and traffic light timing are a great example of this dynamic: sold as a way to improve safety, used in practice as a way to maximize revenue, even to the point of diminishing safety.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:17 AM
horizontal rule
113

72: Amen.

Humility and empathy are important, but they take time and skill to develop. Not everybody has developed those skills by the time they are opining as a political commentator. My "PWI" was, in part, a shorthand way of encouraging the well-intentioned ones to stop and check themselves.

Per 73, lots of people's hackles go up if they feel that you're making an identity politics argument (which I'm usually somewhat suspicious of myself), but giving someone a practical checkpoint to think about is worthwhile, I think. And maybe it encourages them to pull a Ta-Nehisi and invite in someone with a different perspective (although he mostly does that as fill-in bloggers when he's away, I think).

why are you reading Will Wilkinson?

Because crap policy proposals like this go through a specific trajectory. When they get laundered legitimated by people who aren't frothing-at-the-mouth bigots, then they seep farther in the mainstream. Next thing, reporters are asking about them and audiences are bringing them up in Q&A. That's part of my complaint here: These guys' speculation has consequences.

(Can I just say I'm pleased and mildly amazed that the post has generated this much discussion? I really just wrote it as a vent, knowing that I don't have the humor chops to make it funny.)


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:17 AM
horizontal rule
114

re: 110

Last time Walkscore came up I was extremely skeptical about the quality of the data. Wonder if this is better?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:17 AM
horizontal rule
115

114: I think so; it's actual demographic data, as opposed to being built on google maps results.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:18 AM
horizontal rule
116

That is, it wasn't created to be (like walkscore) basically a toy. It's designed for actual policy and planning use.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:20 AM
horizontal rule
117

Interesting, I just reran the same Walkscore check I did before, when it came up with a stupidly low score for a location I used to live in Glasgow [which, in the particular area I lived is pretty much the walker's dream], and this time it scored very highly, so perhaps the incorrect result from before was due to gaps in Google's databases.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:21 AM
horizontal rule
118

113 - No one is amending the 14th amendment to get rid of birthright citizenship. Not gonna happen. This is all just right wing political theater, which makes WW's post all the more stupid.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:24 AM
horizontal rule
119

117: walkscore is apparently updating all the time, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:25 AM
horizontal rule
120

101: It's an example of a larger pattern of people who are good at $thing taking it for granted that forcing others to do $thing has nearly zero cost. Nearly everyone has some things they are so good at that doing them feels like nothing, and most also tend to forget how onerous the process of attaining that level of skill was. Handling money is particularly fraught because it tends to come with layers of anxiety, especially if you're poor or developed your attitudes towards money while poor even if you're currently UMC.

Exactly. It seems that pundits are in unanimous agreement that you'd have to be some kind of blinkered weirdo not to go into $80,000 of debt for college because people who get a college degree have a 95% chance of making more than $80,000 extra in salary over the course of your working life. What?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
121

No one is amending the 14th amendment to get rid of birthright citizenship. Not gonna happen.

Yes, of course.

But there are serious consequences to making it a part of the sphere of legitimate debate. I know I sound like a broken record, but it's NOT just idle shooting the breeze when people (who are read) discuss this stuff. You can sit on a bar stool with your friend or kvetch on your LiveJournal about how much you hate immigrants, and it has a very limited effect. The worst that's likely to happen is that your co-workers and family get hurt by your bigotry.

But when you're one of the, I don't know, 2,000 or so people whose political commentary forms the national conversation, then the consequences are a lot broader. Scaring, intimidating, and lying to people so that their kids don't get healthcare, they are scared to go to school,* and bureaucrats feel empowered to deprive people of legal rights is itself part of the problem.

*Arizona has had great uncertainty on whether SB 1070 would mean that schools were turning students over to immigration police, despite a policy that only students with criminal charges due to assault, etc. should be turned over.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
122

Rather, I'm imagining an iPhone app which will provide a real-time feed of local parking meter price fluctuations.


The city will issue smartphones to drivers, I hope.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
123

96, 101: I remember shocking my libertarian readers by saying that I hate to comparison shop and forcing me to analyze competing offers was itself a burden.

***
I understood the original post to be griping about primarily rightwing behavior and thought the examples (men advocating for restricting behavior) were good examples of when it is bullshit. Love that a bunch of leftwingers took it as a prompt for self-criticism.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:49 AM
horizontal rule
124

And nosflow plays the privilege card. As someone mentioned above, complicated pricing schemes are sometimes defended as allowing poorer people to substitute time, energy, and expertise for money. It is assumed they have these in abundance.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
125

I pretty much feel don't think Ron Paul is any different in terms of his ertswhile political movement than Helen Chenoweth. It's about the Black Helicopters paleocon paranoia, not Paul's flashes of anti-statism.

I disagree. First, Paul has the courage of his convictions. Second, he's driven by an internally consistent and well thought out critique of U.S. imperialism and the national security state, not just ignorant paranoia. Say what you want about his views on abortion, he is one of the five or ten most progressive members of Congress on national-security related civil liberties policy (e.g. the Patriot Act), defense spending, and foreign wars. That's just a fact. These are vital issues that account for a very large chunk of what the Federal government does, and Ron Paul is pretty much in the same place as Noam Chomsky on them. How could that not be important?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
126

123: A proliferation of market gimmicks does, at some point, seem wasteful and an imposition on many, especially those of us who are maximizers.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
127

126 - "In terms of his erstwhile political movement." What are Paulites accomplishing -- indeed, how are they ideologically different -- that would be different from a militia-trending paleocon movement that Chenowenth was the figurehead for? Is there a burgeoning movement from the rEVOLution blimp folks to withdraw us from Afghanistan?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:56 AM
horizontal rule
128

109: Humility is silence, though, indistinguishable from suicide on the internet.

Huh, I like this. Indistinguishable from retirement or hiatus, anyway.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:58 AM
horizontal rule
129

First, Paul has the courage of his convictions.

What does this actually mean?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:00 AM
horizontal rule
130

The deal with the GOP leadership is that Ron Paul is allowed to make his symbolic anti-MIC votes, so long as he doesn't do anything procedural that would actually impede it. Meanwhile, his main function is to siphon votes away from the Democratic Party (which, to be fair, isn't particularly better on MIC issues than the GOP).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:01 AM
horizontal rule
131

Oh, and to inject loony gold standard arguments from the fringe right into the mainstream discourse.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:03 AM
horizontal rule
132

131 - You mean "Austrian economics", you Keynesian parasite!! And don't forget a double scoop of race-baiting newsletters.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:07 AM
horizontal rule
133

Australian economics is all about the value of wearing short pants with knee high socks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:23 AM
horizontal rule
134

124: As someone mentioned above, complicated pricing schemes are sometimes defended as allowing poorer people to substitute time, energy, and expertise for money.

Isn't that the status quo as far as parking in San Francisco goes? Except I guess that anybody can substitute time, energy and expertise for money, not just poorer (but rich enough to have a car!) people. The point of variable parking schemes are to 1. keep people who can afford to pay from taking advantage of underpriced on-street parking and 2. to keep people from circling the block endlessly looking for parking, which will reduce traffic for (among other people) those who take the bus (who are often poorer than those in cars).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:25 AM
horizontal rule
135

If Ron Paul and Noam Chomsky were actually in accord about US imperialism, that would be an argument against Chomsky. But I don't think they actually are. I think Paul & the Paulites have a critique of US foreign policy, but I think it's a superficial one, rather than a well-developed one. It's a nativist, Manifest Destiny vision of the US as the Chosen Land, the City on a Hill (or, more likely, Ranch on a Hill) where white men can be clean and upright, and not have to worry about being polluted by going into foreign lands in search of glory or gold. It's just Wheeler, Clark and Nye in a slightly different form.

While I have my criticisms of Chomsky from an anarchist perspective, I think he is, authentically, a libertarian socialist. Paul and his ilk are certainly not socialists, except as aspects of socialist thought have been coopted by capital over the last 150 years. And I don't think they're libertarians in any meaningful sense of the term either. Their construction of citizenship is very clearly based on whiteness, maleness and Anglo-Saxon tradition.

Coming back to the OP, I guess the problem, to me, is not a failure of empathy or whatever, but simply the fact that the group of people we're talking about is totally compromised and bought in to the way things work now. I don't think Yggles is in favor of radical change any more than Ron Paul is, though one is certainly more palatable than the other. There's no significant push from the pundits to actually change the way the oligarchy works, whether that's due to a sincere ideological commitment to the oligarchy, or simply a matter of self-interest is debatable, but ultimately immaterial as it doesn't change the outcomes at all.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:26 AM
horizontal rule
136

126: This was my objection to some of the ideas being floated around health care reform. Those gimmicks are all the more burdensome when one is scared, in pain, and trying to navigate bureaucracy in the full knowledge that an error might mean financial ruin. There were some neat ideas that would make perfect sense if the patient was fully focused, perfectly rational, and had infinite time to evaluate options.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:27 AM
horizontal rule
137

1. keep people who can afford to pay from taking advantage of underpriced on-street parking and 2. to keep people from circling the block endlessly looking for parking, which will reduce traffic for (among other people) those who take the bus (who are often poorer than those in cars).

Also:
3. To help sort out people who may have been using highly valuable parking when they were going somewhere on the fringe of the valuable real estate.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:30 AM
horizontal rule
138

103: The important thing in this thread is that LizardBreath should get Amazon Prime right now.

I'll just mention, and this is really OT, that the deal with Amazon Prime is that only things bought directly from Amazon themselves qualify. If you're buying books, say, you'll have to buy Amazon's new copy (at likely twice the price of any used copies available). This pays off for Amazon tremendously, of course -- you're quite often paying more, often quite a bit more, for the new Amazon copy with free shipping than you would be for the half-priced used-but-as-new copy + $3.99 shipping.

It's a way for Amazon to make the used copies of the same books they themselves offer new ... disappear.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:31 AM
horizontal rule
139

Ron Paul's sqwaking about civil liberties and the military comes from the same misguided place as the rest of his philosophy of bullshit -- namely, maximizing selfishness and having a totally irrational, doctrinaire, and unrealistic view of how government or the world works -- even if it led him to vote for a cut in defense spending or to be OK on the patriot act. If Ron Paul was ever actually in charge of foreign policy or an actual police force, God help us. As it happens, he's just a meaningless, wacky add-on to the Republican coalition who appeals to a particularly annoying crowd who want to smoke weed and feel superior to the fundies in their hometowns.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:33 AM
horizontal rule
140

135 is a much smarter and less profanity-filled version of what I was trying to say.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:35 AM
horizontal rule
141

134: I don't really oppose higher street parking prices, or congestion pricing in general, although further sorting of people's options by earnings does irk. I was speaking more generally.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:41 AM
horizontal rule
142

Australian economics is all about the value of wearing short pants with knee high socks.

Both branches have their root in short pants.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:53 AM
horizontal rule
143

This pays off for Amazon tremendously, of course -- you're quite often paying more, often quite a bit more, for the new Amazon copy with free shipping than you would be for the half-priced used-but-as-new copy + $3.99 shipping.

It's a way for Amazon to make the used copies of the same books they themselves offer new ... disappear.

I've noticed two things about this. One, is that if you're really cheap, like, say me - you look at the used price + cost of shipping and if it's more than a dollar or two saved from the new price, you buy it anyway (even though you have prime). Two, and I don't know exactly how this works, but it seems that Amazon is buying directly from used book sellers (and probably price gouging the hell out of them while doing it, but this is largely on mass market trade paperbacks which never go for much anyway) and then selling used books "direct from Amazon" with prime shipping.

OT whine: I buy a lot of used (history) books, and I consistently get annoyed at how often their quality is misrepresented - I mark up my books; it annoys me to have someone else's crazy highlighting, etc., in there.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:53 AM
horizontal rule
144

I'm late to the thread, so I want to complain about a different part of the OP:

It's telling, she adds, that the principles of equal participation are so ingrained in American thought that people even feel the need to do this. "In other countries, people might look at you funny for even asking the question. Don't you WANT smart, educated people making good decisions for the rest of us?"

I'm not confident that I do, but to the extent I understand the claim that's being made, I think it's BS.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 11:58 AM
horizontal rule
145

and feel superior to the fundies in their hometowns

By supporting a Christian fundamentalist. Brilliant.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 12:00 PM
horizontal rule
146

Follow up to 141: I don't have an objection, provided there are adequate, cheap public transportation options.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
147

I do think the centralization of policy in Washington has increased the extent to which representatives make decisions for people distant or remote from them...more federalism would be desirable.

I couldn't agree more!


Posted by: Theophilus Eugene Connor, Opinion Holder | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 12:18 PM
horizontal rule
148

143: it seems that Amazon is buying directly from used book sellers (and probably price gouging the hell out of them while doing it, but this is largely on mass market trade paperbacks which never go for much anyway) and then selling used books "direct from Amazon" with prime shipping.

This is something called "Fulfillment by Amazon" (FBA): used booksellers can, if they choose to sign up, send all or a selection of their books to Amazon's warehouse, and Amazon ships them when sold (at a marked-up price to offset the free shipping) with free Prime shipping. The bookseller pays for the initial mass shipment to Amazon's warehouse -- not an inexpensive proposition. Amazon hasn't actually bought the bookseller's books; it's sort of a consignment arrangement. The bookseller gets a percentage of any of his/her books that sell, not sure how much. (A bookseller shipping and handling her own books gets 80% of any sales via Amazon; it's probably less through the FBA program.)

A relatively small percentage of booksellers have signed on to this: the advantage to them is not having to deal with the sale and shipping themselves, and not have to pay storage costs. As well as the benefit of taking advantage of those buyers who just see "free shipping!" and the Amazon brand name, and hit the one-click buy button without comparison shopping.

It winds up being almost entirely cheap mass-market paperbacks in this FBA program because they're cheaper to ship en masse, and if it doesn't work out, if there aren't many sales, the loss is minimal.

From my perspective as a bookseller, the upshot is that buyers are being trained to prefer the Amazon-branded product almost exclusively. And it's working.

To this: OT whine: I buy a lot of used (history) books, and I consistently get annoyed at how often their quality is misrepresented - I mark up my books; it annoys me to have someone else's crazy highlighting, etc., in there.

Please do give the seller a bad feedback on Amazon when this happens, for misrepresentation of condition.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 12:35 PM
horizontal rule
149

I'll just mention, and this is really OT, that the deal with Amazon Prime is that only things bought directly from Amazon themselves qualify. If you're buying books, say, you'll have to buy Amazon's new copy (at likely twice the price of any used copies available). This pays off for Amazon tremendously, of course -- you're quite often paying more, often quite a bit more, for the new Amazon copy with free shipping than you would be for the half-priced used-but-as-new copy + $3.99 shipping.

The only books I ever buy on Amazon that are expensive enough for me to pay much attention to the used/new price differential are academic textbook/monograph-ish things that can run $50 to $100. And with those, I often find that all the used copies Amazon offers are much more expensive than the new copy. I don't know why the used book market fails so badly in these cases, but it seems to.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 12:35 PM
horizontal rule
150

I am appreciating Parsi's informed, skin in the game discussion of this issue!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 12:37 PM
horizontal rule
151

I am appreciating Parsi's . . . skin

Sexist.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 12:41 PM
horizontal rule
152

To make 144 less of a driveby, if the claim that's being made is that political discourse in the US is uniquely bad or debased and that in other countries political discourse takes place on a higher plane or something, I'll just ask: which other countries, and what's your evidence for that?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 12:45 PM
horizontal rule
153

What does this actually mean?

Courage of his convictions = this .

If Ron Paul was ever actually in charge of foreign policy or an actual police force, God help us.

Ron Paul would be a much better President than Obama on international and security policy. I mean, much better. Have you ever actually read anything Paul has written or seen him speak?

I think Paul & the Paulites have a critique of US foreign policy, but I think it's a superficial one, rather than a well-developed one. It's a nativist, Manifest Destiny vision of the US as the Chosen Land, the City on a Hill (or, more likely, Ranch on a Hill) where white men can be clean and upright, and not have to worry about being polluted by going into foreign lands in search of glory or gold.

="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeEOy4EukdI&feature=related"> Demonstrably not true .

Here is a recent Ron Paul comment on the motivations of foreign brown-skinned Muslims who are killing white U.S. soldiers:

"It still amazes me that so many think that attacks against our soldiers occupying hostile foreign lands are motivated by hatred toward our system of government at home, or by the religion of the attackers. In fact, most of the anger toward us is rooted in reactions towards seeing their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and other loved ones, being killed by a foreign army. No matter our intention, the violence of our militarism in foreign lands causes those residents to seek revenge if innocents are killed. One does not have to be a Muslim to react this way - just human."

To me, that willingness to humanize a foreign enemy is a much more important indicator of concrete racial attitudes than something somebody else wrote in your newsletter twenty years ago.

What are Paulites accomplishing -- indeed, how are they ideologically different -- that would be different from a militia-trending paleocon movement that Chenowenth was the figurehead for?

it's a good point to shift it to the movement rather than Paul himself. In my optimistic moments I think the Paul movement is creating a broader popular base for questioning future U.S. military aggression and the war on terror, and humanizing our supposed terrorist enemies. In my pessimistic ones, I think it will get swallowed up by the worst of the quasi-fascist BS on the tea party right. I thought Rand Paul got a bit of a bum rap on the civil rights thing, but I'm really disappointed that he doesn't seem to have the guts to follow through on some of his father's more courageous positions.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 12:45 PM
horizontal rule
154

Environmentalists are some of the absolute worst in their willingness to trample all over real people in their quest to protect the environment. I've worked with people on both sides of environmental issues and it's been a real eye opener. There's often a simple indifference to how regulations might impact people's lives and more importantly to how the same or better result for the environment might be attained by less onerous regulation. Hurting people who are seen as benefiting from environmental degradation is part of the point for all to many environmental activists.

Late, but there's a lot of truth in this. Like pretty much every other group of human beings ever, the environmentalist community includes a great many morons, and those morons spend a lot of time picking fights that make it a whole lot easier for environmental bad actors to convince large chunks of the population that environmentalists are their tribal enemies.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 12:47 PM
horizontal rule
155

whoops, here is the link I screwed up in response to Natilo's claim that Paul was some kind of white supremacist isolationist.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 12:47 PM
horizontal rule
156

149: essear, I don't know what you're wanting to buy, but what's often going on with the used copies priced way out of scale is that they're being offered by people who don't actually have them in stock: they're ghost sellers, who just have a line on people who do have the books, so if you're strange enough to order 'their' copy, they'll be ordering, say, the copy my bookshop has at 1/3 of that price, and having us ship it to you, while you pay them 3x our price.

For that kind of subject matter, try checking bookfinder.com or addall.com.

Amazon's requirements for data upload are a bit difficult to handle for a lot of booksellers, to be honest, so it's not unusual for sellers to have the books you might want, but they just don't upload to Amazon, because Amazon can be a bitch to upload to.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 12:58 PM
horizontal rule
157

parsimon, is it ABE or Alibris that's still independent of Amazon?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:03 PM
horizontal rule
158

PGD, you seem to be discounting the newsletters a good deal more than I am. I'm not sure whether the fact that Paul outsourced them to a cranky racist goldbug makes it better than worse -- it certainly makes it easier to argue that he is not himself racist -- but ever since the full story of the newsletters came out, I've thought of Paul as basically a grifter.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:07 PM
horizontal rule
159

Good God is 153 bullshit. Wheeler, Clark and Nye gets it exactly right.

Just because Iraq and Afghanistan were bad ideas doesn't mean that it's time to sign up with a bunch of nativist isolationist wackjobs or simply give up on the international system. Has there ever been a time in American history when that's a good idea? No. This is black helicopter stuff in fancy dress. And that's even before you get to how anyone in his movement would actually interpret his ideas.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:11 PM
horizontal rule
160

It wouldn't be a book discussion unless I were pushing for Powell's, so: Hey, everyone! Go shop at Powell's!

Shipping is free over $50 (I keep a running list of things I want until I get to $50 and/or combine orders with my sibs and/or throw in a couple of classic kids books to have on hand for gifts). Their used books come straight off their own shelves. And . . . wait for it . . . they're union!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
161

Somewhat on topic: straight people may now begin to sound off on whether gay people should get married this afternoon. Motion to stay the Prop 8 ruling has been denied!


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:14 PM
horizontal rule
162

157: Alibris. Though it should be noted that ABE doesn't seem to have suffered any significant ill effects thus far since its acquisition by Amazon. I mean, they don't mark up prices, or screw around with bookseller descriptions, or anything. You're still getting the book direct from the bookseller, at his/her price, as he/she describes it in full (not truncated). ABE is still a solid venue. Definitely, numerous high-quality booksellers list material there that they're unable to list on Amazon*. People have separate and independent complaints about Alibris, and often refuse to list their inventory there. ABE is still the catch-all; everybody lists there.

* Amazon highly emphasizes books with ISBNs. If you don't sell a lot of books with ISBNs, you're probably not going to be on Amazon.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:14 PM
horizontal rule
163

Further to 160: If you enter Powell's through ILWU Local 5's website, the union gets a cut.

At least it used to be that way -- the current link doesn't have any words to that effect.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:18 PM
horizontal rule
164

161 - I think two hours is rather rushed to plan a wedding. I suggest gay people get married sometime next weekend, perhaps on a beach.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:20 PM
horizontal rule
165

164: concern troll.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:21 PM
horizontal rule
166

I'm the grumpy old troll, who lives under the bridge. And you can get married if you answer my riddle.


Posted by: Grumpy Old Troll | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:23 PM
horizontal rule
167

It's too late. I took your marriage license and now you'll never get it back.


Posted by: Swiper | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:35 PM
horizontal rule
168

Actually, Judge Walker seems to agree with 164 -- he has granted a temporary stay until August 18th.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:35 PM
horizontal rule
169

167: Swiper! No swiping!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:36 PM
horizontal rule
170

You know perfectly well that only works if you say it three times before I swipe.


Posted by: Swiper | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:37 PM
horizontal rule
171

You can have your marriage license back if I can tell people that your my new gay friends.


Posted by: SWPLer | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:37 PM
horizontal rule
172

158: you're right that I'm willing to leave those behind, and you're also right that they're a serious issue (although did you have to link to Jamie Kirchik to make the argument?...who's next, Peretz?). The bottom line for me is that over the past decade, Paul has been one of the most popular and effective spokesmen for far left progressive policies on U.S. military and security policy, as well as the war on drugs and some other issues as well. I've listened carefully to what he said in that role, he's been notably humane and I can see no interpretation of his statements under which they are a sinister cover for a racist agenda. Hundreds and thousands, possibly millions of lives worldwide are at stake in these issues, no to mention the future of American democracy. I'm disposed to build coalitions and not reach back and play gotcha with kooky-white-rural-racist connections. I also think Paul is the best chance to turn some of the scarier energies on the tea party right in a progressive direction.

159: Paul repeats "trade, talk, and diplomacy" ad infinitum, he's not an isolationist as you would know if you had bothered to look into his actual ideas. As for the easy slide back to pre-WWII anti-semitic isolationists every time someone questions the role of U.S. militarism in the international system, that's neocon bullshit. Also, the U.S. role in the entire post-WWII international system was/is problematically militarized, I wouldn't think there would be any debate about that here. Try some Andrew Bacevich on the continity between Iraq/Afghanistan and the previous international system.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:38 PM
horizontal rule
173

Swiper took my apostrophe and "e".

Bastard.


Posted by: SWPLer | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:40 PM
horizontal rule
174

163: Yeah, I didn't link to there because I'm not sure whether that's still the case. (But I always go in through the union's site anyway.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 1:48 PM
horizontal rule
175

If you can give three concrete and reasonably significant examples of anything that coalition building with the Ron Paul wing of the Republican party has ever acheived for progressives, I'd be amazed. The likelihood of future success seems even more desperately naive.

I like Bacevich, though I don't agree with him on everythign, but he's no Paulite. Having a crazy political philosophy, and being crazy, makes all of your ideas crazy. If Paul was actually in charge of anything, he would be a complete and utter disaster of the first order.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 2:03 PM
horizontal rule
176

Speaking very mildly: Ron Paul himself is so intertwined with the Paulite followers, or movement, that the man himself is a sidebar, I'm afraid. It may be unfortunate for Paul himself, but it's inescapable.

My last trip to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles had me sidestepping a table of Paulites on the sidewalk near the doors: they wanted to explain to me that the then-proposed health care reform legislation was a veiled attempt to put all our grandmas in prison take away our medicare raise our taxes do something bad. They were hysterical and out of their senses. Earnest, though.

If Ron Paul is a sensible man in his own right, it's too bad he's let this movement become a wing of the crazy party. The fact remains that he has, and they are.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 2:26 PM
horizontal rule
177

When I think of Ron Paul (and now Rand Paul, I guess), I remember something somebody said some time ago while watching a long story about Pat Buchanan and his unsettlingly creepy followers on PBS: "A politician gets the supporters he deserves.

OT: The scales at my gym indicate that I am now lighter than I have been since law school.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 3:04 PM
horizontal rule
178

Lighter because you've been making an effort at it? If you're looking to lose, then nicely done! It takes work and attention, so it is something to be proud of.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 3:48 PM
horizontal rule
179

||

helpy-chalk, In another thread you mentioned some book you read which convinced you that dependence was the norm in human society. Can you e-mail me the name?

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 3:51 PM
horizontal rule
180

Just because Iraq and Afghanistan were bad ideas doesn't mean that it's time to sign up with a bunch of nativist isolationist wackjobs or simply give up on the international system. Has there ever been a time in American history when that's a good idea? No.

So, what exactly are we to do? The international system only exists, such as it is, because it is guaranteed by American military muscle. Which needs to be demonstrated as credible. Which leads to interventions into places that are hard to get out of. Which demonstrates the limits of military power. The Pakistanis are not going to play nice with India just because we say pretty please, and Afghanistan is strategic depth to the Pakis.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 4:06 PM
horizontal rule
181

179: Sent.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 4:26 PM
horizontal rule
182

177.2: How much lighter? I mean, you can drop two or three pounds with a handful of bran flakes, some skim milk, and the Sunday paper.

I just finished my third run since 2006 or so. I'm up to 2.4 miles in 30 minutes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:16 PM
horizontal rule
183

I think I disagree with every sentence in 180. I'm only unsure about the last, because I don't know what "strategic depth" means.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:19 PM
horizontal rule
184

On the off chance that 182.1 isn't seen as supportive, keep up the good work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:20 PM
horizontal rule
185

I mean, you can drop two or three pounds with a handful of bran flakes, some skim milk, and the Sunday paper.

How much better can you do, then, if you launch yourself off a cliff every couple of weeks?!

Congratulations, Flippanter.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:28 PM
horizontal rule
186

The Pakistanis are not going to play nice with India just because we say pretty please

I'm pretty content to let the Pakistanis and the Indians work out their own affairs, just like we do with the Chinese and the Russians.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:32 PM
horizontal rule
187

The Pakistanis are not going to play nice with India just because we say pretty please, and Afghanistan is strategic depth to the Pakis.

And India's nuclear weapons have absolutely nothing to do with anything. Nor India's conventional forces, for that matter.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:33 PM
horizontal rule
188

182, 184: Pretty substantially lighter than, say, two years ago, but about ten pounds leaner than six months ago. This is a good hiking weight for me, and pretty gratifying to reach at all, but I wonder how long I can maintain it -- it would be hard to stay this light if I were spending time with other people who insisted on eating regular meals.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:34 PM
horizontal rule
189

That is to say, the notion that the entire international order would collapse without the U.S. maintaining a military presence in 130 different countries and a pocketful of active occupations begs a "graveyards are full of indispensable men" response.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:35 PM
horizontal rule
190

188: That's quite a bit more than a BM.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
191

Good job, Flippanter!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
192

Witt: When is the C-ville meetup?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
193

190 to 187.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:40 PM
horizontal rule
194

To return to the OP: I understand the problem here as being less a matter of PWI/ PWADI-- ie, not having skin in the game-- and more a matter of not acknowledging the not-obvious skin the PWI-er does have in the game that is shaping the policy recommendation.

If environmentalists are one of the worst offenders here, it's not just that 1) they are blindly benevolent because they want to Save The Earth or 2) they are willing to trade a couple hundred loggers in MN for trees. They are have a vested interest in 1) thinking of themselves as Good People or 2) having a place to go camping 2-3 days a year. This point is easier to make with old white guys and abortion.


Posted by: Sensible, Delurking | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:44 PM
horizontal rule
195

* Amazon highly emphasizes books with ISBNs. If you don't sell a lot of books with ISBNs, you're probably not going to be on Amazon.

I'm curious about this...I'm not sure I understand what it would mean to not deal with ISBNs -- that you don't sell many books published since the ISBN system went into wide effect? Or is there some other method of not having ISBN numbers that I don't get?

(Also, I know that Amazon is the morally suspect choice, but I am a sucker for ease of use (and cheapness - and I don't like free shipping minimums because it encourages unnecessary purchases. You can put me in the middle of the line to go to the wall when the Revolution comes.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 5:56 PM
horizontal rule
196

153: I really want to be sympathetic to Ron Paul and his acolytes, but PGD, you obviously want it a lot more than I do. This is the opposite of correct:

I thought Rand Paul got a bit of a bum rap on the civil rights thing


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:06 PM
horizontal rule
197

the notion that the entire international order would collapse without the U.S. maintaining a military presence in 130 different countries and a pocketful of active occupations begs a "graveyards are full of indispensable men" response.

I feel the need to repeat this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:08 PM
horizontal rule
198

The Pakistanis are not going to play nice with India just because we say pretty please, and Afghanistan is strategic depth to the Pakis.

180: TLL, I might be missing your point. Do I understand you correctly to be saying that US military intervention helps ensure no India-Pakistan war? If so, how does that work exactly?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:12 PM
horizontal rule
199

195: that you don't sell many books published since the ISBN system went into wide effect

Right. "Many" books is relative: our stock is about 50/50.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:12 PM
horizontal rule
200

199: I didn't know you did mostly old books. Is a first edition of Rebecca West's The New Meaning of Treason worth anything? And do cheese stains cut the value by much?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:36 PM
horizontal rule
201

||

The definitive comment on McMegan.

|>


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:41 PM
horizontal rule
202

199: Thanks! I don't buy many pre-1970 books (those I borrow from the library - yay, ILL) so I wasn't sure if I was completely misunderstanding the point.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 6:56 PM
horizontal rule
203

This is particularly wrong with regard to environmentalism, because the whole point of environmental damage is that it (generally) has a few localised and identifiable beneficiaries and a lot of widespread unidentifiable victims.

I think it depends on which sort of environmentalist you're talking about. The mainstream ones, sure, though I do think they sometimes display a distinct lack of empathy. However, the deep green types are just mirror images of full on radical neo-lib techno-conservatives.

As for the Iraq war, personal knowledge cut both ways. There was genuine support among Iraqi exiles, and I'm not just talking the professional exiles like Chalabi. Or take someone like Juan Cole, who was on the fence on the war up through late 2002, refused to 'march for Saddam' even after he decided that due to lack of an international consensus the war wasn't a good idea, and routinely spoke of the Iraqi 'SS' in 2003.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:02 PM
horizontal rule
204

Expressing love for Ron Paul or Justin Raimondo for their position on foreign policy seems crazy to me. They're old school white supremacist far right isolationist types. Sure, that means that on some issues they'll agree with the left, but it doesn't change what they are.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 7:06 PM
horizontal rule
205

I don't know what's wrong with you people -- you don't like Chairman Mao, you don't like Ron Paul. I give up, you can just wallow in your tepid moderation.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:21 PM
horizontal rule
206

if the claim that's being made is that political discourse in the US is uniquely bad or debased and that in other countries political discourse takes place on a higher plane or something, I'll just ask: which other countries, and what's your evidence for that?

Ah, no, that's not at all what I meant to say. The claim was that some other countries have a culture that tends to be more accepting of the idea that experts/elites should make policy. Deference to authority, in a sense.

And no, I don't want to start naming countries. I've had enough contact with enough of a social cross-section of non-Americans from far-flung corners of the world that I'm confident saying that in other countries, elites accused of being uninvested in the policies they're arguing would not necessarily be so reflexively likely to claim that they ARE TOO invested. Whereas with Americans it's basically the guaranteed go-to response, regardless of political affiliation.

Pakis

Ahem. Dispreferred.

When is the C-ville meetup?

Good question! I'm around from Aug. 20-24 (well, early on the 25th). Saturday is pretty tied up during the day; other than that, everything I'm doing is flexible. So name the place/time!

Who else is in VA? I'm not good at remembering this stuff, but it would great to meet commenters and lurkers alike.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 8:57 PM
horizontal rule
207

It probably wouldn't be too hard for amazon to be able to handle the LCCN numbers, which I think pre-date the ISBN by a few decades - you see them on old paperbacks. I found them useful when I was entering books into the library thing thing, which I found useful until I got lazy and stopped using it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:43 PM
horizontal rule
208

Also, there was a story in one of the awful local papers saying that San Francisco had ordered some huge number of new variable pricing meters. The range of prices was going to be something like 25 cents to 6 dollars per hour, which is sort of a huge range. I wonder what kind of congestion is associated with people thinking they have a good space finding out that it's $6/hour and then pulling back out immediately.

Anyway, in SF I always used Muni to get downtown. Or with people who don't hate driving in SF as much as I do, we went to parking garages, not meters on the street. I don't doubt that parking should cost a fair amount in downtown SF (and other congested areas) at most hours; I just think it would be good to make it clear to people, within a certain range of time periods, what it will cost before they go.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 9:49 PM
horizontal rule
209

The original post seems confused (and takes a gratuitous shot at white men as well). Not having a personal interest in an issue isn't bad, it's good. That's why judges are supposed to recuse themselves if they have an personal interest in a case. What's bad is offering strong and definite opinions on things you don't know anything about. This is related to not having a substantial personal stake but not the same thing.

Another issue is people may not care as much about certain groups of people as you do. But this is a difference in values not a logical error.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:04 PM
horizontal rule
210

127

"In terms of his erstwhile political movement." What are Paulites accomplishing -- indeed, how are they ideologically different -- that would be different from a militia-trending paleocon movement that Chenowenth was the figurehead for? Is there a burgeoning movement from the rEVOLution blimp folks to withdraw us from Afghanistan?

For the record many (most?) paleocons opposed the war in Iraq.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:07 PM
horizontal rule
211

209.sentence2->209.sentence1(parenthetical)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-12-10 10:12 PM
horizontal rule
212

and Afghanistan is strategic depth to the Pakis.

Really, really don't use that term. If you're Pakistani it can be deployed as a seriously agressive insult to other Pakistanis but otherwise, no, unless you thnk it's cool to refer to African Americans with the N word, or Jews with the K word. (The preferred abbreviation is in fact "Pak", but that's an adjective only, as in "Indo-Pak wars". Pakistani is only 9 letters, put your should to it.)


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 1:21 AM
horizontal rule
213

183: "strategic depth" translates as "Pakistan is not very big east to west, so if India invades we won't have much room to retreat into. Idea! If we have a friendly government over the hills in Afghanistan, we can retreat there and mount guerrilla raids and airstrikes back into occupied Pakistan."
Whether this would actually work or not is highly dubious, but the Pakistani top brass believe it with near-religious fervour, and it's why they've been mucking around in Afghanistan since the 1970s.

Pretty much all of the rest of 180 is nonsense. If US military might is the only thing keeping the Pakistanis "playing nice" with the Indians, then you have a definition of "playing nice" that includes four real wars, a thirty-year insurgency and multiple mass-casualty terrorist attacks on major cities. Short of a nuclear exchange, it's not clear how much less nicely they could be playing.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 3:05 AM
horizontal rule
214

And YES to 212. You can talk about Kazakhs and Tajiks and Afghans because Tajikistan means "land of the Tajik". (Of course, not everyone in Tajikistan is a Tajik, and not all Tajiks live in Tajikistan, so be prepared to talk about Tajikistani Uzbeks and Afghan Tajiks and so on until your head starts to go round and round like Colonel Dedshott's and you decide to seek employment in a slightly less tangled part of the world, like France.)

But Pakistan doesn't mean "land of the Pak". It's an acronym for Punjab-Afghan-Kashmir-Sind-Baluchistan that also means "pure". There was never a Pak group living there.

Also, it's a serious ethnic slur.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 3:12 AM
horizontal rule
215

205 is funny.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 5:15 AM
horizontal rule
216

213: They recently removed a derogatory gesture from the ritual stamping fuck-you-I'm-lowering-the-flag-but-I'll-be-back-tomorrow-asshole ceremony. And added a smile!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 6:52 AM
horizontal rule
217

208: watch this handy introductory video to learn more!

212: I've known brits in Boston to be shocked and offended when somebody at a party talked about heading out to the "packy", thinking they meant "Pakistani-owned corner store" and were being totally racist, when in fact they meant "package store", which is Masshole for liquor store, and were only maybe racist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 6:56 AM
horizontal rule
218

214. The land of the Pak exists only in the imagination of Larry Niven, where it's welcome to remain.

217.2 Thanks for the tip, not that I imagine I'll be visiting Boston any time soon.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:03 AM
horizontal rule
219

217: Ahaha. I've had this same reaction (in RI). I mean, I didn't think they were being racist, but man it is a weird term to hear tossed around. "Hey -- I'm headed to the packy, whaddaya need?"


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:05 AM
horizontal rule
220

"Masshole" is probably not apt. All sorts of non-Masshole natives (and apparently those foreign types from RI) use the term as well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:08 AM
horizontal rule
221

220: Hee. I took Masshole to mean all the residents of MA, not a subset. But yeah, even the people I've heard say it in RI have said it with a bit of an eyeroll, a bit of slang that wasn't really something they said without irony.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:13 AM
horizontal rule
222

I like the word Masshole, because Massachusettsite is too hard to spell.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:16 AM
horizontal rule
223

I've definitely heard people use it without irony -- my driver's ed teacher and a cousin of mine lea immediately to mind. But I do think it tends to be something that people use more now because they know it's a regionalism and find that delightful, as opposed to, say, "rotary", which is just the word for the thing it describes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:20 AM
horizontal rule
224

222: I've never heard anybody use that word.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:21 AM
horizontal rule
225

223: I find it pretty delightful that MA and RI each have their own name for "milkshake." RI's is wacky -- "cabinet."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:26 AM
horizontal rule
226

225: yeah, that's a weird one. Now, "frappe", that's perfectly normal.

I had to explain to Blume what a "grinder" was, the other day.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:27 AM
horizontal rule
227

Actually as a kid I remember being desperately curious about milkshakes, since I'd only ever had frappes. Also I remember being desperately curious about Ten-pin bowling, as we only had candlepin (televised on Saturday mornings!).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:29 AM
horizontal rule
228

226: What you call grinder and I call sub my mother grew up (in Irish Westchester) calling a "guinea wedge." Nice!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:29 AM
horizontal rule
229

MY CABINET'S BETTER THAN YOURS!


Posted by: OPINIONATED RHODE ISLAND | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:44 AM
horizontal rule
230

"Cabinet"? You just made that up. Stop trying to make cabinet happen.

"Guinea wedge"? For Italian hoagies or all hoagies?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:45 AM
horizontal rule
231

230.1: your milkshake is weak, friend. Try a coffee cabinet.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:46 AM
horizontal rule
232

Oddly enough, the Rhode Island term for Cabernet Sauvignon is "mil cheique".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:50 AM
horizontal rule
233

From the link at 201, this is genius: Step ibn-Fetchit


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:50 AM
horizontal rule
234

How could Blume have lived in New England for years without learning what a Grinder is? I learned that in like three days. Maybe I was just more into sandwiches.

I'm still unclear on the precise meaning of the word "Masshole." I've heard it used by New Hampshire people to mean "rich, obnoxious jerk from the South" but it also seems to mean "dickhead sports fan from Southie." Or does it just mean any asshole from Massachussetts?

[stupid sports-themed rant about how I hate New England deleted]


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:50 AM
horizontal rule
235

230: Out here in the northeast, sub shops are still largely Eyetie affairs -- the meats and cheeses are all Italian stuff like capricola and provolone. (Subway is a relatively recently-arrived exception.) I was completely amazed when I moved to Chicago and sub shops were crappy and didn't have real provolone and good bread and served American cheese.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:52 AM
horizontal rule
236

Actually in Boston most of the sub and pizza shops are greek, these days. They make kinda weird pizza.

234.2: like most insults it's not particularly well defined. I use it to mean something like "Mark Wahlberg back when he was beating up elderly vietnamese guys for their beer".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:56 AM
horizontal rule
237

I had to explain to Blume what a "grinder" was, the other day.

This is an exaggeration. I knew generally what a grinder was, and asked only if it referred specifically to certain kinds of meats. Like, can you get sliced turkey on a grinder, or only sausage-y things that have, as the name would imply, been ground up?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:56 AM
horizontal rule
238

Anyway, the really good sub shops are Vietnamese.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:58 AM
horizontal rule
239

236: I almost changed that to NYC-area actually, because RI pizza places are all Greek, too (which is the only slice of NE I know anything about), but I don't know that I was ever in a sub shop up there.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:59 AM
horizontal rule
240

I didn't grow up with any big regional sandwich identification. And to the extent that my region does have regional cuisine, my parents were like "Look what the Martians do! How curious!"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 8:01 AM
horizontal rule
241

Speaking of sandwich meats, I've been curious for a while about the origins of this weird kind of Pastrami that is very common in the LA area but that I haven't seen anywhere else or written up much, and that is not a self-consciously "local" food. The pastrami is thin and stringy and comes "dipped", i.e., pre-dipped with grease that melts into the bread, and is served by and for black folks and old white folks in the San Gabriel valley). Here's an example.

There are also places here where you can get super good versions of Jewish deli pastrami, but this is different.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 8:09 AM
horizontal rule
242

Pittsburgh's Jewish neighborhood currently has no Jewish delis, down from two in 2007. Robert Halford needs to reopen one of them.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
243

Monday night, Aug 23, works best for me.

I can come to CVille over the weekend, but I will have kids with me.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 8:23 AM
horizontal rule
244

The original post seems confused (and takes a gratuitous shot at white men as well).

No doubt the original post would have been more sensitive if it had been written by a white man.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 8:48 AM
horizontal rule
245

242: Everybody apparently wanted a bakery. I have no idea why.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 8:49 AM
horizontal rule
246

gratuitous

Really?

Gratuitous: adj. Not called for by the circumstances; unwarranted.

For the record, neither unconsidered nor unwarranted.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-13-10 7:26 PM
horizontal rule