Re: Frum on Obama

1

I don't have the drive and imagination to tell you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 1:55 PM
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I don't have the drive and imagination to tell you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 1:55 PM
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And I repeat myself because I'm too nonhierarhcial.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 1:56 PM
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Is that really the same Frum that wrote speeches for George W. and co-wrote An End to Evil with Richard Perle?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 1:57 PM
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Yes.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 1:58 PM
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4 was intended to be rhetorical.

Admittedly, also pointless.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 2:00 PM
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I think that criticism is close to but not quite on the mark. I would be inclined to say that, in any dispute, he seems happy to get the most that is politically possible.

On one hand, that's a reasonable, reality-based perspective. On the other hand, maddening.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 2:05 PM
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I am sick of Nosflow's consent-based, nonhierarchical, "I solicit your opinions" style. This blog needs the rule of an iron fist, a visionary leader who has enough guts to lead rather than follow.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 2:05 PM
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It is a reasonable critique of the Obama presidency, but it's not one that can be delivered by a Republican candidate.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 2:06 PM
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he seems happy to get the most that is politically possible.

It seems to me that he isn't really interested in finding out what the most he can get is, even along the dimension of most-ness he favors.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 2:09 PM
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I believe that essentially all backseat critiques of political negotiations in Washington are bullshit. Which doesn't mean that 10 is wrong, necessarily, just that we don't actually know most of what's going on. Figuring out what's been left on the table vs. what reasonably could have been achieved is not an easy game, at all.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 2:14 PM
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10: Maybe the thing he most likes is bipartisanship.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 2:14 PM
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I acknowledge the justice of 11.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 2:16 PM
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Yeah, in large part I agree with 11, although from a more anti-bourgeois democracy bent than I presume Halford intended it.

I think the real negotiations are the ones in which the CEOs and their ilk decide what their tame politicians are going to do. The vicissitudes of Wall Street manipulation are more relevant than some 3 hour meeting between some figureheads.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 2:23 PM
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Frum's critique certainly has a shot at being more persuasive than the nutty "black Hitler" stuff in which the GOP currently trades. Except it still involves trying to critique Obama's stimulus and economic policies from the right, from the alternate universe in which Milton Friedman's word is holy writ and "trickle-down economics" is credible. The US media and political environment is absurd and obtuse, but there must eventually be limits to how much of this glaring nonsense it can tolerate.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 2:23 PM
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15: but there must eventually be limits to how much of this glaring nonsense it can tolerate

Wanna bet?

I was on the bus yesterday, and some oldster was declaiming about how the only way to show the Afghans that we meant business was to drop a couple of tactical nukes on some of their villages. I was feeling full of beans, so I yelled out "No, what we need to do is drop a tactical nuke on [name of rich suburb]". Interestingly, both he and the black guy of about my own age he was ranting to wound up agreeing with me that rich people were much more of a threat to those of us riding the bus through working-class south mpls than any Afghan villager. But of course none of us are media gatekeepers.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 2:31 PM
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16.1: No... no, I wouldn't wanna bet.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 2:32 PM
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Trickle-down economics has been conventional wisdom for every media gatekeeper for at least 30 years, never being questioned. The key is to use the word "jobs".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 2:36 PM
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Okay, you and Frum are doing pretty well, and the picture of Obama as someone "who gets things done" no matter the cost to his principles, party or the country is not too bad for a start.

An example from the worries over at the firedogpound

So the Democrats came up with 2 million in cuts and 2 million in cuts, wanted some revenues and Republicans walked away. Obama met personally with the thugs, and today met with Dems. Democratic Congressman asked Obama to his face if he was going to cave.

The fear is that faced with the financial apocalypse, Obama will stake a position yo the right of the Democratic Congress, and leave them to either get between the President and the Obamabots, or take the blame for the financial crash. Watch how this works in the next months. Republicans simply "don't have the votes" to raise the debt ceiling. So, im a midnight panic, it will be Kucinich and the progressives who will be pressured to save the world and pass deep cuts in Medicare and Medicaid with tiny tax increases.

We saw this with health care, Obama and Reid managed it so that it was on the shoulders of leftmost congresspersons like Kucinich to get it passed. But Kucinich doesn't get the credit.

Too much coincidence and convenience that this pattern is repeated over and over. Don't trust Frum or Republicans, they are very good liars. And don't underestimate Obama.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 3:12 PM
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Oh, and because it will up to Democrats to slash the welfare state, I do expect the debt ceiling crisis to go a little past the wire, with bonds lowered a little, interest rates rising, stock market crashing a few hundred points.

And you will all be screaming:"Kucinich, for God's sake slash Medicaid! Please!"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 3:16 PM
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||
In a triumph of multitasking, I've just listened to 7.5 hours worth of continuing legal education while doing a day's work. Only 16.5 more hours to go over the next month.
|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 3:17 PM
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Oh...and then the House Democrats, taking the hit for Obama, will lose ten more seats in 2012.

Obama is extremely smart and competent. His goals are simply not our goals.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 3:18 PM
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Obama:"Here's the deal, Dennis. The Senate will not filibuster it, we have 60 votes exactly. I managed to get 50 Republican house votes. I know it really sucks, but if you and the progressive caucus don't vote for it, we will have another Great Depression. Take it or leave it, vote yes or I will guarantee that history will call you the man who killed healthcare the global economy."

This pattern started in Oct 2008 with Obama being the skilled negotiator on TARP, and forcing Nancy and the House Dems to pass that PoS. This is how he gets what he wants.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 3:29 PM
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21: Did they cover how to defend against strangulation?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 3:30 PM
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What is this, the inquisition? I was in the same room with speakers playing the CLE lectures for the required period, and I clicked the button certifying that I was listening every six minutes. It could have been about strangulation defense. Maybe.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 3:36 PM
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OUR CHIEF WEAPON IS SURPRISE. THAT'S ALL... JUST SURPRISE.


Posted by: OPINIONATED SPANISH INQUISITION | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 3:47 PM
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16: Was it Edina?


Posted by: tulip | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:08 PM
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Except it still involves trying to critique Obama's stimulus and economic policies from the right, from the alternate universe in which Milton Friedman's word is holy writ and "trickle-down economics" is credible.

You're misunderstanding Frum here. Frum's argument is that Friedman would have critiqued Obama from the left. Here's Frum describing this:

The "tax cut" promise caused Obama to direct almost one-third of his big stimulus into an individual tax rebate that no economist would have regarded as effective, for reasons explained by Milton Friedman more than 40 years ago.

Frum is arguing (correctly, I think) that the Friedman of 40 years ago would have understood the lack of efficacy of tax cuts in this circumstance. No Republican today can acknowledge that tax cuts are ineffective.

It's the Overton Window at work. By the standards of 40 years ago, Obama is a right-wing nut. (Friedman himself was as much of an ideological whore as Greenspan, and would have changed his views to accommodate the lunacy of our day, but 40 years ago he made a real contribution to economics.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:20 PM
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DeLong weighs in

  1. Substantively, I think Frum nails what is going on.
  2. As a result, for the first time I think it is more likely than not that Obama will lose the 2012 election. Never mind that as a reality-based leader he will be vastly superior to whatever wingnut or hypocrite the Republicans serve up--if the elite press adopts Frum's critique, then we have sixteen months to listen to the media speak with one voice about how Obama is not tough and decisive enough to be a good president.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:23 PM
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the Overton Window at work

Agggh!

(I 100% agree with your comment, but this phrase delenda est).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:24 PM
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How odd, that was supposed to be an ordered list. When I view source I see "<ol>" I'm not sure why it's showing up bulleted.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:26 PM
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28.1: No, he isn't. The "tax cut" he is assailing Obama for, and invoking Friedman to assail Obama for, was a tax rebate to the middle class. Republicans can very easily call tax cuts for The Little People ineffective, because that's the entire dogma of trickle-down. What's supposed to happen is that you cut taxes endlessly for the wealthiest segment of society and their spending is supposed to provide you with an economy.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:27 PM
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Dare I say that I find DeLong excessively . . . shrill these days? Not that he's wrong about most things, because he's not, but the endless why-oh-whys and definitive statements about what must be done get wearying. This probably means that I'm a bad person, piece of evidence no. 13494243.

I do think DeLong is wrong about the election, though; I'm happy to take a bet on an Obama victory with anyone who wants to play.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:31 PM
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InTrade is still giving better-than-even odds for Obama, although they're dipping as the Republican contenders start to monopolize the stage. It's probably not a bad time to take the bet.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:33 PM
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The problem with the 2012 election is that there will never again be any pro-Obama enthusiasm. What has he been trying to do all this time? Nobody knows.

30: What phrase would you use instead?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:33 PM
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I do think DeLong is wrong about the election, though; I'm happy to take a bet on an Obama victory with anyone who wants to play.

I agree, I think Obama wins relatively easily.

On the other hand, it disturbs me that McManus' line, "His goals are simply not our goals" seems more and more convincing.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:35 PM
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Did Bush need positive enthusiasm to win in 2004? No, he needed negative enthusiasm for John F. Kerry.

He hasn't had to do it very much, but Obama does know how to go negative.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:35 PM
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37: Did Bush need positive enthusiasm to win in 2004? No, he needed negative enthusiasm for John F. Kerry the Ohio Secretary of State in his pocket.

But yes, Obama may well need to go negative.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:38 PM
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His goals are not our goals, nor should they be. He's the President of the United States, not the President of the People who Elected Him. His job involves, necessarily, maintaining a certain continuity with previous governments, and not just changing everything immediately to suit his own tastes. Part of this has to do with the immensity of the institution he runs, the need to run it effectively and the fact that it was pieced together by several predecessors, I imagine; another reason is that it contributes to the stability of the country, unlike certain Latin American countries where the new government's traditional first act is to arrest (or worse) the last government.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:43 PM
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I just checked out In Trade; the prices seem off but the market is so nonliquid that it sucks to actually place bets in. Think that Michele Bachman is overpriced at a 14.6% chance of winning the Republican nomination? I certainly do, but the maximum amount I could win by shorting her is $4.30, not worth the time it takes to make the bet. Lame.

35 -- I'd just get rid of the phrase entirely, since it conveys absolutely zero information. The last paragraph of 28 could just start off as "By the standards of 40 years ago . . ."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:43 PM
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Hrm. The Frum piece essentially reiterates David Brooks's newest narrative. Brooks was on Meet the Press on Sunday nattering on somewhat passionately about this: Obama is a delegator (sp). Obama puts together teams to handle the actual work. Obama comes in at the last moment if any troubleshooting or strong-arming needs to be done. Obama leads from behind, defensively!

This narrative had already gotten a start (the "leading from behind" thing) regarding the Arab spring. I'm not sure it's worth assessing it substantively rather than viewing it as the latest potentially winning message Republicans think they may have landed upon. Brooks is probably very happy with himself, even if he is, in truth, whining.

Is there anything to it? I dunno. Halford gets it right in 11; we have no idea what's actually being said or done in the debt-limit negotiations. I will say that shifting attention away from the perfidy of Republicans, and toward Obama's potential failings, is a mistake.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:44 PM
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(39 was me)

Halford: That isn't quite how it works, but that's somewhat outside the scope of the thread.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:48 PM
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Is there any way to make real money by making bets on InTrade? If so, how?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:50 PM
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25: I was just going for the Wisconsin Supreme Court joke.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:50 PM
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Robert, the Overton Window is an extremely useful concept. Sure, repetition is tedious, but Delong is correct to support people who are tiresome in their insistence on invoking useful concepts.

(Yes, Delong is incorrect about Obama's re-election odds.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:51 PM
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32: DS, your narrative seems to have the Republicans opposing Obama's tax break for the middle class. This is ahistorical.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:55 PM
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I'm lowering standards of discourse across the internet.


Posted by: Opinionated Overton Window | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:55 PM
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46: My mistake, the tax rebate was for first home buyers, not "the middle class." The point remains that it was it wasn't was a tax cut for the wealthy, which is the chief form of tax relief approved by Republicans.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:58 PM
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that it was it wasn't was a tax cut for the wealthy,

that what it wasn't was a tax cut for the wealthy,


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 4:59 PM
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It's a useless, cliched trope because it can be used in literally any statement about politics. Has the discussion of any political issue changed in any way? The Overton Window has moved! Do you want to say anything about politics? You're "moving the Overton Window." Did history happen? The "Overton Window" moved!

In the paragraph quoted above, you're right that the political discourse about economics has shifted over the past 40 years, but the use of the phrase "Overton Window" adds literally no value while putting on pseudo-scientific airs.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:00 PM
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The "Overton Window" concept really opened my eyes about the idea of some things being acceptable and some things not being acceptable in public discourse, and how this gradually changes over time. This is in no way an intuitive notion. Things that are "reasonable" now were not "reasonable" then? It's a very useful idea.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:02 PM
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43: Well, since you insist, the figures you were looking at were about accepting bets that have already been offered. As in, right at this very moment you can take those four (?) available bets against Bachmann at 14.6%. But you could also offer 10,000 bets against Bachmann at 14.6% and see how many of those people bought; it would be more than four, but I don't know how many since I don't have that kind of money. There are evidently several users with tens of thousands of dollars in their accounts.

Real money, though? The best way would be to place a big longshot bet and get lucky. If Kos had put his money where his mouth was back in 2006, he'd be, uh, even richer.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:02 PM
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I have a thousand fake dollars (or so) on a Greek default this year.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:06 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:06 PM
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48: Wasn't there a one-time tax break in the amount of $400? (I'm forgetting -- $400 for people filing singly, more for couples?) It was supposed to stimulate the economy, on the theory that people would spend this money; in reality, an awful lot of people didn't even realize it existed. Poor advertising on the administration's part.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:06 PM
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50: I'm not getting this. The concept's wide applicability renders it useless? The fact that it can be invoked incorrectly means it's wrong to invoke it correctly?

When I mentioned the "Overton Window," I was talking about the change in the parameters of debate. It's true that I could have used the phrase "change in the parameters of debate", but that doesn't strike me as an improvement.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:07 PM
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The "Overton Window" concept really opened my eyes opened my eyes about the idea of some things being acceptable and some things not being acceptable in public discourse, and how this gradually changes over time

51: Not to be a jerk about it, but, really? Did you not get an 11th grade history lesson on the Civil Rights movement (or, literally, any other kind of political history whatsoever)? Did you really not know that the spectrum of public discourse over issues changes over time? And why is the use of the "window" concept to describe the phenomenon in any way more descriptively valuable than just referring to "history" or actually describing the ways in which discourse changes?

52: Thanks!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:08 PM
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51: Yes, this.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:08 PM
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39: American political institutions reached their present state of necrosis by this exact reasoning. Eventually, if their decline is going to be arrested, someone is going to have be the one who says: "You know what? This is nuts. Some investigations do need to happen, and somebody does need to go to jail." Someone is going to have to be the bad guy.

The paradox of contemporary America is that the half of the political establishment that has an actual case for doing this is internally fractious to the point of irresponsibility, and thereby cautious to the point of outright cowardice. I'm not just talking about Obama here, the problem is way deeper and broader than just one guy. Meanwhile, the half of the establishment likely to actually try it went insane four decades ago and now lives entirely in Bizzarro World, from whence it would be making the argument almost entirely as projection.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:08 PM
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(59.2 oversimplifies the contrast between the parties, of course.)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:10 PM
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Halford, would you be happier if instead of "Overton Window" everyone started saying "range of discourse deemed acceptable by the mainstream media"? Because I'm pretty sure someone could make you a greasemonkey script to that effect.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:13 PM
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unlike certain Latin American countries where the new government's traditional first act is to arrest (or worse) the last government
You say this like it's a bad thing. Granted, making sure the arrests are for the right reasons would be difficult.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:17 PM
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61 -- maybe, but subbing in "range of discourse deemed acceptable by the mainstream media" helps to point out the incredible banality of the concept as as it's generally used. In PF's 25, he couldn't say "It's the shift of range of discourse deemed acceptable by the mainstream media at work" (because, no shit, discourse changes over time; he'd have to say something like "On economic issues, the country has moved so far to the right that Milton Friedman now sounds like a moderate," which gives you some sense of what changed and why and how.

I realize that I may sound like a crank.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:18 PM
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I mean 28, of course. The Inquisition and LB's CLE have nothing to do with this!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:19 PM
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That being said, 39 is probably how Obama sees himself, working for institutional consensus even in situations he could act unilaterally, but the effect is to fail to address serious problems and to legitimize the preceding rightward drift.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:23 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:23 PM
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55 - The Obama administration was operating on perfectly sound research that suggests that people are more likely to spend tax refunds if they're baked into your paycheck and not delivered as a big-deal one time amount of money. It was the right thing to do as a multiplier, and the wrong thing to do politically.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:24 PM
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I don't type very quickly when I've had a few.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:24 PM
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DS, note this from Frum:

With unemployment at 10% and interest rates at 1%, the president got persuaded that it was debt and interest that trumped growth and jobs as Public Issue #1.

This is a critique of Obama from the left. This is what Krugman says.

Granted, Frum's objections are perfectly consistent with the views of right-wingers of days past. I have argued that in any sensible polity, Krugman occupies a space on the political right.

If only I had some way of describing, in simple fashion, how rightwing concepts of old became today's leftism.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:25 PM
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And why is the use of the "window" concept to describe the phenomenon in any way more descriptively valuable than just referring to "history" or actually describing the ways in which discourse changes?

Sort of like how the use of the "Dunning-Kruger effect" concept is more descriptively valuable than the vague knowledge that, you know, sometimes people may not realize that they may not realize something, and therefore they may think they know things better than you do, or something.

Also, I never had any history lessons on the Civil Rights Movement. Every year, my US history class began somewhere between the Pilgrims and the Continental Congress, and proceeded slowly until it got to somewhere between Reconstruction and the Battle of Inchon, and then rushed through everything else in about two weeks, ending in 1984.

And you would really need an in-depth class, that addressed how and why the typical person thought about things instead of just addressing Major Events By Major Historical Figures, and probably extended into the present day, to grasp how the conventional wisdom changes, instead of figuring it out later on your own. There are so many times in class when people are just clamoring to ask the teacher "Why did this Great Awakening thing happen? How was this possible?" or "Why did people think the races were different in intelligence?" and the response is "You know, people were different back then. They (had a much different relationship with authority)/(didn't know the scientific facts we know now)". How did we get from those weird people to the people we have today? It's like a jump to a different planet, not a gradual shift.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:26 PM
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Well, but sometimes it is a gradual shift. Sometimes not. Sometimes it moves in one direction. Sometimes another. That's why the "window" concept obscures as much as, if not more than, what it reveals.

If only I had some way of describing, in simple fashion, how rightwing concepts of old became today's leftism.

That would be nice, but just referring to the "Overton Window" won't do it!

/crankism. Speak how you like, folks.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:29 PM
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Anyway. Frum's (and Brooks's) narrative is not much more than a variant on: Obama isn't manly enough for the job. He's not a decider. He's practically girly.

Does he appear to split the difference too often? Yeah. I'm actually sympathetic to some of 39, however. Trying to deal with an opposing party of utter nutcases cannot be easy; the electorate appears to be divided, quite confused, and knee-jerk in its responses. It is deeply, deeply important to try to keep the Houses of Congress, as well as the Presidency, in Democratic hands.

35: What has he been trying to do all this time? Nobody knows.

Damage control.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:37 PM
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When I view source I see "<ol>" I'm not sure why it's showing up bulleted.

It's not enough to view the source, you also have to view the … source of the source. By which I mean, the CSS:

li, ol, ul
{
[…]
list-style-type: disc;
[…]
}


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:41 PM
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Also, I believe that the "Dunning Kruger Effect" is based on some actual empirical psychological research, whereas the "Overton Window" is just some phrase that some dude made up to mean "political discourse."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:42 PM
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This blog needs the rule of an iron fist, a visionary leader who has enough guts to lead rather than follow.

"Your guilty consciences may force you to vote Democratic, but secretly you yearn for a cold-hearted Republican who'll cut taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king! You need me, Springfield Unfogged!"


Posted by: OPINIONATED SIDESHOW BOB | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:47 PM
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74: You gotta pick, Robert. Either the idea of the Overton Window is obvious, or there isn't sufficient evidence to prove this effect exists. Can't have it both ways.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:47 PM
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Uh, why do I have to make that choice? It's just a banality repackaged as a catchphrase that, my argument is, obscures more than it reveals. There is no "effect"; it's just a particularly lame way of saying "political discourse."

With the D-K effect, they took a hypothesis about human cognition (basically, the less they know the less they know it) and did some empirical testing that seems to demonstrate that the hypothesis is true.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:51 PM
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It's just a banality repackaged as a catchphrase....

Whoa! Let's not condemn entire vast provinces of Internet discourse lightly, people.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 5:55 PM
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67: Seeing this late, but yes.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:00 PM
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It's almost like you people can't stay on-topic!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:04 PM
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The Overton Window is the time between when you realize the water isn't going down the bowl and when the first water goes over the rim of the toilet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:05 PM
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What's all this business of giving names to concepts everyone understands, anyway? Just think of how many redundant words and phrases we're using every day. Laziness, is what it is. I bet we could get by with a vocabulary of only a thousand words and like it. "Vocabulary," for instance: the word conveys absolutely no information. Better to just say "bunch of words."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:17 PM
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83

Not to be a jerk about it, but, really? Did you not get an 11th grade history lesson on the Civil Rights movement (or, literally, any other kind of political history whatsoever)?

I have to say that the concept of "The Overton Window" was useful in helping me figure out why it was advantageous for conservatives to have public figures saying batshit crazy things.

I had a mental model in which movements like Civil Rights, Feminism, Gay Liberation succeeded by overcoming people's innate conservatism, and that to do that you had to have some people working the margins and some people point out that entire categories which had been considered unthinkable were actually thinkable.

But it only helps so much, I really don't have a good mental model for how the US Republican party has ended up being so extreme.

I'm not still not quite sure how it is that having a bunch of people say, "lets drive into a wall at 50 miles an hour" makes the people suggesting driving into the wall at 20 miles an hour look more reasonable. I would think that it would make clear how bad an idea it was to drive into the wall at all. So that confuses me.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:22 PM
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I don't think we need "words" either. "pieces of talk".


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:23 PM
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Did you know that the typical Paleolithic person used almost no words at all, just a handful of gestures, and yet was healthier than we are and a better communicator? Paleolithic pundits didn't rely on crutches like the "Overton window" to make their points.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:23 PM
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I'm not still not quite sure how it is that having a bunch of people say, "lets drive into a wall at 50 miles an hour" makes the people suggesting driving into the wall at 20 miles an hour look more reasonable. I would think that it would make clear how bad an idea it was to drive into the wall at all

Allow me to suggest that driving into walls wears its badness a little bit more on its face than what the Republicans suggest doing.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:27 PM
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84: Yes! Good. Soon we use just ten ten pieces of talk to say all.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:27 PM
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"Overton Window" is just some phrase that some dude made up to mean "political discourse."
Maybe this is the problem. Are you aware that these two phrases have different meanings?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:30 PM
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Me want comment. And fire.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:30 PM
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85: If Ullog of the Bear Clan tried to get them to call fire the "Ullog of the Bear Clan heat source," I bet he'd have gotten a few sharp rocks to the face.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:30 PM
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I'm not opposed to the "Overton Window" as a concept in social science. I just find it annoying in editorializing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:31 PM
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Allow me to suggest that driving into walls wears its badness a little bit more on its face than what the Republicans suggest doing.

True. But, consider the idea that Natilo passed along in 16, of using nuclear weapons in Afghanistan. The only thing that makes that less obviously bad is that, for most people, it's a purely abstract idea. They don't have any concrete image of the likely outcome, in the way that they would if you suggested driving through a wall, it's just a verbal signifier for "do something tough." But if you took the idea seriously I think it would be almost as obviously bad an idea as driving into a wall.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:35 PM
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83: I really don't have a good mental model for how the US Republican party has ended up being so extreme.

I don't exactly have a good mental model except to adduce bits and pieces: libertarian impulses. Rhetoric about how government is the problem. Economic downturns throughout the past several decades. More rhetoric about how government is the problem. Racial conflict. Government winds up being up more of a problem (redistribution of wealth, more libertarian impulses).

How the nation has become so uncaring about its fellow citizens: free market capitalism.

I think, if you as the empowered class progressively disempower the lesser classes, they go to war amongst themselves. He who controls the food controls the people.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:38 PM
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92: That's because the liberals run the schools and don't teach the kids the important things. The kids get to put condoms on bananas, but not one school in America lets the kids go to watch a nuclear test.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:41 PM
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The only thing that makes that less obviously bad is that, for most people, it's a purely abstract idea.

But that's the whole distinction. What makes having a bunch of people say "lets drive into a wall at 50 miles an hour" make the people suggesting driving into the wall at 20 miles an hour look more reasonable is the fact that most of the population doens't have the damnedest hint of a clue whether driving into a wall is a good idea or not, so they're looking to thought leaders in the media, etc. to tell them. And if reasonable people are suggesting not driving into a wall at all, and other reasonable people are suggesting driving into it at 50 miles per hour, well.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:41 PM
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93 sure is something.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:41 PM
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85 et al. Ha ha. But you still haven't responded to my point -- the fact that the Overton Window concept ends up being a crutch that actually obscures explanation. PF's original use in this thread is a great example -- his substantive point, which is true, is that the politics of economic intervention have grown more conservative over the past 50 years or so. What he said was "It's the Overton Window at work" which just means, effectively, "something changed somehow in how people talk about politics." It's a particular use of pseudoscientific jargon that substitutes in lazy, agentless thinking for actual thinking about how politics works. Cf. these protesters who say "We are just moving the Overton Window to the left" to justify their protesting.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:42 PM
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96: I get upset sometimes.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:50 PM
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But that's the whole distinction.

I don't think that's enough. I think you also require a theory of power.

As an oversimplification, I don't think "the overton window" just shifts, I think it has to be forced and that it isn't the people who make extreme statements who force it to move, it's people with power.

I mean there are plenty of people who think it would be a good idea to go back to the gold standard, but that idea isn't anywhere near being acceptable in mainstream political arguments.

But, if that simplification is true, you no longer have a theory about rhetoric, per se, you have a theory of power and, most likely, of class struggle.

I don't think it completely reduces to class struggle. I think Rush Limbaugh, for example, gained power before mainstream Republicans embraced him, and he it do through charisma and force of personality.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 6:51 PM
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To the extent that the "Overton Window" means anything more than a banal, pretentious repackaging of "political discourse," there's the strange notion, which I think NickS is getting at, that somehow politics is purely rhetorical and exists along a spectrum of a clearly defined "window" so that if you start saying crazy things you somehow start moving a window around along a defined linear path -- i.e., just by saying crazy rhetoric you can move a defined box of political discourse in a linear left or right direction.

But that's an insanely simplistic vision of political reality. First, in most cases isn't at all necessarily true -- an extreme position is as likely to turn people off as it is to shift the purported "window." Second, the idea entirely ignores the function of political power. Third, the idea ignores the fact that people may actually be responding to real or genuine concerns in thinking about politics, even if they misapprehend or misunderstand those concerns. There are real substantive reasons why economic discourse moved to the right; it wasn't just the product of some magically shifting rhetorical window.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 7:00 PM
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100 before seeing 99.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 7:01 PM
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Here is more about Obama!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 7:03 PM
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100 - I think if you look at the narrow question of how political reporting works, it's more plausible. Reagan said crazy things, but got elected and was popular, so the establishment media started treating some crazy things as though the craziness was in dispute; after thirty years of electorally successful crazification, reporters treat non-craziness as though it has the burden of doubt.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 7:11 PM
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83: But it only helps so much, I really don't have a good mental model for how the US Republican party has ended up being so extreme.

Just don't assume it's trying to appeal to rationality or coherency. It isn't. It never was.

The big discovery of movement conservatism was that cynical people could manipulate irrational people into supporting them by playing up to irrationality, to resentment, to reaction against a world that didn't seem to make sense any more or to acknowledge the privileges (racial, gendered, religious, whatever) that they took for granted. The way to play to that resentment is to stoke it, to make sure the people feeling it feel threatened so they continue to support you unquestioningly, to be extreme about denouncing the evil forces in society working against them and about presenting yourself as the good, honest, down-to-earth party working for them. That's fundamentally how any hate movement works, and at bottom I don't think it's overstatement to say that that's what movement conservatism is.

That's why watching the Dems try to play the bipartisanship game is so maddening. The pretense that they have a rational, good-faith partner across the aisle to negotiate with is in the big picture just that: a pretense. By nature of how the GOP solidifies its base, it can't be the kind of partner that the Dems try to pretend it is. It has to get steadily more extreme to keep the "wackos" coming out. And if reality is at odds with what it's useful to have the "wackos" believing, then so much the worse for reality.

It's become entrenched and gotten steadily worse because the model works, and produces a well-organized and effective political machine, and allows polices and the writing of legislation that makes more money for the real (wealthy) base.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 7:14 PM
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It will come as no surprise if I say that I agree with NickS that you need class struggle in the mix in order to explain the public's susceptibility to certain rhetoric.

Political reporting these days is laden with a sense of deep embarrassment that anyone would actually call out what's going on.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 7:17 PM
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103 -- maybe, but the key there is "got elected.". There was an actual political shift in this country in 1980 that resulted from a seizure of power by conservatives, after which the reporting largely followed (it's not surprising that reporting reflects the interests of the powerful). And, yes, political discourse has changed -- in many complicated ways -- but the change is as a result of the development of the institutional right in this country and its ability to play on resentment and fear and a number of other factors that are not remotely captured by a model of "let's say crazy shit until the spectrum of reporting moves.". Notably, the spectrum of reporting wasn't moved at all by a lot of crazy shit conservatives said in the 1980s (I'm thinking of South Africa and gay rights, but there are plenty of other examples).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 7:23 PM
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And I think the mental model for how the Republican Party became so extreme is pretty simple -- with the success of the civil rights movement and the near-simultaneous development of a reactionary backlash, you started to have for the first time in well over 100 years ideologically coherent political parties, that ceased being dominated by moderate deal-brokers and started being controlled by ideologues. This has happened to the Democrats as well as to the Republicans, although the Democrats are still more ideologically and socially diverse and are therefore less radical.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 7:33 PM
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okay, new idea.

Obviously I'm playing dumb to some extent in this thread. I have as many ideas as anybody about why American politics are screwed up and, as I said sincerely, I find the term "Overton Window" to be useful.

But what I'm starting to think is that I do have some question about a term that purports to explain how both good and bad ideas gain popularity (or pick some term other than "good" and "bad" you may think that neoliberalism is a collection of mostly bad ideas, but is it really true that the same theory explains how neoliberalism became popular and how "torture = good" became popular?)

It makes a certain amount of sense. I think there is a natural process such that when we hear an idea that sounds plausible but unfamiliar we look around to see if anybody else is talking it up. I may think that it's a good idea to tear down a bunch of power plants and replace them with windmills but I understand why somebody would need more than just my say-so, even if I have a bunch of numbers to explain my position. It makes sense that people need to see that an idea has some level of mainstream support before they embrace something that's new.

But, that said, I just wonder if it does make sense to have a theory that claims as virtue of the theory, that it's agnostic about the actual persuasiveness of the argument.

I'm just starting to think about this, it just occurred to me.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 7:37 PM
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108: Kahneman and Tversky have bunches of research, at an individual level, on this kind of stuff.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 7:45 PM
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That's helpful to know. Would you recommend anything in particular?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 7:48 PM
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I'm not opposed to the "Overton Window" as a concept in social science.

I've never encountered it there, probably because I don't read a lot of Political Science that isn't about Africa, though I'll trust you and wikipedia that it is one, but the very idea of that drives me a little nuts in a "What, there's some law that prevents you reading Bourdieu?" kind of way.

On the other side, I sometimes wish that we could popularize Bourdieu's doxa-orthodoxy-heterodoxy concept in place of the Overton window, but I feel certain that end result of that would be the misuse of the terms and me becoming like unto the physicists who develop seizures whenever someone uses "Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle" in place of observer effect.


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 7:49 PM
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It would be odd if the Overton Window shows up in the poli sci literature since it seems to have been invented by Joseph P. Overton, a right wing hack with a JD who was at a conservative think tank in Michigan.

As best as I can trace its intellectual history, the term's popularity in the liberal blogosphere derives from a Daily Kos post which borrowed the term from "Tacitus," aka horrible person Josh Trevino.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:00 PM
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109: I can't recall the name of their big book, but it its very easy to find around a university. It is not a concise book with a clear talking point or two and I don't know where to find that for their work. They are/were psychologists. From a political science perspective, Zaller was the big name and articulator of the most commom approach when I left. Very roughly, his theory is that people exposed to new ideas would reject them if the new idea forced them to change too many old ideas. The ability to see that any two ideas are contradictory is variable, so people who know shit are harder to shift from their views. All the messages that aren't rejected have a chance of viewing in on a person's opinion. The media would therefore play a big role as the source of most of the messages.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:01 PM
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112: I never heard it when I was in the area, but there are plenty of similar ideas.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:03 PM
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113: "All the messages that aren't rejected have a chance of viewing in on a person's opinion." s/b "All the messages that aren't rejected have a chance of affecting a person's opinion."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:08 PM
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107: Neither party is controlled by "ideologues."

The GOP is controlled by people who want to make more money; the idea is masked in pseudo-ideological language, but there's little sign the purveyors actually believe most of what their "ideology" purports to deliver, and the popular base is driven by reactionary tribalism, not ideology. That's why attempts to analyze its positions in terms of coherent ideas and policies invariably turn up "hypocrisy" if you don't understand that common antipathies, not coherent ideas, are the point.

The Dems are an attempt to weld a party together out of an awkward coalition including labor, minorities, urban middle-class liberals and a more marginal portion of the same moneyed constituency that drives the GOP. About as close as they come to "ideology" is a conviction in bipartisanship, which is really just a tactic used (and overused) both internally and externally.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:12 PM
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the idea is masked in pseudo-ideological language

the goal is masked is pseudo-ideological language


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:13 PM
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Overton seems to have primarily devoted his career to union busting, especially the teachers unions. The popularization of the phrase "Overton Window" began in right wing seminars and was continued by Trevino and Glenn Beck.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:17 PM
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Don't think about a Window?


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:20 PM
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118: Arguably, if there's one thing on which right-wing hacks deserve to be believed, it's the importance and efficacy of media manipulation and "framing." That's the single area in which the Republicans show genune genius, and is a large, large part of the story of their success. It's why dKos (whose then-proprietor is himself a disaffected ex-Republican) picked up on the idea.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:20 PM
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Hah! And here I just made a framing joke. Oh Lakoff, what have you wrought.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:21 PM
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I actually basically agree with 116, but the point is that both parties represent something closer to coherent tribes and further from amorphous coalitions than they did 40 years ago,the Republicans more so.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:23 PM
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122: That's fair to say, of the GOP side of the divide, anyway. If anything I'd say the Dems have moved further into being an amorphous coalition, becuase they're now also trying to assimilate the disaffected conservatives for whom the conservative "movement" has lost its lustre. Hence "Blue Dog" Democrats and all the internal struggles they entail.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:31 PM
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The Dems moved from having all most of the racists and all the black people, so that is very much less amorphous.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:35 PM
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The Democratic party is only more divided than in the past if you ignore the South, which you can do for analytical purposes but you really can't do if you want to win a national election.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:39 PM
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125: The Democratic party is only more divided than in the past if you ignore the South

I'd say the advent of the "Blue Dogs" reintroduces the kinds of contradictions associated with the party's Southern base of yore by a different vector. The main difference is that this time, these elements can't be "peeled off" the way Nixon did with the Southern Strategy that forged movement conservatism as we know it. The Blue Dog constituency has already been burned by movementarianism; it would be even more work for the Republicans to gain them back than it took to lose them in first place. But the fragmentation of the Dem coalition remains a disadvantage and not enough "Blue Dogs" have peeled away to kill forty years of movement conservative strategy.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:46 PM
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" There are so many times in class when people are just clamoring to ask the teacher "Why did this Great Awakening thing happen? How was this possible?" or "Why did people think the races were different in intelligence?" and the response is "You know, people were different back then. They (had a much different relationship with authority)/(didn't know the scientific facts we know now)". How did we get from those weird people to the people we have today? It's like a jump to a different planet, not a gradual shift."

The most useful thing i ever studied in a history class was the early Nazi period of Germany. the political rhetoric/policies etc. of the nazis wasn't 'lets kill 50 million people and level most of europe' but things an awful lot like what republicans say about family, nation, subversive city perverts, unionists, etc.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 8:50 PM
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I missed 69, but this:

I have argued that in any sensible polity, Krugman occupies a space on the political right.

Is exactly correct.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 9:08 PM
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Exactly wrong more like it, unless you mean the Krugman of over a decade ago. Single payer health care as part of a vastly increased welfare state, steeply progressive taxes, heavily regulated economy... We're talking the views of a standard issue sixties mainstream liberal. Any society where that is the 'right' is one where the center believes in limiting the private sector to small and medium sized businesses, and the left in a full on Real Existing Socialism (TM) type economic model. To use real life examples, this would have been a bit to the left of late seventies/early eighties France.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 9:19 PM
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129: Which is a bad thing because of the what now?


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 9:24 PM
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129: Could be I was giving pf's summary of Krugman too much credit. Suppose I should know better by now.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 9:36 PM
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That was me. It is a bad thing because replacing our current spectrum of mainstream economic views with their mirror image is simply flipping the crazy and harmful, not eliminating it, or even lessening it. I want Walmart unionized and forced to provide decent working conditions with good wages, not as one division in a state owned large retail store monopoly.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 9:40 PM
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132: What is there in your 129 that indicates anything remotely like one division in a state owned large retail store monopoly?


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 9:46 PM
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When I say that in a society where Krugman (2011 model) is a right winger, then the left represents a vision of full state ownership of the economy and the center is the rough equivalent of Mitterrand c. 1981. For the Florentine back in 1981, with an economic vision formed even earlier than that, this did not include major retai chainsl. Today it would.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 9:56 PM
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Aargh. Me again


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 9:57 PM
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I mostly agree with the following bit in the Frum link:

Yet even as he yields to his opponents on the fundamental question, Obama is surprisingly rigid in his political tactics. Back in 2008, Obama made two big promises: a tax cut for everybody earning less than $250,000 and an Afghan surge. I think it's safe to say that Obama believed in neither of them. I'd argue that neither was important to electing him. Both were adopted for defensive reasons, to shield himself from conservative critique. In the very different circumstances of 2009, both promises rapidly showed themselves to be counter-productive. The "tax cut" promise caused Obama to direct almost one-third of his big stimulus into an individual tax rebate that no economist would have regarded as effective, for reasons explained by Milton Friedman more than 40 years ago. The Afghan surge promise was regretted by Obama himself as soon as he came into office, and he spent 9 months looking for ways to evade it. He proceeded with both, leading to the two biggest problems of his presidency: a stimulus that added hugely to the national debt while under-delivering on jobs and an expanded Afghanistan war that must end in a reversion to the same disappointing status quo that prevailed before the Afghan surge. Obama probably anticipated both results. And yet he staggered forward anyway. As ready as Obama is to surrender to uncongenial political pressures, he is strangely inattentive to negative real-world results.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 10:04 PM
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Mostly directed at Halford: I'm not going to defend the concept as a brilliant bit of social science, but I think there's something to be said for it as a helpful metaphor. In particular, the concept 1) emphasizes the boundaries of acceptable discourse, as opposed to focusing merely on the currently contested middle ground, and 2) that the range of the acceptable doesn't merely drift, but is shaped by the position-taking of political actors. And I think both of these are important, and not at all banal: if you're organizing metaphor is instead something like a tug-of-war, with "public opinion" being a single point right in the middle of the rope, you're going to have a very different view of things.

You're claiming that the concept downplays agency and power, and perhaps in some people's minds it does, but this seems a misreading of it; as with most decent models of politics, the value is in organizing further investigation and focusing one's attention, not in delivering predetermined answers from on high. In this case, thinking about an OW directs one to ask: when do crazy ideas discredit the speaker, versus legitimating the somewhat-less-crazy? Which directs one to thinking about power, institutions, and so forth. And while political psychology/behavior were never my subfields, my impression--somewhat bolstered by what Moby's saying--is that there is a fair amount of research that's generally supportive of seeing political discourse as a space whose dimensions are contested as much at the edges of respectability as in the center.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 10:09 PM
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I'd further emphasize that it's *not easy* to test claims about political psychological mechanisms of the sort at issue here. Survey research is expensive, and it's really hard to tease out exactly what made someone believe something. I don't believe the big NSF-funded surveys ask questions that would really help resolve questions of whether Overton Windows move or expand in the hypothesized ways, and perhaps they should, but that means persuading the surveyors to hand over valuable question space to asking questions about things that, by hypothesis, aren't on the political agenda at the moment.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 10:15 PM
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Regarding the Overton window, while the current terminology may not be ideal, I think there are some important concepts here. That there tend to be a fairly narrow range of views that are considered respectable, that views outside this range don't get a fair hearing and that moving public opinion often involves shifting the boundaries of what is considered the range of respectable opinion.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 10:16 PM
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Recently I've been reading a lot of early American history. What most stood out to me was how completely ungovernable the country was. (civil war yo.).
My take is that after the civil war we stumbled into a situation where the "normal" dysfunction of our fucked governing structure was mitigated by the fact that southern racist assholes wouldn't vote for the conservative party. Now that we are no longer in that period (because they hated the blacks more than Yankees) we are just reverting to the ground state of our shitty government structure. In other words were doomed.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 06-28-11 10:55 PM
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I think Overton Window is a useful shorthand, but big lie works too.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 12:59 AM
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I can't believe we're seriously arguing this. The reaction in the liberal blogosphere to that tacitus post is like the reaction of a chemist to being shown the secret formula for Coca-Cola. Now we see how they do it. Honestly, if some social scientist came up with it, nobody would believe it. Only a right-wing hack has the credibility to tell us why right-wing hackery is so successful.

Consider these facts. The Republicans just had the most disastrous Presidency since at least the Great Depression. They lost control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency, but in a partial rebound they managed to regain the House. What is the net effect of all this? Political discourse is now further to the right than it was in 2008.

In the late 70s, the Democrats had an unsuccessful Presidency, after which they lost control of the Presidency and the Senate in 1980. They regained control of the Senate in 1982. What was the net effect of all this? Political discourse was further to the right in 1982 than in 1980.

How have the Republicans managed this miracle of moving political discourse to the right after winning and losing? Because there's an Overton Window, and they know how to shift it, while we don't.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 1:26 AM
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Alternatively, simple message discipline of a sort that would be the minimal entry ticket to professional politics in most of the democratic world.

Did I say repetition works?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 1:38 AM
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Isn't solicitation illegal?


Posted by: Guido Nius | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 1:49 AM
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Alternatively, simple message discipline of a sort that would be the minimal entry ticket to professional politics in most of the democratic world.

Difficult when your party isn't a membership organisation.

This is what happens when you try to run a 21st century political party as if it was a bunch of Whiggish connections from the late 18th century. The model is 200 years past its sell by date. The Republicans have understood this; the Democrats haven't, so far.

Extraordinarily, to judge from the on line bleating I read, there are plenty of Democratic activists who seem to believe that the Republicans are somehow cheating by operating like every other party in the world.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:22 AM
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141: Godwin violation!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 5:07 AM
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Exactly wrong more like it, unless you mean the Krugman of over a decade ago. Single payer health care as part of a vastly increased welfare state, steeply progressive taxes, heavily regulated economy... We're talking the views of a standard issue sixties mainstream liberal.

Add in free trade-ism and rejection of socialism, and you've got the platform of some right-of-center parties in sensible countries, no? Heck, David Cameron doesn't merely support single-payer healthcare, he supports single provider healthcare.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 5:50 AM
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Heck, David Cameron doesn't merely support single-payer healthcare, he supports single provider healthcare.

No. He supports single payer, but not single provider, or rather he wants single payer and commissioner with a brand wrapped round multiple private and state providers all held together with magic and committees and a nasty union-bashing agenda.

However, much of his agenda to achieve this has now been abandoned after it became clear we'd all find our inner Bob.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:09 AM
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142: Walt, in the Yglossian view, we live in the best of all possible worlds given the underlying structure of politics.

And that underlying structure is more-or-less immutable. The problem with the whole "Overton Window" concept is that it implies human agency in shaping debate. Sure, right-wingers create the Heritage Foundation and endow university chairs and buy networks and whatnot, and leftists march in the streets and make movies and whatever, but that sort of thing lacks efficacy in shaping the debate.

Nate Silver offered an interesting rebuttal to the Yglossian view here.

Karl Rove, of course, offered the definitive rebuttal:

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

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:11 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:12 AM
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148: Yeah, I'm being glib here. If there's anything left after you subtract the glib parts, that's what I really think.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:12 AM
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I think that when assessing European conservatives you need to take into account what they're working with. Thus Cameron, with his push for massive cuts to the welfare state is IMO way to the right of Krugman. Gerhard Schroeder, with his tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts to the poor and policy of deliberately encouraging greater income inequality was also to the right of Krugman.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:22 AM
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149.last: I hadn't realized that that aide had been identified.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:22 AM
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153: Footnote 1 of the Wikipedia piece contains the purported ID.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:27 AM
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151 also to 152. I think my actual point has to do with the O****** W*****, and how the framework of debate shapes outcomes.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:29 AM
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132: I want Walmart unionized and forced to provide decent working conditions with good wages, not as one division in a state owned large retail store monopoly.

Where as I would like to see it become a worker-owned corporation at a minimum and preferably something less monopolistic as well. I'd also like to believe that there are options outside of the state-capitalist to neo-liberal to monopoly capitalist spectrum, but understand that these other options are still largely hypothetical. I guess in 131 I was saying that I wouldn't at all mind being a centrist in a redefined spectrum.


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:52 AM
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126: The main difference is that this time, these elements can't be "peeled off" the way Nixon did with the Southern Strategy that forged movement conservatism as we know it.

I posit that the fact that those elements could be peeled off means that before they were peeled off the party was more divided that it is today. I'd also point out that the Senate Blue Dogs of today are blocking the main body of the Democratic party by supporting filibusters when the people filibustering are almost entirely Republican. For the civil rights legislation in the 60s, the Democratic Senate leadership was facing filibusters that were conducted almost entirely by members of its own party. I agree with Rob that the parties are less amorphous than in the past. The huge rise in the number of unregistered independents also supports this.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:08 AM
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How have the Republicans managed this miracle of moving political discourse to the right after winning and losing?

Three answers:

1) You're measuring peak to trough. The early 70s represented a high-water mark for American liberalism (yes, Nixon was president, even so) so it shouldn't be surprising that the country was moving away from liberalism during the Carter presidency.

2) In both cases you are talking about a period of time in which people's economic situation was getting worse. I'm inclined to believe that's good for conservatives in many ways, as people become more tribal in tough times.

3) I'm not sure that I concede that the political discourse has shifted to the Right since, say, 2004. It may have shifted to the right since 2008, but that's a pretty small window of time to judge.

142: Walt, in the Yglossian view, we live in the best of all possible worlds given the underlying structure of politics.

Yglesias yesterday, responding to the Frum article under discussion:

I know I've obtained a reputation in certain circles as an Obama apologist because I don't believe that disappointing policy outcomes out financial regulation or the public option or immigration reform or climate change are primarily attributable to poor legislative tactics or a lack of "leadership" on Obama's part. But that's largely because I believe all critiques of Obama that aren't critiques of his macroeconomic management are slighting the role that poor macroeconomic management has played in exacerbating everything else.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 8:55 AM
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158 last: By my recollection, Yglesias' critique of Obama's macroeconomic management is limited to Obama's failure to make appointments to the Fed in a timely fashion. He was also somewhat skeptical of Bernanke's reappointment.

Beyond that, Obama's stance on, say, fiscal stimulus seems to fall into the category of things that Obama couldn't do anything about. (That's how I remember Yglesias framing it. My Google-fu hasn't turned up any direct commentary on this.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 9:38 AM
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Yglesias' critique of Obama's macroeconomic management is limited to Obama's failure to make appointments to the Fed in a timely fashion.

He's also said things like this:

In political terms, though, the actual performance of the economy in 2012 is going to be much more important to Obama's re-election than the budget deficit. In particular, by directing its policymaking more at the things that the public thinks are the cause of economic problems rather than the things that economists think are the cause of economic problems, the administration is making is running a huge risk of GOP takeover of the House in 2010. What's more, they've left themselves with almost no margin of error for their own re-election.

Or this

But this one again highlights how insane it was of Democrats in the White House and on Capitol Hill to ignore Christina Romer when she said the economy needed a $1.2 trillion stimulus and deliver a $700 billion stimulus insane. We can argue about whether the White House or the Hill was the main locus of the madness, but it was truly mad. More effective macroeconomic stabilization policy would have made Obama more popular and made the public more confident in the ability of the government to govern. That, in turn, almost certainly would have improved the situation facing congressional Democrats.

Also, to Yglesias' credit, he's been pretty consistent in talking about the massive human costs of the ongoing unemployment and output gap in the economy and advocating for stimulus.

To be fair, while I was looking for those posts I found a fair number of other posts in which he said, essentially, "I don't think the White House team has been making major mistakes." But I do think he's been consistent in claiming that it was a huge practical and political mistake to not push for more stimulus.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 9:56 AM
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He also thinks the fed should literally be dropping money out of helicopters. I don't think it's fair to say he's being timid, rather his criticism is concentrated on fed policy rather than congressional policy. But 159 is seriously understating the scope of his criticism of fed policy.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:12 AM
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160: Ah, thanks. I stand corrected. He's not preaching futility there.

One reason that Nate Silver's commentary (linked in 149) interested me is that it isn't uncharitable to Yglesias - or Obama - though some commenters took it as a smackdown directed at both.

In my adult life, I've seen the political spoils go to the risk-takers, and almost all of those risk-takers have been Republicans. I think Silver is right to raise the possibility that the current era would be an auspicious time for the Dems to roll the dice every now and then.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:15 AM
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Rather than Tweety's Unfogged Enterprise thread, there should be a permanent thread, next to the Unfogged Reading Group, devoted to slagging on Yglesias.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:17 AM
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Aww, Yggles has been reading too much Scott Sumner, who I guess believes that Bernanke can stand at the podium, say:"We are shooting for 4% nominal GDP" and we'll get 4% NGDP. Or Bernanke says:"Whoopee 4% core CPI is our everfreaking target" and we'll get 4% NGDP.

The actual mechanisms are a lot more complicated and difficult, leaving Fed politics aside. Krugman says Sumnerism will fail.

Now the helicopter drop might work, but a) that's fiscal policy, and b) it might cause a rise in the price level, but probably not a rise in inflation, expectations, or jobs.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:37 AM
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4.3.a: s/b "fiscal policy that must be approved by Congress"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:39 AM
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Ok, the helicopter drop would work, if you followed my plan, which is to print until the markets believe you are never going to stop printing. The helicopter that never stops, or stops when the world looks like Zimbabwe.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:42 AM
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I never expected to see Brad Delong repost one of Emerson's comments. I'm guessing that's not an endorsement, exactly.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:48 AM
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167: That is a great comment.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:56 AM
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How have the Republicans managed this miracle of moving political discourse to the right after winning and losing?

Surely, the answer has nothing to do with economic and social reality, and everything to do with saying crazy things in public to move the "Overton Window" to the right. This is why left wing blogs are literally the most important hope for America, and why it is more important that McManus rant on the internet about starting revolution than that anyone actually organizes anything.

Also, compare the [perfectly sensible from Trapnel, but not in fact how the "Overton Window" concept is used]

as with most decent models of politics, the value is in organizing further investigation and focusing one's attention, not in delivering predetermined answers from on high. In this case, thinking about an OW directs one to ask: when do crazy ideas discredit the speaker, versus legitimating the somewhat-less-crazy? Which directs one to thinking about power, institutions, and so forth.

with
The reaction in the liberal blogosphere to that tacitus post is like the reaction of a chemist to being shown the secret formula for Coca-Cola. Now we see how they do it. Honestly, if some social scientist came up with it, nobody would believe it. Only a right-wing hack has the credibility to tell us why right-wing hackery is so successful.

Ah yes, that's the answer. Just move the Overton Window!


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 11:08 AM
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169 was me, of course.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 11:09 AM
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Only semi-off topic, I've been reading this book about Detroit, which is absolutely fantastic. The takeaways: Even when you thought that America was pretty liberal, it wasn't; the roots of modern conservatism run deep; and social changes orginiating in the 1950s and 1960s, largely having to do with housing policy, have as much to do with the rise of modern conservatism as does anything else.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 11:15 AM
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171:Newberry wrote about this, but in a more nuanced way. After fucking Kennedy started slashing the marginal rates, the financing of the New Deal and Great Society was in question, and you can look at suburbia and 401ks sort of as collateral for future social program commitments. The Reagan came, slashed taxes further, and needed to inflate those FIRE assets even higher. Or something like that. In the 50s and 60s you also had the "reserve army of the unemployed" drafted and in the military. Maybe I will go hunt up the article.

Everyone Is a Helot Now ...Numerian at Agonist on the Greek people becoming debt serfs.

Newberry also said Sparta beat Athens in 2004.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 11:28 AM
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Back to topic:

...people are not happy about the news conference.

Understand what is going on here. Republicans in the House and Senate are not not not going to vote to raise the debt ceiling or slash Medicare.

What Obama will get is 50 House Republicans and 5 Republican Senators to vote with all the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and slash social programs. The banks must be saved. Again.

Democrats will be fucking pissed, but they will do Obama's dirty work.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 11:34 AM
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a period of time in which people's economic situation was getting worse. I'm inclined to believe that's good for conservatives in many ways, as people become more tribal in tough times.

I agree with this, and am basically not optimistic about egalitarian attitudes becoming more popular here in the near future. But there should be ways to point out the worst offenses with resonance; Matt Taibbi and Jon Stewart both do this, I think. There was a left talk-radio station that failed two years ago, right? Dennis Kucinich gets viewed as a flake when he says reasonable things. I don't understand what people with airtime could say that's not been done or is being done already.

Republicans are not doing that great of a job of enforcing party unity; Bachmann, Pailn, and Ron Paul have all ignored many opportunities to shut up.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 11:36 AM
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Off-topic but political.

I don't listen to NPR, but the public station that I do listen to on my commute does top-of-the-hour news updates from them. This morning they had short piece on the unrest in Greece over the austerity program. They gave a very brief description of what was happening and then cut to a short interview (over half the time of the item, however) with someone identified as an American tourist at the Athens airport ! This worthy soul opined that the protests were not doing anything worthwhile and Greece had to do what Greece had to do and better to get it over with. And I drove on enlightened.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 11:47 AM
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|| "George W. Bush-Appointed States' Rights Crusader Rejects Lawsuit Challenging Affordable Care Act"

I worked with this guy, and I liked him. Maybe I"m not so bad a judge of character.

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/06/29/257527/george-w-bush-appointed-states-rights-crusader-rejects-lawsuit-challenging-affordable-care-act/

||


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 11:52 AM
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169 presents a ridiculous straw-version of the Overton Window idea, and yet it's still closer to an accurate notion of how politics works than whatever notion that you're peddling. The Republicans, while out of power, managed to paint a Republican plan for health care reform as socialism. Clearly they know something about politics that you don't.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 12:06 PM
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That there were, and are, powerful interest groups opposed to the health care reform plan? That calling health care reform socialist has been in the Republican playbook for decades, at least since Reagan attacked Medicaid in exactly the same language? Those are all things that I know, and that were completely predictable to anyone thinking about the issue.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 12:12 PM
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169: You seem to see x. trapnel's 137 as contradicting Walt's 142, rather than contradicting you. That's not how I read 137.

Anyway, if you're ready to endorse 137, then I'm not sure what the debate is about. The the only thing you've got left is this strawman:

Surely, the answer has nothing to do with economic and social reality, and everything to do with saying crazy things in public to move the "Overton Window" to the right.

Seems like an uncharitable reading of your interlocutors. If I were to be similarly uncharitable, I'd say that you are suggesting that public discourse is unable to affect economic and social reality - that for all practical purposes, causation runs in only one direction.

Is that an uncharitable reading? Or is that what you're saying?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 12:35 PM
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Those are all things that I know, and that were completely predictable to anyone thinking about the issue.

You knew it, but Bob Dole, Mitt Romney and countless other establishment Republicans didn't. You could have saved them some trouble if you'd sent 'em a memo.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 12:39 PM
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175. Jesus fuck.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 12:48 PM
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175: What chris said.

Not sure 175 is entirely off-topic, though. I wonder what NPR would have done if the airport American had said, "Gosh, I sure understand the anger. The Greek people got conned by Goldman Sachs, the EU and their own leaders, and now they're being asked to suck it up and take it in the neck in order to bail out a bunch of German and French bankers. I'd be mad, too."

Seems to me that a comment like that would have considerable merit, but I also think that sort of comment exists outside the acceptable parameters of public debate in the United States in this particular period.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 12:56 PM
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181: Yeah, it was sort of the same thing only much worse as what happens in local news when there is a disaster anywhere, "Pittsburgh man who was visiting his sister-in-law the next city over was unharmed in yesterday's tornado outbreak."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 12:57 PM
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You seem to see x. trapnel's 137 as contradicting Walt's 142, rather than contradicting you. That's not how I read 137.

Not really. Trapnel tried to save the "Overton Window" concept by pretending it means something else, i.e., some generalized description of the notion of a political spectrum that then gets people to think about actual potential mechanisms for changing political discourse. Which, fine, I guess, but that wasn't really my complaint about it's most common usage, including in your initial comment. Then, Walt showed up and used it in a completely stupid way -- hey! the Republicans called health care socialism! moving the Overton Window! I'm not arguing that political psychology is not useful, or that there's not a role for actually analyzing how political discourse works. It's the lameness of the "window" concept and the conceit that it actually tells you something insightful or prescriptive about how politics works that I'm resisting.

The health care example is actually instructive. Why was Obama's plan similar to Dole's plan in 1994, and why was it portrayed as socialist? Well, because Obama looked at the previous shape of the health care debate, and picked a plan that he -- correctly, as it turned out -- thought had a chance of passing. The Republicans attacked it because they were the opposition party, and no longer interested in compromise, and they did so using the same language that they'd used to attack every other Democratic health care reform plan since 1945. The Republicans ultimately lost that particular battle, but the landscape was defined by the actual interest groups with stakes and the political parties in play. The terms of the debate were set by the dynamics between the parties and the relevant interest groups -- not by the Republican's rhetorical decision to name health care reform as socialist.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 1:13 PM
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Is that an uncharitable reading? Or is that what you're saying?

I'm saying that the relationship between political discourse and whatever else moves politics is way too complicated to be captured by the "Overton Window" concept, which is either banal or misleading, depending.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 1:17 PM
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182 is not a great summary of why Greece has problems. Greece really did run up insane levels of debt and run a dysfunctional country for decades; the debt went for social programs that mostly benefited people slighted by Greece's military junta that ended in 1974. I don't know how well-intentioned Greece was in the seventies and eighties, but they've been getting around to maybe eventually collecting taxes for quite some time now. Not every debtor is hapless.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 1:22 PM
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Is Delong taking a break from playing Civilization to read this thread? Because he just dug up an old post where Yglesias endorses some form of the Overton Window.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 1:24 PM
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Just to be clear, here is what I believe to be the initial use of the "Overton Window" concept in the liberal blogosphere:

Do you see how this works? Systematically, piece by piece, the GOP takes what had been considered impossibly radical positions and makes them worthy of consideration just by talking about them--and then makes what had been considered outside possibilities truly possible . . . the Republicans are carrying out this same exercise with every public policy debate today--from invading Iran to making birth control illegal to eliminating Social Security. The once unthinkable becomes possible--and they don't care if they take some heat for it initially.

If the "Overton Window" just means "political discourse" it is banal. If it means that it actually possible to "take[] what had been considered impossibly radical positions and makes them worthy of consideration just by talking about them" it is so seriously misleading as to be dangerous.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 1:37 PM
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If it means that it actually possible to "take[] what had been considered impossibly radical positions and makes them worthy of consideration just by talking about them" it is so seriously misleading as to be dangerous.

Is the problem there the "just"? Because, say, precipitating a default by failing to raise the debt limit would have been considered impossibly radical not too long ago and is now worthy of consideration, and 'talking about it' is part of how that happened.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 1:42 PM
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The problem is the "just" -- the debt ceiling thing is an issue because the Republicans realized that they had a legitimate and useful threat point in an actual power struggle, not because they went around talking about things in a vacuum. That's skillful politics, but it's not usefully captured by the Overton Window concept.

I think the Overton Window concept is appealing to political bloggers because it appears to provide a justification for the activity.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 1:45 PM
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that they had a legitimate and useful threat point in an actual power struggle, not because they went around talking about things in a vacuum.

But it's a 'legitimate' threat point because the media, other politicians, and the public aren't reacting to the threat with "What are you, fucking insane? You're going to throw the United States into default over budget negotiations?" If it weren't accepted as 'legitimate', then the politicians involved would fear repurcussions, and the threat wouldn't work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 1:54 PM
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I think the Overton Window concept is appealing to political bloggers because it appears to provide a justification for the activity.

I don't think so -- blogging, appealing as it does to a tiny fraction of the electorate, doesn't have much if any effect on the O.W. You need mass media.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 1:55 PM
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But it's a 'legitimate' threat point because the media, other politicians, and the public aren't reacting to the threat with "What are you, fucking insane? You're going to throw the United States into default over budget negotiations?"

Unfortunately I think the fact that Obama voted against a previous debt ceiling increase provides important cover for them (and I think whoever realized that they could use that for cover deserves credit).

The media is rarely patient with explanations that start with, "I voted against it only because I knew it would pass anyway" even if that explanation is correct.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 1:58 PM
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Yeah, while plenty of other congresspeople have done it, that was a particularly stupid piece of political theater.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:01 PM
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I would be inclined to argue that the biggest check on extreme tactics, for example Senators filibustering everything just because they can, hasn't been the risk that the media would say, "are you fucking insane" but that other Senators would say that.

I don't know that the contemporary Republican tactics were primarily made possible by gaming the media but by deciding that they didn't care if all of the Democrats hated them and didn't want to work with them (which isn't to deny that they work the media).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:01 PM
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Well, a few things: (a) legitimacy derives from the fact that Republicans actually have power and are able to legitimately make the threat, not that they are simply using rhetoric; (b) the problem in this particular instance is that the failure to raise the debt ceiling (and, thus, the failure of the negotiations) can be blamed on both sides -- it won't necessarily look like the Republican's fault, of which they're aware; (c) the threat of failing to raise the debt ceiling is built into law, and is something that has been used in political negotiations in the past, including by Obama (who voted against a raise in the debt ceiling); (d) as Bob says, and he's right about this, there is very little chance that the debt ceiling won't in fact be extended because the banks won't allow it.

There's a real power play going on between the two parties, and there's a lot to be said about the lack of an ability to compromise and the hardening of the agendas of the two camps. Some of that has been described in this thread. The idea that the debt ceiling issue usefully modeled by the Republicans "talking about" something that had previously been unthinkable and thus moving a "window" of acceptability isn't really descriptively or prescriptively useful.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:03 PM
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Another question that occurs to me: can you think of any example of the media responding to a signature proposal of a major party with, "are you fucking insane."

It seems entirely possible that the window that matters is getting the leaders of a party to attach their names to an idea, and the media follows that.

The related question, I suppose, is would it make any difference to talk about a shift of the Democratic party becoming more vocal in it's support for gay rights, a shift in public opinion in favor of gay rights, or a shift in the media's portrayal of struggles over gay rights? I think Halford is objecting to "The Overton Window" on the grounds that it implicitly covers only the media, when all three tend to shift together, and I don't know if that's true.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:13 PM
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I don't know that the contemporary Republican tactics were primarily made possible by gaming the media but by deciding that they didn't care if all of the Democrats hated them and didn't want to work with them (which isn't to deny that they work the media).

See 145. God, if she exists, has sent Michelle Bachmann to save your skins in 2012, but you have five years to get your heads around the point that the Democratic party is working with a superannuated business model and needs to join the twentieth century. We can argue about the 21st when we have breathing space.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:15 PM
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Then, Walt showed up and used it in a completely stupid way -- hey! the Republicans called health care socialism! moving the Overton Window! ... The Republicans attacked it because they were the opposition party, and no longer interested in compromise

But the Republicans were also the opposition when Dole was their standard-bearer. Why were the Republicans no longer interested in compromise? What changed?

The terms of the debate changed, because Republicans decided to change the terms of the debate. This is a lesson they hadn't completely absorbed in Dole's day, but they've mastered it since.

Did Clinton's offenses rise to the level of impeachable offenses? Yes. Were there WMD in Iraq? Lots of smart liberals think there weren't, but the Republicans unambigously won that debate in every sense that mattered. Did Saddam collaborate with al Qaeda? Is torture okay? Same answer.

Here's Yglesias, who also misses the point on healthcare politics in an instructive way:

We should also, however, spare a thought for the unsung hero of comprehensive reform, McConnell and his GOP colleagues, who pushed their "no compromise" strategy to the breaking point and beyond.

Yglesias makes a fair point that the GOP could have cut a deal, and the GOP's strategy did fail here, at least in the short term. But Yglesias fails to understand that the GOP was pursuing a strategy. He just sees it as a bunch of extremists screwing up.

By choosing the path of self-righteousness, the right-wing delivered a victory that progressives never would have been able to win on our own.

So the entire national Republican Party - every Senator and all but (I think) one Representative - chose self-righteousness over political efficacy? I don't buy it. I think Yglesias is missing something important here.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:18 PM
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171: What's the book about Detroit?


Posted by: lurkey | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:20 PM
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But the Republicans were also the opposition when Dole was their standard-bearer. Why were the Republicans no longer interested in compromise? What changed?

Do you have a different memory of how HCR played out under Clinton? Dole was interested in compromise in your recollection?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:23 PM
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200: my money's on this one.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:26 PM
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See 145. God, if she exists, has sent Michelle Bachmann to save your skins in 2012, but you have five years to get your heads around the point that the Democratic party is working with a superannuated business model and needs to join the twentieth century. We can argue about the 21st when we have breathing space.

My hope is that, to paraphrase the old line about Scientists, new ideas aren't adopted by convincing people who believe in the old ideas, they're adopted once the people who believe in the old ideas are replaced.

I expect that people currently working their way up through the hierarchy of the Democratic power should be inclined to recognize the value of party discipline. The question is just how many of those people it takes to build critical mass.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:27 PM
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198 is, if I read Chris Y right, making the point that American political parties are starting to look like the more disciplined parties you find in every other country in the world, and that the Republicans have grapsed that faster than the Democrats. I think that's right. Whether our political institutions (e.g., the filibuster) can handle that shift is a really important question.

I also agree with Nick S's points in 195 and 197. As to the gay rights question raised in 197.2,, I'd say its an enormously complicated story of social and political change, but one way in which it's not useful to model the change is to think of it as being driven by political leaders "winning" a media debate by shifting its terms through staking out extreme positions.

But the Republicans were also the opposition when Dole was their standard-bearer. Why were the Republicans no longer interested in compromise? What changed?

The confusion may be the result of my sloppy writing, but the Republicans absolutely were not interested in compromise in 1994. They were interested in killing "Hillarycare" and calling it socialist, and they did so; The Dole plan that was offered in 1994 was intended as a bill-killing plan, and succeeded as such; it was not intended to be a compromise position. In 2009-2010, the Republicans were not able to reenact the victory in 2004. They didn't "win" that issue in 2009-2010 by "changing the terms of the debate"; the terms of the debate, and the composition of the House and Senate, had in fact changed, and the Republicans played and lost.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:29 PM
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202 is right; thought I'd linked it. Great book and I'd be interested to hear the Dutch Cookie's thoughts.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:29 PM
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(d) as Bob says, and he's right about this, there is very little chance that the debt ceiling won't in fact be extended because the banks won't allow it.

Ezra says we are going to default kick granny in the teeth to make sure banks are ok suffer

What the two parties are really doing is trying to position themselves politically to survive the consequences of their failure. We don't yet know if we'll get to the point where the market will panic, but it could. We're very likely to get to the point where we have to stop funding certain government services, which could mean as little as delaying payments to military contractors and hospitals or as much as halting Social Security checks.

I told you. I still think this are still mostly showbiz and kabuki (i hate that metaphor) but I knew that it would go a little past the deadline. Obama is needing the people to scream at the Dems in Congress:"Pass something!!! Get those half-dozen Republicans"

But don't trust Ezra, he's a hack. And remember the healthcare bill, which was considered dead until they forced the House to eat the Senate's shit.

Digby

From his press conference today, it would appear that the president's negotiating strategy really is to give Republicans huge cuts in spending (and "make his base give him a hard time") and then shame them into "meeting him halfway" by agreeing to mildly raise taxes on some luxury items like corporate jet travel. (Luckily, he reassured the nervous CEOs by saying "you'll still be able to ride on your corporate jet, you'll just have to pay a little more" so hopefully they won't have a fit.)That's what constitutes shared sacrifice and fiscal responsibility. Good to know.

After Geithner stops sending Social Security checks for a few days, Obama will find five Repubs in the Senate to tax private jets, probably giving up something important, and declare Brilliant Victory!!

Obama is a brilliant negotiator. He is just negotiating with Republicans against Congressional Democrats and the American people.

And will you care? Will you back Obama, or back Congressional Democrats, saying "let the world fall?"

Burn it all down, and take their stuff.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:32 PM
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Whether our political institutions (e.g., the filibuster) can handle that shift is a really important question.

Once again, it's a question of recognising political realities. The self image of the USA is that it's a newish, young country. In fact, in a global theatre, its institutions are very archaic compared to most democracies and somewhat sclerotic because they're still overdetermined by the intellectual methodologies of the late 18th century. Sorry, guys, great weapons systems, nice music, but your politics is increasingly non-competitive. Now in theory, there's a great opportunity for a bright Dem to come through here as a moderniser on a "second bill of rights" ticket. The question is, would such a person be allowed to live.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:43 PM
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d) as Bob says, and he's right about this, there is very little chance that the debt ceiling won't in fact be extended because the banks won't allow it.

I have never said that, as far as I know. I have always said that I thought the deadline would be passed. It will be raised, but I don't know when, after how much suffering.

I have always disagreed with those who say the banksters won't allow this game to cost them a penny. Of course they will.

Banksters are gamblers, who are very willing to play on the edge, and will be willing to endure short-term losses for fucking huge long term gains.

Banksters are probably willing to lose hundreds of billions because they think the payoff, of permanently dismantling the safety and throwing the American people into debt peonage, is incredibly profitable.

And yes, if Obama can get the Democrats to slash Medicare and publicly cut Social Security, the next Republican government will easily be able to privatize them, sending trillions into Goldman-Sachs investment acounts.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:47 PM
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However, much of his agenda to achieve this has now been abandoned after it became clear we'd all find our inner Bob.

I wish to correct this. It became clear we'd all go on strike and demonstrate and investigate and riot and stuff. I apologise for any confusion.

More broadly, I don't think there's an Overton pony, but I do think there is value in consistently and forcefully asserting your goals. Otherwise, why would anyone conceivably vote for you if your party platform is "well, stuff" and your internal debates are impenetrable wonkism?

I'm totally in favour of wonkism, but you need to get opportunities to punch the other guy out of it and you also need to win in order to implement it.

Further, Overton himself was full of shit, but there is cog-psy research that supports the idea. Anchoring is a pretty fundamental concept and it's not a stupid idea that giving people something on your side to anchor on is worthwhile.

Anyway, give all the congresscritters BlackBerries wired into the DNCC press office and get as many people as possible the DNCC press office phone number. That's basically how Labour won '97. Wire up the monkeys and zap them until they behave.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:48 PM
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I do think there is value in consistently and forcefully asserting your goals. . . . there is cog-psy research that supports the idea. Anchoring is a pretty fundamental concept and it's not a stupid idea that giving people something on your side to anchor on is worthwhile.

No argument here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:51 PM
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Now, in case I have gained an iota of credibility...

I think Obama and Geithner have engineered our current lousy economy to make all this horror possible.

Why not mortgage cramdown? Obama wants us terrified.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 2:55 PM
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Schumer to Boehner

"If You Think You Can Raise The Debt Limit Without Dem Support, You're Dreaming"

Thus it begins. Pretty soon it will be "a lot of Democrats" and then "mostly Democrats" and when the votes start getting tallied on the House floor, the Republicans will start dropping out and Obama will call Kucinich for a meeting.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 3:04 PM
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210: When people talk about the Overton Window, I think they're often not saying more than you've agreed to here.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 3:17 PM
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||

Also, three more hours of CLE, on deposition techniques. Fourteen and a half to go, and I have until August. I swear that next registration period, I'll do it sanely, an hour a month.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 3:22 PM
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Christ, I just wrote a long comment and it got eaten. I feel like my life is pretty empty. Anyway, after 210, I'm really not just what Halford's arguing, so I'm just going to throw out some thoughts.

1. There's good reason to think that especially in bargaining situations--where in a rational-choice framework, there's usually no unique equilibrium--prior perceptions of the legitimacy of certain outcomes matter quite a lot. I think LB's largely right about 191, though the mechanisms are complicated, because it has to do with elite perceptions of a public opinion that they themselves shape.

2. Halford says it's so misleading as to be dangerous that "the GOP takes what had been considered impossibly radical positions and makes them worthy of consideration just by talking about them", and I agree that "just" is problematic, but Zaller's work among others does suggest that if you're a leader of a major party, what you say will become worthy of consideration just by the fact that you said it. The increasing partisan polarization of views on evolution, global warming, etc., adds nuance but also support to this basic idea.

3. I wonder: do you also think, Halford, that judicial dissents are largely irrelevant to the development of legal doctrine? What about "off-the-wall" theories, like Epstein's regulatory takings, or Yoo on presidential power, or Mackinnon on sexual harassment as sex discrimination? I suspect that here you're willing to acknowledge that engaging in battles way outside where the center of opinion is *does* matter, partly because it's easier to see the mechanisms of transmission. But that doesn't mean they don't exist within the broader, non-legal public sphere.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 4:02 PM
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Gah, 215.1 should be "I'm really not sure just what Halford's arguing..."


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 4:02 PM
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Trapnel:

From the link in 188, in addition to ""the GOP takes what had been considered impossibly radical positions and makes them worthy of consideration just by talking about them" here's another summation of the "Overton Window":

You win policy debates by crafting arguments for extreme positions--and then shifting the entire window of debate. You do not win by trying to figure out which position is most popular among Americans right now.

In comment 28, PF wrote:

It's the Overton Window at work. By the standards of 40 years ago, Obama is a right-wing nut. (Friedman himself was as much of an ideological whore as Greenspan, and would have changed his views to accommodate the lunacy of our day, but 40 years ago he made a real contribution to economics.)

These two uses of the phrase "Overton Window"are different. But both are misguided. The first is simply wrong, and dangerously wrong, as a descriptive and prescriptive matter of how politics works. The second uses the phrase to mean, as I said above, nothing more than "the terms of political debate change over time," which is true in some sense (of course the range of political debate does change over time) but a banality.

You can say something like "but political psychology is interesting! anchoring matters for something! sometimes unusual ideas gain public acceptance!" and you'd be right, but that's not in fact what the "Overton Window" concept is, nor is it how it gets used in practice.

does suggest that if you're a leader of a major party, what you say will become worthy of consideration just by the fact that you said it

I'm sure that's right, but that's not the point of the "Overton Window" concept -- that's a reflection of actual political power. In that case, it's not that you shift discourse simply by saying something crazy -- you shift discourse by being a significantly powerful figure with an idea that might plausibly be implemented. In many ways, it directly undermines the Overton Window theory.

As for the use of the judicial dissent or unusual judicial idea, I think the story is complicated. Of course, I agree that sometimes what was a radical, almost unthinkable idea becomes mainstream. How could I not? (As I said above, this is a banality and obvious to anyone who studies history). And it's true in both the legal and judicial spheres. However, my point is that the mechanisms of how that happens are not well or usefully captured by the OW metaphor.

In the specific case of law, some dissents become touchstones of new movements, but most languish in obscurity forever. The same is doubly true for law review articles. If I had to give a one-sentence answer as to why this is so, I think it is that lawyers reflect the power structure -- the conservative legal movement wouldn't have amounted to much if Carter had won in 1980 and there weren't tons of conservative judges. The question is figuring out which non-mainstream ideas succeed and which ones don't, which, again, is not particularly usefully captured by the OW idea.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 4:23 PM
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I don't care what you call either the process or the result but I do think it is important that FoxNews, Limbaugh and Drudge be labelled as the hate speech that they are.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 4:35 PM
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217: If you preface the first quote with "in the long run", it's no longer simply wrong, and quite possibly not wrong at all. And I took the second to be gesturing towards, by reference, the non-banal (though possibly false) view more directly mentioned in the first quote. It's not just "the terms of the debate change over time" but "they change as much through moving the extremes as by moving the center." Possibly false--as I've said, it's really hard to test these things--but no longer trivial.

As for the interactions between power/authority and discourse: on the key question of whether, if you're speaking from a position of power, your idea needs to be one that "could plausibly be implemented," I think you're wrong and the Overton Windowers are right. It *matters* that Ron Paul's been talking about gold standards and various other stuff that has no chance of being implemented--and certainly didn't when he started talking about them; his status as a member of Congress gives something to the beliefs, even absent any ability to enact them. Same with the birthers, etc.

Here's a really good account of how Reagan (well, Meese) actively sought to build up a "farm team" of young conservatives in the DOJ. You might see this purely in terms of "actual political power," but I think that would be too narrow a view to take. This wasn't simply about giving these young guys credentials in order to have them ready for the Supreme Court 20 years later; it was also about giving them credentials in order for them to be taken seriously when they said otherwise off-the-wall stuff five or ten years later.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 5:29 PM
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Surely we can get something going on this Tierney article about no-nose bicycle seats, combining as it does those Mineshaft favorites, bicycles and penises.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 5:32 PM
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And "Cutting Off the Nose to Save the Penis" has to be one of the all-time best titles for a medical article.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 5:35 PM
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217: The first is simply wrong, and dangerously wrong, as a descriptive and prescriptive matter of how politics works.

I'm not sure what Halford is arguing either, but this seems to be the crux of the biscuit. I take it that the statement in the quoted portion from 188 that "You win policy debates by ..." is the portion he takes issue with. i.e., while it is true that the range of discourse can be expanded and shifted in this way, this is chiefly a negotiating strategy when in the thick of things, and failing to account for such other things as power structures and historical change (like the civil rights movement, say) leaves the OW metaphor a rather helpless and empty gesturing at, well, the shifting of the frame of discourse over time. Which, yeah, we know about that, but it doesn't say nearly enough of what we need to say about how politics works (in this country).

I'm not sure if I've gotten you entirely wrong, Halford; I'm chiefly interested in the "dangerous" part of your critique. I do think that pointing out the very bare bones notion that politicians might propose something crazy in order make the somewhat-less-crazy seem palatable is worthwhile. But it doesn't really go very far, agreed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 5:43 PM
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Sigh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 5:46 PM
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214: You get like 1.5x or 2x credit for teaching CLE, by the way.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 5:50 PM
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failing to account for such other things as power structures and historical change (like the civil rights movement, say) leaves the OW metaphor a rather helpless and empty gesturing at, well, the shifting of the frame of discourse over time.

That's pretty much what I'm arguing.

"they change as much through moving the extremes as by moving the center."

Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. The OW concept tells you precisely nothing about what might be meaningful and what might not be. Any idiot can get up and make a speech that stakes out an extreme position. Whether or not it moves politics in one direction or another is a different story.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 5:53 PM
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I'm chiefly interested in the "dangerous" part of your critique

I think it leads to a dangerously simplistic understanding of how change comes about, overvaluing empty rhetorical gestures and devaluing organizing.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:00 PM
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Obama is getting a little more spine . We'll see if it lasts.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:03 PM
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226: I'm not feeling particularly cynical this evening, I think, but it occurs to me that the history of U.S. politics since Reagan is an epic catalogue of empty rhetorical gestures and dismissals, if not devaluing, of organizing.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:04 PM
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Surely we can get something going on this Tierney article about no-nose bicycle seats

It has been mentioned.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:06 PM
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I think it leads to a dangerously simplistic understanding of how change comes about, overvaluing empty rhetorical gestures and devaluing organizing.

generating ideological propaganda is a major reason people organize, so there is no contradiction. The Overton window concept, properly understood, is an aid to organizing. It's about how movements with message discipline can shift the terms of debate.

the crux of the biscuit.

biscuits have a crux?



Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:06 PM
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biscuits have a crux?

There is nothing that the light of Christ does not illuminate.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:08 PM
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biscuits have a crux?

It's like you've never even seen apo's blog.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:08 PM
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It's about how movements with message discipline can shift the terms of debate.

At this point, I'm convinced that the chief benefit of the phrase "Overton Window" is that it seems capable of literally meaning anything to anyone. In my mind, I guess I'm going to have to decide that the Overton Window means bacon, and like it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:09 PM
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Forty years ago, bacon was considered impossibly radical.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:13 PM
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I'm going to use "Overton Window" instead of "string theory" when I want to sound informed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:16 PM
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Forty years ago, bacon was considered impossibly radical.

Now people won't shut the hell up abo-- ooooooohhh, I see.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:19 PM
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225, 226: Comity. As far as I'm concerned.

228: Flip, forgive me, but Republican politics since Reagan has organized out the wazoo.

PGD! It is good to see you. Yeah, "crux of the biscuit" is (or was, since it's now more or less defunct, I think), the subtitle of Apostropher's blog.

I also have a joke to tell which nobody will get. So I'm really biting my tongue here, people.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:27 PM
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You could model a nifty Overton window given a big enough high-ish-dimensional data source. Find the loading such that historically it responded most significanly to extrema, and then agitate for the staking of positions in the component elements at exactly the degree of extremity suggested by the model. Boy, then you'd have 'em.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:27 PM
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237.4: So I'm really biting my tongue here, people.

For no good reason.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:29 PM
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Boy, then you'd have 'em.

Orthogonally speaking.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:30 PM
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239: Yes. If we are going to stick to jokes people get, somebody needs to announce the new policy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:35 PM
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DeLong is not happy with Obama.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:53 PM
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||

So this afternoon my bookpartner is reading to me a book's ISBN, so that we might retrieve its bibliographic information right quick.

"0 ... 987 ... 654 ... [pause]"

"Wait, that can't be right."

|>


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 6:59 PM
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Because the book's title was Ducky?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:02 PM
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No.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:09 PM
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I can tell you that I developed an intermittent laughing fit for the next five minutes, complete with needing to wipe my eyes and clear my throat so that we could proceed, only to have me burst out laughing again 30 seconds later. Sorry, sorry!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:26 PM
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Because he had mustard on his pants?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:27 PM
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It sure is hard to use google to figure out that joke!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:29 PM
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That is true.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:34 PM
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I can give hints if there's really nobody here who knows what a book looks like.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:35 PM
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It's about the size of a Kindle, but thicker and heavier.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:37 PM
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243:Well, I think it is pretty funny. I laughed out loud.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:37 PM
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It looks like Google.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:37 PM
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253: And 248, never mind.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:38 PM
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It's a small, square object, filled with pages. People read stories from them. But that's not important right now.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:42 PM
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It's not really very funny, I guess. You have to realize that we read out ISBNs on the order of 70 a day or so, and it was the end of the day, and we get a little slap-happy.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:43 PM
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Looks like I chose the wrong evening to give up literacy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:44 PM
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Do you guys get it or what?

He was reading from the copyright page, if that helps.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:48 PM
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256:And that's why I laughed. I didn't understand the joke, but I do understand shared moments when something trivial touches two absurdity buttons.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:49 PM
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258.2: It does. I get it now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:50 PM
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Not sure I understand that edition of the joke.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:54 PM
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And before 261 I had not the clue.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 7:56 PM
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If there's anything left after you subtract the glib parts, that's what I really think.

This is why I don't say much around here anymore (that's meant as a comment on myself, not a slam).

PS - I think Rob is out of his fucking mind on this. For 20 years, on issue after issue, you have influential, but unofficial, conservative leaders saying shit that's beyond the pale of polite discourse, and then, ~5 years later, elected, official leaders saying those same things, things they would have decried 8 years before. You can call that "political discourse," but that's as useful as calling what's happening in Greece "political discourse." Conservatives are using "political discourse" to win the war while liberals furiously debate whether politicians actually discourse.

PPS - I think that Romney has an excellent chance of defeating Obama, I think you're deluded if you think otherwise, and I think that Obama deserves to lose. I will, nonetheless, vote for him. Which is more than he would do for me. Or any of you (unless some of you are bankers; I haven't been around much).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 8:23 PM
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I was amused along the lines of 259, but now I get the joke. Funny.


Posted by: jroth | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 8:25 PM
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He was reading from the copyright page, if that helps.

It's because I know what a book looks like, and because I know where to find the ISBN, and, more importantly, what an ISBN looks like, that I wouldn't have gotten what was supposed to be funny about this, had I in fact not gotten it; I look for the ISBN on the back, near the bar code.

I have never seen a list of printings that included a zero, that I can recall, though.

If you'd wanted to make it hard on us you'd have made it:

1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 8:33 PM
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It's not a joke, though.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 8:33 PM
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263: I wish you would comment around here more, JRoth. People who speak their minds are valued.

I can't go so far as to say that Obama deserves to lose, since I can only measure such a thing against who he'd be losing against. In a perfect world of candidates better than Obama, sure.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 8:43 PM
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So, what Rob Halford's worried about is that we left-of-centre types are going to be thinking "sure, what I'm saying/doing is crazy, but we have to shift the Overton Window, so that's OK", which will lead to our being all surprised when the discourse in fact moves further to the right due to the MSM 's response of: "Look: crazy hippies". Is that right?

I can see that some people might make that analytic mistake - that crazy propaganda can typically be used, without paying attention to other more concrete requirements, to cause change in the direction you want - but isn't the usual idea of the Overton Window simply that under certain circumstances advocacy for positions that would not normally be taken seriously in the mainstream (and which may seem crazy in Peoria but which needn't in fact be crazy) can be an important part of the mechanism that shifts the parameters of acceptable discourse? The latter idea looks obviously true to me (though I guess it could be run together with the assumption that the Overton Window tactic is a good one to try in the circumstances that obtain here and now, which is less clear).


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 9:08 PM
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neb: You're right, a lot of number lines don't include a zero. They can start with a 10, or a 9. Or a 5, or a letter.

A lot of books don't show the ISBN on the back.

Before the days of ISBNs, there were SBNs, sans the International part of the matter. ISBNs (until fairly recently, with a switch to 13 digits) were 10-digit numbers, beginning with a zero if English language. An SBN for such a book would be 9 digits, needing to have a zero stuck onto the beginning of it. I couldn't tell you what my bookpartner was translating to me; probably a very brief capture of only 9 digits, stick a preliminary zero on there, proceed with: 987 ... 654 ...

Hilarious. Not really a joke unless you work in books all the live-long day.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 9:15 PM
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JRoth!!

Yes, I think you're right about Romney. So much useless (silly and ineffectual) ink spilled over the outrageous and obvious perfidy of Palin and Bachmann and et. al., and we fall right into the trap, and waste valuable time and energy denouncing the theatrical excesses of the true wingnuts, while ignoring or overlooking the more real threat of the "moderate" Republican who looks "reasonable" by comparison, and who can therefore actually win this thing.

In short: we are being played. As usual.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 9:17 PM
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269: Yes, but how shaggy was the dog?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 9:21 PM
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1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2

is totally not a joke. Weirdo.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 9:22 PM
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It's not a joke at all. It's something funny that happened to you. It might, if you like, be a riddle.

is totally not a joke

Many, or at least some, books display printing information that way, for whatever reason, as I assume you know.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 9:33 PM
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I don't use the term "Overton Window" because it just never got into my off-the-top-of-my head vocabulary. Also, lots of people in my non-internet life have no idea what it is.* But to the extent that it's a lot like saying "political discourse", the concept of political discourse actually has pretty much the same problems of potentially meaning all sorts of things. Its chief advantage seems to be that more people are more likely to know what you're talking about if you use discourse instead of "Overton Window."

I mean, you can say that the Republicans changed the terms of political discourse, that activists on the extremes are attempting to expand the boundaries of acceptable political discourse, and so on. I don't think that's wrong, but it doesn't seem any different from the way people use Overton Window. If you don't refer to specific issues like civil rights or labor relations, or mosquito abatement districts, then of course you're going to end up using either term too broadly, just as if you ignore all those terms and simply say that the country has shifted right in the last few decades and ignore a whole host of social issues.

Discourse does seem a bit different from framing to me, which seems to involve a little more disingenuousness about what's being framed. Of course lots of people who are trying to shift the discourse about something or other are lying and dissembling, but to an extent, discourse is something that people actually live, not just talk about with pieces of talk, wordily.

*It's kind of like Zizek that way, who seemed to be everywhere I looked in my early days reading blogs, but who pretty much never showed up anywhere else.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 9:43 PM
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I laughed at that funny thing. I figured it was nearly the equivalent of a math joke among insiders, or something.

Some books display printing information that way. I wouldn't have laughed at that: it's too deep for me. Maybe if I were in publishing and could recognize ISBNs more readily.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 9:49 PM
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A Frum on both your houses!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:03 PM
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Frum on Eileen


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:04 PM
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Frum As You Are


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:07 PM
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The shape of things to Frum


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:08 PM
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Maybe if I were in publishing and could recognize ISBNs more readily.

Don't you read out 70 or so every day?

I laughed at that funny thing. I figured it was nearly the equivalent of a math joke among insiders, or something.

No, see, math jokes have like a setup, and a punchline, etc. It's not just "a funny thing happened while proving a theorem".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:21 PM
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Frum Together


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:22 PM
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Do you Frum here often?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:25 PM
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Frumma Frum Fraude.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:26 PM
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Frumma Frumma Frumma Frumma Frumma chameleon.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:28 PM
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The linked post certainly seems quite the Frumbilical cord.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:29 PM
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Something Wicked This Way Frums
Nefertiti, the Beautiful One Has Frum
Frum Sunday
Oh Frum, Oh Frum Emmanuel
Oh Frumly


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:31 PM
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Frum and Frumber.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:32 PM
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Frümlout.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:35 PM
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Frum Back From San Francisco.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:43 PM
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Frum On Pilgrim


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:44 PM
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Frum Here to Eternity
Frum, Max Weber


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:44 PM
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Frumplestiltskin.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:52 PM
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John From


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:57 PM
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280: Cripe. About reading ISBNs, I recognize some at a glance. 0-8018 is JHU Press. 0-691 is Princeton. LexisNexis is either 14224 or 08205. And so on. If I were in publishing I have no doubt that I'd recognize quite a few more, so more absurd ISBN jokes would be funny to me. Otherwise they're just numbers. That's all I meant.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 10:59 PM
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I think that Romney has an excellent chance of defeating Obama

Last time around it sure did seem like people hate that guy. I think Huntsman would be a much stronger candidate in the general than Romney (and a better president to boot) but his timing is off and I'm not sure he's willing to go that batshit crazy extra mile to make it through the Repub nomination process. I think Huntsman would have been in a much better position to run in 2016. I really wonder what the hell he's thinking.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06-29-11 11:21 PM
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Free Frie Fro Frum
I smell the blood of an English muffin.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 12:00 AM
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I really wonder what the hell he's thinking.

Isn't this just a name recognition exercise for 2016?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 12:53 AM
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Okay, I think I understand the dispute better now. Halford, you have a radically different notion of "Overton Window" than the rest of us. Sure, the notion that literally you and I can "move the Overton window" by ourselves by saying something crazy is a dangerously wrong idea. I've never actually seen anyone advocate this idea, but this is the Internet, so I'm sure someone has. But in your honor, let's call this idea the "Halford Window". Yes, there is no Halford Window that individual people can move.

But there is a window of acceptable discourse, and it can be moved. No one, other than the hypothetical endorsers of the Halford Window theory, has said that it takes political power to move it, just that it exists, and that it can deliberately be moved. It can be moved by a single President, a handful of Senators, a bunch of Congresspeople, or a million voters, but it can deliberately be moved. Apparently this idea is so obvious to you that it's banal, so I suggest that you share it with your elected Democratic officials, because they don't seem to have heard.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 1:46 AM
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"Science advances, one funeral at a time."

Max Planck or Timothy Ferris or ...

A Discussion of the "Planck-Kuhn thesis"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 2:27 AM
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I do have to admit that six months ago I would have put the odds of the debt ceiling fight to go down the way bob predicts at about 1%, but now I'd put it at about 48%.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 3:31 AM
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I thought this comment at Yglesias made a persuasive case for what's going on in Obama's mind.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 3:33 AM
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265, 266, 273: What is your problem, neb?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 4:05 AM
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Hilarious. Not really a joke unless you work in books all the live-long day.

Well, I chuckled. What was the title?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 4:07 AM
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301:Dan Kervick is fucking terrific, smart and a good guy. He is a reason to read Yggles comment section, easily as useful a thinker as any front page blogger.

Obama has allowed his administration to be maneuvered into a position in which he is going to be compelled to cave on major spending side compromises. He will portray those compromises as reluctantly acceded to under the threat of a radical Congress playing Russian Roulette with the pistol of default. But I believe this corner is what he has wanted to be backed into all along.
...DK

A relatively generous commenter at Digby's or FDL said that Obama with his cautious centrist consensus analysis doesn't believe that once the ball (of entitlement reform) gets started rolling down the hill Republicans will be able to push it all the way to the bottom.

And, maybe, probably, they won't. This goes to the thread sub-topic of discourse analysis, the Overton Window, and the mechanisms of political change.

But...

(deleted too long lecture and confession about radical uncertainty and non-ergodicity vs general equilibrium, black swans, philosophical pessimism, the moral requirement that the Other to be absolutely unpredictable etc etc.)


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 4:20 AM
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I second 298.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:39 AM
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207
Sorry, guys, great weapons systems, nice music, but your politics is increasingly non-competitive. Now in theory, there's a great opportunity for a bright Dem to come through here as a moderniser on a "second bill of rights" ticket. The question is, would such a person be allowed to live.

Live? Probably. The problem, though, is that at least a third of the changes we most need are wonkish, cerebral, organizational things. Good luck getting people to donate time or money to that. If a politician runs on a platform of breaking oligarchies getting real wages up again, they might be popular, although it all sounds dangerously anti-American, but it would all die be gutted in committee or just get filibustered. If, on the other hand, they run on abolishing the filibuster and reorganizing the committee system, no one would care.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 8:20 AM
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303: What was the title?

Replying way late, and it likely doesn't matter much, but I think it was one of the Foreign Relations of the United States series, which has a bazillion volumes, often including the ISBNs for each volume of that subseries on the copyright page (only one of which applies to the actual volume in hand), so you're scanning a long list of numbers and trying to quickly zero in on the right one.

Either that or I'm trying to make excuses for my bookpartner, and actually he was just tired and had gone on autopilot.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 9:17 AM
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It's strange to me that people who say that there are boundaries to acceptable discourse that have powerful ramifications for political outcomes never seem to have any personal problem thinking and talking outside of those boundaries. It's only the unspecified masses who are so constrained. And somehow politicians -- people who make careers out of accumulating power -- turn out to be well-meaning but hapless; their hearts are in the right place but they don't understand Negotiating 101.

I've read a lot of political blogs; people rarely change their minds about anything, and almost never switch their fundamental political allegiances. Right now the Republican discourse revolves around cutting taxes, balancing the budget, defending Medicare from cuts, and cutting Medicare. You don't need an advanced logic class to see that this is incoherent, but it doesn't matter. The political agenda isn't set by the rhetoric, the rhetoric is set by the political agenda.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 9:49 AM
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¡Albóndigas!


Posted by: Pauly Shore | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 9:57 AM
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I'm just catching up on the NYRB, and I thought this paragraph from the article on Obama was good adn related to the current discussion:

The position of a moderate who aspires to shake the world into a new shape presents a continuous contradiction. For the moderate feels constrained not to say anything startling, and not to do anything very fast. But just as there is trouble with doing things on the old lines, there is trouble, too, with letting people understand things on the old lines. At least, there is if you have your sights set on changing the nature of the game. Obama is caught in this contradiction, and keeps getting deeper in it, like a man who sinks in quicksand both the more he struggles and the more he stays still. This is one lesson of his passage from inaction in Egypt to action in Libya, and from his summons of reform in Cairo in June 2009 to the guarded speech from the sidelines in May 2011.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 10:32 AM
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It's strange to me that people who say that there are boundaries to acceptable discourse that have powerful ramifications for political outcomes never seem to have any personal problem thinking and talking outside of those boundaries.

But this is why it's important to understand the agenda-setting function of the media, politicians and other political actors. It's quite natural that people who understand how discourse is constrained are going to be less constrained.

It's only the unspecified masses who are so constrained.

"Unspecified?" You don't think there are people who are constrained this way?

I've read a lot of political blogs; people rarely change their minds about anything, and almost never switch their fundamental political allegiances.

And yet, look at how the country changes. New York just approved gay marriage! Torture and assassination have become part of our warmaking toolkit. I'm a pretty old guy, but I can tell you that there was a time when this sort of thing was considered beyond the pale. I can remember when people used to call it the "inheritance tax," and the idea of repealing it was considered nuts, and profoundly anti-meritocratic. Peoples' fundamental political allegiances have, in fact, changed.

Granted, people don't perceive this happening. A lot of this change has been the result of a change in the national discourse - people stand still while the ground shifts under their feet. If I were more adept with language I could probably come up with a simple phrase to describe this phenomenon.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 10:40 AM
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It's quite natural that people who understand how discourse is constrained are going to be less constrained.

And right-wingers are quite adept at seeing through the machinations of the ubiquitous lamestream media.

Better-educated conservatives are actually more skeptical of climate scientists than less-educated conservatives. We can look at this two different ways: either critical thinking skills dictate political allegiances, so smart people see the truth while idiots are blinded, or political allegiances come first and people use their intelligence to filter information and argumentation accordingly. Almost everything in my experience suggests the latter.

I don't think discourse has much to do with the success of gay marriage in New York. 99% of conservative rhetoric on gay marriage is a rationalization of the idea that gays are icky; arguments about gay marriage superficially appear to be real arguments in which people exchange facts and philosophies, but actually boil down to "Gays are icky." "No they're not." I don't think discourse has much to do with torture policies: that's basically set by elites at the highest level of government, and then there's some mostly meaningless blather that follows them. If discourse really mattered the people terrified of government power when Clinton and Obama are President would be slightly scared of government power when Bush is President. Funny how it doesn't work that way.

Obviously rhetoric matters to some extent, people use words for communication and thought, very little happens without the exchange of words. I'm saying it doesn't matter as much as people seem to think. I think that's because discourse is easily accessible, much more accessible than, say, the power dynamics in Congress.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:11 AM
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I don't think discourse has much to do with the success of gay marriage in New York. 99% of conservative rhetoric on gay marriage is a rationalization of the idea that gays are icky; arguments about gay marriage superficially appear to be real arguments in which people exchange facts and philosophies, but actually boil down to "Gays are icky." "No they're not."

This seems to me to be exactly about discourse -- we won that one because "No they're not" became a standard normal thing to say. And it became a standard normal thing to say as a result of a lot of extreme envelope-pushing -- the shrinks who managed to get homosexuality no longer defined as a mental illness, all the AIDS activists, pride parades, and so on. The extremism moved the center.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:23 AM
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I don't really agree with everything in 308, but this is a point that can't bear enough repeating on the Internet:

And somehow politicians -- people who make careers out of accumulating power -- turn out to be well-meaning but hapless; their hearts are in the right place but they don't understand Negotiating 101.

I mean, some politicians are better at negotiating than others, granted. But the idea that somehow politicians are just mysteriously terrible and hapless negotiators who can't see what's in front of their face, and that this can be judged with people who have essentially no knowledge of the underlying facts, is crazy.

As I said above, I'm now convinced that the main problem with the use of the phrase "Overton Window" is that it's so capacious as to mean just about anything people want it to mean. Which isn't that surprising, considering that it's not an actual social science concept, just a catchphrase invented by an anti-union hack and popularized by a right wing blogger most accurately known as "Biggus Dickus." I count at least the following meanings, just on this thread alone:

1) The idea that there are some kind of mainstream topics for political debate, and that these can change over time, so that (somehow, in some way) an idea that was once thought to be radical can gain acceptance.

2) The idea that politics change over time. (311: "And yet, look at how the country changes.")

3) The idea that it is possible to have people in think tanks and bloggers "take what had been considered impossibly radical positions and make[] them worthy of consideration just by talking about them" [n.b., this was the original formulation]

4) The idea that you can move media debates by having powerful people stake out positions in public.

5) The idea that framing effects discovered by psychologists have relevance in politics.

6) The idea that the Democrats should have a clear message about their goals, in order to get people to vote for them.

7) The idea that you should build up institutional networks of like-minded people in powerful positions, so that you can enact your agenda over the long-term (Trapnel's article on the Meese DOJ).

8) "It's about how movements with message discipline can shift the terms of debate." (PGD)

9) Instead of engaging in "discourse," Democrats should repetitively say things that are apparently beyond the pale right now in order to mimic Republicans from the other side. (I think this is JRoth's point)

10) There are long-term advantages to developing a political base.

11) There are short term advantages to staking out an extreme position in actual political negotiations.

Some of these ideas are sensible, some of them aren't, but they're pretty damn different and none can be usefully summarized by the term "Overton Window." Which, as I said above, isn't actually a social science term but just some marketing phrase a guy in a think tank made up.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:23 AM
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I agree that gay marriage in NYC is the result of a million smaller victories. I don't think it was especially driven by talking heads on CNN or by New York Times editorials or by Presidential speeches.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:28 AM
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314: Some of those are straw, some are banalities that no one is referring to by use of the phrase "Overton Window" (Number 2? No one is using Overton Window to mean that) some are incomplete statements that are compatible with the concept but don't purport to state it fully (say, number 8).

The "Overton Window" isn't the only useful concept out there. And I'm not absolutely convinced of how useful it is. But it's not anywhere near as incoherent as you're suggesting. Anyone talking about moving the Overton Window is talking about changing what is perceived as a sane political position by having public spokespeople take more extreme positions, making the desired outcome look sane and moderate by comparison. If you wanted to say "anchoring", that'd cover most of what people use it for.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:37 AM
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Um, 316.2 is precisely not how many people have been using the phrase on this thread. For instance, taking an extreme position (and who takes that position?) is a quite different point than "message discipline."

And "anchoring" doesn't remotely mean the same thing as "having public spokespeople take more extreme positions, making the desired outcome look sane and moderate by comparison." "Anchoring" refers to a set of cognitive biases based on overly relying on a single piece of information and then adjusting other elements to that piece of information. Link here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:45 AM
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This seems to me to be exactly about discourse -- we won that one because "No they're not" became a standard normal thing to say. And it became a standard normal thing to say as a result of a lot of extreme envelope-pushing -- the shrinks who managed to get homosexuality no longer defined as a mental illness, all the AIDS activists, pride parades, and so on. The extremism moved the center.

I think the political success of the Gay Rights movement over the last 40 years match the narrative of "The Overton Window" reasonably well.

I wonder, however, if it isn't atypical as an issue, in that there are relatively few people who had a strong self-interest in maintaining the previous status quo (there were people who cared about it strongly, but very little in the way of entrenched interests).

Contrast the movement to limit greenhouse gas emissions which has had no shortage of minor victories and events/statements which have attracted public attention, but which hasn't moved the "window of discourse" very far. I think that's a more typical of the sorts of issues that become political fights, in that there are massive economic costs at stake.

I'm not sure how I've ended up being sort of on the anti-"Overton Window" side on this thread, but I am starting to think that the phrase needs some significant caveats attached to it (even implicitly) and that I'm glad for this discussion and to have a chance to think through those caveats.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:45 AM
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Whoops, link here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:46 AM
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Also, I am inclined to think that the fact that Glenn Beck titled his book, "The Overton Window" may suggest that the phrase has jumped the shark, as they say.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:48 AM
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Or, to be more clear, "anchoring" suggests that an extreme statement will be of use only if it serves as a cognitive anchor. If the extreme statement deviates from the anchor, the theory actually suggests a reason why the extreme statement will be counterproductive.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:48 AM
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For instance, taking an extreme position (and who takes that position?) is a quite different point than "message discipline."

But message discipline is necessary if taking extreme positions is going to get your side anywhere. That doesn't mean that 'message discipline' = 'Overton Window', but it does mean that when people talk about how successful the right is with moving the Overton Window, 'message discipline' is going to be part of the discussion.

Or, to be more clear, "anchoring" suggests that an extreme statement will be of use only if it serves as a cognitive anchor.

Which would be the conditions where Overton Window kinds of things work. Where you can't get the extreme statements to serve as a cognitive anchor, you will fail to move the Overton Window.

Again, it's not the only useful concept in the world, but the degree to which you're finding it incomprehensible and incoherent is puzzling me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:53 AM
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310: I found that NYRB piece maddening.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:58 AM
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I found that NYRB piece maddening.

One of the things that's surprised me has been the number of pieces in both the NYRB and the LRB since the 2010 elections which have taken really personal shots at Obama (for example the snark about vacation days in that piece).

I find it alternately maddening and just curious.

But I found the quoted paragraph interesting, and thought it touched on some of the same issues as Frum.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 12:06 PM
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322: but the degree to which you're finding it incomprehensible and incoherent is puzzling me.

The carbs are clouding all of our brains.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 12:11 PM
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Where you can't get the extreme statements to serve as a cognitive anchor, you will fail to move the Overton Window.

Even if you can get the extreme statement to serve as a cognitive anchor, you have to worry about other mass opinion effects. I'm mainly thinking of agenda setting (that is, telling people which issues to think about as opposed to telling them how to think about an issue). The agenda setting powers of the media are generally held to be much stronger than the ability of the media to shift opinion. Trying to shift the Overton Window with extreme statements could open the door to counterproductive agenda setting.

For example, if you try move the debate about health care to the left by proposing a single-payer system, you might get two effects. First, people trying to stay in the "moderate" zone might be inclined to move to the left and now support a public opinion or expanding Medicare to 55 or whatever. Second, some people might become opposed to any reform because the other side made them think "single-payer = socialist." These people would likely stop listening to any argument for reform.

(The above example is hypothetical and I haven't looked at that data. I'm just trying to make the point that you can hardly do anything in public opinion without some unwanted effects.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 12:13 PM
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324: One of the things that's surprised me has been the number of pieces in both the NYRB and the LRB since the 2010 elections which have taken really personal shots at Obama (for example the snark about vacation days in that piece).

This was the first one I'd noticed as really outstanding. On the vacation days: well, I hadn't known that, yet it doesn't seem to me that Obama is shirking his responsibilities, in light of how constrained he is by Congressional shenanigans, and if the implication was to be that he is (by taking too many vacation days), yeah, cheap shot.

But I found the quoted paragraph interesting, and thought it touched on some of the same issues as Frum.

It's a narrative that's been around for a while: Obama is attempting to triangulate a la Clinton, attempting to split the difference, and it may have worked during Clinton's time but it can't work now, and it makes Obama look weak and indecisive, like a delegator rather than a decider (cue Brooks/Frum).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 12:28 PM
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I just read the transcript of Obama's press conference the other day, and not only does he not sound like a dick, he sounds like the only grownup in the room, frankly. I liked the line: "My expectation is that they'll [the Republicans] do the responsible thing."

There's some kowtowing and obligatory nodding and whatnot in there, but the message seems pretty damn clear: we'll give up some stuff if and only if you give up some stuff. That doesn't seem lily-livered to me. I'm therefore getting a little tired of that 'Obama is a weak leader' storyline.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 1:18 PM
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Which would be the conditions where Overton Window kinds of things work. Where you can't get the extreme statements to serve as a cognitive anchor, you will fail to move the Overton Window.

Maybe, but there's no particular reason to think that extreme statements would necessarily move a "window" of debate, or, more importantly, that more moderate statements wouldn't do just as good a job of serving as an anchor. The moderate statement could be a better cognitive anchor! See also the point made by Moby above. So if that's what the "Overton Window" means, it certainly doesn't mean that you can "take what had been considered impossibly radical positions and make[] them worthy of consideration just by talking about them," which was the original formulation of the idea.

Has this been beaten into the ground yet?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 1:23 PM
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The window for "beaten into the ground" is very, very large because of past discussions and extremely long debates.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 1:25 PM
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So if that's what the "Overton Window" means, it certainly doesn't mean that you can "take what had been considered impossibly radical positions and make[] them worthy of consideration just by talking about them," which was the original formulation of the idea.

If you throw in "under the right circumstances" after the "and", I think it's pretty close. It's not magic, and I'm not sure how broadly useful the concept is, but it's coherent and refers to something worth talking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 1:30 PM
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Well, to the extent that it is an idea that implies precisely the opposite of what most people take it to mean (i.e., now the "Overton Window" means that politicians should stake out moderate positions in order to persuade voters, and should stake out extreme positions only after careful consideration of competing factors in moving public opinion), your formulation could be right!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 1:33 PM
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I should say, "means that politicians should sometimes stake out moderate positions."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 1:35 PM
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332 seems to assume that only moderate positions can be persuasive.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 1:39 PM
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328 I just read the transcript of Obama's press conference the other day, and not only does he not sound like a dick, he sounds like the only grownup in the room, frankly.

I don't agree. It's a bait-and-switch. He leads off by talking about the economy and how it's a tough time for the middle class, and how there are steps that can help that both parties agree on. Then suddenly it's:

Of course, one of the most important and urgent things we can do for the economy is something that both parties are working on right now -- and that's reducing our nation's deficit.

This is pretty much a bald-faced lie, and then he goes on to talk about deficit reduction and spending cuts as if it has something to do with the economic problems he started out his speech with.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 1:40 PM
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implies precisely the opposite of what most people take it to mean

Nope, not really.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 1:42 PM
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Geez, Halford, stop taking these extreme anti-Overton positions to try to convince us to change the way we talk about politics.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 1:50 PM
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I just read the transcript of Obama's press conference the other day,

Thanks for the link, I hadn't read it, and it is interesting.

I'm afraid, however, that its now my turn to say that I found that somewhat maddening.

The insistence on continuing to extend the bulk of the Bush tax cuts seems like I mistake. I was willing to buy the argument that they were useful as fiscal stimulus when they were extended last time, but at some point you can't keep saying things like, "I spent the last two years cutting taxes for ordinary Americans, and I want to extend those middle-class tax cuts. " without moving closer to a state of affairs in which the Bush tax cuts are the default, rather than a temporary measure. Secondly I just don't know how much money is out there if you're only willing to raise taxes on "millionaires and billionaires; tax breaks for oil companies and hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners."

Many of the tax breaks which would be most desirable to eliminate would end up increasing taxes for the middle class (while increasing them even more for the wealthy), the mortgage interest deduction for example, which I would be happy to get rid of. I feel like Obama is sticking with his previous position of "no tax increases for the middle class" and it may be good politics, but I don't think it's good policy.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 1:51 PM
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So, in your view, the basic idea is "sometimes you should make extreme statements, sometimes you shouldn't, sometimes this will move public opinion, sometimes it won't, depending on circumstances, and by the way none of this looks very much like a "window," oh, and, also by the way, it's a shorthand and inaccurate reference to another actual social science concept, 'anchoring' that has a much clearer and more commonly accepted definition and a whole set of implications that we aren't talking about."

OK, that was a little unfair.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 1:56 PM
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Has any of the rhetoric about cutting the deficit and shared sacrifice made increasing taxes on the rich more palatable? Why do people think the obstacles here have anything to do with discourses?


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 2:03 PM
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339: Are you saying that instead of worrying about the Overton Window, we should just walk out the door?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 2:03 PM
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||

For x. trapnel: Yglesias musing about government by lottery.

|>


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 2:41 PM
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Trapnel has shifted the Overton Window!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 2:47 PM
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ow the "Overton Window" means that politicians should stake out moderate positions in order to persuade voters,

No, the "Overton Window" refers to the notion that there is a range of positions that are treated as reasonable at a given moment in mainstream political discourse, and that this "window" can shift this way and that. The canonical Overton claim is that the window in question can be shifted effectively by strategically deployed discourse that falls outside that window. But you could, it seems to me, argue that other strategic moves can also affect what will be treated as within the range or "reasonable" in the future, without particularly distorting the original notion that there's a shifting/shiftable window of what's putatively reasonable.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 3:14 PM
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and by the way none of this looks very much like a "window,"

Disagree!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 3:15 PM
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342/3: first Yggls, next California. Then the world!


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 3:26 PM
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345: It's certainly been a pane reading this thread.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 3:26 PM
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I think the "window" part refers to how the Mark Halperins of the world can't keep too many things in their head at one time, and so if the window is moved to encompass a previously unmentionable idea, like privatizing Medicare, it changes the relative standing of other ideas. Leaving Medicare alone used to be at the center but now it's at the left. Cutting Medicare used to be at the right but now it's at the center.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 3:38 PM
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348: Yar.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 3:56 PM
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We'll take this thread to one thousand four hundred.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 4:01 PM
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335, 338: Alright. Yes. Obama is being mealy-mouthed, I recognize that. In fact I don't know why I seem to apologize for him.

I guess I keep trying to take him to be speaking to those of the American public who believe that the deficit really is killing us/the economy, and assume that he wants to protect his chances for reelection by soothing those people. And I can't manage to fault him for the latter, because I find it rather important that he be reelected.

We can argue 'til the cows come home about whether he's really needed to cave this much [Halford can argue 'til he's blue in the face]. It's not wisest in the long run to allow the deficit reduction blather to take top billing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 4:15 PM
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and by the way none of this looks very much like a "window,"

Psst, nobody tell Robert about the Microsoft program. Or the expression "window of opportunity."

How many different ways does 344 need to be said before Robert acknowledges it?

The idea that "Overton Window" is defined by a specific set of actions in every circumstsance isn't right, but Robert ain't gonna give it up. The phrase describes a phenomenon, not a set of actions, and that's what makes it useful and interesting. What set of actions is required to exploit the phenomenon? Reasonable people can disagree!

Whoops. I just said 344 again, didn't I.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 4:18 PM
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I will not leave this thread until the Overton Window is smashed into small glass pieces!

344 is fair enough, but without the idea that the window can be "moved" by making extreme statements, it it leaves you with something like the definition in 314.1 "The idea that there are some kind of mainstream topics for political debate, and that these can change over time, so that (somehow, in some way) an idea that was once thought to be radical can gain acceptance." Which is true, of course, but which also fails to account for how or why those topics might change over time or how an idea might or might not gain acceptance, and is, therefore, I think, a banality.

I don't like the "window" metaphor because it implies, to me, that there is a permanent, fixed space of left-center-right, and that if you move a box along the left or right axis the whole thing moves but the shape stays fundamentally the same. But that ignores the fact that often the entire range of debate gets elongated or shrunken -- for example, in the 1930s, the range of semi-acceptable discourse in the US ranged from socialism to Father Coughlin style fascism; by 1995, the range was much more narrow. Moreover, sometimes an entire side of the debate gets lobbed off without moving the debate at all in one direction or another; after about 1985 it became impossible to respectably be in favor of the government in South Africa, but that didn't mean that all of a sudden it was OK to talk about Communist Revolution there. The idea that there's a "center" equidistant from clearly defined endpoints is pretty misleading.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 4:19 PM
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We can argue 'til the cows come home

Gah! This expression aggravates me to no end! I cannot for one second abide its meaninglessness! How many cows? All of the cows? Some of the cows? A quorum? And whose home? Theirs? Yours? Mine?

SO ANNOYING!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 4:25 PM
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. The phrase describes a phenomenon

What is that phenomenon? Because people have given about 350 different definitions in this thread alone (OK, exaggerated, but not by much).

If you mean "the notion that there is a range of positions that are treated as reasonable at a given moment in mainstream political discourse, and that this "window" can shift this way and that," I responded above.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 4:26 PM
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354: You can take it up with my mother, Stanley.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 4:29 PM
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300+ comments and y'all are still debating the Overton Window?!

Well then, one more theory won't do any harm. I think Obama's negotiating style in its own way tries to respond to the rightward drift of the Overton window, not by trying to pull it back to the left, but by trying to make it wider. I.e., instead of trying to fight the conservative movement head-on, we should just agree that the emergence of radical conservative ideas widens the scope of a debate, but doesn't necessarily move its center to the right... the center is defined by what most people believe, and not the midpoint between radical conservatives and radical liberals. I think this is a fine idea. But it is probably too good of an idea for this country to carry out, at least the way things are now. Which makes me sad.


Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 4:30 PM
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I will, by way of mollification, remark that I noticed my inclination to use that phrase, which I learned from my mom, noticed that I don't really know where it comes from and have never used it before myself, thought once or twice, very briefly, about using it, and chuckled.

Sorry, Stan.

I think it's supposed to mean that the cows will never come home, as any idiot knows. Apparently.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 4:49 PM
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I think it's end of the day milking time -- cows are uncomfortable if not milked, so you don't need to round them up; a dairy cow will return from grazing to the barn to be milked of her own accord around sunset. But I could be wrong, and it is probably a metaphor that's dead for anyone who doesn't interact with cows regularly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 5:01 PM
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359 fits with my understanding, though you may have to go get your cows depending on gates, fences, etc.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 5:39 PM
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According to my cursory research, the cows come home to be milked in the morning. You people. Just don't know a thing about cows.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 5:47 PM
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What is that phenomenon? Because people have given about 350 different definitions in this thread alone (OK, exaggerated, but not by much).

Oddly, you're the only person who seems to think this. Those of us who grasp the concept don't disagree with how others present it. 344 did it, as I did in the accidentally unsigned 352.

How ought people act on this concept? That's a legitimate subject of debate, and there's been some debate here on that subject.

By your method, we can render any subject into gibberish. What is anything? What is a street? Some might say it's a place to walk, others might ride bikes, others might drive cars and others might ride buses. We might have different ideas about the utility of streets, but we know that streets exist, and we know what they are.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 5:53 PM
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361: True. Cows are usually milked twice a day and the 'coming home' here is probably the very early morning one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 5:57 PM
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In the interest of completeness, and in case I wasn't clear with my allegedly humorous asides earlier, Halford is basically on the side of the angels, here, and it (you know which 'it') is sort of a mindless concept that doesn't add anything to discussion.

On the other hand, I basically hate political conversations on the internet these days, so why would you even listen to me?


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:01 PM
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363: Right. So the argument will go on all night long, which might as well be forever.

pf thinks that cows know what streets are. Sheesh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:02 PM
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||

OMG BTW LOL: today my boss (who is fairly advanced in years) used the term streets ahead in conversation!

|>


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:05 PM
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362.last: In Pittsburgh, a stairway can be a street. I don't mean that in a drunk-driver-surprises-somebody way. Officially, some stairways are streets. Mostly, google maps is wise to which streets aren't streets, so that helps.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:07 PM
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I had a meeting today about what objects are.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:10 PM
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OK, PF, you accept 344. That's the idea that it means "the notion that there is a range of positions that are treated as reasonable at a given moment in mainstream political discourse, and that this "window" can shift this way and that."

But that's not the way the phrase was used in its original formulation by Overton himself. Nor in the Kos post that adopted the term into widespread internet usage. Nor by LB earlier. Nor by Trapnel. Nor by PGD here. Nor by NickS. I don't think that we need to get into philosophy of language or the definition of the word "street" to think that there might be a definitional problem here. Especially since the "Overton Window" is a capital-letter term that sounds scientific-y and at least appears to be referring to a clearly-defined concept.

If you want to stick with 344, that's fine, and consistent with your original usage in the thread, but, really, you've got yourself one hell of an uninteresting concept there. On your formulation, the "Overton Window" means that there is some kind of range of political debate that is accepted as reasonable, and this may or may not change, somehow, in some ways, and for some reasons that are undefined (maybe having to do with discourse, maybe having to do with economics, maybe having to do with something else), over time.

OK! Political history happens! Fantastic! Why it's useful to dress up that perfectly obvious point with reference to a dead right-wing hack who came up with a lousy metaphor that was intended to make a different point, about political rhetoric, is beyond me.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:11 PM
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Don't leave us hanging. I've been wondering that very thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:11 PM
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370 to 368, mostly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:12 PM
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The Phlogiston Window defines the acceptable range of fundamental elements. It is possible for interested parties to shift the Phlogiston Window by "discovering" elements far outside this window. If you think they don't do this all the time, well, go on living blind in the past, sheeple.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:14 PM
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go on living blind in the past, sheeple.

ASS.


Posted by: OPINIOATED DISABLED ANTHROPOMORPHIZED HISTORICAL LIVESTOCK | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:14 PM
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370: turns out to be complicated.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:15 PM
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I bet Glenn Beck could tell me. He's very certain about that kind of thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:19 PM
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The Overton Item


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:21 PM
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I read The Overton Item, but Ludlum books start to sound exactly alike after a while.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:22 PM
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You know, if super hot swimsuit models really hate the term "Overton Window," I've got it made.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:23 PM
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I don't know what's so bad about sheep. Do people think we get wool from kangaroos or something?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:26 PM
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No, Woolabys.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:27 PM
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I'm going to register that. I'll make WoolabiesTM the new Beanie Babies!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:29 PM
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Mispelled puns are the worst.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:29 PM
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Well, mispelled correctyns.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:29 PM
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However you spell it, William and Wanda Woolaby, paddleboarding explosive ordnance technicians and anti-koala-trafficking activists,* are my intellectual property.

* Work in progress.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:34 PM
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Woolabies bottle cuttle forts.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:35 PM
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I bet we could make it so that Miss USA candidates really hate the term "Overton Window", Halford. Would that be good enough?

Actually. We could ask Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann what they think about the recent shifting of the Overton Window.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:36 PM
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Speaking of smallish animals, I saw a groundhog run under my neighbor's deck. Is that the kind of thing I should call him about (not tonight as it is too late) or maybe just mention if I see him or just forget about? Related: Could a groundhog be what is eating all of my parsley and basil?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:39 PM
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as it is too late

Too late, perhaps, for the neighbor, if the groundhog has done its dastardly work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:40 PM
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Should I check and see if the groundhog is making a guy-sized hole?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:43 PM
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I had a meeting today about what objects are.

Objects are things, right?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:45 PM
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342:

From Yglesias:

There seem to me to be plenty of municipalities across America that are too big for town meetings, but still sufficiently rinky dink that they don't want full time professional legislatures.

My town has town meeting, and I don't think that we're rinky dink. We have some kind of committee system. Not everyone is a member, so it's not exactly direct democracy, but it's quite close to the people. Still not rinky dink!


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:49 PM
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Objects are totally things. Usually medium-sized, but not always.

Groundhogs can be eating the parsley and basil, though I'd think of rabbits first.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:54 PM
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But here's the thing: things are not always objects.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:55 PM
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The thing about it is, is.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:56 PM
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392: You're probably right that it was a rabbit. They've grown back and the groundhog isn't ten yards from them. Also, so bugs are eating holes in the basil.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:56 PM
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Basil is a thing. A groundhog is a thing or is not a thing, depending on your ethical views.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 6:58 PM
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things are not always objects.

You are so right.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:00 PM
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369

If you want to stick with 344, that's fine, and consistent with your original usage in the thread, but, really, you've got yourself one hell of an uninteresting concept there. On your formulation, the "Overton Window" means that there is some kind of range of political debate that is accepted as reasonable, and this may or may not change, somehow, in some ways, and for some reasons that are undefined (maybe having to do with discourse, maybe having to do with economics, maybe having to do with something else), over time.

It's not that mysterious. The reason there is a window is that people tend to be tribal and conformist, reluctant to stray too far from the herd. So they are reluctant to express views which appear to be unpopular. But in some cases there are fairly large numbers of people who hold (or are at least open to) the same apparently uncommon view but which most of them are afraid to voice. So there is a potential for the window to shift. If a few people (particularly opinion leaders) voice the view this may encourage a few more to follow which in turn encourages others. This can lead to a runaway feedback situation which ends with the view widely voiced and within the window.

So just expressing any old nutty view won't work, it has to be one with potential widespread support.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:05 PM
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My object is a thing, laydeez.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:08 PM
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DON'T THINK OF A RABBIT


Posted by: OPINIONATED OPINIONATOR | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:11 PM
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So the Republicans have shifted the Overton Window so that everyone now thinks crazy thoughts -- like we now need to cut the deficit, and there needs to be some shared sacrifice to move closer to a balanced budget.

Meanwhile there were some tax cuts passed for rich people a decade ago, conveniently labeled the "Bush tax cuts," named after a President who left office with a 28% approval rating.

What's preventing people from putting two and two together? How on earth is this a discourse issue? Does the Overton Window have fascinating topological properties -- is it not continuous?


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:14 PM
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A rabbits has fascinating topological properties.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:15 PM
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398 -- OK then. All problems of political change and political history solved.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:16 PM
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Lie back and think of a groundhog.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:18 PM
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I saw one from five feet away. He was either blind or brave.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:21 PM
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On the gardening front, bugs on basil are a bitch. Um. You might try a pepper spray -- not mace! -- but a capsicum-laced water spray, or garlic-laced.

There's also companion planting. I have a book called Carrots Love Tomatoes all about companion planting: plants that contribute to one another's health and/or drive away pests and disease when growing near to one another.

Google! I'm off now myself.

Oh, with the basil, you also want to be pinching off the largest leaves (usually lower leaves) as time goes on, in order to promote continued robust growth.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:30 PM
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Taxes, contributed for the good of our society and our fellow inhabitants of the country, are far more of a shared sacrifice than pretty much anything related to cuts, in which only some people will "participate."


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:34 PM
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Some comment 404-related online research led me to this unique royal wedding souvenir. Like a Royal wedding, intercourse with a loved one is an unforgettable occasion.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:35 PM
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I saw one from five feet away. He was either blind or brave.

Maybe he's that special kind of brave from an advanced case of rabies.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:36 PM
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Like a Royal wedding, intercourse with a loved one is...

... more likely to be shown on the BBC if it involves a thin, white woman.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:38 PM
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409: He scattered when he finally saw me, but the thought of rabies does make me think I should call my neighbor tomorrow.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:39 PM
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Halford, I think Sugrue's book is one of the ten or fifteen best monographs published by a professional historian in the last couple of decades. I don't think it's exaggerating to call it a masterpiece. Moreover, I think it's one of the very few books books that a majority of the Americanists working today would be very likely to put on CD titled, "Best of History, 1991-2011". It's that good. Also, Tom had a blog, "Rustbelt Intellectual", for a while. But he got sick of it. Still, you could definitely Facebook friend him. When I used to check in, he posted interested stuff.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:42 PM
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Like a Royal wedding, intercourse with a loved one is...

Best performed with the Archbishop of Canterbury in the same room.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:42 PM
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Sorry, I should have used my OT hashtag, I guess. I'm tweeting now, yo.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:43 PM
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412 -- thanks! It really is an incredibly good book.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:43 PM
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415: if you want to stick with good books in that genre, you could read Kevin Kruse's White Flight next. And if you decide to do that, remind me to send you the insane review of it that appeared in National Review.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:48 PM
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Like a Royal wedding, intercourse with a loved one is...

...likely to be disrupted by anarchists?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:56 PM
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It's probably too much to ask for a front-page post about Grantland, isn't it?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 7:59 PM
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Like a Royal wedding, intercourse with a loved one is...

...something you might be asked to re-enact 14 years later.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 8:03 PM
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Like a Royal wedding, intercourse with a loved one is...

...going to fall on the back of British taxpayers eventually.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 8:05 PM
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Grantland's still around?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 8:09 PM
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I feel compelled to point out that my bitching about the phrase "'til the cows come home" was supposed to be me making fun of Halford, which apparently didn't work as a joke. OH WELL.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 8:12 PM
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You win some, you moos some.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 8:15 PM
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||

If the NYT is to be believed the sexual assualt case against DSK is in big trouble.

The sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of collapse as investigators have uncovered major holes in the credibility of the housekeeper who charged that he attacked her in his Manhattan hotel suite in May, according to two well-placed law enforcement officials.

The credibility problems don't preclude her having been assaulted but they won't play well with a jury.

>>


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 8:21 PM
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424:

According to the two officials, the woman had a phone conversation with an incarcerated man within a day of her encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn in which she discussed the possible benefits of pursuing the charges against him. The conversation was recorded.

And now we have Christine Lagarde in charge of the IMF. And it was so easy.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 8:29 PM
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What was so easy? I mean, substantively why does it matter that we switched French people?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 8:34 PM
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Indeed. A lot of people thought switching to Obama was a big deal. Turns out it was just one American taking over for another.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 8:40 PM
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408: My mother-in-law brought us a pack of those souvenir condoms back from a trip to England. We can't stop giggling over "Combining the strength of a Prince with the yielding sensitivity of a Princess-to-be."


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:13 PM
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This is one of those conversations where I begin to think communication is actually impossible. I don't understand anything Halford has said for the last 100 comments or so. To me, everyone on the pro-Overton Window side has outlined essentially the same position. I don't disagree with anything LB or PF, or anyone else pro-OW has said.

It could have been true that moderate statements are more effective in controlling the political discourse, but clearly this hypothesis has been completely refuted empirically, in that that wackos have steadily taken over the debate.

I think the most important part of the Overton Window is the set of allowable options inside the heads of the elite. Democratic politicians have completely internalized the neoliberal world view that defined the extreme right-wing of acceptable discourse in 1960. Christy Romer -- who if you'd asked me in 2007 I would have guessed she was a Republican -- is now on the far left of the window, even inside the minds of policymakers. (And I think James is right that the range of acceptable opinion among ordinary people is much wider. See Natilo's conversation about nuking Afghanistan versus nuking rich suburbs as an example.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-30-11 11:54 PM
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There is only one way out of this.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07- 1-11 12:17 AM
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426:Marcy Wheeler

Here are a few random thoughts and points to ruminate on: Funny how this all comes out the day after Christine Lagarde gets the IMF job that previously belonged to DSK. The same DSK who was the chief defender of Greece and other struggling counties in the battle for their soul with the EU and IMF; all as Greece is getting stripped and gutted to please the banks, elite and rich. So there is that. Then there is also the fact DSK was the presumptive next leader in France.

and Simon Johnson, Felix Salmon, etc


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 1-11 6:34 AM
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