Re: Backwash

1

They should just let everyone vote. Serials killers, the certifiably insane, toddlers, anyone who can express a preference by one means or another. No motivation for their decisions could be any less ridiculous than those of some of the people cited in the article.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 6:21 AM
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Waltrip said he liked the Republican ticket in 2008 because McCain is a veteran and because Sarah Palin "made me laugh."

Makes perfect sense to me. That's why I'm starting to raise funds now for the Oliver Stone/Charlie Sheen PAC.

Stone and Sheen in 20-16!

Don't be a buffoon, vote "Platoon"!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 6:24 AM
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On topic because the McCain-to-Obama older men says that the economy is not their important reason.

"Even though 38 percent of all voters believe the economy is the election's most prominent issue, just one-third of the McCain defectors agree. Character matters more."

But women have not done as well as men in the "recovery."

Women are trailing behind men in the economic recovery, claiming a mere eight percent of the 1.9 million jobs that have been added to the economy since the end of the recession in June 2009, a NWLC study shows. Unemployment rates for women have actually risen from 7.6 percent in June 2009 to today's figure of 7.7 percent, while men have seen unemployment fall from 9.9 to 7.7 percent over the course of the recovery.
...Huffington

Swing States Polls Women Voters ...tied. Non-swing states, red & blue, are where the gender gap is large.

and...

Courting Women Romney Bets on Economy

If Republicans are to buck the demographics, I think this is where they do it. Rural women and small businesswomen were a very significant portion of the LDP's (Japan) constituency.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 6:27 AM
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I wonder how the super-racist states (the ones that had a Republican swing 2004-2008) are going to turn out.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 6:34 AM
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1,2: I'm as inclined as anyone* to criticize Obama, but holy shit, look at the country he's trying to lead.

*except bob.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 6:34 AM
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"I've always felt like the Mormon Church was more of a cult," Waltrip said. "I'm sort of afraid that his interests are going to be strictly for the Mormon Church."

It's a shame Obama can't do more to exploit the bigot vote.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 6:36 AM
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5: I'm hardly inclined at all to criticise Obama, and have long maintained that he's one of the better presidents the US can get, given the constraints imposed by the political and media systems, and the bloodthirstyness and stupidity of the electorate.

But we discuss this ad nauseum just about every week here.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 6:39 AM
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Even though 38 percent of all voters believe the economy is the election's most prominent issue, just one-third of the McCain defectors agree. Character matters more.

This is a trick sentence -- you're not supposed to notice that there isn't that much difference between 38% and 33.3%. Since we are talking about a relatively very small group, I'm sure that's not statistically significant.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:01 AM
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McCain had flaws, but being the most dishonest looking politician I've seen on the national stage wasn't one of them. People who don't like to vote for politicians who look like they're lying all the time probably won't vote for Romney, even if they were attracted to McCain's policies.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:03 AM
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There was probably more evidence of Nixon's dishonesty, but he didn't look like a cartoon of lying in the way that Romney does. Even W. Bush didn't actually look like he was lying in the way that Romney always does. Bush looked like a fairly pleasant guy, and I thought he probably was. I changed my opinion on that when he invaded a foreign country on false pretenses.

Anyway, the problem of looking like an uncomfortable liar who can't sleep at night is going to hurt Romney with his base at crunch time, because his base really doesn't like being lied to. And Romney shows it on his face.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:07 AM
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They should just let everyone vote.

Or maybe we should prohibit white men from voting or running for office for a few decades. You know, a "take a timeout and think about all the damage you've done" kind of thing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:19 AM
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10 - As I said when Tagg made his "I wanted to rush the stage" comment, if being called a liar bothers Romney so much he should stop lying all the time. I'm not sure there's been a political campaign this relentlessly dishonest in living memory, lockbox jokes and secret plan to win the war notwithstanding.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:22 AM
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The problem for Romney isn't just that he's lying all the time, it's that he also looks like he's lying all the time. Nobody wants to look at a president and see that on his face. It makes you uncomfortable.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:25 AM
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What are the chances that, at some point in the debate tonight, Obama says to Romney, "Please proceed, Governor", just to mess with his head?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:34 AM
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Tonight? But I'm washing my hair tonight.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:40 AM
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For instance, my guess is that Moby would not make for a very good political candidate.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:42 AM
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The problem for Romney isn't just that he's lying all the time, it's that he also looks like he's lying all the time.

I think one of the keys to Romney's success in the first debate was that he did his best job to date of not looking like he was lying. Fortunately, the mask starts to crack when he gets even slightly rattled, and Obama's hitting back in the second debate accomplished this.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:43 AM
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Is it really fair to say that a group that's 55% male "tends to be" male? Or that a group that's 34% older "tends to be" older?

They do apparently tend to be white, I'll grant you that.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:44 AM
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I thought he looked like he was lying in the first debate too, so I dunno. It usually takes people awhile to admit to being wrong.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:45 AM
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||

NMM to Russell Means.

RIP. Damn but it's been a bad week for lefty heroes.

|>


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:46 AM
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20: It's limited to South Dakota.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:53 AM
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They do apparently tend to be white, I'll grant you that.

I don't know; probably you should be comparing to the fraction of white people in the general population.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:56 AM
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21: You can still masturbate to Russell Means in other states? Damn, this whole federalism thing is weird . . .


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:56 AM
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20. For certain definitions of lefty:

Since the late 1970s, Means has often supported libertarian political causes, in contrast with several of the other leaders of AIM. In 1987, Means ran for nomination of President of the United States under the Libertarian Party, and attracted considerable support within the party, finishing 2nd (31.41%) at the 1987 Libertarian National Convention. He lost the nomination to Congressman Ron Paul.

(Pedia thing)


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:57 AM
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21 Right. Don't know how I missed that. So who's next?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:58 AM
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They do apparently tend to be white, I'll grant you that.

The statistics in that piece were bullshit, and I'd bet this one was no exception. If 72% of the switchers are white, then in fact, among McCain voters they are probably disproportionately non-white (though a quick Google doesn't definitively answer that question).


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 7:59 AM
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26 to 22, also. I contend that you should be comparing them to the pool that they come from: McCain voters.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:00 AM
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23: I'm just saying that if I were Tom Daschle, I'd not order the fugu at lunch today.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:04 AM
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24 yeah there is that but Means was important and still counts in my book.

(The theory which is mine: too much exposure to Hollywood does weird things to the activist mind.)


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:07 AM
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29.last not intended as Halford bait.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:08 AM
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This is a trick sentence -- you're not supposed to notice that there isn't that much difference between 38% and 33.3%.

Oh man, do I hate that sort of thing.

Somewhat similarly, I occasionally notice a reference to "it's been half a decade since _____." Dude, it's been 5 years. Don't try to make it sound all historical 'n' shit.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:09 AM
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I don't know; probably you should be comparing to the fraction of white people in the general population.

Isn't it fair to that Americans in general tend to be white. To say this group tends to be white doesn't necessarilt imply that they tend to be unusally white, compared to other Americans.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:11 AM
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Isn't it fair to that


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:11 AM
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"Nearly four tenths of a baker's dozen year ago"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:12 AM
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So it sounds like a substantial number of people who voted for McCain -- which match up to a fairly representative statistical cross-section of America -- will be voting for Obama and not Romney.

I think Obama's probably ok with that.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:15 AM
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I'm not sure there's been a political campaign this relentlessly dishonest in living memory, lockbox jokes and secret plan to win the war notwithstanding.

These judgments are inherently subjective, but surely Nixon is still the champ. Reagan's economic program was described quite accurately in real-time as "voodoo economics." He was no better than Romney.

Bush II told plenty of lies on the way to beating Gore and Kerry, but his real distinction is that he expanded the frontiers of the use of bullshit, in the Frankfurtian sense.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:21 AM
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My memory is that Bush could say things that were true and were totally horrible and awful and yet somehow he'd pretend he was saying something great. Whereas Romney can't lie in tone, so he lies in content.

(Obviously Bush lied in content plenty of times as well, but it wasn't his sole motivation as a character, the way it seems to be for Romney. Romney rarely lies in tone, it seems.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:25 AM
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I always liked that essay. The interesting thing for me isn't just that Romney lies -- that's common, we all agree -- but that he so obviously lies. I think if you go and look at footage of Nixon, he actually looks like less of a liar than Romney. Everyone talks about how sweaty and tired Nixon looked in his debates with Kennedy, but Romney looks to me like a man who can't sleep at night. My guess is, he's got some fun skeletons in that closet of his.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:27 AM
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So what you mean by "lie in tone" is to not look like a liar, Heebie?

For my money, I don't want a president who lies a lot. But I also really don't want a president who always looks like a liar. I can't imagine that helps our foreign policy, and it's just sickening to watch.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:29 AM
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Romney's problem is that he has to run against a healthcare plan nearly identical to the one he was boasting about as recently as four years ago. Obama managed to set the agenda for the election in such a way the Romney couldn't win his primary without taking a stance that would be even close to consistent with what he tried to do this last primary. He's not less convincing that Bush so much as constrainted to make more stupid lies.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:29 AM
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I mean, he could decide to be honest and lose for sure, but where's the fun in that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:30 AM
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I think he's much less convincing than W. Bush. Bush ran on a "compassionate conservative" platform and won. Maybe I'm gullible -- I also wasn't paying very much attention at the time -- but I believed him. I think a lot of people bought into Nader's line at the time, that there wasn't much difference between Bush and Gore. In retrospect, that was an extremely stupid thing for him to say and for anyone to believe.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:32 AM
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Honesty isn't a possibility at this point for Romney. It would be like Lucille Ball trying to go back to her original hair color.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:34 AM
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My point being that Bush was actually a good liar and probably an enjoyable person to spend time with. Romney seems like a person I could not stand sitting with for more than ten minutes. I think that's going to really hurt him and I'm surprised Republicans didn't take that quality into consideration during their primaries.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:34 AM
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44: Did you happen to miss the alternatives?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:35 AM
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If I'm a Republican voter, at the point, I have to choose among liars. That's a shame, but people who really want a small government have no actual candidate to support them. So I have to decide who's going to lie to me. I'd rather have a good liar than a bad one. I'm surprised nobody thought of that issue last year.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:35 AM
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Santorum supports policies I disagree with, but he seems like a person who actually supports them. He probably wouldn't be as personally odious on television. Who knows.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:37 AM
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I'm surprised Republicans didn't take that quality into consideration during their primaries

You do remember who the other choices were, don't you? Bachmann, Cain, Perry et al. had bigger problems than personal likability.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:37 AM
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47: Have you googled Santorum?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:38 AM
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Whether Santorum actually supports those policies or has a hidden platform, I don't know. But my guess is, the fact that it isn't obvious that he has a hidden platform might have helped him with voters.

I dunno, there was no chance I was going to vote for the guy, but there's something to be said for not looking like a liar on TV.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:38 AM
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I think he's much less convincing than W. Bush. Bush ran on a "compassionate conservative" platform and won. Maybe I'm gullible -- I also wasn't paying very much attention at the time -- but I believed him.... My point being that Bush was actually a good liar and probably an enjoyable person to spend time with.

I don't mean this to sound snotty, because lots of fairly reasonable people had the same reaction to Bush: there's clearly some objective sense in which he was a good liar. But it drives me nuts that I have a blind spot covering whatever it was that made Bush likeable or persuasive.

I'm not generally any better than the average at seeing through people being deceptive, but Bush always seemed to me to be someone who would only ever be telling the truth by accident -- if he happened to know what the truth was, and if he didn't happen to have any reason to say anything else. I wish I understood how his schtick worked on people.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:39 AM
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I've actually seen Santorum on TV. I could probably sit down and have a conversation with him. The thing is, you have to see a president on TV and listen to him all the time for four years. Nobody wants to have to watch and listen to someone whose face is sleep deprived and guilt-ridden, doing a bad Ronald Reagan impersonation. These things actually matter.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:40 AM
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I enjoyed reading this take on the 2nd debate.

Those of us who lived under the barely distinguishable leadership of Willard Romney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (God save it!) know very well that the emotional membrane separating Lofty Willard from Snippy Willard is thin indeed, and that the membrane separating Snippy Willard from Dickhead Willard is well-nigh translucent. Both of those membranes were tested fully here on Tuesday night by the president, by Candy Crowley -- who has clearly had enough of your bullshit, thank you very much -- and by the simple fact that certain members of The Help tested the challenger's ideas and found them wanting and, my dear young man, that simply is not done. And both of those membranes failed like rotting levees in a storm.

Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:41 AM
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51: Maybe you're smarter than me. It's very likely that you were paying more attention than I was in 2000. I just didn't see through him at that time. He seemed a lot like the guy Will Ferrell was playing at 11:30 p.m.. That guy seemed kind of stupid, but I liked him. I also liked Gore, so I didn't vote in 2000. Someone should probably punch me in the eye for that.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:43 AM
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But it drives me nuts that I have a blind spot covering whatever it was that made Bush likeable or persuasive.

Indeed. It was obvious to me during the 2000 election that Bush was a colossal prick, and I said so to lots of people at the time. I think that was a not uncommon reaction, but it disturbed me that lots of other people, who hadn't previously shown themselves to be total idiots, didn't share that view.

Similarly, Blair always seemed shifty to me* but lots of people didn't see him that way. That said, Blair was less obviously bullshitting, in the Frankfurtian sense. You had the sense instead that he was lying, in the time-honoured fashion.

* not saying this with the benefit of hindsight, I thought so pre-2000. I can't remember if I thought so before the 1997 election, possibly not.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:47 AM
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The difference between Romney and prior Republican candidates is that he did a lot of lying to shift from left-leaning Republican to nominatable Republican. Post-nomination the lies are substantively comparable.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:48 AM
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but Bush always seemed to me to be someone who would only ever be telling the truth by accident

Right, that's what I was going for in 36. Frankfurt's book says a lot of obvious stuff, I suppose, but I really found it illuminating.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:49 AM
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Yeah, or maybe I'm just annoyed by different kinds of people. There are probably people I find appealing who could lie to me a lot more easily than Bush could have.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:50 AM
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58 to 54.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:51 AM
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What evidence is there to believe that Romney is a left-leaning Republican, Minivet?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:52 AM
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I'm pretty sure the real George Bush is just like the guy portrayed in Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:53 AM
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Functioning as governor of Massachusetts without spontaneously bursting into flames, much less the universal health care, makes him left leaning for a Republican, don't you think?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:54 AM
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What evidence is there to believe that Romney (or at least his pants) didn't spontaneously burst into flames on at least one occasion while functioning as governor of Massachusetts?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 8:59 AM
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When Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he passed a universal healthcare bill. But I don't think he could have been governor of Massachusetts if he hadn't. Romney was probably as conservative as he could possibly be at the time. And he is now as well.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:01 AM
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I don't think, looking at what Romney actually says, you could call him a left-leaning anything. If you look at everything he says, you probably just can't call him anything.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:02 AM
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Romney is the ultimate political opportunist. I don't think there's any position or stance he wouldn't take if he thought it would help him win, which is why I don't see the fact that he was governor of Massachusetts as particularly convincing evidence that there's a moderate or left-leaning core underneath the endless layers of shifting policy positions he's taken since then.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:03 AM
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His policies include funding a magical oil pipeline through Alaska that will somehow obviate our need to ever import anymore oil ever (!). That and a tax plan that doesn't actually make sense. The only thing I know he'll do is lower taxes for rich people.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:04 AM
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64, 65: Sure, that's right. I guess I was counting "Might perfectly well act in a left-leaning fashion if he got something he wanted out of it" as more left-leaning than "Sincerely conservative." Someone with no principles at all is a moderate in some sense, sort of.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:08 AM
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Busb seemed too dumb to be extremely dishonest.

I met someone once who knew GWB as a teen. "Affable, boring, not too bright, not too dumb."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:08 AM
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A clock with a million hands is moderate at least twice a day.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:09 AM
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Does anyone else really think Richard Nixon didn't come off as extremely dishonest? That notion, text, bowls me over. Certainly Romney better fits the Hollywood slimy powerful person stereotype, but there's a reason Nixon was compared to a used car salesman.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:13 AM
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Someone with no principles at all is a moderate in some sense, sort of.

This I don't follow. It's like saying a wallet with no money in it might contain five dollars. He has no principles, but he's going to want to be reelected, and all of his money comes from extremely rich people. My guess is, he's going to keep them rich so they'll pay for another campaign, and that's about it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:15 AM
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61: I don't mean he was ever genuinely anything, but in 2006 he had always been positioned as a left-leaning Republican, and he baldly lied his way out of that position.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:16 AM
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Confession time: I hate and despise Nixon politically and think he was a horrible human being, but I find something appealing about his public personality. "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore.". Part of it is that I'm kind of a JFK hater.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:16 AM
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Richard Nixon came off as dishonest, but not nearly as much as Romney does. Mean Joe Greene was a big guy in the 70s, but I don't think he'd even make the Steelers' roster tomorrow.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:16 AM
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That Checkers speech is actually pretty good! Romney couldn't pull anything like that off. Nixon was a good politician. His lying didn't actually hurt him until it was completely exposed. Romney's face makes my eyes hurt.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:18 AM
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off to swim, people. hope we figure out this whole "can we call him a moderate because he lies about everything, so he might be," issue.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:21 AM
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72: Well, a sincere conservative is going to consistently do his best to do the most right-wing thing. Someone like Romney is going to do whatever he gets the biggest payoff from, and sometimes that's going to be more moderate. You're right that talking about his actual political views is pretty much meaningless, but his political actions have a reasonable shot of being more moderate than those of a convinced conservative.

74: I'd never seen much footage of Nixon, and flipped past some documentary that was playing the Checkers speech once. And honestly, I'd have bought it. Pathetic and unappealing, but I'd have thought he was an honest guy being unfairly abused.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:21 AM
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78.1 might be right in some weird way, but in the event somebody in the white house who just does whatever the people most important to getting them elected want them to do is going to behave extremely similarly to the way Dubya behaved (since the relevant players will be essentially identical), which certainly doesn't seem "moderate" in any useful way to me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:26 AM
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Although actually I think Romney would probably be worse, just because he is more personally arrogant and has less experience dealing with non-plutocrats. At least Bush experienced reversals and hung with (relative) proles at various points in his life.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:27 AM
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GWB was actually a committed moderate (for a Republican) on immigration stuff for his whole time in office. Lot of good that did.

Also, in 2000, GWB ran on an affirmatively non-interventionist foreign policy platform (I expect if this site had existed we'd have had PGD urging us to vote for him). We all saw what happened there.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:33 AM
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I don't really think left-leaning for a Republican is a recommendation -- anywhere within the plausible Republican spectrum is pretty much intolerable, and someone who's left-leaning within that spectrum, or completely unprincipled, is probably going to be more effective at doing things I hate than someone who's a real consistent right-wing lunatic.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:40 AM
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So what you mean by "lie in tone" is to not look like a liar, Heebie?

For example, hypothetically, suppose each had a plan to repeal and replace ACA: W. might have said "My plan doesn't cover pre-existing conditions because that's a liberal scam and this protects seniors!" and sound convincing. Whereas Romney lies and says "My plan covers pre-existing conditions!" even when it actually doesn't.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:40 AM
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in 2000, GWB ran on an affirmatively non-interventionist foreign policy platform

I actually believed as late early 2001 that the problem with Bush on foreign policy was going to be his excessive reluctance to use military force (with the memory of Clinton's interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo, which candidate Bush implicitly criticized, still fresh in my mind). Bush's selection of Colin Powell as SoS cemented this impression, as the so-called Powell Doctrine works as a dandy excuse for never using force.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:46 AM
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If the definitive ontology of Romney's character and political orientation were lowered down from heaven it would be of little use to us.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:49 AM
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--SPOILER ALERT--

At the very end of the movie, just before he disappears into the limo, it is revealed that the whole "Mitt Romney" persona was a complete fabrication, and he was in fact Keyser Söse.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 9:59 AM
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If the definitive ontology of Romney's character and political orientation were lowered down from heaven it would be of little use to us.

If it was done right it would demonstrate that you had a direct line to the big guy and he didn't. Which might come in handy.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 10:02 AM
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the memory of Clinton's interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo, which candidate Bush implicitly criticized

I still can't believe that Condi Rice made a speech in which she said "We don't want to have the 101st Airborne Division escorting kids to school". This from a black woman who grew up in the South in the 1960s.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 10:21 AM
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Jesus, I must have wiped that from my memory. You could add was childhood friends with Denise McNair to that list which makes it even more mind-boggling.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 10:28 AM
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I fell for the Blair schtick. I still think that he's one of those people who manages to convince himself to firmly believe whatever he is pushing. In the Euro category of 'Sleazy Politician most voters would like to attend an orgy with' there's Sarko, Schroeder, and Berlusconi.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 2:34 PM
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I've decided to vote for Romney because it really is party time, chumps.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 2:41 PM
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Re Blair, here's how it went for me:

pre-97: OH GOD JUST NO MORE OF THIS SHIT. CHANGE NOW, FOR GOOD OR ILL.

97-2001: He's a bit annoying, but 70% of his critics are just recycling US Republican misogynist abuse about Hillary Clinton at his wife, and yknow full employment, bitches.

2002-3: Radicalisation.

2003 onwards: Read the blog.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 4:13 PM
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I was completely fooled by Blair's reasonable, concerned voice. I may have been handicapped by lack of familiarity and his Britishness, but I was totally suckered. I even felt betrayed when he sidled up to Bush. On Bush, like LB I remain completely mystified as to his appeal.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 4:19 PM
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My then girlfriend (1997) was very suspicious of him. She was a closer follower of Labour internal politics than I was at the time, and she disliked him. So I think it transferred a bit to me, and also a lot of Blair's schtick never played well in Scotland so I never bought his supposed sure touch with the public/media. But I had no concrete active dislike and I happily voted for Labour in 1997 just as always. By 2000 the Dacre-ist tendencies had already put me off, though, and I had wee canned Blair/Straw/whoever rants at friends as I'd decided he was a traitorous fuck by that point. I didn't vote Labour in 2000. That said, I just thought he was electorally pandering to the Der Sturmer crowd in the press, rather than as it turned out that special Blair combination of utterly corrupt/amoral while simultaneously a true believer.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 4:27 PM
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Or whenever the first post-97 election was, I forget.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-22-12 4:30 PM
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As I'm sure I've mentioned before, a friend from Kirkcaldy told me in 1996, "I cannae trust a Scotsman who pretends he's nae a Sotsman." I thought about that and came to the right conclusion. I voted Libdem in 1997 and in 2001 tactically to keep the Tory out, because that was the choice where I was living at the time. Wouldn't do it now.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 3:49 AM
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Yeah. I think certain ways of speaking and acting that code as trustworthy or at least 'one of us' to a certain section the media, which often dictates the broad public response to a politician, don't translate universally across the UK. So you end up with almost diametrically opposed views of Blair and Brown depending which side of the border you are from. See also, on a more trivial level, the characterisation of Andy Murray in the English press. I expect there are similar phenomena in the 'North' and Wales, but the SE dominates the media sector so comprehensively that the press can report [at least a few years back] that Cameron was 'likeable' or 'normal'. When he looks like a puppy-eating freak.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:52 AM
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I was delighted by the Labour victory in 1997, though I was just too young to vote that time round. But as a more state-leftist person then than now I was deeply skeptical of Blair from the whole clause 4 fight and his ascension to the leadership.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:35 AM
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Any info for the less informed on the Scotland independence vote, ttaM? Where do you stand on it?


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:45 AM
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re: 99

I'm somewhat ambivalent. I'm in favour on some levels, and not on others. Scotland really is [and English people who think otherwise are sadly mistaken] very different socially and politically, and vastly to the left of what seems to be the mainstream of English opinion. Just as many individual racists and bigots, of course, and just as wide a range of views on lots of 'lifestyle' issues. But on issues of social justice and socio-economic equality, distribution of resources, state-ownership or control of infrastructure, the provision of health and social care, education (especially), and immigration, the mainstream of Scottish opinion is very different from England (or that substantial plurality of England that votes Tory).

I expect, absent an economic catastrophe,* an independent Scotland would be much more politically congenial to me than the UK as a whole is now.

That said, I'm not massively committed to independence on an emotional level. I expect in the short term I'd just quite like (especially southern) English people to stop electing bastards.**

* Ireland/Iceland style -- which is by no means unlikely, I suppose, given where RBS was located, the similarities with Ireland and 'Celtic tiger' style rhetoric favoured by much of the Scottish political class right until the shit hit the fan.
** harsh, but true.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:04 AM
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I've never understood the appeal of GWB. Or the disdain for Al Gore, the second best (and now best living) major party presidential candidate in my lifetime.

(I don't know, maybe I'm being unfair to Hubert with that.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:15 AM
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100: Thanks. Even a borrowed opinion is better than my vague romantic anglophilia. I'll just repeat yours if the subject comes up.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:19 AM
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Ascherson's _Stone Voices_ is a from-the-inside narrative of Scottish devolution. I was hoping for more geology, but liked it anyway. Secondary nerdism, lots of Ken MacLeod makes more sense ("history is the trade secret of science fiction ").

"Mongrel tradition"!


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:03 AM
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The political distinction between Scotland and the rest of the UK vanishes as soon as you try to limn it. If you try to draw a line between Scotland and the rest-UK, the first problem you hit is that you could say the same about Wales. So, it's a distinction between Scotland (and Wales) and England. The next problem is that you could say the same about the North. So it's a north-south divide. The next problem is that you could say the same about London.

Eventually, once you've tallied up all the exceptions, you've got Torystan, this sort of lump of country running from Norfolk across through the gap between Birmingham and London and down to the Channel, and the Rest.

I think a lot of people form their ideas about political identity by looking at electoral maps that colourise parliamentary constituencies by area, so London or Manchester looks like a small red dot in a vast sea of Tories. The Guardian at least used to provide a chloropleth map (i.e. each constituency represented by a symbol of equal area) and maybe still does.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:22 AM
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104: Is that what choropleth means? Here's that one-dot-per-constituency map, though - you're right, Scotland looks only a little redder than NE and NW England.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:42 AM
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ttaM's point wasn't about voting patterns, though, it was about political culture. You could have a red North of England and a red Scotland and still have very different political beliefs in place; it's just that a successful Labour candidate in the North of England has to campaign differently from one in Scotland.

A quick google reveals this, from 1979, for example:
"On neither of the two personality scales were there any statistically significant differences. In fact the mean scale scores were so close that there were almost no differences of any sort. This indicates that there are no basic personality differences between the Scots and the English -- at least on the attributes studied here. The Scots and the English are much the same type of people.
On the attitude questions, however, there were very widespread differences indeed. Compared with the English, it was found that the Scots favoured coloured immigration more, the death penalty more, Sabbath observance more, co-education more and socialism more. They oppose divorce, birth control, and the Common Market more. In fact, on only four issues of the twelve examined were the two groups not significantly different. These were censorship, working mothers, evolution theory and whether Scotland should get greater independence. Insofar as there is any common thread in these differences, we could probably say that the Scots are somewhat more moralistic. In conclusion we might perhaps be a little amazed at how two such similar groups of people living on one small island can have become so different in their outlook. 'History' and perhaps religious history in particular is probably to blame..."

I think religion is a big one. My own impression is that there's a lot more religion in politics in Scotland than in most of England; not just sectarianism, but also things like the involvement of the Kirk in the devolution debate.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:59 AM
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Note that it is from 1979. That was a long time ago and we were more religious then.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:59 AM
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I'm now compulsively watching Taggart on Netflix (yeah, yeah) and have noted with interest the pattern of English-accented characters being almost exclusively upper-class (like CEOs), which apparently reflects a false stereotype.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:04 AM
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I am pondering a theory that bloody cold winters make you appreciate social solidarity. (Explains Scandahoovia, Canada, etc. Not sure about colder bits of the US though.)


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:07 AM
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108; but I think ultra-posh Scots have accents which sound basically English. A similar thing happened me once with a guy from Cork who had a completely posh-Dublin accent.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:09 AM
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It would really help, watching British TV, if there were something like subtitles you could turn on to indicate what I'm supposed to be able to tell about the characters' class status from their accents. Every so often I'll be watching something and there will be a throwaway line that makes me realize "Oh, he's supposed to be intimidatingly upper-class and she's supposed to be insecure about her accent/background", but clearly I was supposed to have noticed that three episodes ago.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:15 AM
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Sorry, that wasn't very clear. I mean that the people in the study are actual English people but the posh characters in Taggart etc are completly Scottish by ancestry - the people Billy Connolly talked about who have surnames for first names ("Campbell, have you seen Finlay?". ) I'm sure one of the actual Scottish commentators will be along in a minute to give the real story.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:20 AM
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I had an English housemate for a few months a couple years ago. I believe his accent was upper class, but what do I know. His best friend visited, with the best friend's new girlfriend. I liked the best friend, thought he had landed a girlfriend who was considerably out of his league. Very pretty, neat person. (Not that I believe in "leagues", but the dude was overchicked.) I did notice her accent was different from my housemate's and the best friend's. After they left, my housemate told me that her accent is excrutiating, immediately gives her away as something or other low class. I would never have known. LB is right; I would have needed a caption to catch that in real time.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:25 AM
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A bit of it comes through -- I can spot characters that are meant to be ridiculously upper class or very lower class, but there's a big area in the middle where I can tell there's information that's really obvious if you speak British but that I'm missing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:29 AM
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I think ultra-posh Scots have accents which sound basically English.

No comment.

It would really help, watching British TV, if there were something like subtitles you could turn on to indicate what I'm supposed to be able to tell about the characters' class status from their accents.

This made me chuckle - yes, I now realise how much information gets packed in there on TV, and how opaque it must be to non-Brits.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:31 AM
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110: Yeah, that's an issue - there are a lot of characters whose accents were technically English but who came off as Scottish (not sure why - demeanor, intonation, surname?), so I figure that's what's going on there. But there was definitely an episode with a CEO who acted and sounded 100% English.

I surmise the show also underrepresents actual English in Scotland, who apparently are over 5% of the population (though I don't know to what extent they pick up an accent).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:33 AM
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115: Yeah, while I'm not particularly sensitive to UK accent differences, you don't sound Scottish at all that I noticed. But I wouldn't know if that's within-Scotland-regional, class, or accent-changed-as-an-adult.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:35 AM
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who came off as Scottish (not sure why - demeanor, intonation, surname?)

Tartan tam-o'shanter with ginger wig?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:36 AM
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Addendum: not quite the guy at 1:33, but in that range, definitely shows up.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:37 AM
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There is an almost defunct Anglo-Irish-gentry accent which sounds RPish but with rhoticity. In old novels you get members of this group being slagged by the upper crust in England about their dreadful brogue. I have met a few people with this, but the younger generation in these families have different accents (either more RP or one of certain standard Irish accents).


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:41 AM
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I've seen the accent in 120 referred to in English novels, where the (Anglo-Irish) aristocrats are treated as foreigners with a weird brogue. Can't remember what I'm thinking of exactly, though.

Another problem as an American is that my sense of what's a posh, or even UMC, English accent is many years out of date. Sure, the Queen, but my understanding is that basically no one sounds like David Niven anymore, which is a shame.

What is Jeremy Clarkson's accent? Is that "posh" or just general middle class buffoonish?


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 11:00 AM
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It's hard not to sound buffoonish when you work too hard at accents.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 11:03 AM
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115: This is CA's mum, who raises a stern eyebrow at Americans who tell her she "doesn't sound Scottish" basically because she doesn't sound like Groundskeeper Willie. Although her r's a definitely more jazzed up than your posh English r.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 11:09 AM
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Part of the difficulty with accent-as-easy-status-indicator is that there's
(a) a lot to be gained from knowing how to game it, (b) our popular culture, in response to (a), has spent the last 50-odd years hiring actors whose job is to enact social drama via up-cachet and down-cachet and (c), in response to (b), quotidian code-shifting* passes through its own fashions

*How you speak at home with your family versus how you speak in your parents' house versus how you speak with your chums down the pub versus how you speak at work: for some, these will all be the same, but for others, they really won't. Nor will the shifting necessarily even be conscious any more.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 11:28 AM
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actors whose job is to enact social drama via up-cachet and down-cachet

Mmm. I recently heard a bit of a BBC radio comedy, Cabin Pressure, with the same guy who plays Sherlock Holmes, and I wouldn't have recognized his voice. I think the Holmes accent is supposed to be maximally upperclass, and the other character is supposed to be kind of pathetic so I'm guessing the accent difference is signalling some kind of lower status, but I wouldn't have noticed that the Cabin Pressure accent signified anything if I wasn't contrasting it to the same actor playing a different character.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 11:40 AM
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Clarkson's father -- according to wikipedia -- was a travelling salesman, which is not "posh antecedents" by anyone's definition. But his parents put him down for Repton School (a UK public school, fairly ancient but not by no means upper-tier)*, and lucked into a way to pay for it. He worked his way up to a very high-paying and long-running gig the BBC on a variety of trade papers dedicated to the motor car. So I'd say he was the epitome of hard-to-determine. Also he's a cock.

*The very top layer of public schools (Eton, Winchester, Harrow, maybe Rugby) are reasonably clearly where the upper classes get to mingle with a select element of the wealthier middle classes. But most of the rest of them -- and there are a lot -- are uneasily aspirational, and regarded with amused scorn by the top layer.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 11:42 AM
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"not by no means" is pretend-aristocratic for "very much not"


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 11:44 AM
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There is a specific UK accent that I'd like to understand more about. It's, like, super soft and I think it must be some variety of posh but maybe not a normal kind? Jon Ronson sort of has it and then I heard a talk by an Oxbridge type that had it something fierce, and a woman in my lab who lived in London for years found it sort of repellently posh. I wish I could actually describe the parameters of it. Rounded off and vaguely warbly or something.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 11:47 AM
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126 -- thanks.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 11:55 AM
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re: 104

Yeah, as per ajay, I wasn't talking strictly about voting patterns. I'm quite prepared to accept that Scots (qua polity) have tons in common with large chunks of the UK outside of Torystan, and largely vote for much of the same policies as, say, people in the north of England, or Wales, given the choice. Unfortunately, political cultural is completely dominated [England] by Torystan, and by politicians pandering to Torystan, so it's still fairly easy to say 'stop voting for arseholes, southerners!'

re: 128

Ronson isn't posh, I don't think. He does have an irritatingly affected sounding voice to my ears, though, much as I like some of his writing, and think he's probably a good bloke.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 12:11 PM
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130.last: okay. Does his irritatingly affected speech sound at all like a class-marking UK accent you can think of?

Truly, I wish I could describe it better.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 12:13 PM
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Unfortunately, political cultural is completely dominated [England] by Torystan, and by politicians pandering to Torystan, so it's still fairly easy to say 'stop voting for arseholes, southerners!'

I'm sure this is why all my relations (in London, Manchester, Brighton, and here and there in Suffolk) so desperately want Scotland to stay. "Nooooo! Don't leave us here with them!"


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 12:17 PM
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Just put the kid's name on your armneck like a normal person.



Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 12:37 PM
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Sigh.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 12:37 PM
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Having refreshed my memory of Ronson's voice via a youtube clip about psychopaths, I hear the following:

a) a high, soft, slightly flutey voice
b) the trace of a lisp or related speech impediment
c) the trace of a regional accent, self-softened at college perhaps, or when he went into the media

His shtick as an interviewer is to get people comfy and spilling the wrong beans, for which he presumably needs a voice that doesn't get backs up: hence the softness, at least. The high flutey-ness might I suppose be associated with a posh bray of particular (now largely vanished) era -- check out out sound recordings of Bertrand Russell for a perfectly formed and quite startling example. The regional element I couldn't place -- and I suspect unplaceability is the intention. I looked him up and he was born, raised and schooled in Cardiff: so now I can bullshit myself I can hear the nearly hidden Welsh, but I don't think I'd ever have guessed it unaided, despite growing up myself near the mid-Wales border (English side). Maybe dsquared can jump in here (though he's from North Wales, which is different again). I myself tend to associate self-patrolled unplaceability with a particular kind of middle-class guardedness -- and my first thought, as I listened to the youtube clip, was that he reminded me of the comedian Jeremy Hardy, who's from Hampshire (soft voice, faint lisp, faint regional tinge, faint sense of politically inspired guarded unplaceability). So not really posh, no -- except that posh in the UK is very situational, and how you wield it very much depends where you're coming from, literally and figuratively.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 12:43 PM
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Okay! Now we are getting somewhere. Characteristics (a) and (b) are definitely what this other guy had. Soft, slightly flutey, slightly speech-impediment.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 12:46 PM
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135 really suggests the worlds upon worlds of the UK accent thing.

Here at home, I sometimes wonder if the new gilded age will produce a new upper-class US accent, as the old lockjaw/Philadelphia Story accent once was. I mean, obviously the accent would be different, but there seems to be enough social isolation of the rich now for a distinct US upper class accent to form again.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 12:48 PM
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There are new US accents coming on all the time, despite the mass media. I'm fascinated by the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, and I think that there's now a kind of distinct Southern California accent developing (mainly among second-generation Latinos, but going beyond that) though others disagree.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 12:56 PM
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Speech impediment can also take us into the realms of the posh, of course -- somewhat unjustly, since it may be physiological. iirc, in Flashman at the Charge, which features Lord Cardigan (of Charge of the Light Brigade fame), the regiment Cardigan owned was fearfully chic and snobbish, and full of young idiots (all angels in the saddle) who affected Cardigan's own inability to pronounce Rs. And the mispronunciation became the done thing, and then hung around for a couple of generations, probably passed on the kinds of schools this class fraction went to. It's adverted to in Wodehouse, as the pure mark of the amiable silly ass -- or at least I *feel* it is, having read very little Wodehouse. Lord Peter Wimsey occasionally affects it as operational cover, actually citing Bertie Wooster on a couple of occasions.

But this isn't much to do with Jon Ronson's voice.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:00 PM
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Here, this accent.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:04 PM
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139: I had no idea. The accent that the Roman in Life Of Brian is doing -- 'Wodewick' and 'Woger' -- goes back to a speech impediment?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:08 PM
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Haha that guy's voice reminds me quite a lot of how mine sounds to me when I hear it back, though he bites off words more than me. Am I repellently posh-sounding? I call on fellow Unfogged Easterlings to judge!

I'm not sure the Roman in LoB is quite that subtle: I'd say he's posh with a comedy speech impediment, but the impediment isn't actually part of his accent.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:15 PM
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Huh. Tierce of the aristocracy!

I mean, maybe my labmate just doesn't have a good ear for what accent means what. That could also be the case. She is not a native English speaker.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:21 PM
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I just noticed this upthread:

That Checkers speech is actually pretty good

Having heard about the Checkers speech for years, I listened to it a while back, and it's actually a fascinating example of political dishonesty.

It boils down to

1) I have been accused of accepting inappropriate gifts.

2) I am not a rich man ("Republican cloth coat")

3) Among the gifts that I have accepted is our dog checkers.

4) What kind of heartless person would ask that we give up our dog?


Step (3) is, obviously, where the rhetorical slight of hand comes in. While it is delivered effectively, it's not actually particularly good slight of hand.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:29 PM
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Jeremy Brett did some accents when playing Sherlock Holmes-in-disguise that seemed very different from his Holmes accent and the Watson guy's accent, but maybe a Briton would find them less colorfully varied ("That's the same Victorian hobo accent everybody does!").


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:32 PM
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I take back, 144.

Having just looked up the text of the speech I realize that the clip that I was watched was just the end of the speech, and didn't include the part in which he presented the documentation asserting that he had not misused campaign funds.

I'm convinced by text -- the standard have changed over time. Nixon may have appeared dishonest at the time, but the Checkers speech, for example, engages with the substance of criticism far more than any comparable speech today would.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:33 PM
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When people demand that one respect the aged, it is helpful to recall that a significant number of the aged voted for Richard Nixon for at least something.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:42 PM
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147: The only time my father voted for a Republican for President was Nixon in 1972.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:49 PM
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Well, I hope he's sorry about that.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:52 PM
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In consequentialist terms, voting for Nixon in 1972 was better than voting for him in 1968.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:53 PM
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139: Once while on a trip in Spain I ran into a bunch of people from Latin America, who all told me that that the people in Spain pronounced Spanish with a lisp because they were imitating a long-dead king who lisped. (I just checked, and this story is an urban legend.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:55 PM
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I recall the Flip-Pater once remarking that the description of Grandpa Simpson's favorite, Matlock, on The Simpsons ("the man who puts young people behind bars, where they belong") was painfully close to the overt appeal of RN to imbeciles voters.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:57 PM
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In 1975, John Hartford imagined a old man who was

"With the inspection office in Louisville, at a desk for a very short time.
And he played in a band on two different boats, working for the Streichfist Line
Long ago he smoked reefer, and he even made home brew
And the reefer came in through New Orleans, back before World War II"

And noted:

"He might've even voted for Nixon once, but I'm sure he sees that now"


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:58 PM
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My daughter, voting in her first pres election in one of the more hotly contested battleground states, has expressed interest in voting for Jill Stein. This after (shudder) I mentioned that I knew of someone on teh Internets who made a decent case for voting for Stein in NY...

Also, re 148, my parents registered as Repubs in Pennsylvania in 1968 to vote against Nixon in the primary (he won anyhow). They voted against him in the general election too, with no enthusiasm for Humphrey. At least my mom quickly reregistered as a Dem.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 1:58 PM
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I'm so sorry -- did you mention that I was vehement about wanting swing-state voters to stick with Obama?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:07 PM
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155: so you get to have the moral satisfaction, but they don't? That's even more selfish!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:08 PM
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Do you see what your apostasy has caused? Do you see?

We now know who to blame for President Romney.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:11 PM
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146: We swing-staters get to make an actual difference! People in safe states can't. They have to try to make themselves feel better with meaningless gestures.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:11 PM
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158 was supposed to be addressed to 156.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:11 PM
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They have to try to make themselves feel better with meaningless gestures heavy drinking.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:12 PM
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Heavy drinking and disastrous apostasy.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:16 PM
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My daughter, voting in her first pres election in one of the more hotly contested battleground states

My daughter registered in Colorado, where she is in college, rather than California for this very reason. She is a proud Obama supporter who texted me continuously throughout each debate.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:16 PM
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Wooo! TLL, do I need to voter-intimidate-you-through-trollery to get a YES on 30 and a NO on 32?


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:17 PM
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Jon Ronson just has the same voice as David Sedaris and David Rakoff, with an English accent.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:19 PM
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You could try honey before vinegar, Senor Tigre. What nice thing could Halford do for you to convince you to vote YES on 30 and NO on 32?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:22 PM
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Perhaps you need some people who illegally download music intimidated?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:23 PM
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163. No trollery required, although I think I am going for 38 rather than 30. Jerry Brown can suck it. As for 32, I think the public employee union dem pol endless feedback loop will last in perpetuity regardless of the outcome of the vote.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:25 PM
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"Nooooo! Don't leave us here with them!"

Heh. My English colleagues at work asked me what I thought of Scottish independence and I told them that I loved England, but I just didn't think its natives were ready for self-government yet.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:26 PM
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did you mention that I was vehement about wanting swing-state voters to stick with Obama?

As much as I tried to be your prophet, LB, she honed in on the wrong thing.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:26 PM
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Apology withdrawn. Romney wins, it's your fault.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:28 PM
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Right, I didn't say I had to intimidate TLL. I have a full-service online intimidation business which I can put to work for you.

But NO on 38, dude. 30 is the only way to free up money for the general fund.

169: It's all connected.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:29 PM
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Oh TLL. Being willing to vote for either of the initiatives is great, because shows that the anti-tax pendulum is swinging towards being willing to pay for the services we want. But designating the funds to straight to a purpose rather than through the General Fund is real bad news. It means that the only things that can be cut are in the General Fund, and that keeps landing on the same few people. Why have a government that you don't allow to govern? Prop 30, man.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:33 PM
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How about the accents of David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton on Philosophy Bites? Especially Warburton?

Oh, please tell me he's the social descendant of Lord Cawdigan and it's actually spelled Rohrbutton.

104, 106: Well, fine, but the Iapetus Suture abides. And Scotland seems to be almost entirely made of terranes, which I would think a clever hack if a SFnal author used it.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:42 PM
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Romney wins, it's your fault.

I can only say "Attacking me is not an agenda." In all seriousness, my daughter, who as a nonvoting teen really liked Obama four years ago, is far less enthused with him this time around. I sense that she misses the idealism of 2008.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:45 PM
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If Romney wins, it really will be LB's fault, won't it? Notice how the big Romney swing in the polls coincided with her Stein advocacy?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:49 PM
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170: the other day when feeling gloomy (pre-final-debate) I was running through in my head the comment I would sorrowfully write in the event of a Romney win, that I would be quitting unfogged because, fair or not, it would be impossible for me not to blame you for it, at least a little bit. (I was actually doing this! I fucking hate election season.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 2:53 PM
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Oh, if it's a squeaker for Romney where the Stein vote comes anywhere near what it would have taken to flip it in the relevant states, I'll probably be quitting the internet out of shame.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 3:02 PM
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But designating the funds to straight to a purpose rather than through the General Fund is real bad news

Megan, in general I would agree that earmarking funds leads to waste, but Sacramento is such a nest of vipers that starving them of tax dollars is usually best. I have no doubt that no matter which proposition passes they will find a way to divert the funds from the schools.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 3:05 PM
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I want to say something intemperate to that, but I should leave it for the Californians.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 3:10 PM
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But they're a snarled nest of vipers partially because of too many propositions restricting how they can govern. (I'm not sure I agree that they're a nest of vipers, actually, but if you mean that our state assembly is a mess, I'd go along with that.) And starving Sacramento of tax dollars doesn't mean that legislators are punished. It just means that that they have to cut the programs in the general fund again and again and again.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 3:16 PM
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From what I've seen in the civil service, "Sacramento" truly cannot touch designated funds. I mean, we can't, even intra-agency.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 3:17 PM
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our state assembly is a mess,

This. I believe that one reason that there are so many earmarks is because the Assembly and Senate do not make the budget decisions that the "people" want.

I'll even go out on a limb and say that after redistricting the Republicans will lose enough seats to drop below their 1/3 minority position and the resulting tax hikes won't solve a thing.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 3:29 PM
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What does "won't solve a thing" mean?

Won't cover deferred maintenance of our infrastructure?
Won't return the UC's to their former glory?
Won't provide enough money to provide enough social services that you won't have to see homeless people in your daily life?
Your county could keep some libraries open past six pm?

What would it look like if the resulting tax hikes solved things?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 3:36 PM
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Won't cover deferred maintenance of our infrastructure? - Caltrans has a budget of over 12 billion dollars, over 1.4 billion for maintenance and 4.2 billion in capital outlays. This is a matter of priorities, not budget
Won't return the UC's to their former glory? Cal and UCLA are still ranked highly, while UCI, UCSD and UCSB all have programs that are tops in their fields. Or are you talking football?
Won't provide enough money to provide enough social services that you won't have to see homeless people in your daily life? Homeless as in foreclosed, or the mentally ill emancipated by previous do-gooders?
Your county could keep some libraries open past six pm? The Assembly should give the counties more of their money, I agree.

Being an elected representative should be hard, after all we are paying them to make these decisions. There will always be more that could be done.

I think that proposition 31, going to a two year budget cycle might help.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 3:54 PM
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re: 164

Ronson, however, is straight.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 3:56 PM
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185: as well as non-greek and living, respectively.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:00 PM
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184: but, but, but...oh, fuck it.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:01 PM
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oh, fuck it.

Comity.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:04 PM
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187 (on an undercover cop?) gets it exactly right.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:06 PM
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Cal and UCLA are still ranked highly, while UCI, UCSD and UCSB all have programs that are tops in their fields.

True. Davis OTOH is basically for learning about cows and is pretty much cesspool of failure.

Anyhow, the choice is pretty simple. Prop 30 or the most basic services -- public education, police, fire -- go to hell.

And with that, oh fuck it.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:09 PM
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187, 188.

Change the direction if you want. If all problems could be solved by the appropriate budget allocation how much would that budget be? Go crazy, pay for everything. Abortion on demand, single payer health care, subsidized housing, all of it. What is the number?


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:09 PM
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Those were all just samples, and I agree about hard trade-offs. But I am really curious what you meant about "won't solve a thing." If you don't tell me what it means to solve things (California looks like the '50's?), then I don't know whether a supermajoritarian tax hike could accomplish that.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:10 PM
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105: note also, on the map, that London and Birmingham are as red as Scotland. "England is really conservative, except for all the cities, including the capital that makes up 10-15% of the UK population" is trolling.

regarding Clarkson, the US version might be Californian. regionally, it's vaguely central-to-south-western, class-wise, not markedly working class or posh but otherwise homeogenous. I think of it as British Airways English by analogy with BBC English, notably because so many of their pilots seem to talk like that, at least in character. (cabin crew, by contrast, play up their regional accents) Obviously, adjustment for degree of formality and mood is assumed here - his public character is much more enthusiastic.

you get a lot of tech industry people like that. it's the sound of people who hopped out of their old class structure and haven't really set in the new one yet. everything is the national average and job-status is all.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:11 PM
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No one but me cared, but I was genuinely sad when Davis plowed over the alfalfa field by its entrance. There are only two (three, maybe) ag colleges in California, so I'm sad when one of them abandons a proud heritage.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:12 PM
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Davis OTOH is basically for learning about cows and is pretty much cesspool of failure.
For you, el tigre:
http://wineserver.ucdavis.edu/


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:13 PM
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Ah, relevant blog post. http://www.harrowell.org.uk/blog/2010/12/19/an-infallible-scheme-for-redesigning-britain/

somebody mined the BT call-detail record pile to see how the national social graph breaks down. the "motorway crescent" is Clarkson to a T.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:14 PM
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What is the number?

Now why on earth would I know that?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:15 PM
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Abortion on demand, single payer health care, subsidized housing

I like how this is "everything" in the conservative imagination. I can't wait till we have a Secretary of Abortion.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:18 PM
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California looks like the '50's?

Victor Davis Hanson I am not.

The issue to me is that the budgeting priorities of our legislature are out of whack. Corrections gets almost as much as Higher Ed, mostly because of bullshit laws.

there are 369 different state agencies. that is a whole lot of government

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_California_state_agencies


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:22 PM
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Secretary of Abortion.

I love you, Bave.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:23 PM
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He didn't even mention the costs of evacuating people so that fish can have more habitat. It is like I never made an impression here.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:24 PM
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the budgeting priorities of our legislature are out of whack. Corrections gets almost as much as Higher Ed, mostly because of bullshit laws.

The legislature itself does almost no budgeting, and can't. That's a huge part of the problem, and one that Prop 30 goes a long way to fix.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:24 PM
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Now why on earth would I know that?

Because you are advocating an ever increasing state budget.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:25 PM
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202: I honestly can't believe you're having this discussion. Let's turn our attention to the matter of Zito v. Verlander, shall we?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:25 PM
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Dude I am so optimistic about both Zito and Verlander in this series.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:29 PM
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203: I am? Where?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:29 PM
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193 and 196 are both super-interesting. I figured Clarkson was kind of a stand-in for anonymous UMC* Dad guy.

*maybe this has a different meaning in Britain? Dunno.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:32 PM
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re: 193

Oh come on, I'm not trolling. The Tories didn't win enough seats to get a majority at the last election, but they were the largest single party. They didn't get those votes from nowhere. I know the psephological map is complicated, and that urban areas [including London] aren't big Tory strongholds at the general election. However, they really aren't as red as all that. London has 11 Tory councils [of 32] and Birmingham has 39 of 120 Tory councillors. Definitely more Labour than not, of course. I'm not disputing that, but they aren't exactly a total red wipe-out, either.

It's one of those things, isn't it? The majority of English people aren't Tory, but the majority of Tories sure the fuck are disproportionately (as you say) from that belt across southern and eastern England, and that belt, in turn, is disproportionately influential in our media and political culture. So it's not surprising if people perceive the Tories as very English [and, erroneously, the converse] -- Cameron has been doubling down on that strategy as you know.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:32 PM
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fish can have more habitat

Exactly. snail darters and blue eyed sand flies. They are what keeps California great, screw Oski.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:32 PM
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The issue to me is that the budgeting priorities of our legislature are out of whack. Corrections gets almost as much as Higher Ed, mostly because of bullshit laws.

there are 369 different state agencies. that is a whole lot of government

Well, the state's policies on incarceration don't reflect my choices, but once the voters decided on them (partially by referendum), the legislature doesn't have a ton of discretion about funding prisons to keep prisoners at a minimally Constitutional level. I mean, our prison system was put into receivership because we weren't doing that. That's more of an example of the state legislature not having budgetary discretion. And you see, on this very ballot, potential for the voters to soften Three Strikes.

Further, this governor is the first in decades to move prisoners off the state books and on to the county books.

The list of agencies is padded; it lists branches of agencies as if they were separate things, but whatever.

an ever increasing state budget

So far we have an ever increasing population. Why wouldn't we have a state budget that grows with that? I mean, the concept of "ever increasing state budget" isn't inherently wrong.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:39 PM
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I'm not necessarily in favor of one; I wouldn't be purchasing as much incarceration as we are. But it isn't ridiculous so long as population is also always growing.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:41 PM
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If the budget had only grown proportionally to the population CA would be in surplus.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:46 PM
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re: 193

It's fair to complain of course, about the generalisation, and tarring with the same brush. But I don't think you could argue that Scotland isn't to the left of the UK as a whole [including Torystan]. A hypothetical 'republic of the north and west of England, Wales, and Scotland' would also be pretty damn lefty without that blue counterweight.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:46 PM
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193, 208: the other thing is that obviously the strange death of Tory Scotland can't just be attributed to Thatcher. There's also got to a be a place those votes are going. And my mostly uninformed view is that that's the SNP & LDP (which is coupled with my suspicion that in a decade or so after independence the SNP would settle down into a generic soft-neo-liberal party.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:51 PM
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I'm still confused about your position on Props 30 and 38, but maybe that's just how it is gonna be. We seem to agree on a need to raise taxes to put more money towards education (and maybe also send a signal that we're leaving the era of Howard Jarvis). But we disagree on whether that money be run through the legislature/General Fun or be designated/inaccessable to the legislature because you dislike their budgeting processes.

But the example you gave for disliking their budgeting is largely an example of disliking the financial results of a policy that came about because of the proposition system. And you still won't tell me what would be a satisfactory end state that would justify raising taxes, so I can't get a sense of whether the legislature could accomplish that.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:53 PM
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re: 214

Yeah, I think there is a strong element of Blairism, for want of a better word, within the SNP. Or at least that's my impression as a somewhat uninformed observer. To the left of the Blair administration, yes, but not entirely unsympathetic to much of the agenda. FWIW, I've never voted SNP myself.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:57 PM
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re: 214

I expect analysts have the real numbers somewhere, but my (possibly entirely wrong) impression is they largely went LD, and the SNP attracted a fair number of disaffected Labour voters.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 4:58 PM
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To the extent the SNP picked up Labour voters, I would imagine they tended to be centrist Labour voters.

Mind you I am basically making this up as I go.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:08 PM
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215. Megan you are being too generous.

1992: not that long ago to me but long enough for perspective. The population of the California was 30.5 million and state expenditures were $56.3 billion. One can certainly argue that it needed to be higher.

Current population is 38.4 billion, an increase of 26% yet expenditures have increased to $173.5 billion, over 200%.

Information taken from here:
http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year_spending_2012CAbn_13bs1n#usgs302


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:09 PM
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I assume that 219 is adjusting for inflation? Because otherwise it's totally meaningless, naturally.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:11 PM
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re: 218

Me too. re: making it up.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:12 PM
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(Inflation hasn't been that much over that span nationally; presumably it was quite a bit higher in California due to real estate appreciation. This would have been easily priced in to revenues if property tax rates were sane.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:13 PM
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222. Don't know, which was why I posted the source, and the tech bubble and the real estate bubble vastly inflated revenues to the state. Of course they spent it all, and still need more.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:20 PM
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There are plenty of other reasons why government expenditure will enormously increase aside from population growth. Notably, the cost of health care alone has vastly outpaced both inflation and the rate of population growth, and that's around 30% of the state budget.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:25 PM
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132: I'm sure this is why all my relations (in London, Manchester, Brighton, and here and there in Suffolk) so desperately want Scotland to stay. "Nooooo! Don't leave us here with them!"

I'm not quite following this. Forgive me; is Scotland really considering declaring independence? I hadn't realized.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:34 PM
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Like the coastal/Yankee elitist that I am, it always amazes me that there are Californians who think, "If only our state were run more like Mississippi."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:38 PM
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Only for the past few decades.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:38 PM
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the cost of health care alone has vastly outpaced both inflation and the rate of population growth

There's your law of unintended consequences right there. A modest program initially intended to help the poorest residents of the state (Medical) ends up consuming 30% of the budget. The needs are endless, the ability to provide limited.

Too much of our economy and therefore government budgets are predicated on growth. One only has to look at Detroit and some other rust belt environs to see that it growth doesn't always happen.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:39 PM
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The other main sector of budget growth for the state budget, aside from health care, is education (in California K-12 and higher ed together are over 50% of the state budget).

The cost of education (along with many other government services) has risen substantially since 1992. Why is that? More free lunches? No, nonsense. The cost of education HAS to rise substantially, relative to inflation, and population growth, because of Baumol's cost disease. There's no escaping it; it's simply a function of the fact that the cost of services of the kind the government provides will rise relative to inflation. If you have a growing economy, and you have teachers, the relative cost of teachers is going to outpace both inflation and population growth.

Thus, even if the government were not doing anything more than it was doing in 1992, we would expect the government budget growth to substantially outstrip both the rate of population growth and the rate of inflation, and for government expenditure to take up a greater share of the economy.

Health care costs and increased costs for education (and other services, like education, that suffer from Baumol's cost disease) are almost the entirety of the growth in the California Budget since 1992. Everything else combined is basically window dressing.

The alternative to funding these things is simply to have the government stop providing education and other basic services. But you want that, to avoid social collapse. So pay up. Or, more precisely, vote for Prop 30 and make millionaires pay up.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:40 PM
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A modest program initially intended to help the poorest residents of the state (Medical) ends up consuming 30% of the budget.

Almost entirely, because the cost of health care for everyone is rising substantially. If you want to pay for health care for the poor, it is going to end up consuming more and more of the state budget as costs rise.

As I say, there's no real alternative to this, except at the margins. Government is expensive because the basic services -- the noncontroversial ones, like health care for the poor and providing public education -- that government provides are expensive. It's still cheaper to provide these than to let society collapse, which is the alternative. End of story.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:43 PM
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My non-hispanic cousin made some non-ideal word choices there, but will let things stand.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:45 PM
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Great article. I am going to have to read that book.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:47 PM
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education (and other services, like education, that suffer from Baumol's cost disease)

I'm guessing at least one of these "education"s is supposed to be "prisons"?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:47 PM
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Is Baumol really the explanation? Cost in higher education and healthcare have risen considerably faster than the median wage and, I'd bet, faster than the median worker in those sectors.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:54 PM
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Well, prisons (unlike education) are one area that many sane people think you could cut dramatically without significantly negative social problems (that is, by changing laws so that you're incarcerating fewer people).

But to the extent that you have prisons -- and you'll always have to have some prisons -- yes, those also suffer from the cost disease problem.

California spends roughly 10% of its budget on its prisons, and the prisons are chronically underfunded to the point where they are under a federal court order to provide funds for basic services to the inmates. As long as people are in them, we need to spend the money to operate them.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:54 PM
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234 -- not the entire explanation, no, particularly in health care.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:55 PM
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A modest program initially intended to help the poorest residents of the state (Medical) ends up consuming 30% of the budget.

I am not a Californian. Is "Medical" (or MediCal) essentially Medicaid? What's the income cut-off for Medical/Medicaid eligibility in California?

I don't mean to sound hostile there, but if Medical = Medicaid, and if TLL is arguing that the Medical eligibility threshold should be lowered or something -- well, first things first, I don't know if that's what he's arguing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:57 PM
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It's not easy to figure out what's going on with inflation w/r/t to the spending data on the site TLL linked to and I'm lazy and I gave up quickly.

Then I found this, which should be read in to this thread as a series of comments, saving needless duplication of labor on the part of Senor Demente - I mean, Tigre - his cousin, and others.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 5:57 PM
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A modest program initially intended to help the poorest residents of the state (Medical) ends up consuming 30% of the budget. The needs are endless, the ability to provide limited.

Are you living in a cave? More people need Medi-Cal, because health care is a little less affordable for everyone than in 1965, and because it has to pay for more and more seniors' long-term care. Slow-but-steady eligibility expansion was completely morally justified at every step, based on the original intention of the program.

Also, FYI, all health and human services spending put together is 29.3% of the budget. In 1977 it was 30.0%. (Medicaid in general controls costs a bit better than other public and private health payers, though that's partly by being ridiculouly skinflint).

I'm willing to contemplate that there's some hard-to-measure tendency toward administrative bloat (although Baumol and justified service-growth is certainly more important). But the most aggressive fat-cutting program in the history of government will not come close to filling the budget gap - budget cuts will come at the expense of students and the destitute. I'm not going to sacrifice them for the abstract concept of keeping Sacramento in check.

Also, you know Prop 38 doesn't have a chance at passing, right? If you think education's needs are pressing enough to vote for more taxes for it, does the principle of "keep it out of Sacramento" outweigh those needs in your mind?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:02 PM
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190

Anyhow, the choice is pretty simple. Prop 30 or the most basic services -- public education, police, fire -- go to hell.

If California has enough tax money for insane boondoggles like high speed trains it is hard to believe they need more.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:02 PM
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Also found in lazy searching: it's apparently difficult to come up with a quick state expenditure number because you have to decide how to count or not count federal funds that go into the budget calculation, and it gets more complicated as you try to measure trends over time. Or something like that. I'm no legislative analyst.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:02 PM
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As I say, there's no real alternative to this, except at the margins.

Well, that depends on what you mean by "real." In fact, the method for containing healthcare costs is well-known, but TLL (see 191) wouldn't stand for it. And sure, yeah, since there are a lot of folks like TLL, it's fair to say that single-payer insurance isn't a "real" alternative.

We ought not pretend that problems are intractable when they aren't, and we also need to recognize that people simply disagree about what constitutes a problem. High healthcare costs are a problem to some, but an opportunity to others.

And the poor, inefficient provision of healthcare need not be seen as an American problem, but an American virtue. Denial of health services provides the important social benefit of separating people who deserve healthcare from those who don't. Yes, it's more expensive to not provide healthcare, but we're getting something for that money.

The social utility of American healthcare is a lot like that of prisons. Sure, you could put up all those inmates cheaper in a hotel, but prison isn't just about housing; it's about control and punishment.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:03 PM
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Yes, it's Medicaid, more googlably Medi-Cal (put it in quotes so Google doesn't autocorrect).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:03 PM
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Re: 225

There is to be a referendum in 2014. At the moment polling suggests the independence vote will lose. A significant majority want to remain in the Union, and the most popular option -- greater independence within the UK -- isn't on the ballot.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:06 PM
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In fact, the method for containing healthcare costs is well-known, but TLL (see 191) wouldn't stand for it. And sure, yeah, since there are a lot of folks like TLL, it's fair to say that single-payer insurance isn't a "real" alternative.

Single payer would certainly be far better at containing costs than what we have now (and in fact as Minivet points out Medicaid/Medi-Cal have "contained" costs in part by being cheap), but even in countries with single payer health care costs are rising as a share of the economy, and we can expect that to continue.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:10 PM
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OT: There is, it turns out, a third-party candidates debate on CSPAN right now, with Jill Stein (Green Party), Gary Johnson (Libertarian), and some Constitution Party guy and some other guy. Moderated by Larry King.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:10 PM
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Once the decision that health care is a public good has been made, single payer makes the most sense. But up until the post war period health care was a luxury good.

I know that I am clapping for Tinkerbelle, but I do believe that we will see productivity gains in health care delivery and education, mostly via the interwebs.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:14 PM
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If California has enough tax money for insane boondoggles like high speed trains it is hard to believe they need more.

The high-speed rail project was a bond measure that was voted on as an initiative, and the funds for it, or the interest accrued, can't be allocated away by the Legislature.

I disagree that this project is a "boondoggle" but even if you are right (a) its not a discretionary expenditure and (b) the tax revenue allocated to paying off the interest on the (30 year) high-speed rail bonds is such a miniscule portion of the state budget that's not even worth discussing.

Also, why in fucks sake are you a Giants fan?


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:16 PM
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why in fucks sake are you a Giants fan

Why is anyone?


Posted by: Vin Scully | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:19 PM
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242 was me.

And 247 neatly conveys my meaning:

But up until the post war period health care was a luxury good.

There are a lot of do-gooders who object to that, but others think that the pre-war period embodied virtues that Americans should return to. Healthcare, in that reading, ought to be rationed like any luxury good. If people can just get luxuries without paying for them, why would they work? And who is "entitled" to a luxury?

Also, I didn't mean for 242 to contradict anything in 245, which is plainly correct.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:20 PM
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I'm loving these UK CA parallel politics threads.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:21 PM
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248

The high-speed rail project was a bond measure that was voted on as an initiative, and the funds for it, or the interest accrued, can't be allocated away by the Legislature.

So what was this all about then?

The signature comes less than two weeks after Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority pushed the project through the Legislature by a bare majority, a major victory for the Democratic governor.

The bill authorizes $5.8 billion to start construction of a high-speed rail line in the Central Valley, including $2.6 billion in state rail bond funds and $3.2 billion in federal aid. To gain political support for the project in the state's most densely populated areas, the administration also included $1.9 billion in state rail bond proceeds to improve urban rail systems and connect them to high-speed rail.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:28 PM
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That's about allocation of the bond money (approved by initiative) and the federal matching funds, not a discretionary allocation.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:35 PM
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248

Also, why in fucks sake are you a Giants fan?

I grew up in Livermore California and first began following baseball with the Giant's 1962 World Series appearance. Actually I am more of an A's fan but due to certain unfortunate recent events I am left rooting for the Giants. Not that I could actually name many of their players.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:36 PM
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Well that's respectable, I guess.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:45 PM
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Once the decision that health care is a public good has been made, single payer makes the most sense. But up until the post war period health care was a luxury good.

Not only do I not think the 20's are worth emulaitng, healthcare objectively did a lot less for people in the old days. (Compensation for lost wages was as or more important than provision of health services, as seen in German-style sickness funds and other national and voluntary programs when originally starting up.)

Personally, when a woman shows up at the emergency room with her fallen-off cancerous breast in a napkin, I think we have an obligation to do something about it. I'm sure that's very modern of me.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:49 PM
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248 253

Why should I believe you and not Kevin Drum?

We are rapidly exiting the realm of rose-colored glasses and entering the realm of pure fantasy here. If liberals keep pushing this project forward in the face of plain evidence that its official justifications are brazenly preposterous, conservatives are going to be able to pound us year after year for wasting taxpayer money while we retreat to ever more ridiculous and self-serving defenses that make us laughingstocks in the public eye. And unless we put this project on hold until we can get some genuinely independent and plausible estimates of costs, ridership, and alternatives, we'll deserve it.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 6:50 PM
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Because Kevin drum is immensely, hilariously, obviously oblivious to the benefits of public transit and walkable cities, and always has been? Throwing that out there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:11 PM
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Capitalize D, right there.

N.B. I love Kevin Drum. I regard this as pretty much his sole major blind spot. It's a doozy, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:12 PM
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I regard this as pretty much his sole major blind spot.

He's not entirely wrong in this case. I yield to no one in my love of high speed rail, but the numbers that have been put forward to justify the California project are transparently bogus -- costs understated, revenues overstated by a mile. I have this on, uh, good authority. Mind you, that doesn't mean it's wrong* to spend the money and build the thing. Just that liberals need to be prepared to have the boondoggle accusation hung around their necks.

*In much the same way that Irving Kristol (or one of those neocon guys) used to say he supported missile defense whether it worked or not, because the alternative would be to spend the money on poor people, I'm in favor of high speed rail whether it works or not, because the alternative is spending money on highways.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:20 PM
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Parsons Brinckerhoff was involved with building BART. I think the projections there were also questionable.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:26 PM
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As a Massachusetts resident, I can't speak highly enough about giant public infrastructure boondoggles. The Big Dig? So great.

That was mostly federal money, sure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:27 PM
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I do wish it had been a rail boondoggle, but anyhow we can get there hopefully.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:27 PM
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I do wish it had been a rail boondoggle, but anyhow we can get there hopefully.

How one could spend $15 billion digging tunnels under Boston and not connect North Station with South Station... it just boggles the mind.

Parsons Brinckerhoff was involved with building BART. I think the projections there were also questionable.

Funny you should mention them... [Looks skyward, whistles "La Paloma"]


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:31 PM
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(The Parsons Brinckerhoff mid-1950s study for what became BART is pretty fascinating. Sometimes I think I should have written a history of BART when I had the chance.)


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:34 PM
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264.1: oh sure just insure we get hit with another molasses flood. (I guess that wasn't that rail line. Anyhoo!)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:35 PM
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I want to hear more about goofy accents. I went to YouTube to hear Bertrand Russell and he does sound weird to my ear. Other people talked that way? It was a thing?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:49 PM
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According to the page that TLL linked to, total state and local spending was 19.8% of California's GDP in FY 1992. In FY it's 21.5% of the state GDP. I'm just shocked at the breakneck growth in public spending. Actually, no I'm not.

Yes, state spending has grown at a somewhat faster pace than that, which in turn might just have something to do with the impact on property and property transaction taxes of the combination of the death of the real estate market and California's rigid rent control laws for property owners.

TLL, if you genuinely wish to reverse the growth in state spending, then you might consider supporting policies that kill of Prop 13 as a good start.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:50 PM
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Add '2012' to that second FY figure.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:51 PM
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Further to 246, I can report that Gary Johnson is a very intense guy, that one Rocky Anderson (Justice Party) is a strange amalgamation of Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, that the Constitution Party guy (Virgil Goode) is an idiot tea-partier, and that Jill Stein wasn't asked to speak to her opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

On a more pragmatic level, few of these third-party members spoke to the realities involved in getting any of their policy proposals actually passed at a national level. That said, some of them should be included in presidential debates, absolutely.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:56 PM
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essear if I could figure out a way to have you listen to my grandfather's accent, I would.

(It was an old New England accent; not the lockjaw. Not unlike the lockjaw. Anyhow, it was great. I wish we had audio.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:56 PM
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On a more pragmatic level, few of these third-party members spoke to the realities involved in getting any of their policy proposals actually passed at a national level.

What?!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:57 PM
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that one Rocky Anderson (Justice Party) is a strange amalgamation of Jill Stein and Gary Johnson

Our former mayor and an utter twit.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:58 PM
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essear if I could figure out a way to have you listen to my grandfather's accent, I would.
(It was an old New England accent; not the lockjaw. Not unlike the lockjaw. Anyhow, it was great. I wish we had audio.)

Huh. Now that you mention it, my Bostonian grandfather had a similar quality to his voice, though a strong quaver obscured it.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 7:59 PM
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And to continue, while I'm not a huge fan of the strict property tax limits, I do think that transferring the bulk of the responsibility for K-12 education to the state is a good thing that makes it easier to limit the inequalities between wealthy and poor communities. (I'd prefer the property tax control to be effectively limited to those primary residences occupied by low and middle income households where the property value is going up at a very rapid rate but hasn't gone up enough to make them property rich, and to allow for faster growth even there - i.e. something like NYC's rent stabilization rules)


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:01 PM
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gswift have I run my theory past you that the bulk of Utahns have so little experience with non-Republicans that they don't really know what "being Republican" means? So you can get e.g. Huntsman as governor, or people who say, you know, "of course I'm for public transit and strong social services! I'm a Republican! Duhhh!"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:02 PM
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273: I'd only vaguely heard of him before; he didn't sound like an utter twit, though that may be because he was standing next to Virgil Goode. Anderson seemed reasonable enough, and on most points was indistinguishable from Jill Stein and/or Gary Johnson.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:06 PM
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276: There used to be something similar with Democrats in the South, before the Great Realignment took hold. People tend to equate "one party state" with "no electoral competition", but that wasn't the case at all. The competition just played out among different factions in the primary, with a very diverse range of ideology being represented in the party. Every once in a while the factional disputes got out of hand and allowed a Republican to sneak into elective office. Party identify was more like an inherited trait than a reflection of ideological choice.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:09 PM
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There was a debate question asking what dream Constitutional Amendment each of the candidates would pass/support: Virgil Goode and Gary Johnson said "Congressional term limits". Rocky Anderson said "an expanded Equal Rights Amendment (the ERA! hi there, been a long time!) to include LGBT rights." Jill Stein countered Gary Johnson by pointing out that term limits amount to a patch job, and instead we must refuse to consider corporations people [unclear how you frame that as a Constitutional Amendment, but okay].


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:16 PM
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Each corporoperson counts as 3/5ths of a person, at most.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:17 PM
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and instead we must refuse to consider corporations people [unclear how you frame that as a Constitutional Amendment, but okay].

Really? If you don't consider it as a constitutional amendment, it's kind of hard to imagine achieving it since the Supreme Court has enshrined "corporations are people, with free speech rights and all" as a hallowed principle.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:19 PM
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ARGH corporate personhood is such a fucking crazy thing to get hung up on. Of course corporations should have free speech rights, it's kinda the point of something like a union or a non-profit advocacy group.

The crazy thing is the money=speech rule, which has very little to do with corporate personhood.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:27 PM
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Keir is forgetting the Chewbacca defense.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:30 PM
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280: Each coproperson counts as even less than that.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:33 PM
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Shit!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:35 PM
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281: Sure; I just meant that Stein didn't outline the proposed constitutional amendment. Do you say something like "only meat people count as "people""? or, like, "The Bill of Rights only applies to meat people"? I don't think you can have an amendment that works as a negative (it can't say "corporations don't count as people").


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:37 PM
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They're made of meat?!?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:38 PM
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Of course corporations should have free speech rights, it's kinda the point of something like a union or a non-profit advocacy group.

Our Supreme Court seems rather less zealous about defending the rights of unions.

But really, I don't see the need for free speech rights for corporations. Am I just being dense? Free speech rights for the individuals making up the corporation seem good enough to me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:42 PM
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The fact it's pretty hard to come up with a coherent fix suggests that the problem may not lie in fictive personhood.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:42 PM
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286 sounds like one of those zany prescriptivist style rules or something.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:42 PM
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This recent article in The Nation says:

The Roberts Court's 5-4 decision to demolish most of this wall also bulldozed the foundational understanding of the corporation that had governed American law for two centuries. The Court had always regarded the corporation not as a citizen with constitutional rights but as an "artificial entity" chartered by the states and endowed with extraordinary privileges in order to serve society's economic purposes. The great conservative Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819), "A corporation 
is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law. Being the mere creature of law, it possesses only those 
properties which the charter of creation confers upon it, either expressly, or as incidental to its very existence."

Why is that not sensible, Keir?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:44 PM
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276: There used to be something similar with Democrats in the South, before the Great Realignment took hold. People tend to equate "one party state" with "no electoral competition", but that wasn't the case at all.

Heck, there's something similar with Democrats in the North. "Of course I want to give beleaguered fat cats a tax break, block wasteful public works boondoggles, and let the police do whatever they want to those animals who live in the poor neighborhoods. I'm a Democrat!"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:45 PM
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285: Even though everyone who's against copro personhood was at one time themselves a feces.


Posted by: Cryptic nbe | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:47 PM
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To be fair, Jill Stein may or may not really consider an anti-corporate personhood amendment to be her dream Constitutional Amendment -- it was kind of a surprise question, after all.

She was countering Gary Johnson's "term limits" drum-beating: the principal difference between Stein and Johnson (in that debate, anyway) was Stein's embrace of the power of government to solve problems, and Johnson's rejection of government in favor of private enterprise. Johnson wants term limits in order to limit government; Stein countered by pointing out that we need to limit corporate power.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:51 PM
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There was a non-binding question on my local ballot reading:

Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a resolution calling upon Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. constitution affirming that (1) corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of human beings, and (2) both Congress and the states may place limits on political contributions and political spending?

Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:53 PM
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It would be presumptuous of me to tell you how to vote, essear.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 8:58 PM
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I've already voted. Tell me whatever you want.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:02 PM
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Term limits can go fuck themselves, for a duration not exceeding the maximum specified by law.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:04 PM
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The thing is, a union's a corporation. It should have free speech rights. Greenpeace should have free speech rights.

Maybe the character of free speech rights should be different in general. That's really the problem, I think.

(Also, that Marshall quote is not saying what it seems to be saying. I think Marshall is trying to decide, at this point, if a corporation (i.e. Dartmouth College) is a government institution or not (that is to say, if it is amenable to a certain form of regulation that would be unconstitutional if applied to natural persons.)

And it turns out it is unconstitutional to apply to this corporation that regulation: The corporation is the assignee of their rights, stands in their place, and distributes their bounty as they would themselves have distributed it had they been immortal. So, with respect to the students who are to derive learning from this source, the corporation is a Trustee for them also. Their potential rights, which, taken distributively, [p643] are imperceptible, amount collectively to a most important interest. These are, in the aggregate, to be exercised, asserted and protected by the corporation. They were as completely out of the donors, at the instant of their being vested in the corporation, and as incapable of being asserted by the students as at present


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:05 PM
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As far as the question given goes, I would vote no on (1) and yes on (2), and probably yes over all because I think it's a good thing to have passed.

Taken seriously, the Citizens United doctrine has astonishing implications for campaign finance. If it's true that the "identity of the speaker" is irrelevant, the City of New York--a municipal corporation, after all--should have a right to spend money telling residents for whom to vote in mayoral races. Maryland could spend tax dollars urging citizens to vote for marriage equality in November, and President Obama could order the Government Printing Office to produce a book advocating his re-election. Surely the Supreme Court would never ban a book containing campaign speech!

I mean what? This is nonsense. Obviously what restrains public corporations is not their corporate status, but their public status.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:10 PM
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291

The paragraph quoted does not accurately describe the state of the law prior to the Citizens United decision. The Supreme Court has been granting corporations constitutional rights (like due process) for a long time. See for example this long New Yorker article on the Citizens United case:

The Supreme Court first addressed the struggle over money and politics in a peculiar, almost backhanded way. In 1886, just before the oral argument in an obscure and uncontroversial tax case called Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite told the lawyers, "The court does not want to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution . . . applies to these corporations. We are all of opinion that it does." In 1978, as then Justice Rehnquist described the Santa Clara case, "This Court decided at an early date, with neither argument nor discussion, that a business corporation is a 'person' entitled to the protection of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:17 PM
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gswift have I run my theory past you that the bulk of Utahns have so little experience with non-Republicans that they don't really know what "being Republican" means? So you can get e.g. Huntsman as governor, or people who say, you know, "of course I'm for public transit and strong social services! I'm a Republican!

It can get a bit weird, and I think the history of the state and the predominant religion are big factors. While Republicans have moved into libertarian/Bircher territory there's a lot of history in the church of volunteerism and a sense of community. Willard might be a wreck but his father George led the faction against the Goldwaterites back in the day.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:20 PM
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The money as speech argument didn't get applied to campaign finance until long after corporate personhood was around.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:22 PM
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Keir is basically right about this and the whole "corporations aren't people!" line of argument is so, so dumb and based on just a fundamental misunderstanding of the law.

Of course corporations should have some free speech rights. The issue is the scope of those rights.

Sometimes "corporations aren't people" is just a trope meaning "capital bad, labor good" for the ignorant, for which it's fine, I guess.

But I'm too tired to get into an argument about this now.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:35 PM
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Also, "intellectual property" isn't property oh my god it's not a simplistic analogy it's a constellation of statutes that were carefully designed to preserve innovation, (a), and (b) stealing is wrong so yes they're necessary.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:38 PM
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Oops. I sort of agree about corporate personinghoodness but that just slipped out.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:38 PM
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I'm usually pretty good about not doing that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:38 PM
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It's a bit late for this, but I wanted to mention that I'm highly skeptical of any explanation involving the Baumol effect. It's way too easy an excuse for economists to use to explain why we can no longer afford things despite being supposedly a much richer society.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:43 PM
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It's cool. "Corporations aren't people!" isn't like the intellectual property debate, which even if (often) based on IMO silly misunderstandings is at its core a real debate about real issues -- I think eg Trapnel is reasonable, just wrong. "Corporations aren't people" is just sloganeering based on a kind of silly misunderstanding about (admittedly somewhat confusing) legal terminology, usually thrown about by people whose goals I endorse fully.

308 -- Baumol himself uses the cost disease argument to make exactly the opposite point; the gains we get from productivity in other sectors means that we're rich enough to afford services, and that's what the definition of being a rich society is. At least, that's my understanding. Baumol explains why we want government to grow as a share of GDP.

And now, to bed.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 9:54 PM
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I'm basically with the Keir/Halford/Tweety position on corporations as people, if that wasn't clear.

(Also, I think I yelled at Halford in some earlier thread on this, despite agreeing with him, and I still feel embarrassed about it.)


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:01 PM
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Dude if meaningless yelling is embarrassing here then I guess I'll have to move to the shame cave.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:05 PM
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Eh, it's just light embarrassment. I usually try to reserve yelling for real disagreement.

Back on the California part of the thread Drum pointed out a few years ago that there was a jump in state spending during the dot com boom and then it's been fairly stable from 1999-2009.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:16 PM
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I'd be willing to bet that a large majority of Baumol invocations are to argue in the opposite direction. If a government service is requiring more resources, well, that's a sign it's productivity is stagnant and we need to unleash the dynamism of the private sector. Or something.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-23-12 10:20 PM
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Back on Ronson, I'd have placed his accent as middle class with Midlands and even very mild Manchester elements, myself. I'm quite surprised about him growing up in Cardiff, though now that I think about it he must have talked about it at some point in all the stuff of his I've read.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 3:57 AM
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Regarding the link in 229, Pearlstein (and, by extension, maybe Baumol) get something important wrong about health costs:

To hear the politicians talk, you'd think the rise in tuitions and medical costs was an American phenomenon. But as Baumol points out, the growth rates are pretty consistent across all developed countries.

Unfortunately, I can't find the international data that rebuts this, but Krugman shows how effective healthcare socialism can be in the good ol' USA:

If Medicare costs had risen as fast as private insurance premiums, it would cost around 40 percent more than it does.

So Baumol has an important insight, but let's not forget that the U.S. is not only making a choice to pay more, but is choosing to have a higher rate of healthcare inflation, too.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 5:36 AM
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Over the past 30 years, overall prices have risen 110 percent, median income has risen 150 percent, medical costs have risen 250 percent and college tuitions have risen 440 percent.
Clearly Baumol's cost disease.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:42 AM
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Thinking it through a bit more this morning, it's not so much that it's used to argue for cuts that I object to (although I think that does happen pretty regularly), it's that it's used to avoid discussing the more fundamental causes of rising prices. For instance, education, where Baumol can't possibly explain any more than a small fraction of the price inflation.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 8:01 AM
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On the corporations as people thing: if you think of it as "Does it make sense for corporations to have the same free-speech rights as natural persons, protected in the same way," I do think there's something to the position that they really shouldn't.

A corporation is an artificial legal entity created by the state for the purpose (roughly) of accumulating a big enough pile of money to carry on the sorts of businesses that it would be difficult for an individual to carry on by themselves or as a partnership. They've been described as 'immortal sociopaths', the latter because the governance structure of a large corporation rewards tends to reward decisionmaking focused only on increasing returns to investors and upper management, at the expense of any other interests the natural people which make up the corporation might have. The decisions of a corporation, then, aren't going to be simply an aggregation of the decisions of the people that make it up, they're substantively influenced by the legal structure that creates it.

So we've got a class of entities that are (1) created by government fiat; (2) for the purpose of becoming richer and more powerful than it's generally practical for individuals to become; and (3) that make decisions in a systematically less pro-social way than individuals tend to (spot me this one, okay? It's at least possible. If you want to drop it back to "in a systematically different way", I think the argument still works). And while money spent on speech isn't, I think, the same thing as speech, it's certainly an amplifier for speech.

All of this makes me think that any simplistic argument that corporations are legal persons (which of course they are) and so they should have precisely the same legal rights to free speech as natural persons is mistaken. It makes perfect sense to me that part of what people should pay the state for the privilege of using the corporate form to accumulate vast quantities of money and power, is that the money and power should have some additional restrictions on how it may be used through the medium of the corporate form, rather than directly by the natural individuals who own it.

Also, unions aren't corporations, at least not in the US.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 8:17 AM
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Right, but no one (including the Supreme Court) has ever held that corporations have exactly the same rights, including free speech rights, as natural persons. That corporations must have some rights, including constitutional rights, is unarguable. The question is what the metes and bounds of those rights are, in particular whether corporate political contributions are in any way a form of speech subject to first amendment protection. I think they probably aren't, though it's a closer question than some admit, but that has little to do with corporations aren't people!, which is a distraction, and everything to do with the specific jurisprudence of campaign finance reform.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 8:30 AM
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I mean, I agree that "Corporations are people!" is equally dumb.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 8:32 AM
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It's hard for me to read Citizens United as saying anything other than that laws disfavoring or regulating corporate political speech are always unconstitutional because corporations have the same free-speech rights as natural persons. That seems screwy to me, and screwy in a way that 'Corporations aren't people!', while oversimplified, at least gestures at.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 8:39 AM
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"Corporations and natural persons have exactly the same free speech rights" is not the holding of Citizens United, and if it were it would undermine much of the regulatory state.

It's true that there are some people who would like to push the law in that direction, and to the extent "Corporations aren people!" responds to that, it's valuable.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 8:49 AM
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I thought our Supreme Court had the better argument about what CU ought to mean, and that the USSC's summary reversal was bullshit.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 8:59 AM
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Right, Citizens United is about political speech. I still think it's very wrong even with that limitation, and the opinion doesn't address the reasons for making distinctions between corporate and natural-person speech: just says that disfavoring a particular class of speakers is verboten.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 9:00 AM
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"Corporations aren people!"

Robert Halford, are you saying they are or aren't?

In my opinion the formulation misses the point. Corporations aren't individual people, but they are all mostly made of people. They are people plus resources, or people and money. The problem is that corporations are made of people and so are subject to the biases and stupidities that we are all very capable of. The corporate form is very useful, but if we think of each corporation as an individual person, and reason from there, we are going to make poor decisions. We're going to think that they act one way when they'd actually do something different.

A person has a right of free speech which includes making political donations. A group of people organized for a specific purpose isn't a single person. Do we want to give them extra rights? If so, why?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 9:21 AM
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321

It's hard for me to read Citizens United as saying anything other than that laws disfavoring or regulating corporate political speech are always unconstitutional because corporations have the same free-speech rights as natural persons. That seems screwy to me, and screwy in a way that 'Corporations aren't people!', while oversimplified, at least gestures at.

Which free speech rights of natural persons do you think the New York Times shouldn't have?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 9:37 AM
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The first amendment is one sentence, Shearer. You still didn't read the whole thing?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 9:39 AM
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Which free speech rights of natural persons do you think the New York Times shouldn't have?

I don't know. But if its individual journalists have free speech rights and those rights are adequately protected, I don't see how it matters. Am I missing something?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 9:40 AM
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They're also the press, that's true.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 9:41 AM
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Sifu, I may have been too hard on you lately.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 9:42 AM
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327

The first amendment is one sentence, Shearer. You still didn't read the whole thing?

So you think the law should distinguish between media corporations and other corporations? And that Citizens United should not qualify as a media corporation?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 10:09 AM
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318 and following: For what it's worth, Jill Stein's dream Constitutional Amendment against corporate personhood was, as I said, not framed by her as an actual amendment might be: in her two-minute, therefore quick, answer, she gestured toward the need to limit corporate power in general, mentioning, among other things, the damage done by regulatory capture, esp. for attempts to address climate change, a big deal for her. She may have mentioned Citizens' United -- I don't remember -- but it wasn't her sole focus.

This is meant as a clarification of what I glossed upthread in 279 as her "corporations aren't people!" constitutional amendment. The thread's moved on to discussing corporate free speech, but that wasn't Stein's especial emphasis ... which is probably why I wasn't sure how her answer would be framed as a constitutional amendment, now that I think about it. (How do you address regulatory capture through constitutional amendment? I dunno.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 10:17 AM
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Ok, I'm not going away just yet. Shearer, I think you of all people would probably want to look at the text and see what it says, right?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We've got a freedom of speech that can't be abridged, and presumably a freedom of the press. That's what the sentence says, anyway.

But the Supreme Court just looks at the type of speech to determine whether it's protected. If you wanted to include a specific "freedom of the press" that includes corporations that are presses, you'd probably have to define "press" as used in the sentence. My guess is, you're going to get some originalists who want to be very careful about defining that word.

It's going to be an uphill battle for you.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 10:18 AM
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The constitution unambiguously does refer to 'the press', and therefore distinguishes between entities that are and are not 'the press' (by obvious extension, the media generally) -- while there are going to be close calls, it's not a meaningless distinction.

Citizens United itself is a close call, and there's a fair argument that it qualifies as media. But the rule of Citizens United the case doesn't turn on that, which is a problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 10:25 AM
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For better or for worse, the Court has never* really developed a separate "freedom of the press" jurisprudence. I personally think that might have been a mistake, but it's not there now.

*Since it started developing a first amendment jurisprudence at all, which happened surprisingly late -- 1920s at the very earliest.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 10:31 AM
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Okay, I wasn't listening carefully enough to what Stein said on the constitutional amendment question. I've just been looking for a transcript.

The Center for Public Integrity provides a write-up, anyway. Apparently

Jill Stein advocated for a constitutional amendment to "clarify that money is not speech and corporations are not people."

Okay. (Sorry, I was worried that I'd misrepresented just what Stein meant and was therefore responsible for sending people off willy-nilly accusing her of being an idiot. I cannot say whether she's an idiot, but at least I'm not responsible for misrepresenting her.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 10:53 AM
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Also, unions aren't corporations, at least not in the US.

I think they are, no? Unions have perpetual succession, generally have a common seal of some sort, they are able to sue and be sued, they hold property, and they can do and suffer pretty much all the things that natural persons can do and suffer.

They aren't for profit corporations, no, but lots and lots of corporations aren't.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 3:29 PM
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IANALabor L, but my understanding is that under US Law unions aren't formally "corporations," even non-profit ones, but "labor organizations," a distinct form of corporate entity.

That's more of a technical distinction than a real one for purposes of this issue; as you say, they are able to sue and be sued, hold property, and have constitutional and other legal rights (though I wouldn't say they "can do and suffer pretty much all the things that natural persons can do and suffer"). They are a corporate form similar in some ways to corporations, but not "corporations."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 3:43 PM
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What is a corporation if not those things though? I mean, maybe this is just a labelling thing, but I would use the word corporation to mean any legal personality with those characteristics. And then I'd say there's this subtype of corporation --- the for profit company, and then another --- the labour organisation. But they are all corporations, no?

Maybe this is a Commonwealth thing? (Bishops and Kings and Universities and so on all seem pretty corporate to me.) (But isn't the President a corporation sole?)

("Natural persons" should really be "body corporate" in that sentence, shouldn't it?)

Anyway this is all getting into the weeds. I do think a focus on corporate personality is kind of daft, esp. because in some ways we'd be better off with more corporate personality (imagine if they were more directly amenable to the criminal law, for instance.)

I kinda think regulation of speech should try and be neutral towards the form of the speaker, and more focussed on the type and quality of the speech. (So, for instance, buying elections shouldn't be legal no matter if it's an individual or a company or, while publishing info about employer malfeasance should be protected no matter if it is a corporate or a natural person or wevs.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 4:13 PM
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It's basically terminological. In the US, there is a specific business entity known as a "corporation" and other non-corporations that have corporate forms are distinct.

I'm not at all knowledgeable on UK/commonwealth law, but my very rough understanding (which could well be wrong) is that "corporation" is a more general term for bunch of different corporate forms -- the Ltd., plc, etc.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 4:31 PM
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other non-corporations that have corporate forms are distinct.

That was unusually vague. I mean "business entities that have many aspects of legal personality, like a corporation."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 4:32 PM
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Most unions that I know of are not incorporated.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 4:36 PM
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As I would use it, a corporation is pretty much any artificial legal personality with perpetual succession. (The legal personality should probably extend to making contracts, suing and being sued, and owning property, and various other incidentals.) It should also have the power of making by-laws.

So, yeah, I'd call the Crown a corporation, universities are corporations, a bunch of business entities, etc.

But isn't Marshall using corporation in the broader (commonwealth) sense in Dartmouth College?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 4:41 PM
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I'm going to change from a natural person to an S Corp.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 4:41 PM
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343 last -- yes. That case comes from before the development of the modern US limited-liability corporation.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 4:42 PM
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"Yet hear me, friends! we have now to deal with another kind of entity, small and feeble when our forefathers first conceived of this nation, but now great and overbearing."


Posted by: SITTING BULL SAYS ORIGINALISM IS A FUCKING JOKE | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 4:50 PM
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That's not the O.G.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 4:55 PM
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Right --- because I think that the idea that business entities ought have pretty severe speech restrictions is a lot more defensible than an outright act on corporations. (Although I still disagree, really --- why not just have a slightly more intelligent regulatory scheme?)

Also wait hang on, unions can't contribute to a candidate? What bullshit is that? That's fucking criminal that is.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 4:55 PM
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Yes, there certainly do need to be speech rights for various "corporate-like" organizations--many of which are chartered to explicitly pursue an education/communication mission. But speech from specific for-profit corporations with overriding fiduciary responsibilities* need to be identified as such. Maybe like cigarette pack warnings and/or advertisement bans (one hell of a free speech restriction). "WARNING THIS STATEMENT WAS MADE BY AN INDIVIDUAL FULFILLING A FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY ASSOCIATED WITH CORPORATION XYZ."

*But of course that really does not solve the specific Orwellian-named "Citizen's United" type of organization.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 5:04 PM
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There's a California proposition to limit union contributions, though it's couched as something different by the Republicans. I'm against it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 5:05 PM
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339: So, for instance, buying elections shouldn't be legal no matter if it's an individual or a company or, while publishing info about employer malfeasance should be protected no matter if it is a corporate or a natural person or wevs.

Right. I'm coming around to your point of view, and can't help but return to the thought that this is not something best addressed, or addressable at all, through a constitutional amendment.

Can the lawyerly types please explain that to those who keep calling for such a thing? Not just Jill Stein, but apparently Barack Obama calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens' United. (More detail, please, Barack. What do you mean, how is that framed, why is it Citizens' United rather than that other SCOTUS decision that came in rough parallel with it, the name of which I do not recall.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 5:25 PM
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what's your issue with a more tailored amendment to overturn Citizens, parsimon?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 5:37 PM
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Well, you could draft an amendment to overturn Citizens United, which I guess I'd support although it would have almost no chance of passing. It wouldn't have much to do with corporate personhood, though. "Financial donations made to candidates for political office or made for the express purpose of influencing the outcome of a political election shall not be considered "speech" for the purposes of the First Amendment to This Constitution" would do it. Maybe there's a drafting error there that I haven't thought of, but that's the general idea.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 5:43 PM
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that amendment would overturn a lot more than citizens united.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 5:50 PM
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Well, there is a lot more than Citizens United that contributes to the current political donation landscape.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 5:55 PM
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But I do think the Glorified Pussycat underestimates how nicely the speech=money dovetails with and exploits a broad corporate personhood concept which should explicitly made to be as narrow as possible.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 5:57 PM
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It's a bad idea to go all the way to a constitutional amendment for something that's best addressed via legislation or judicial overturn. Right? Constitutional Amendments are written in stone. I wouldn't go there lightly.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 5:59 PM
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I think legislation is fine.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:00 PM
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Well, Citizens United is a constitutional decision, so you need to either amend the Constitution or have the Supreme Court reverse it to overturn it.

Obviously, a Supreme Court overturn is easier to achieve (since it is extraordinarily difficult to amend the Constitution). Realistically, the only hope for overturning CU is to vote for Obama and hope that one of the Republican justices dies or resigns.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:08 PM
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Agggh. I hate Marco Scutari.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:12 PM
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Jesus fucking shitdick


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:16 PM
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I am so happy to see you, Roberto! I came by just to say hello!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:20 PM
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The essential truth of sports. Losing is worse than winning is good. Your enemy winning is worse yet.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:21 PM
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Having gloated thus, I find it impossible to imagine that Zito makes it past the sixth inning. Although, how hard can it be to last deep into the game when you only throw 47 mph?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:23 PM
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I guess I should have gone to game after all. Oh well.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:25 PM
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Is this still the politics thread? Because this is really a sad statement from Jimmy Wales.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:28 PM
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Going to game is better than going to seed. Just ask the Spanish Pussy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:29 PM
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Going to game is better than going to seed.

And yet, I opted for the latter.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:30 PM
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I am seriously a ball of fucksplattering rage right now.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:30 PM
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366: how so, Witt?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:31 PM
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370: Did you read it?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:32 PM
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369: I'm sorry. Does it help you to know that children throughout the Bay Area, including as far inland as Sacramento, are experiencing real joy? Or are you too selfish to care about children?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:33 PM
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371: I did. I initially took her to mean "sad" as in "pathetic", but it just seemed really sad and awful to me, which, upon thinking about it more, is probably how she meant it in the first place. Unless I just don't know enough about Jimmy Wales -- which I definitely don't -- to understand the backstory.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:35 PM
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One forgets how much one dislikes the announcing combination of Tim McCarver and Joe Buck.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:36 PM
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The children, Roberto! The children!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:39 PM
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Right, I meant sad and awful.

Especially for his kids. I mean, geeze, if you're the children of a politician or an actor, you have to deal with the craziness but at least you have some wealth to help buffer/protect you. Sounds like his family really doesn't.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:39 PM
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373: Right. Because you know sometimes words have two meanings. Geez, listen to a rock song for once.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:39 PM
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He'll feel for the children, but not the San Fran children.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:41 PM
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There's a debate tonight, right?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:41 PM
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Thanks for pointing that out, Witt.

I'm not sure whether Wales is referring to a law specific to Florida. The problem is that he would have to register with a real home (street) address which becomes public record *accessible to anyone*. Really? I did not know that. I feel like I need more information -- is that just in Florida? I certainly didn't think I could just look up any registered voter's home address, in any state.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:46 PM
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Justin Verlander is from a place called Manakin-Sabot. Just saying.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:47 PM
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As far as I know, voter registration records are a matter of public record everywhere -- name, physical address, and party affiliation (if any). That's certainly the case in my state.

Of course, our state's recordkeeping system can't deal with punctuation, so if you're an O'Reilly or Snarles-Twekly you have a slim additional layer of privacy.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:49 PM
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Or Throatwarbler Manakin-Sabot.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:50 PM
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Didn't California pass a law shielding some of this info? After that poor girl from that tv show was killed? Er, no. Or sort of. Her name was Rebecca Schaeffer and it was the release of DMV info that was affected.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:52 PM
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I just looked up Tiger Woods's home address, so it certainly seems to be the case in Florida.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:56 PM
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While the guy underneath (Gregory Kohs) seems like a bit of a dick, he does seem to be right that if Wales has been the victim of threats etc then the Florida Address Confidentiality Program would solve this problem in this instance.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:56 PM
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Also, I heard Andrea Mitchell speak for the first time today. Conclusions:

1. It's nice to hear a 50+ woman consistently refer to specific years. ("When I was covering the mayoral election in 1967....") I get really, really tired of people trying to fudge their age, although I understand why there is social pressure in the entertainment industry to do it.

2. It is very annoying to hear a bunch of Washington insiderism in service to pretending that this is a reallyreally close election that Even We Journalists In Our Private Conversations just cannot possibly predict.

3. It was surprisingly poignant to hear her talk about how Arlen Specter wanted to be remembered for his advocacy around NIH funding. Even remembering what a colossal jerk he was in many respects.

4. It really is amazing how access to power and small social circles breed thinkalike thinking. It was like a living, breathing example of what Jay Rosen calls the cult of savviness. I got the distinct sense that it would be far more tragic in her mind to say something different from other journalists and be right than it would be to go along with the pack and be wrong. Maybe being married to Alan Greenspan breeds risk-averseness too.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 6:59 PM
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Except for certain rare exceptions, Andrea Mitchell did not marry a dangerously-destructive douchebag.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:01 PM
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Andrea Mitchell is/was married to Alan Greenspan?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:08 PM
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But actually, interesting report. I'd love to be a fly on the wall for real insider talk in that group. I'm thinking of getting this famous article inscribed in granite in three languages. Just so the intelligent squirrels will know why they eventually ended up on top.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:10 PM
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The happy children in the Bay Are can SUCK IT.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:11 PM
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Married by Justice Ginsburg.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:13 PM
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Apparently Roberto's a priest.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:13 PM
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387.2. It is very annoying to hear a bunch of Washington insiderism in service to pretending that this is a reallyreally close election that Even We Journalists In Our Private Conversations just cannot possibly predict.

I had to think about this one. It is a really close election. On the other hand, we can possibly make predictions, if we wade through the electoral college vote. But those predictions are going to be basically a sorting of possibilities.

I don't doubt that Andrea Mitchell (who is in general among the better television commentators) felt the need to profess herself a spectator, in the end.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:18 PM
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The Greenspan connection is freaking me out, though. It would be unfair to judge her on that basis, right?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:21 PM
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Justin Verlander's father was president of the Communications Workers of America.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:22 PM
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But those predictions are going to be basically a sorting of possibilities.

Is there some other definition of a prediction besides a set of possibilities sorted by likeliness?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:22 PM
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A cete of badgers.
A murder of crows.
A chattering of choughs.
A sorting of possibilities.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:24 PM
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The closeness of this election is going to win me a Coke. So I guess I stand with Andrea Mitchell.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:27 PM
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And the children of the Bay Area.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:27 PM
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It would be unfair to judge her on that basis, right?

No. I similarly judge women who fawn over Charles Manson.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:28 PM
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It would be unfair to judge her on that basis, right?

I certainly factor people's observed actions into my judgment of them. I might go so far as to say it's the primary factor involved in those judgments.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:30 PM
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I am seriously a ball of fucksplattering rage right now.

Can this be the new hover text? What I love most is the "seriously." Otherwise it would be very comedic.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:31 PM
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I wasn't invited to the wedding.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:31 PM
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Oh well, time to use split screen technology to add in Top Gear (UK). How are those Golden State Warriors looking this year, loser 7 year olds??


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:31 PM
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404 to 402.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:32 PM
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405: dude, it's Game One. Who are you? Andrew Sullivan?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:33 PM
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Back on the veldt, every series was only 1-game.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:35 PM
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An Andrew Sullivan comparison??? Oh, now it's on, smiling six year olds of smugistan. I WILL eat your childhood.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:38 PM
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410

401, 402: I just really didn't know that about Andrea Mitchell. I'm trying not to be shocked. Everything I'd observed of her before showed that she was a somewhat more discerning and intelligent commentator (while still captured) than most. I did notice that she'd gotten worse in the last while -- she's the resident 'fact-checker' for CBS or some such, and her 'fact-checking' is pained and contorted. But anyway, Greenspan, huh.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:38 PM
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411

Why is there a basketball game on now? It's October.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:39 PM
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412

I think maybe the baseball season hasn't ended yet, but I wouldn't really know about that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:39 PM
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413

407: I was thinking maybe Chris Matthews.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:40 PM
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414

Scott Lemieux gets it right: Every time "God Bless America" is sung and televised during 7th inning stretch, the terrorists have decisively won.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:43 PM
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415

So I guess no debate tonight.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:44 PM
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416

Halford is just eating too much meat these days.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 7:52 PM
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417

I am seriously a Jack's ball of fucksplattering rage right now.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 8:18 PM
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418

The Greenspan connection is freaking me out, though.

<whisper>Nobody tell parsi about the Greenspan / Ayn Rand thing, okay?</whisper>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 8:20 PM
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419

I know about that!

I was just delving into the archives, from 2007, about women shaving. Wow, ogged was around, and SomeCallMeTim, and Cerebrocrat. Good times. Five years ago, though.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 8:27 PM
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420

Nothing gold can stay, parsigirl.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 8:31 PM
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421

Sorry, 419.2 was in the wrong thread.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 8:32 PM
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422

405

Oh well, time to use split screen technology to add in Top Gear (UK). How are those Golden State Warriors looking this year, loser 7 year olds??

Final Score is Giants 8 Tigers 3.

What do you have against San Francisco anyway? Is this some Southern California inferiority complex at work?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 8:34 PM
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423

I kind of like the Bay, particularly the East Bay, and root for the A's. I just hate Los Gigantes.

Separately, and non-hatred driven, I find aspects of San Francisco mockableBand mildly annoying, particularly the "this is the best place on earth" stuff.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 9:04 PM
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424

Yeah, we all know what's the Last Best Place.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 9:36 PM
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425

I find aspects of San Francisco mockableBand mildly annoying, particularly the "this is the best place on earth" stuff.

This can be annoying even if you're from the bay area but not SF.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-24-12 9:54 PM
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426

Would you say a corporation is a filthy animal?

Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say filthy, but it's definitely dirty. Corporations have personality. Personality counts for a lot.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-25-12 1:46 AM
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