Re: Evaporating middle

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The real post, forty comments, etc. I'm not a keen political thinker.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:06 AM
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I don't think the two issues are cleanly separable. Southern Democrats were often the conservatives in the party, the ones who went rogue.

Also Paul Weyrich and company have a lot to answer for on this front. They were instrumental in building the right wing bubble that has forced moderate Republicans out and replaced them with hardcore conservatives.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:16 AM
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I think, despite the linked article, that there's a fair amount of work showing that gerrymandering is not a big factor in this. Which the chart for the senate also shows.

The two parties are now ideologically cohesive, really for the first time in the US since the civil war, and most of that is the end of Southern Democrats and northern liberal Republicans and some other local party idiosyncrasies. But I do think this has also led to preference extremism and a disappearing middle over and above just partisan realignment; when issues get associated with the enemy, and the enemy is a coherent bloc, partisans get more extreme.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:19 AM
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They were only staying together for the sake of the childrenDavid Broder.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:21 AM
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I don't think the two issues are cleanly separable. Southern Democrats were often the conservatives in the party, the ones who went rogue.

But they did so as a cohort, on predictable issues. So that's (1). If they each were inconsistent with each other and their party, that would have been (2).


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:22 AM
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Short answer: religious right, the internet, 9/11.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:27 AM
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Short answer: Fear of getting primaried from the right, Census-driven redistricting and gerrymandering.

I can name at least three or four Republicans state and federal legislators here in Pennsylvania who are genuinely, truly moderates.

As in, you can't figure out exactly how they would vote on every issue without talking to them, you can have a reality-based conversation with them, you can trust that they are truly trying to hear their constituents and act in accordance with what they think is best for their communities.

All of them have retired or announced plans to retire in the last 12 months.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:31 AM
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The "end of the Southern Democrats" theory suggests that the increasing party coherence is a labelling artifact, and that if one were to redo those charts with North vs South, rather than Democrat vs Republican, you would see little change over time.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:32 AM
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6 is really not it. All the trends pre-date 2001.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:42 AM
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Here's the part where I disagree about the gerrymandering argument, though: look at the PA Congressional delegation (set aside the Senators for the moment) vs. how the state votes in Presidential elections. First of all, the delegation is 13-5 red for a state that hasn't voted for a GOP Pres candidate in 30 years. I don't actually see how you can look at that and say that gerrymandering hasn't effected how Representatives vote, because none of these guys (and all of the Republicans are, of course, guys) have to worry about voters back home. If we had 18 Representatives chosen at large, very few of these guys could win, but as it is, they're assured reëlection (as long as they avoid primary challengers).

More important, the national party can be as rightwing as it needs to be because gerrymandering lets it get a Congressional majority without needing to get a popular majority. I don't understand the argument that putting everyone in safe seats* has no impact on ideological positioning. Tim Murphy represents a bland, mostly suburban and exurban district, and is himself a moderate kind of guy - not an ideologue. But he votes like Louis Gohmert, because his district has been designed to make it impossible for even a centrist Democrat to win, but not impossible for a rightwing asshole to win.

Maybe it's true. But the arguments that it's true, ISTM, derive from analysis without any underlying logic - that is, "we can show through Science that gerrymandering doesn't matter, but we can't explain why it wouldn't have an impact."

*or rather, seats that are safe from one side, but not the other


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:42 AM
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Short answer: Fear of getting primaried from the right, Census-driven redistricting and gerrymandering.

Only the first affects the senate, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:43 AM
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Charlie Dent is retiring??


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:43 AM
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8 is in fact what I suspect.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:43 AM
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All the trends pre-date 2001.

Religious right was legitimized by Reagan in the early 80s. You might not have been alive for that...


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:45 AM
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If anything, gerrymandering should moderate the partisanship of the party drawing the district lines, because it means their candidates are running in constituencies where they hold a relatively thin majority. Correspondingly, the other party's candidates should become more radical, as they running in districts where large majorities are in ideological agreement with them.

But, in the current Congress, things don't appear to have really shaken out that way, at least not from the last round of redistricting. Its possible that several intervening elections are required to induce enough incumbent turnover for this affect to become apparent. It would probably first be noticeable at the state level, in cases where term limits are in place.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:46 AM
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12: When Charlie Dent was a state senator, he gave a highly disfluent talk at my high school, the high point being his promise to reduce "gunshed." I don't know how you go from being flustered in from of high schoolers to the US House, so I hope drugs were involved.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:47 AM
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Short answer: Fear of getting primaried from the right, Census-driven redistricting and gerrymandering.

Only the first affects the senate, though.

Some have argued the states themselves represent gerrymandering, especially as population trends hollow them out and they become rotten boroughs.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:48 AM
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Any theory that rests on a strong relationship between a politician's voting record and the ideological mix of their constituents is suspect.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:49 AM
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14:

I've been alive since before you even heard of me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:49 AM
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Expanding on short answer in 7.1.1: Increasing influence of money in politics, which is helped along by the increasing tendency of various 'special interest groups' to grade lawmakers' votes. My sense is that Republican/conservative groups especially do this: they're essentially the vote-counting police.

One result of the vote-counting police's vigilance is that fewer muddy issues that don't divide along clear party lines -- heebie's (1) -- are brought to a vote in the first place.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:50 AM
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Slightly longer short answer (I've got a kid climbing windows here): tribalism and purity become more important with the rise of the religious right, the internet accelerates that dynamic when people start to self-sort ideologically, and 9/11 sees everyone lose their minds and accelerates both these trends.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:52 AM
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My story is, however, almost certainly wrong, because it doesn't account for race or wealth inequality. But it lets me hate all the right people.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:53 AM
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18 to gerrymandering.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:55 AM
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Can someone link to the "gerrymandering not that big a deal" research on this so I don't have to find it? Thx, signed a lazy person.

8 -- I think the chart suggested in 7 would still show more overlap than many people think -- a good number of southern Democrats could move further to the center on non-race issues and many northern, especially Midwestern, Republicans have always been very conservative.

IMO, it's not just a labeling artifact -- there's not just a stable ideological variation and a reshuffling of partisan identities (ie the current southern Republicans do not vote exactly like the sothern Democrats did, and northern Democrats do not vote exactly like the liberal Republicans they replaced). I think people really are more ideologically polarized (or, more precisely, that people in Congress really are less likely to compromise to get legislation passed across ideological lines). Increasingly coherent parties can themselves create increased underlying polarization.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:55 AM
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Increasingly coherent parties can themselves create increased underlying polarization.
I think this is right. TEofSD might be the driving factor, but it isn't necessarily linear.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:58 AM
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Gerrymandering is absolutely driving the partisan divide in NC's House delegation, where the last election produced a 9-4 Republican majority (and only a couple hundred votes from 10-3), despite a statewide aggregate Democratic advantage of 50.6%-48.8%.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:58 AM
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50.6%-48.8% - That's votes cast, by the way, not registration.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:00 AM
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Tangential: I just read this morning that Wendy Davis not all that surprisingly is massively behind Abbott in polls. It makes me a little insane that she would run for governor, her heroic act last year notwithstanding, knowing she had represented herself in a way that was going to get her torn to pieces in the media. Like...I don't actually find it very important, but how could she possibly not have foreseen the feeding frenzy that resulted? I mean I guess it's fine. A Democrat was never going to win anyway, so why not have a compelling candidate? I guess?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:04 AM
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Something like 26 is true for the US house as well, where the aggregate vote for Democrats was larger than the aggregate vote for Republicans in the last election (some of this is driven by geography, not gerrymandering -- Wyoming gets one rep no matter what, even if there are fewer people there than in a single district that's entirely Manhattan). But that's a different issue than whether or not better gerrymandering is driving increased polarization; skillfully drawn districts to maximize partisan control of a minority party should, theoretically, reduce the extremism of that minority party, not increase it. Instead, we have both going on at once.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:04 AM
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Gerrymandering is absolutely driving the partisan divide in NC's House delegation, where the last election produced a 9-4 Republican majority

But that's a different metric, though, isn't it? That's a measure of which party wins elections, not a measure of the ideological makeup of the parties.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:06 AM
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28: I don't think she's being blindsided. I think this was sort of how it was going to go, all along.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:10 AM
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On the other hand, the least partisan members of the opposing party are the easiest ones to knock off through gerrymandering. For example, I'm thinking of Chris Van Hollen taking over the liberal Republican Connie Morella's seat in generally Democratic Montgomery County, Maryland, after a slice of Prince George's County got gerrymandered into the district.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:10 AM
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Well, yes. I suppose it is.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:11 AM
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If anything, gerrymandering should moderate the partisanship of the party drawing the district lines, because it means their candidates are running in constituencies where they hold a relatively thin majority. Correspondingly, the other party's candidates should become more radical, as they running in districts where large majorities are in ideological agreement with them.
But, in the current Congress, things don't appear to have really shaken out that way, at least not from the last round of redistricting.

Yeah, that's the odd thing. Gerrymandering should create the opposite of safe seats. But it seems to be so high-tech and detailed nowadays, you can design an electorate that you are absolutely sure will vote 54% Republican.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:12 AM
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It is my hope that by 2018 a number of those 54% Republican advantages will be whittled down to 49% or so, and there will be a lot more competitive races in previously safe districts. It might help to blunt the anti-Hillary wave that year.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:19 AM
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Another interesting factor, more for the states than for Congress, and which I do think is pretty new, is what I non-tendentiously call the Republican "kill all the Jews before the Russians get to Berlin" approach. That is, in places like North Carolina or Wisconsin where you have an evenly-divided electorate and a good chance that Republicans will lose power someday, you'd expect to see more moderate approaches from Republicans. Instead, the governing approach is apocalyptic, "burn everything down while there's still time before we get kicked out." You actually see more moderation in places with single-party control, like Utah. God help us all if we get temporary Republican control of the Presidency, House, and Senate.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:22 AM
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Increasingly coherent parties can themselves create increased underlying polarization.

Especially when the electorate is increasingly low-information. Which goes hand in hand with an increase in income inequality. Just speculating.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:22 AM
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29 No, safe seats increase extremism because it's a one way ratchet in the primary: no need to get one of those centrist compromiser sellouts when you can get a true believer willing to stick it to the other side into office. I also blame the Limbaugh types who've found that reinforcing childish petulance is a good living.

An interesting development in my political position. Our county clerk and recorder has resigned to take a better paid non-elected job. She left after the deadline for signing up for party primaries -- and she was the only one who signed up for any party. The county commission gets to appoint someone to fill out the remainder of the term (until election results are certified in November) but it's the county Democratic central committee who will decide who gets on the general election ballot, and thus gets the office for the next 4 years. We'll probably be an electorate of between 15 and 20 for this -- depending on who shows up for the July meeting, I suppose. I've already gotten my first 'let's have a cup of coffee' overture from a prospective candidate. Four years, maybe 70k, decent benefits.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:22 AM
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As a side point, a lot of these discussions give the impression that the relative consensus of Southern Democrats on segregation extended to other issues, but they were often (even when working together on this or that piece of legislation) deeply ideologically divided on taxes, business regulation, size of government, business vs. labor, etc. Some were more Jeffersonian, some Jacksonian. Sam Rayburn and John Nance Garner were both , for example, Texas Democrats who cooperated on a lot of legislation (and both were "segregationists forever"), but Rayburn was a populist hater of corporate interests, whereas Garner was basically a corporate cronyist. Garner was Roosevelt's VP, but came to hate the New Deal and ran against Roosevelt in 1940. Rayburn was one of the New Deal's biggest ideological enthusiasts and Congressional allies, but backed Garner over Roosevelt in the 1940 election (out of personal loyalty and to advance what he still considered Texas's distinguishable state interests). In other words, there's a lot ideological sorting that has happened over the last 40 years that goes beyond just racial animus migrating to the Republican party.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:22 AM
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Especially when the electorate is increasingly low-information.

They're not.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:25 AM
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I am confused about how people are defining "gerrymandering". IME it is most bluntly defined as "drawing districts to my party's advantage."

People seem to be assuming that advantage=winning a district by a relatively small amount, so you can spread out your voters into as many districts as possible and win as many districts as possible.

In my observation, actual gerrymandering seems to be driven by two things: A desire to consolidate power, and a desire to avoid getting your maps thrown out in court.

Also, Charlie Dent is pretty reasonable in person but I'm not sure his voting record is that far off from mainstream Republican.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:25 AM
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"burn everything down while there's still time before we get kicked out."

Absolutely, and this is a serious concern at the state level: the number of currently Republican controlled states making their preferences a matter of law, rather than just, say, executive policy decisions.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:25 AM
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40: No?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:26 AM
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Yes, 39 is right and a very good and important point.

38 misses the point -- gerrymandering designed to produce a majority (in an evenly divided electorate) should result in some seats for the majority that are less "safe" and therefore less ideological (while giving the minority party safe seats). But in both the national House and at the state level we've seen largely the opposite.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:27 AM
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Also, I don't know why a Washington lobbying firm would be dumb enough to suggest that it's unknown why the Senate is sorting itself ideologically. Where do they think Senate candidates materialize from? Thin air?

I hate reading an article with colorful charts and feeling like I'm getting played.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:27 AM
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43: What makes you think they are?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:27 AM
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43, 46: I agree with Heebie. In part because electorate != general public.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:31 AM
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Further to 43: I'm not sure I've seen any measures of the (political) informedness of the polity over time, so I don't know. I don't doubt that a hell of a lot of people watch Fox News, so they're informed in some sense, but I recall at least one study showing that an awful lot of people thought, last year, that Obamacare had been repealed. For example.

But I don't know how you'd measure informedness overall.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:33 AM
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I don't think the general public is getting less informed, either, for the record.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:34 AM
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Over the last thirty years, the central theme of the Republican party is that Democrats are extremists hostile to the American way of life, while Democrats have consistently sent the message that Republicans are reasonable and can be compromised with. I suspect this has allowed the Republicans to drift right without any electoral consequences (until recent years, when their failures at governance became unignorable).


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:34 AM
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God help us all if we get temporary Republican control of the Presidency, House, and Senate.

Given the current nature of the Republican party, if you got that, why do you imagine it would not be made permanent (high level gerrymandering, federal attacks on voting rights, packing of courts, etc.)?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:34 AM
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I wouldn't say low information, but there's plenty of misinformation out there.

44 -- Maybe one of the arithmetricians can help us put here, but it seems to me that if you make some 54% R districts and some 80% D districts, you're going to have more R districts than D districts if R and D are equal, and in both the R district and the D districts, the primary electorate is going to go away from the middle, because there's no need to go towards the middle. Where have I gone wrong here?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:35 AM
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Gerrymandering is absolutely driving the partisan divide in NC's House delegation, where the last election produced a 9-4 Republican majority (and only a couple hundred votes from 10-3), despite a statewide aggregate Democratic advantage of 50.6%-48.8%.

Discussions like this make me think that the basic problem in American politics is that (1) we have a deep systemic bias towards geographically diverse representation, driven by our federalist structure of government, and (2) all the liberals keep moving to the cities. Stop clustering in cities, liberals! If you all spread out, this sort of thing couldn't happen.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:36 AM
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I think people seeking to be informed is probably on the rise, what with the internet. But people becoming misinformed is probably on the rise, because the propaganda machines have really clouded the issues. I don't know which side is winning.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:36 AM
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Is the middle really evaporating? I wonder whether a case could be made that it is, in fact, spreading outward to just short of the loud edges (bloodthirsty Internet warwankers, Congressional candidates who are too stupid to shut their footholes, college students who want to ban and trigger-warn everything, etc.), with candidates of both parties making contentless passes at the two or three percent of middle-aged moms whose votes can be swayed by appeals to/promises of ... something, and leaving unaddressed any concern that might risk the possibility of offending any of said moms.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:36 AM
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Ah. 48 before seeing 47.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:37 AM
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51: They certainly made an effort to get a one-party state in the early Bush administration, did a lot of damage, but ultimately failed. I'm not sure why they would be much more successful this time around.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:37 AM
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How different would our national politics be if Manhattan took 5 million spare liberals and sprinkled them out across Arkansas, Ohlahoma, Missouri, etc.?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:38 AM
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Certainly the sources of information for politically-interested voters in the US are more partisan now than they were 20-30 years ago; Fox News and liberal blogs vs national broadcasts and old school incumbent local newspapers. I don't know that this has much to do with people being more or less "informed" and in any event there's a lot of research showing that becoming more "informed" about issues tends to make your pre-existing partisan views more extreme, not moderate or change them.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:38 AM
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Maybe one of the arithmetricians can help us put here, but it seems to me that if you make some 54% R districts and some 80% D districts, you're going to have more R districts than D districts if R and D are equal, and in both the R district and the D districts, the primary electorate is going to go away from the middle, because there's no need to go towards the middle. Where have I gone wrong here?

The idea is that the 54% R districts shouldn't drift right, because 54% is close enough that you can't piss off your center third.

Of course the truth is more like what others said about, that with all the fancy counting, 54% is a very safely R margin, so spiral rightward away, young district.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:41 AM
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The inherent contradictions within the Republican party platform make it too unstable for long term national dominance in governance.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:43 AM
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In summary: gerrymandering doesn't imply moderate candidates, because the margin needed to rig the districts is must larger than the margin needed to make candidates pay attention to both sides of their voters.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:44 AM
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52 -- theoretically, a Republican in a 52% Republican district has to be more moderate in governance than one in an 80% Republican district, because only 3% of the Republican voters eed to conclude that you've now gone too far to the right for them for you to lose, and so moving too far to the right in a primary will kill you in a general election. That politicians don't actually seem to be behaving this way is interesting.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:44 AM
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did a lot of damage, but ultimately failed.

But that damage has not been repaired, and has been added to at state level and by various court decisions, so they'd be starting further forward. No system is infinitely resilient: the worst shortcoming of process liberals is acting as though it were.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:45 AM
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Short answer: religious right, the internet, 9/11.

When I started reading political blogs in the early 2000s I was horrified by contemporary American conservatism and wondered what sort of catastrophic events could have been responsible for creating such a powerful mind-distortion field. Then I started reading about American history and realized that the American people have been holding wingnut positions for literally hundreds of years.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:46 AM
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62 -- But if that's true it's also hard to say that gerrymandering caused polarization. Rather, aggressive polarization means that even reps in narrowly gerrymandered seats won't moderate their votes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:48 AM
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60 -- There's a limit, sure, so someone like that witch -- or was she not a witch? -- in Delaware could lose that Senate seat that was otherwise a sure thing. But in the primary, it's all going to depend on who presents themselves as candidates.

I don't know the nuts and bolts of it all, but went to a very interesting presentation by our statewide legislative candidate recruiting coordinator, and they're looking at districts between 45 and 55 as winnable (I'm not sure exactly what the number represents, but it's the result of some sophisticated calculations). And over 55 our way as a lock, under 45 our way as a moonshot. (They nonetheless got a Dem to run for every single seat, something that hasn't happened for decades.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:52 AM
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66: Well, that's where the unsafe-from-the-far-right in the primaries stuff comes in.

Basically, it's not the 52% vs 54% vs whatever - it's the rounding up of all Democrats into a single district. The rest of the Republican districts are extremist districts, just at lower rates than the Democrat Ghetto.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:53 AM
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52: Not all potential 52%-Republican districts are created equally. It might be possible to set it up so that the marginal voter is still very, very conservative. I never thought about it this way before, but gerrymandering is actually an interesting optimization problem.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:53 AM
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I take that back - they carved Austin up into five districts, instead of rounding it into a mega-catch-all for all liberals ever.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:53 AM
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69->63, also pwned by heebie.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:54 AM
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64 -- I think it's fair to expect that full Republican control of the federal government would produce both attempts to use structural barriers to create a permanent Republican majority and apocalyptic burning everything down in a hurry out of fear that the window to do so is short.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:54 AM
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I have to go teach, which is why I'm rushing instead of thinking more thoroughly about this, but it is interesting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:54 AM
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That is, I wouldn't say a 52% seat is safe. Maybe 56% is the right number. You can bet, though, that the people doing this stuff for a living have a really good idea what they want, and it's not just that single number driving them.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:55 AM
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63. Exhibit A: Pat Meehan (R, won in 2010 with 55% of the vote, won in 2012 with 60% of the vote).

Votes with party 93% of the time.

Voted for Paul Ryan budget to privatize Medicare.


Posted by: Presidential even though it's lunchtime | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:58 AM
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arithmetricians

And Happy New Year!

[stolen from Gore Vidal, but whatever]


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:05 AM
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I got to think there is good money to be made as a gerrymandering consult. Who is paying that bill?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:13 AM
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Here's some of the Andrew Gelman stuff on the non-importance of gerrymandering.. About as reliable a source as there is out there, though his own work on the topic is pretty old.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:16 AM
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59: in any event there's a lot of research showing that becoming more "informed" about issues tends to make your pre-existing partisan views more extreme, not moderate or change them.

Yeah, I remember reading those studies as well; I now can't recall where they were. Help? I do wonder about the framing here altogether: is there some both-sides-do-it, false equivalence going on?

That is, I absorb what tend to be liberal-leaning sources of information, which I consider to be fact- or reality-based.* They further convince me that what *might* be called my pre-existing partisan views should become even more firmly held. I'm not sure the conclusion to be drawn is that in becoming more informed, I've become more extreme.

* I don't mean Rachel Maddow.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:20 AM
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78 to 24. Halford's laziness is nothing compared to his noncommittalness.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:24 AM
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I know! Why won't these fuckers do the research I ask of them.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:25 AM
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And here's an even better Gelman blog post on the redistricting issue.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:28 AM
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||

Mid-day comedy for the day, actually from yesterday, is Phyllis Schlafly explaining that

Washington should stop trying to make sure women receive equal pay for equal work because men were not interested in marrying wives who make as much as them.
"Suppose the pay gap between men and women were magically eliminated. If that happened, simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate."

She is so awesome! I look for the comedy of the day every day.

|>


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:34 AM
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Actually, even if it were the case that men universally refused to marry higher-earning women, so long as the one highest-earning woman remained single, all other women could marry higher-earning men. Ms Schlafly has a logic problem there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:40 AM
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LB would have been right at home in Omelas.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:42 AM
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What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Omelas to get paid?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:46 AM
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One note on 52% districts - don't think of it as a 2 point margin, but a 4 point margin, because self-identified Rs aren't voting for a Dem, no matter what. They may stay home - maybe - but they aren't flipping. We tend to think in terms of a voter lost being a vote for the other side, but I don't think that's the case. Furthermore, remember that "independents" basically all vote just as reliably for one side or the other as registereds.

To extend 69, I'd bet that, in the instance of Tim Murphy's district, moderate Rs close to Pgh got put into Mike Doyle's 65% (or whatever) Dem district, while plenty of reliable Pennsyltuckians are kept in Murphy's district - it's 54% (or so) R, but 90% of those Rs would, literally, never vote for a Dem no matter who ran as the Republican.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:49 AM
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Ms Schlafly has a logic problem there

So do I, apparently. I didn't follow that at all.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:49 AM
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simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate.

Unless, of course, men decide to lower their standards.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:50 AM
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What if a high-earning woman could marry two men whose combined incomes were more than hers?


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:51 AM
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88: Nor did I.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:58 AM
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82: Gelman's arguing against a claim that no one in this thread has made. I don't care how competitive any given district; I care about a party getting 75% of the seats with 48% of the vote. This has been identified as anti-democratic in Hungary, but apparently is hunky-dory in PA and NC. And it's not clear to me how Gelman et al absolving gerrymandering of blame is helping the situation, even if their research shows that gerrymandering isn't responsible for another problem.

Gerrymandering doesn't have to be a problem along every possible axis to be a problem full stop.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:58 AM
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88, 91: Imagine 100 men and 100 women, each of which has an income equal to one of the numbers between one and one hundred. One man and one woman each have incomes of one dollar, one man and one woman each have incomes of thirty-four dollars, and so on. Men uniformly refuse to marry women who make as much or more than they do.

At that point, the one woman who makes $100 has to remain single. But the remaining 99 couples can pair off as follows: $100M-$99W, $99M-$98W... $2M-$1W. The lowest earning man also remains single -- presumably our high-earning woman can hire him as her pool boy, and they can all live happily ever after.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:05 PM
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Yeah, I don't really understand what definition of "competitive" Gelman is arguing against.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:14 PM
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I think it's an incumbency thing - the fact that ~95% of incumbents win, and that most elections aren't that close, such that, out of 435 districts, only 3 dozen or so are remotely in play (except in wave years, which haven't been that rare, frankly).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:25 PM
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93: Clearly, everyone must make exactly the same amount of money, and then no one will get married ever, and the human race will cease to exist.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:25 PM
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It should be pointed out that Massachusetts and Maryland are kind of the reverse of PA and NC, with nearly all-Democratic delegations where it should be something like 1/3 Republican.

But at least those are actually Dem-dominated states.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:26 PM
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This may be just another way of restating the issue, rather than an explanation for why it's happening, but I think the old adage that "all politics is local" is less and less true. Now, with the exception of a few issues (for ex., farm subsidies in the Midwest,) all politics is national, or maybe it's more correct to say all politics is meta. This leads to the weird phenomenon of Republican governors opposing the expansion of Medicare, something which would have tangible benefits for the people of their states without adding any increased tax burdens in the short term, and they are celebrated for it. The abstract issue (the federal government is too damn big!) carries far more weight than the facts on the ground. It's all very strange.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:31 PM
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I feel like being the highest earning woman should get you at least two pool boys.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:32 PM
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This thread a great excuse to link again to my favorite populist Southern Democrat song, Song of the South . Point being, the rearrangement has occurred along many more axes than just race (although race of course plays a central role) -- in the earlier part of the century there was a very strong tradition of economic populism among Southern voters.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:33 PM
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97: Mass. isn't that egregiously gerrymandered. The 4th district is the only one that seriously violates the principles of compactness and contiguity. The sixth district is competitive.

If you have a state that leans Dem by 30 points, any random drawing of boundaries has a reasonable chance of returning 100% Democrats - especially when (as is the case in MA) the rural areas are not grossly out of step politically with the cities.

Maryland, OTOH, really is a mirror image of NC.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:38 PM
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97: It should be pointed out that Massachusetts and Maryland are kind of the reverse of PA and NC, with nearly all-Democratic delegations where it should be something like 1/3 Republican.

Speaking locally, this may be changing in Maryland with the advent of the McCutcheon decision. MD is one of those states that has an aggregate political contribution limit, one of the lowest in the country, of only $10,000 per election cycle, I believe. The state has acknowledged that it will no longer be observing that limit in light of McCutcheon. So political contributions in MD may well go wild.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:38 PM
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Mass. isn't that egregiously gerrymandered.

Plus when we do it it's all historical and shit.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:41 PM
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It should be pointed out that Massachusetts and Maryland are kind of the reverse of PA and NC, with nearly all-Democratic delegations where it should be something like 1/3 Republican.

As a former resident of a red Maryland district that was gerrymandered blue, this really pissed me off. I may not have agreed with my neighbor's politics, but they were entitled to have their views represented in Congress, and redistricting cheated them out of it.

Just because Republicans do it to doesn't make it ok. On the other hand, it would have been stupid for Democrats in Maryland to unilaterally disarm, when Ohio looks like this.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:43 PM
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101.last: Except that MD isn't grievously ill-serving its citizens, and NC is. Be careful about that. But I understand what you mean, electorally.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:44 PM
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I like the fact that Elbridge Gerry was a Democratic-Republican. Both sides always already have done it!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:47 PM
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99: Great, now you've left one woman without a husband. She'll have to become the highest earning man's pool girl, which is unfair to his wife, unless she get's a pool boy of her own. This is how polygamous societies collapse.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:49 PM
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So how do you disentangle the effects of gerrymandering from the mathematical effects of the plurality winner-take-all election system? I imagine there's pretty obviously some gerrymandering going on if the plurality vote winner is not the majority seat winner, but getting, say, 49% of the vote and 59% of the seats is harder to break apart.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:51 PM
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The state has acknowledged that it will no longer be observing that limit in light of McCutcheon.

My sister got elected to a seat in the Maine House of Representatives based on a "clean elections" system wherein, if you get 50 people to contribute at least $5 each for your campaign, the state gives you $5000 to run with, provided that you agree to take no other money.

Its a very nice system that enables people who aren't connected to money to get elected in Maine. I'm pretty sure McCutcheon is going to blow that shit right up. Why take $5000 from the state when Sheldon Adelson will give you $25,000?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:51 PM
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107: The only solution is to ban swimming entirely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:53 PM
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But the remaining 99 couples can pair off as follows:

Make that must pair off as follows.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 12:54 PM
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109.2: yeah. Bummer.

Hey, it's probably very important to put every effort into ensuring that Republicans don't take the Senate, what with their ability to block Supreme Court nominees.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 1:07 PM
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111: Well, to the same extent that they must all, or as close to all as possible, get married, and they must pair off with higher earning men and lower earning women. (Come to think, a couple of strategic gay marriages among poor men and rich women solves everything. But Phyllis wouldn't approve.) Given those constraints, the way I've described it is how they must pair off.

Luckily, those constraints only exist in Schlafly's head. My only point about them is that even if they were real, equal pay wouldn't preclude heterosexual marriage for the vast majority of the population.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 1:10 PM
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Luckily, those constraints only exist in Schlafly's head. My only point about them is that even if they were real, equal pay wouldn't preclude heterosexual marriage for the vast majority of the population

But sub-optimal satisfaction, and some heartache. I know, tough, gotta break eggs to ride a bicycle, or something.

Anybody else read that book a couple of years ago about the state of Black marriage? The issue of marrying a man who not only earns less but doesn't share the values the woman has developed or always had comes up there as a recurring problem.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 1:28 PM
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I realize that's unclear: I'm not talking about equal pay, but a situation, which already exists in certain subcultures and may be spreading, where the the polarity of the pay disparity has essentially been reversed in the span of a generation.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 1:31 PM
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The issue of marrying a man who not only earns less but doesn't share the values the woman has developed or always had comes up there as a recurring problem.

Nobody's perfect.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 1:31 PM
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Well, to the same extent that they must all, or as close to all as possible, get married, and they must pair off with higher earning men and lower earning women. (Come to think, a couple of strategic gay marriages among poor men and rich women solves everything. But Phyllis wouldn't approve.) Given those constraints, the way I've described it is how they must pair off.

If you ever get tired of the lawyer thing, you could set up shop as a marriage broker.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 1:38 PM
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93: Not exactly the same, but that sounds a lot like the "leftover women" syndrome in China (admittedly greatly compounded by the gender imbalance).

Self-evident, but a man choosing not to marrying a woman solely because she earns more than him is pretty stupid.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 1:44 PM
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I haven't observed any of my male friends having any emotional difficulty with their wife's earning more than them. My observation is that they find the circumstance quite pleasant.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 1:48 PM
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I would love it if my wife made more money than me. Or, really, any salary at all.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 1:55 PM
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101: MA districts are a little more compact than they used to be because of Barney Frank's retirement. His district used to run from Brookline to Attleboro and Brockton, if memory serves. The 2011 redistricting did a lot of cleaning up due to several retirements.

There's still a lot of pro-Democrat line drawing though, as one would expect. Everywhere there is a clump of Republicans it's paired with an overwhelmingly Democratic city or two, or a chunk of Boston. Political writers here think that maybe one seat might flip to Republican this year if they win big nationally, otherwise nada.

My impression is that in states that are not one-party states like MA, what happens is the parties trade safe seats. I've also heard this is done in the US House. So instead of a number of 52% districts, they end up at 60% or higher.

Another thing is that often when a US Rep is first elected, it's close. Then if they are elected a second time they are basically good for life (barring tsunami elections). People seem to vote a lot on familiarity.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 1:59 PM
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Even before I became a SAHD, my wife way out-earned me. Which is why I became the SAHD. (That and her career was more important to her than it was to me, which along with the fact that she is insanely smarter than I am is why she earns more than I do which is why I am a SAHD.)

Other than random strangers on the Internet, very few people think much of it or make any comment about it. I do read people saying that women won't marry or respect a man who earns less, but again that's random people on the Internet.


Posted by: Trumwill | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:07 PM
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Gareth Bale!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:14 PM
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I too would like to let any high-earning ladies reading this know that I have no such insecurities.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:14 PM
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119, 120, 122: Clearly you are all imaginary. As am I.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:15 PM
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"leftover women" syndrome in China

I'd never heard of this but googling immediately brings up some NYT and CNN articles.

I assume China has its equivalent of MRA websites full of bitter cranks complaining about this?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:17 PM
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124: It's possible that Eggplant is real, but unaware of what his true feelings would be.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:18 PM
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I'm willing to make the sacrifice if it means allowing the highest earning woman two pool boys.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:20 PM
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126: probably, as part of the larger fenqing culture, but I don't know of it specifically. There's an insane number of lower class unmarried-and-will-never-be-able-to-marry guys in China, and I'm sure a lot of them take our their unhappiness in misogynistic ways.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:21 PM
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Speaking of pay disparities, I have an OT ATM: I've been offered a new job. I think in most ways it would be preferable to my current job, so I am highly inclined to take it. (Fewer hours would be one of the most significant, but not the only, improvement.)

I was told up front, before I even interviewed for the position, that the pay range that they had "budgeted" for the position was between .85x and 1.1x, where x is my current salary. (They didn't phrase it quite that way, obviously, because they did't know my current salary.) I thought it was odd that they were so open about the range that they had budgeted, but whatever, no hardball, that's nice.

Then, during the course of my interviews (which went well), TWO of the three people that I interviewed with spontaneously said something along the lines of: "Let me give you a tip. If you are offered this job, which I think you will be, you should negotiate aggressively on your starting salary. Based on your resume, you should absolutely be at the top of the range we have budgeted for this position, and possibly we could pull some strings and move a bit above that. And this is a company where it's much easier to adjust salaries for someone new coming in than it is to get a meanginful raise once you're here." Great, I thought. I'll keep that in mind.

Today, they offered me the job, with a salary of .9x. On the one hand, I think I'd like the job better than my current job, and I'd like to accept it. I'd be fine with a salary of .9x. It's not ideal to take a pay cut (especially since the opportunity for future raises is much higher in my current job than in this new position), but there are offsetting benefits, so I'm okay with it. I don't want to turn down the job. But, obviously, based on the interview, I sort of feel like I should ask for more money. But: the person who actually offered me the job, who would be my boss if I take the job, was one of the same two people who spontanesouly told me that I should negotiate aggressively on my starting salary. I raised this with him today, and he said "I've already done the negotiating for you. The amount I actually had budgeted for this position was .7x. Whoever told you it was .85x to 1.1x was wrong." (The person who told me that was the recruiter in the company's HR deptartment.) He said "Before making you this offer, I already asked for an increase in the salary for this position to get it to .9x, because we really want you here. And I'll level with you--that's the best we're going to be able to do. It's a take it or leave it offer."

Now I'm totally confused. I want the job. I don't want to get screwed on salary. Help?


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:21 PM
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In your place, I'd just take the new job that I want that requires fewer hours. I am a terrible negotiator, but this seems like a good time to satisfice.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:25 PM
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131: I agree with Megan, but I'm also a terrible negotiator.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:27 PM
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130: That's easy: if you're a woman, offer to do it for 0.6x, and if you're a man, demand 1.8x before accepting 1.4x.

Done and done.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:28 PM
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Yeah, I'm with Megan. Fewer hours might make the pay per hour equivalent, though.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:28 PM
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opportunity for future raises is much higher in my current job than in this new position

Do you have a family? This could be more important to you in the future.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:28 PM
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And FWIW, I lost the chance of advancing through the interview process a while back by playing hardball on salary up front (it would have involved moving to a new, more expensive area and I didn't want my standard of living to drop even if they were theoretically paying me more).


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:30 PM
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On the earlier note, every year that AB was fully employed, she out-earned me. I ostensibly work more than she does, but her income is 45% of our combined total.

Actually, that's not quite right, because, for Schedule C purposes, our joint reviews are "her" income. It's not a big chunk, but it's probably enough to move us closer to 60/40.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:33 PM
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I haven't had an income in almost five years. Good thing I'm already married.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:35 PM
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Adding some credibility to his story, the official job title of the position that I'd interviewed for was "Senior Lackey", and when he offered me the job today, he insetead offered me the job of "Junior Big Shot", which is a higher level position. He explained that the difference in position, which he believes I am qualified for, was how he was able to get the higher pay.

But how could the recruiter in HR, whose job it was to fill the position, have been so off on the pay that had been budgeted for the original position? That's what confuses me.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:36 PM
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Do you have a family? This could be more important to you in the future.

Yes, I do. Which way does that cut?


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:38 PM
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Fuck, there went pseudoanonymity. Oh well.


Posted by: [edit]William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:39 PM
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92 et al:

There are two questions about gerrymandering. First, is it responsible for the increased level of partisan polarization that you see in members of Congress and/or state legislatures? The answer to this question seems to be almost entirely no according to the folks who have studied the issue. Rather, partisan polarization independent of gerrymandering, together with an increased power of incumbency (probably, due to it being increasingly expensive to run for election) is what matters. Elections are indeed less competitive, but this is largely a result of increased partisan polarization independent of gerrymandering and electoral expense, not caused by gerrymandering.

Second, there is a separate question: is gerrymandering responsible for allowing parties who get less than a majority of the overall partisan vote to gain a working majority in a legislature? Examples of this kind of thing are the current US House of Representatives, and the NC legislature, both of which have a workable Republican majority even though the total numbers of votes cast in the most recent elections for all the relevant legislative seats was slightly majority Democratic. Is this the result of gerrymandering? Here, the answer seems to be "a little but much less than you might think," i.e., that gerrymandering has had some effect, but not much. The bigger explanation (which Urple points to above) is simply that the parties are geographically very polarized along an urban/rural divide, and our system naturally favors overrepresentation of the rural voters, because it favors single-state house districts or districts that look like reasonably coherent single shapes. Key point:

What if we "re-run" the 2012 House election, but using the old districts? We have done that simulation, using the 2008 presidential vote in both the old and new districts to capture how the redistricting might have moved partisans around. If we assume that nothing else affects House election outcomes but the partisanship of the districts--in other words, if we allow redistricting to have its maximum possible effect--we find that the 2011 redistricting cost Democrats 7 seats in 2012. This is not nothing, but it's far less than what the Democrats needed to take back the House and about half what Wang estimated. The effect is even smaller if we incorporate other important factors. Incumbency is the most important of these: lots of Republicans who were running as challengers or in open seats in 2010--and then won--ran as incumbents for the first time in 2012. We know that incumbency is a powerful factor in House elections, bringing candidates greater visibility, adding to their campaign coffers, and deterring quality challengers from running. On average, an incumbent in 2012 ran five percentage points ahead of a non-incumbent candidate from the same party in a similar seat. Sixty-one seats were were decided by less than this margin.
More important, once we took incumbency into account, the apparent effect of gerrymandering vanished. That is, the ability of Republicans to retain the House majority may have been due to incumbency advantage, not new and more favorable districts.
We went a step further and subtracted out our estimate of the incumbency advantage to simulate what 2012 would have looked like if this advantage had not existed. In this simulation, the Democrats won 219 seats--virtually eliminating the discrepancy between votes and seats in this election.

The piece goes on to look at the issue more historically, and finds a long-standing natural Republican advantage based on geographic distribution of voters that doesn't have much to do with redistricting.

(Ironically, maybe, this means that Democrats might benefit the most from some really egregious gerrymandering -- if for example Pennsylvania was willing to accept bizarrely-shaped districts of equal population in which each district started from a point in the center of Philadelphia and radiated out, the partisan vote for House elections would reflect the total partisan divide of the total Pennsylvania electorate for house elections better than if you just divided Pennsylvania neutrally into reasonable square-like shapes of roughly equal population size).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:40 PM
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WJC: Congrats at offered a chance to be a Junior Big Shot. I think it depends whether you're negotiating with future boss or HR. If you are haggling with future boss, then you look difficult and ungrateful. If you haggle with HR, that seems like a totally reasonable thing to do. If no one knows yet that it's actually a pay cut for you, you can always say how much you'd like to work there, but hey, it's actually a pay cut and could they match your current salary please. If you don't have the full written offer, perhaps there are other things that would make this a better deal that would cost them less outright?


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:42 PM
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Thanks to whoever fixed 140/141.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:43 PM
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Which way does that cut?

If college isn't already paid for, and if you're not miserable in your current job, making a lot more money could make your life or your kid's life a lot easier.

As for the .?x dilemma; someone is either wrong or lying, but you don't have a good way to find out which.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:43 PM
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if you're not miserable in your current job

Of course I'm miserable in my current job. I'm sure I'll also be miserable in the new job, but I think I might be meaningfully less miserable.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:46 PM
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To WJC: I guess I'd just take the job, on the following analysis. The guy that you're now working for has told you explicitly that you absolutely can't negotiate, that he's gone out on a limb for you and that your prior information was wrong. Those seem like pretty strong statements, and if he's wrong about them he's not just doing the negotiation dance but affirmatively lying to you. So, if you trust this guy reasonably, and are willing to accept the salary cut, you should just take the job. On the other hand, if you think that this boss is lying to you about this issue, it seems like your new boss will screw you over in more ways than just this one and you may want to consider not taking the new job at all.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:46 PM
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"that you're now working for" should be "the guy you're planning to work for." Sorry.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:47 PM
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147 seems probably right. I don't get the sense that he was lying. But the whole thing just feels weird.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:50 PM
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147 is silly. WJC is just some asshole at this point, not their asshole, so how the guy is treating him now doesn't tell you much about how he'll be treated.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:51 PM
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Heh.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:51 PM
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I know I looked deflated when he made the offer, because based on the interview and the statements made, I was already expecting that if they were going to offer me the job, it would be at 1.1x or something close to it. So it was sort of a shock.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:53 PM
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143 sounds right to me. If your potential boss has said ".9X is no flexibility, take it or leave it," trying to haggle at that point is calling him a liar. On the other hand, if there's anyone else you can haggle with, you can go back to them. Can you call the recruiter who said 1.1X, and point out that you make X now, and certainly can't take a pay cut?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:55 PM
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how the guy is treating him now doesn't tell you much about how he'll be treated

No, I think I agree with 147. Actually lying to job candidates to which you're making offers speaks to a pretty bad company culture, that I'm not sure I'd want to be a part of.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:56 PM
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Fine.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 2:58 PM
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153: The recruiter knows how much I make now.

".9X is no flexibility, take it or leave it,"

He actually did say this, although when I looked as deflated as I'm sure I did, he softened somewhat and said: "look, if there's something small we could do to make a difference between yes and no, then please let me know and we can try to do it. But we're really at the top of the range here, so it would have to be small." I got the very clear impression that the difference between .9x and x is not the sort of thing he means by "small", so I'm not sure "I can't take a pay cut" is a winnable negotiating position. I mean, I certainly said, "that's a pay cut, which I wasn't expecting, so while I'm very interested in the position, I'll need to think about this". And now here I am. Thinking.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:01 PM
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Or, for considerably less hassle, he could just take the job that he wants more than the one he has at a pay rate that he was OK with before there was weirdness. Terrible negotiators everywhere would say, dude, take the improved situation and forget the pay strangeness.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:01 PM
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No more thinking for you! It has what you wanted before it got weird, at a pay range you were content with before it got weird. That means yes!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:03 PM
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"look, if there's something small we could do to make a difference between yes and no, then please let me know and we can try to do it. But we're really at the top of the range here, so it would have to be small."

That's permission to haggle without being insulting, I think -- even if you overstep, you're not calling him a liar by asking.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:03 PM
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ISTM that you've already had all the negotiations you're going to get. Maybe HR was looking at gross budgeted expenditure (which would include benefits & employer-side SS) rather than gross budgeted salary. Anyway, surely HR people are the least trustworthy with regard to pretty much anything substantive in pretty much any organization.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:03 PM
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Or whatever. Stay where you are. Also fine by me.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:03 PM
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Sounds more reasonable as described in 156.

I feel like I'm hearing more and more about non-negotiable offers. A couple of friends have gone through the same thing. Eventually, they all took the offers (after some back and forth about stuff like moving costs, benefits and vacation days) because they needed the job. Such a lousy situation.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:04 PM
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Do I understand that you're thinking of taking a pay cut and giving up the chance for even more money in the future for a slight decrease in your worklife misery? This seems inadvisable! Is there more to it?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:05 PM
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Terrible negotiators everywhere would say, dude, take the improved situation and forget the pay strangeness.

As a terrible negotiator, I concur with Megan.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:05 PM
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[WIE]


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:07 PM
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You numnut.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:08 PM
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Oh fuck. Just delete 165.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:09 PM
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Sounds like, in the new situation, you will still be miserable, but with less money, and not much opportunity to increase that in the future. I think you should say "no, I need to make x, which is what I am making now."

Maybe you won't get it, but maybe your new boss will be in a stronger position to negotiate your salary if he has a solid "no" on your end.



Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:10 PM
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158: Well, even on the job itself, I guess the weirdness does play into it some. I worry that there may be more than a title change--Junior Big Shot may actually be more demanding than Senior Lackey, and may negate some of the fewer hours I was hoping would be involved in the position. (He didn't describe it as any difference in responsibility, but it seems probable that it would be, actually.) Also, I had been imagining myself Senior Lackey at a salary of 1.1x, with room to move up to Junior Big Shot at some point in the future, at presumably some higher salary. Now, instead, I'm going in already as Junior Big Shot, but only making .9x, and there's not as much room to move up from there.

This is all too stressful for me.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:11 PM
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if for example Pennsylvania was willing to accept bizarrely-shaped districts of equal population in which each district started from a point in the center of Philadelphia and radiated out,

Pennsylvania has a history of weird borders that bears some vague similarity to this idea. Most of the counties in eastern PA have at least one northwest/southeast diagonal border, inherited from the original counties that stretched northwest away from Philly. Furthermore, in Albion's Seed the author talks about how the Welsh Tract was split between Montgomery and adjoining counties (probably Philadelphia Co. at the time but now Chester and Delaware Counties) by English Quakers who wanted to keep the Welsh Quakers down. He claims that this is the first instance of gerrymandering in America.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:11 PM
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taking a pay cut and giving up the chance for even more money in the future for a slight decrease in your worklife misery

Above some threshold (assumes that you'll remain in the middle class over your lifetime), you should ALWAYS take trades that decrease misery. You will only ever live in the present moment, so you should put enormous value on making all the present moments pleasant.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:11 PM
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Do I understand that you're thinking of taking a pay cut and giving up the chance for even more money in the future for a slight decrease in your worklife misery? This seems inadvisable! Is there more to it?

I'd call it a moderate rather than a slight decrease in worklife misery.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:15 PM
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WJC: How does your spouse feel about a 10% drop in salary? The more you describe the situation, the more I'm inclined to take back my earlier advice and say walk away. There's always another job elsewhere--you just have to keep looking.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:15 PM
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A confession: I am worried that the rapacious Mrs. Clinton will not be happy about the pay cut.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:16 PM
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Ha! 174 before seeing 173.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:17 PM
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The more you describe the situation, the more I'm inclined to take back my earlier advice and say walk away.

Can I ask why?


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:18 PM
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169: As the proud possessor of a two-year-old promotion to Very Junior Big Shot that has still not turned into a dime of extra money, yeah, this would worry me too.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:19 PM
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174: To tie the threads together, she should also take a pay cut, so that you may have the manly respect you deserve.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:19 PM
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Based on some UNSPOKEN assumptions about the nature of the job being given up and the job to be had, I suspect that unless she's overwhelmingly greedy Mrs. WJC will be, in the end, happier with a happier Bill who is at home more.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:24 PM
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176: Mostly your 169. If you're going to work more hours then you thought for less money than you thought, with a reduced chance for additional money in the future, it just seems like a bum deal. I'm in the middle of a job search too, and I have to keep reminding myself that I don't have to take the first thing that comes along, even if I want out of here bad enough to chew my own arm off.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:24 PM
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Fortunately/unfortunately, she doesn't need a pay cut to continue earning much less than me. (Of course, I don't share the fabled preference for women who earn less money. I'd be thrilled to have her make more than me. I'd be thrilled to quit my job and let her support me, if that were feasible. I have zero ambition.)


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:24 PM
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181 to 178


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:24 PM
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This has been identified as anti-democratic in Hungary, but apparently is hunky-dory in PA and NC

In some ways it's less anti-democratic in Hungary than in the US since in Hungary in the most recent election it was 45-26-21. While the parties do have regional strengths and weaknesses, all of the are national parties, that means there are virtually no places where Fidesz won't win a plurality. The whole no advertising for the opposition and last minute electoral rule changes designed to throw the opposition into chaos are a different matter. Also making the few opposition strongholds much larger population wise than the average seat, NY state senate style. The average Repub seat is about 9.5 percent smaller than the average Dem seat hear, the max allowable deviation for state and local districts is +/-5%, in Hungary I believe the deviation is +/- 7.5%. In House districts no deviation is allowed.

In the US the Dems have a problem with both gerrymandering and 'natural gerrymandering', i.e. the greater concentration of Democratic voters than Republican voters. There are a lot more voters in 80+ Dem areas than the reverse. But Dems are also less aggressive in gerrymandering even where they do it, e.g. Maryland which could have been turned into an all Dem delegation.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:27 PM
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(Ironically, maybe, this means that Democrats might benefit the most from some really egregious gerrymandering -- if for example Pennsylvania was willing to accept bizarrely-shaped districts of equal population in which each district started from a point in the center of Philadelphia and radiated out, the partisan vote for House elections would reflect the total partisan divide of the total Pennsylvania electorate for house elections better than if you just divided Pennsylvania neutrally into reasonable square-like shapes of roughly equal population size).

I take this point, very much, but if you actually look at PA districts, they already are, to a great extent, stupid-shaped. It would be trivial to create no less compact districts that would create several more Dem seats - Philly is in 3 fairly compact districts that are +12, +25, and +39, surrounded by 4 GOP districts, 3 of which stretch more than halfway to Harrisburg and are +1, +0, and +6 GOP (the +0 guy won an open seat; the +1 guy, Gerlach, seems to be about as moderate as a modern Republican can be). Move those boundaries a few miles, and you'd have 6 Democrats instead of 3, and an 8/10 balance. My rep, Doyle, is in a +16 district adjacent to a pair of very long +6 GOP districts; there may not be enough urbanites to make all 3 safe Dem seats, but I guarantee it would be easy to make a pair of Dem seats, creating a 9/9 delegation.

And so I don't understand exactly what Gelman and Ezra are claiming. Do they really deny the basics of geography? I get the sense that they're taking a descriptive fact - state legislatures draw districts in a certain, incumbent-friendly way, and incumbency trumps all - and turning it into a law of nature - the balance of power we have can't be undone under the current ground rules. But I guaran-fucking-tee that a ruthless Dem-led PA government could turn a 13-5 GOP advantage into a 50-50 split without needing to rout incumbents or find infinite amounts of money or even exceed norms about district shapes.

I'd add that pointing to how districts were drawn in 2008 is breathtakingly irrelevant to any question other than, "would things have been different under 2008 districts?"

I'm not denying that geography gives Republicans a built-in advantage nationwide, nor that "objective" boundary-drawing would not solve the problem, either. But I still say that minimizing the effect that gerrymandering has is counterproductive. PA is represented by 13 Republicans not because Geography says so, nor Political Science, but because a bunch of corrupt assholes in Harrisburg made it that way. And I'd like Gelman to justify obfuscating that fact.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:29 PM
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What would happen in a system where people could--independent of residence--voluntarily select their district? Assume that we still have decennial redistricting, districts are within states, and first-past-the-post voting.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:32 PM
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It's worth comparing the map in 184 to the results of the presidential election. The Philly suburbs--all very populous counties--either went blue or are very light red. Charlie Dent's survival is dependent upon that crazy blue district that somehow contains Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Bethlehem, and Schuylkill County.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:39 PM
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184 -- I think they're making the point that redistricting as it's actually happened under current rules, including the so-called "great redistricting" of 2012, which was probably the most brutal and one-sidedly partisan in American history, mattered much less than what people think. On your specific point, maybe a radical re-gerrymandering of the Pennsylvania districts could work; on the other hand those particular districts don't look too different (somewhat different, to be sure) from the districts that were there in 1996 when I worked in PA politics and the delegation was 11/21 democratic. The fundamental fact of PA geographic-political life is that formerly strongly democratic areas on the outskirts of old industrial cities (Westmoreland Cty, Washington Cty, Erie Cty, Scranton area, Lehigh county) now vote pretty dang Republican. I think Gelman at all would acknowledge that gerrymandering can flip a few seats, but that unless (maybe) it's done in a more-radical-than-it-has-been-to-date way the effect won't be as large as you're thinking.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:43 PM
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That's definitely a tough call, WJC. I was recently offered a shot at a position that would involve a substantial decrease in misery, but at "probably 0.5." Which was easy, because mortgage and saving to send a kid to college. At 0.9 X, I'd probably jump at misery-reduction, assuming a reasonable certainty of actual misery reduction and a credible forecast of comparative future misery potentials. Which, in your case, would seem to require pinning down some more specifics about the sudden title change, particularly responsibilities and future advancement opportunities. Also, I don't suppose the existence of the offer opens any doors to negotiating for misery reduction with your current employer?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 3:55 PM
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I guess I should have mentioned: he said that their comp. structure is heavily weighted towards bonuses and incentives, and with those factored in I should expect comp. to be closer to 1.35x, and higher in good years. So, there's that I guess. But I never believe in bonuses until I see them.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:01 PM
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||

Oh, hi Mineshaft. You might remember me from such subthreads as "my mom wants to marry her safari guide who is forty years younger than her and import him into the US". I thought I might share an update.

Since last June, she has indeed gotten engaged to the gentleman in question (buying a ring for him to give her) and initiated the process of getting him to this country on a fiancé visa. She set a date some two weeks hence for a wedding, based on the fact that she wanted the wedding to happen before her [ round number, elderliness-signifying ] birthday. She did not, notably, set the date for the wedding based on any information about when the gentleman could actually get into the country. But she did order a goat and invite guests (including out-of-towners and lots of family).

At the time she scheduled this event he had done the first couple of stages of the process, which from my understanding are essentially formalities, and was waiting to have an interview at the consulate scheduled.

Today was that interview. As best I can tell third-hand (my mom has mostly stopped talking to me about this, as she has picked up that I am one of the many people that is really uncomfortable with the whole thing -- she has stopped talking to all the friends that have expressed reservations as well) the interview did not go well. The consular officer, from what I hear, wants "more detail" on the relationship (which, remember, involves spending a couple of months together all told, a forty year age difference, her not speaking his native language, his having a largeish immediate family including a parent (who is younger than my mom) and daughter who he would presumably want to move here (not sure where his family would live; my mom lives in a condo that is suitable for a couple of people at most)) before considering issuing the visa. She is convinced that the consular officer was biased against things to start, and is threatening to start calling it the not inconsiderable political favors she has accumulated over several decades of political life.

I am trying to figure out when the hell the right time is to weigh in with "okay, this has gone far enough, you have to stop", but am not sure there will be a time I can do that before she flies to his country and marries him there in an attempt to keep things moving along.

There is a pervasive sense that everybody she knows well is watching this with a certain sense of dread but nobody thinks it would be possible to say anything to her about it. Meanwhile, the goat is on order, so if he's not here (which, given that the wedding is supposed to be in two weeks and the meeting today took months to get scheduled, seems highly unlikely) I guess we'll just have a... party?

For now he is staying in a hotel in the big city nearest to his rural village, where the consulate is, waiting for word on what my mom wants him to do.

I'm sure I'll share further updates with you because I... have to talk to somebody about it?

|>


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:04 PM
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Probably the HR person was talking total comp instead of salary then. I now find the hiring manager's story more believable. 1.35X is pretty good.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:04 PM
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Oops. I forgot to refresh, and didn't realize I was stepping on Pres. Clinton's conundrum. Sorry! Exciting times at the mineshaft, I guess.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:05 PM
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191: Huh... that was very much not my impression, but thinking about it, that seems like a real possibility. If that's true, I think she actually misspoke, but it's more of an understandable mistake.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:09 PM
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Is the goat still alive?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:09 PM
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Yes! This is one of my favorite mineshaft issues of all time. If the goat has already been ordered and you need someone to eat it or buy it at a discount, you have come to the right place.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:10 PM
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I haven't been involved in the goat procurement.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:10 PM
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Seriously, I will eat all of that goat.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:11 PM
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Actually she asked me to see if I could get a goat from my butcher, but I blew it off because 1. very busy and 2. way too weird. I think she made other arrangements.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:12 PM
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On the other issue, which is that your mother has lost it and is about to fuck over her life completely, did you ever get her to talk to a lawyer about asset planning, pre-nup, wills, etc.? I'm sure somebody recommended something like that in the previous thread. Maybe you could super sneakily get an immigration lawyer who would also give her advice on protecting her assets.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:13 PM
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You could suggest to her that as practice for her new lifestyle, she could keep the goat alive around the yard for a while. I mean, nothing wrong with a roast, but if she has a live goat, why not enjoy it for a while?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:14 PM
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if she has a live goat, why not enjoy it for a while?

Most states frown on that sort of thing, Megan.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:15 PM
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She did draft a prenup, and gave me a copy of it. I haven't yet showed it to a lawyer of my own, but now it sounds like it is being negotiated with his lawyer, which is really confusing, because... did she hire him a lawyer to negotiate with her lawyer? Does he have a friend who does law on the side in [ African city]?


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:16 PM
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My apologies for not reading more closely. You probably can't keep a goat on condo grounds.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:17 PM
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I assume the goat will come pre-slaughtered and dressed.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:17 PM
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My assumption would be that WJC is being lied to by someone, and that it's not an innocent or unwitting error. If it was me, I'd not be willing to take a paycut at all, pretty much ever, unless it was combined with a much higher chance of more money in the future. And less money plus less chance of more? No no no no. There'd need to be some _great_ benefits in kind -- much less hours, more flexibility, more interesting work.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:18 PM
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202 is probably a good sign, because it makes it more likely that the prenup would be upheld in Court. Paying for a good independent lawyer for him in re the prenup was probably a good move on her part if that's what she did. But prenups are never really ironclad. I now vaguely remember from before that she had a prenup.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:18 PM
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Um, what negative have you said about the whole thing at all so far? This is probably a good time for an "It's your life, and you're a grownup, and I'm not your boss, but I'm not seeing how marrying a man forty years younger than you are whose primary language you don't speak and who you're going to have difficulty getting a visa to enter the country makes sense for you. But I'm always here for you, just don't expect me to be any practical help on something I don't understand."

On the other hand, if you've already communicated with that much clarity, I don't really know what else you do. Your mother sounds like the sort of person who has lawyers already, maybe you could gently enquire if they'd been consulted on making the whole thing work?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:18 PM
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if she has a live goat, why not enjoy it for a while?

Precisely.


Posted by: Opinionated Mickey Kaus | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:18 PM
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Crossed with the prenup discussion, so there are lawyers involved, and that hasn't derailed the whole thing. Eh, I have no idea. I've never made either of my parents do a blessed thing they didn't want to do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:19 PM
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I can't believe the consular officer is oppressing your mom like this.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:20 PM
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207: I have said something very close to that, yeah. "You're my mom and I support you but you taught me all the reasons things like this don't work and there is no way to really know his intentions."

She does, in theory, have several lawyers ("the best immigration lawyers") engaged in trying to figure out how to make this work.

She has also mooted, if he can't get here, moving (for part of the year?) to some third country like Jamaica that he can get to, but it's not clear that he is interested in that.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:23 PM
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Did we suggest in the previous thread that you hire a gigolo to seduce your Mom? Because if there is ever a time that a gigolo is called for, it is now.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:23 PM
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Ulysses, the last time this arose, Cala et al outlined how this was an extremely predictable scam - I remember the phrase "Let me introduce you to my sister and her children who I happen to live". The idea was tossed around that you could find some reputable sources (internet? gov't official?) who could read the tea leaves for your mother and really give her a straight informed prediction of how this will play out.

After that, your mother gets to make terrible choices, because FREEDOM!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:25 PM
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Not that I'm not glad to read the update.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:25 PM
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Seriously, 212 can work. I think I could get Mystery from VH1's number for you for a reasonable fee.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:26 PM
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And you get a new little sister.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:27 PM
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189: With that, I'd take it or leave it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:28 PM
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In other words, a third party who will say things much more starkly than "there is no way to really know his intentions."

Someone who will say "I have seen this play out 100 times, and all 100 times it has been a green card scam. There is no way his intentions are pure."

(Which was my impression from Cala et al.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:28 PM
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216: What's the one-generation-up term for a sister-wife? Aunt-mother? Possibly one of those as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:29 PM
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I'm kind of surprised an ("best") immigration lawyer would go to bat for her, and not give her a straight appraisal as to the scam.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:30 PM
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218: Actually, come to think, if this really is something familiar from immigration forums, I wonder if finding someone very demographically similar to her who's been through the same thing would work. Like, looking for an elderly-round-numbered divorced woman with mildly substantial assets who brought a safari guide to the US, suffered through immigration hell, and then got left, who might be willing to talk to her.

That seems sort of a huge project to get into, and kind of inappropriately enmeshed (that is, I start feeling sketchy about your putting too much effort into talking her out of it. Not that I actually think it's wrong, but the same sort of feeling that's kept you from throwing a fit thus far), but OTOH it also seems like the kind of thing that might work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:33 PM
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Has your family already discussed pooling enough money to buy him off?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:34 PM
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220: It depends on the strength/longevity/possibility of future business of the attorney-client relationship. You have to figure any decent immigration lawyer is going to have said something along the lines of "Do you really think this is a good idea?" But getting much more forceful than that means talking Mother Grant out of paying the lawyer many thousands of dollars over a long complicated immigration battle. It'd be the right thing to do, but I wouldn't be surprised if a lawyer who wasn't expecting to ever deal with her on another manner didn't make a token effort to talk her out of it and then think "Eh, she'll waste her money somewhere, I might as well get it."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:37 PM
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220: I only know what they've said via her, and she tends not to hear "no" or "this is a bad idea" very well, so they might have been perfectly clear to her about the chances. I wouldn't be surprised at all if that were the case.

222: What money the family has is pretty much hers. She is to some degree supporting all of her siblings.

221: I just am not sure at this point that I could really get through to her.

212: Last time you suggested apostropher.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:39 PM
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221: Yeah, I was thinking that if you could locate a nice Mrs. Polk who was her sort of person (clever, political, energetic, whatever) who'd been through exactly the same thing, you could introduce them and not be directly the one arguing with her. I'm envisioning an imaginary Mrs. Polk who's on immigration forums being messianic about not making her mistakes. This is probably a fantasy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:41 PM
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Let's make this happen; I honestly think going gigolo is your best move. You just need to maintain plausible deniability in case it blows up bad.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:42 PM
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Let's make this happen; I honestly think going gigolo is your best move. You just need to maintain plausible deniability in case it blows up bad.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:42 PM
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224.last: I thought it was x.trapnel.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:42 PM
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But really, I don't think there's much of anything you can do. Hopefully, immigration will keep oppressing your mother, and they'll give up rather than moving to a third country or getting married in his homeland.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:46 PM
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Also, seriously, did your Mom read or see Bridget Jones' Diary II: The Edge of Reason?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:46 PM
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I don't think there's much of anything you can do

There is: you could call immigration and tell them you know it's a scam. But of course it would be good to have some evidence of that, first.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:47 PM
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I guess that doesn't solve the move to Jamaica problem. So, is this very much out of character for your mom? Because if so, then you might be dealing with dementia/mini-strokes/brain tumor problems. If it's not out of character, you have to at least try a what the fuck are you doing (rather than a are you sure this is a good idea) conversation.

In conclusion, white people are weird.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:50 PM
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She suggested to my aunt that it might help her case to get affidavits from all of her friends and family attesting to the worthwhile, rock-solid, untroubling nature of the relationship. I sincerely hope she doesn't ask me for one of those.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:52 PM
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Because if so, then you might be dealing with dementia/mini-strokes/brain tumor problems.

At which point then what do you do?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:52 PM
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You guys are all treating Option Gigolo like a joke, when really it's the best play USG has. I guess the only danger is that the gigolo oversteps his bounds and goes for the fortune/marriage himself, but now that gigolos are legal and common in Vegas I bet you can find one with a good sense of fiduciary obligation.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:55 PM
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At which point then what do you do?

You're the lahyer, you tell me.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:57 PM
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232: It seems very out of character to how I remember her acting when I was a kid, but lots of other things have changed since then (she no longer has a dependent and her financial circumstances have shifted dramatically). She also had a health scare a couple of years ago that overlapped pretty exactly with the start of this relationship, and the upcoming birthday is a big one.

I do think there is some aspect of not having anybody to directly take care of/be in charge of to the whole thing.

But then again, yeah, she could be getting more impulsive for yet more troubling reasons.

And who says I'm white? (Okay, okay)


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:57 PM
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Ideally, you'd want a lawyer with a side business, as being guaranteed to be of good character.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:57 PM
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If it's not out of character

If it isn't out of character, have there been other marriages to young guides?

I think Halford has the right of it. You should bring someone to the goat roast to charm her. All of the concerned family members should bring a single someone for her. She should look around her postponed wedding and see nothing but family and intriguing single men.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:57 PM
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Why do I get the feeling Operation Gigolo is actually Operation Cheney, where Halford ends up nominating himself?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:58 PM
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I have tried to half-trick her into seeing a neurologist (I told her it would be useful to have a baseline in case things went wrong later) but it didn't work.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 4:58 PM
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It's got to be hard to talk somebody elderly out of sexing up a willing twenty-year-old. That may be projection on my part.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:00 PM
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236: My point is that I'm not aware of anything that one can do merely because one suspects that a family member has impaired cognition, even if it seems pretty likely you're right. Declaring someone legally incompetent (which, admittedly, I know nothing about professionally) involves meeting a pretty high standard (as it should).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:00 PM
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nominating himself

You can go blind doing that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:01 PM
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I have tried to half-trick her into seeing a neurologist...but it didn't work

Ah, ok. Well, if Anderson Cooper doesn't need inherited wealth, then neither do you.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:03 PM
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That aspect of it has to make the whole thing harder to deal with. I mean, the relationship sounds insane even if you didn't have a financial interest in breaking it up, but of course you do, which has to make it hard not to feel mercenary about the whole thing. And it makes it easier for her to dismiss you being doubtful. At least she's got people who aren't heirs also being doubtful.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:05 PM
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Operation Gigolo is a terrible idea. "Dear gold-diggers, would you like access to my mom's assets? I can help you with that. Just don't ask me to buy a goat."

I don't suppose it would help to point out that unless she's over 91, she's in violation of the half-plus-seven rule.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:07 PM
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You want me to call her, as an immigrant? People like me laugh at people like you. Don't be a punchline.

Gah, this is just a bit more sad than funny. Good luck, Ulysses.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:07 PM
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I'd modify Operation Gigolo to Operation Colin Farrell. You know he'd do it for nothing. How many degrees of separation, Halford? Step up.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:10 PM
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246: She is mostly not talking to the people who aren't heirs who are being doubtful.

And yes, it does make it much harder, because honest-to-god that's not why it bothers me, except that I know that one of the great hurts of her life was when her father wrote her (and her siblings) out of his will in favor of his much younger (foreign) wife. That she seems dead-set on repeating the same pattern on some level is mind-boggling.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:12 PM
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Have you considered getting a local PI or equivalent to check out the situation? Surely if sister is in fact wife, that wouldn't be too difficult to figure out.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:12 PM
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My mom's sister died and about a year later her 65 year old widower went to the Philippines, married a woman, and brought her back. I think it took some time to get her in the country. There were no kids involved.


Posted by: Gerald Ford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:14 PM
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They don't have to be literal gigolos. They could be pre-screened nice men from a dating website who are willing to go to a goat roast. But there's something to be said for professionalism. If you want them to specifically woo your mother within bounds, pay them for their work.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:14 PM
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251: Like, a PI in Africa? I haven't really considered that, because honestly I wouldn't quite know how to begin considering hiring a PI in Africa. If there's a commenter here who can help with that (I guess it would have to be ajay?) I guess I would think about it?

But honestly, no. Despite the fact that she's not talking to me about this we have a pretty good relationship, and I don't want to be underhanded. I just am worried about her, and am hoping for this to end in the way that causes the least amount of heartache for her, whatever that is.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:15 PM
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249: If you count high school musicals, I'm only three degrees.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:15 PM
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I'm sure it's easy to find a PI in Africa. Just find a helpful person who knows other people there.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:17 PM
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You can solve the problem in 247 with a series of gigolos, each equally seductive.

251 is also a very good idea, but you need to think of how you would present the information to her once obtained.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:17 PM
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I can probably get you a PI in Africa. Or just call Kroll, and they'll do it for a fairly large amount of money.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:18 PM
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I think any solution that ends up with my being in charge of any size mercenary force in Africa is going to be the wrong kind of solution.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:19 PM
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I bet that for the money you would pay Kroll, you could just pay the guy to go away.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:20 PM
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I'll ask my badass PI friend if she has any clue. Can you give some hint about a more specific location (or just email me)? I don't think it would be underhanded to check out the most obvious possibility in order to protect your mom.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:22 PM
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249: Add in college improv troupes and it goes down to two. Ah, to have a life in the nearness of greatness, it's almost as good as accomplishing something.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:23 PM
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Oh yeah, a PI in Africa. Great idea. He and the prospective husband will die laughing about how many members of this family are determined to give them money.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:25 PM
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Racist.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:25 PM
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Gah, this is just a bit more sad than funny

It's possible, or even likely, that the endgame is that they eventually break up after none of the solutions end up being workable and that her poor decision-making was driven by the same impulses that lead men her age to marry much younger women, rather than some kind of neurological problem, in which case this will be, in retrospect, basically purely funny. So I wouldn't worry too much about finding it funny now. I can even see why it's funny, although it doesn't really play that way for me and my family on a moment-by-moment basis.

You should have seen the email chain where she told her friends that she would be serving goat at the ceremony. "What about a vegetarian option?" the upper-class white women suggested with gentle horror.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:27 PM
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These guys look promising.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:27 PM
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260: So wait, we're ditching Colin Farrell for this guy?


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:28 PM
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253: She seems maybe a bit deluded with the "I'm not paying for sex but sometimes it just naturally happened with the guy I was paying for a date."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:32 PM
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You can also call these guys, who will definitely be able to find you someone.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:34 PM
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Why are we talking about circuitous methods that cost a lot of money? Go direct: bribe the guy to go away or bribe the consulate official to never let him in (which may not even take bribery). But why introduce another expensive person into this?

Or, hire professionals to charm your mom at home. By the time you are solving this with money, you have way better options than a PI in Africa. I mean, there's no convincing your mom with facts or she'd already be convinced. Facts from a PI aren't going to break through either. Use money in a way that could work.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:34 PM
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270 last gets it right.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:35 PM
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268: True, but she is not deluded at all about what professional-level skills meant to the situation. Or the fact that she was paying.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:36 PM
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True.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:37 PM
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Bribing a consular official is a better option? I do love how this question has elucidated the Mineshaft's diverse problem-solving strategies.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:37 PM
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I think bribing a consular official would involve believing that they were likely to actually let him in the country, which does not seem warranted at this time. I have no idea what will happen if my mom calls in political favors; I really hope she doesn't, as that would make a personal embarrassment into something rather larger. Her lawyer is advising against it, from what I hear third-hand.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:42 PM
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I have really missed you, ogged.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:44 PM
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I think one has to be at a pretty ridiculous level of influence to have a realistic shot of altering a consular official's opinion through "calling in political favors," and that it could easily backfire massively unless her juice is just insane.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:45 PM
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unless her juice is just insane

The elder the berry...


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:47 PM
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The more I think about it, the more I conclude that there's no alternative to Operation Gigolo. The only other choice is to just go to Mom and be like seriously: WTF is this? but it sounds like that won't do anything.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:48 PM
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I am in total agreement with 263 (always trust snark from ogged) and 265.2 (as a "hopeful" outcome).

Or to put it another way, this is a pretty heartrending situation that you have very little control over. So very sorry.

There are lots of stories about "Sheila got her groove back" women who get involved with (Jamaican in that case) men who in real life turn out to be (a) married and (b) scamming for a green card.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:48 PM
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277: It could definitely easily backfire massively. But I can understand how she would think she would be able to talk to the right people. That's what worries me about it.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:49 PM
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It sounds like youre no longer worried about him being exploited, so that's progress, right?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:54 PM
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That's a very good point. Actually, I thank the previous thread for that. Cala in particular very effectively shifted my thinking from "is she exploiting him?" to "is there any way he isn't exploiting her?", from which they have since shifted to, I guess, "how bad is everybody going to feel after this is over?" I do still find the overtones (colonialist and otherwise) of the whole thing pretty weird.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 5:57 PM
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An aside: the wife and I had a whirlwind courtship, and as that was happening, an older woman she knew well was being scammed by a skype romance with a guy who claimed to work on an oil rig. She had even started wearing a ring, as a symbol of their relationship, and was deeply in love, until he called for an urgent wire of $15,000, because someone on the rig was hurt and needed to be airlifted off. She was truly heartbroken, but the funny thing was that she immediately became convinced that I must also be (she'd never met me) a conniving sociopath. Have you met any of his friends? What about his family? Does he try to keep you away from your friends? What do you know about him? My wife was in the awkward spot of trying to be comforting about her friend's ache, reassuring about me, and all the while not saying, "Come on, who would fall for something like that?"


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 6:05 PM
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This case is very similar to the situation in "Have His Carcase." The son of the rich up and murdered the guy she was dating. And he would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for a meddling aristocrat/mystery writer couple.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 6:06 PM
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I have really missed you, ogged.

Brah, I'll go down on you for free if you can promise me I won't ever have to change your diaper.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 6:08 PM
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Is that the going rate? The things you wish you knew when you were single.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 6:11 PM
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"Come on, who would fall for something like that?"

This really feels sometimes like it's on the level of "Mom, you don't actually think the former Prime Minster of Bangalla has five billion dollars for you, do you?" It just has all the red flags you could possibly find. It is nothing but red flags, as far as the eye can see. I don't really know how to express that to her.


Posted by: Ulysses S. Grant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 6:13 PM
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...she immediately became convinced that I must also be (she'd never met me) a conniving sociopath

Did she read here?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 6:21 PM
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189: With that, I'd take it or leave it.

Those are two different things.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 6:45 PM
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Different, and mutually exclusive, things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 6:48 PM
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Not if the question is "Should I negotiate?"


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 6:49 PM
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If it's South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, or Botswana I can probably find a PI. Zimbabwe is a maybe. So is Kenya.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 7:00 PM
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President Clinton, have you considered telling your current employer that you have an offer but you'd like to see if they can do something to keep you?

If they say "we don't," then you probably have to be prepared to take the new job.

You also might ask the new job if they would consider trading you a higher salary for a higher threshold for the bonus. Since they expect you to earn well above your salary it might not be out of the question.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 7:21 PM
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Brainstorming here. Since hiring a gigolo to sex up your mom is creepy and cross-cultural hiring of a PI or bribing is fraught with difficulty, why not hire a different woman (American or from another western country) to seduce him/make him think there's an easier green card.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 7:21 PM
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Has that been a movie already?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 7:30 PM
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Re boundaries & dalratia's notion of choosing which district to reside in: this is actually an idea of Bagehot's, which ends up being functionally very similar to proportional representation but with way more admin and party control, I think.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:24 PM
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I think 295/6 would be an eminently marketable film in the dominant "movies for old people" sector. I see Judi Dench and Helen Mirren in the mix as the rich old lady honey trap.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:30 PM
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Okay. If she marries him, he's not longer a fiance. That means they start over with a K-3 or CR-1 (as of seven years ago -- I think there was talk of phasing out the K-3); typically, but not always, these take longer. More importantly, however, the standard that the consulate is holding them to doesn't change. If the relationship isn't legitimate, the mere fact that they're also married doesn't mean the consulate officer will change his mind. (Extra meetings, which a marriage would entail, would help. But merely being married doesn't prove that the relationship is legitimate.)

The age gap, no common language, I'm guessing a religious difference? The consular officers live there. They're sometimes wrong, but generally pretty good at spotting scams.

295: That's actually not a bad idea. (I've seen it work!)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:31 PM
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Seriously, you'd have to be a little crafty, but in the handful of cases where I've seen it work, the guy tends to hang out in Internet chatrooms and it's not that hard to get him to bite.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:33 PM
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Thing is you'd need a pretty dang experienced con lady and a big outlay of cash up front if you're going to convince GILF Hunting Masai Warrior to swap out old ladies. The old lady honey trap would have to seem way richer and better able to provide quicker immigration and a bigger place for the family.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:35 PM
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No, no. Look, they've hit a speed bump. If he's a scammer, he's got to be worried that he's not going to be able to get this to work.

You're not looking to get the guy to tell his mom that he's found another true love. You just need someone to get a transcript of him professing love to someone he just met in a chat room in the hopes of getting a greed card. Then you show his mom the transcript.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 9:54 PM
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I'm flying on an Airbus A321T. I'm sitting in first class (not business, you proles).* And it occurs to me that the Occupy movement really was terribly ill-conceived.

* How this came to be is a long and pretty convoluted story, so whatever. The important thing to understand is that I'm in one of those pods that fully reclines into a bed. I felt slightly uncomfortable as the sheep shambled back into business and then coach -- coach! I never! -- but then I remembered that they didn't work hard enough to be where I am.


Posted by: Den E. Crumb | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:21 PM
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Damn. Don't cross Cala.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:23 PM
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303: Pitch it as a commercial.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:44 PM
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Given that by somewhere around comment 260 folks had already covered the lawyers, guns and money trifecta I have nothing to add.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:46 PM
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I hear that all of the flights out of State College are 100% First Class.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 10:46 PM
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I'm, like, fully reclined and watching Aaron Sorkin's liberal sanctimony on a reasonably large screen. This is an okay way to travel. Except for Aaron Sorkin's liberal sanctimony.


Posted by: Den E. Crumb | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:06 PM
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Is it a 777?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:09 PM
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Good plane. Good safety record.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-16-14 11:10 PM
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Hmm, guess I am up quite late, here. In part, I think the sleep machine CPAP thingy is actually working as to improved quality of sleep, but then I consequently feel better and stay up too late.

But tonight, I think I'm up because I am slated to spend 3 hours at work tomorrow with someone who I am pretty sure is going to confirm my strong sense of being a totally useless idiot. And it's going to be simultaneously both very sad and incredibly infuriating. Do not want.

I had a small glimmer of hope but them got an email from him mid-evening in which he pretty conclusively demonstrated his ability to turn a small silk purse into a sow's ear. On which he copied lots of the wrong people. With bonus passive-aggressiveness. I've not the stomach and should retire (to bed and from work).

But I'm glad that my great friend Den E. Crumb is enjoying the well-deserved lap of luxury somewhere over the Indian Ocean.

And the tree was happy.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 12:08 AM
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Maybe I'll liveblog it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 12:09 AM
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311 +their

or maybe not


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 12:29 AM
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And so to bed.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 12:29 AM
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301: Why would the con lady need to be old?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 4:12 AM
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OT: Putin in response to a question on suppression of dissenting views: It's not as bad as it was in 1937, what are they complaining about.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 4:23 AM
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315: For plausibility? The dude is going to figure something's up if an attractive age-appropriate woman is moving heaven and earth to get a green card for some guy she hardly knows.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 4:33 AM
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I was thinking older but not actually old. Say a twenty year age gap.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 4:55 AM
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63: it is certainly true that a 54% Republican district only needs 3% switchers to flip, but this says nothing about which 3%. Ceteris paribus, if the rightmost 3% rebel, the seat flips. Importantly, they can abstain or go third party if actually voting D is too much of a stretch. If the extremists care more about purity than counting seats, this could cause more extremist candidates, and if the centrists tend to do the opposite, this could lead to more extremists being elected. As they're extremists (duh) and centrists (duh), this is plausible.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 4:56 AM
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237 is quite interesting. I would not be at all surprised to learn that (on a mostly-subconscious level) she *knows* that he's not primarily interested in her as a romantic partner, and she is willing to accept that in return for the comfort of "knowing" she will have someone with her as she ages/if she gets ill.

The fact that she probably won't get this just makes the whole thing sadder.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 5:33 AM
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It's got to be hard to talk somebody elderly out of sexing up a willing twenty-year-old. That may be projection on my part.

Actually, sexing a willing 20-year old just sounds exhausting - ane I am not even all that elderly yet. A willing 20-something to keep the house clean and maybe rub my feet while we eat dinner in front of the TV... Now that would be hard to talk me out of.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 6:23 AM
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320, and especially 320.last is more and more my take on this.

On the one hand I'm all in favor of old ladies getting their bones rattled from time to time, and if it's a young buck doing it more power to them. On the other, this is almost certainly a scammish situation.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 6:31 AM
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Halford, instead of trying to be convincing, maybe you should just start a gigolo-funding Kickstarter campaign. I'm sure a lot of us would be happy to chip in to see what happens.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 6:42 AM
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I wouldn't quite know how to begin considering hiring a PI in Africa. If there's a commenter here who can help with that (I guess it would have to be ajay?)

Catching up, I am flattered but somewhat confused by this. I really don't know any PIs in Africa. I could find you a PI in Essex, but he might not be willing to make the commute; I could find you a mercenary in Africa, or at least one who would be willing to make the commute, but he might not be very adept at the investigative work. (Though he's fairly debonair and newly single, so that suggests an alternative line of approach.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 6:52 AM
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I think any solution that ends up with my being in charge of any size mercenary force in Africa is going to be the wrong kind of solution.

Also, mouseover.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 6:55 AM
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315: Indeed. I nominate Cala.

Ooh! We could double-team the situation, with Halford approaching Mama Grant and Cala approaching the extra from the Toto video.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 6:57 AM
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317: Aren't we looking for chatroom evidence, not an actual, live honeypot who takes him to the consulate door and then yells, "Psych!"?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 6:59 AM
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326 was me.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 7:00 AM
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301: Why would the con lady need to be old?

This was mentioned last thread as being built into the scam from the dude's POV - he doesn't want to risk getting her pregnant.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 7:03 AM
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I could find you a PI in Essex, but he might not be willing to make the commute; I could find you a mercenary in Africa, or at least one who would be willing to make the commute, but he might not be very adept at the investigative work. (Though he's fairly debonair and newly single, so that suggests an alternative line of approach.)

Are you sure these two aren't the same guy? Does he call himself "Tuxedo Warrior"?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 7:15 AM
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Pretty sure. The mercenary in Africa looks vaguely like a more weathered Liam Neeson. The PI in Essex looks like a more weathered Bob Hoskins.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 7:31 AM
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Called and accepted offer. Feel very relieved. Megan was right.


Posted by: William Jefferson Clinton | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 7:32 AM
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Hooray!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 7:33 AM
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Woo hoo! Congrats, WJC!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 7:34 AM
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Congratulations, WJC. Here's to a lower stress job!


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 7:36 AM
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Yay! Relief!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 7:38 AM
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Build a highly advanced robot to
a) seduce your mother
b) impersonate the safari guide
c) kill the safari guide
d) b, then c
e) c, then b
f) c, then a
g) b, then a
h) d, then a
i) e, then a

I think that covers all the possible strategies.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 7:40 AM
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based on the fact that she wanted the wedding to happen before her [ round number, elderliness-signifying ] birthday.

Maybe she just wanted to get married during her [tedious innuendo number] year.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 8:30 AM
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Yay! Satisficing for the win! Glad you feel relieved now.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 8:45 AM
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I think any solution that ends up with my being in charge of any size mercenary force in Africa is going to be the wrong kind of solution.

I think it's Asia where you're not supposed to get involved in land wars.

I missed basically this entire thread because I was all "ok, gerrymandering..."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 8:45 AM
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338: error: if she is approaching her [round number, elderliness-signifying] birthday, she is already in her [round number, elderliness-signifying] year. Your first year ends at your first birthday, etc.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 9:01 AM
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Since this guy is a safari guide would it be out of line to have ajay's mercenary friend smear some bacon grease on his shoes the next time he goes out on the veldt?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 9:02 AM
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I don't really have an ATM but since the thread is possibly dead I want to talk about my job thing that has happened.

As is known from my ceaseless whining, I have a job that I had to take after 4.5 months of unemployment, which I hate with a hard and gemlike flame, as the saying is. I'm filling out forms for a living, or anyway entering things in a database and getting inscrutable error messages, plus I'm doing home visits which wasn't mentioned in the interview. The lone perk is that schizophrenics seem often to have cats. Well and my supervisor is nice.

I've given notice because I was offered (six months after applying) a job that is more or less in my old field, except they're just trying out using social workers in PD offices here so it's all new. I had given up on this job weeks after they said they'd tell me of their decision, then I talked to the main guy who quoted a salary of X, at which I expressed just a hint of dismay, and he said he thought he could get me like....5% more.

I emailed to accept the job. There was some email with an admin person about paperwork and she was a little unresponsive and I ended up calling at which point she mentioned 1) that I'm going to be working in a different town, albeit a short drive, and 2) that oh yeah they're kind of still applying for x + 5%.

The whole thing (slowness, lack of communication) has made me think I'm probably walking into a big mess, though substance-wise it can only be better than my current job. I emailed the admin and mentioned that though I am positively bursting with fruit flavors over the thought of the new job, I would love to be considered for positions in the town I interviewed in and live in, if some of them are there. (They're hiring four of us.)

Um so that's it. Let's go see what everyone is talking about on not-dead threads.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 9:03 AM
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341: ok, nosflow.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 9:04 AM
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344: this is the proudest moment of my unfogged career. That and making LB fall off her chair that time.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 9:14 AM
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I have forgotten this. Possibly I fell off my chair and hit my head?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 9:17 AM
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LB never had a chair.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 9:20 AM
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Wait, maybe it was Sifu who fell off his chair.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 9:21 AM
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And it seems likely that it was me who hit my head.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 9:22 AM
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345, 348: Surely this refers to Ponarke Nanama?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 10:27 AM
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Ponarke Nanama did cause something like temporary atonia in me, yes. I am now audibly giggling at it again.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 10:34 AM
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That was good. Ekranoplan is a funny word even spelled forward.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 10:45 AM
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The whole thing (slowness, lack of communication) has made me think I'm probably walking into a big mess

FWIW this sounds exactly like every tech job I've ever gotten. And while some of them were in fact big messes, others weren't.

All of which is to say that we live in fallen times and expecting hiring people to be efficient and communicative is a recipe for madness.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 10:45 AM
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I also have the Ponarke Nanama problem.

Nia's first-grade teacher and her daughter went on some sort of African mission trip and I can't tell from her stories whether her daughter actually fell in love with this handsome, helpful young widower/social worker they're trying to bring back here for visits and to work with their church or if the daughter's cover story is not just a cover story and she's just trying to help him find a place in the US because he seemed like a nice guy. Either way, the mom seems to be desperately trying to set up her young-20s daughter and this guy, which strikes me as odd. I don't see any obvious way to trade him for Grant's mother's, though.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 10:48 AM
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353: Would I be living up too fully and immediately to a certain stereotype if I mentioned that this kind of shit had happened to me exactly never, not in my worst job, on a certain coast whose cardinal direction point is here elided?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 11:08 AM
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You clearly need more yoga, Smearcase. Breathe. Relax. Answers will come in time.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 11:12 AM
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355: Just so long as you don't then go on to complain that you can't find good pizza and the sorry excuses for what pass as bagels here are embarrassing and my god do you believe what they expect people to consider acceptable public transportation?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 11:13 AM
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355: There's a little cartoon for that.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 11:15 AM
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I've found perfectly delightful pizza here and I don't honestly have very exacting standards for bagels (my sister theorizes that this is because we grew up in the south with Lender's frozen bagels out of the toaster so anything was an improvement) and my eyes kind of glaze over when New Yorkers talk about which block they make valid bagels on, but BART is a fucking shonde.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-17-14 11:16 AM
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